It's over a year now since I suffered a major burnout leading to long term sick, and since I've returned to work I've been taking care of myself by not travelling and really carefully managing my sensory environment & keeping away from hubbub (lots of conversations etc.). My self care has worked really well, and I've feel that I've discovered "normal, healthy" levels of stress for the first time in my working life (healthy levels of stress for *me*, at least).
Now that I'm looking like I've recovered from burnout and I'm starting performing at 95% again, I can feel myself coming under pressure to start attending meetings in person again and travelling again. Before my burnout I was flying into Europe alone maybe every month and just feeling important rather than stressed. Now I'm very wary about returning to what everyone else will see as normal.
I don't know what I'm asking others here for - maybe just sympathy & to tell me that yes, I need to look after myself and not put myself under pressure.
By the way, one of the things I'm *really* mindful of is giving an inch and being expected to do a mile.............
I seriously wonder if burnout is what I'm going through. The cumulative effect of years of 'coping' in the workplace, increasingly more frequent periods of sick leave, then the stress of mum's final illness and my caring for her, then her death and my going back to work quite quickly afterwards, then the bullying in that job necessitating more sick leave... and then finally starting my new job this week and effectively crashing back out to more sick leave. But I feel that pressure that you talk about - I feel it all the time. 'Come on, pull yourself together. Soldier on.' And then, when I'm in work, not asking for special considerations. Still trying to perform at peak, and sometimes finding myself in overload.
Yes, you need to look after yourself. Don't pile on the pressure. Maybe it's difficult for you to accept - it is for me - that I have a condition that does inhibit my performance in certain situations. I need to learn to speak up for myself. I need to go to interviews and instead of saying, as I usually do, 'I have Asperger's, but it doesn't usually have any impact on my work', say instead 'I may need to ask for some reasonable adjustments.' Part of it is fear of being turned down. They aren't supposed to discriminate, but we all know they do.
Traveling is a big one. I find commuting very stressful. I don't like using public transport any more because of the all the noise: gadgets going off, loud phone conversations, etc. And driving to where I work is a nightmare. 20 minutes to do the first 6 miles, 20 minutes to do the final couple, no guarantee of finding a parking space close to where I work, stop-start stop-start getting home at rush hour - taking an hour for 8 miles. The job I'm going for on Friday is 15 minutes walk from my front door, on a quiet country estate on the outskirts of town. I actually think that's more valuable than commuting to a job that gives me much longer holidays.
Yes it can be difficult to stand up for yourself and say "Yes, most people would be OK with X, but I'm not most people and saying no doesn't mean I'm lazy or uncooperative or being difficult or not a team player." Two and a half decades of working life I've absorbed the norms of behaviours and logically judged them all as reasonable expectations, but now I'm entertaining the fact that maybe following suit has been causing me more pain and exhaustion than it does for others, and so it's OK to say no.
I'm allowing myself to live by "look after yourself, trust your instincts" now because the stakes are so high, but I still have 25 years of learned behaviours fighting back at me.
But I remain determined; now I've passed 50, I have maybe 15 years to retirement and 20 concurrent years of life to enjoy fully, and I'm going to put myself first now. My kids have grown up, and my parents seem to be finally accepting that my life is for me and not for them.