A few months ago, I supported the go-live of a large, organization-wide project. Along with many other poor souls, I ended up being given a crash-course on becoming a zombie:
|start working more than 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, living out of a hotel room|
|have the same conversations with the same people every day, possibly in the same clothes|
|drink copious amounts of coffee to stay awake, your guts will start groaning to enhance the effect|
|shuffle through the hallways with a thousand-yard stare and your mouth agape|
Fourteen days straight of that shit ruins you. Early on you find a routine that allows you to function and you stick to it. Weekdays and weekends blur together. When you get to twenty-one days with only one day off in the mix, you’re physically exhausted and mentally broken (though you don’t realize the latter). It will take you weeks to recover. Your first full weekend off is spent elated. You reconnect with your family and friends, trying to fit into words what only experience can describe. Some people are astounded or sympathetic. Others will tell you they know what it’s like, they themselves having worked a long day or two. You try very hard not to hit them. You go back to “regular” work and find dealing with little things that come up unusually difficult because your stress level is still exceedingly high and your coping mechanisms have all but failed. Eventually you get back to normal. For me, it’s taken nearly two months.