Hello Burnout, is that you?

May 30, 2024

Hello 👋,

It's been awhile since I blogged on my blog. I was trying to write a Twitter thread, when it got to four tweets long I was like, ok maybe it's time for a blog post instead.

Content Warning: Mental health, I'm going to lay it all out in this post, my mental state, my productivity state and all that jazz.

Where we are

It's the end of May, about to be June. I'm heading into a month long sabbatical (my second at Podia) and I should be excited for it. But honestly the past two weeks have been mostly dread for it. I'm terrified of what may happen while I'm off mentally and I'm not going to get what I wanted to get done at work done before I go. This second part bothers me... a lot.

I was having a One on One with my manager (hi, if you're reading this!) and the topic of burnout came up last week... at first I was like "I don't think so" but the longer I've sat with the idea that I might be experiencing a form of burnout the more it's feeling accurate. It's funny how people can see things so clear when I'm perfectly happy trying to chug along with my blurry vision about myself.

I have a tendency to take on more than I can handle at any time. I think this is a piece from my ADHD, that loves to have a bunch of different projects to jump around at any given time. It's... frustrating to the outsider and even myself when I need to finish something that has a date set to it.

Work for the most part doesn't have deadlines that we have to hit for work to be delivered (thankfully), I think there's only rarely been 'deadlines' and those are geared around things like Black Friday/Cyber Monday, so this pressure doesn't come from above there, this is more internal, and it happens with everything I do. I attach dates to everything as targets. Partially to try and force my ADHD to be productive when I'm having a bad week and partially to aim to deliver quickly.

I want to deliver work that's solid, doesn't require going back and forth for and at a pace that makes people go... "wow that was fast!". I am not delivering on that this year so far.

Well, why not?

2024 Andrea is different than 2023 Andrea. 2023 Andrea had a fire lit under her and it burned hot and bright. She helped build and migrate work's app away from Trix to a new Text Editor, built a second text editor outside of work and had a number of side projects worked on along side a bunch of work projects.

For whatever reason, I've just not been feeling it that way in 2024. I just can't seem to get the fire lit in the same way. This should have been my first sign I was feeling burnt out.

Struggling to feel like there's a place for me

It's no secret I'm transgender (I use she/her pronouns) and with that brings a lot of tense emotions, and feelings on both sides. I've gotten hate, misgendering, and even messages saying I should kill myself for just existing online as me.

As such, something I've struggled with is feeling accepted as part of the Ruby on Rails community. I constantly bounce between "this is great, I feel apart of the community" to "I'm an outsider, no one cares about me and my thoughts".

This is part of why I try so hard to make a lot of things. I feel like if I make things that people find useful then that'll earn me my place in the community. It's kinda messed up of me if you think about it, and I shouldn't need to seek acceptance and validation in the community to feel good about myself.

This driving force led me to create RailsBuddy a few weeks ago. I'm still really jazzed and excited by the idea of RailsBuddy, and so it's still going to happen I'm just realizing it's probably going to require more help from the community to pull off than just by myself.

Other health struggles

I'm largely open online about my mental health struggles, but I'm also in the worst shape of my life. My heart rate is constantly above 85 bpm, often hovering above 100 bpm) which I know isn't good. I lack energy to get out, and will go weeks without leaving my place. It's bad. I struggle with my bipolar disorder, and constantly worry my bipolar disorder is going to either end up killing me, or ruin my life/career. It feels like I lack control over my own body.

Last chance, content warning about mental health, and my battle with depression.

In 2023 I had a depressive episode that was so bad I wrote goodbye letters, had a final update to my website and had a plan, by all accounts I should have been hospitalized. Thankfully I didn't follow through, but it really scared me. I'm more than a year clean from that, but I'm terrified I'll wake up in a depressive episode and go back there.

Then we have my ADHD which is a whole other struggle. Often times I can't focus on my tasks at hand and will sit at my computer for 8 hours getting barely anything done if I'm lucky, but occasionally I'll get a stream of like 4 hours of extreme productivity that tries to do so much in that time to make up for the lows. It's so tiring to have no control over when and what my brain will focus on.

Over-extending myself

Jason put it straight in his post earlier this year when he spoke about his burnout.

I'm feeling over-extended and it's no one's fault but my own. I'm cutting back on what's not important and focusing on only the important things from this point forward.

My sabbatical

I'll be spending my sabbatical resting, and trying to start the process of fixing my health. I've finally made a doctor's appointment to talk about the heart rate being high thing. Assuming I keep it this time, I've rescheduled it twice already because of being stressed out.

But otherwise, no expectations for my sabbatical this time. Can't put pressure on me in this fragile state until I unbreak myself.

Thanks for reading if you made it this far.

- Andrea