Hi all, my first post. I'm 55 and was diagnosed with a SpLD (Dyspraxia) in 2003, but it never fit. My daughter has been diagnosed with Aspies and me too just recently. It's helped a lot, but doesn't stop the pain. I had a meltdown today. I was trying to get my pigheaded colleague to authorise something but he kept throwing it back at me telling me things I already knew and what I should be doing but he didn't give me what I needed. The crazy thing is, I've been doing the job for about 3 years and him only a few months, so he's treating me like I don't know anything just because he's a senior grade. I couldn't get him to see logic. This isn't the first time and I know he doesn't respect me. I had a meltdown and couldn't stop. It's like acid brain and there's little me inside watching the tears and frustration, sobbing in the ladies' loos, and I have no control. I made my lovely boss cry as I told her to go away when she was just trying to help. I could her an upset wobble in her voice but I couldn't stop. I feel so guilty and devastated. I just want to curl up and sleep afterwards but, even if I could, I feel so ashamed afterwards I can't settle. I feel, even though I was justified in getting deeply frustrated with the lack of logic, it was still my fault I hurt people. Does this happen to you?
I feel ashamed of my actions / words after a meltdown too, I think it's perfectly normal and no wonder it's difficult to settle afterwards with all of that adrenaline running through the system! It still happens to me (in my 40's) although much less these days compared to when I was younger. Sometimes I can control it / reign it in, sometimes not, but I think the main thing that's changed over the years is that my life is generally less stressful as I've gotten older.
I think most of the time my meltdowns have been justified in that I was dealing with what, to me, were impossible or impossibly stressful situations. I now, since my diagnosis of HFA, feel that I'd just reached 'overload' and see the meltdowns as a sort of 'crash'. For that reason, I don't feel that it was "my fault" that I hurt people and I don't think you should either.
All of the things that cause a meltdown are things we're not doing on purpose so what I've tried to do is eliminate as many of the causes as possible because, at the moment anyway, I don't know how to change my reactions to these things (frustration, hurt, panic, anger, etc.). When I feel these feelings building I try to head them off by either removing myself from the situation to allow myself the time and space to think clearly, or removing the (usually environmental) irritation from the equation if possible. It doesn't always work because I don't always know what the problem is but it helps sometimes.
There are times when I've felt I needed to apologise to people for things I've said (or more likely the volume I've said them at!) or things I've done (slamming doors or throwing things) during a meltdown but I've always made it clear that I'm only apologising for the WAY that I've expressed myself, not for HAVING the feelings / opinions etc. that led to me acting that way. ie. "I'm sorry that I shouted but you were being an ass." :)
I hope this is relevant to your question and maybe even helpful in some way.
Thanks so much for those wise and helpful words. I'm going to work in an office on my own again. I moved in to this office with my two colleagues as my boss wanted me to feel part of the team and have people to hand to help and be helped. I've tried for months but they're both noisy, with loud voices. They're trying to be quiet for me but that just means they're walking on eggshells. They can't have their radio on and I know they wish they could. So all round it'd be best for me to move. X
First of all, we’re not responsible for other people’s reactions. You can apologise to your boss and tell her how you feel but you have to start to realise that you’re not responsible for how other people feel. If it makes you feel any better you can tell her you’re working on it.
Also, feeling ashamed won’t help but neither will knowing that stop you feeling that way, and it’s not that it’s ‘wrong’ to feel that way, it’s just that it’s not helpful and it blocks any opportunity to find ways in which the meltdowns happen less or how to look after yourself when they do happen.
It’s important to treat yourself with compassion and understanding. Like many of us on here, we have lived our lives trying to fit into a world we don’t quite get which is pretty devastating on many levels. However, we’ve got an opportunity now to leave all that behind us.
What would help you calm down after the event? Something that will help you relax and unwind? If you were your mummy and you saw your little one hurting that way, what would you do? We have to become the parents we always needed. Somebody who understands our struggles, somebody who never judges and views our difficulties in light of our autism. Someone who comforts and cares for us. Take the words and actions out of it and just be there for your little you as well as your big you. Have a strategy of what you’ll do when you have a melt down.
As you start treating yourself better and your inner self talk becomes kinder, you’ll be able to see ways in which you can minimise stress risks, how to deal with them more effectively and how to soothe yourself if you do have a meltdown.
All of this is easy to say and I’m no expert at it but I am learning to be kinder to myself and as a result of that, I’m learning to live my life more in tune with who I am and in meeting my needs. This stuff doesn’t happen over night but we can begin by realising we’ve got nothing to be ashamed of. If you were a ‘bad’ person, you wouldn’t get upset over it.
We don’t need people to respect us, when we respect ourselves. When you’ve lived most of your life, like we have, not really knowing who we were, we weren’t able to build up that self respect. But we can start now and it’s starts with us being kinder to ourselves.
Do something lovely for yourself, because you deserve it. X
Yes, that’s a very stressful situation, for everybody and it helps nobody. I think you’ll be happier in your own office.
Definitely, I think that's an ideal solution. It was a nice idea from your boss to suggest sharing an office for the reasons she suggested but I think I too would prefer my own office space to collect my thoughts in so that I could concentrate on the tasks at hand rather than being distracted by other people's noise. Anyway, you know where to find your colleagues if / when you need them.
I am autistic my self
Thank you all for your amazing replies. I had no idea I'd have such a response. I've clearly come to the right place!
I might have got the wrong end of the stick with the problem that caused my meltdown as I have difficulty seeing the obvious sometimes. Connected things don't connect. I'll make good and be open that it was my fault. it's a lovely team. The best. We were all in a meeting today and the 6 hours flew by because of all the laughs. I felt privileged and will try to control my incorrect thoughts in future.
Thanks again everyone.
It’s still not your ‘fault’ NAS36384. I have the exact same thing, not being able to connect things up. So you can say you’re sorry if your behaviour caused any upset and give a little explanation. Not as a way of trying to make an excuse for it, but so they can possibly spot it in future and support you with it. For example, my support worker has started to spot things with me, when I’m taking things in an extreme way or not connecting things up, and she’ll just say something and I realise what’s happening. If that makes any sense. Lol! Don’t try to control your incorrect thoughts, it’s not possible, but you can start becoming more aware of them and sometimes withholding judgement until you can maybe see things a different way or something or you’ve had more time to process things. If we try and control, we end up with meltdowns or shut downs.
Sounds like you had a great day though. I love a good laugh. And they’re privileged to have you.
Thanks BlueRay. I didn't think that trying to stop the incorrect thoughts can itself cause a meltdown. You're right. It's best to think after the emotion has settled. Thanks for your kind words. X
Yes, remember, what we resist persists, every time, so if we try to resist the thoughts, they will persist. And they’re only thoughts anyways. And often, at times of meltdowns, they don’t make an ounce of sense. There’s no harm in a meltdown, they’re there to protect us from harm. We’ve hit a limit, we need to relax. You can explore therapeutic approaches, such as going to a quite secluded space to listen to soothing music or something, the possibilities are endless when we stop thinking meltdowns are bad, that we’re doing something wrong and need to apologise. We’ve simply hit a level, we’re overwhelmed with emotions, that we can’t identify at the best of times, and it’s like the wiring has gone crazy, and we simply need to go and soothe ourselves somehow, somewhere. And thank it for its interruption because it offers us then an opportunity to reflect, without any judgement, on the situation and maybe spot situations where we could maybe intervene earlier to prevent another one in that same situation. That doesn’t mean we try to change ourselves in any way, quite the opposite, we learn to find ways in which our lives are joyful, light, loving and at ease.