Overstimulation and shutting down in public

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PineappleLobster
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03 Apr 2024, 10:51 am

I was in a really overstimulating place on Easter, in a restaurant after church ended.
Really crowded, dark (not in a calm way), loud, small space.
I was listening to my family’s conversation when the noise of the crowded restaurant got to be too much and i had to cover my ears and shutdown. Everyone at the table, my 2 sisters, my dad, and his gf, started to look worried about me. Worried and concerned glances. My sister jokingly suggested to shove paper napkins in my ears, my dad’s gf offered her earbuds, i said no to both. I couldn’t manage an answer longer than one syllable. After another couple minutes, my other sister asked if i was ok, i said “yes”. Haha no i wasn’t and she knew that and said so.
There were some earplugs in the car my dad obtained while we waited for our food, i put the earplugs in, which helped.
When my food came, it was not at all something i enjoyed, which made me want to cry. More things going wrong.
Family offered their food, i said no and sadly ate my sandwich.

I have been overstimulated in public before, but i don’t think i’ve had this much difficulty before. Not being able to communicate, unconsciously deciding that “oh yes, this is something i can deal with all by myself!” when others are clearly trying to help, getting irritated for some reason when they keep trying to help. It just sucks.

I’m not quite sure what i’m expecting from posting this.
I guess it is nice to share my troubles with people who may have had a similar experience.


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Double Retired
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03 Apr 2024, 11:08 am

Specifically a too-busy restaurant? Yeah. I've been there. Just once that I remember. Fortunately my bride was with me so she was able to handle the final details while I went outside.


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Yellow-bellied Woodpecker
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03 Apr 2024, 11:31 am

I'm sorry. And definitely have been there (or similar I'd say). In the conditions you described, I cannot socialize. If someone is talking I cannot tell what they're saying, it's like a pattern I can recognize, but I cannot make sense of. The people closest to me do realize this, so we have an expectation of what a lunch or dinner out is going to be. Forget breakfast, I still don't think I've found a quiet breakfast spot. Taking something to read always helps me -- if I'm reading, everything else just sounds like all jumbled into a sort of white noise.

Still, really, I can get in, have my meal, and that's about it. And afterward, I am usually exhausted.

And I am sorry. I think most people here can relate to your experience. It sounds like nothing went right for you at the restaurant, you were feeling bad because room and the noise, you didn't enjoy your meal, and when everyone knows that, you appreciate their help, but also don't want that attention (you want out of that situation ASAP).

I guess one last thing. You should feel free to excuse yourself from that table in these situations, and maybe go the the restroom or outside just to collect yourself and recoup.


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