I burned out, again.. And how I let myself heal.

on 2023-10-08

Sorry KDE Planet readers, this is just rambly non-techy post.

Burning out is no joke. I have gone through 3 or 4 major burnouts in my life. All of them related to programming, in a way or another.

Basically my burnout starts when I can't think anything else except some certain problem. I forget to take care of myself. I have major moodswings. It affects me and the environment around me.

But I've always bounced back. Will go through that in a bit.

What happened this time?

Often my burnout happens due to bad work environment (one of my internships) or since I am a chronical people-pleaser, I try to do something perfectly right for everyone and try to make everyone happy, then I explode.

This time, I was doing quite boring, repetitive work over summer. It was interesting at first, creating my own test automation stuff for something. But since everyone was on vacation except me, it was pretty lonely and eventually the work turned into boring mush.

Now I don't mind working on test automation, but when it's the only thing I am doing for past 4 years.. Ech. It was like chewing on chewing gum where all the flavor had already went away ages ago.

Anyway, I pushed myself too hard so I could get done with the task ASAP. I didn't really take many breaks since there wasn't coworkers telling me to stop, lol.

Basically, I got so bored I lost my mind. I wanted to get over it quickly so I can do something else (which was other not-so-interesting work.. :P )

This then caused random mood swings and other fun things.

Anyway, my wife finally pushed me to see a doctor about it and I've been on a sick leave for past two weeks. Just getting my head back in shape. I felt first really guilty about going to sick leave, since I did it last year too.. But fuck it. If I need it, I need it. Health comes first.

I recognize I am far more "fragile" than most when it comes to mental health: I got a whole list of things behind me, in my past. Of course since I am very stubborn, or like the doctor said nicely, "resilient", I tend to push myself way too hard.

Sometimes the pushing is for pleasing others. This time it was just that I wanted to get over with the boring stuff.

Healing myself

On this sick leave, I've done anything my mind wants to do, instead of planning things beforehand and sticking to some weird plan. I usually try to stick to some weird plan, and then get super upset because I didn't stick to it 100%.

This time I told myself that I got no plans. Do what you want.

What I ended up doing is playing a whole lot of videogames.

Like.. A lot.

And honestly that helped. Just forgot the real world around me completely. Instead, I visited space in Starfield and X4 Foundations, cleaned up Night City with a shotgun, strafejumped in Xonotic.. Even set up Morrowind myself with few mods and started a Telvanni mage playthrough.

In the midst of that, I every now and then wanted to make some tiny code things. I didn't work on my game unfortunately, but I worked on my KDE Breeze style fork Zephyr and other tiny things.

And of course, I played with Tiamat and Nebs, our reptile pets. :)

To sum it up:

  • I let my mind wander
  • I let my mind do what it wants
  • I did not plan anything I was going to do
  • I escaped the real world to video games completely for a while

And that all helped me, at least.

Perhaps, if you find yourself in similar situation, this blog post can help a little.

Don't be afraid to ask for help. Get a sickleave if you need it. Your health is important.

Thanks for reading!