I’m not growing up, I’m just burning out

I’ll be honest, I’m too exhausted to write a blog this week. After a busy bank holiday weekend I have struggled through the past week – with a day taken off work due to a migraine caused by exhaustion.

This is a regular occurrence for me; a ‘side-effect’ of my Autism. If I push myself too much it will result in illness. My illness usually takes the form of Tonsillitis. I can tell my body is verging exhaustion when I begin to feel a sore throat. I can then choose to rest and recuperate, cancelling all plans for the next few days and not leaving my bed, or I can choose to live my life and take the risk of a burnout. Unfortunately, I seem to never learn and always choose the burnout.

A busy schedule for me will most probably seem like a normal weekend for a neurotypical. For example, this bank holiday weekend I went and watched Ed Sheeran in Manchester on the Friday night. On the Saturday I spent the day at an indoor skiing slope with my family and on the Sunday night I went out with my friends.

To most this will seem like a lovely weekend full of enjoyable plans – which it was – but, on top of the enjoyment for someone on the spectrum there is a lot of other factors in play.

Watching Ed Sheeran in concert was outstanding. To get to the concert I had to travel via train and tram. We were packed into the tram like cattle. The smells and noises were painful for my senses and the proximity of so many others to me almost caused a panic attack – these feelings escalated on the tram’s return journey following the concert.

I went straight from an overloading public transport journey to spend a day with my family, skiing at the Chill Factore. The skiing was enjoyable and I had a good day. The physical tolls of skiing and the earlier effects from using public transport hung over me and I had to go straight to sleep upon returning home.

On the Sunday I woke up and went for a run with my Mum to clear my head before seeing my friends later in the evening. We had a night filled with food, booze, dancing and laughter with some of the best people I know. However, we did go to some clubs and whilst I think I can handle it at the time, it does cause me sensory overload issues. The club’s flashing lights, loud music and usually unpleasant smells leaves me feeling ill. I woke up Monday morning unable to string a conversation together with anyone, I had used all my social skills up the night previous. I needed a day to sleep and get some rest.

I made it to work Tuesday but, come Wednesday I had to take a day off. As much as I tried to recuperate on Monday it made no difference, I had already burnt myself out. I should have given myself more, ‘chill-out’ time throughout the weekend. Due to my full-on approach I gave myself a migraine on Tuesday evening and this meant work was not an option on Wednesday.

I have had a few days of much needed rest; mainly spent reading a book. I have recovered from last weekend and have been able to manage work better this week.

As I mentioned earlier, to neurotypicals the above will seem like a normal weekend. To those on the spectrum the points I have mentioned are what makes it so exhausting and causes a burnout. Every outing we make means we have sensory issues to contend with. These sensory issues alongside the inability to socialise with ease and as naturally as neurotypicals means our brains are working thrice as hard to filter out noise, lights and smells and focus on what is happening in front of us – we also have to work harder to respond in a socially acceptable way.

For me, I can choose to sleep all weekend and never have a social life so I avoid the exhaustion, or I can spend time with my family and friends and make memories… I just have to cope with the burnout which will follow.

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