I’m leaning heavily on playlist making as a coping mechanism right now. Here’s my “Chronic Neurodivergent Depressed Queer Punk” playlist of mental health related punk and punk-adjacent songs.

Themes/CW: suicidal ideation, addiction, mania, depression, dysphoria, chronic illness, anxiety, overwhelm, panic, meltdown, masking, burnout, OCD, ADHD, ADD, SPD, bipolar, autism

https://music.apple.com/us/playlist/chronic-neurodivergent-depressed-queer-punk/pl.u-yZyVVjZtYzXDqW

Masking can leave a person with less energy to handle other aspects of their day, from performing basic housework to processing thoughts and feelings. This, in turn, can lead to meltdowns and burnout. Something as simple as trying not to play with my hair or keeping my legs still while sitting in public can leave me depleted after a few hours.

Source: I Overcame My Autism and All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder (p. 147)

I must pull my hair, scratch my scalp, and bounce my legs to regulate.

See also:

Autistic Burnout: The Cost of Masking and Passing – Ryan Boren

I called it autistic burnout, a term I learned not from professionals but from my fellow autistics trying to illuminate the gaps in the autistic experience that the so-called experts on us were either missing or ignoring. It describes a fairly common phenomenon that autistic adults were noticing in their lives. When faced with periods of major change, we can see a sizeable shift in our autistic traits. Causes of autistic burnout can include forcing yourself to pass as neurotypical, major stress or upheaval, sensory or emotional overload and illness. Symptoms can include a decrease in motivation, loss of executive function, selective mutism, problems maintaining social skills, memory loss, lethargy and decreased tolerance for sensory or emotional sensitivity. Basically, we hit a point where we can no longer manage our issues or keep up appearances in the same way that we have been and we end up feeling and/or looking “more autistic” as a result.

I’d been lurking on the periphery of autistic burnout for years, shaking off mild periods of confusion and exhaustion like a fighter moderately rocked by a strike. In the spring of 2015, I got knocked the fuck out. In my case, I think it was just a culmination of my entire life up until that point. Digging out from the catastrophic meltdown that had forced my diagnosis was very much a two steps forward, one and five-sixths steps back scenario. I was making progress, but I was tired. At least subconsciously, I was starting to realize that some of the coping mechanisms I was currently employing might not be long-term solutions.

Source: I Overcame My Autism and All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder (p. 165-166)

“Knocked the fuck out” by autistic burnout. Been there. Still recovering.

See also:

Autistic Burnout: The Cost of Masking and Passing – Ryan Boren

Sarah Kurchak on a dilemma many autistic people have experienced when sharing their diagnosis:

Where I saw the first irrefutable proof of myself, though, so many others saw a referendum.

I spent twenty-seven years trying to convince people that I was normal enough to accept, or at least leave alone, and no one ever fully bought it. When I finally knew why that experiment was such an ongoing failure, though, few believed that either. I was using it as an excuse. I was exaggerating. I was faking. I was not as autistic as someone else someone knew and was, therefore, not really autistic.

These comparisons only ever go in one direction. No one has ever said to me, “Temple Grandin is a successful scientist, writer and public speaker, and you have the career of a mildly plucky freelancer half your age. You can’t possibly be autistic.” I suspect that this is because no one is genuinely trying to weigh what they know about me against a set of diagnostic criteria, or fit me into their greater understanding of autistics in the world. What people are really doing when they’re trying to determine if I’m really autistic is figuring out if I make them uncomfortable or sad enough to count. If I show any coping skills, any empathy, any likability, any fun—essentially any humanity—I complicate the narrative too much and usually end up ignored.

This separation between real autistics and people who are “just quirky,” “just awkward” or “almost too high-functioning to count” is a mental dance that non-autistics have to do whenever they’re confronted with a 3-D autistic human being in the flesh. Otherwise everything they’ve ever thought, everything they’ve ever been told about us, starts to seem a little monstrous.

Source: I Overcame My Autism and All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder (pp. 4-5)

I updated “Autistic Burnout: The Cost of Masking and Passing” with selections from “THINKING PERSON’S GUIDE TO AUTISM: Autistic Burnout: An Interview With Researcher Dora Raymaker”, “What Hiding My Autism Costs Me – Devon Price”, ‘“Having All of Your Internal Resources Exhausted Beyond Measure and Being Left with No Clean-Up Crew”: Defining Autistic Burnout | Autism in Adulthood’, and “Taking ownership of the label – Autistic Collaboration”.

“A state of pervasive exhaustion, loss of function, increase in autistic traits, and withdrawal from life that results from continuously expending more resources than one has coping with activities and environments ill-suited to one’s abilities and needs.” In other words, autistic burnout is the result of being asked to continuously do more than one is capable of without sufficient means for recovery.

Source: THINKING PERSON’S GUIDE TO AUTISM: Autistic Burnout: An Interview With Researcher Dora Raymaker

Now at 32, I have been variety of people, and I don’t always know who the real me is. My mask has fused itself to me, leaving me inhibited and confused, uncertain of how to break loose, left wondering if being authentic is even possible anymore.

I have no choice but to don the mask. I wear it reflexively every day. Here is what that costs me.

Source: What Hiding My Autism Costs Me – Devon Price – Medium

Autistic adults described the primary characteristics of autistic burnout as chronic exhaustion, loss of skills, and reduced tolerance to stimulus. They described burnout as happening because of life stressors that added to the cumulative load they experienced, and barriers to support that created an inability to obtain relief from the load. These pressures caused expectations to outweigh abilities resulting in autistic burnout. Autistic adults described negative impacts on their health, capacity for independent living, and quality of life, including suicidal behavior. They also discussed a lack of empathy from neurotypical people and described acceptance and social support, time off/reduced expectations, and doing things in an autistic way/unmasking as associated in their experiences with recovery from autistic burnout.

Autistic burnout appears to be a phenomenon distinct from occupational burnout or clinical depression. Better understanding autistic burnout could lead to ways to recognize, relieve, or prevent it, including highlighting the potential dangers of teaching autistic people to mask or camouflage their autistic traits, and including burnout education in suicide prevention programs. These findings highlight the need to reduce discrimination and stigma related to autism and disability.

The primary characteristics of autistic burnout were chronic exhaustion, loss of skills, and reduced tolerance to stimulus. Participants described burnout as happening because of life stressors that added to the cumulative load they experienced, and barriers to support that created an inability to obtain relief from the load. These pressures caused expectations to outweigh abilities resulting in autistic burnout. From this we created a definition:

Autistic burnout is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic life stress and a mismatch of expectations and abilities without adequate supports. It is characterized by pervasive, long-term (typically 3+ months) exhaustion, loss of function, and reduced tolerance to stimulus.

Participants described negative impacts on their lives, including health, capacity for independent living, and quality of life, including suicidal behavior. They also discussed a lack of empathy from neurotypical people. People had ideas for recovering from autistic burnout including acceptance and social support, time off/reduced expectations, and doing things in an autistic way/unmasking.

Source: “Having All of Your Internal Resources Exhausted Beyond Measure and Being Left with No Clean-Up Crew”: Defining Autistic Burnout | Autism in Adulthood

When autists attempt to blend in it is to avoid suffering the consequences of non-conformance – and not to gain or maintain social status.

Source: Taking ownership of the label – Autistic Collaboration

The set of social, political, cultural, and personal rules favors a particular way of thinking, feeling, behaving, and communicating as superior to others: the neurotypical form.

Our parents are ashamed of our differences, and we notice it. They continually repress us when out of instinct we obey our neurology. They deny us reasonable adjustments because according to their own neurology, our differences are meaningless and no one has explained to them that it is a right.

The vast majority of medical interventions around autism are not accepting of autism as one of the many biological possibilities of human diversity. Without evidence, they pathologize our differences, dehumanizing us.

The authorities force us to submit to systems that do not take into account our differences, making access to our human rights difficult.

The neuronorm forces us to camouflage ourselves when it is possible (at a very high cost in health and dignity) and when it is not possible we are denied the presumption of competence and the most basic rights are taken away from us: dignity, freedom, education and even the right to live.

We are the rare ones, the strangers, those who do not share the codes that unite society. We are the epitome of what it means to be “the other,” our way of being considered “not valid.”

NEURONORM: The Neuronorm is the set of social, political, cultural and personal norms that privilege a particular way of thinking, feeling, behaving, and communicating as superior to others.

Source: The Guide is here! Understanding the Autistic Mind 1 » NeuroClastic

I updated “Autistic Burnout: The Cost of Masking and Passing” with a selection from “Autistic Burnout: “My Physical Body And Mind Started Shutting Down””.

Autistic burnout is a state of physical and mental fatigue, heightened stress, and diminished capacity to manage life skills, sensory input, and/or social interactions, which comes from years of being severely overtaxed by the strain of trying to live up to demands that are out of sync with our needs.

Source: Autistic Burnout: “My Physical Body And Mind Started Shutting Down”

CW: suicide

Results confirm previously reported high rates of suicidality in ASC, and demonstrate that ASC diagnosis, and self-reported autistic traits in the general population are independent risk markers for suicidality. This suggests there are unique factors associated with autism and autistic traits that increase risk of suicidality. Camouflaging and unmet support needs appear to be risk markers for suicidality unique to ASC. Non-suicidal self-injury, employment, and mental health problems appear to be risk markers shared with the general population that are significantly more prevalent in the autistic community. Implications for understanding and prevention of suicide in ASC are discussed.

Source: Risk markers for suicidality in autistic adults | Molecular Autism | Full Text

See also:

Autistic Burnout: The Cost of Masking and Passing