Thoughts and illustrations on living with Asperger's Syndrome.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Down

Trigger warning: Possibly upsetting subject matter. This post is about a common autistic trait, and what it feels like.











32 comments:

  1. Thank you for this post. Thank you for explaining it. I'm always trying to better understand my son and somehow I find your cartoons really easy to relate to. I think a lot of people do. :/

    I'm sorry it gets to the point that you feel like that. I only wish I had more and better tools for helping or supporting people when they do feel like that. Even with my son, who I know so well, it's difficult knowing what his right answer is to feeling better.

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  2. Thank you, QC and MM. I share your wish for "the right answer" if there should be one.

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  3. Hi Matt,

    It's been a while since I've had a chance to reply to your posts. How ironic it is that you posted this when Charlie had a meltdown today - something we haven't had at home for quite a while.

    I hope this finds you ok. I do have to say this post worries me a bit. Please know that even though I don't always get a chance to post, I am thinking about you and sending positive thoughts your way.

    As always, thank you for sharing your life with us and for helping us understand ourselves and our Aspies better.

    Laura

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  4. Hi Laura, it's nice to hear from you again. I'm sorry if I worried you. Thank you for the positive thoughts.

    We all have times when we get overwhelmed, whether sensory or stress or whatever. NT's have meltdowns too. I think the difference for autistic people is that our outlets for stress are less effective, which can create a feeling of helplessness. That's what I tried to portray here.

    As always, I write each week about what's on my mind, and this was on my mind the past week. Thank you for reading and giving me a space where I feel comfortable sharing.

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  5. Being able to read posts and blogs of adults with AS has helped me be able to understand my own little Aspie so much better. Today, we spent much of the day trying to create a space for him - a place he can escape to when it all gets to be too much. However, with everything going on to get the space ready, it became too much for him, hence the meltdown. The meltdowns are fewer and farther between than in past years, but it was still heartwrenching to hear him just sitting in his room sobbing and not able to express what was wrong.

    Again Matt, thank you for sharing whatever is on your mind. I enjoy reading your posts and I know I will always be able to learn something from you.

    Laura

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  6. "And time stops, and logic collapses around me, Me, the unexplainable... Me the unreachable..."

    You captured that point where cognitive processing stops and we begin operating at a basic, instinctual level. Unable to even recognize those who are familiar to us, a meltdown is truly awful. Thank you for helping people to understand.

    Jonathan

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  7. Thanks Jonathan. At its worst, a meltdown can feel like the loss of self, the loss of mind and one's anchor to reality. It can be like a mini-death, even. I tried to capture that symbolism in this piece.

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  8. Yep. Exactly.
    Sometimes I wonder if my trying to push through a meltdown is the wrong approach. I seem to come out the otherside worse in an NT's estimatation. If they won't clear the aisles they face the consequences. >:O

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  9. Niko, I'm not sure that I've ever tried to "push myself through." It's got to run its own course - and yet if someone else could stop it with the right words, I would certainly want them to.

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  10. That is a very good explanation. Great as always.
    Thank you.

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  11. Wow... I am stunned. It's almost as if I were reading what my mind would put into words. I can write poetry. I can figure out word puzzles, do crossword puzzles, Sudoku, Kakuro, even find myself truly at one with some lyrics to songs... even when I have something on my mind that I need to get out (although it is much easier doing so through email!)... and yet when it comes to describing what is going on with my mind... to letting people (at least those whom I have informed of my beliefs where this is concerned) know what and why I have my "Swiss cheese" moments. Nothing. Or it comes out seeming like Swiss cheese.

    I started reading this and just flowed along. It felt like I was going down my own river, in a boat made for me. This is my surrounding and I was able to gaze peacefully at it.

    Thank you, Matt. This is a great ending to an otherwise awkward day.

    Chris

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  12. Chris, thank you, I so appreciate your comment. I continue to be stunned myself at how people respond to this post. I am grateful that others identify, and yet sorry that it rings true for you. Thank you for the mental images of the Swiss cheese and the boat, it brings a smile to my face.

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  13. It's weird. My meltdowns usually are opposite of what meltdowns are usually considered. I don't scream or yell or curse or anything generally of an outward nature, though I do have to hold myself back from throwing things. Not always successful. I have broken objects before. Usually for me - it's going majorly inward, strongly avoiding eye contact, and minimal word usage - even less so than I would on a "normal" day for me. I find myself wanting to lock my bedroom door. I've even put on headphones - with people staring at me strangely - and cranked them up so high I forget anything that happens next cause I just go so into my world. Plus doing that with a hearing sensitivity isn't usually the best thing to do, is it?

    I'd always thought that I don't have meltdowns. I'd been given the impression that meltdowns could only ever involve screaming temper tantrums in the middle of public, or at the least, with a few people around in the house or wherever. They could only be considered a meltdown if I got loud, stomped or hit, pushed people away... until I'd started learning more about this. Then I learned that there are others who don't have as many of those "typical" outburst either. There are meltdowns with more of a seemingly actual "melting" involved.

    Sorry to keep going on.

    Can't help if it this post really struck home for me. And I'll still be thankful for it.

    Chris

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  14. Cool. I repaid the favor, I guess. Your blogs always make me smile, and now my post made you smile!

    It's funny. I kept the tab up so I could go back and reread some of the other recent blogs and saw you had already commented... wow!

    Chris

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  15. I do believe everyone melts down differently, whether outwardly or inwardly, it's the same kind of reaction.

    And thanks for repaying the favor. :)

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  16. thank you Matt, this is so helpful for those of us who stand about helpless when the melting point is reached. Know that many of us would do anything and everything to help at times like these. Reading this helps us understand it is just another bend in the path we navigate together, by whatever beneficial means.

    Thank you, very sincerely.

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  17. Thank you so much for putting this in a way that resonates so much with me. Ironically enough, I first saw it after my Aspie son had a meltdown at school and I was trying to help him advocate for himself the next day but his teacher was just so blind to his needs. I also come back to this comic as a reminder that not only are we only human, but on top of that we have to cope with the way our mind handles things that sometimes spins out of control. It's no wonder why it feels like I need at least a day or two to recouperate from a meltdown and that's OK.

    - Hanne

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  18. Thanks, Hanne, I like how you explain that - we do need to allow ourselves to regain control at our own pace.

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  19. Yeah... one of the things I had to deal with the first time (I started honestly suspecting I was an Aspie) was some of the conventional myths... meltdowns were only meltdowns if they involved major fits that were witnessed in public or other horror stories that you'd hear or read. Other myths too, but I'm sure you get the point. It's sad that there are so many myths out there. Probably one of the main reasons for why some people don't believe that either they or a loved one could *really* be an Aspie.

    Chris

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  20. Matt,

    I am not sure that I "melt down" in the typical way, tho I do relate to the 'just wanting to punch something' state.

    I have recognised a cyclical pattern to my behaviour, tho. Every now and again, I find myself thinking 'I just can't do this' (tho if anyone asked me what 'this' actually was, I would not be able to tell them!) This can cause the desire to retreat/yell/cry/some or all of the above. If possible, I default to retreat and cry, tho sometimes yelling happens first (generally in an area free of witnesses, thankfully).

    I also relate to the 'everybody is looking at me' thing that you allude to. Has been called paranoia in the past, tho I am not sure that would be correct. As an Aspie, I am aware that I have certainly unwittingly drawn unwelcome attention to myself. I think I have learned not to do so, by and large. However, when feeling vulnerable/overloaded/whatever, it seems as though everything I do/don't do/say/fail to say etc could potentially be wrong and then, in an attempt to address it I could make it more wrong.

    D'you know, in my typical fashion, I have worked myself out - at least a little better - by putting it into words. I have been blessed, in my time, by dear friends who have let me rattle on until I come to some kind of place of peace and resolution. They are not as present in my life now as they were (not thru any bad reason, just the practicalities if life), but they are still there in the way I deal with stuff, as well as really being there when possible too. (On reflection, a number of them are doubtless spectrum dwellers too!)

    And, of course, there are dear people like you who tolerate (perhaps welcome?) my mental reflections in their comment sections.

    Blessings to you, Matt, with the prayers that are my particular cosmic vibe. :)

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  21. Dith, thank you, of course I always welcome your reflections and thoughts. Is there such a thing as a "typical" meltdown? I'm not sure. I think words are an excellent way of working through it, especially when others are willing to listen. So thank you for listening to me, and I'm happy to return the favor!

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  22. Sometimes I want to comment, and just don't have the words. Other times I may get too loquacious, but either way it's great meltdown prevention to come re-read some of the older doodles. Re-read some comments even. Or get a treat and read new doodles and comments.

    Any way it goes, it's such a great feeling to know that I will always be able to come back to this site. One day I may seem like a broken record saying this - but thank you so much for this blog. It's one of my lighthouses in the sea that is my life.

    Chris

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  23. Thank you, Chris, I'm very glad to hear that, it means a lot.

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  24. I had one recently ... I wanted to leave the country, I packed my stuff and was actually going to flee, (actually fleeing , i believe, might be more of a feminine trait, i've done it countless times )the state of animal panick and terror some people can create in us... I cried for 3 days straight , the headache was unbearable . Then it all disappeared, And I probably won't be crying again anytime soon.Something shifted in me, I went from irrational terror to rational and methodical "fighting back" state of mind . We do have the ressources, but it takes some mighty trauma to bring them to the surface: I even actually looked for help, found it, decided to trust this person . it took something like "never recovering from a meltown", something bad. I don't feel much anymore, but at least I'm not afraid . Your cartoon brought back the feelings though , it brought tears to my eyes. I'm going to hug you virtually now, you have no choice :) *hugs*

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    1. That sounds like a powerful experience. I'm glad you made it through, and I'm sure it made you stronger. Thanks for sharing. *hugs*

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  25. I enjoy your cartoons. I'm Einsteinmyhero on wrong planet. And this cartoon applies to me,too.

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