Alternative Reality – unknowingly living with Autism


Part 2

  • In 2010 I was approached by a mining company in South Africa to work as a Crisis Manager in the Industry. I worked on 23 Shafts managing operations of their Cap-lamp Rooms where they kit underground Miners. I developed a supply chain strategy for them which they still use today. I also worked on their RFID tagging system of miners and equipment to identify when miners lose their equipment underground or do not exit the shaft at the end of a shift.
  • In 2012 we ended our mining contracts at Marikana when all the miners were shot by South African Police, it made global headlines.
  • In 2013 I went back into the Construction Industry and started my own Project Management company. I developed a system to get building plans approved faster than the traditional method by walking them through at the local town councils.
  • I ended up helping a Lady to get her Building Plan approved. She was the private secretary of our former State President Mr. Nelson Mandela. I did not know it was her when meeting her and she pointed out how nice it was that I treated her as a normal person. I did however apologize when she revealed who she was!
  • In 2014 I had an opportunity to move down to the coast and live in the Western Cape province.
  • In 2015 I started working in Insurance in the Financial Services industry by being appointed as a Project Manager with an International Group of Companies.
  • I was appointed to settle the Agile Project Management office in our local Software house. I facilitated and managed over 1000 releases to Production in 12 months. I developed a Change Control Release schedule which they still use today.
  • In 2016 I received the Personality of the Year Award as voted for by the Group Directors.
  • In 2015 I completed a Project Management course at the Nelson Mandela University Business School. This was my first qualification after finishing school 2 decades ago.
  • In 2017 I was promoted to Senior Project Manager and started working on Insurance Telematics. I reported directly to a Group Director.
  • I developed a Crash Detection prediction model with our tracking service provider.
  • I developed an online User Portal.
  • I developed a Crash Recreation Tool for our Investigations department.
  • I developed our Driver Rewards Program.
  • I analyzed our big data with our Actuaries to improve our Risk Management strategies.
  • I studied human behavior to predict future behavior and probabilities.
  • In 2020 I woke up on a Saturday and spent the day with my teenage daughter. During the afternoon I felt depleted mentally, emotionally, and physically.
  • I said goodbye to my daughter, got in my car, drove out into the mountains, and tried to commit suicide.
  • I failed. I survived…
  • I woke up the next morning and with all the blood loss managed to drive to the Emergency Room at the local Hospital where they stitched me up and booked me into the Psychiatric Ward.
  • I was as surprised as they were about what had happened! I was an eternal optimist and loved life! It was one big adventure!
  • When the Psychiatrist entered the consultation room and asked me what happened, I started telling him what I can remember.
  • After 5 minutes he asked: ‘Has anyone ever spoken to you about Autism?”.
  • This question changed my entire life…The Psychiatrist said that this is classic Autistic Burnout behavior, I am in good hands now and they will take care of me.
  • This man saved my Life. It was as if 4 decades of confusion and darkness and the unknown came into focus and fell into place. ALL of my questions were answered.

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Day 8 post failed suicide attempt – Autistic Burnout



Nurse takes blood pressure. Inspects the wound on my wrist, stitches can be removed in the next day or two. Healing very well.



Wait for Psychiatrist…


He arrives at 9:00 and we start talking in a very relaxed manner. He looks calmer than in the previous sessions. He is as tall as I am and today he is wearing casual wear. It adds to the relaxed environment. He even smiles a bit. I feel like he is actually onto something and I start to feel a bit of hope spring up inside me.

He starts asking me about the feelings I experienced just before I tried to commit suicide (and I didn’t want to kill myself).

I explained it like this:

I was always aware of extreme pressure in my life. Mentally, emotionally and physically. Life was always tough. I remember the day my body drove me out to the mountains and tried to kill me, that I felt exhausted. I felt empty. I needed rest. I needed sleep. I felt that I have reached the end of what was possible to give in this life. My life-force has been drained. My ‘chi’ was disappearing. I felt that this wonderful scary adventure called life has come to an end. I was done…

He looked at me with a little bit of a smile and said I experienced autistic burnout. I literally lived my life to the fullest and I drained every last drop out of every facet of my life, and the suicide attempt was me trying to end me because I had nothing left to give. I spent it all.


He complimented me on my self awareness and my ability to communicate extremely well in describing exactly what transpired. He started explaining to me that people with autism build a public persona to mask their condition, in order to be able to function in society. This masking or camouflaging is extremely taxing on your resources: spiritually, mentally and physically. He explained that my unique, complex condition fascinated him. Apparently people with my condition and the co-morbid ADHD and OCPD (OCD) and depression, usually attempt suicide at 15. I managed to fight off this dragon of death until I was in my early forties! I started building an entire personality with this masking technique and drifted away from my own core. I also started developing a third entity when I drank alcohol, a kind of a man-child if you will. The rebel, the risk taker, the instigator, the reckless, the dangerous one. He suspects that my true self, and the other two were at loggerheads and tried to ‘take over’ the executive functioning, I was about to split! After the battle for my soul, one of those three survived, and he suspects it is the true me.

He asked me to read up on Autistic Burnout and see if I can recognize myself in some of the literature.

He double checked on my prescription and told the nurse that I can stop taking the heavy sleeping pills. He prescribed an anti-psychotic which would assist me with falling asleep at night. We’ll try it, I thought. He greeted me and left.



I spent the afternoon reading about Autistic Burnout

‘Autistic burnout’ is the intense physical, mental or emotional exhaustion, often accompanied by a loss of skills, that some adults with autism experience. Many autistic people say it results mainly from the cumulative effect of having to navigate a world that is designed for neurotypical people.

Burnout may especially affect autistic adults who have strong cognitive and language abilities and are working or going to school with neurotypical people.

Like many aspects of autism, burnout varies greatly from person to person. Some autistic people experience it as an overwhelming sense of physical exhaustion. They may have more difficulty managing their emotions than usual and be prone to outbursts of sadness or anger. Burnout may manifest as intense anxiety or contribute to depression or suicidal behavior.

Well, that explains a lot!

I read and read and read and read…




I read more and more and more and more!

Finally I felt like the past started to make sense, I kind of started to see why he had that look on his face, like he thinks I need to put my own puzzle together and he just handed me the last piece.

I had tea.

Took my medication, and for the first time felt that this day was well spent, and eventually I drifted away…