Autistic Burnout: Not Your Mum’s Fatigue

Lately I’ve been feeling burnt out. I know I’ve talked about the executive dysfunction I’ve been going through but there’s been something else too, maybe the bigger picture I’ve been stuck in for almost the past year.

Autistic burnout.

I’m sure this post is going to be the laziest post I’ve made!

I didn’t know until a couple of weeks ago that autistic burnout was a thing. Of course, I’ve heard of regular burnout, but I’ve never heard of the autistic “special edition” version.

So, what is it?

I found this post from Tumblr [also below] that describes the slow progression – and regression, in a way – but my understanding/way to articulate it is that it stems from the constant pressure to mask and appear neurotypical, to the point where executive dysfunction and the ability to communicate and organise thoughts become greatly disturbed and disrupted. People feel like they’re in the heaviest and most unexplainable depression in their life, some feel like they’re going through a midlife crisis even though they might be only in their early twenties.

This quote from AutisticSciencePerson.com explains it simply and perfectly – “I think I just realized why autistic burnout is so bad. It’s because when abled non-autistic people reach their limits, they can’t go on. When autistic people reach their limits, they continue because they know they have to continue to be considered valuable.”
So, you’re already stuck in a world that doesn’t want you to be you in any way, but you have to continue, you must continue.

So I’ve been continuing. I’ve had a lot of family upheaval as well as changes to my home setting with my dad moving in and not being in good health, therefore, needing care (thankfully he’s on the mend now and doing his tasks in the garage). I feel like I’m pinning all of this on him in a way like he’s an awful, impeding person when he’s not, but having someone living with me, I constantly have to feel “on”. This fractured family ‘drama’ and this “on”ness has made me lose my routine, my focus (or the little I had), my functioning, and has gotten me to this point.

So what are some common symptoms of autistic burnout?

  • Complete shut down including loss of speech (muting)
  • Increase in general speech difficulties, including stuttering and echolalia
  • Pain throughout body, headaches and migraines, eye strain/pain
  • Elevated and more frequent sensory overloads and sensitivities
  • Increase in executive dysfunctioning
  • Difficulty in memory
  • Difficulty in making decisions, no matter how small
  • Feelings of derealisation or depersonalisation
  • Feelings of disassociating

Chronic, long-term autistic burnout could lead to anxiety and depression, or exacerbation of either or both, which can lead to higher chances of suicide ideation and attempts.

I definitely deal with most of these symptoms on a regular basis, and I honestly don’t know when I’ll be able to get back to a better version of myself – unless I win the lottery or I get a sugar daddy that wants to hear exclusively about all my hyperfixations and doing my own versions of Six/Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon with other actors.

Before I go to.. I don’t know, try to cut my toenails? Get a glass of water? Sit in my chair for ten minutes but try not to doze off? I linked to some articles below by people who can articulate things much better than I can. Happy reading!

Some links!

“Having All of Your Internal Resources Exhausted Beyond Measure and Being Left with No Clean-Up Crew”: Defining Autistic Burnout https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32851204/

https://www.autism.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/topics/mental-health/autistic-fatigue/autistic-adults

One thought on “Autistic Burnout: Not Your Mum’s Fatigue

  1. Pingback: Autism Interview #191: Lucy McCombe on Self Diagnosis and Navigating Multiple Diagnoses - Learn From Autistics

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