Meltdowns – the unvarnished truth

Warning: this post contains a potentially upsetting / triggering image towards the end

The last two weeks have been difficult for me in terms of meltdowns and near-meltdowns. I think it’s because there is still so much change; so much that I am having to process. It all adds up and then it doesn’t take much for the whole thing to come crashing down. It’s a bit like carefully stacking up a row of dominoes and then someone accidentally brushing against them. And then this happens…


Today was the worst meltdown I’ve had for quite a while. The trigger was, objectively, something that would seem quite minor. But the dominoes started falling and there was nothing I could do to stop them.

So here’s what today’s meltdown was like.

It started with a surge of emotion, so strong that nothing could contain it. My own mental image is something like this:


I can’t define the emotion particularly well. It’s somewhere between fear and panic. My skin starts to burn. I try to get words out but all I can do is scream. I scream until my throat is hoarse.

Then the tears start. The sensation of the tears falling down my cheeks is like someone is drawing a lighted match down my face. But I can’t stop crying.

I can’t think coherently. All I want is the pain and emotion to stop. I start hitting where it hurts, to try and take away some of the pain. I hit my head so hard and so many times that hours later it still feels tender. But still the pain won’t go away.

I slap at my arms, scream again. I still have no words and no coherent thoughts. At some point I move into the kitchen and find a knife, slashing at my arms to take the pain away.

It doesn’t work.

Eventually I drop to the floor, curled up, sobbing.

I come to my senses about half an hour later. My head hurts. My arm stings.

I pick myself up and drag myself to my safe place. I can often get here before the meltdown starts. Today it all happened too quickly.

My worst meltdowns are when I’m alone. If there are other people around, they can often step in and de-escalate the situation before I have a full-blown meltdown, even if I can’t stop myself. Or they can intervene so I don’t hurt myself so badly.

But today it was just me.

And this is the impact it had on my arm:


The impact it had on my mental and emotional state was far worse.


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