I blog a lot about autistic rights, and how we’re oppressed, and what we need to be equal, but I don’t always write about the challenges I face. This leads people to assume that I’m maybe just slightly quirky and I don’t really have support needs. So, today, I’m inviting you in to one of my more difficult areas. Today, I’m going to try and write about:
Autistic Burn Out
I feel it. I’m not burn out yet, but I’m on the long slow slide to burn out. It’s a feeling of being a deflated balloon.
My ability to can is gone. What’s more, my ability to read with comprehension is dwindling which is a huge problem given that I’m supposed to be writing two essays for uni at the moment.
I get bursts where I can focus intently on something for long enough to get it finished, but otherwise, I’m aimlessly flailing around trying to figure out what it is that I intended to be be doing when I sat down, walked into a room, or switched on my computer.
Musings of an Aspie has this post on autistic regression, where she explains that it’s not regression, but more that life’s demands are outweighing an individual’s resources.
This is accurate in my case. I signed myself up to do too many things at a time of year that is traditionally busy. I could probably do all of them and somehow some way, I will get everything done because I always do. But my flow is missing. Briannon Lee wrote this fantastic post about flow and the neurodivergent brain that explains that well.
All the usual things that I do to keep myself on track haven’t been working. I am usually a list maker, but I’m either forgetting to make the list or I’m forgetting to check the list. Things that are usually simple to accomplish, like making a cup of coffee, have become a complicated series of steps that I’m not getting right.
Am I panicking about this? Yes, and no.
Yes, I’m panicking because the deadlines for my uni assignments are looming, and I can’t read well at the moment so being able to do the required research is not something I can do at the moment.
No, I’m not panicking because this happens and if I try and force myself to focus, I end up losing even more of my flow and have even less focus to begin with.
So, I flit from task to task, drink cold coffee (or hot water) and wait for my elusive flow to return. that method of flitting from task to task isn’t very productive, but that’s about as productive as I can be right now, so I’m being gentle with myself.
I’m counting “keeping everyone alive” among my accomplishments this week. It may not seem like much but it’s still an achievement. Myself, my son, and my cats are fed. We’re doing ok. We’re mostly happy. My apartment is untidy by my usual standards, but it’s ok. It will get tidied when my flow returns.
Until then, I wait, I occupy myself with small easily manageable tasks, and it will all be ok. I hope I won’t slide all the way down to burn out, but I can’t be certain, and if I do end up there, I will climb back up the way I have done before.