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Like butter across too much bread

Heidi Waterhouse
Heidi is a developer advocate at LaunchDarkly. She is passionate about clear communication, humane workplaces, and conference speaking. In her spare time, she sews dresses with pockets.
Originally published at on ・2 min read

I knew it was coming. My team knew it was coming. My peers knew it was coming. One of the things we know about developer advocacy is that there is a really high rate of burnout — it’s because we care so much. There isn’t any time that I’m not running a constant background process of how I could help people more and do my job more effectively, but when combined with travel and environmental stressors and all the other stuff, it was less of a background process and more of a memory leak. Eventually, the system crashes.

My colleague Dawn wrote an excellent article about burnout, which you can find at I thought for a while that it might not happen to me, because I do feel empowered, and autonomous, aligned, happy about my product, well-supported by my peers and my management. If I only have a couple factors, it’s not going to be a problem, right? Wrong.

Because I knew it was coming, I had pushed to get a team in place so that my absence wouldn’t be a problem. Because I knew it was coming, I had made plans for leave. And then a month before I started my leave, I broke. I couldn’t write, I could barely attend talks. I gathered up all the resources and supports I had and made it through my last commitments, but now I am empty.

I’m not ok, but I’m going to be ok.

I thought about structuring this post in a way to make it useful to other people in the same place, but I don’t have that in me right now. Instead, let me tell you what I’m going to do.

  • I’m logging out of work. My slack, my email, all of it. I expect by the time I get back in a month or so, it’ll be safe to install Catalina. 😉
  • I’m not going anywhere. I am not getting on any planes, I am not setting any alarms. (I am, but they’re about parenting, not work)
  • I ordered jigsaw puzzles – giant, elaborate, repeating jigsaw puzzles, because they are completely recreational. No one judges your jigsaw productivity.
  • I’m taking Twitter off my devices. I love a lot of my Twitter friends, but I also recognize that I’m always at least a little bit working when I read Twitter. I’ll probably set up a posting service, but don’t expect me to get back to any DMs.
  • I’m sleeping. I’m eating. I’m exercising. I’m doing all the doctor stuff that I skipped because have you ever tried scheduling a doctor around 80% travel?
  • I’m giving myself permission to not do Christmas “right”. Whatever happens is what was meant to happen.
  • My guiding principal is going to be “Do I find that nourishing?”.


A large jigsaw puzzle partially assembled, with a pattern of repeating circles with dots in them.

I’ll catch you on the flipside.

Discussion (1)

karfau profile image
Christian Bewernitz • Edited

Thank you for sharing, especially the part about "constant background processing" resonated. And the part about Christmas :)