When I was around 20 I had possibly my worst autistic melt down on record. I have had meltdowns last longer, but in severity, we have a clear winner! Only at the time I didn’t know I was autistic, so, well that made it worse. And a few minutes ago I remembered it, and thought it might be time for a little processing.
I had planned to go to do some role play with a friend, and his friends. I hadn’t been in a few months, so was a bit nervous, but all geared up for the Saturday all day session. The day before I spoke to my friend, and I said what character I would be playing and he told me I couldn’t play that sort of character. I said I would find another, and I guess the phone call ended amicably enough, however, looking back with the knowledge I have now, that was the beginning of the meltdown.
I was in my family home alone, and I guess I started to cry almost immediately after the phone call ended, and I began to pace. Logical things no longer seemed logical, I was losing my ability to process. I pride myself on being an academic intelligent sort, and not being able to think clearly, with intense panic and anxiety spiking high, I was not in any sort of good place. This lasted for around two hours. I thought it would last forever.
I can honestly say that although I can forgive myself for the actions I then took, I will likely never fully forgive myself for taking them. In a spiral of grief, devastation, sobbing, in a space of absence of thought, I took some sleeping tablets. Some would be a quantity between 12 and 20. They were likely prescribed for me, it was a time of much medication.
This was the only thing I could irrationally do to remove myself from the head space. I had utterly no desire to die, I just needed not to feel so wretched.
As soon as I took them, practicality kicked in. I phoned a friend, she came over, ambulance was called, processes external to me were all in motion. Curiously the tablets did utterly nothing to me, the only issue was they were out of date, so the poisons unit had to be called. My boyfriend arrived, the hospital wanted to keep me in over night, but I declined, saying I was fine. As I was, utterly fine.
I couldn’t explain the devastating drop, but knew that it was over. I spoke to psychiatrists after who said I seemed perfectly happy. I was happy, barring low grade anxiety. I started taking antidepressants which didn’t seem to have any effect, and life continued much the same as before. But every so often, these inexplicable crashes would happen, and although I didn’t take any more extreme actions to change the flow of them, I had utterly no idea why.
I have had times where I have violently sobbed for days. Times when I have become uncharacteristically shouty for no logical reason. And even now, when it happens, never if, it is terrifying. However now I have a plan! When it begins I can recognise it. I usually cry, but now I know to phone someone stat. I use the code word ‘chicken nuggets’ with my best friend and he knows this is the code red. The reason this word was decided on I have no idea, but as am vegan, am guessing large amounts of irony was involved. I then issue instructions of ‘talk at me’ and he yabs on about his day. My mum, brother and one other friend are all amazing at this too. I need to reconnect with the world outside my head, and listening to someone describing the crackers they were currently eating, the issues at their work, or anything that is not remotely to do work me is a godsend. It let’s the cogs in my head wind down, reset. These people will always have my unending gratitude.
I have always felt that being friends with me must be really hard work. My anxiety is harder than bear average (not bear arms, they belong to bears) and sometimes a texture of material, a smell or a place will cause an unexpected reaction (also hyper sensory.. but that is a whole other thing!). And sometimes I won’t be able to process this. Then I need the help of others and this can be problematic.
I try to live a quiet life for the most part, but I also want to do things and see people. And new ups anxiety. Interestingly I was diagnosed with adhd last year, and the convergence of the two conditions I find sort of funny. Adhd leaves me incredibly unmotivated unless something is urgent, exciting or new, and asd trips anxiety hard on all these things. More irony.
Today I had a meltdown much like this one, but within minutes of recognising that it was happening, I was on the phone listening to my brother talk about his lunch time crackers. I am still exhausted after, and the exhaustion will last into tomorrow. My focus is shot, and my eyes will still leak, but the intensity of that terrible feeling has passed.
Sometimes I know exactly what has caused it. Other times, like today, I don’t. There was no specific trigger. Diagnosis has likely been one of the most important moments of my adult life.
Map Point: Can I accept that there are sometimes no reasons?