Did / Do you have 'Meltdowns' or 'Shutdowns'?

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Did you / Do you have "Meltdowns" or "Shutdowns" as an Aspie?
I mostly had "Shutdowns" 48%  48%  [ 51 ]
I mostly had "Meltdowns" 19%  19%  [ 20 ]
I had both 34%  34%  [ 36 ]
Total votes : 107

Maolcolm
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29 Oct 2010, 3:00 pm

I was just reading a thread about "Meltdowns" and it got me thinking.

I remember feeling extreme upset and rage as a child which was so intense I felt like I "snapped" inside and went into a kind of trance. However, unlike some who describe "Meltdowns" of screaming and very active and verbal tantrum like behaviour, I would usually have "Shutdowns" where I would go very still and quiet and intense. On some occasions I shook. Sometimes I was trying to speak but the words wouldn't come out and I couldn't think. Rather than exploding, I imploded, if that makes any sense. I felt like I was having a catatonic fit, which may sound like an oxymoron, but hopefully you know what I mean. It was like bombs were going off in a still body and I was compelled to be a still as possible until I recovered. Sometimes I lost all sense of contact with the outside world for a while. I certainly would have looked - and still do look - quite strange to people observing, but I was easier to ignore than a screamer LOL. Although, these "shutdowns" were still worrying to my parents, obviously.

I still have this these days, if I get really stressed, everything shuts down, I can't think, or talk properly, I have trouble moving, can't make decisions or respond to people and my way of coping is extreme stillness.

Do any Aspies here identify with such internal "Shutdowns" or only with external "Meltdowns"

Is it possible that the way in which one is raised dictates which coping mechanism materializes and whether or not it is primarily internal or external? For instance, displays of "negative" emotion or tantrum like behaviour was absolutely not tolerated by my parents at all. So anything like that were severely quashed and stamped out from day one, except when I was a very small baby (when apparently I would throw crying fits if I was put down by my mother or she was not nearby). Whereas, in families where displays of anger etc are tolerated more, might this lead to the "Meltdown' coping mechanism.

Also, which is healthier (bearing in mind this isn't a judgement on the person as these responses were present from early childhood)? I sometimes feel that internalizing things and not being able to express what was going on inside my may have been more damaging than "letting it all out" in a "meltdown". But I'm not sure and I didn't experience it as a choice anyway.

I was of the generation in which things like AS were unknown and it's traits and behaviours were absolutely not accommodated or tolerated, whereas there is a lot more understanding (relatively) these days among parents, teachers etc. So I wonder if there are generations of Aspies with different coping mechanisms as a result.

So, what are your experiences and thoughts on this? "Meltdowns" or "Shutdowns", and how does this relate to AS, in your opinion?



TallyMan
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29 Oct 2010, 3:52 pm

If I get overwhelmed then I tend to go into shutdown mode rather than meltdown. I don't rant and rave or explode - or very rarely.


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Coldkick
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29 Oct 2010, 4:03 pm

Shutdown, I always was one to go to my room, close the door and cry it out.



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29 Oct 2010, 4:03 pm

I'm having mostly meltdowns but that happens usually when someone tries to prevent a shutdown. Often, an impending shutdown will not happen if I can withdraw and spend some time alone - ideally, if I can sleep it up.



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29 Oct 2010, 4:08 pm

I used to shut down in school assembly with hundreds of people talking.

I have meltdowns more now days. Usually several times a year. I think i've had a couple this year. I had one on Christmas eve too.
I tend to (try to) only let loose the "meldown" Of shrieking, bawling and throwing things when i'm at home, and alone.



Maolcolm
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29 Oct 2010, 4:12 pm

Severus wrote:
I'm having mostly meltdowns but that happens usually when someone tries to prevent a shutdown. Often, an impending shutdown will not happen if I can withdraw and spend some time alone - ideally, if I can sleep it up.


Yes, I can identify with that. If people were to insist on engaging me when I shutdown I could see it turning into a meltdown. Luckily this very rarely happens. But certainly my default, first response, is shutdown.



blahbla
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29 Oct 2010, 4:23 pm

Yeah, "Imploding" is a good way to describe it. For me the best way to get out of my shutdown state is to be alone for some time and let my mind reboot



Robdemanc
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29 Oct 2010, 4:34 pm

I think I had predominantly meltdowns up to the age of about 8. I think since then I learned that meltdowns are not good behaviour so must have moved onto shutdowns. I very rarely throw a fit these days even though I am boiling up inside. My anger becomes hatred and fear and that takes be down the dark path to a shutdown. I quite like my shutdowns actually.

I think you are right in that environment teaches us which forms of our visible behaviour should be supressed. So internalising can lead to more shutdowns I suppose.



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29 Oct 2010, 4:40 pm

I don't think I've ever experienced meltdowns and shutdowns as intensely or even as frequently as some of the other members here. Either that or the expression of these meltdowns and shutdowns is a little different for me. I used to get very frustrated (and still do) when I didn't understand something and because I couldn't think of a way to figure out the problem or to pursue the information I was looking for, I would be very upset. I didn't throw myself on the ground screaming, but I would get stroppy and dramatic and move my body agressively. For example, when I was 13, I was doing maths (the subject that I struggle in the most) and I couldn't figure out one of the equations I was doing. That led me to rock back and fourth on my chair (agressively enough so that I could slam my back against the chair). Well, it wasn't like I was screaming -I was trying to subdue it but failed and just ended up throwing a babyish strop. Thank goodness that I was doing my classes in the autism unit then.

I don't do the stroppy thing (at least when I'm in public). What I instead do is bottle up my despair to the point where I've locked myself in a toilet cubicle in tears because, dammit, I have no ideas for this project and the deadline is soon!!!111!!

Now, if we're talking about sensory overload, the last time I had a huge sensory meltdown (I mean Pompeii level) was when I was in secondary school (I was 16 or 17). It was so bad that I felt like I was in some sort of nightmare- I didn't feel real at all. Weird. As for shutting down, often (especially in college) I will zone out because there's way too much sensory stimuli around me. I wonder if my current anger problems were always just me having meltdowns? Afterall, my anger usually derives from when I feel totally overwhelmed and/or hopeless (especially overwhelmed).



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29 Oct 2010, 5:08 pm

I'm *completely* brand new to all of this, so forgive what's probably a highly uninformed post. But, this topic really struck a chord with me. Meltdowns are *definitely* not my thing. I'm way too conscious of outward appearances for that. Complete shutdowns are. "Implosions" is not a bad word for what I experience either. And they always come in the context of an authority figure (almost always someone senior to me at work) commenting on something I've done -- good, bad, or indifferent. I can't accept praise and I really can't accept criticism. (In the end, I know which I prefer, though :D ) Someone addressing ME about ME causes a shutdown, plain and simple. I don't absorb, I can't think or process, I certainly can't react coherently. I can argue a cause (I'm a lawyer) as long as it's someone else's. When it comes to me, though -- and particularly with regard to criticism -- it's like whomever is addressing me is speaking a foreign language. Completely inappropriate and unexplainable emotions (both in quality and quantity) take over immediately, and I lose it as though into a black hole. I just "go" someplace else. It's never outwardly-directed.

I also *totally* identify with hale_bopp's experience of shutting down in the middle of a large crowd full of confusion. Happens to me all the time on a crowded subway -- especially if a stranger starts speaking to me. That person could be an alien from another planet so far as I'm concerned in that situation.

Again, forgive my brand-newness. I've only been at this for a matter of hours(!) So, I'm obviously still trying to get a handle on this, and typing these things out is really helping.



Maolcolm
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29 Oct 2010, 5:17 pm

I just had a thought.

It doesn't surprise me that most of the "expert" literature describing autism/AS seems to speak only or mostly of "meltdowns" rather than shutting down - because spectacular "meltdowns" are the only obvious expressions that NT's really notice or which bothers them. They are primarily identifying and describing what is problematic behaviour for NT's, rather than what are the traumatic experiences for people with autism/AS. Judging by what I had read about AS, I was expecting an overwhelming flood of people relating only "meltdowns", although this didn't quite fit with my own experience. Yet, the votes above - at least so far - don't reflect that.

That's how it seems to me anyway. Interesting.



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29 Oct 2010, 5:39 pm

Maolcolm wrote:
I just had a thought.

It doesn't surprise me that most of the "expert" literature describing autism/AS seems to speak only or mostly of "meltdowns" rather than shutting down - because spectacular "meltdowns" are the only obvious expressions that NT's really notice or which bothers them. They are primarily identifying and describing what is problematic behaviour for NT's, rather than what are the traumatic experiences for people with autism/AS. Judging by what I had read about AS, I was expecting an overwhelming flood of people relating only "meltdowns", although this didn't quite fit with my own experience. Yet, the votes above - at least so far - don't reflect that.

That's how it seems to me anyway. Interesting.


:lol: forgive me for laughing here, but what did you expect?

i have different reactions to different situation, and some have evolved since childhood.
as for sensory overload, i usually shut down. I never knew why i shut down before i became aware of my AS though, so i just thought i was tired and grumpy as my mother used to say. yeah grumpy: i can be really snappy if one asks me questions when i'm in shut down mode.and if the person insists i go to meltdown.
in conversations, same thing, too many people and i shut down ( and feel excluded lol) , anything that resembles bullying ,and i have to stiffle a meltdown by shutting down. meltdown is my primary instinct in those occasions, but i control it by shutting down so as not to seem to aggressive or weak ( i can cry like a baby to prevent violence from exploding, shut down to avoid crying)
so, i do both. but mostly shutdowns. As a little girl i was in constant shutdown though,living in my books, very very frustrated, bored and aimless and lost if i had to put my book down for an hour to eat and face reality.



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29 Oct 2010, 5:40 pm

I'm not really sure. I've always thought I had mostly meltdowns because those are certainly the most obvious but it would seem I also shutdown, especially afterward. Lately I will just lay on the floor wherever I am and not move for awhile. I assume that is a shutdown.



Maolcolm
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29 Oct 2010, 5:46 pm

ediself wrote:
:lol: forgive me for laughing here, but what did you expect?


Yes, I suppose it would be naive to even consider it might be otherwise. But I'm still relatively new to this subject and haven't had time to become as deeply jaded and cynical - otherwise known as "realistic" - about it as I am about everything else LOL. But give me time.



Solid_Snake12345
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29 Oct 2010, 6:05 pm

I have shutdowns more often than meltdowns. If I'm continously agitated while in a shutdown state however it can easily turn in to a meltdown. I think imploding is a good way to describe it. The main problem when I have one I think is that I don't rock back and forward or show any signs that I'm actually having one. I have been told by somebody in my class that I get an angrier expression on my face and I clench my fists but I haven't noticed it. This means that other people don't know I'm having one and can easily trigger a meltdown accidentally. Normally though I just gradually let out my rage (unfortunately for others it's normally directed at them) until I'm calm again.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who has shutdowns more though. From reading on here I always thought I was simply unusual in that I didn't often gave meltdowns but instead kept it bottled up but i find it quite interesting that it is more common.



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29 Oct 2010, 7:33 pm

Shutdowns in crowds are strange. Its like the noise is there, but you can't hear it. I can't explain it. I get them when im in shopping complexes for too long also. The most I can say is its tuning your body into a meditation state.