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A pre-sale of custom lockpicks designed by a competitive lockpicker to bring "Open Locksport" to market.
1,159 backers pledged $87,407 to help bring this project to life.

The Broken Engine

Posted by Schuyler Towne (Creator)

TL;DR Another batch of lockpicks are going out. Schuyler is not well. We are working to keep him on track and ensure completion without losing him in the process.

Jason Scott, speaking for the board.

When I signed up for this project of trying to close out the Open Locksport Kickstarter, it was to bring things to a soft landing, leaving a lot of unhappy people but the maximum amount of promises fulfilled from the original kickstarter. My motivation for getting involved (and the rest of the board's motivation as well) was not because we thought the world needed more lockpicks, but because Schuyler was in an obvious spiral, and bracing together, we could bring things together. We hatched a plan, a process, and refined the lockpicks so that they could be manufactured. We have been acting on that.

Unfortunately, a percentage requires Schuyler. We've worked to take as much of him out of the process as possible, so he's doing just what he needs to do, and not additional processes that can trip him up or that he can slow down on. And we have taken a lot out, and will take more out. But again, it does require his effort.

I have been contacting him regularly, and when his responses slowed, I turned up the heat. His response letter included the following:

For the past ~4 weeks, I've been descending back into a fairly crippling depressive phase. That said - I've built myself the sort of support structure that lets me deal with it. My parents check in on me regularly and I talk with Amy multiple times a day. I cleaned my apartment impeccably as it usually gets bad to the point of being dangerous to my health when I'm down. I've also tried to focus on my diet and sleep schedule. Today, and the past 48 hours, really, I've actually felt pretty good and have managed to be very productive as well. I'm attempting to arrange a Doctor's appointment in MA, near where I'm moving to.

Productivity tends to breed stability, so I'm very glad to be bouncing back a bit and refocusing on pick production. I'm sorry for the radio silence, but I'll update with stats on what I ship on Monday.

I think, also, that I may be making the decision to go onto Welburtin permanently. My first Psych recommended it, and while I've gone on for 12-16 months in a go I've always tried to avoid being on indefinitely. I have what may be unreasonable hang-ups about being medicated full time, but this disease really just steals my life from me hour by hour when it takes, I think I need to minimize my downs as much as possible. I'm getting married, I want a family, and I still want to produce great work. The depressive disorder threatens all of that. So, I'm going to go back on medication, probably permanently.

After this letter, his response time slowed even further, not faster.

My efforts to contact him increased in heat, and led to this statement from me:

I hope you realize that there are a lot of warning signs here for trouble: detaching yourself from a regular schedule, moving outside of your support structure, hesitating to use medication that you need. I myself use medication every single day for my health, there is absolutely no shame in it and you shouldn't be bothered by it. 

It took time and this was Schuyler's letter back. I have gotten permission to post all this.

I hear you, and I can't blame you for your frustration, but I think its worth putting this recent situation into context. Where it took me upwards of 6 months to even establish that something was wrong last time around, and another ~3 months before I actually sought care.

I'm going to keep going through this, over and over again for my whole life. I have a 50/50 shot of it remitting in my 50s, but I think that actually shifts on gender lines, so I'm not sure what my actual odds are. Anyway, everyone I've spoken to has told me that my down phases will reduce in frequency, but increase in severity as I age. It has been described to me as the sword of Damocles. That every new project or life change you take on has the disease hanging over you. This time around I got a year, maybe 14 months above water. Hopefully the down won't last as long as it did last time, and hopefully the next period of stability will stretch to 2 years, or more. I think the fact that I am being more proactive will likely help a great deal. We'll see what happens.

To be perfectly clear about what this is, I spend large portions of every day right now visualizing my own death. Over and over and over again. I don't actively engage these fantasies, they come unasked. Additionally, I have problems with muscle control, where my legs, in particular, lock up and it takes a concentrated force of will, often sustained, to release them. Both of these things are immobilizing and exhausting. It makes me desperately want to just fill my head with as many distractions as possible until I fall asleep and can get through to another day. But, and this is super important, the years of work I've done already, the years of therapy and recovery and trying to get my head around this, provide a layer of abstraction that lets me try to correct course. This is happening at an already stressful time, but I genuinely believe I'll get to the other side of it, and that this just sucks right now. That is a stark contrast to my previous desire to just cease to be.

Regarding medication, I had two big influences when I was young that have given me a visceral negative reaction to being medicated. The first was my brother, who was on medication for a long time and routinely insisted to me that it was stealing his creativity and intellect from him. The other was that I was misdiagnosed with ADD as a child and prescribed Ritalin and then, later, Adderal. I understand now that giving stimulants to a kid with an undiagnosed anxiety/depressive disorder is bad news. In my case the Ritalin made me acutely suicidal at the age of 12. It was terrifying and alienating, and when I finally spoke to my parents & doctor about it, rather than look into possible misdiagnosis, I was instead given Adderal, which also had dramatic emotional side effects for me, though thankfully self-harm was absent.

So, when it came time to go onto Welbutrin it was very scary for me. The side effects turned out to be pretty mild, thankfully. Some hand tremors and some sleep problems, but other than that, I was fine. Still, I was very relieved to go off of them. Taking this next step to be medicated full time brings up a lot of the same hang-ups that I've had about medication for years. That said, I'm still working with this layer of abstraction so that I can continue to make rational choices to improve my situation.

I know how frustrating this is from the outside. I am keenly aware of how this makes people feel. I am genuinely sorry about that.

So, at the center of this Kickstarter is a broken person.

I am continuing to work with him to optimize this process. We have good numbers, and we will go forward with the effort. People will, quite justifiably, be quite angry. People who have not seen or do not believe in the corrosive effects of mental illness and depression will find little of interest in all this writing.

Nonetheless, I and the others will continue our efforts to push out Lockpicks at a steady basis. When the next batch goes out, I will update the thermometer. Supposedly Schuyler has much of the lock sets. I will personally drive out to either make him finish them, or mail out what is existent and figure out the rest, as we did with the cases and practice locks.

I knew it would take a long time to work through this. And it has been a long time, indeed, but I am not going anywhere, and hopefully, neither is Schuyler.

More updates soon.

Oh, and if any of this sounded familiar.

derek samson and drewish like this update.


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    1. James Almeida on

      I'm a $75 backer. I moved so I just wanted to make sure you guys have my new address. My address is:

      James Almeida
      10 Rutgers St.
      Apt 3D
      New York, NY 10002


    2. aloria on

      As someone who has struggled with crippling mental illness for over 18 years...

      Dude, just send out whatever partial refunds you can and move on. You don't need this level of stress while trying to get well. People will understand, but not if you keep stringing them along.

    3. Missing avatar

      Wyatt on

      As someone who has dealt with some very serious depression, I hope that Schuyler finds the right medication and mindset for himself. It took me a while to find the right combination of meds and therapy to get me to a better place. Best of luck to everyone, and health should come first.

      I agree, updating mailing addresses should be high on the list. I don't even remember what I put down, and it's probably wrong.

    4. Andrew Linke on

      Thanks for the update. You're awesome for working so hard to keep Schuyler healthy. At this point, the most important thing is for him to find his way to a healthy place.

    5. C.Whalen on

      Is there a way that backers can update their mailing address with you guys for when you do ship out picks? (I'm one of the $250 backers and I've moved several times since this all started.)

    6. Missing avatar

      Robin Cassatt-Johnstone on

      Holy shit dude, at this point I don't even really care much about the lockpicks but I have to say you are a legend for the work you have put into this.

      I can barely imagine how frustrating and time consuming all of this must be and as there's no real mandate why you should have to do all of this - but you've taken on the responsibilities voluntarily to help out a person and a project - I really can't state enough how admirable that is.

      Whatever else is said, just know there is someone out there who is fairly blown away by the time dedication and effort put in by yourself and presumably the rest of the board.

      As for Schuyler's hang-ups about medication... Have you considered just printing out his paragraph about how he "spends large parts of every day imagining his own death" - via intrusive thoughts, and maybe taping it to his forehead? How could any side-effects of medicine, hell how could pretty much anything be worse than that?

    7. Debbie Larkins on

      There's so much in this update that I don't even know how to respond... I lost my stepfather to suicide a year ago, so can relate to a lot of the descriptors. I'm in awe of how open and honest you've been with such a large group of relative strangers - it's inspiring to read when there is still so much social stigma around mental health.

    8. Missing avatar

      Paul Anguiano

      We're still pulling for him. I'm familiar with the depressive cycle. At this point any lock picks I receive from him will be an inspiration to me, knowing what they cost and what they represent.

    9. Gavin Smith on

      Have a *hug* from me, mate. This sort of thing isn't easy to deal with.

      If you're ever visiting Sydney, there's a bunch of people that love your work and would be honoured to have a meal with you sometime.