Welcome to part 2 of my series “What we wish employers knew about neurodivergent fatigue. “ As a reminder, neurodivergents refers to anyone on the smaller side of the neurodiversity umbrella – the approximately 30% of people with Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia, Tourettes, and several other conditions meaning our brains work differently.
Like anyone else, neurodivergents experience stressors in everyday life. Some are small, like not remembering a password, and some are big, like dealing with a death in the family. After all, we are parents and spouses, and siblings. We are bosses and employees. Anything that affects a human will affect us; however, neurodivergent brains and bodies can differ from neurotypicals in how stresses or trauma are experienced.
For me, my body interprets all stress as fatigue. In fact, for years, I thought that I just didn’t ever get stressed…even though I have chronic migraines and daily headaches and am always so tired I can nap on even the grossest stretch of floor. I have considered laying down right on the movie theater floor – that’s pretty desperate. I have learned that instead of depression, anxiety, low libido, or concentration problems, my body absorbs everything in my life and puts it right into the fatigue bucket. Exercise, a good diet, and mindfulness can help, but those are drops in that bucket compared to what lousy feedback at work or problems with my dad take out of me. Even weirder – the same thing happens with HAPPY Emotions! There’s nothing like an excellent celebratory nap when a raise or promotion comes your way.
What can make things more complicated is trying to explain how we feel to other people. This is why comparing employees to each other and having a set expectation of how people “should” feel or “should” react is such a bad idea and why flexibility is critical to everyone’s well-being. Having support and flexibility at work can significantly reduce the stress we feel of trying to keep up appearances or wondering how or if we can approach you about needing some accommodation. Anything that reduces stress can reduce fatigue. It’s never a bad idea to understand how your employees feel or deal with stress. In fact, it’s better for everyone.
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