Tag Archives: Meltdowns

Autistic Confessions I Had a Meltdown at Work

The woman on the phone was not listening. I had called her for help and quickly realized that she would not be able to help me.

“I told her never-mind. I’ve made a mistake. I’m going to let you go.” She kept asking questions. Every question she asked I said – “I don’t know. I don’t have any more information. I am going to let you go.”

She kept asking. I told her again – “I need to let you go. You cannot help me.” Her overly helpful insistence that I not hang up the phone was about to make me blow up.

Finally, in a harsh tone I told her – “Look – I was trying to be nice but I am hanging up now because there is NOTHING you can do for me.”

I slammed down the phone and ran quickly out of our office in a panic. My heart was beating fast and my mind was racing. Everything was a blur. I wanted to scream, cry, and hit someone. More than anything I wanted to get away and be alone.

Run. Run. Escape. Escape.

Bursting into the hallway I frantically looked both ways – I wanted to go someplace without people. The bathroom? Elevator? Emergency stairwell! 

Hyperventilating I burst into the stairwell. It was dark and quiet as most people take the elevator. I rand up and down the stairs until finally I collapsed exhausted on the bottom floor.

I sat for a moment, curled in a ball rocking. Grateful for the moment alone – I sat breathing in and listening to my breaths.

Coming back to reality, feeling much better after my tiny explosion (this was a very small meltdown), I realized that I had left my key-card in the desk as I ran out in a panic, so I exited the stairwell and took the elevator back to my floor.

Back at my desk I sat down like nothing ever happened – as if I hadn’t just had a meltdown at work.

When an Autistic person is having a meltdown they are unable to think clearly. The flight or fight response is triggered so forcing them to engage with you can actually cause more stress.

We are all unique individuals but I like to be alone during a meltdown. If I get up and run away don’t chase me – this is flight and if you corner me my brain can switch to fight. I’m on autopilot and running has become the way I protect myself (and those around me).

If I’m having a meltdown please do not touch me. My senses are whirling out of proportion and I am not thinking clearly. I may become unable to communicate other than one word answers and trying to communicate makes me feel worse – so don’t ask me explain what’s happening.

If you are in the room with an Autistic person having a meltdown – turn off the lights, get them a blanket or pillow and some space. A favorite stim toy might also be a good thing to offer.

You can stay in the room if the person you are with does not mind, but give some space and sit quietly.  Accept that they can’t control what is happening to them. Sometimes we feel the meltdown coming but other times it hits without warning.

Once started the meltdown has to run its course. Just wait, let me meltdown and don’t try to stop it. We may feel tired after a meltdown but sometimes we may feel a relief as the pressure may have been building for quite sometime.

Remember – as hard as watching a meltdown may be for you having a meltdown is horrible for an Autistic person. The pain is mental and physical. Autistic people having meltdowns are in crisis mode and our brains are lashing out at us. We don’t mean to freak out and are often embarrassed after having a meltdown.

#ActuallyAutistic

Autistic Confessions – I Don’t Handle Last Minute Changes Very Well

When I set out to do something I need to know the end time and like to know what to expect.

For example if I go to an event, even a very busy and loud event with lots of people, I am able to get through it as long as I know when I will be leaving. During the event, I conserve my energy accordingly so I can last.

If you make me stay later at an event I may not have enough energy to get myself home without breaking down. I try to hold things in but depending on how much longer things run, I might cry or have a meltdown .

Another example is when guests visit. I need to know how late people will stay. If my guests stay extra days it will stress me out because I won’t be able to recharge while there are extra people in the house. Entertaining is exhausting to me.

A last minute request as I am planning to leave work can send me into a silent rage, but will smile and act like everything is alright even though I am panicking inside and the world is swirling.

Even if I smile and agree – I need to stick to the plan and last minute changes stress me out.

I Love to Hate You – Autism & Socks

Socks.

It is more of a Sensory Processing Disorder problem than an Autism problem, but maybe it’s an Autism problem because we don’t explain the discomfort to the people around us.

We don’t know you don’t feel the same way we do about socks. We think that our behavior should be self explanatory because socks just suck that much. I have very early memories regarding the unpleasantness of socks. They felt like fiberglass burning into my ankles and the seam was a large lizard wiggling around on my toes.

When I was a baby my mother liked to dress me in socks with lace trim. I hated lace more than anything. Thinking about those socks makes me itch. Nothing could ever make them feel right. Looking around me everyone had socks. I thought you all were crazy. Why on earth would anyone put up with this much pain?

My mother said it was to protect my shoes, because shoes are expensive. It was a logical enough explanation, but as I got older I remember rubbing my feet and ankles raw by pawing at my socks.

Wet socks and wet clothing have always been impossible for me. My mother once asked me to put on wet socks. I can’t remember very clearly what happened after she asked that question (perhaps I had a meltdown) but I feel like the situation ended with vomit.

As I got older I started picking my own socks at the store. Ankle socks with no seam in the toe were my favorite when I could find them on sale. I had expensive taste in socks. If I could not find socks without a seam, I prefer ankle socks with a seam on top but they have to be soft.

I tried wearing shoes without socks, most of the time I ended up with blisters on my tinder feet.My balance is not the best and I am a bit of a klutz. I imagine my feet take quite a beating when not protected by socks.

Flats were great until my feet began to sweat. Pools of sweat feel like oceans in my shoes – it is ALMOST as bad as wet socks.

I try to stock up when I find a type of sock that I like. If a company changes their socks it will take me a while to get used to them.

Nothing is more annoying than a sock problem. The distraction is so intense it becomes hard to think about anything else without stimming. Maybe that is why I went barefooted so much as a child. I loved the feel of warm dry grass and hot asphalt on my feet.

I don’t run around with my shoes off any more. Now that I’ve found socks that feel nice I prefer not to feel small things under my feet. (As an adult, at 125 lbs, your feet hurt more when stepping on objects than they did when you only were closer to 60lbs.)

Even now there are some sensory days that I just can’t handle socks. If that happens I don’t wear them. It’s that easy. It is not fair that I put myself through the torture.

Itchy socks take away my valuable spoons. I need those they are mine!

I’ve been wearing socks for over 30 years now. It has taken me a long time to go from hating socks to loving socks.

Baby steps, progress is progress no matter how long it takes.

The Aspie World -AUTISM MELTDOWN – What Is A Meltdown?

I am currently averaging 2-4 meltdowns a month. I hate them so much and can never explain them to my loved ones.

The hardest part is that I know I look like an irrational crying child and there is nothing I can do to stop the reaction once I’ve been pushed passed the tipping point.

The Aspie World – one of my favorite YouTubers. Talks about Meltdowns in the following video. Please subscribe to The Aspie World on YouTube.

Amythest Schaber – Ask an Autistic – What is Sensory Processing Disorder?

Welcome my world. The worst, and maybe the only part of being an Aspie that is truly disabling (mostly because people expect me to be normal).

In this video Amythest Schaber, YouTube host and owner of the Neuroonerful blog, talks about Sensory Processing Disorder. What is it? Check out Amthest’s video (which I can take NO credit for) below.

Amythest Schaber – Ask an Autistic – What are Autistic Meltdowns?

I’ve been going through what I would believe some people call Autistic Burnout.

My sensory processing difficulties have been more debilitating and I am averaging about 3-5 full blown meltdowns a month.

When I say full blown meltdowns I mean, 4-6 hours of pure hell followed by another 24-48 hours feeling weak and sick recovering from the intensity.

Amythest Schaber is one of my favorite YouTube hosts. Pleas follow her page and check out her AMAZING content!

She explains things so well verbally. I am in awe of her talent.

Staying Anonymously Autistic – Tip 5 (Don’t Have Meltdowns in Public)

Nothing gets the attention of the room quite like an adult lying on the floor curled in a ball crying. If you truly want to be Anonymously Autistic it is extremely important to keep your meltdowns to yourself.

Meltdowns happen, I get it but most neurotypicals don’t. They’ve never felt the panic and pain of a meltdown and do not have the ability to truly understand what we are going through.

It is important to stay well rested and learn to spot signs that a meltdown is becoming imminent. I always try to have an exist strategy when I go somewhere even if it’s just a bathroom, to my own car, or for a walk.

When I have a meltdown being around other people is the last thing I want anyway. Its easier for me to recover if I am left alone. People look at you helpless, desperate to make you feel better, not knowing the best help they can give is to leave you alone.

Aspie Tip # 5 – No Public Meltdowns

I Had a Meltdown the Other Day

I had a meltdown the other day. Quite some time had passed between meltdowns, looking back it is impossible to remember when my last meltdown even was. Long ago, months, years maybe?

When I was younger my meltdowns were more explosive – fits of rage, yelling, screaming, breaking things. As an adult my meltdowns are far less frequent and have become more of an implosion, folding into myself, alone in my own hell.

My body aches and my stomach twists in knots. There is no air, it becomes hard to breathe. I cry and hyper ventilate.All I want to do is hide in my dark room under a pile of blankets. Lights hurt my eyes, every sound makes me jump, anything touching me becomes painful, even being around people hurts, especially if they ask me to communicate with them.

Over the years I’ve gotten better at predicting and preventing them. I try to avoid encountering too many triggers in one day.

When I’m tired or feeling as if my energy levels are off, I always take some time to relax alone. If I pay careful attention to my mind and body, there are certain hints that my mental energy bank is getting low.

Certain activities take up more mental energy than others. It’ like I’m a video game character with a life bar. Every thing I encounter drains a little of my life away – florescent lights, trying to pay attention to multiple conversations in a crowded room, meetings & phone calls with people at the office.

Some items tick away slowly at my life bar, while others take away chunks at a time. When I run out of energy a meltdown is eminent. Nothing is going to stop it when it gets to this point.

There is one thing that makes life extremely difficult. In general I am a pretty nervous person. Although I’ve learned to push myself through my anxiety, doing so takes up a lot of my energy. Unfortunately I have only so much to give in one day.

Finally, as I get older, I am learning to say no to people when I am not up to going out. The people in my life are of my own choosing. I spend time with my family at least once or twice a month and I can count my true friends on one hand.

My friends seem to understand that I don’t have a lot of social time to give. They don’t know I’m on the spectrum. Most people would have no idea. When I am out in the world, I give 100 percent. Being “socially acceptable”  is work, and I can’t do it when I have limited energy available to me.

Fortunately, there are a few ways that I can regenerate some of my precious (& limited) life-force. Naps are wonderful, soaking in long hot baths, taking my dog for a walk in the woods, reading a book, and writing are all things that help me purge excessive anxiety.

I have to be kind to myself. Learning to listen to my body, though yoga, was one of the best things that I’ve ever done for myself. Many Aspies can feel disconnected from our bodies, but when we reconnect something amazing happens. My body tingles and my brain becomes sharp – cutting like a laser.

My gifts outweigh my curses, when allowed to live my own way. Don’t expect me to conform to all of society’s norms. Autism Awareness is being aware that people have autism. I am asking for Autism Acceptance. Please give us the freedom to be ourselves.

So much of my suffering comes from the negative stigma associate with being Autistic, and the amount of energy spent trying to look “Neurotypical” every day is massive. Until we have more compassion and understanding, I am always – Anonymously Autistic.