'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.
In my 20s I suffered this alot and doctors just said it was depression.
As much as I try not to get to the point of burnout. I don't resonate with my feelings and therefore I often realise I am in burnout when it is too late.
I am not afraid to disclose that last week I had a meltdown at work as the result of burnout.
I had, had a fair few meetings about returning to the office after 3 months at home, change to routine and reasonable adjustments. These meetings were fully necessary however they were extremely draining as they took a lot of thought and effort from me.
So mid week the week before the burnout began and my job is very kpid and involves ringing lots of people. So it is really not ideal needing a day to yourself and having to perform the task of ringing lots of people and giving energy. However I forced myself to do it.
Then the week of the meltdown I had a lot of emails, a change to a work progress and it was the last week of target which meant I had planned my week and both Monday and Tuesday were ruined with unexpectancies.
I ended up crying on a teams call to my mentor who said I was to go and speak to a manager. I went for lunch and was on Microsoft Teams for an hour being helped through a meltdown and with a plan for the rest of me week. I had calmed down within 10 minutes but my manager was keen to help me succeed and so listened to me and put things into a different perspective. Some people get it and luckily they are one of the people.
When burnouts happen for me its a bit like my body going into Microsoft safe mode. Do you remember that? So I am there and although I have been at my job only 5 months I know it well enough to be productive and get by when days like that happen.
So a neurotypical on a bad day is just having a bad day bu I am now working at 200% to keep it together and I am not going to lie the thought of going into an office overwhelms me. However, I miss being there and know once I get into a routine I will be absolutely fine.
In burnout I just don't have the energy to communicate. Sleep is the only cure and thats exactly what I do.
I will also exercise or swim.
The last 3 months have been the hardest lockdown for me as my routine is very sports orientated. I love to swim and train and in the first lockdown I could do this in a lake but I havent swam now in 4 months and it has made my autism harder to manage. Swimming is like escaping the world. The silence bought by your head being in water and the weightlessness it brings is just such a sensory pleasure for me. Nothing comes close.
So when in burnout I:
- Don't give eye contact
- Disconnect from my body
- Make people aware
- My answers will be short
- My voice is more montone
- I take social breaks
- Go for a drive
Be kind to myself
Disability is not a dirty word - Discrimination is