Charlie Deets


Hey man!

I was just thinking about the time you asked me to take a walk with you because you were having a panic attack

Do you still get them?


almost back to normal. like 95%

it's been like a year and a half of brainwashing. but it's working.

"Back to normal" meaning that there was a time when you didn't get them?

there was a time when I had them under control so they weren't interfering with my life in a destructive way.

That's what you mean by "normal"?

yeah. I've always had bad anxiety since I was 17

if I can function normally and not be depressed from them, I am quite content. I've learned to accept them. since trying to make them go away completely seems impossible from what I can tell.

I have such a big problem with that word, "normal". It's what keeps me from seeing a therapist I think. I feel like they will impose an idea of "normalcy" that I may or may not agree with!

therapists hate the word normal.

they don't use it. in my experience.

replace normal with 'reasonable' above.

But they most have an opinion on what's right or wrong, right?

They steer you in a certain direction?

the type of therapy I've done is called cognitive behavioral therapy. you don't focus on the past or the future. you focus only on the way your thoughts affect your feelings.

for example. I tend to have catastrophic thoughts which end up making me feel very nervous. if I can catch those thoughts as I am having them, I can have thoughts about how those thoughts aren't helpful. those thoughts will help me feel comfortable and in control. where as if I don't address them, I will feel terrified instead.

cbt aims to help you address the thoughts that are not helpful to you. nothing else. they don't say what's right or wrong.

That's awesome. Sounds like "lucid feeling" haha

it's heavily related to 'mindfulness'. being here now. being aware of what's happening. except it comes from the vein of psychology instead of eastern philosophy.

Conversely, I've been thinking lately how little the "now" means when in contrast with time

I've noticed it at work, too. We've both been at Facebook for a while and I now notice the same patterns repeat over and over again.

And it prevents me from getting excited

Like, nothing is exciting until it survives the passage of time

yeah. it's cause you are holding onto the past. and thinking about the future. in the Tao Te Ching there is this one awesome passage: 55 -

it basically says. if you get too stuck in your ways you get brittle. and everything hurts.

Things like "He never expects results; thus he is never disappointed" seem so impractical to me.

And I'm not sure it's healthier even if it was doable

We need disappointment to give meaning to the better moments, you know? I'm not sure we should try to suppress it by being what it seems like a "passive participant"

i don't follow that in a literal way. i use to to show the opposite of how i normally think. it's more about retaining a balance by being aware of the alternative.

i'm generally focused on the future. i am generally filled with desire.

i am generally set in my ways.

but if i'm not aware of that, i am at risk of being not self-aware. and i think that leads to the worst situations.

Do you remember how you anxiety started?

i was 17 years old. i had gotten into a bad situation with some friends. we took three cars and drove side by side down the highway at 55mph. which the group think thought was 'legal'.

i didn't want to do it. but i did it anyway. we got caught, and arrested. they said we were going to go to jail.

i was basically a totally good kid before this, and i didn't have any ill will towards society, but all of a sudden i thought i was going to jail before i graduated high school.

the stress of the experience unlocked something in me. i'd be standing in the hallway at school and like, suddenly feel outside my body. i thought i was going crazy.

i became obsessed with terrible thoughts. i couldn't think anything. i constantly felt like i was losing my mind or dying.

i went to a doctor, and they decided i probably had panic disorder. they put me on an anti-depressant and xanax. i had never taken a drug before at all.

the drugs just seemed to make it all worse.

Wow -- I got arrested when I was 17 too.

what did you get arrested for?

It's a way dorkier story. It was the weekend my brother and I got our first Mac laptop. That very same day Doom 3 came out and we were eager to test drive it in the new computer but had spent all our money saving up for it. So we decided to go to Walmart and take the game without paying.

We totally thought they wouldn't care. It was that naive.

yeah, i mean it was doom 3. doom 1 would have been a totally different story.

I remember going into the store and overtly ripping the plastic from the box and putting it on my jacket. They obviously noticed and stopped us right after we passed the cash register.

But yeah it was the same feeling, went from a totally normal kid to a FUCKING CRIMINAL in 30 seconds

Kinda crazy that I work for John Carmack now actually haha

you should go messenger pay him the price of the game plus interest. and say sorry.

yeah. it makes me like... scared of society? i mean. being that one thing i did that was wrong was going to define me and my life.

i didn't FEEL like a criminal. but suddenly i was.

I totally get you though. I had long hair at the time and I remember the cops calling me a pothead when I was just a nerdy kid who never did drugs

oh i had a good one like that too

i had written all over my hands at school one day with a bic pen

and i got pulled over by a cop wanting to know 'where i was going'

he asked me what was written on my thumb

and i told him it said 'thumb'

because i had written thumb on my thumb

he made me get out of the car and gave me a sobriety test

Haha omg I've never done a sobriety test but always wondered if they really ask you to spell the alphabet backwards because I can't do that sober

i'm not sure. it didn't get that far. he realized i was just a young person finding myself instead of someone who was intoxicated. he tried to figure out 'what party i was going to.' i was like, i'm just going home. i was just at school.

Haha amazing

So, how did you cope with your newfound anxiety?

i didn't at first. it was pretty disturbing. i thought something was hella wrong with me. i tried the prescription drugs. but i eventually stopped taking them by 21 because i had become dependent on xanax and it wasn't helping my panic attack anymore. that's basically when i started CBT. after about two years or so, i had gotten away from having multiple panic attacks a day to having one everyone once and while

Sounds intense. Does that play a big role in what you've chosen to do (or not to do) since then?

i never wanna take prescription drugs for my mental health again. and i will do anything i can to avoid that.

I imagine that level of anxiety can be pretty paralizing, yet you chose to get t on a stage and perform music in front of people in spite of that. How come?

some things i do are partially to gain experience overcoming anxiety. but as far as music, i just like it. i like the music i make and i want to share it with people.

Has anxiety ever stopped you from doing something you like?

being comfortable in meetings...

i've gone through periods of agoraphobia when it's gotten really bad.

during those times, i literally don't want to leave my house. because i'm scared of people and everything. but...when that happens i know something is way wrong, so i just start thinking about what thoughts i'm having.

but yeah, it makes me shyer than i'd like in certain situations. more tentative.

You watched Alex Cornell's talk from valiocon right?

So interesting that we all go through different levels of anxiety

I wonder if theres something in this industry that attracts that kind of people -- or maybe it's just creative people

yeah, alex's talk was awesome.

i think most everyone faces anxiety. and something like 10% of people have an anxiety disorder.'s pretty common.

And yet it's so hard to be transparent about that

why? it's not that hard. i think it's a lot easier now than it's ever been. people might judge me as weak or something. but i'm not. they'll figure it out.

You mean for you or in general?

I think for me. it's pretty easy to talk about my anxiety. I get relief from it. I don't think people should feel they can't talk about it. I want to believe society is beyond stigmatizing mental health issues.

Me too

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Charlie Deets


Charlie is the Lead Product Designer on Groups at Facebook. In his spare time he plays tons of video games, works on his Moon app, and helps his wife make games.

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