7 min read

Autistic Burnout

Everything is wrong. I'm exhausted. Anxious. Irritated. Trapped. It's all wrong! [103]
Cityscape of Liverpool with fireworks, the Liverbuilding and a cruise ship shining search lights into the sky.

hello camera

This week’s photos are from various cruise ship commissions I’ve had over the years for Cruise Liverpool. I’ve been fortunate enough to have access to some wonderful views of the city.

You can get prints of the photos in this weeks newsletter on my print store or you can tip me on Ko-Fi so I can buy film for my camera.

Autistic Burnout

The past few weeks I’ve been feeling off. I can’t work in my office because;

  • Microphone is rubbish to setup every time
  • Cables! Cables everywhere!
  • Mouse lag issues that I spent £100 to fix and hasn’t
  • Sound lag issues that shouldn’t be possible?!
  • Camera angles. Can’t be happy with any angle.

I can’t edit my photography in the room because the most powerful computer I have is a 13’’ MacBook Air with a small screen. I have 2x 27’’ iMac’s on my desk and I can’t connect the laptop to either of them as an external display. There is no good monitor I can buy for this setup and even if there was I could not afford it. The whole thing makes my skin itchy. I’m stuck in-between a rock and a hard place.

It’s all wrong. Bin it. I want to take a baseball bat to everything on my desk. it all! I’m so exhausted by the constant paper cuts. I want to throw my mouse at the wall every time it lags which it’s not supposed to yet it does but I can’t afford a solution. Arg! It’s… arg! There’s no resolution. No money to fix but it’s a problem. Everything is broken and rubbish and and Hulk smash.

Everything is wrong… or is it? Is everything wrong or is my brain in the wrong place to see that it’s all fine? There are definitely issues with technology that need to be resolved but my brain is seeing everything as “not right”. I know that when things get to this point I am wrong not the situation, even if there are issues. I need… something.

While browsing twitter I saw this graphic about signs of autistic burnout posted by @AutisticCallum.

Oh. Ok. I’m burnt out. I have burnout. He/they are burnt out. Yay? But the technology issues are a real thing. They aren’t in my head. They need solving. While this is true and possible on their own when they are combined with almost everything on this list they become impossible to fix. Let’s dig deeper.

Flat mood

I don’t think my mood has been flat. It’s very obviously all over the place.

Low attention span

I feel like I’ve been bouncing around social media sites for the past few weeks. scroll scroll switch site scroll scroll switch I’m looking for something to invest my time in but nothing is. I try and work on something else but ultimately end up bouncing around browser tabs.

Irritability

Everything is rubbish! It’s all just and wrong! But I can’t afford to replace it so rage!!!! I’m constantly itchy from this. No-one cares. No-ones reading or watching what I do so why even bother? Just going to bin it all. Burn it down. Can’t be doing with anything.

Exhaustion

I can’t keep going on this way. I want to be doing the creative work not the tech support every time. Having to spend every day fixing problems and being exhausted at the end of it without having fixed anything is not good. I can’t be creative if I’m always tired.

Scared to make commitments

I stopped doing my Twitch shows because of course something would break if I tried to do them. I can’t handle things breaking while trying to stream to an audience. It’s not good “TV”. So why bother? Something will break.

Overwhelmed or underwhelmed

Everything in my office is rubbish and needs binning but I can’t afford new stuff. I can’t move to another room because the only option is unheated. I’m trapped. I can’t fix anything. I can’t go anywhere. Also I sprained my foot so I literally cannot go anywhere to escape this. I want out!

Special interests unappealing

Tying into streaming I just don’t feel like I have any energy to do anything. People say to try but my controller is up on that mountain there. I can’t be bothered. Plus something will break anyway.

Low capacity for socialising

Well… pandemic so currently isn’t an option. If it was I’m not in a good place to be happy and friendly.

Unshakeable and constant anxiety

It’s impossible to fix anything everything needs fixing and I don’t know where to start. I’m spending all my time fixing, reading, fixing, reading, fixing, reading and not getting anywhere. If I make something stable I’m on edge because it will probably break. I tried to watch TV the other day but our wifi was bad. 2 hours later it wasn’t. I did nothing. How can I be creative in this space? Everything is wrong, broken or will break once fixed.

The thing to note is that this feels different to depression. Depression is my brain attacking me with negativity to the point where I start agreeing with it and give up. This is more like feeling you are covered in spiders and you can’t get them off. I think it can lead to depression because your brain is always looking for a way in.

Fireworks fire off from a landing stage while a cruise ship floats in the River Mersey.

How do I fix this?

I’ve been like this for a few weeks now. I’ve taken a break from a few things but at the back of my mind is a thought “Those technology issues aren’t going to solve themselves… except the ones that do because technology 🤷.” I’ve considered taking a full break from everything but my hobbies include gaming which relies on technology which is currently a trigger for me. I can’t go out for walks because of a foot sprain. I’m constantly trapped between one set of things I cannot resolve and another set of things causing me depression. A holiday would be nice but there’s still a pandemic and I haven’t really earned any money for 2 years so…

breathes

What could or should I be doing though? Maybe something might work? Exercise? I went for a run and got a sprain. Before that I went for a run and all my issues shouted at me in my head. I got Vitamin D. I was out in nature. I had fresh air. Nothing could stop the noise in my head. Is there anything I can do?

Engage with special interests

People say this can help. Don’t just sit around wallowing because your brain will attack you and lead you into depression. Check sales for a new game to try. Go play an old one. Maybe watch a movie you love or many movies. I found that helped for a short time.

Write

Get the thoughts out. It doesn’t have to be organised. You don’t have to perfect grammar. Just write. Open the notes app on your phone and pour your issues into it. Delete it after if you like. It’s the process of writing that can be helpful.

Take time off

Take some time off. Afterwards take more time off. You may need more than you think. You know how when you’re getting over a cold and you feel fine again then try to do stuff and crash? That.

Be kind to yourself

While taking time off don’t beat yourself up about failing to do things or that you should be working. Your brain is different to others and needs a different way of recovering. Part of that process is feeling ok again and you can’t feel ok if you beat yourself up for taking time off. It’s ok.

What am I doing?

Honestly I’m not sure what I need to do. I feel pressured to resolve things as it’s (ugh) Black Friday week (ugh) and there might be some good offers on things that could genuinely help me. Maybe I should quit everything and read a book? I rarely read books. That could be good? I’ve got a new racing game. That could be fun to dive into.

Despite everything above I don’t feel like I can justify time off while my wife works in another room. It feels wrong. That said, I can’t do much now with this silly foot sprain so I guess I’m taking some time off.

Additional help

Graphic about aspects of autistic burnout

Via Autistic Women and Nonbinary Network.


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Dusk photo of Liverpool skyline. A cruise ship is on the left and a large amount of fireworks are in the middle.

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