I previously posted about one type of meltdown I can have. But meltdowns can manifest in a few different ways for me. And today, unfortunately, I had probably the most difficult one to spot – and I am absolutely devastated.
This type of meltdown tends to come when I am exhausted and something goes wrong. The problem is it can look like a temper tantrum or an attempt to manipulate to get my own way. My brain to mouth filter somehow gets switched off and I do not have any control over what I am saying.
To give an example, my first ever job was in a call centre (not exactly the ideal position for someone who doesn’t use the telephone as it is too stressful!). One day, about three months in, at the end of a really trying week, the inevitable meltdown happened. The operations manager asked me to do something and I absolutely lost it – screaming in the middle of the office that I could do the job perfectly if I didn’t have to deal with all the sodding customers. How I didn’t get fired I don’t know (I did get moved off the phones). Actually, everyone was surprisingly understanding.
The point is, I had no control over what I was saying or doing at that stage. Although clearly I was talking coherently, I wasn’t thinking at all – I had no ulterior motive and there was nothing anyone could have said or offered at that stage to calm me down.
And fifteen years on, a very similar thing happened in the office today. I won’t go into the details here. But I got pulled up for behaving unprofessionally. And that is why I am so upset now. I didn’t mean to act like that – I was not in control. And I have mentally gone over and over trying to find a point where I could have stopped myself but there isn’t one. So it basically feels at the moment like I’ve been told off for being autistic. And I don’t know what to do about that. Or how I’m going to face going in on Monday.
But in case it happens again, here’s a few indicators of when ‘bad behaviour’ may actually be a meltdown:
- I say something completely out of character / a complete overreaction to the situation
- I come across as rude or aggressive to someone I’m normally on good terms with
- I speak louder than usual and can’t seem to moderate my voice tone
- I am tearful for extended periods of time (longer than 10 minutes) and cannot pull myself together
- If someone has told me off, or I think they’re annoyed with me, I seek reassurance from them as soon as possible after the event
Once a meltdown starts, there’s nothing really that can stop it. But it helps if someone can stay with me and provide reassurance, especially if I am in tears. It doesn’t stop the meltdown. But it does help, afterwards, to realise that I wasn’t left completely alone and uncared about.