More than a year
Disclaimer: This is a personal blog, about personal stuff, personal problems and personal relashionships. If you're looking only for professional stuff, you're wrong here ;o)
Wow, it has been a while... More than a year since I wrote my last blog entry. I could fill almost a book about all what happened. But I'll try a blog post instead in the hope that I won't bore anyone with stuff that only I find interesting. In fact I'd like to let people know why I was not writing aymore, seldomly active on social media or conferences and how and what I did since I started to work as a dedicated tester for the first time.
Just to remind you, in October 2013 I was moving from my chosen home in Hamburg to the as beautiful city of Stockholm in Sweden. Beforehand I had never worked as a tester. I was physicist, programmer, agile coach/trainer/facilitator/whatever and even found myself as a kind of trainer for agile testing. Then I moved and everything changed. A new job, a new home, new people, a new language and, oh yes, a role that I have never filled out before...
So was that the reason I didn't show up in the public anymore as much? Well, it might have been enough to distract me a bit from anything outside Stockholm. Internally we talk about Magine-time. Colleagues who are working for us only for about ten weeks feel like you've worked with them for years. But no, that's not it. Before I even started in Sweden, I had maneuvered myself into a bit of a mental mess. And I am still working on breaking a downward spiral.
It turned out to be a problematic combination for me when I not only lost a lot of money when my business associate tricked me on a private company that I had with him, but when I managed to decide it's a good idea if I work mostly 6-7 days a week more than ten hours a day, when I combined that with working on the translation of a book, travelling a lot through my job although my homebase felt so important and all that without the support of a beloved person waiting for me at home to keep things going.
One thing I have to be clear about is that I got myself into that mess. No one told me to work that long or to take on a book on top. In fact, people kept telling me I should slow down. Now I know why. I completely un-learned to relax or to go slow. I wanted it all.
Between 2012 and 2013 I noticed that something is very very wrong. I lost all confidence in what I did and realized that I was working basically about 90% of the time completely out of my comfort zone. Maybe that one did decrease in size when my stress level increased.
One thing that kept me going was the anticipation of PSL which I attended in April 2013. I didn't know what to expect and that kept me curios. I can say that I learned a lot about myself (and others). Enough to realize that I had to stop what I was doing. But my job was too tempting for over hours and passion, that I knew I had to leave. But where do you go when you considered your job as one of the best you will probably ever have? I knew I wanted to test. At least that far I was. And after a couple of months I finally found a job that seemed to suit me just well.
The move was stressful but fast and the whole new world was definitely a distraction for any kind of mental problem. It was awesome. Well, it is still. Passionate people, a lot of problems. In a way it was just as on a client I had worked on as a consultant. But then I was supposed to be involved this time. I could be passionate about the product or the people or anything. I didn't stay out of the game.
But after the first month and when the big grin vanished part time from my face when I had a little struggle here or there, the illusion about having solved my problems by running away shattered like glass. I didn't solve my problem. I just hid it well behind excitement.
And when I had a panic attack that was so severe that its outcome lasted for hours and hours (after having had a lot of them already) I knew I needed help. Right away. In the middle of the night. I called up a friend (Thank you so much!) and got the fair advice to search for professional help. I had thought about that before. The very next day I asked the agile coach of our company if he knew someone that would do therapy at least in English. And within two weeks I found myself in my first therapy with a German guy that was recommended to me.
I found out very fast that I can't go as fast as I would like to. Luckily I found help within my company and my initial worries that this could very well be the end of my new job faded away soon. I was still able to work 8 hours a day and to deliver the work needed and realized that I am not completely broken. Just a little bit cracked here and there although it sometimes feels like completely broken.
I knew now that I can't take on anything more than the very basics until I have taken care of a lot of things. I needed to finish the book I was translating as the publisher was pressing. But apart from that I could not involve myself in the communities much or think about anything than trying to repair things.
Since then things have improved. I am not completely back yet. But I have made some steps forward and through therapy I get a lot of insights about what happens and how to tackle that. There will be a lot more following the first ones. Soon. Steady.