I had some anxiety again today, mostly work/job hunt anxiety and dating anxiety. I’m trying to keep my focus on the present, and trusting that what God plans for me is for the best, but it’s not always easy, particularly when I feel hungry or tired.
The tiredness is because I didn’t sleep very much last night. I went to bed early (for me), before midnight, but I couldn’t sleep. Then I woke up at 5.15 and couldn’t get back to sleep. I didn’t feel tired, so I rested in bed for a while and then got up. I think I dozed for an hour or so mid-morning, but I’ve been going on about five hours of sleep in total, which probably hasn’t helped my anxiety level.
I watched a disturbing documentary on domestic violence in lockdown as research for my novel. I worked on my novel after this, but it was hard to focus. I was probably a bit upset from the documentary, then there was a thunder storm and we think the house got hit by lightning, damaging the phone. I tried to help Mum and Dad a bit with sorting the phone problem, so that took some time. I felt tense after this and struggled to concentrate and couldn’t work out if it was from the disturbing documentary or the loud thunder that made me jump.
I also stopped working on the novel so I could discuss some things with my parents. One was a possible job that’s come up at the institution I worked in back in 2019, but with a very different job and a different part of the (very big) library team. I’m not sure it’s a great job for me, but I’m going to put my name forward to get more information, as I found the information I was sent (via an agency) unclear.
I did manage some work on my novel (aside from the documentary), re-reading the first two chapters to refresh my memory so that I can see how the plot flows. It’s many months since I looked at the early chapters, and I have not read the whole novel straight through to see how it reads as a whole. I would have liked to have done more, as ever, but ran out of time and energy.
I wrote most of my devar Torah for the week too, which took over an hour and led me to re-read a transcript of a lecture by Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein on trust in God, to help with the feelings I mentioned above. I went on a Zoom call with my family in Israel too, so from a productivity point of view, today was pretty good, although I left the Zoom call a bit early as I was exhausted coming straight to it from a webinar.
The webinar was on autism in the workplace. It was interesting, although I’m not sure how much of it is relevant to me at the moment without an autism diagnosis. It was interesting to hear that a lot of autistic people end up self-employed because it gives them more control over their workplace and interactions; that’s part of what has pushed me towards writing. It was reassuring to hear that other people have problems with things like needing extra processing time during job interviews or struggling with informal office procedure like who makes the tea.
I’ve been hearing lately about autistic burnout. This is a newly-discovered concept that researchers have only become aware of in the last few years. It is when autistic people become exhausted and unable to function. One website states:
Burnout is often a consequence of camouflaging, or masking, a strategy in which autistic people mimic neurotypical behavior by using scripts for small talk, forcing themselves to make eye contact or suppressing repetitive behaviors. These strategies can help autistic people in their jobs and relationships but require immense effort.
It can also result from sensory overstimulation, such as a noisy bus commute; executive function demands such as having to juggle too many tasks at once; or stress associated with change.
It’s obviously difficult to say what is autistic burnout and what is depressive burnout, but I certainly experience a different type of exhaustion after work outside the home or intensive socialising as opposed to working a lot at home.
This post speaks about a more severe burnout, when masking and over-stimulation continue in the long-term, resulting in a more long-lasting burnout that can lead to, or be mistaken for, clinical depression. I am beginning to wonder if, while I am genuinely depressed, my major episodes of depression have often been triggered by autistic burnout rather than anything else, particularly the huge episode that lasted from around 2003 to around 2010, during and after my undergraduate degree. Unfortunately, I am still on the waiting list for assessment, the waiting list having been frozen for months due to COVID.
I mentioned yesterday that I realise that lockdown would have been very hard on my parents if I had not been here. That’s been helpful to me in understanding why I’ve struggled with depression for so long. I believed that logically, God could make me struggle for any number of justifiable reasons, but I always found it hard to accept emotionally. Now I feel that I have a reason why I have struggled, I find it easier to accept, and also to accept that maybe I can move on now.