I read this-- a story about burnout and memory loss-- a few months ago, and it stuck with me.
The other week, I was talking with an industry veteran. In the conversation, he mentioned he could barely remember a three year period of his life.
That he remembered that the studio was great, but he worked so much that those years are now an empty space, a blur.
I've definitely burnt myself out in the past. I've often worked morning till late night, most of the time, for months (years, since the breaks didn't feel like they really counted?). And before that, being a broke student working multiple jobs wasn't exactly great in terms of stress.
Part of me looks back and realizes that this is partially my fault, partially my managers'. The senior people around me also worked a lot their whole careers-- it was considered normal, especially for someone starting out. And then there was my fault. I was used to being scared of being fired-- not that long ago, I'd been scraping by, had a hard time finding work. I didn't fully realize that I had more power now as a programmer. I didn't think about power struggles-- how other people did go home, but because they took the risk of standing up for themselves.
I thought maybe my mental health issues were just happening to me. My partner would recount things we did, shows we watched, stories he told me-- and I struggle to remember what they were. I eventually developed panic attacks, before that got used to being in a state of near-constant anxiety and stress and lack of sleep.
Things are so much better now, and continue to get better every day. I realize I don't need to have caffeine to work. I can't believe I sustained myself on less than eight hours of sleep for so, so many years.
My brain feels like it's waking up too.
I say this because if my past self is someone else right now-- relax. Rest. Recover.
Take responsibility, too. When we're stressed, we don't think very critically. Do you have more power than you think? Can you get out? Can you live more peacefully, maybe work remotely or less? Talk with others. Try to avoid companies that don't take care of people. Be open, honest. Think creatively.
And watch out for others. Don't look back on experiences and think they were necessary. Look back on experiences and vow to not let others go through that too.
Life is short, and we deserve to live it as happily as possible. We can.