What is it? Know the signs
‘Autistic burnout’ is the intense physical, mental or emotional exhaustion, often accompanied by a loss of skills, that some adults with autism experience. Many autistic people say it results mainly from the cumulative effect of having to navigate a world that is designed for neurotypical people.
I experience burnout often.
I try to get hold of it before it becomes burnout stage. However, because I do not understand my feelings it often presents too late.
Burnout for me is like Microsoft Safe Mode. I struggle to mask, my symptoms are heightened and life becomes difficult.
I therefore default to the bare minimum and my body detatches itself from the mind. It is like I am in a dream.
I go into survival mode. However, this makes demands from my managers difficult to handle and friendships can become strained as I have less patience.
The problem with masking is because 95% of the time you can function at the expected level society demands. The 5% you can't people just do not accept it.
I am lucky that my managers are aware of this and I have a couple of colleagues I can unmask to. They help me get back on track with the task when I find myself overwhelmed.
To cope with burnout I:
- Wear noise cancelling headphones
- Take social media breaks
- Read a book
- Lie in a dark quiet room
- Use comfort smells
- Do a sporting activity (go for a run)
Basically to cope with burnout you have to take a break from masking and therefore be kind to yourself and reduce the social pressures.