Oh, so THIS is burnout — Autism and Emotional Soreness

After enduring a day in which I had to throw my bones ahead of my soul, nap in between meetings to recuperate, wrote way too much in musing poetic howling meter, and falling asleep cold whilst still daylight at 07:54 PM — the reflections converged.

Yes, Hunter, you can indeed burn out.

It wasn’t how I expected, nor did it come about like I expect this would for most autistic people.

You may know I do A LOT. It’s not a complaint: if anything it is a compulsion and pseudo-showcase of the insane autistic inertia I generate.

I can do and overdo a lot, but it doesn’t necessarily burn me out.

For me, my burnout appears to be emotional soreness.

Let us revisit the previous day:

This would not be a routine Wednesday, so already, my defenses were compromised.

My eldest daughter graduated Kindergarten, a first for us, in terms of experience as a parent, and in attending one of these ceremonies. I don’t remember my own Kindergarten graduation, but this carried some emotional heft — where it involved a mix of baby/toddler wrangling, event socializing, and a mix of finality. Our first official school year done.

My youngest daughter turned 1. She achieved this milestone in a year, so we’re proud of her in that. The day began with getting her cake shoot pics and just wrapping our hearts around little Jo — where we wanted to make the day special, knowing it would be a full day. Then again, she’s 1. She’s pretty happy with Goldfish crackers and being picked up.

We had an awards event that night too – I’ll leave the details scant, but we still had a major social obligation that night

AND THEN I was relayed some news (not bad, don’t worry) that packed a leveling blast-from-the-past punch, enough to where I basically tripped a fault wire and couldn’t process the enormity of it in the moment. I can’t wait to share that.

So the chain of events, plus a workday, just led to a lot of heavy emotional and practical lifting in the moment. And it was just that, lifting.

I didn’t feel it until the next day. I was hollowed. Vacant. Drained. Emptied and spent.

In the day I don’t think I could explain it.

But this must be my kind of autistic burnout.

Where some events are too much to process in the moment.

Where some enormities set in, but not all at once.

Where the emotional toll is felt as a booming echo that steals my strength.

I don’t remember the last time I collapsed into sleep before sunset — but the events of the previous day had taken my shell and plunged it into the blackened sand.

And that was that.

I was feeling it as emotionally sore.

It burned me out.

And now I know.

To learn more about autism from an autistic person’s perspective, follow & subscribe to The Life Autistic here and on YouTube — and follow the more whimsical, spontaneous, and amusing content on Instagram as well.

Oh, you’ll like this, by the way:

Autistic Creative Burnout

It only took five weeks, but as I sat down, said the quiet parts out loud, I confessed both to myself and out in the open:

I can’t keep things up like this.

The YouTube channel has been a thrill, I’ve enjoyed keeping up here with writing, and there have been plenty of things both at work and at home to stay ahead of, do, and enjoy. But just not all at once at this rate.

I can’t narrate The Life Autistic if I’m no longer LIVING.

Burnout is hard, but it’s especially hard when it’s fueled and propelled by autistic obsessions and fixations.

I’m going into each weekend gripped by the need to film, to edit, splice, and prep for publish weekly. And if it’s not that, it’s gearing up blogs on the cadence I’ve maintained for years. This has become its own special interest, and if you’re autistic, you know it is hard to undo!

But things have changed: work has seasons, I’ve had more kids since this whole outlet began, I’m helping stay flexible to let Mrs. H2 stay engaged in teaching – the list goes on.

So does time: it goes on and has not changed, nor broadened, nor expanded.

I’ve been to the burnout wall before, so I know it’s coming. Here’s what will be changing, for my own sanity:

Writing is slowing down. I do enjoy practicing my one key skill, but I am making my own pressure by committing to a 2x weekly pace. And I can’t keep that up. I’ll be here on Mondays, but I’m afraid the Thursday kicker will need to step aside.

Videos on Wednesdays. But maybe not every Wednesday. Some of these come together extremely quick, but not always. YouTube isn’t my day job. My day job is already pretty intense. I have kids, plural. I have to face the fact that, given everything else, I’m just not capable of cranking things out as fast as I could.

Balance. This may surprise some or none of you, but every minute of my day is pretty much compulsively driven to some objective — I’ve not “been lazy” in years, and the doing is always intense, and focused, and purposeful — and exhausting.

So while I realize, yeah, my audience is probably going to dry up because I can’t be as ridiculous a force, at least I’ll still have a Life Autistic to live, to enjoy, one that can’t afford to dry up.

I hope you’ll stick around, even if the updates aren’t as feverishly constant. But I need to slow down to keep going.  To learn more about autism from an autistic person’s perspective, follow & subscribe to The Life Autistic here and on YouTube — or follow the more whimsical, spontaneous, and amusing content on Twitter / Instagram. Thanks.

Maybe one day I’ll get around to a video on burnout. For now, here’s some other autistic things I wish I’d known sooner.