What does an adult aspie meltdown look like? I suppose the simple answer is it looks different on every aspie, we are all unique. I can however tell you what my meltdowns look like, and perhaps that will be an insight.
Meltdowns are one of my biggest problems in life! They are my greatest source of upset, pain, shame, and embarrassment. They disrupt family life, and I would sincerely like to eliminate them.
I’m scared to share the truth of my meltdowns with you, incase you judge me, or ridicule me. So I’m putting my brave hat on and oversharing.
What causes meltdowns for me;
My meltdowns are caused by overload. On my average day there are my children, coffee mornings, school runs, appointments. I write, I spend time with friends, I volunteer at the school and I run the children to their after school activities. I like my life, but it’s not easy for me.
It all sounds pretty ordinary though? Not too stressful? Well, for me, these activities involve noise, eye contact, organisation, sensory stimulation. It’s the struggle to converse with the people I spend time with, analysing every word, facial expression and hidden meaning to understand how to behave. It’s being spoken to by three children at once, on scooters, whilst crossing a busy playground and trying not to accidentally brush into anyone.
In short it’s full on and it leaves me feeling a bit sped up, scattered and anxious. So what happens then when something doesn’t go to plan? If an appointment is late, or I forget someone’s packed lunch. If several of these kinds of incidents happen. Finally I can’t find anywhere to park, I’m late, I panic. Or I have to get all the children to the dentist and when we get there the appointment is tomorrow.
What happens then, after a series of things not going to plan, on top of the sensory overload that comes with my usual day, is that I have a meltdown.
What does a meltdown look like;
It looks red faced, angry, like a toddler in an adults body. It is racing around, ranting and irrational. It is tears, and anger, it is ridiculous.
Meltdowns are like a storm in a teacup, big, upsetting and over seemingly nothing.
What does a meltdown feel like;
A meltdown feels red and blue. Pain, and fear, fight or flight. To me it feels as if everything in the world is wrong and will never be right. I can take no more unreasonable world.
A complete lack of control, almost an out of body experience. Surely that’s not me, I don’t even know who I am. As the sharpness of the middle of the meltdown fades to me small and weepy a cloud of self hatred descends and my self esteem takes another little dip.
Then I pick myself up and quietly try to restore equilibrium, to cope, move on and face another moment.
Brave you. Thankyou for your insight. I hope.you can minimise the outbreaks x
Thank you for the bravery it must have taken to share this. It’s so worth the sharing to help the general understanding of autism and on an individual basis it’s so helpful to read others experiences to gain insight on your own experience. I hope you are able to find strategies that work for you to minimise your meltdown.
Thanks Kate, I think so too, I love reading posts about aspergers so thought this might be helpful.
nothing wrong with an over share Ella 🙂
i think you are very courageous to share this and it is nothing to be ashamed off – it is like you are having the terrible 30’s 😉 xx
(until you get to 40 then it will be the fabulous but fraught 40’s lol) xx
Haha, yes the terrible 30’s, thats me.
Hi Ella, I’ve never been ‘officially’ diagnosed with Aspergers, but I do wonder. I could totally relate to your post, except I do all I can to avoid interacting with people unnecessarily. My son was diagnosed with it after years of misdiagnosis and being fobbed off , so it kind of puts md off going down that road.
I take my hat off to you for sharing how you feel. It’s brave and certainly not easy and many people just won’t get it.
Thank you, glad to hear your son finally got the correct diagnosis and that it’s given you some answers too.
I can totally relate to this. It takes very little to set me off and even when I don’t completely lose it, I feel irritated to the point of discomfort and can’t concentrate. When I lose it in public, it’s like I’m someone else and I don’t have any concept of people looking at me. I hate the way it makes me feel after.
Thanks for commenting, sorry you also experience this.
I am sorry you feel like this but this is me! I keep putting off going for a diagnosis and my husband tells me I am just silly.
I am off now to read your newer post on how to help. Thank you so much for the insights xx
No problem, I think it really helps to realise that we aren’t alone.
Holy crap! That is sooooo me! Those last two paragraphs are particularly poignant. Thanks for articulating the terror of a meltdown so well.
I hate them too and the embarrassment and shame after is excruciating. But it is so real when you’re experiencing one.
Hi Steve, Have posted this as just Steve for you.
Hi Ella, once prior to picking up my son from school I had been talking to my wife on the phone and started having that inner panic feeling which is the first stepping stone to a meltdown. When I went to pick up my son from school I was on edge and not far from a meltdown. To explain a little more, my wife had wanted me to pick up my son from school but I had a lot of work to complete at work and I felt overwhelmed when she asked me to pick him up. Plus changing schedules drives me into panic mode. When I arrived at the school I saw the long car line, and it infuriated me. So instead of waiting in the car line, I parked the car and walked right up to the pickup point to get my son on foot. The people running the car line said I cannot do that and told me I need to talk to Mr Somebody, I told them I don’t need to talk to anyone and then walked into the school grounds found my son and walked out. During this time my mind was half shutdown and that is also why I refused to talk to anyone. I was in fight or flight mode, it was my son and so I was in fight mode. Its a good thing the school did not try to get in my way because at that time I still had my composure but if they gave me too much trouble I would have gone into total overload which feels like an out of body experience.