How do you know when you're having a meltdown?

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qwan
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04 Apr 2013, 5:13 pm

About a month ago my friends and I from the Autism support group wittnessed my friend have a meltdown and it really worried and tired us all out (for like a week or two after!).

One friend and I had said how we'd never seen a meltdown before and didn't know how to respond. Something we'll need to discuss in the group because we focus more on how to deal with neurotypicals or how they could deal with us, but not how we can deal with eachother!

Anyway, the point was, after this I started thinking about whether I have had meltdowns and how stressful it is for others around me.
I was always branded the difficult child and tried discussing with my mom if she felt the 'temper tantrums' were attention seeking behaviours like the average kid does to get what they want or if they may have been meltdowns.
Was rather difficult as I saw a post about the difference between the two but only really understand what a temper tantrum is and NOT a meltdown.

I'm assuming I have had them, I think I had one in town today actually, which upset my mom and sister and I, all because there was a change of plans and it really stressed me out. (The more I learn about autism the less stupid I feel when things like this happen because finding the cause is easier; I mean that's a pretty aspie thing to get upset about.)

So, what are your melt downs like?
How do you know you're having a melt down?
What helps?
How do you deal with other peoples meltdowns?


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04 Apr 2013, 5:33 pm

The only meltdowns I've really had are noise related. It usually starts by me hearing what I can only describe as a "mash" of noises, which then becomes very loud and unbearable.

I have no choice but to remove myself from the situation. I know (because most people won't have a clue what's going on) that no-one is just going to stop talking or whatever; so I've got to remove myself to somewhere quiet and safe.



qwan
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04 Apr 2013, 5:40 pm

I had that at the aspie christmas party. The music kept getting louder and it was hurting my ears and giving me a headache then I started feeling panicy and had to go outside and cry for a bit. >__<
I'm normally fine when I go clubbing so I'm not sure what was different. Maybe it effected my eyesight, sometimes that happens. If it's loud and dark perhaps it's less sensory information.
I have super acute hearing so especially high frequencies are very annoying for me.


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04 Apr 2013, 6:23 pm

qwan wrote:
So, what are your melt downs like?


Horrible, out of control, violent (towards things, not people).

qwam wrote:
How do you know you're having a melt down?


There'sa physical feeling that precedes a meltdown...I can't describe it but I've gotten pretty good at recognizing this feeling so that I can take steps to prevent meltdowns from happening. (By immediately leaving whatever situation is about to cause a meltdown.)

qwan wrote:
What helps?

Quiet helps. Stillness helps. Being able to move to a safe space is important. It just has to run its course once it starts because I lose control.

qwan wrote:
How do you deal with other peoples meltdowns?


It depends on the person, but my first reaction to someone screaming and acting violently towards objects would be to stay calm, and give the person space unless they are about to seriously hurt themselves or someone else. I'd move potentially dangerous objects out of their way. My reaction to someone sobbing uncontrollably might be to try asking them what was wrong, and then to just sit with them.

It depends on the person and the situation. Mostly I'd just be there to do whatever damage control I could, wait it out nearby to make sure the person was safe, and in case they might need support/reassurance that things would be okay again once it was over.


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04 Apr 2013, 6:29 pm

qwan wrote:
About a month ago my friends and I from the Autism support group wittnessed my friend have a meltdown and it really worried and tired us all out (for like a week or two after!)...


Can I ask what form his meltdown took?



qwan
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04 Apr 2013, 6:43 pm

I'm not sure which parts of it were the melt down, where it started or if anyone would agree it was even a melt down.

But, he began getting stressed out and very ridgid in our conversation which was causing the problem. He began sighing a lot and stuttering which stressed me out so I stopped paying attention for a while. We moved location to a pub and he was very stressed out and began getting sensory over load and couldn't deal with the music in the pub we were in and began covering his face I think, and looking extrememly distressed and was relatively non-verbal.

One of us took him for a walk to calm him down.


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04 Apr 2013, 7:20 pm

These days I usually know I've had a meltdown after I've had one. Sometimes it takes a while for me to realize it depending on the situation. I learned the the term meltdown and what that meant somewhere along the line, so now I know what they are. Before that I considered it a justifiable reaction and didn't know/care how it effected others or what they thought about it. I just though they were being jerks if they tried to lecture me or anything about it. I responded best to sympathy (still do).

To me getting a meltdown is like getting a sudden raging fever. A lot of the time I have meltdowns in seclusion. I'll run off somewhere to have it. But I'll have meltdowns on people who I know really well. I sometimes feel embarrassed about it after. Other times I feel like it's their fault and they deserved what they got for screwing with me. Some of my meltdowns will be expressed with white hot fury and that's one reason why I didn't get picked on too much, or they didn't take it too far, because I'd go white hot psycho maniac on them.



qwan
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04 Apr 2013, 7:26 pm

briankelley wrote:
I learned the the term meltdown and what that meant somewhere along the line, so now I know what they are.


Could you explain what you know of them? I'm not entirely sure of what one is.


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04 Apr 2013, 7:31 pm

qwan wrote:
I'm not sure which parts of it were the melt down, where it started or if anyone would agree it was even a melt down.

But, he began getting stressed out and very ridgid in our conversation which was causing the problem. He began sighing a lot and stuttering which stressed me out so I stopped paying attention for a while. We moved location to a pub and he was very stressed out and began getting sensory over load and couldn't deal with the music in the pub we were in and began covering his face I think, and looking extrememly distressed and was relatively non-verbal.

One of us took him for a walk to calm him down.


That sounds more like a borderline meltdown to me. I either would have stormed out or been very vocal. And If I got vocal it would be seething. No punches pulled if I was having a full scale meltdown.

Sometimes I get really stressed and feel overwhelmed, but that's not what a meltdown is to me. To me a meltdown is like what happens to David Banner when he turns into the Hulk.

I will either explode, or I'll run away from the situation and completely withdraw curling up in a fetal position in a dark room for a long time.



qwan
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04 Apr 2013, 7:51 pm

haha poor banner.

Well with me, I had a change of plans today and it stressed me out and I was getting worse because no one seemed to understand why it was a problem for me.
So I started getting stressed out and ended up crying, shouting, swearing in front of my mom (which I NEVER do) and went home crying the whole way and pretty much near walking into everything, hurt myself when I got home and cried uncontrollably for an hour or so before falling asleep.

When I understood that it was the change of plan that set me off I felt a bit better as I find during those times I feel all these emotions that are really strong asnd confusingand I feel like Im going to explode. Everything gets noisy and my head and forehead get really itchy so I start scratching my head and pulling my on my hair.
My mom used to get annoyed thinking I was just being over the top but I think that's my aspergers showing up, because it's not going away with age.

I used to try ripping my clothes when I was a kid as they were more angry and I wanted to rip apart my body, sometimes I'd bite myself or hit myself too. I'd go to a quiet place, normally under the clothes stand and do it there. So I don't think it was attention seeking.

I think what I experienced today was a melt down. But it wasn't something I'd direct at anyone.
It wasn't too bad in that I could still get home. If it were at its worst Id probably not be able to find my way anywhere but I really wanted to be in my bed and was getting violent thoughts so was rushing home.

Not sure if others would agree that's a melt down.

I'm not sure how objective melt downs are tbh as I don't have a definition of one yet.


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04 Apr 2013, 8:29 pm

I'm not sure if these count as meltdowns, but...

I find that generally, trying to block out at least one form of input helps. I was super stressed, crying, feeling nothing but pure hatred towards the person I though had caused my distress, periodically hitting myself, and generally in a very bad frame of mind. I put a pillow over my face and within approximately ten minutes I had calmed down.

My mother used to always exacerbate things when I was younger, because I would become extremely vocal and say things I didn't mean, and she'd charge me by the word. One time I got into a huge fight with her because she had said she'd do something but didnt, and I couldn't see the difference between that and lying.

When I was still having these by the time I was ten to twelve, I just lost all resolve to hold an opinion of any sort. I refuse to disagree with my parents about anything because my mom goes to my dad and my dad won't let us kids be right (even if we are.)



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04 Apr 2013, 8:34 pm

qwan wrote:
haha poor banner.

Well with me, I had a change of plans today and it stressed me out and I was getting worse because no one seemed to understand why it was a problem for me.
So I started getting stressed out and ended up crying, shouting, swearing in front of my mom (which I NEVER do) and went home crying the whole way and pretty much near walking into everything, hurt myself when I got home and cried uncontrollably for an hour or so before falling asleep.


That sounds like a meltdown. For me there's boiling point as in on the verge of a meltdown. And then there's the actual meltdown. Just like a nuclear reactor on the verge of a melt down, but the meltdown is abated. Or the meltdown occurs and it's cataclysmic.

Quote:
When I understood that it was the change of plan that set me off I felt a bit better as I find during those times I feel all these emotions that are really strong and confusing and I feel like Im going to explode. Everything gets noisy and my head and forehead get really itchy so I start scratching my head and pulling my on my hair.
My mom used to get annoyed thinking I was just being over the top but I think that's my aspergers showing up, because it's not going away with age.


Like you said, there are psychical manifestations. Like you get psychical symptoms when you're coming down with something. These are warning signals I think. Sometimes I'm able to quench the meltdown based on those if it's not too spontaneous. But usually when I get those sensations; which are feeling like I'm being pumped up with air like a balloon and all my muscles tightening up (especially my facial ones) and I start turning red and my eyes glare (based on the observation of others).

Quote:
I used to try ripping my clothes when I was a kid as they were more angry and I wanted to rip apart my body, sometimes I'd bite myself or hit myself too. I'd go to a quiet place, normally under the clothes stand and do it there. So I don't think it was attention seeking.


Yep, been there, done that. Usually it's the opposite of attention seeking. i want to be left alone. "Brian, what's wrong?" My answer, "LEAVE ME ALONE!! !"

Quote:
I think what I experienced today was a melt down. But it wasn't something I'd direct at anyone.
It wasn't too bad in that I could still get home. If it were at its worst Id probably not be able to find my way anywhere but I really wanted to be in my bed and was getting violent thoughts so was rushing home.


Yeah it depends on what causes it, a person/people or a situation. If it's a situation then a lot of the time no one is there to see me rage. And I rage pretty much like you described yourself. Biting my finger/hand, jumping up and down, pounding my fists on my thighs, slugging myself in the chest, stuff like that.

Quote:
Not sure if others would agree that's a melt down.

I'm not sure how objective melt downs are tbh as I don't have a definition of one yet.


Sounds like an aspie meltdown to me. Kind of a textbook one as far as I know.



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05 Apr 2013, 12:42 am

I don't think anyone has seen me have a meltdown since I was a really little kid...or possibly a teenager but it's hard to retroactively assess what was undiagnosed aspergers and what was just me being an angsty teenager throwing a temper tantrum.

I shut down doing anything at all and go to bed, no matter what time of day it is. curled up in the fetal position repeating a few words over and over again or sometimes trashing around is pretty common. I'll hide my feelings if other people are around, though, and usually just sort of stop responding unless I'm really directed confronted, and have a depersonalization episode. I'm almost always able to hide it if I have to, though it tends to come out in things like uncontrollable shaking, twitching, stuttering, and so on if I'm not allowed to let it out by myself. (tonight for example I'm having seizures and my head keeps jerking - the neurologists I saw explained that this is basically stored up stress that ends up being let out in a more "appropriate" way. I'm lucky, some people who do this can go blind or be paralyzed. I had Bell's Palsy for a while but that's nothing compared to losing functional legs or arms. I'm not stressed out tonight - that I'm aware of - but this could be leftovers from last week or not sleeping for 26 hours yesterday...)


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qwan
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05 Apr 2013, 8:15 am

Ca2MgFe5Si8O22OH2 wrote:
I don't think anyone has seen me have a meltdown since I was a really little kid...or possibly a teenager but it's hard to retroactively assess what was undiagnosed aspergers and what was just me being an angsty teenager throwing a temper tantrum.

I shut down doing anything at all and go to bed, no matter what time of day it is. curled up in the fetal position repeating a few words over and over again or sometimes trashing around is pretty common. I'll hide my feelings if other people are around, though, and usually just sort of stop responding unless I'm really directed confronted, and have a depersonalization episode. I'm almost always able to hide it if I have to, though it tends to come out in things like uncontrollable shaking, twitching, stuttering, and so on if I'm not allowed to let it out by myself. (tonight for example I'm having seizures and my head keeps jerking - the neurologists I saw explained that this is basically stored up stress that ends up being let out in a more "appropriate" way. I'm lucky, some people who do this can go blind or be paralyzed. I had Bell's Palsy for a while but that's nothing compared to losing functional legs or arms. I'm not stressed out tonight - that I'm aware of - but this could be leftovers from last week or not sleeping for 26 hours yesterday...)


That was somehting I forgot to mention with my friends one, he began twitching when he got more non-verbal as well.

By the loss of functions, do you mean it's temporary or permanent? =/ Sounds scary.


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qwan
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05 Apr 2013, 8:21 am

briankelley wrote:
qwan wrote:
Well with me, I had a change of plans today and it stressed me out and I was getting worse because no one seemed to understand why it was a problem for me.
So I started getting stressed out and ended up crying, shouting, swearing in front of my mom (which I NEVER do) and went home crying the whole way and pretty much near walking into everything, hurt myself when I got home and cried uncontrollably for an hour or so before falling asleep.


That sounds like a meltdown. For me there's boiling point as in on the verge of a meltdown. And then there's the actual meltdown. Just like a nuclear reactor on the verge of a melt down, but the meltdown is abated. Or the meltdown occurs and it's cataclysmic.
[...]
Sounds like an aspie meltdown to me. Kind of a textbook one as far as I know.


You don't know how much more relaxed that's made me feel about the ordeal. I was brought up being told I was difficult and had temper tantrums and I guess I always felt it was a little bit off, because there was always this kind of blame thing attached to it, whereas I felt out of control
I think that's the difference I read on meltdowns and temper tantrums, the former is a lack of control, and the latter is a way to gain control.

It's also embarrassing at 21 years old to be like that when you know you're intelligent, able to communicate above what is average etc, once feelings come into it my understanding and articulation decrease and when I feel like that I'm just too overwhelmed for being normal. =.=

I don't do much biting or hitting anymore. I think about more 'typically adult' self harm, not sure if the rules prevent discussion on those, so I won't elaborate, I also might bite my nails a lot, but the method of self harm from when I was a kid is different, although the function is very much the same. Of course when it changed over as a teen it was seen as a 'phase' of being emo (although the depression and rages were evident from infancy).

Still, I'm not entirely sure how to deal with it. I know being left alone was a punishment for me, I think during those times of meltdowns it was the best thing as I don't remember wanting to seek out people, I was too busy being in the state I was in until it wore me out.

I usually sleep afterwards.


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