a blog by an autistic adult

Category: Burnout (page 1 of 2)

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.

I’m starting to think my current round of burnout is permanent.

I consider myself super lucky to have a part time job where I can work from home because otherwise I don’t think I would be able to do it anymore… all the commuting (public transportation), peopling, wearing highly uncomfortable clothing, having to multitask and process constantly changing technology, all of the stress/pressure. I look back and don’t know how I ever survived working in an office but I really don’t think I would be able to hold down that kind of job anymore.

I think things have gotten harder for me instead of easier in so many ways, or maybe I just have a lower tolerance now or something. Or (as someone on FB pointed out), burnout.

I’ve written about burnout before. I think I’m on round three (or maybe five now, I’ve lost count tbh). Maybe it’s permanent this time? I dunno. I don’t know enough about it.

I have small glimpses where I’m like “OK I CAN DO THE THINGS” or “Omg I’m feeling so free from the pit of quicksand now” but nope. Maybe it really is depression. I’m not sure anymore.

This is a picture of a tired cat laying on a tiny couch. Because cat on a tiny couch. (free stock photo source: pixabay)

This is a picture of a tired cat laying on a tiny couch. Because cat on a tiny couch. (free stock photo source: pixabay)

Functioning and aging


The older I get, the less I can seem to function. Not sure if because of burnout or stress or what. It’s been a while since I posted about autistic burnout, but I’ve heard from other autistic people that this has been true for them also.

On the Facebook page today I asked if anyone else in the group has experienced this, and I was surprise how many people quickly said they do too. Feel free to join in the Facebook discussion, which has gotten me to thinking even more about this topic. Or feel free to post a comment here.

When you say you appreciate my positive attitude…

Image is a photograph of tiny purple flowers growing through cracked blacktop with the words "I'm not trying to inspire you. I'm just trying to survive."

Image is a photograph of tiny purple flowers growing through cracked blacktop with the words “I’m not trying to inspire you. I’m just trying to survive.”

You might have noticed that I haven’t blogged for a while, and that I haven’t been updating the Aspified facebook page as often as I used to. I’ve been going through another burnout as a result of extreme stress and having to spend so much time blending in and passing. In addition to other stressful life events, I have been trying to complete my last semester of college.

The more burned out I’ve become, the less tolerance I have had for people’s attitudes. Specifically, I am struggling with people who say things like “You’re such an inspiration” or “I appreciate your positive attitude.”

If you’re looking at the situation from the outside in, you might think these phrases are compliments. Sometimes they are.  But within the context I am hearing them, there is a more accurate translation.

What these people are really saying to me is “Rather than listen to the struggles you have told me you are having in this class and finding some way to follow the law and accommodate you, or even acknowledge your documented disabilities, I will instead focus on how awesome you are handling the fact that we are discriminating against you and causing you undue stress.”

I try to have a positive attitude about most things, because I don’t like feeling negatively. I don’t like to wallow in my troubles, because it makes me feel worse. That is my personal choice, and it is a choice I make for myself. Not for you.

When you tell me you appreciate my positive attitude, the message I receive is that I owe you something. Your actions after speaking these words to me, or rather your inaction to do anything to actually solve the problem, demonstrate to me that you do not care that I am struggling. I’m sure it’s much easier to say how inspiring I am for overcoming my “challenges” (as you call them), but here’s the thing.

I do not owe you a positive attitude.

I am not here to inspire you.

I am just trying to survive in a world that is set up to exclude me.

I do not need your false-praise or even your genuine compliment.

What I need is for you to do your job, comply with the law, and get me closed captions or a transcript for this project. What I need is to not be told “I know you have trouble hearing, but I would really like to discuss this over the phone,” when I have told you five times that I can’t do that. If I could hear well enough to discuss this over the phone, we would not be having this conversation.

What I need is for you to answer my question, in writing.

What I need is for you to explain the instructions in a way I can understand them.

What I need is to stop having to accommodate the needs of the people who are required by law to accommodate mine. Otherwise, the “inspiring” student with “such a positive attitude” will be filing a lawsuit.

Edit to add: For non-disabled people who feel the need to comment here about how easy it would be for me to find an advocate to fight this on my behalf, or how easily you would solve this problem if you were me, please do me a favor and shut up. If those are your thoughts, then you have no idea what the real world is like for disabled people, and your attitude is part of the problem.


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