Burnout

Sometimes its hard to figure out what you want and how to achieve it. Instead of sitting down, being patient and giving yourself the time and space to learn, progress and reach your goals, you tend to get stressed, panic and worrying till you no longer have the motivation and energy to progress. 

Burn out has hit me on so many levels during my life, throughout my school life, I had a 100% attendance then suddenly some issues arose just before my GCSEs and all of that hard work caused me to have a breakdown. Since then burn out has become a topic that I am fully aware about and know I need to work on. If I had taken the correct amount of time and learnt about myself maybe I would’ve dealt with my issues in school appropriately. I cant change what happened in the past so instead I must find ways to ensure it does not repeat itself. I am trying my hardest to improve my self-awareness and encourage myself to learn how I work and think so that I can reduce burn out and ensure I stay level. 

I want to talk about cognitive behaviour therapy in a future post as I think it is a subject that everyone should be aware about due to the impact it can have on our own lives and how we can influence others. This can be a positive subject to include in our lives, if we don’t know how to be ourselves then we will not only internally suffer but we will also cause pain externally. Its hard and it will take years of practice and experience but I believe we can each take control over ourselves and our actions to help us achieve our own goals and how to support others to do so as well. 

What is burnout?

Burnouts are different for everyone and each of us may choose to deal with them in different ways. However, there are a few signs that you can look out for that may indicate that you’re suffering from burnout: 

Feeling drain and fatigued- 

The first sign that really hits a lot of people is feeling exhaustion and drained, this can cause all sorts of problems especially in other areas of your life such as lack of self care, common stress problems such as anxiety may also become more prevalent and sneak up on you more often. 

Lack of motivation-

Lack of motivation can swoop in easily especially if you’re feeling drained or fatigued. You may lose interest in hobbies or things that would normally interest you. You may feel dissatisfied with your job and may notice you begin to lack motivation to complete tasks as you would do normally. Losing interest in things may cause forgetfulness which can then impact both your personal and work life. 

Negative emotions-

Feeling anger, becoming more irritable/frustrated and even more chronic behavioural changes. Feeling more cynical and sad will creep up on you and make sure you have no motivation or energy to comprehend feeling a positive emotion. These negative emotions can affect you in both personal and work relationships. 

Cognitive problems- 

Problems with attention, executive functions and memory will become apparent.

Decreased satisfaction- 

You don’t feel satisfied and may feel as though you are getting nowhere. You feel less happy about your career or with home life. 

Other problems- 

Other problems may occur that I may have not mentioned such as stomach problems, migraines/headaches, sleeping problems, change of appetite, lack of social life and many more. 

Burnout itself- 

https://www.thisiscalmer.com/blog/5-stages-of-burnout

A perfect summary for burn out to me is ‘Burnout is the loss of meaning in one’s work, coupled with mental, emotional, or physical exhaustion as the result of long-term, unresolved stress.’ which I found on a website called ‘Calmer’ – https://www.thisiscalmer.com/blog/5-stages-of-burnout

I really enjoyed this blog as I really felt it captured what its like to reach burnout and what the process feels like in 5 easy to understand stages. 

What can you do when suffering burnout? 

Try to learn or take up different relaxation methods and create a self-care routine, this is help you find ways to create a less stressful environment and know when enough is enough. I chose things like yoga and mediation and even reading or listening to music to help me relax. 

Try to escape work once the working day is over, overthinking and working on work related areas while you’re meant to be at home or relaxing is not healthy. Your work will begin to bleed into your personal life and you may struggle to decipher between hobbies, personal life and work. I personally took up writing as a ‘outside of work’ hobby, I enjoy waffling on about subjects of interest and then sharing them with others…I also find it relaxing and freeing as I feel I am being honest with both myself and others around me. But you don’t have to choose writing, other good ‘outside of work’ hobbies that you could take up can range from sports and exercise to arts and crafts, whatever relaxes you and makes you feel happy. 

Reducing social media and electronics, now I am aware some people find scrolling through social media and gaming, relaxing but you have to remember this can effect your mental health and you may not even be aware of this. Use it wisely and remember what you see on social media may not be real and to try not to get too caught up in it all. I personally don’t enjoy many platforms of social media as I find I feel more negatively about myself and the world after spending too much time scrolling through other peoples lives. Gaming can be relaxing however, again I feel very tense and over stimulated after a hour or so, playing with electronics can also affect your sleep, so try to do everything in moderation. 

Getting a good sleep cycle and becoming more organised can really help anyone feel better, sleeping more ensures your body has the time it needs to reset for the next day. Not getting enough sleep can effect someone both physically and mentally. Being more organised can help reduce the last minute ‘oh NO’s’ and forgetful moments of ‘Oh dear is that today?’. The more organised you are the more relaxed your mind can be, do you sometimes find yourself laying awake late at night or remembering that you needed to do something the next day but forgot and now its too late? Well becoming more organised can help to reduce this. If you’re ready for the tasks then you’re less likely to get things wrong and when you get things wrong this can impact your thoughts and you can begin to doubt your worth which can really lead to some negative thoughts. 

Lastly, talk, find someone you trust and just be honest. Its hard, really hard but it will get easier. If you are struggling to find someone to trust then seek out a professional and you may even find that they can help with other problems you may be experiencing. A simple conversation can do wonders for the mind. 

Do not judge people who get burnt out, this is a process and each of us should be able to gain the support and care from those around us or from a professional if needed. Don’t suffer alone, pick up the phone and speak to someone, its so very hard to do this, I know, but you can help reduce the risk of burnout by just being aware.

What was your experience with burnout? How do you cope living in a fast pace world?

Link for feature image-

https://www.dub.uu.nl/en/depth/more-signs-point-higher-risk-burn-out-among-phd-candidates

What is Asperger’s?

This post is just a brief explanation, Asperger’s is a lot deeper and there are far more things to share about the diagnosis than what I have written. Please remember we are each individuals and just like neurotypicals you cannot define us with a single definition or diagnosis.  

Most people, especially those who are neurotypical describe and act as though Asperger’s and other forms of Autism are diseases with no cures and dread to hear the words mentioned about their child. In fact it’s a neurological disorder which you are born with and there is little evidence proving the cause and exact reason why some of us are born with it. Family history has been seen to play a part in the development. It is also much more common to diagnose boys rather than girls this may be because on average women will present differently to men. Asperger’s is quite often diagnosed later in life especially for women, this can be really hard for us with Asperger’s as this means we have gone through life being misunderstood and hurt due to a lack of understanding. 

Asperger’s is normally referred to as “high-functioning” which means we normally have above or average intelligence, we normally develop as normal or slightly faster than peers however, suffer in the social and mental health department. This makes it harder for those with Asperger’s to be diagnosed at a very young age as they may perform well until something is presented in their life that challengers them. I for instance didn’t have many obvious negatives growing up (no more than any child of course) and most of the “quirks” I had actually helped me to do so well in school and develop. However, later in life I began to show a lot more negative symptoms and began isolating myself as well as social and emotional problems. Masking or pretending to be someone I am not during most of my life finely took a toll on me. After having my first life changing break down my mum fought extremely hard with the health system and I got a diagnosis. If this hadn’t happened maybe it would’ve taken even longer to present. 

It can be a super power, a curse or both at the same time however, no two people present the same, so each of us with a form of autism will be different and will struggle and succeed in different ways. Treatment to help ease the negative symptoms should be unique to the individual as we are all different. Boys and girls will present differently as well. 

I do not need a cure, I do not have a disease I am just different in some ways this can make me better at some things however, it can also make me worse in other things but this is a journey and there’s no easy fix for anyone. 

I am “too sensitive” and this hurts me greatly, I feel far too much compared to an NT (neurotypical) this is both a blessing and a curse, I am able to feel complex emotions however, it can be hard to control them and may cause outbursts. Heightened emotions and empathy sometimes means those of us with Asperger’s struggle to process and show them so it appears that we lack emotion when in fact most of us feel it much more. Of course some of us lack emotion and this is fine as many NTs have also had this present. 

The communication problems usually arise when the NTs(Neurotypicals) and autistic people try to communicate to one another. We tend to be more direct, honest (which normally appears as rude to NTs) and efficient, however, those without autism tend to rely on body language, complicated social dances and unspoken rules which is so very hard for some of us.

Imagine being told to play a brand new game or build a piece of furniture without being given a manual, that’s what it can be like for us to live around others. Communication is a two way street, you cant expect us to change ourselves to suit you because you’re idea of normality is different. It’s a lot of energy and effort to fit in for anyone let alone for someone with a disorder, try and put in some effort too then we can meet in the middle and it’ll make it easier for the both of us haha. 🙂 There people with autism who do not communicate via voice, they may still understand and be able to communicate in other ways so please don’t assume anything. I find I act very different and mask around my family. Around others I mask in a different way again, I feel I am only truly me around my partner and parents.

Social isolation is very common and not always intentional because sometimes its easier and less exhausting than masking. Some of us can be expressionless (or have little expressions) and speak in a monotone like voice.

Stimming is another big part of being Asperger’s or well a majority of us will have heard of this. Just a quick question, do you click your pen, tap your fingers or shake your leg? Well that’s considered a stim. NTs and those of us with Asperger’s all stim however, we tend to stim much more or in different ways that are considered as negative or more obvious. Again some of us may not stim much at all but on average we will stim more than NTs. This can include rocking on chairs, swaying, spinning or twirling yourself or objects around you, head hitting, repetitive behaviours, hand picking or tapping, hair pulling or twisting and chewing of clothes, fingers and hair. These seem to be the stims I see pop up the most in the community. There are many others that I have not mentioned. Most of the time safe stimming should be encouraged not frowned upon, it is considered self-soothing and calming. 

Issues with planning, organising, time management are very common (women with Asperger’s have mentioned this more frequently) as well as being able to hyper-focus, because of these we tend to overthink and often feel unmotivated or lazy. This will then lead us to question our intelligence as well as worth as we may not be able to do things as easily as others and this is detrimental to our health.

It makes me very low and insignificant. You cant expect a fish to climb a tree as a monkey would. Whether you’re Asperger’s or not we each need to remember that our talents may not be the same as the next person and sometimes some people are unable to do things that you can do. 

Hyper focusing for me is helpful, it allows me to complete tasks and learn new things much quicker especially when it’s a special interest. 

Special interests should be encouraged and could pave the way for future goals, enhances pleasure and may help us make friends. Special interests can be for a range of things such as; trains, animals, numbers, quotes, books, films, music and so much more, a special interest is much more than a passion to us with Asperger’s (I will explain further at a later date). 

Being different is what makes us special, both Asperger’s and Neurotypicals are wonderful. 

Even if there were no labels we would all still be different and that’s so important to remember you are worth just as much as anyone else so don’t let others define who you are. 

Both images belong to rightful owners.

Working in IT

To begin with I am only really starting my journey in the technology field in the sense of a full time, permanent focused IT job. 

I am going to try and write an introduction about my career ideas through my life because even though I really liked technology and was good at handling it growing up, it certainly wasn’t the career path that I thought I’d take. 

If you just want to read what my experience working in IT is like as both a woman and being Asperger’s then just skip to after the image in this post 🙂 

I always wanted to be a vet, doctor or zoologist as I loved animals and learning about the body. I ended up losing the love to be a vet rather soon as I realised that it was exactly for me. Later on in my life I lost people and it crushed me but I knew that the important thing to think about is the times they were alive instead of thinking about the fact that they’re gone. So I continued to pursue my career as a doctor; nursing and psychology slipped through during secondary school. 

I fell in love, psychology, the subject that just kept me awake at night, so many questions and so much to read and learn. Baring in mind I was only about 11 when my love of psychology really kicked in, both of my parents have a huge interest and lots of knowledge in the mental health, behaviour and psychology fields. So I always had my own therapists at home who could read me like a book no matter what haha…

I started working in a garden centre in 2014, I stayed there till late in 2016, I loved helping people even in the most simple of ways by helping them find what type of dog food is best. 

I was doing really well in ICT and when I was picking my GCSEs my teacher heavily suggested I take CIDA (Certificate in digital applications) which was our version of IT/ICT. I did later choose to take CIDA, I ended up completing my GCSE 6 months early, I loved it more than anything and I found it came naturally to me. I got to build my own game and website which was just awesome to me and the exam went really smooth for me. It combined my love of creative technology and logic based technology.

I first went to a grammar school to start taking my A levels, the first problem I encountered was the fact they refused to allow me to study computer tech, I finished all the summer tasks and got top grades in them yet they still refused (the actual lecturer didn’t mind and was confused why they wouldn’t let me). My previous teacher wrote letters to the school to prove that I was more than capable and showed evidence but alas the headmaster didn’t care and it crushed my hopes. I was sent to study ICT which doesn’t sound too bad but the curriculum was awful and I may have also been a tad bitter 😉 

In 2016 I left my job in the garden centre to work in a supermarket, this wasn’t the best experience in my life especially compared to my lovely job at the garden centre but due to the location it was easier to get to work. 

I ended up quitting the grammar school and moved to the wonderful Highlands College; yes I name dropped and sorry if that isn’t allowed but I have to, that college was the reason I regained my love for technology and my love of working with people came back, my mental health got so much better. They supported me during my diagnosis and allowed me to go home a lot or go to work due to already handing in my assignments, yes I was that person who handed in work extra early. They helped me when I was bullied and I’m going to be honest I loved the teachers so much. 

In 2017 I started working in a pharmacy and even though I was very conflicted about going into pharmaceuticals, IT or uni. I ended up being very lucky and getting onto a tech apprenticeship scheme. However, after about a year I thought the apprenticeship wasn’t for me and after a little break and trying different options I came back into an IT Service analyst role (to the same company that I did the apprenticeship with) which suits me a lot better at this time. My goal is to combine psychology with IT as its such an important combination. 

I have studied IT and technology subjects for a long time now and I have worked in the Tech area for about a year and a half (it’ll be two years in the summer). I feel that I am very lucky with the company I currently work for, they are very kind, understanding and inclusive. Whenever I have an issue it is almost always solved or at least discussed so I or others who need to, understand. 

I honestly don’t have many negatives about my experiences. In terms of gender, I have to admit the lack of women in the field is rather shocking, this isn’t the companies problem this is because I don’t think many of us go into the field and I don’t necessarily think its because of lack of encouragement. 

While in school I noticed little to no interest in IT from my female peers, when I was in college there were a few female students however they didn’t seem very bothered about progression and most of them said they took the subject because they didn’t have anything else to do and they thought it would be easy. 

I met one or two female students in secondary school who seemed to have a slight interest however they seemed to prefer many other subjects and there were one or two women within college who were very good and very positive about the subject. 

I think companies could try and advertise IT as a subject that is taken by both men and women but with my experiences they’re waiting too long to do this because by time GCSEs came around I saw no other woman even slightly interested in the subject, I was the only girl in my class and then during college the women around me were very negative towards the IT field, telling me they hated it, it was boring and many of them struggled to keep up with the work and complete tasks. 

I do believe that this was just an anomaly as I see more young girls getting into IT in schools now which is lovely but a career is based on interest and sometimes IT is just not interesting for some of us, it was for me and that’s why I came back! I love IT because it is an everchanging and expanding subjects with hundreds of topics and fields to go into. 

Please go and try and reach your dream, if someone says you cant just keep trying. Do not punish yourself if you cant reach them right now, you will find your place I’m sure, speak to others and make sure there’s a good support network and look after yourself!

In regards to being Asperger’s and working in general, I didn’t like retail that much and it wasn’t the people that made it bad, I actually didn’t mind talking to people in fact I was rather good at it (or at least I thought so) I never had complaints and if I couldn’t help I’d find someone who could so I was very lucky on that front. 

The worst part about working in retail were the sensory issues; I didn’t like the bright lights and buzzing of the freezers upset me a lot in the supermarket. 

When I worked in the pharmacy this reduced slightly, other than the lights of course, however there was now another problem…the germs. I felt as though I had to wash my hands every time I touched something or whenever I had to touch something. It got to the point where my already existing germ fearing issue got worse due to my job. 

I have issues when I am unable to wash my hands, I feel my chest tightening, I struggle to breathe and I’m overall very techy, uncomfortable and upset. 

I feel as though my work made it more of an issue however due to working in a small area I could access a sink whenever I wanted and this lead to very dry and cracked hands and arms. I have very sensitive skin and the continuous hand washing made this so much worse. 

Once I left this job and began working in IT this anxiety around germs lifted massively, not only are the people around me really clean but I am also working in internal IT so I don’t often go out of the office or see members of the public. 

The noise levels can sometimes be an issue but I have headphones and the team I work with are lovely so they often have nice topics of choice or interesting knowledge to show me. 

Overall my anxiety has gotten better since I started back at this workplace, admittedly we are all working from home due to the virus so that’s given me time to get both feet on the ground and do some studying and research around the areas of my job. 

Sometimes those of us with Asperger’s just need a bit more time adjusting to big changes, I am overall fine with change in my life when it comes to studying or what type of work I am doing however a desk move or members of staff leaving or even a change in the office can make me feel a bit uneasy. 

I have been spending a lot of my life, even before my diagnosis, learning knew ways to cope to make me more at ease during stressful moments in life as I am a naturally nervous person. This has had both a negative and positive affect on my life, I tend to bottle my feelings up and forget that getting a bit stressed or worried is normal. I am a very nervous person, filled with nervous energy, I shake, pace and massively overthink without even realising it because I have found a way to bottle up the generic anxiety/stress feelings which I should instead learn to realise, accept and make more positive ways to cope with instead of hiding it. Everyone needs to be honest with themselves sometimes and I am lucky I work somewhere I do and they understand so I can instead of saying “I’m fine” just be honest and admit that sometimes I’m not. It’s honestly ok to not be ok sometimes, its noticing when you’re not ok and then finding ways to make sure you are ok, whether that’s by doing a certain activity you love, speaking to someone or even just having a little break.

I think more companies need to be like the one I work for especially when it comes to the technology or non client facing teams. 

We are able to wear clothes of our own choice as long as they’re appropriate which lessens one of my sensory issues, I don’t need to wear horrible scratchy clothes. The flexible time is wonderful so if I need to complete a task at a certain time means that I can, I can also be very flexible with what I do especially at the moment, I am currently working in a different area and learning new skills that a lot of other companies wouldn’t support workers to do.

As well as also being able to be open to managers about how I feel or if I don’t like a particular thing about my day or work I can just have a chat and we can figure out how to make it more comfortable. I’m not saying I can pick and choose but I am able to ask for help or get some support which I think is really lovely this massively reduces worries and anxieties around the work place which means you don’t feel nervous about going into work. 

Overall working in IT is for me; I really like the group of people I am surrounded by and I cant wait for things to one day go back to normal and I can see them all again like normal. I have had some bad experiences in life just like everyone but I believe that I am incredibly lucky and through everything I have met some lovely people who have really impacted my life and I am very thankful for them. Thank you. 

Things to do during lockdown

I am aware so many people have posted about this topic but I think it’s great to get some ideas even if most ideas are recycled on different posts 🙂 

During these hard times I know there is a lot of tension and a lot of anxiety, but we have to try and find things that can help us distract ourselves.

There are so many different things to do during this time that can even help you learn new skills or even improve on skills you already have!

I personally like to work from home and it also gives me my own space that I can also study in, I have to admit I am very lucky that I work in IT as I am able to work remotely. Due to putting some of my tasks on pause as we’re no longer allowed in the office it leaves me more time to try out some other tasks in different areas of IT which is really cool. 

The different things I have been doing to keep myself busy vary, for starters I have decided to write this blog which even with no one really reading it, it still makes me feel like I’m socialising haha. I am looking at different resources to study for some professional qualifications which I know will help me in my current job and future tasks, I tend to include some studying into my work day as well!

I am playing a lot of animal crossing which came out on the 20th of March which may not be very productive but it certainly makes me happy and I think during this time doing things that make you happy is essential! Exercise is also very important, I am currently writing up a study and exercise plan for both me and my partner to get on with to ensure we continue to look after our health even while in lockdown! Exercise is so important for both mental and physical health, even if you really don’t feel like doing anything why not try and do some yoga, I love doing a bit of flow yoga or hatha. I find yoga enables me to stretch and think while building some nice muscle to ensure that when this is all over I can still walk 😉 

Me and my partner are also trying to dedicate a minimum of 30 minutes a day to go for a walk with the dog and just forget about work for a bit, which I find is more important for him more than me as I feel as though he works too hard sometimes 🙂 

I am also reading a lot, I think in the past few weeks I have read about 2 books and started another 2, my goal is a minimum of 15 books so along with the books I read in Jan and Feb I think I can get to 15! 

I am very lucky I live with others because I am able to socialise with my household if I really want to and also have my own space! This also means I can spend a lot of time, when I am bored, talking and chatting…and drinking lots of tea and coffee. 

As for a lot of other people I know some of these things are unavailable or just not possible at the moment but there are plenty of things that you can maybe try that can make you feel a bit less alone or bored. 

Some of these ideas may not be for you so please don’t do anything that you’re not comfortable with! 

I find that some form of exercise is great, it can keep you fit even if you have to work out indoors and can add something to your day, produce some nice happy hormones and just overall hopefully make you feel happier! Below I will link some cool sites that I use for both yoga and indoor exercises with little to no equipment! Make sure you look after your mind as much as your body.

Home – Day 1 – Recognize  |  30 Days of Yoga With Adriene

The Best 15-Minute Beginner Workout — No Equipment Needed | Class FitSugar

Home Exercises for Kids

Read, learn and improve your skills, maybe you’ve always wanted to learn a language or a new skill, why not try to use apps or online educations sites such as Babbel and Udemy! I use Udemy for both personal and work reasons, I find they have such a crazy selection of courses that are really affordable and if you don’t enjoy it when you start you are able to get refunded and maybe try another one! I am currently learning some skills within the Linux area and Cognitive behaviour therapy sector (CBT). I have a big passion around Psychology and Behavioural subjects, I am always looking at ways to improve my understanding of people, being Aspergers I also do lots of research on other who have ASD so I can better understand myself and others in the community. 

There are lots of things to do during lockdown but just remember to be safe and look after yourself and other people who may be vulnerable in the community. I have only suggested a few things that I have seen other people doing including myself! But please look after yourself, stay safe and try to stay positive, we’re all in this together ❤ 

Some good sources that I like-

Study-

https://uk.babbel.com

https://www.udemy.com

Exercise and relaxation- 

https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene

https://www.youtube.com/user/popsugartvfit

20 Minute Mindfulness Meditation for Being Present / Mindful Movement

Creative- 

https://www.youtube.com/user/GeniunelyMoriah

Simple Steps to Learn a New Skill

https://www.goodreads.com