Dealing with mental illness, or: How I learned to dislike myself less

Roughly one in five Americans will deal with some form of mental illness this year. In our community, the tech community, that number is much higer. I am one of those people, I'm not alone, and neither are you. Please join me as I tell my story of coming to terms with my diseases, my road to treatment, and how I decided to become a better human by starting the conversation about mental health in the tech community.

In this talk I tell my story of how I came to terms with the fact that I have mental illnesses, and how I came to understand that I’m not alone. Within my story, I tell how I came to the point of accepting I need help, my path to getting help, what treatments worked for me and how, and what led me to becoming an advocate for people with mental illness in the tech community and someone passionate about continuing to start the conversation about mental health.

I also provide advice for anyone who may or may not have mental illness to help them become a better human.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this session, attendees will...

1. have gone on a journey with me from denial to fully accepting and embracing my mental illness, and have the tools, language, and understanding of what mental illness is and how it affects people to be a better human.

2. be able to apply some of the resources provided to their own lives or companies to help continue the conversation about mental health in tech and help build a more inclusive community.

3. have the knowledge at their disposal to understand that people with mental illness are not damaged or broken, but they're people who just happen to have a disease.

Target Audience

The target audience for this session includes anyone who is dealing with mental illness in this community, but feels like they are alone; people who may not have mental illness, but want to be supportive and be better humans; or people who are afraid of people with mental illness because all that they know is from what they've seen on the worst of TV or movies.


Attendees will get the most out of this session if they have a desire to learn what life is like for someone with mental illness, how they can be supportive of people with mental illness, and what resources are available.

J.D. Flynn
Technical Architect at Genuine
JD Flynn is a Drupal Developer and Mental Health advocate from La Porte, IN. He's been working with Drupal for about 5 years and has been doing web development off and on since the early 90s.

JD spent a decade as a paramedic in Northwest Indiana working in several communities and many different demographics, but decided that the long hours and nights away from home were no longer for him. While working full-time, JD earned his associates degree from Ivy Tech State College in Web Development and began working with PHP, and eventually Drupal.

After a few months, JD became very active in the Chicago Drupal community and today is an organizer of MidCamp and the Drupal Chicago meetup group.

Drupal is a registered trademark of Dries Buytaert.