QA Burnout: Bright Lights, Paradise Lost

QA Burnout: Bright Lights, Paradise Lost

In the gap between roles, I am feeling ultra retrospective. What does burnout look like on a QA?

It has been over 2 years since my old company sent us to work from home for a week as there was risk of the new virus. 2 years, 2 roles later and I only went to an office a handful of times.

The post lockdown, fully-boosted already-had-Covid me is completely burnt out. The return to normal had me at my lowest point, when the first lockdown feels like it was my highest.

Working remotely initially with a team I’d worked with for years was simple. Easy and new, everything was way more productive and the balance was finely tuned to work in my favour.

The next role, meeting my colleagues face to face, really helped with the bonding. Although it was only twice and at a time when going into London felt like the most dangerous thing I could have done. This split began, between wanting to appear willing and needing to feel safe.

“We rarely see warning signs in the air we breathe. Right now I feel each and every fragment”

Books From Boxes – Maximo Park

It didn’t help that I realised very quickly I hate offices now. Too bright, too distracting, too overwhelming, too random. I felt intensely exhausted after every encounter.

The latter part of my last role saw office attendance creep back in insidiously. At first, with a smattering of new joiner events and team days. Innocent enough and valuable.

The new year bought a hybrid policy of once a week, which I avoided with excuses, holiday and placation.

I could not reconcile the warmth seeing my team brought me and the mental mauling I felt for days after. It was worth it and it was not. I felt needed and I felt useless.

I did not have a day in the office where I didn’t cry. It was usually at least once, not always because of misinterpretation. Sometimes for the sheer relief of having to not be there again for a week and to be heading home.

At home, I could hide how stressful the role was, how unbalanced I felt and how much everything was getting to me. Being present was supposed to help my career but it felt like the opposite was happening.

This began to seep into everything else. My ability to retain information stopped, learning anything new or the want to learn stalled. I came across items I’d added details on months ago, I didn’t recognise the person I was. Past me knew things and understood. I wanted them back.

I drudged up enough strength to work out what I needed. Remote, small, balanced and doing good.

The last months I’ve dragged myself in only to see my team and coped with the exhaustion. They were worth the burnout, the tears and the eye strain.

My last day in the office was much the same as usual but with flowers, in person QA reviews, cake, a menacing of flags (jubilee related), bants, misuse of company branding and P1 free. Wrapped up nicely in a pub in the sun on a Friday bow.

I still cried a fuck tonne of course but in a healthy, sane way and for the great loss.

A few days into my break and I’ve already done a 99-minute course, de-trashed my desk and written this blog. I feel renewal and my will is resetting to previous levels.



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