I went to bed ridiculously late last night. I’m not sure why; I don’t really have an excuse except bad time management and the fact that I generally prefer to go to bed late and get up late unless I have a good external reason not to do so. Still, I felt shockingly drained and burnt out when I woke up today, low mood and zero energy, and I’m not really sure why. I didn’t think I did that much yesterday, but maybe I did, or maybe I’ve just been pushing myself too hard cumulatively lately, to try to finish the latest draft of my novel so that E can read it and so that I can start looking for an agent and a publisher; trying to keep up with my shiurim (religious classes) and divrei Torah (Torah thoughts) as well as prayer and other Torah study; trying to exercise (which has almost dropped off the radar totally), to help around the house a bit and so on.

I listened to music to try to lift my mood a little and get energy. I feel bad about doing that in the Three Weeks of mourning when religious Jews are not supposed to listen to music. I know my rabbi mentor said it was OK, but part of me at least feels too functional to take advantage of that, and I have a lot of uncertainty about whether what I feel is “really” autistic burnout or what. Autistic burnout is a poorly-understood phenomenon, only recognised as a real thing by the psychiatric world about five years ago. But what I really want is to shave my itchy Three Weeks beard off, which is driving me crazy. But I will wait until Monday afternoon for that, as I’m supposed to.

E is really supportive, but we both feel frustrated about being on different continents and not knowing when that will end.

After lunch, I felt a little better. I drafted my devar Torah. It ended up not being what I intended, as the introduction grew too long and became the bulk of the piece, with an also longer-than-intended unrelated Tisha B’Av thought at the end. In fact, the whole thing took longer to write than I’d hoped, about an hour and a half. I spent half an hour or more working on my novel too, which wasn’t much, but I was reasonably pleased with what I had done. I Skyped E in the evening too, so it ended up being a better day than I expected when I woke up. I do usually manage to get to a point where I can do some things regardless of how tired/depressed/burnt out/whatever you want to call it that I feel when I wake up, I just wish I could move that point earlier in the day.

11 thoughts on “Carry That Weight

  1. Presumably your rabbi mentor knows less about autistic burnout than you do. Given that, and you’re probably setting the bar higher for yourself, it seems like chances are pretty good that you’ve got a valid exception.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope so. It’s largely academic for another year, as I won’t listen to music on Shabbat or the fast day on Sunday, so it’s only tomorrow and Monday morning before work where it might be an issue.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What’s most important is that you’re able to function and that you find ways to deal with your down times. If music helps, it’s a positive.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My perception is that autistic burnout could happen from the greater workload on our brains from higher sensory sensitivity, or higher levels of brain activity through following more potential thought tracks in our minds (we tend to do a lot of things consciously that others do more habitually perhaps, especially socially), or higher levels of anxiety in general, or a combination of all of them. All of the cumulative friction that exists between autistic people and the ‘normal’ world would definitely add up to exhaustion! I’ve come to appreciate that it’s something I experience tooβ€” I’ve never been able to be a 9-5 person, there’s no way I could keep anything up that consistently.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Interesting, thanks for sharing.

      I’ve not been a consistent 9-5 person for many years, and I’m not sure how I managed to be one at school for so long. I think I paid for it with years of depression in my late teens and twenties, sadly.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Same here, I sometimes wonder that too! I think there’s a lot of factors in itβ€” extra neuroflexibility when younger, perhaps; the fact we grow up only knowing only one way; feeling scared to express ourselves. I didn’t enjoy school either, and I know I had a relatively good experience. I expressed a lot of angst and stress whilst at home though, to make up for it. School has the potential to be so traumatising.

        Sometimes you have to experience being out of a situation to realise how dysfunctional it was, but you can’t go back. It’s like realising you’ve been gaslighted.

        Liked by 2 people

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