I suddenly start to yell at the people around me, getting increasingly loud. I yell abuse, threats and swear. I stamp my feet, bash the table and cry, sobbing loudly. I look like a toddler having a tantrum, except that I am a full grown adult.
A tantrum is voluntary, used as a tool to manipulate and get your own way. However I have no control at this point, there is no planned purpose or manipulation intended. My emotions are at over load and crashing down like an avalanche. I am having an autistic meltdown.
This describes my meltdowns at their worst, when I totally loose it. Not all my meltdowns are at that level. They vary in intensity and in how long they last.
What causes me to have a meltdown is not always easy to pinpoint. It can be caused by a sudden change in plans or lack of knowing what the plans are. If plans are made and I am expected to be part of those plans, but I am not informed in exact detail as to what those plans are in advance, it can cause me to get confused and upset. Any kind of confusing situation can cause a meltdown if it continues being confusing for a significant length of time. Frustrating situations such as people continuously not listening to me or things going wrong a lot can be a trigger. Another trigger can be interrupting one of my OCD routines, when I am already somewhat stressed. Fatigue can be a cause, when I am too tired to control myself any more. Major disappointment has been a trigger in the past. Sometimes a meltdown can be me having made such an effort to fit into a situation for hours that I eventually explode. I will have kept back opinions, been polite to people who frustrate me and basically have been in a situation I find difficult for so long that in the end a meltdown is like a cathartic release. Putting pressure on me to do something I have clearly already said no to is a big trigger and can cause me to feel like you do not respect me, no means no!
Often a meltdown may not be caused by one specific thing, but by a series of things that can build up over time. It can take hours or days for the triggers to build up sometimes and one last thing can be the final straw. I can sometimes work out why I had a meltdown afterwards, but often struggle to know at the time and sometimes never figure it out. Asking me at the time why I am having a meltdown is not a good idea, often it just makes my meltdown worse, making me frustrated that I do not know why I am having it.
Sometimes I can feel myself getting increasingly annoyed and know I need to get away from the situation. If I need to leave a room or walk away let me, it will be better for everyone. However I can’t always feel it coming and it will happen like it or not.
When I was younger I had more frequent meltdowns that often lasted longer than they do now. I had them a lot as a teenager in school. I think I was frustrated with life then, feeling trapped in a school that did not really meet my needs. Being undiagnosed I was not getting the right support. Also I am sure puberty played a part.
I still have meltdowns, but less often than I used to. I feel maturity has helped a lot having had time for my hormones to settle down and time for me to get used to life as an adult. I also feel my independence has helped me. Since l got my own flat I feel more stable and able to manage my own life. I am in charge of what do and when, making me less confused and frustrated. I am also better at dealing with certain kinds of stressful situations.
When I do have a meltdown now I find I they do not last as long as they used to. I can calm myself down more quickly and rationalise with myself somewhat about the situation. Being angry at people who can do nothing to help is daft and will not get me anywhere.
Yoga breathing can help slightly to prevent a meltdown getting worse, but it depends on the exact situation. It helps me to focus my mind on the breathing and think calmer thoughts.
I hate that I still have meltdowns at all. It makes me come across as immature and selfish. It gives the wrong impression about me to other people, like I am just some angry, hate filled bitch. Telling me to grow up or to stop being so over sensitive is unhelpful, if I could totally stop having meltdowns I would.