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.


  1. I can relate completely to everything you talked about, and if you can keep sharing, it might help to get it out.
    My grandson was relinquished for adoption six years ago. We have an open adoption, and I get to see him twice a year for a very short visit. But it’s not the same as being a real memaw. He was born on Halloween, and I still take that day off from work because I know that if I don’t spend it thinking about him, going through his baby box and singing the songs I sang for him in the hospital I will be a cranky b**** at work! For a few days up to that day and for a few days after I am seriously blue. So I think it’s natural for you to miss your dad and be sad this time each year. I know a lot of NT’s that do the same thing.
    I just turned 49 this year and just got my diagnosis last year. I used to think my “blues” were depression. And until I was diagnosed, I had no choice but to agree with the therapists. And while I think for several of those episodes I had some depression also, I can see that most were burnout. Too much on my plate for too long, or too much upheaval in my life.
    My mom is Aspie and has depression too, so it’s not uncommon at all. And in the end, if you treat them both the best way to resolve them, then you’ve done the best you can. Sometimes it just takes some time to get back on an even keel. And sometimes I’ve found that the stresses won’t ease up and you just have to keep your head down. Eventually, things may break free and you’ll see some improvement. Talk to your therapist and your friends if you can. Sometimes just having someone validate your feelings helps a lot.

  2. If you need to talk, you’re welcome to message me at my email address and I’ll give you my phone number.
    Hang in there!

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