Feminist Aspie

Things I Wish I Could Say When It’s All Falling Apart

I’ve had a weird couple of weeks. There was a lot of uncertainty, although that settled down towards the end of this week. There was the worst meltdown I’ve had in years. And now there’s a heatwave coming, which my hypersensitive anxious brain interprets in much the same way as “there’s a zombie apocalypse coming”. Tonight I’ve been thinking about a common thread running through the various different low points: needing more than ever to express things and seek help and reassurance, but not having the ability at the relevant time to do so verbally, or not doing so for fear it sounds ~weird~ or ~silly~ to others. So here’s a list, off the top of my head, of things I wish I could have said to the people around me about when I’m not coping so well.

  • Meltdowns are not just about the behaviour that you, a neurotypical observer, can see from the outside. For me, meltdowns feel different each time, depending on the circumstances. The main things I remember from this time is lots of crying, the mother of all headaches, and feeling sick whenever there was new input. This meant there was no way I could look at my phone screen, so there was no way of contacting friends even if I would have had the typing words to explain it all. It’s inescapable and at the time, it feels like nothing will be okay ever again.
  • If I’m going into meltdown and I walk away from the conversation, don’t follow me. And don’t pressure me to talk right now, because I can’t.
  • For you, this was upsetting, but probably just one of those weird blips that’s over now. For me, this was huge, and it won’t leave my thoughts so easily. For a while now, I’ll be operating in a sort of survival mode – the primary focus of decision-making is that I don’t want that to happen again. This probably means I’ll be more anxious than usual, too.
  • If I’m apologising more than usual or otherwise appear more anxious than usual, the correct response is something like “You seem a bit nervous, are you okay? What’s up?” The correct response is not “stop that!” as if I have a choice.
  • If I’m in meltdown, honestly there is no correct response; only time will calm me down. Having said that, “stop getting upset!” is an incorrect response.
  • Use some of that empathy and theory-of-mind that you claim to have – just because something isn’t scary or hard for you, doesn’t mean it isn’t scary or hard for me.
  • I am so so so super anxious right now. It would be nice if I could be open about that without feeling silly and pathetic. You probably don’t think I am, but some would, and that’s enough to put me off opening up. Hence all the apologising suddenly.
  • On balance, today has gone well; there have been wobbles, but I’ve taken an approach of lots and lots of distraction (for example, I’m actually blogging for once!) and it’s all under control. Again, it would be nice if I felt able to talk about this.
  • A lot of small talk right now is going to trigger that anxiety response. And I’m not sure there’s anything that anyone can do about it. Sorry.
  • I’m withdrawing a lot, I know. It doesn’t mean I’m angry with you or upset with you. It just means that I need space, that a lot of input right now is overwhelming. It will pass, I promise. At least, that’s what I’ve been telling myself.
  • Mainly,  I want someone to tell me it’s okay and not shameful to feel like this. I feel like I’ve got a better grip on the rationalising side of things now – this will pass, and it’s not going to hurt me – but I do find reinforcement of those things helpful,  even if it seems obvious and patronising. What I don’t need is your judgement.
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