Image description: many different baby-form Digimon are shown
I have been explaining my burnout to people in the most autistic way possible. Have you watched Digimon? If not, here is a basic overview of the life of a Digimon. It’s not like Pokemon where Charmander hits a certain experience level and evolves into Charmeleon, and then gets more life experience, and evolves in Charizard. In Digimon, evolution is a cyclical process. Digimon start as babies, doing nothing but eating, sleeping, chatting, and maybe possibly doing a single energy attack that hits enemies with the all the force of getting smacked in the face with a beanbag chair.
When its time is ready, the baby Digimon Digivolves into a basic-level Digimon. The basic-level Digimon has a little more punch behind it, and they are capable of higher-order thoughts. They might be a fire-breathing dinosaur, or a monster that shoots water out of its mouth with the power of a firehose, or a bird that blows people off their feet with gale winds. They have the power to defend themselves from most threats, but not all. Both baby and basic Digimon often pair up with humans, who exhibit their strengths and teach those strengths to the Digimon. Humans can exhibit strengths like courage, kindness, knowledge, generosity, and hope. Humans also protect the Digimon in their vulnerable baby phase.
When a more terrifying threat comes along, a basic Digimon will Digivolve again, into a champion that embodies that strength they learned from their human companion. These champions have the power to create infernos, hurricanes, and kick with the force of a charging rhino.When the champion expends their power, they revert back to a baby, and undergo the whole process again. They eat, sleep, do nothing much, and when their time comes, maybe weeks or years from now, they will become a basic-level Digimon again.And when the cycle continues again and again, the champion will have more stamina every time, and may even Digivolve into a more powerful ultimate form or something even more powerful than an ultimate. But that’s only after many cycles and many times of reverting back to the baby form.
I have been in my baby form for the past 14 months. Because when the pandemic started, I Digivolved from a basic to a champion. I mobilized my community to support neurodivergent people in the process of transitioning from the old pre-covid world to the new world. I created and put out a lot of content to make sure neurodivergent people were not forgotten in the transition. And I burnt out from how much I was pushing myself to create. And this burnout was me reverting from champion to baby status. And the cycle is going to happen again and again.
I thought life was like Pokemon, where I attain a certain level of life experience and I evolve into Charmeleon, and I get more experience and become Charizard. Like, I get more work experience as a social worker and I graduate from grad school and become a Master and that’s me becoming a Charizard. But life’s not like that.
I’m going to keep burning out as a Master-level social worker too. I’m going to go years without being able to work, just like now, not because conditions are not right for me to work, but because I needed to put my superpowers into overdrive and become a champion, and afterwards revert back to a baby.I will always have times in my life where I will need to Digivolve into a champion, for my own survival. And I will need people and other champions to protect me when I go back to being a baby form. I’m sure that this does not just happen to Autistics. I’m sure that everyone burns out and needs people to protect and support them as they take the journey back to being a basic Digimon that can support themselves.