Thank you so much for this response! I have also struggled with burnout — I had a bad bout of it during and immediately after graduate school, but I was still able to make rent and live, so I didn’t take it as seriously as I should have. For years, I prioritized being “independent” — with a very threadbare life — over getting help or admitting need, which was a real mistake of mine.
I worry, too, that I will experience burnout in middle age, or in a conventional job. I have interviewed for jobs that I was qualified for, and intrigued in, but which I ultimately turned down because of the fear of being in an office, going about a regular grind and socializing with people, day after day. I know that would be extremely grueling for me, and would take me farther away from my actual self. I’m really, really fortunate to be able to work on my own, free of the social politics and small frustrations that neurotypical people can handle but which eat away at me.
I’m sorry you don’t have much of a life right now, as you put it. That really sucks. I have had months or years where it seemed like my world was getting smaller and smaller and smaller, and more simple, until eventually there was little joy or purpose in it. It’s a terrible feeling. I found freedom from that solitude through things like support and discussion groups, literary events around town, even acting and performing — but all of that stuff can be very taxing, too. It’s so hard to find a balance between not being drained and not being connected to people.