Strategies, tactics, kindness, understanding, soft words, hard words, hiding under the blanket and running, screaming into the fresh air where no one can reach you: we all have our ways of avoiding a meltdown. But sometimes they're just doomed to fail.
Firstly, understand that a meltdown does not have to be a slap in the face of your life, a shout into the wind or a banshee-shriek in the living room. A meltdown can be just as damaging if it is an implosion within you, buried so deep and so well that all the outside world sees is a slight widening of the eyes - and that's if anyone is looking.
The over-riding factor in any meltdown is the immense depth of feeling involved, combined with an inability to control it. You can be out of control without moving, speaking or giving any outward sign of eruption. Or you can be beating the walls and tearing holes in the carpet, at which point even the most positive-minded of your relatives would admit you were having a problem.
So this violence within, which might or might not make it to the without, has occurred after our best efforts to maintain and dampen it to a manageable level. Rarely, if ever, do we just 'give in' or allow ourselves to lose control (I will not say never as there is a sweet joy in leaving the beast to roam free - we all have to stretch our legs sometimes).
Usually we will have tried our own techniques, built up over many years of having to live in constrictive society. When these techniques are exhausted and the meltdown is knocking to be heard, then other people might have to step in. This is a finely-tuned moment where the best intentions of our nearest and dearest can set the whole meltdown in motion, rather than reining it in.
If we are lucky, the intervention works and we are either rescued from the stressful situation or the solidarity of someone who understands is enough to pull us back; we can revert to our techniques and this time they work.
Then those times when we try everything, and you try everything and there is the great fear of harm around us; not physical harm but the harm of being seen in a public place, being observed in the very midst of the society we abhor, being the centre of attention as our inner world bursts out and lurches, unconfined, against the unyielding buttress of outside expectations.
A natural disaster at work and all within the perimeters of an average human being who was never really designed to be a god of thunderbolts, bringing terror to everyone under the storm.
We have Shown Ourselves Up, we have Let Ourselves Down. We have reached that point in our lives where we know this aspie thing is alive and sentient, unwilling to be denied its voice, determined to speak out and tell the world we...are...exhausted...
And the part of this that is the most true is the exhaustion, for the most controlled, calm, kind, diligent aspie will only be able to walk so far through life before their defences are so worn down and over-used that weariness falls back and lets exhaustion come forward. We can only do as much as is possible at the time and with each effort, energy is expelled, mental, emotional and everything in between.
The meltdown is the result of exhaustion, readers, a deep fatigue which can settle in a moment or build over months and years. We are there, at that instant, and we can no longer cover for it. It has to come out.
Exhaustion opens the gates and steps out into the battlefield, proud, defiant, ready to take on all-comers and unfeeling of our embarrassment or witnesses. Exhaustion is a true champion, willing to do what must be done to set us right and back on our path. Exhaustion knows these feelings must be unrestrained or we will fail.
To us it seems as though yet another meltdown has caused problems in life, not least in trying to explain to people why it happened. But within us our champion has trounced the enemy and leaves us free to venture out into the wide lands, leaving the defences behind, ready to explore without fear of being attacked. For a little while we are at peace.
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