While burnout may seem like the default setting for the modern era, in Can’t Even, BuzzFeed culture writer and former academic Anne Helen Petersen argues that burnout is a definitional condition for the millennial generation, born out of distrust in the institutions that have failed us, the unrealistic expectations of the modern workplace, and a sharp uptick in anxiety and hopelessness exacerbated by the constant pressure to “perform” our lives online.
As an actually-autistic adult whose midlife diagnosis triggered an enduring bout of autistic burnout, I guess I will just include here what I’ve said before:
What actually would be useful is if that original article prompted wider public and professional acceptance that these are real conditions and dynamics within the brain, which might help validate among the psychological and social service communities that autistic burnout, specifically, also is a real thing. Not only that, but then perhaps yield a recognition that on top of the sorts of cognitive loads neurotypical people face either in small-scale decision fatigue or larger-scale occupational burnout, autistic people are dealing with the daily (weekly, monthly, yearly…) loads of needing to camouflage themselves for the benefit and comfort of the neurotypical society around them.
I hope the book takes the opportunity to expand beyond just “oh, woe is me-llennial” and thinks a bit about how there are other groups and populations in the world for whom burnout is an ongoing psychological, if not existential, danger when the gravitational pull of society’s background of conformity is brought to bear upon their literally-different brains.