[97] S8 E5: Finding logic in chaos, burnout, and reconnecting with our internal compass and autistic joy
Topics in this episode: autism at work, autistic family, burnout, intergenerational autism, self diagnosed, self employment

Martine van Bijlert is a writer and researcher from the Netherlands. Now 52, she grew up in Iran and worked in places like Kabul, Grozny and Tehran as an aid worker, diplomat and researcher. She now divides her time between her own creative projects and her work for the Afghanistan Analysts Network, a Kabul-based think tank she founded with friends.

She is self-identified autistic and ADHD, and says she feels like she has always been surrounded by neurodivergent people, as a child, during her studies and in her work abroad, and perhaps because of that she thought things were easier for her than for other people, not harder – which is probably one of the reasons it took her a while to unearth her own neurodivergence.

We talk about:

➡ Finding life more difficult as she’s got older

➡ Realising that most of her family were probably neurodivergent, including her Bible-smuggling grandfather

➡ Being drawn to foreign countries after spending her early childhood in Iran

➡ How her neurodivergent objectivity, pragmatism and cool-headed logic helped her in dangerous situations

➡ Her experience of burnout after setting up and running an organisation in Kabul – and its links to neurodivergent idealism and how we can lose our internal compass as a result

Squarepeg is a podcast in which neurodivergent women, and trans and nonbinary people, explore navigating a neurotypical world and share their insights, challenges and successes.

I hope that these conversations will be inspiring and thought provoking, open you up to new ways of thinking about being neurodivergent, and help you feel more connected to a worldwide community of people with similar experiences.

I’m Amy Richards, and after being diagnosed autistic at the age of 37 I’m now on a mission to learn more about different perspectives and issues around being a neurodivergent adult in a world that feels like it doesn’t quite fit.



Martine’s website: www.martinevanbijlert.com

Her (beautiful!) Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mvbijlert/

AAN website: www.afghanistan-analysts.org

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