Autism Insights, My Journey

Burnout from an Autistic Perspective

Part 1: What It Feels Like, and Self-awareness

The world can be a fairly hectic, fast paced place. People always seem to be working towards something or working at least; out there doing something to move forward one way or another, barely giving themselves the chance to really slow-down and recharge. It can be inspiring to hear or follow what others are doing, and use that as motivation for myself to keep up with the wonderful momentum that comes from getting out there and experiencing what life has to offer, and at the end of each day say “look what I’ve been up to” listing each experience or commitment proudly to prove that amidst everything you’ve managed to get through another week like everyone else has.

This thought of “look what I’ve fit in” is what motivates me to keep busy some weeks, reach out, and get out of the house, but if I’m not careful or don’t plan in moderation, it all can leave me feeling overwhelmed, frazzled and like a candle that’s been burning on both ends, with little left to light.

What Happens and How My Experience Changes:

I also understand the experience at this stage of having done too much, as you would the battery power on your phone after running apps all day, away from a power outlet- which understandably would be at 20% or less than a full charge. This same experience happens to me, if not given the opportunity to recharge, than functioning in life becomes more challenging and what once seemed manageable before becomes overwhelming overwhelming, as my ability to take it all in and get by lessens.  In the meantime, the process of gradually tuning out the world takes place as I retreat into my head, as a form of self-protection from what’s going on, in order to cope. Which to others or family members, it looks as if I’m becoming quieter, may seem distracted or not completely aware of my surroundings as before, more irritable or jumpy- all signs that I’ve reached that “red danger zone”.

It is an experience just know as an adult I am starting to acknowledge; after years of pushing through at work or life, doing more than I should, and booking weeks full of plans only to find that I can still be effected by my environment and what has gone on during the week. The challenge is that there are still times; especially after slower weeks; where I am determined not to let the way I process the world affect me or what I can do, believing that it’s possible to book even more into it and keep up without missing out or crashing. While the reality remains that each experience may give me some energy that day or inspire that little bit extra, when not done in moderation becomes too much and then the very subtle reminder kicks in, the one that says “Hey. Remember how your energy is used, and how we have to be careful about planning.” Yeah, the one that eventually seems right. All this to say that it seems to come down to two things: the first is self-awareness to realize what may be too much; and the second is that what may seem “busy” for others; often feels “chaotic” for me. So in order to do what’s best I have to plan in moderation or if a busy week comes my way be sure to give myself the following week off.

Question: What has helped you not get burnt out, or create better balanced weeks?

I’m interested to know, so comment down below. 

Keep on keeping’ on, and as always Stay You-nique,



Blog image: Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Feature image: Photo by Thomas kinto on Unsplash