On Monday, I shared with you my burnout. It got to me and I realized the need to be more on point with my need to reset and recharge sometimes. It also made me realize that I need to be more vigilant with my mental health and while I have thought I had been taking care of myself, I need to do better.
Being autistic and having mental health challenges while managing an independent household with a part time job, among other things can be a challenge many times. Sometimes at the end of the day or end of being out for several days or even weeks without the ability to practice self-care, you can be really burnt out. Even in some work cultures this can make this sign more prevalent with the need to be more cognizant to take more breaks. It can seem selfish and lazy to do so, however in my situation, it can be difficult to take a day off a month because it seems in a scenario where I only work two days a week, just why would I need to take a day off?
As a person who experiences the struggles of autism and other mental health challenges continually, even fighting the challenge of getting to work is enough if not having been established to set you back a bit. Until I felt comfortable a few years ago, I experienced such anxiety about going to work. Many times I would retreat at the day program because it felt uneasy for me to go and interact with my coworkers for the fear of being asked to do something outside of my comfort zone. While I have been employed almost 12 years now, at this point is when I have become the most engaged in the work I do. There were many days I would be so anxious where I would call off and hide at the day program because it was safer than facing uncomfortable tasks that I did not feel comfortable doing. As time went on and I socially grew into more of a social butterfly of sorts, it became easier to do the tasks that I once felt uncomfortable doing.
It has taken me actually gaining my “voice” to know how to do my job and at times there are still struggles. Luckily, there are many in my small workplace that know the struggles that I face in my life so they know my needs. I do count myself lucky and they understand my needs to take a break when necessary. The same can be said for my day program, if there is a need to take care of my mental health, whether that is attending a mental health appointment or needing some time to yourself, that is recognized, understood and accepted.
There is no health without your mental health and I realize at one time a few years ago I was not in a good place mentally. It was at what I once thought I was at my worst prior to my apartment struggle and COVID, but that too was a more hidden challenge because of the stay-at-home orders and it not being as prevalent, but it was just kicking the can down the road. However, it made me realize the need to recognize my symptoms way before the point I did during those times and the need to be more on point with wellness benchmarks, especially when it comes to taking my medicine and the need if a dose is missed with the need to get back on track at the nearest interval. It may not be what I want to do because I am in my state of mania, but I have accepted the fact that I do not want to get to the point of where previous behaviors have ended me up in.
The point of it all is that I do not literally beat myself up when I struggle. I do my part to pick myself up by the bootstraps, no matter how difficult it may be to do so and move forward. I have blossomed into a mature man who has made significant strides from being at my lowest point over two decades ago. It hasn’t been easy to be who I needed to be and gaining my voice has been a learning experience, but I am in the goof place that I finally deserve to be in physically, spiritually, and mentally. While I know that I need to give myself grace, I must be cognizant of the need to keep it up and try my best.