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How I Cope with Autistic Burnout

The simple answer is I accept it and know eventually it will pass.

You may or may not have seen my post about how my mental health was in tatters a couple of weeks ago. For me personally that was an extremely difficult post for me to put out there. The fact I was feeling void of all emotion and struggling to see the point of life.

I even cancelled an appointment I had with my counsellor because I quite frankly just did not have the energy to discuss how I was feeling. I just wanted the world to stop and for me to get off.

Firstly it is important to address what caused the burnout to begin with.

I had finally got to view my late fathers Will just a couple of weeks before this burnout and October was also the month I should have been celebrating my late dad's 70th so it was a strange month for me. My life is scheduled with rituals and routines and that comforts me but my dad's untimely death means the routines and rituals have now all changed. So a new wave of grief ensued. December will also mark 1 year since I last saw my dad for a meal and I am dealing with the fact I was the only person he cancelled plans with even going to work the Monday of the day we should have been out and attending a meal with his step grandson the day he text to cancel. It honestly makes me feel so unloved and uncared for. Not to mention all the stuff said after his death like "we wanted you to make more of an effort" I was dealing with it, letting myself think about him and trying to process.

However, thrown into the mix was a person whose behaviour is of high unpredictability which in itself is very stressful for me to navigate and causes me a great deal of stress and anxiety. This person decided to fake a positive lateral flow test so they could miss work. However, as this person had been in my home the day before I was sent home from my job to take a lateral flow myself. This caused disruption to my morning and caused a break in my structure and routine which was already heavily broken with several company meetings. My manager allowed me to work from home for the rest of the day and it was only after work when the same person entered my home I found out the truth.

As an autistic person I have a very strong sense of right and wrong. I am very black and white and do not tolerate dishonest people. I distance myself from people who are seemingly nice to others but I hear them talking bad about the same people they are nice to. So when this person did this culminating with several other poor choices of late entering my home I had a full autistic meltdown. This culminated in a lot of shouting and me refusing to listen or even try to understand the reasons for the lie.

So after this argument I went straight to my second job and was gladly there until 930pm away from this person who I have not seen since.

Exhausted from the meltdown and the grief I resorted to old coping mechanisms so my OCD and need for a routine actually helped me here. Despite the mental battles with very intrusive thoughts, a purpose for living and trying to just keep going. Just not give up and give in to the thoughts.

I have a very open relationship with my manager and I told him I was struggling so he just kept checking in which made work easier to deal with. I also rescheduled my appointment with my counsellor. I was at this point in denial about the burnout. I had a feeling it might be but was refusing to accept it. We spoke for an hour and the whole time he identified just one feeling which was anger. He told me to write just one sentence. I knew with Monday looming I couldn't do another week feeling like a robot void of emotion so I sat and I wrote.

The writing allowed me to visualise my thoughts and see a pattern. The pattern was I was feeling this way because I was allowing things I couldn't control to impact my life. I can't control my late dads' choice to not see me, or to have an affair and live a seperate life from us. I can't control how the person who lies about covid tests acts. However, I can control how I deal with it. I don't have to please other people. I can be selfish and it is absolutely ok to not always be at your best. When I am in burnout I can make silly errors that impact both my jobs because my executive function is affected. This could involve not acting on an email because I clicked on it to read it and didn't process the request, it could also involve incorrect inputting in accounting because the borderline dyslexia becomes dyslexia.

I became rigid and over disciplined in my routines because I knew routines would keep me grounded. I kept up my training to help me forget for a while.

You may think 'why didn't you just get signed off sick?'. The thing is when I spoke to my autistic counsellor he agreed yes a doctor would give you antidepressants and sign you off for a month. Now it wasn't work that was causing this stress. Yes, burnout made my job a hell of a lot harder but being there gave me normality same with my training. I was still held to the same targets as my peers. They were not adjusted to accommodate but it is not something I wanted. I was still hitting them so there was no reason to do or suggest that.

So how I cope with burnout is:

- I identify what caused it and try to process it

- I reach out to people I trust (Counsellor, manager, friends)

- I accept it will eventually pass

- I focus on what I can control and let go what I can't

- I make sure I do things I enjoy more

- I am open and honest with my employers. They need to know so they understand small errors are going to be more likely.

- I focus on my sensory diet so weighted blankets, plushies, dark rooms, closed doors, swimming, running, wearing hoodies and clothes that provide me comfort.

- I don't allow it to interfere with the good I have built around me

- My friends will automatically deliver more banter, gifs and memes to help me feel better.

Although I am not yet fully recovered from my latest autistic burnout, having a counsellor has definitely helped me navigate it better than the last autistic burnout I had in March. I have an accomodation where I can work from home if I need and so far I have only had to request this once and this was to do with me processing grief back in July. I do have a busy life but I would rather make the most of the time I have on this earth than waste it. I have so many people that depend on me and so much I want to achieve I will never give up.

The medical support for autistic adults in my area is non-existent. I even asked my local Autism Charity if they had any workshops or support groups and they said due to Covid they had all stopped and would hopefully restart next year.

It really does have to change. People can do better!



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