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Search - "forever alone"
A story about burnout you say? Well, here it goes.
In 2019, I worked in a now-defunct startup. Back then, I was deep in "treatment" with wrong medications that almost ended up turning me into a vegetable. When I was hired, my mind was already deteriorating quickly, and I was caught in a downward spiral of losing intelligence.
Prior to working there, there was never ever ever a situation in my career when I was given a problem to solve and failed to do it.
But right then, with already double-digit IQ and constant, pumping anxiety, I was seeing task descriptions that looked familiar and doable, yet I absolutely could not do them. I couldn't comprehend. It was an absolutely screeching, crippling panic about me losing my intelligence forever, being fired and ending up unhireable, dying alone on the streets.
Apart from my depression I recovered from, this very experience was a trauma that haunts me to this day, every day. You know, my experience being raped as an adolescent doesn't, but this, it's something else. Now, my intelligence is back, I design architecture, I'm a CTO, and my solutions are objectively cleaner and better in every way than what I did pre-depression. Yet, I still feel a sharp, sudden rush of anxiety, and my heart skips a beat, when I think about writing code or even opening the IDE.
I don't know how does one recover from this. I'm now slowly transitioning into "architecting CTO" role that is just being a devrel, assessing ethics, working with business to realize their need, designing solutions and leaving the implementation for the team to do. You know, the stuff I was taught in the uni.
Maybe doing open source and launching small pet projects will help. But at this stage of my life I have no emotional resource to care.11
Since I quit binge-eating sugary stuff, my body became capable of feeling true hunger. Not in my stomach, as that kind of feeling in my body is probably fucked up forever, but in my head.
When I feel hungry, it’s probably too late. This is exactly what I feel:
- FOV slightly decreases
- tunnel vision, things in peripheral vision become blurry and obscure. I “see” them, but my brain doesn’t process them quite as good
- colors become less saturated
- it’s very difficult to combine and analyse multiple concepts to derive a conclusion, basically the thing I do at work that wins me bread
- thought process becomes “single-threaded”. I can follow just one thought at a time and cannot go deeper than 3-4 levels, my brain just drops it by making the whole thought feel like some kind of slimy clay that cannot be comprehended, let alone expressed with words
- difficult to express thoughts with language, I have hard time talking, especially explaining
- want to sleep, but can’t, as brain is frantically trying to stay awake
It’s probably the mechanism developed evolutionary. That single thread remains active at all costs to allow me to find food, and brain doesn’t let me sleep, as it thinks if I fall asleep I’ll die. It’s amusing to see my brain actively killing thoughts that are not “important”, I feel like a real-time OS or an Erlang application. Perhaps thinking is really a very costly process in terms of how much energy it takes.
When I finally eat something, especially if it’s a proper meal, I feel a very pleasant sensation, probably it’s my brain telling me “thank you”, releasing dopamine to actively reinforce that “finding food is a very very good thing and it’s very important”. FOV pops back into place, peripheral vision becomes clean and sharp, thoughts awaken, eager to occupy all the treads that became available.9