Earlier this year I notified The Apperta Foundation - an NHS funded technology spin-out - that they had spilled usernames, passwords, and financial data on the internet. This is not, however, a post to recount subsequent events. I made a site just for that, and tweeted and posted updates to the Go Fund Me as things happened. Today I’m posting about just how punishing this has been for me, to my mental health, to my significant relationships.

When I first posted about what was happening I was inundated with positive messages. I felt strongly supported. This sustained me as I worked with my lawyers on a substantive reply to Apperta. Two weeks later I announced that I had been contacted by the Police concerning a report of a cyber crime. Again my internet family, friends old and new, rallied around me. People I’d never met acted to defend me, independently verifying my claim, contacting the ICO, writing to the Police.

There was a hiatus in the correspondence from Apperta’s lawyers while the cyber complaint was considered. During this I presented myself online as confident, offline I grew increasingly anxious. The suspense was stressful. The relief I felt when the Police said that no action was warranted was short lived.

It was the threat of an injunction that really knocked me. I couldn’t sleep. I ate too little. I lost weight. I took time off from work. What was initially a distraction had mushroomed. I felt consumed.

Costs ran high. The generous support of friends old and new to the GFM covered two-thirds of these. I spent all the savings I had. I still owe my lawyers several thousand.

Those around me were affected too, my family life suffered. The anxiety and stress of dealing with legal proceedings contributed to the breakup of my relationship.

Some blast radius.

Would I do the same again?

Next time I discover something like this, I’ll be sure to follow this decision tree.