a blog by an autistic adult

Birthdays, burnout and depression

I’m never too clear on where the lines are drawn between autistic burnout and depression. There seems to be a lot of overlap in my symptoms so honestly I don’t know if what I have is depression or not. What I do know is that from my birthday (which was yesterday) until around December 3 (the date my dad died), I have a worse time than normal pretty much every year.

The past year has already been very difficult for me for reasons I’ve already mentioned here and a few other personal ones.

I feel like my “good” days at this point are just being a tiny bit less burned out than usual. On those days I can manage to get some work done. (I work from home, so I don’t have to do all the things that would be required to showing up for a job like commuting etc. I’m not sure I could do those things right now.) Like if my “functioning level” was a scale from one through ten I feel like my supposedly good days would probably be a three. An occasionally awesome day would be maybe a five.

The fact that I’m 38 years old and am in the place I am right now makes me more sad and self-loathing. Birthdays are a perfect reminder to me that internalized ableism is a thing, because I find myself comparing myself to society’s standards of what I should be and also all the things I thought I would have accomplished by now. Many of the things I’ve wanted aren’t anything society would expect of me. So I feel like I’ve failed on multiple levels at this point.

I have days in general where I just don’t know why I bother anymore tbh and those days scare me. What scares me the most is how I can somehow go into auto-pilot mode to do the things that have to be done (like taking care of my mom and my pet rabbits and myself on a very basic level) even when the amount of spoons I have feels like negative a million. It doesn’t feel like living. Just existing. I look back on those days, which are becoming more frequent, like who is that person who showered me or did the laundry. Oh wait it was me. But how? lol

Despite my usual dreading of birthdays, most years I’m able to try to look at it as a fresh start and try to use it as a jumping off point to try to think about what I would like to do in the next year. This year it’s basically just like “Ok, survival. That’s a good goal.”

Birthdays suck. Burnout, depression, maybe both? Suck.

That’s basically all I have for today. :-\ Sorry for the rambling. Editing my thoughts into something halfway coherent isn’t going to happen at the present moment.

Motivating myself to get things done lately has kinda been a problem.

I don’t actually feel like doing anything, and forcing myself to try to function has felt like a huge chore for more than a year now.

What little energy I have at all comes in spurts so unpredictable that I have trouble figuring out which pressing chore to do first before my energy is drained again.

I feel like I’m devoting too much energy to social media. But that’s where my friends are, and it’s the only place I have anything close to a support system. But being on Facebook too much ultimately leaves me overstimulated and angry by halfway through the day.

Finding balance is kind of a problem for me.

I’m either super into a thing or I’m not. And when I’m not, I don’t seem to have any attention span anymore. I can’t seem to focus on things I used to enjoy.

I’ve been trying hard to cut as much stress as possible out of my life to focus on the things I have to do to survive. But I feel like my tolerance to stress gets lower and lower all the time.

I know a lot of other people feel this way too. I know most of our lives are way too hard. I know most of us don’t have the support we need. I just don’t know what to do about it.

Winter is coming aaaaaaaahhhhh

Ok, so it’s probably no secret to anyone who knows me that I dread winter at this point in my life and that I have trouble adjusting to the change of seasons in general.

I don’t drive so winter is particularly isolating for me, since I’m living in an area where nobody bothers to put salt down. Even getting to the dumpster to get rid of my trash in winter is a challenge, honestly. I’ve injured myself in so many falls over the years it’s embarrassing even though it’s really not my fault. I also have asthma so walking anywhere in cold weather isn’t the best anyway, but the ice really makes it worse. Winter is not my friend, ok?

So while most of my friends are enjoying the autumn and looking forward to holidays and such, I’m busy obsessing over how I’m going to keep myself occupied and uninjured this winter. The uninjured part is particularly important now since I’m the sole caretaker for my mom and if anything happens to me, I’m not sure what we would do. Added stress is not my favorite. I’m basically a ball of anxiety at this point.

I’ve been trying to keep my anxious brain occupied with things to look forward to. For example, I’ve just recently learned to crochet and have been hoping to use this new hobby as a thing to get me through the winter months of feeling like crap. I’m also trying to find more work I can do from home or things I can do to earn extra money because that’s kind of important at this point. But crochet is more fun. Haha.

Anyway, I apologize for not posting here in a while. A few people have emailed to ask if I’m okay, and I’m never really sure how to answer that question. I guess the answer is, sort of? LOL I’ve been having some struggles (which is an understatement haha), but I’m hoping to be back to posting on some sort of regular basis at times when I have something to say.

I hope all my friends here are doing well. If anyone has suggestions for surviving the winter or would like to commiserate on feeling isolated, feel free to comment.

So, you want to help me…

Humans confuse me.

People want to feel like they’re helping, but they don’t want to actually help.

They want to ask everyone but you what you should need, and then get defensive and abusive when their brand of help actually makes your life harder.

If you want to know what someone needs, ask them. If they can communicate what they need, do what they need you to do.

Respect that the answer may be “I need you to get out of my space.”

If all you can do is not make their life worse, then do that.

Being a decent human is not that complicated.

Helping other people is not about you. If you’re making it about you, maybe work on why that is.

This is just a poem about Mondays

Mondays come like vultures
picking at the remains
of my will to live, testing me
with word problems like
if a shower takes twelve spoons and
scratching your itchy head all day
takes eleven and you only
start the week with ten, how
will you pay the rent?
So I try to learn a new math
one in which infinity
is a practical answer, like always
is a possibility, and negativity
isn’t subtraction
because existence, in reality,
isn’t logical because logically
I should be dead by now.
Because I can’t do this.
That’s the simplified answer.
It’s not a radical expression like
No. Really, I can’t get out of bed
today, gravity isn’t on my side and
I lifed too much this weekend and
I can’t life anymore this week.
Please don’t make me. And
She says this is what depression is and
He says this is just laziness and
They say my picture is in the dictionary
next to the word burnout and
I don’t know the answer and
I’ve forgotten the question.
I’ve forgotten where the train station is and
I forgot to put on pants but
I remembered and went back for them and
She says someday I’ll get lost out there
and never find my way home and
He says it’s easy, just stop thinking about it and
They say they’re all there for me but
I’m not sure where there is and
She says I’m not as high functioning
as they seem to think I am and
He says it’s not the destination but the journey and
They say they don’t know
what to say anymore and I think
Thank Goodness!
Because my head is just a box
that holds the ableism in
and if I bang it just right
with the side of my fist
I’ll feel better and
that works if no one is watching
but everyone is watching
because the train is almost downtown now
and people are standing in the aisles like
toy soldiers who can’t wait
to report for duty on Christmas morning
but then I hear one say to another one
that she despises Mondays and I think
Ok then. This society thing
isn’t working out for anybody
and another one yawns
and another one shakes their head
and they commiserate
about this bullshit and I think
Maybe this is where hope lives.
Maybe this is where the revolution begins.
Maybe we’ll all just quit and go back
but then one laughs
and another marches forward
and the doors open and
no one talks to each other anymore
because everyone is going fast
like a race but
nobody wins.
And I sit here until it’s over
sit and wait for the last waft of
iTunes and perfume to pass
and I wipe the tears I didn’t know I had
off my face and pull myself up and
I stand in the doorway looking for inspiration
because pigeons are always dancing
in a circle like some kind of ritual
around the ankles of the bagel people
who sometimes drop a crumb and
the birds survive somehow.
Maybe they know something I don’t.
Maybe their ability to fly
makes them feel safe enough
to stand their ground and wait.
And a child skips
too close to the tracks
and her mother drags her
without explaining why
electricity hides
in the strangest places and
I wish I could go back.
Not to my own childhood, certainly, but
to someone’s. Back when I believed
I was the future and
imagination was encouraged and
not a sign of a mental health crisis
Back when plans were drawn
in sidewalk chalk and word games
were washed away in the tide
Back when if I wasn’t strong
nobody noticed and showing up
every day got a trophy
Back when I cared about things
like recognition and I was motivated
by scratch-and-sniff stickers and
getting through another Monday meant
dodging the kind of balls you could throw back
but no, I have to go
and a pigeon follows me because it doesn’t know
I don’t have anything and I laugh
because I wonder if birds know
what weekends mean and
I wonder if they spend their Sundays
lifing at the beach because they know
not to bother coming here because
there are no bagels until Monday.
And I wonder if they look forward to this
and I wonder how many spoons birds get
and I imagine back at the beach
there is one of them that looks
a lot like this one who just
can’t even anymore and is waiting for
the others to return exasperated
waiting to ask them
if the journey was worth it.

[pigeon on a statue of a person stock photo from]

[pigeon on a statue of a person stock photo from]

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