12 posts from October, 2012

A Day in the Life of PatientsLikeMe Web Developer Adam Darowski

Posted October 19th, 2012 by

What’s it like to work at PatientsLikeMe?  We are continuing to reveal just that with our monthly blog series “A Day in the Life,” which features PatientsLikeMe employees from different departments.  Today we’d like to introduce you to Adam Darowski, a father of three who joined the technology team as a web developer exactly three years ago.  Find out why he had a crush on the company long before he came to work here and more in our interview.

PatientsLikeMe Web Developer Adam Darowski with Each of His Kids

1.  What led you to join PatientsLikeMe in 2009?

I had been a big fan of PatientsLikeMe since late 2006 when I originally met Co-Founders Ben Heywood and Jeff Cole. Over time, it became more and more clear to me that my next position would be with PatientsLikeMe. First the company hired Kate Brigham (who I had known for quite a while), then I met people like Cris Necochea and Rich Thornett. I knew it was a special place with special people.

What ultimately led me here in 2009 was the opportunity to do some things that were very important to me. I want to make PatientsLikeMe an incredible resource not just for patients living chronic conditions, but also for parent caregivers of children with developmental and chromosomal disorders. We’ve made some progress on that front but still have a lot of work to do.

2.  Give us a slice of life as a web developer.  What are you working on currently?

We just finished Wow Week, which is pretty much my favorite thing in the world. [Occurring every six weeks, Wow Week is a week of unstructured time in which the PatientsLikeMe technology team can work on and present their own ideas.]

I worked on some concepts for what PatientsLikeMe could look like if it was focused exclusively on parent caregivers. So, this involved some user research (not a ton, since it was only a concept and I only had a week), user interface design, and a lot of visual design. Since I also love to get in the code, I then worked with Michael Berkowitz to start building it out some of the features. My main focus there was on the home page, building a design that would work well whether you looked at it on a phone or a 24-inch monitor.

During more typical weeks, my time is spent building and improving site features. I’m a “front end” guy, which means I don’t really do any hardcore software engineering. Rather, I build the part that you actually see and interact with. I also like to chip in on the design side of things, whether it is on new features or just adapting an existing design for new requirements or different scenarios.

3.  What would you tell someone who’s considering joining the technology team?

I would tell them that this is a very passionate, bright, motivated and diverse team, and I’m honored to be a part of it. PatientsLikeMe isn’t a place to go if you have a big ego. We work together, we collaborate, we give and receive constructive criticism, we strive to make each other better, and we strive to give our members the best user experience possible. If you want a genuine, honest-to-goodness chance to build something that has a chance to change the world, this is where you want to be.

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Interested in making a difference in patients’ lives?  Check out our Careers page to see our current job openings.  Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, PatientsLikeMe is looking to hire a Senior Ruby on Rails / Web Application Developer, Business Development Manager, Graphic Designer and more at the moment.


What to Do – and Not Do – When Someone Has a Mental Health Condition

Posted October 17th, 2012 by

Have you ever wondered how best to interact with someone who is living with depression, bipolar disorder or another mental health condition?  Have you worried that you’re saying or doing the wrong things?

Another way to support a friend or family member with a mental health condition is to participate in an awareness walk.  Learn more about the National Association of Mental Illness’s annual walks held around the country.

Last week we recognized Mental Illness Awareness Week on the blog, and to continue our coverage, today we thought we’d share with you some of the tips suggested by our members in a ongoing forum discussion entitled “What NOT to Do with the Mentally Unwell.”

What our members say not to do…

  1. Don’t suggest activities that interrupt their regular sleep schedule.
  2. Don’t imply they are faking just because they “look okay” to you.
  3. Don’t ask if they are taking their meds every time something happens.
  4. Don’t get upset because you can’t fix it – or make it better.
  5. Don’t act like they are “made of glass” and avoid dealing with them.
  6. Don’t push the latest cure-all you saw on TV or read about.
  7. Don’t suggest that they should “snap out of it” because “it could be worse.”
  8. Don’t talk down/louder/slower as if they are a child or have low IQ.
  9. Don’t buy into the stigmas or stereotypes and forget who they really are.
  10. Don’t abandon them just because they are depressed or unwell.

What they suggest you do instead…

  1. Do give them a hug for no reason but because you love them.
  2. Do be gentle with your words and be an anchor amidst the storm.
  3. Do make chicken soup and keep the fridge stocked with favorites.
  4. Do listen and ask questions, and don’t feel like you have to relate.
  5. Do remember that it’s okay if you don’t know what to do or how to help.
  6. Do call or email just to let them know that you are there for them.
  7. Do offer to go on an evening stroll or a walk in the park.
  8. Do allow them to be alone if desired and come to you when ready.
  9. Do know that you don’t have to cheer them up – only help keep them safe.
  10. Do remember they are the same person they always were, just with a diagnosis.

Do you have other suggestions to add?  Or perhaps a different perspective?  Share your insights in the comments section, and if you’re not already a member of PatientsLikeMe, connect with thousands of others like you in our active mental health community.