I should have known it was all going too well.
I think I’ve been underestimating quite how much this whole process is currently taking out of me. I’m still managing to be assertive – just about. My strategies are still holding. I’m still really tearful, but I know the reasons behind that and at least I’m managing to hide it from people most of the time (I think, anyway).
But then tonight I got home and it all fell apart.
I’m starting to notice a pattern of when I explode (meltdown) and when I implode (shutdown), though.
An explosion normally happens when there is something external causing stress. When I need to get away and can’t. When I need to communicate something but can’t find the words. When people are putting pressure on me and I don’t know how to respond.
An implosion can happen after an explosion, but that’s rare (worse, and lasts longer, but rare).
Implosions normally happen after periods of prolonged internal stress. When I’ve been trying to deal with things too much on my own. When I’ve been thinking too much. When there have been low-level sensory issues that have just built up until I can’t take any more and I just shut down.
Explosions and implosions feel different, too. With an explosion, it’s as though there’s a ball of fire bubbling inside me and it has to find its way out somehow or I will burn. With an implosion, it’s more of a sense of absolute numbness. I can’t move, can’t speak, can’t think. I feel cold. I may stare into space, or close my eyes and appear as though I’m sleeping (although I’m not).
Explosions are emotional, dramatic – but they tend to be over relatively quickly. I burn myself out. The emotional and physical energy they take means that explosions can’t last indefinitely. And sometimes, in some ways, they can be cathartic.
Implosions are the opposite. I disappear inside myself and there may be no sign of visible emotion (or if there is, it’s gentle – tears simply running down my face rather than the violent sobbing that seems to be a hallmark of my explosions). They also last longer – the longest implosion I’ve had lasted a fortnight, off and on. And they are never cathartic. I’m always left with a deeper sense of sadness and pain afterwards, a feeling that I am completely worthless; that I have lost something that I can’t get back.
Today it was, at least, relatively minor.
I’m just hoping there isn’t another one tomorrow.