Do you know that autistic people often experience burnout? It’s like running out of battery. All of your life energy is running out instantly, and you can’t move, even sometimes faint. I have always attributed the fainting that I experienced all my life to low blood pressure and low blood sugar; I realise now that many of them were actually all about exhaustion. There were months when I passed out at almost the same time every evening and was taken to the hospital, and after a few hours spent in the emergency room, we were returning home. Never found the real reason for these blackouts. When I look back now, everything was so clear.
I understand the reason for the exhaustion or burnout; When the stress accumulated at the end of being tired, lacking self-understanding, trying to understand what was going on around in intense pressure and constantly trying to do what needs to be done to do ‘correct behaviours’, try to fix everything around me. It’s so clear to me to see why I had been visiting doctors nearly every week all my life, my headache and bowel syndrome never stopped and why my problems could not be cured.
Even though I have been going through the most challenging times of my life since I was diagnosed with autism, I had never had physical illnesses like before. I hadn’t had menier attacks or migraine attacks hospitalise me, I hadn’t been faint. Because I stopped trying to fit in, do what is expected of me, and try to be someone for others.
In addition, autism creates such a situation that while I seem calm and relaxed on the outside, there can be extreme chaos inside. And the more myself and my environment push me to conform to them, the faster and more often burnout occurs.
Research has finally revealed that there is a big difference between the observable behaviors of those who try to adapt to the environment or the behaviors expected from them and the reality formed at the neurological level. The fact that a person’s calm and knowing appearance is not real, on the contrary, the fact that they can detect the extreme chaos and crazy activities of the brain by imaging, has made it possible to understand people who live by constantly adapting themselves to the environment, like me actually it’s not easy at all.
I think the biggest problem of “high-functioning” autistic people like me is that our truth has never been understood because we always try to cover up this great chaos we live inside. It is always overlooked how much effort we make to live a life that is ‘normal’ and easy for everyone. In fact, if we do not make such an effort, we do not have a problem of exhaustion. Unfortunately, those who look at our lives from the outside cannot understand what we are going through so much pain and sadness because they value us only by what they see outside.
I’m learning not to burn out after all. The first step of not being exhausted is not to hide myself; the second step is to give up being the person that people around me want, expect, believe in. I know that sometimes I can be very smart, sometimes a real idiot, sometimes very skillful, sometimes too locked up to move, sometimes too strong in feelings, and sometimes too blind to even see the lies that are under my nose. As I accept myself more and not masked like before, I see how my burnout crises have decreased. That’s why I wanted to share with you that if there is an autistic person in your life, the best thing you can do for them is not to force them to be anything, let them discover themself and support them in this fantastic discovery.