Autistic workplace burnout – 1

Autistic burnout can be defined as a “state of incapacitation, exhaustion, and distress in every area of life”, (Raymaker et al., 2020).

I really appreciate the ‘every area of life’ part, as it really is just that. It’s important to differentiate it from traditional burnout, which is often described as being a state of mental and physical exhaustion, caused by intense and prolonged stress, over a period of time.

For autistic people, the burnout is experienced at a whole other level; with autistic traits amplified and fired off to a worsening state, which so often feels like it’s at a point of no return.

The effect is so debilitating, and can impact our ability to speak, look after ourselves, as well as our capacity to perform and go to work

This blog is by no means written to minimise traditional burnout (for all burnouts are serious), but to instead highlight the differences in experience in the autistic population.

I know for myself, autistic burnout really reduces my tolerance and ability to deal with the sensory sensitivities that I experience day-to-day. This becomes so profound. And this combination of chronic exhaustion with my inability to perform basic tasks has a massive knock-on effect on my mental health. It spirals my levels of depression; I find myself so low and unable to see into the future. I have a disillusioned structure and sense of reality, and a lack of belief that this too will pass. With regards to my anxiety, it’s actually obliterated to the point of complete shutdown, in that it doesn’t feature centre stage. For once. I’m past meltdown and I’m in this continual sense of permanent shutdown. The long thought loops on continual repeat stop, and instead I’m at complete saturation point. I find it hard to respond coherently, a