Autistic Burnout and Internalised Ableism

I have been feeling so angry and frustrated lately. First I blamed the internet trolls. Then my legal issues and various other personal struggles. I then asked for help (which I find a really hard thing to do) and a medical professional told me I was most likely depressed and a local online support group in my area called me an “inspiration” because of everything I have “been through” and told me to just “stay strong” and have a glass of wine.

None of that sat well with me and I just became further infuriated and overwhelmed.

I then arrived at a point where I decided it must just be me and engaged in some brutal internalised ableism, calling myself things I would never say to another soul.

For more information about Internalised Ableism, read this article by Unstrange Mind, “How We Secretly Teach Disabled People to Hate Themselves” and this by Suburban Autistics, “Internalised Ableism, Fuck off.

But then I realised this yesterday after seeing Amythest Schaber’s video, I was experiencing Autistic Burnout.


So this is why the last four weeks, verbal conversations have been so incredibly difficult.
This is why I have been losing my words and feeling frustrated.
This is why I’ve been panicking when plans are changed without notice.

What is happening, is that I am struggling with the fact that my functioning level has dramatically changed and at the same time I’m drinking from the well of internalised ableism. (This is why functioning labels are bullshit because they are fluid and cause people to make assumptions about one’s competence and support needs).

I always find verbal conversations challenging but I am walking away from fairly mild exchanges, completely exhausted. I always feel distress when there are changes, particularly when it’s last minute, but I’m usually able to work something out or call on a friend to help me figure out what I should do. But now I need to take some time and accept that my “normal” has shifted and that’s not a personal failing and has nothing to do with my worth as a person. I’m frustrated as hell, but now I know what *it* is and I know what to do about it. I can now make a plan and that in itself makes me feel hopeful and secure.

Personally, I feel the need to acknowledge the factors (and assholes) that contributed to this particular burnout and to do my best to learn from those experiences. I also need to observe how quick I was to blame myself for not being able to do things and the destructive inner dialogue I had playing, “For fuck’s sake! But I could this a month ago, so I should be able to do this now.” This again shows you how awful functioning labels are. My functioning is fluid.

Autistic burnout is a very real thing and there isn’t much discussion about it, particularly amongst medical professionals. I have experienced depression a few times, including post-natal depression. For me, the difference between depression and autistic burnout is the intense frustration and anger I feel, compared to the dark abyss of hopelessness and despair of depression where I just don’t even see the point of anything. I also wonder if in the past, when I have experienced autistic burnout for a length of time, it then leads to depression…?

So this has really made me think we need to talk more about this and how a lack of understanding amongst medical professionals, ableism in general and internalised ableism contribute to autistic burnout.

❤ The Bullshit Fairy


Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, these are just my thoughts and feelings about my current situation. Solidarity to anyone who is currently experiencing depression or autistic burnout and I encourage you to seek appropriate support.

4 thoughts on “Autistic Burnout and Internalised Ableism

  1. Very helpful piece especially in the way you’ve put it. Thank you! I’ve had 2 major episodes of exhaustion and wasn’t diagnosed with Autistic traits until last year. The first time I experienced burnout I just carried on as before after 6 months of what I considered ‘rest’. No one mentioned the link until my current therapist. The 2nd episode triggered me to seek her assistance and I feel lucky that I found her. But I still find it incredibly confusing especially when I have to deal with all the NT systems we are meant to on a day to to day basis and although now self employed(as I can no longer work in traditional based environments) I find the ‘reeving up’ to communicate with clients (mainly incoming and sometimes outgoing) excruciating. These are also changeable and fluid like you mention. So one day I can take on the world and the next I can barely speak. It’s debilitating knowing you have the skills and knowledge and not being able to deliver on command which means gaining income is incredibly difficult. I’m also dyslexic which adds to the communication issues. Again thanks for your piece – keep going. We need to hear more of this! 👍

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Burnout is legit real. I never had a name for it til mid last year. Just periodic episodes of nervous breakdowns and dark nights of the soul.

    Simply explaining it causes me burnout! I am no longer of an age, energy level or inclination to do more than grumble about it. I leave it to those with more emotional regulation than me to carry the flame of knowledge disemination.


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