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Five months on from my last public post I am returning to the blog.

I stopped under the guise of trying to work out exactly where I was going with it all. Having redesigned the architecture and styled it as a quasi-PKM system I felt left with nothing to fill it. Stepping away seemed like the best way to regain some much need clarity.

I should have realised by now that if I'm not happy blogging then it often points to a wider problem, usually with my mental health. And so that proved to be the case here.

But let's take a step back.

In early July, I wrote in my journal that I was experiencing difficulty reading and writing, everything seemed to be a struggle and I couldn't focus. I had forgotten writing this, misplaced it on the timeline of events – it's importance will become apparent later. Around this time I was starting to think about what I could do to the blog, how I should approach it, but any moves were put on hold when the family and I all caught covid.

Despite being triple-jabbed, I seemed to have it reasonably bad – first being put on some antibiotics due to a chest infection and then a course of steroids to prevent it developing into full blown pneumonia. Each time I spoke to a doctor I was asked numerous questions about my chest and breathing, any worse and they would have probably whisked me into hospital. It's certainly what they were hinting at.

This caused me to be off work for four weeks with ongoing shortness of breath, headaches, lethargy, brain fog and memory issues, among other things. A further visit to the doctor raised the spectre of 'long covid' leading to a series of blood tests and a chest x-ray. The results all came back fine 1 so, by the start of October, we were looking for other causes for my symptoms.

My wife has been telling me that my personality has changed over the past few years; when you start mixing this with memory problems the shadow of dementia starts to form. After a long chat with the doctor and some memory tests this was, fortunately, ruled out. Instead, my symptoms were labelled as the physical manifestation of anxiety and depression and I was referred for counselling.

Looking back, the memory and focus issues may have been exacerbated by covid but not caused by it. If I had only remembered writing about it before. The irony.

I have private health insurance through work so have gone this route and had an initial consultation a couple of weeks ago. The therapist says there is definitely an underlying depression that needs treating but, due to my memory and focus issues, that's not possible at the moment. I have therefore been put on antidepressants 2 to stabilise my mental state such that I am receptive to ongoing treatment.

My next appointment is next month and we'll see how it goes from there.

I'm still a survivor, but it's about time I did more than just survive. This time, I'm taking my mental health more seriously than at any time before. I need proper help and am ensuring I get it.

Part of the reason for returning to the blog is to be almost a journal of my mental health journey. I think I also need it. Having something to focus on, something I can build and control. I miss it.

I don't know what form posts will take from here on out. There will be updates mixed with the normal geekery but, beyond that, who knows.

I'm just glad to be back.

  1. it took a long time to get over covid but it wasn't long covid 

  2. vortioxetine 

Chris Lovie-Tyler says: Reply to Chris Lovie-Tyler

Sorry to hear you've had such a rough time, Colin. Glad to see you back, though. Obviously the blog is a bit of a lifeline. Praying for you, my friend.

Colin Walker replied:

Thanks Chris πŸ™

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2 comments: click to read or leave your own

In a way, I have been prepping for my return ever since stepping away. Quite a bit has changed.

To remove the focus from the blog itself I changed the home page to a 'Hello' page, inspired by Alastair Johnston. That has now moved to /hello and been replaced with a new, simple home page. By necessity, the blog moved to /blog – and that is where it's going to stay.

For a few years now, the whole ethos of the blog has been to focus on "today" – that's what you'd see even when there were no posts. I've moved away from that. Now, when not signed in the blog will show the last day with a post. Also, when going back and forth between days, it will only show those days with posts.

The biggest changes have been with feeds, both the creation and consumption of them.

The live feed now supports markdown using the source:markdown item-level element. As I post in markdown it's pretty cool for a feed to support the raw source.

Because I use custom markup in (b)log-In I have to convert that to normal HTML before adding it to the feed but that's fine. It was always intended for HTML to coexist with markdown where required.

Markdown support is also now built in to /reader. If an item within a feed includes the source:markdown element that will be used by default instead of the description or content elements.

paolo i. says:

very glad to see you back and very sorry to hear about all the difficulties. i missed your presence on the web. these are maybe complex times, but one do what one can, one day and one step at a time :)

Colin Walker replied:

Thanks Paolo. One step at a time indeed. πŸ™

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I've also been working with Dave Winer to implement rssCloud support both in the feed and in /reader.

rssCloud allows for instantaneous updates via RSS. You ping a server when your feed updates (I am pinging Andrew Shell's) and others can receive notifications of those updates. Both the live and daily feeds send pings when rebuilt so, if your feed reader supports rssCloud, you can get my posts straight away. Why wouldn't you 😊

Even bigger, /reader now supports rssCloud notifications. When I subscribe to a feed it checks for a <cloud> channel-level element and "subscribes" via the relevant server. On receipt of a notification it polls the feed and pulls in any updates straight away rather than waiting for each 6 hour refresh. How awesome is that?

Once I'm certain that my implementation is solid I can remove those feeds from the regular refreshes to reduce the load and time they take.

Dave has been a great help even when my own mistakes were stopping it all from working and it's been great to work together on this. It's really got my coding juices flowing again.

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