Reflections: Restoring Autistic Burnout

NOTE: This is the second-half of a two part series on my recent discovery of Autistic Burnout. In yesterday’s Adulting post, I discovered some of the signs and what to do in order to practice restorative care for myself. Today, I share what I discovered as the best practices for me in order to restore my energy following periods of burnout.

I have found it best that if I make periods for restoring periods of high sensitivity and fatigue from burnout that is best compared to lengthy periods. For me, it is taking time after major activities that involve excessive executive functioning, focus and are prone to sensory overload that I realize that I need to take time to care for my needs. It means saying no to commitments that further exhaust my energy, despite my mind wanting me to engage with others and be a part of something constructive, I know it is best that I keep to myself in order to not cause a negative reaction to others.

It also means that I need to take extra rest periods on the weekends where not alot of activity is present compared to that during the workweek where there are earlier awake and down times, thus limiting the amount of time I have to entertain myself. It means that I have to do things like just shut down into my own private world that others may not understand as to why I need to do that when for decades I have seemed “just fine.” The reality of that is that I have had to “mask” myself to act as a neurotypical person in a world that is very challenging to endure at times because it is not made for accommodating my needs. Some venues are getting better at this, but for many autistics, simply choosing where to go based on your ability to endure the environment that it produces is a big deal.

For instance, this can mean going to the smaller dollar store and paying a little more for something just so you do not have to enter the busier supermarket that is way too overloaded for the sensory palate. It means knowing yourself best with the options that you have available to you. It means checking the Internet for knowing what is the best option for you if you are unfamiliar and reading the many reviews and balancing them to the best of your ability.

After a childhood of being autistic then pushed to enter a world of societal norms of being out and about and also being made to fit in like a square peg in a round hole of places that are not made for us, it can be easier to see why I have become so exhausted and it is getting harder to rebound after periods of rest because of things being harder to endure than they were in the past. 

Knowing that I have to have my own time and space to unwind and see how the other side of other autistics operate and deal with life’s challenges is also essential in knowing that there is other ways then falling into the norms that I have been so pressured to do. Yes, there are still moments when it is necessary because it is how I supplement my living, but there is those other times when we are made to fall into place of a world isn’t made for us because we are often made to do so without those that are close to us understanding that after enduring all the things that we already have to do that one more thing is just too much for our palate and we are going to go into meltdown/shutdown, which is not pleasant for anyone that is involved or in the presence of when it occurs.  

It is about preventing that breaking point by instilling restorative practices and doing what is necessary in order to recharge your batteries so you can do what is necessary in the world that isn’t made for autidtic people. It means that you have to do what is right for you even if those close to you may not totally understand or comprehend why you can’t or won’t do something or see that “it isn’t that bad.” But, until you endure all the things that you have to endure and you know you cannot handle one more thing and have to take time for yourself, that is a big step.

It took me several decades to comprehend that I needed to practice this more and maybe because it is something that autistics are sharing with the community at large that has occurred over several years and no one has ever recognized how draining it really is until the breaking point is reached and the batteries are charged again.

Understand your limits and know when you are nearing your breaking point because no one wants you to go into a meltdown or shutdown because you have got there and the restorative period can be extended if not addressed properly.

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