AUTISTIC NICK HAS AN AUTISTIC BURNOUT
For a few weeks now I’ve been dealing and writing about how a development project was affecting me emotionally and mentally.
I had no idea that what I was going through is what’s referred to as ‘An Autistic Burnout’.
What is an Autistic Burnout?
“An Autistic Burnout is a state of physical and mental fatigue, heightened stress, and diminished capacity to manage life skills, sensory input, and/or social interactions, which comes from years of being severely overtaxed by the strain of trying to live up to demands that are out of sync with our needs.”
The signs were all their lack of motivation, not caring about goals, everyday life being overwhelming, loss of executive functioning abilities, decision making, organising myself, difficulty with self-care, exhausted, lethargic (my afternoon naps had gone from the standard hour to an hour and a half to two hours).
The next logical step was to do figure out what the causes of my burn out were, well I could pinpoint it back to this development project that I am currently working on.
But I think it was more than just that, I was doing too much and it was causing me too much stress, I needed more down time and had less energy, I was having a lot more sensory overloads and becoming emotional and needing more time out for myself, I took to stepping away and allowing myself to cry outside, or go for a walk, do some exercise, do a word search in a puzzle book.
This plays into my strategies of how I was going to deal with this. I started by scheduling breaks, and then incorporating exercise into my day more, I also set myself reminders about taking a break and knowing who my supports were and that I could contact them with any concerns that I may have been having or issues that I needed to discuss with them.
I was also grateful that I had my routine in place and not having this project take up the whole day thus putting what I had in place moved aside to put all my energy into this one project. I concluded that I needed to better manage my time where this project was concerned, it didn’t have to be rushed as I had a whole week on which to work on it.
But, I feel the most important lesson that I learnt here was that I needed to start paying attention to my body and actually listening when it’s telling me to take a break and that it’s ok to come back to it later on or even the next day. Why overwork myself and stress myself out when I didn’t have to?
The last question that I would be asking myself Is it possible to prevent burnout? And the answer to that is yes it can.
The key strategy for preventing burnout is self-knowledge which I am now armed with. I just like other Autistic people can learn over time which situations are most likely to trigger burnout for them.
They (like me) can also watch for signs that they are getting close to burnout: Some Autistic people describe feeling disconnected from their bodies or experiencing tunnel vision in this state.
Armed with this awareness, they can develop strategies to avoid burnout, such as leaving a social event early or planning a recovery day after a trip before returning to work.
While recovering from Autistic burnout, it is important to be patient with yourself. It can be frustrating to lose access to skills but remember that this is not your fault. During this time, it may help to schedule breaks throughout the day to relax. If you have a special interest or stim that calms you down, feel free to use those as much as you need to. Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for help as you are recovering.
If you feel that you would benefit from seeing a therapist to aid you in learning coping skills and then click here for a therapist in your area.
You can search for a psychologist here https://www.psychology.org.au/Find-a-Psychologist
Or you can see a physiatrist here https://www.yourhealthinmind.org/find-a-psychiatrist
Carry on the Conversation
What have you done to help you when you’ve had a burnout?
Did you recognise the triggers and how do you manage to prevent them from affecting you?
Can you pass on any hints and tips?
Let me know in the comments below.
Thank you for reading and I will see you next time for more thoughts from across the spectrum.