Post-Traumatic IT Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic IT stressMy last job was a circus of IT disasters.  I arrived at the company just in time to have system after system crash and various others need to be replaced (having the windows open RIGHT BEHIND the blade servers was just FUN during blizzards, I tell you…).  It seemed that nothing had been configured according to best practices, and sleep was a very scarce resource–I once pulled 5 all-nighters in 8 days, and my staff was doing the same.  Every time my phone would ring, I would flinch, my heart would start pounding, and my hands and feet would get numb.

So I changed careers.

Flash forward a while until Saturday.  My husband’s company was having some trouble with their servers.  He mentioned that things might hit the fan as a result.  Next thing I knew, I flinched, my heart started pounding, and my hands and feet got numb.  In other word, I had the same stress reaction that I used to have to IT disasters when I worked in IT.

I have to assume I’m not the only geek who has experienced this.  So I started thinking about how you might notice this in your geeks.  I came up with the following:

  • Your geeks look like they’re overreacting.  Maybe it’s a simple system hiccup, but they’re running around with their hair on fire.  That’s your first clue that the hiccup probably isn’t the first they’ve survived, and they’re afraid of worsening hiccups to come.
  • Your geeks look like they’re underreacting. My first clue that my previous company’s systems were sub-optimal should have been that the staff would brush off any minor system problems.  I call this the “hard candy shell” syndrome, where they’ve been through so many disasters that they’ve had to build an emotional wall of uncaring in order to protect their sanity.
  • Your geeks are jumpy. I personally tend to jump & shriek at loud noises, but that’s not really normal behavior.  If your geeks wince or jump at every email or phone call, you might have geeks suffering from PTITSD (post-traumatic IT stress disorder).

There are probably other signs of PTITSD.  What are some you’ve seen?

Photo courtesy of r000pert.

2 thoughts on “Post-Traumatic IT Stress Disorder

  1. Pressing refresh on your computer or Blackberry just to ensure that your Inbox has all of the up-to-date messages may be a sign of stressing out. I’ll own up to that one along with some sleepless nights. I’ve known IT Directors who had such high levels of stress that they suffered severe insomnia and even hair loss. All of this takes it’s toll. I wonder how long the body and mind would take to recover from long term, acute stress.

    1. @Donna, very good points! I *still* “sit” on my Blackberry & inbox, despite not having such an emergency-based job. I’m 9 months and counting so far!

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