AUTISTIC NICK’S MENTAL HEALTH BREAK
As regular readers of my blog will know I’ve been working on a development project since April and I had been experiencing a wide range of emotions culminating in me having an Autistic Burn Out. https://autisticnick.com/2020/07/20/autistic-nick-has-an-autistic-burnout/
Since then I emailed the person that I was working with on this project and made the decision to take a 3-week break.
This was much needed for me.
But, not just for me but for my mental health too.
A wide range of factors lead up to me making this decision and they were the fact that it was becoming unpleasurable, the stress of meeting deadlines didn’t help, I was placing too much pressure on myself, which lead me to burn out and having to take a step back and analyse and assess what I needed to do to make things better for myself and my mental health.
It wasn’t an easy decision I can tell you, and it was a tough call, but I couldn’t go on placing all of that stress onto myself when it wasn’t necessary in the first place.
I wasn’t listening to my body in the first instance and then to my brain screaming out for god sake just take a break.
But I didn’t listen and hence I found myself having a burn out.
The signs were so obvious when I look back, but I chose to ignore them which was a mistake but when you’re motivated like I was by and end goal, I pushed them aside and carried on.
Towards the end of my burn out occurring I had a 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).
How I wish I had of had the courage to speak up and say
“Hey, I need a time out here”
But, not me I just continued to head down a path that wasn’t healthy and was causing me to place my mental health lower than something that in the end was less important.
It was after numerous conversations that I began to have with my sister and after the burn out occurred that I went and composed an email informing them that I needed to step back here and that I was going to take a 3-week break.
I was nervous about how it would be received but I needn’t of worried.
I think that’s the fear that most of us would have isn’t it?
How will it be perceived if we took time out to deal with our mental health? How will those involved react? Will I be treated differently once I return to the project? Will I have a stigma attached to me? Will people see this break that I needed as a sign of weakness?
Well the answer to that is a hard NO. They didn’t. That was just a conversation and lots of questions that were whirling around in my head.
I needn’t have worried.
They completely understood.
In fact, they have been extremely understanding since this project started.
Always checking in and asking me if I was ok, if I needed to have a time out for 5 mins or so.
The fault didn’t lie with them, the fault lay with me and my inability to be confident enough within myself to take that step back and see just what I was doing to myself mentally and physically and start to see what I needed to do in order to achieve this much needed break that I took.
I wrote many posts about how this process and this project were affecting me but I didn’t listen to anything I was doing so I just continued to push myself until I had reached the point of saying this isn’t working for me and not making me happy.
See I wrote all these posts and I chose to ignore all of my own advice!
Since I made that admission, I’ve learnt that it’s not a sign of weakness to speak up and that I should’ve trusted my own instincts when it came to composing and then sending that email.
I’ve learnt that other opinions of myself aren’t important and don’t matter, what does is that I’m mentally fit and well and that I am able to be a healthier well-balanced version of myself.
Which at the end of the day is all that really counts.
As I’m recovering from my Autistic burnout, it is important to remember 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.
Carry on the Conversation
Thank you for reading and I will see you next time for more thoughts from across the spectrum.