I was on a date with my tennis racket and ball at a campus practice wall when another meltdown started brewing. There are six practice wall cages and when I arrived, I was by my lonesome. Then someone showed up with a DVD player and my opinion of their music was: you call that music?
Seriously, the DVD was letting out a strong bass tone that felt like someone thumping at my ears. I felt a meltdown coming on. What does that feel like? A rumbling volcano comes to mind.
I knew if I remained in the cage, I would feel like a caged animal and so I walked out of the cage. At least, I had the luxury of walking away from a meltdown trigger with a mile’s worth of walking trail out of earshot range. The internal rumbling stopped somewhere along the trail. Eruption averted. After walking the entire lap, the tennis player with the DVD player had left. I didn’t return to the cage because the humidity and walk had done me in.
Of all the symptoms I deal with living on the Spectrum, the meltdowns are the toughest. They are the volcanoes. Sometimes they just produce a rumble; but oh, my goodness, there are those that spew out lava (aka tears).
I usually know when I’m having one, but I don’t always know what the trigger is. Before I learned I was on the Spectrum, I used to have peculiar and frightening meltdowns at night. This went on for many years and I didn’t know what was behind them. They would come on me suddenly and would feel like my bed pillows and sheets were conspiring against me. I would get up out of frustration and throw the pillow down as if it was a bully. I’d sling the sheet/bed cover on the floor as if it was my worst enemy. The picture that came to mind was behaving like a cat with its tail caught underneath a rocking chair.
After this happened enough times, I knew it was something I had no control over and I just had to “rock” my way through it. The rocking was “stimming” but I didn’t know what stimming was at the time. As surely as it came over me, it left me after minutes passed. The minutes, however, seemed much longer than that. Fortunately, I haven’t had one of those in a couple of years. I’m guessing that my antidepressant medication which has helped me sleep much better have something to do with that.
However, I do still have “daytime” meltdowns. Those haven’t stopped paying me visits. Sometimes they come upon me without any obvious trigger, but most of the time there is one. It can be a sound or smell that rises the tension in my body. It may be a pet peeve and my reaction is way out of bounds with it. If I can walk away from the annoyance, the odds improve of a lighter meltdown or not having one. If I can’t, it’ll be Mount St. Helens all over again.