By Katie Munday (they / them)

So many of us Autistic folk struggle with burnout – the extreme fatigue which comes from sensorial, emotional and mental overwhelm.

This can cause us to shutdown – some of us can be in bed for days or weeks on end, incapable of functioning at our usual level of activity, finding everything mentally taxing.

Many of us can’t afford to succumb to shutdown and her alluring siren call of isolation and inactivity. We have to surge through and somehow keep ourselves together.

This is especially difficult for those of us who have lots of responsibilities like raising young children and working full time. We just have to put our heads down and get on with it.

I have been in burnout for four months now, probably even longer. I am getting on with the day to day but I am well and truly overloaded, exhausted and floating around doing things purely by muscle memory.

I am struggling with basic self care, remembering to eat and drink, brushing my teeth, showering. It used to be that I was ashamed of all these struggles but now I just remind myself that it’s really hard to exist sometimes, so much so that the basics sometimes have to slip.

I know I’m not alone with my state of (barely) functioning burnout, so many of us are there right now, especially with the global pandemic, times of austerity and diminishing protections for Disabled folk. We are dazed, confused, exhausted by it all.

For others who are feeling this way: you’re not alone and you’re not broken. You are doing so amazingly well in a time and place which has been turned on its head.

We will come out of this phase, because that is all it is, a phase, and that means things will get better.

And for those of you who aren’t in burnout at the moment check in on your friends (even your non-Autistic ones!) because you never know when that might save someone from complete shutdown.

5 thoughts on “Functioning burnout: can’t stop, won’t stop

  1. What I experience is burnout in different situations at various times of the day. For example, I just returned from one hour of tutoring in a fifth grade classroom and walked out of there exhausted. I work with one or two kids at a time. Usually I get tired by it but today just feel wiped out.
    Virtually always my exhaustion results from public settings. I can manage much better at home alone. But it gets discouraging to be faced with this issue almost every day.
    I have developed good strategies that help with prevention and recovery but would love to hear what works for others.

  2. I was just diagnosed with autism. I really thought that I was depressed or that something, but now I know it is burnout. Tunneling out of this cave is going to be a challenge, but I’m motivated. It feels good to know what is going on.

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