Daily Archives: May 5, 2012

Speaking Of Meltdowns II

Continued from Speaking Of Meltdowns I..

In the next two posts I am attempting to explore some of the challenges in the mind of an Aspie on a regular basis as well as during a meltdown/shutdown. It will be filtered through my own Aspie mind. Remember we are all different and some of us may not respond in the same way. It is important to find the common traits, and try to understand them, but also remember our triggers, and responses vary. We have all had our own unique life experiences to mold scripts, fears, likes, interests, etc…

Also, keep in mind that something that did not upset us the day before could be catastrophic the next.

Sometimes we can explain this sometimes we cannot. My personal experience with this is that something “suddenly” upsetting me is because my senses have been assaulted by multiple avenues, my mind feels fuzzy, and I am unable to think. An example, one day I can like popcorn and enjoy eating it. The next day the smell alone can send my head reeling, and cause me to be aggravated. It normally has to do with when my senses have been completely overwhelmed.

During these moments of intense sensory issues – a meltdown/shutdown can occur.

The sensory can remind me of social confusion which taps into triggers of past experiences. If my day has not been going well, or I feel someone’s “negative” vibes, my mind can go into negative scripts. Popcorn can have several negative associations not only sensory wise (getting stuck in my teeth, hurting my gums, getting burnt) I can remember times when I could only eat popcorn to survive. Either I did not have any money, or I could not force myself to eat anything else. There are situations growing up as well, my mom being fanatical about her cheese popcorn that smelled like rotten stink to me. This can open other memories and stories of my life.

What I have been working on these several months is scoping out positive memories instead.

It has been working, but it is a huge mind shift. It can throw me when I am too overwhelmed and have not had any down time. As you read on you will see the words overwhelmed, frustration and confusion a lot. Another major factor for meltdowns are those three things. There is a great frustration with not being able to communicate with others in a way that they understand. It is enhanced when you have a mind that is unaware that the other person does not understand. Another component can be when it feels like you are the one who has to put in all of the effort to try to understand them, and it feels like they are not trying to understand you it can cause exasperation – hopeless feelings.

There are elements of bewilderment when the other person has misunderstood you.

It is like a shock to the system. When you have been clear and direct, but the other person completely misses the semantics of your words it just doesn’t make sense. Don’t we all have the same dictionaries? What I have learned is that everyone is filtering their words through their own perspective. I may have learned this – I cannot remember this during the rise and fall of a meltdown/shutdown.

David and I miss each other’s meanings, and misinterpret each other’s words/actions often.

When I am in a state as I was the other night, my brain automatically goes into strict black-and-white thinking and looking for patterns. I believe the reason for this is that my mind is trying to get me balanced. I am seeking structure, and stability in the midst of what feels like complete chaos. Actually, I am not only seeking it, it can feel crucial that I get it to help me become grounded again. I tend to interrupt, and ask questions because if something seems illogical to me I cannot let it go.

I can get stuck on words or phrases.

If I am not hearing concrete, direct words, it can cause me to tailspin into another trigger path. I don’t want to, most of the time I don’t even know that I am doing it. I am still referring to meltdowns/shutdowns on a regular basis I do pretty well and if I am confused, I can ask. I lose my words and ability to capture words in a cohesive manner while in a meltdown/shutdown. I may repeat something over and over such as: “I cannot talk. I cannot talk.” I do not like being pressured into speaking about my emotions. I need to write them and process them. Since David talks out his emotions and issues, he throws words into the air speaking whatever comes to mind because that is how he processes.

To me this feels like I am physically being covered with words.

I am unsure what the emotions or meanings are behind the words, and this causes me to be overwhelmed with confusion. Because I do feel, see, and have multiple sensory attachments to words they can seem to be penetrating my body. I associate this to my synesthsia. I have more information about synesthesia on another post with several videos here. Though, I need to process and write what I am feeling if there is unresoveled tension, I cannot move forward until it is resolved.

I will loop and create faulty scenarios to try to calm my brain.

I can see David’s (others) point of view getting frustrated and wanting to just say whatever comes to mind, but I do not know how to filter those emotions or words. Saying other things aloud such as: “No I cannot say that” or “I can’t say it like that.” add to the frustrations and guilt I am already feeling. Even if it is not meant through negative intentions, those types of phrases feed into negative thoughts for me.

I now have feelings as if I need to be coddled, or I am a huge cause of frustration.

I want people to be able to speak freely, but yes, I do require clarity. I do not know how to remedy it. It makes me overwhelmed with sadness because I feel like such a burden. It builds up on my own frustrations of not being able to understand. I want to understand, I try to understand, but I cannot get my brain to make the connections. I am desperately wanting the connections to happen – I can feel a disconnect and it is infuriating. I don’t know how to understand “processing in the moment.”

My cognitive functions are already distorted.

It takes a lot to function on a daily basis with how my brain is processing, but when adding stress, anxiety, emotional/social confusion to the mix it can be “Messed up big time!” Some executive functions that include sequencing, inhibition, problem solving, and flexibility are severely delayed during the points leading up to meltdowns/shutdowns. After the meltdown/shutdown is already in full swing, these functions are basically useless. I cannot be reasoned with to some extent. It does not help that I can feel the emotions of frustration, anger, sadness, etc… from other people. It causes me to be confused because I cannot discern between what I am feeling and what they are feeling at all. I cannot think it puts me on defense and all I am doing is trying to protect myself.

Everything becomes jumble.

At that point, I just need to feel safe because I do not. I need a safe place to calm down. I need quiet. I need peace. Why do I say I need a safe place, because now my entire world is no longer safe. Words do not mean what I thought they did, places have unexpected noises, or feelings to them that seem sudden – people are no longer acting the way they normally do. It is like I just stepped into a world of fun-house mirrors. Everything has become distorted and looks scary to me. (I do not like fun-house mirrors sorry if you do, but you understand the distortion, right?)

These mirrors do not only distort images.

They distort sounds, meanings, and emotions. When people are upset or sad they begin to act differently and this takes adjusting for a person like myself. I see it in my kids too. If someone is acting different, such as their Grammy they begin to act out. They will all start stimming in their own way and continue to interrupt, Daniel usually makes very loud noises (humming, strange sounds), or will bang things on the floor. He will do things that he knows bothers us very much while we are trying to talk until he knows that everything is ok, or he understands why she is acting different.

In many cases, I have no idea why someone is upset.

I only feel their energy and I NEED to know what the problem is. I have my own ways of “acting out”, or stimming when I feel something and the person is not telling me what is going on. I tend to get very angry and start to clean frantically. My anger can seem insensitive – I am not insensitive I need clear and direct.  Quite honestly, it does not occur to me to ask. If I am upset, I normally say something because I tend to say whatever I am thinking. It is hard to remember that others do not do this. I can also go into meltdown/shutdown mode because it is too much for me to handle the feelings that have no explanation.

My mind cannot handle a multitude of emotions, sensory, and flustery words.

Things that upset me do not upset others and vice versa. I cannot be expected to read a person’s emotions properly when it takes me time to read my own. I am not good with body language. It does not matter how many things I read, I do not get it. It is not for lack of trying. When I do not understand the other person’s form of communication it can contribute to a lot of distorted views of their actions/words. On an average day I am not too bad at it, eventually I can figure things out, but during a meltdown/shutdown it is practically impossible.

That is why I need straightforward words, and no “fluff talk” or “hidden meaning” talk.

Great quicky resource for synesthesia.

Synesthesia: A film by Jonathan Fowler

Continued Speaking Of Meltdowns III


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