I’m tired – Running on Empty with #Aspergers


I’m tired.

Really tired.

It is the end product of a lifetime with Asperger’s.

It’s that simple.


A driven man

An employer once described me as a driven man.

I am fairly certain it was not meant as a compliment, but it was an accurate observation.

In my early 20s, a friend commented that I was a ‘really alive person’ and that she had never met anyone else quite so alive as me. From memory this was the day after a particularly energized summer party, where I had been particularly energized.

As a teenager and then a young man, I always invested a lot of energy into socializing, with alcohol being a core component of that investment.

At some level I always knew that if I didn’t keep going at this elevated state, the movie would stop and I would be alone, again.

If Robert Downey Jr made an autobiographical film I am fairly confident I could play the lead role with very little character preparation – and vice versa.


Life in the fast lane

I began to see the futility of my high octane lifestyle in my late 30s/early 40s, before I discovered I have Asperger’s.

I noticed that if I didn’t initiate social activity (read going out drinking) there would be no social activity outside of my family.

I also began to realize that I didn’t really care very much for most of the people that I would go out socializing/drinking with and perhaps more importantly, that they didn’t seem to care much about me either.

Towards the end of my alcohol socializing years, it is now clear that the social companionship (if you can even call it that) aspect was just incidental to the alcohol consumption.

So much so, that eventually I was quite happy to go out drinking alone, until that wore out and I switched to drinking at home.

With each progressive retreat from the ‘social’ world, I remember feeling progressively relieved, a metamorphosis that is still in progress.


Running on empty

In retrospect, running on empty is a good description of my earlier life but it also captures how I often feel to this day.

I have become more acutely aware of this sense of chronic exhaustion since discovering that I have Asperger’s and it is possible that revelation has exacerbated this condition.

I also need to acknowledge that being the other side of 40, in what is loosely called middle age, may also have been a factor in my increasingly existential thought life and sense of fatigue.

But the fact remains that whether or not my age, or the revelation of having Asperger’s has impacted significantly on my ability to cope, (or at least my willingness to try to cope) I can see that for most of my life I was:

  • running to stand still
  • canoeing with a tennis racket
  • howling at the wind and running against the wind


Running on Empty

This is one of my favorite songs from my youth.

It captures much of how I remember my early years but is just as relevant to me today.

You might want to play this while you’re reading this.




I’m tired

Much has been written about anxiety, depression, ADHD and all the other co-morbid conditions that accompany Asperger’s, by me and others.

I have survived and I cope quite well, but it is tiring, oh so tiring.




7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. bjforshaw
    Oct 31, 2013 @ 10:24:16

    All of this is like holding a mirror to my own life. Thank you: I feel less isolated.


  2. The Mom
    Oct 31, 2013 @ 11:28:07

    Wow. I totally get this. It isn’t a physical exhaustion, though it sometimes feels like it, it’s more of an emotional exhaustion. It’s just too much stimulus and attempting to contort to fit in to the expectations of a neurotypical world. I’m tired too.


  3. Wiktoria Wiker Strauss
    Nov 01, 2013 @ 20:37:52

    Tired, yes the exhaustion from the overwhelm of trying to be out there in the “normal” world is almost indescribable, but you have certainly have caught the lag we are struggling with.

    Thank you for sharing


  4. A Quiet Week
    Nov 01, 2013 @ 21:20:58

    I understand deeply. The relief of unburdening oneself socially, the never-ending tiredness, it is existential indeed.


  5. Lucy
    Nov 02, 2013 @ 11:54:10

    Yes. I am tired too. I wonder how much more I can “cross off the list”. Already dropped a relationship because the person expected too much from me. Sad, but it took more than I had available to give – so it had to end.


  6. Myra Valcourt(fr2f) (@friend2friend)
    Nov 10, 2013 @ 11:38:05

    I told an NT yesterday, it’s like all my successful learned behaviours were hacked out of granite, using my brain as a sledgehammer. Everything unfamiliar to me is behind those granite walls, and they can’t imagine how much mental energy it saves me to stay in the areas I already have access to. I can go through those walls, if I have to, but I’m going to be a tired pile of mental mush in the process. And so it goes…


  7. Andrew
    Mar 18, 2015 @ 13:28:50

    I too thought the solution to a successful life was to study and work harder and harder and so I did. But I too paddled upsream the proverbial raging river of life with a tennis racquet. I still am but now with a smaller badminton racquet. Now undiagnosed in my late 30’s I am so utterly burnt out struggling every day with brain strain unable to cope and recover properly, unable to escape responsibility and culturally unable to reveal my suffering. How long must we endure? How long?


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