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Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl

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30 Apr 2008, 12:53 pm

EvilKimEvil wrote:
This is what I experience:

-Sudden onset, triggered by an extremely stressful situation

-Out-of-control sort of feeling

-Shaking, trembling - sort of like extreme shivering


-Difficulty breathing

-Extreme lacrimation

-Choking sensation

-Spinning sensation (vertigo)

It lasts for about twenty minutes and can take a few hours to recover from.

Fortunately, it's been a long time since I've had one because I've been avoiding the triggers. But I still need to know what they are because chances are, it will happen again.

I haven't had meltdowns as far as I know but I've probably experienced almost all of those symptoms while under severe stress. The vertigo not so much but a little bit a few times. No _extreme_ lacrimation, but some tearing if I have one of my other symptoms - vomiting or dry heaving. Those symptoms usually don't last longer than an hour, but in their wake nausea, stiffness, and an overall sense of unwellness can sometimes last more than a day.


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30 Apr 2008, 1:20 pm

I'm still not exactly sure what a meltdown is (which probably has to do with different people having different definitions, and different meltdowns having differing severity). I watched some videos on YouTube, and it just looked like regular old frustration to me :huh:

Sometimes when I get really, really frustrated I'll start punching things/myself, yelling a bit, pacing/rocking...but I've never considered myself "uncontrollable".

From what I've read, a meltdown is more of a "fight or flee" defense from sensory overload. Whenever I'm overloaded, I just run away...maybe I take the "flee" over the "fight", while others are the opposite? *insert head scratching emoticon* I suppose I would consider this to be more uncontrollable for me...I'll try plugging my ears or ignoring it, but eventually I can't bear it any longer and I'll take off, sometimes running into things on my way.

Or maybe that's not a meltdown either?


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30 Apr 2008, 1:42 pm

I have had....what I now possibly believe to be meltdowns, I have quite a few panic attacks although the bad ones are getting less frequent and they are mostly mild ones.

I have had times when I have...lost time, I don't know what happened in that time but I know it was really really bad and really overwhelmingly terrifying to the point that I ended up taking an overdose. I guess eventually I would wear myself out and then I would wake up in the morning with empty packets around me and sometimes I had harmed myself. None of the doctors believed me, they all said I was lying.

I also had one time which I think must have been I screamed and screamed and screamed and cried and cried and was so hysterical, I totally trashed my room including my most prized possessions, my film collection which was then at about 400 films, I cut my chest open :oops: my parents used my meds to sedate me.

I know they weren't panic attacks and maybe they weren't meltdowns but they were real scary.


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30 Apr 2008, 2:10 pm

I think it is a pretty fine line as far as what can trigger it.....for me driving to a new place and approaching an intersection where I have to make a decission or when I'm forced to drive a different way then planned(road construction sucks), merging...even thinking of these things increases my heart rate. I have had to pull over to the side of the road because my mind just went blank and felt like I was going to freeze-up.

I have similiar feelings when I know I have to make a phone call, go to a DRs appointment, meet people (even family or friends). Some days are worse then others and some triggers are worse then others.

It was 100x worse when I was a kid and my parents would call me into the living room to.."have a little talk". I would feel the urge to unrinate, disorintated, virtigo, butterflies in my stomach, weak muscles. Like an animal getting ready to be killed....past fight or flight right into "excepting your fate as soon to be dinner".

Sensory things, can bother me but nothing makes me have an emotional meltdown more then dealng with disordered,illogical thinking. I don;t know how to describe this but it is like the 100x I have asked people to not put plastic in the bottom of the dishwasher because it will warp or melt and they do it again...then I want to break;s like accumulative abuse to my sense of reason. Or when I see staff sitting around while dogs are barking for water when I first come to work...this stuff just makes me furious....that is on the MMPI test...."Do little things bother you"...(you mean like pennies little or like microbes little)

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30 Apr 2008, 5:33 pm

Shayne wrote:
wsmac wrote:

One of the quickest ways to counteract hyperventilation is to have the person breath into a small paper sack.
This recirculates the CO2 and helps bring the system back in order.
It also helps to get the patient to slow down the rate of breathing.

this practice can also be fatal.

I see I should have added....

Remove the paper bag once the patient's breathing returns to a normal rate.
This procedure is only to be used for conscious patients.
If they collapse, you keep the bag off their face.

If done in this manner... it is not fatal. I have done this so many times in my medical career and know many other people who have done so as well. I have never seen nor heard of an actual fatality, although I am not discounting that it could happen.

The key here is to recognize that the symptoms are being brought about by the rapid shallow breathing of a conscious patient who has no other medical reason for breathing like this.
I would see these most often with family quarrels where the patient was quite emotionally upset.

This is not a technique to be used for meltdowns! Only for hyperventilation.

Thanks Shayne... sorry about leaving this off. :wink:

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30 Apr 2008, 6:44 pm

Shayne wrote:
EvilKimEvil wrote:
Yes, I've heard that meltdowns are a lot more severe than panic attacks. I've also heard that panic attacks are emotional by definition. My "panic attacks" are triggered by certain types of stressful situations, but they are a physical experience, not an emotional one. That's what confuses me.

you say its a physical experience, are you talking about triggers or symptoms?

one could have a physical reaction to emotional distress.

As you pointed out in a later post, it can be hard to differentiate between the physical and the emotional because emotions are essentially a type of physical phenomenon. This is what happens to me:

I suddenly encounter an unexpected stressful situation. For example, I'm at work and a co-worker starts insulting me and trying to pick a fight. This is terrifying because if I don't defend myself, the bullying will continue, but if I do defend myself, I'll get in trouble and possibly lose my job. This catch-22 type of situation causes me to sort of shut down and get overcome with intense stress. I just start trembling and hyperventilating, so I run to some place where I can be alone until I feel normal again.

I haven't experienced one of those in a long time. They are usually triggered by stressful social situations in semi-structured environments, but I've been getting better at dealing with those situations so that they are not stressful or simply avoiding them.

I used to think they were panic attacks, but I want to find out if I could have been experiencing meltdowns. Knowing the difference could help me to do more to prevent them from happening again.


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30 Apr 2008, 8:48 pm

See the problem I am seeing here is that everyone is trying to seperate out panic attacks completely from meltdowns.

This isn't necessarily the right thing to do. There are aspergians out there who have probably never had a violent formal meltdown, but have had panic attacks and vice versa. I consider this human nature's fight vs flight. You have a trigger (no matter what it is) and respond to it accordingly.

If you seperate out "panic attacks" from "meltdowns." I have both.

I have had violent episodes, where it might have been a good idea to restrain me, and I get panic attacks, where I will run away and hide. The difference in my case is causation. Normally, I get violent when my "fit" (to use a very outdated term) is caused by anger or overstimulation. I panic when it is caused by fear or overstimulation.

Now, given this, if not allowed to run away and hide when afraid, I can become mean, even violent, given no other way out. This isn't conscious thought, it isn't deliberate, but it happens.

After both of these episodes, I get tired. But that can be ascribed to the fact that the adrenaline has left my system. I sleep it off and feel better, sometimes.

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30 Apr 2008, 9:46 pm

That's a good distinction between panic attack & meltdown, which is hard to differentiate.

As I understand too, a meltdown can be a type of seizure associated with autism. Often with sensory overstimuli coupled with extraneous stressors. Panic attack might be 'out of control' anxiety. But still....hard to separate. And one cannot know what is emotional vs. physiological - too intertwined. I wish the medical community would take meltdown more seriously thoughl So many are clueless.

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