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#1 vorsaykal  Icon User is offline

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Grade 11: What Now and What's Next (Career/Education Advice Needed

Posted 05 July 2013 - 03:42 AM

About Me:
I'm a 17 year old male living in Canada with an interest in computers.

I am interested in a variety of things computer related. First and foremost, I really enjoy programming. I've taken a Grade 11 and 12 High School Computer Science course, learning about programming in Java, OOP, data structures, recursion, interfaces, design, etc. I can write basic GUI and CLI based programs in Java and Python, and I have done some experimentation with Haskell. I am not very good at Haskell, and I only understand the core basics, with vague knowledge of monads, monoids, functors, etc., but I really enjoy Haskell none the less. I also enjoy the hardware side of computers, causing me to buy each of my computer parts separately, and wiping it together myself (easy ;D). I own a Raspberry Pi, which I use for two things: a headless server, and I also tinker with a breadboard, hooked up to it. Lastly, I enjoy system admisistration; Linux being my primary operating system.

Personally, I can't see myself really doing any of that stuff other than programming as a job though, so I feel that programming is my career calling. If you don't count all the essentials of life (food, sleep, video games), I spend my spare time programming.

About My Education:
Currently, I have 20 of my 30 high school credits. Throughout Grade 9 and 10, I severely slacked off. My goal was to pass with as little work possible. The less the work, the better the victory, as long as I got about that 50. It was easy enough; passed with an average of around 65, but then I hit Grade 11. I have pretty bad insomnia, so I don't get much sleep, and over the last few months, it had really gotten to me. I wouldn't wake up till hours after school ended, regardless of all the different medications I tried. Overall I started missing several days in a row, every few days--missing around 50% of my classes. What's worse, is that I was too lazy to just read through my textbooks, and ultimately I snapped. I have pretty bad anxiety, and it triggered a huge shutdown, which led to me dropping all four courses I was currently passing. I couldn't take it anymore. I switched to online course, but I haven't been really doing them. I only have one at the moment, which I'll get finished in time, but that's still 3 credits short. I don't know if I'll be able to make 90s in all my classes, as I've never really tried. I am on medication, that will hopefully help me get through it now, so at least I would have to deal with the insomnia. I'm hoping next year I can prove to myself I can, on the last few Grade 11 courses I have, before I get to the all important Grade 12 courses.

I've already taken Grade 12 Computer Science, which is geared as a university preparation course. (Canada's system is locally developed, college, mixed, university and open; the university preparation courses are the ones you take if you plan on going to university. In general, from what I've heard, the universities look at your top 6 university preparation courses' marks) I got an 85 in the CS course, and I'm retaking it next year, because I slacked off like crazy last time, and I'm sure I can push a 95 for that specific course.

Now, there's a reason why all this information is here, and not the Introduce Yourself section--I am lost, and I need guidance to lead me to a successful career.

First Problem:
I don't know what I want to do. I think video game development would be my dream, but I'm sure I'm going to have to do a hell of a lot other than that in order to get the qualifications to join a large game development company. I also wouldn't mind working on some of Google's pretty sweet projects, but again--qualifications. I've gotta start somewhere. And that leads me to my second problem.
Second Problem:
I don't know what I should do after highschool. I want to prepare myself for the best option I can. University? College? CS Degree? Software Engineering Degree? Hacker-school? Straight to a workplace? I don't know.

I Need a Plan
At the moment, I only have my next two years planned. I am going to be doing 2 courses per semester for the next two years, plus 1 course over the summer each year. This will give me my credits, and ultimately my OSSD. I have no clue where to go next here, and that's where I need help.

First thing I want to know is: optimally, where do I go? Assuming money, grades and citizenship is irrelevant.

University seems to be the good ol' fashioned way to do it, is this really what will benefit me most? And what do I need to do to get there? Should I go to the States for schooling, am I able to get loans for this, specifically out of my home province? What kinds of grade (and anything else), do I need to get to the universities that matter?

I've heard that hackerschools are a great way to get started. If this is the case, how do I go about doing that? Will I have to move to the States? Will the school cost me money? Where do I get the money for rent? Is this a practical way to get into a big company?

What if I go straight to work after school. Freelance? Join a company? Make an indie game?

I don't know what to do, and I don't want to screw things up, so help would be fantastic.

Thanks for reading my life story. :)/>/>

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Replies To: Grade 11: What Now and What's Next (Career/Education Advice Needed

#2 BenignDesign  Icon User is offline

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Re: Grade 11: What Now and What's Next (Career/Education Advice Needed

Posted 05 July 2013 - 05:12 AM

I don't know that anyone can really answer these questions for you. We all have had to make our own choices and forge our own path to get to where we are. Hard work and determination will always get you further than playing video games, sleeping, and skipping classes. Everyone screws up occasionally. Everyone has moments (or years) of which they're less than proud. But it's going to be up to you to turn your life around. I doubt there is anyone here who is going to spew forth something so deep and profound as to inspire a complete transformation in you and your lifestyle.
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#3 modi123_1  Icon User is online

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Re: Grade 11: What Now and What's Next (Career/Education Advice Needed

Posted 05 July 2013 - 07:23 AM

Quote

My goal was to pass with as little work possible. The less the work, the better the victory, as long as I got about that 50. It was easy enough; passed with an average of around 65, but then I hit Grade 11.
...
What's worse, is that I was too lazy to just read through my textbooks,
...
I switched to online course, but I haven't been really doing them.
...
I don't know if I'll be able to make 90s in all my classes, as I've never really tried.


Sort of a piss poor way of going through life, but hey - that's just me.


Quote

I have pretty bad insomnia, so I don't get much sleep, and over the last few months, it had really gotten to me. I wouldn't wake up till hours after school ended, regardless of all the different medications I tried.


Lay off the Monster Energy.. exercise more.. put down the videogame controller.. get into a better sleep cycle. Then again that might take positive effort and it seems that may not go over well with your.. er.. state of being.

Quote

First Problem:
I don't know what I want to do.

Welcome to the majority of high school students. Let me beat others to it and say there is a particular group that will help make decisions for you, give you direction, feed you, and instill some sort of purpose - the armed forces.

Quote

I think video game development would be my dream, but I'm sure I'm going to have to do a hell of a lot other than that in order to get the qualifications to join a large game development company. I also wouldn't mind working on some of Google's pretty sweet projects,

Just a heads up - both video game development, and Google, are not easy areas to fit in. One's a highly sought after company - the other is a niche industry where any Tom, Dick, and Harriet wants to be in because they play the output. You know... work, effort, etc.

Quote

Second Problem:
I don't know what I should do after highschool. I want to prepare myself for the best option I can. University? College? CS Degree? Software Engineering Degree? Hacker-school? Straight to a workplace? I don't know.

You want to prepare? Then you need to put forth effort. Get your ducks in a row, straight your shit out, and start applying yourself.

Quote

I Need a Plan

Don't we all?

Quote

At the moment, I only have my next two years planned. I am going to be doing 2 courses per semester for the next two years, plus 1 course over the summer each year.

You are only taking two classes, a semester, for high school? Light load I guess.

Quote

This will give me my credits, and ultimately my OSSD. I have no clue where to go next here, and that's where I need help.

This is an extremely narrow topic that needs to come from you, and folks who have a personal knowledge of you... not some random forum where all we know is you have one post and what ever you decided to type out. There is no magical solution, but advice can only be best made from folks who know you, your situation, etc.. lest anything we say is just thirty-thousand feet hand-waving overviews about trying harder.

Quote

First thing I want to know is: optimally, where do I go? Assuming money, grades and citizenship is irrelevant.

See above, and frankly those three things are quite f'n relevant. I wanted to be a superhero, astronaut, and a have a kick ass band - which I could totes do that if money, mutation, sizing, and talent were irrelevant.

Quote

University seems to be the good ol' fashioned way to do it, is this really what will benefit me most?

No idea, but from what I gather.. no? I mean you seem to design failure from structured learning - do you think you will be able to sack up and study? Now *your* financial ass is on the line for this one..

Quote

And what do I need to do to get there?

Find a school, apply for said school, repeat, cross fingers, and wait for the mail. Come on.. it's a college application. If you need help your high school councilor can help you.

Quote

Should I go to the States for schooling, am I able to get loans for this, specifically out of my home province?

No idea. Your high school councilor can help you.

Quote

What kinds of grade (and anything else), do I need to get to the universities that matter?

Most colleges require an above average GPA to contiue. I believe my school was set at 2.7 or something. If you go below that then you are put through what ever process to help you. If your failing persists then you are asked to depart that department/college.

Quote

I've heard that hackerschools are a great way to get started.

I guess, but I haven't had contact with anyone who has been through and would be leery of accreditation issues. of course I am not sure what you want to get started with.

Quote

If this is the case, how do I go about doing that?

Seriously? There's this amazing engine. It searches things on this vast network of computers.. a web one may say. I hear if you yell at it with search terms like "hacker school and apply" you may.. _may_ get relevant results back. Come on dude/dudette - the bare modicum of effort.

Though looking at some of the applications asking for project samples you have worked on, and questions on 'why' you want to go there I can only imagine this may present some obstacles.

Quote

Will I have to move to the States?

I figure you would move to where the 'hacker schools' are. Pretty straight forward.

Quote

Will the school cost me money?

Again - go research this yourself.

Quote

Where do I get the money for rent?

The usual places: jobs, drugs, midnight cowboy action, freelancing, etc.

Quote

Is this a practical way to get into a big company?

I am not sure about now, but if they gain traction sure.

Quote

What if I go straight to work after school.

Do you have a resume that would get you a job?

Quote

Freelance?

You do understand that freelancing you need to be on the ball doing work as well as soliciting and *GETTING* work? You know a whole mess of effort.

Quote

Join a company?

Again - resume question.

Quote

Make an indie game?

Ah.. sure? Though you can do that in your spare time as well.

Quote

I don't know what to do, and I don't want to screw things up, so help would be fantastic.

Guess what - you will screw things up in life. It is as inevitable as is our own nature. Sack up and make a choice. Relying on others to make it for you means you have that wiggle room to of saying "well I wouldn't have failed, but _THOSE_ people said to pick A when I should have picked E." I get it - the world is a huge and wonderful place with many things to do, and after high school it becomes real, scarey, and there are honest-to-go consequences for your actions now. You are not the first to experience this nor will you be the last.

At the core of it all I think my first line in is really the nugget of anything I can suggest - try at getting a less piss poor view of things by only half-assing them. If you do something then do it with gusto, effort, and determination. Just milling around doing the bare minimum only returns bare minimum results, right? The more I read this the more I want to advocate the armed services.

As it is.. these are highly personal questions (or questions you can easily google your own darn self) you need to get from folks who know you.
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#4 Flukeshot  Icon User is offline

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Re: Grade 11: What Now and What's Next (Career/Education Advice Needed

Posted 05 July 2013 - 07:55 AM

I just took the time out to read through your entire first post. You better take the time out to read through modi's post, he hits the nail on the head on every quote in my opinion.

I think your motivation is being sapped. I think we here all know that video game addiction is a myth, but the fact that you claim it is a necessity on the level of sleeping and eating without even a mention of defecating sounds alarm bells in my head. If you want to join the world of adulthood, you need to put down the toys.

This is coming from experience, I'm not going to lie. My productivity while I was playing games all day: Zero.
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#5 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: Grade 11: What Now and What's Next (Career/Education Advice Needed

Posted 05 July 2013 - 09:00 AM

Quote

I am interested in a variety of things computer related. First and foremost, I really enjoy programming. I've taken a Grade 11 and 12 High School Computer Science course, learning about programming in Java, OOP, data structures, recursion, interfaces, design, etc. I can write basic GUI and CLI based programs in Java and Python, and I have done some experimentation with Haskell. I am not very good at Haskell, and I only understand the core basics, with vague knowledge of monads, monoids, functors, etc., but I really enjoy Haskell none the less. I also enjoy the hardware side of computers, causing me to buy each of my computer parts separately, and wiping it together myself (easy ;D). I own a Raspberry Pi, which I use for two things: a headless server, and I also tinker with a breadboard, hooked up to it. Lastly, I enjoy system admisistration; Linux being my primary operating system.


This all sounds good. A good distribution of interests - Haskell isn't really a big language for production work as far as I can see, but a good grasp of functional programming can't do you any harm in the startups, and python and Java are obviously not bad to have in your bag.
More important, you're interested in the stuff and you're using it to do things, so that's all promising.


Quote

Currently, I have 20 of my 30 high school credits. Throughout Grade 9 and 10, I severely slacked off. My goal was to pass with as little work possible. The less the work, the better the victory, as long as I got about that 50. It was easy enough; passed with an average of around 65, but then I hit Grade 11. I have pretty bad insomnia, so I don't get much sleep, and over the last few months, it had really gotten to me. I wouldn't wake up till hours after school ended, regardless of all the different medications I tried. Overall I started missing several days in a row, every few days--missing around 50% of my classes. What's worse, is that I was too lazy to just read through my textbooks, and ultimately I snapped. I have pretty bad anxiety, and it triggered a huge shutdown, which led to me dropping all four courses I was currently passing. I couldn't take it anymore. I switched to online course, but I haven't been really doing them. I only have one at the moment, which I'll get finished in time, but that's still 3 credits short. I don't know if I'll be able to make 90s in all my classes, as I've never really tried. I am on medication, that will hopefully help me get through it now, so at least I would have to deal with the insomnia. I'm hoping next year I can prove to myself I can, on the last few Grade 11 courses I have, before I get to the all important Grade 12 courses.


This is less good. To me, it sounds like you've pissed away three years and you're coming up with reasons why it wasn't your fault. While I'm sorry for your troubles and all that, I don't see that they buy you any particular consideration: you say your goal was to get the minimal acceptable results with the minimum possible effort, and eventually you couldn't even cope with that. If I'm interviewing you for a position, this is going to be hard for me to get past. The fact that you've medicalized it in your mind doesn't impress me much. Most people have troubles of some sort. Most of them get past them. I know it sounds kind of rough, but that's the way it is: the world doesn't give a shit, they just want to get something done. Sooner you get that in your head, the better.

It's not the end of the world - lots of people screw up in high school and come out fine - but the sooner you sit up and take charge of your own life, the better off you're going to be. By that I mean, get up on your hind legs, and figure out what's important to you, and work on things that matter to you. This can be a brutal thing to do to yourself, but it would probably be useful to log your activities, hour by hour. Set an alarm on your phone, and every hour, write down what you've just been doing. At the end of a week, look at the list. Does it make you happy? Does it seem like it's going to get you where you want to be?
Then you can make some decisions.

If you do decide that you want to do something other than play video games, I suspect that you should focus on math. If you want to be a programmer, particularly if you want (for whatever reason) to be a game programmer, you'll need a lot of math, and it sounds like you've missed lots of it. Go to one of your math teachers and ask them to help you figure out how to get up to speed on the stuff you've slept through. You can probably pick up a lot of it over the summer - do as much as you can. Math is cumulative, and what you're going to do next year will build on the stuff you were supposed to be doing the last few years. The more you can do to shore up those gaps, the better.
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#6 macosxnerd101  Icon User is online

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Re: Grade 11: What Now and What's Next (Career/Education Advice Needed

Posted 05 July 2013 - 09:04 AM

A lot of people screw up in high school and spend a year or two in community college to screw their heads on straight. Community college is substantially cheaper than attending a four year university and often times provides more individualized attention for the introductory classes. Take your basic math and CS requirements there, along with your general eds.

I want to emphasize what jon.kiparsky said about math and game programming. You'll want Calculus in your belt, and a lot of it. Take Calculus I-III and Differential Equations. A lot of that, especially diff eqs, will be helpful in your game programming endeavors, especially the physics end of it. For me, Diff Eqs made Physics click for me more than Physics did. You'll also want a good Linear Algebra course where you get into things like Vector Spaces and Transformations.
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#7 Lemur  Icon User is offline

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Re: Grade 11: What Now and What's Next (Career/Education Advice Needed

Posted 05 July 2013 - 03:14 PM

What's highly amusing is how closely that parallels my way of going through things in High School and above. The difference was that I could jack around and still make As and Bs mostly. Now this also sounds startlingly similar to another article I read recently called the Bipolar Lisp Programmer (do note that bipolar is not an apt diagnosis in the least, more like aspergers or adhd than anything.)

Now then, why am I qualified to say what I'm about to say?

  • I graduated college with a 2.87 because I got horridly bored and scooted by whilst doing exactly what I wanted to do.
  • I frequently stared at the ceiling depressed without any motivation to do anything whatsoever.
  • I'm autistic, aspergers to be precise.


Now, what do you do to counter these things? You're not going to like my answers, I sure wouldn't have until after I forced myself to do them.

  • No one gives a damn if you're smart or intelligent, unless you can produce and serve value. Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
  • Depression is very very rarely something you can't do anything about. Force yourself to do it, because developing those habbits is dang hard and takes a lot of time to develop, especially for people like me.
  • Quit blaming your "problems" and learn how to use them to your advantage. I pick up knowledge extremely quickly and can read for hours without being phased, so I capitalize on that while working on the weaker areas of my life. It's only a handicap if you treat it like that.
  • A B is the absolute minimum. Allow yourself no less, ever, on anything. This SHOULD be an A but that's pushing it for working out of these stages. Quit feeling sorry for yourself, man up, and face it.


What it comes down to, on a TL;DR: Man up, and deal with it.
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#8 vorsaykal  Icon User is offline

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Re: Grade 11: What Now and What's Next (Career/Education Advice Needed

Posted 05 July 2013 - 06:26 PM

I feel as though I failed to properly communicate this post. Everyone here has focused highly on my laziness and the criticism is well deserved, and I feel as though I got something out of the comments posted, but I already partially past that.

I have established I'm lazy and I need to man up. I understand this more after reading the comments now, however I did understand this before the post. Sorry for miscommunicating.

What I was really looking for was advice on what to do after I start working hard. As of now, it is summer and thus I'm not currently in school. Other than completing my online course, I can't "start working super hard and doing my homework", since I have no homework to do. The intention of this post was be able to find a goal. Without a goal, there is nothing to work towards. Currently, you could say my goal would be get as high marks as possible, but I'd like some more concrete information.

For one, I am unable to ask my guidance counselors about some of these things, since it's summer, and second, my guidance counselors aren't programmers. They've never gone out and obtained a CS degree, or did a hacker school, they've only heard vague stories about people who got sweet jobs a decade ago. I was looking to hear from people who have gotten degrees, maybe employers who hire. What are some skills that you need to make it in the industry that a teen should be working on? I know I need to be hard working, and this is why I am here. I can't work hard on changing myself if I don't know what to work on. Work habits? Gonna work on this the only time I can: school in September.

I already know programming in your spare time is important, and I generally get a few hours of programming in per day. Is that all I can do? I doubt it is, but I don't know what else there is, and that's why I am asking.

View PostFlukeshot, on 05 July 2013 - 07:55 AM, said:

I think we here all know that video game addiction is a myth, but the fact that you claim it is a necessity on the level of sleeping and eating

This was (clearly a dumb and lack luster) joke. It was kind of inappropriate for a thread I was attempting to be serious about; my mistake.

View PostBenignDesign, on 05 July 2013 - 05:12 AM, said:

I doubt there is anyone here who is going to spew forth something so deep and profound as to inspire a complete transformation in you and your lifestyle.

That's not what I was writing this thread for. I was looking for more along the lines of potential career advice and advice on what I should change, not why I should change.

View Postjon.kiparsky, on 05 July 2013 - 09:00 AM, said:

This is less good. To me, it sounds like you've pissed away three years and you're coming up with reasons why it wasn't your fault. While I'm sorry for your troubles and all that, I don't see that they buy you any particular consideration: you say your goal was to get the minimal acceptable results with the minimum possible effort, and eventually you couldn't even cope with that.

This was kind of the wake up call that lead me to creating this thread. As I said at the beginning of this post, I seemed to have come off as still thinking this way, but I am working on fixing up my life. This thread is the start of it.

View Postjon.kiparsky, on 05 July 2013 - 09:00 AM, said:

The fact that you've medicalized it in your mind doesn't impress me much.

Even after making the conscience decision to try and figure out what went wrong, this is something I missed. You're right that I turned a sore scenario into a foul one. Although my problem is very real. I am unable to sleep without either a large quantity of medication (it takes me a few hours to fall asleep on both max dosage of anti-depressants and regular dosage of a sleeping medication rarely prescribed for people under the age of 18), or staying awake for other 24 hours since last waking up, I starting using this as an excuse for self pity and this was the dominate problem that affected me, rather then the real problem at hand. This is something I need to work on. Thanks.


View Postjon.kiparsky, on 05 July 2013 - 09:00 AM, said:

This can be a brutal thing to do to yourself, but it would probably be useful to log your activities, hour by hour. Set an alarm on your phone, and every hour, write down what you've just been doing. At the end of a week, look at the list. Does it make you happy? Does it seem like it's going to get you where you want to be?
Then you can make some decisions.

This is also really useful information. It's something that can actually assist me in learning more about myself, which is something I am bad at.

View Postmodi123_1, on 05 July 2013 - 07:23 AM, said:

At the core of it all I think my first line in is really the nugget of anything I can suggest - try at getting a less piss poor view of things by only half-assing them. If you do something then do it with gusto, effort, and determination. Just milling around doing the bare minimum only returns bare minimum results, right? The more I read this the more I want to advocate the armed services.

Your post was very distasteful . . . and perfectly justified. Thank you, specifically for the advice for the armed services. As much as I wish it ain't so, I think you're right that it just might be my best option.

One things for sure--saying this thread both you and BenignDesign were wrong about something: this thread was extremely helpful. I can guarantee that no one I know would have suggested armed services, and I am going to really put some thought into this.

Thank you all.
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#9 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: Grade 11: What Now and What's Next (Career/Education Advice Needed

Posted 05 July 2013 - 06:46 PM

View Postvorsaykal, on 05 July 2013 - 08:26 PM, said:

View Postjon.kiparsky, on 05 July 2013 - 09:00 AM, said:

The fact that you've medicalized it in your mind doesn't impress me much.

Even after making the conscience decision to try and figure out what went wrong, this is something I missed. You're right that I turned a sore scenario into a foul one. Although my problem is very real. I am unable to sleep without either a large quantity of medication (it takes me a few hours to fall asleep on both max dosage of anti-depressants and regular dosage of a sleeping medication rarely prescribed for people under the age of 18), or staying awake for other 24 hours since last waking up, I starting using this as an excuse for self pity and this was the dominate problem that affected me, rather then the real problem at hand. This is something I need to work on. Thanks.



Thanks for clarifying your situation - and doubly thanks for taking on so much harsh advice with good grace. As long as I'm listing good and bad signs, this is a good one. (I think it looks a little like "manning up", as someone advised)

Your insomnia seems pretty severe. It's probably pretty silly to ask, but have you done any of the following?

- eliminated caffeine and related stimulants
- engaged in a regimen of vigourous and regular physical exercise
- considered yoga or meditation or other "woo-woo" remedies
- practiced any of the usual "sleep hygiene" techniques? (including setting a regular sleep time, shutting off all electronics an hour before that time, avoiding alcohol, caffeine, nicotine before bed, avoid reading or watching TV or playing games in bed, that sort of thing)

These are all things that I've heard recommended for insomnia - not all of them are ones I use personally, but sensible people suggest them, and they're probably worth trying.

In addition, you might think about making sure you get out in the sun for a while every day. I have no idea what the state of research is, but many people find it helps with both insomnia and depression. At this time of year here in Boston, the thought of getting out in the sun is itself pretty depressing, but I usually feel a lot better when I'm commuting on my bike than when I have to take the subway - so there's anecdotal evidence for you.
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