Unfortunately like most people on the spectrum meltdowns are a natural part of my disorder. Most of the time they are quite mild and I can pull myself out of them by engaging in wearing my ear defenders or biting myself. Occasionally something triggers me and my meltdowns are a lot more intense.
When this happens I know I’m not going to be able to prevent it. I can hold it off, keep the buzzing and emotions on the inside for a while but eventually I need to let it out, take myself away and just let the meltdown happen or risk it being even worse. When I feel like this I need to put myself into as confined space as possible, pushed into a corner, squeezed between two pieces of furniture. Covering my ears helps but it doesn’t take away the sensations. It’s when it gets like this that it is most embarrassing, biting doesn’t even make enough of a difference, doesn’t ease the feeling of meltdown like it normally does. I hit my head. Either against a wall or something close by and if I can’t do this or it isn’t enough then I will pummel the heels of my hands against my forehead and temples, faster and faster until I cannot take anymore. I cry and cannot stop myself, become in capable of speech. It is a horrible experience. I hate the idea of anyone seeing them. Not because i am ashamed of having meltdowns, I know they cannot be helped but because people don’t understand them. Have terrible perceptions related to them. People think I can not cope or that I am a freak, that these are weird, that it makes me weak.
Once a meltdown is finally over I am physically, emotionally and mentally drained. Even more so when they are as strong as these ones. I can if I need to go right back to whatever I was doing as if nothing happened, if that is what is required of me but once I’m home I will often have another meltdown to compensate for the role i have had to put on and the mask I have had to work so hard to wear.
After I am heartbroken about the fact that my autism has let this happen all I can think about is what the people who know or saw my meltdown think. What are their perceptions of me now? This feels worse when it is around things such as work (very rare) or my fiancé’s parents etc. I spend my life trying to show people how capable I am just for it all to come crashing down around me when a meltdown hits.
Not only is the actual meltdown itself traumatic but the after effects are if anything even more so. The loss of respect, understanding and the way people then see me breaks me inside. I wish the understanding that meltdowns weren’t a character flaw, do not make you a weak person or change the good things about you were better understood. That it didn’t change how everyone around me looked at me.
I really wish I could take back the large meltdowns. Not have the lasting effects that come from them such as the inability to sleep because of processing and worrying, the bruises from where I have bitten myself or banged my head. They lead to a lot of questions, I’m not ashamed because I know why they are there but again I know people see it as self harming when that isn’t strictly the case (yes I have harmed myself but it’s not for the same reasons as self harm)
I just want everyone to know who reads this that I am sorry. Please don’t think any differently of me. I am still a capable and strong person. I am still me. Don’t focus on this one moment. Remember all the times I haven’t had a meltdown, and that autism is something I have to live with everyday. I battle these feelings all the time.