In the Midst of An Autistic Burnout

You would not believe how many times I’ve tried to finish a blog post over the last few months. Since opening up about loneliness after a break-up, I said yes to all the overtime at work and even squeezed in two solo trips. At the time it seemed like a great distraction but in reality, I was on the verge of exhaustion by the end of 2018.

As someone who struggles to be out of a routine, choosing to work up to 50 hours a week probably wasn’t the best decision.

For the last few months, I’ve been spending my weekends at home trying to switch-off whilst my brain is running on overdrive. Everyday life can be overwhelming so the whole work-life balance feels like a pipe dream.

I promise I’m not lazy; I’m just struggling with burnout.

That’s my biggest fear out of all of this, that people will think I’m lazy. Yes, I’ve been known to be less than energetic at times but that’s exactly why I knew this was different. It felt great to finally have a grasp on what I want to achieve. Yet my body and mind have been in agreement that none of it (amongst other things) was going to happen.

autistic burnout

Now autistic burnout is still fairly new to me. I hadn’t even heard of the term till last year, and it was later on that I realised I was experiencing it myself. Essentially, it relates to when an autistic person is struggling with simple tasks, becomes mentally exhausted and emotionally drained. This can happen to adults and children which could last for weeks, months or even longer in some cases.

Each autistic person will deal with burnout differently and only I can say for sure what I have experienced from it. Although it wouldn’t surprise me if the autistic community are able to relate to most of it.

  • Looking after myself: basic things like brushing my teeth and showering seemed daunting.
  • Sensory overload: certain noises and lights would really agitate me on an ‘over the top’ level.
  • Downtime: hobbies, like reading and listening to podcasts, were a no-go as I couldn’t concentrate for long.
  • Communicating: I couldn’t put my thoughts or ideas into words.
  • Making decisions: from choosing what to eat for dinner to solving problems at work became overwhelming.
  • Sleeping: my brain would be running on overdrive so it would take me hours to fall asleep.
  • Socialising: the thought of a family gathering or meeting up with friends gave me a feeling of dread.

Fast forward to now and I’m slowly starting to have better days. It has meant that I’ve had to say no more, and I still need to be stricter with my routine. But I must be making progress because for one I’m finally writing this blog post plus I’m going out more.

If you’re reading this and think you may be experiencing autistic burnout – you’re going to be okay. It may not feel like it now, and you’ll probably find it difficult to make sense of it all which is to be expected. This is your brain telling you that you’re struggling to function and you need to prioritise the energy you have. If you feel like you can, speak to someone you trust or reach out to the #ActuallyAutistic community because you’re not alone.

Helpful links:
What is Autistic Burnout Image Guide found on Twitter
How to Avoid Autistic Burnout YouTube video by invisible i
Masking, Mental Health & Burnout Blog Post by Neurodivergent Rebel


1 Comment

  1. I always just assumed I was having nervous breakdowns until I learned about Autistic Burnout. For me I have to differentiate between the burnout state (at which point I complete stop functioning – I only eat if it’s put in front of me, can’t bathe or basic self care. Just stare at a wall all day) and being overloaded/in the process of burning out where I’m struggling to function but can still force myself to do the things.

    I’m now in my fourth year of recovering from my last burnout and finally managing to go out again, although I’ve noticed I still end up with perpetual overload a lot and have to step back and rest.

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