Saturday, July 6, 2024

My Autism Burnout story

Embrace Autism is creating an "Ultimate Guide of Autistic Burnout", and asked their online community for their Autistic Burnout stories. This was limited to 350 words, and I focused on what lead up to my burnout.

In later posts I will likely discuss what I have learned to help reduce Autistic meltdowns (autonomic storms) and hopefully avoid future Autistic Burnouts (crossing fingers, toes, etc, etc).

See also: Embrace Autism articles on Burnout

I’m a white cis-gender heterosexual male born in 1968, formally assessed Autistic in 2024. 

I have been part of the high-tech sector since my teens. In 2000 I was told there was quite a bit of Autism in the sector, and I should look into it.  I saw the ways Autistic people were alleged “defective”, so assumed that had nothing to do with me.

My mother’s death in 2018 caused me to see a psychotherapist, and after seeing me for several months I was asked if I had considered I was Autistic. I had doubts, partly because of the concept of an Autistic mask. I was bad at acting.

I never had regular job interviews, and was brought into organizations because someone knew my skills and way of working.  An exception occurred when I was part of a merger in 2018 of an organization I had been at for 7 years. The new employer was a strict hierarchy with a strict chain of command, which saw job titles as exclusive jurisdiction.  While I was focused on trying to get high-priority work done, working the way I had at the previous employer, all some people saw was me violating a social hierarchy.

In summer 2022 I contracted Lyme Disease. Fatigue meant I didn’t have the energy to mask, and thus I finally accepted I had been masking. Accusations of being rude and condescending to an allistic coworker were made. I would respond explaining Autism, and with logic and data, but that only made things worse.

By spring 2023 I was accused of workplace harassment and placed on sick leave. That threw me into a full-on burnout, unable to manage regular life tasks. I lost all personal doubt I had about Autism. When sick-leave ran out at the end of the summer I resigned, not seeing any room for me in that organization. 

As I write this in summer 2024, I’m much better, but still recovering. I believe learning I’m Autistic, and learning about spoon theory, will help me avoid similar situations in the future.  Learning about Autism includes learning about Allism.

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