Blog of Raivo Laanemets

Stories about web development, consulting and personal computers.

Why I stopped writing

On 2022-05-22

I stopped writing because I got stuck. I got stuck in life and then I wanted to write about it. I wanted to write about it because I thought this would help me to get a better perspective of things and finally move on.

I tried to write the article but any attempt brought back bad memories. So I deleted it after each attempt.

I relocated to Berlin in Spring 2019 from South Estonia. Despite not knowing much German, I was able to quickly find a job (with an awesome team) and a very nice apartment near the city center.

In the first three months everything was perfect: the weather was much warmer than I was used to, people were very friendly and helpful, my employer was one of the most promising Berlin startups, and we had a really strong and promising team. I started to quickly fit into the local culture. It was one of the happiest times of my life.

Then my mother died. I thought she was doing well when I left her in Estonia. Turned out that she had terminal cancer. She had kept quiet about it to not interfere with my plans of relocating to Berlin.

We had a phone call scheduled, and when she did not reply after a couple of days, I reached out to her neighbors. They found her unconscious on the floor and called an ambulance. I jumped into my car and drove as fast as possible to Estonia. She was in the hospital in a very bad condition. Her organs were stopped/failed due to sepsis. She died the next day. I was in her room when she stopped breathing.

I organized the burials. She had told me years ago how she wanted to be buried. She wanted MY friends to be at the burial. She was the last relative that I knew. I did according to her wishes, and while it gave me a peaceful closure, I later thought that it might have been unfair to her friends. At least they can bring flowers to the grave.

I went broke after getting back to Berlin. My employer was not able to pay our salaries anymore. We were not doing what the investor was expecting us to do. The promises and the reality did not match up. This was completely unexpected.

I had to find money to pay for rent and food. On top of this, I had to pay for utilities for my mother's apartment in Estonia. I decided to go to Estonia to get out of this situation, drop all non-essential expenses, work remotely and do part-time freelancing.

There was a slight chance that my employer could be saved. The investor gave us some money but asked for an acquisition proposal for any further financing. Therefore, I was not let go from Berlin. Me and the rest of the team were kept hostage over a slight chance of company being saved.

The troubles at work caused lots of stress to my teammates. I watched them being turned into wrecks. We did not focus on the product anymore, just acquisition, and had to be ready to quickly please any potential buyer. People got sick from the stress. Many of them had to provide for their families.

At the worst times we were scared of being forced to work without salary, like slaves, and owned by the boss like a property. The German laws don't allow for such nonsense but for some reasons our minds got stuck.

I developed mood swings. My preferences changed: I stopped exploring the city. Got a new hobby: playing online video games while drinking lots of energy drinks with whiskey.

On one weekend night I went out. It was raining. It lowered my mood. The city was empty. I was looking for something to lift my feelings and asked a street dealer for a dose of MDMA. He did not have any but led me through alleyways to the guys who supposedly were said to have it. The guys gave me a pill with white powder.

I went to explore the city and consumed the pill contents. It did not taste bitter like MDMA is supposed to taste. It did not also taste like sugar, salt, or flour either. Maybe it was washing powder. I have taken real MDMA only once in life (not in Berlin) but it worked extremely well.

There is a bridge called Oberbaumbrücke in Friedrichshain. The bridge crosses over the Spree. On the night of buying the pill I stopped on the middle of the bridge and thought about committing suicide by jumping. That moment of time was the lowest point of my life.

I have always struggled to make personal decisions. The thoughts of suicide reminded me that I still have control over some things. I can decide to commit suicide or not, but if I don't, I could always make the decision tomorrow.

On one of the following days I sat down and tried to come up with a plan. The plan was to regain control over my own life. I had to leave the employer as soon as possible and get an income. I would live in Estonia with minimal expenses, build up my freelancing business again, do something with my inherited apartment and then just enjoy life.

We made a collective choice to quit work with the team. We pooled our money to pay a lawyer for advice to ensure that none of us got into trouble. I love that the team stood together until the end.

I was also going through a difficult relationship with an Estonian girl. The relationship was remote, one-sided and unsupportive. While she said she was interested in visiting me in Berlin, she never did. We mostly chatted about her troubles with her employer. My difficult emotions and feelings received silent treatment. Looking back, I feel that she was a kind fill-in-the-void after the most important woman in my life died.

I lived in Berlin for one more month, making plans for the future. I left at the end of 2019. Someone wanted to transport a dishwasher machine to Estonia and my car had enough space. Later they learned that I'm a developer and introduced me to a new client. I still work with them.

My Berlin employer went through the straightforward bankruptcy process. I recovered my unpaid salaries. I also found closure to my personal relationship.

Many things started to go better in the early 2020 until the global COVID pandemic. Not only the health effects of the virus, but the heavy restrictions and the fear of uncertainty were devastating too. It took two long years until this started to go better.