When I was younger, I used to have meltdowns in the usual way getting angry and throwing tantrums. But in my adult life my meltdowns changed to shutdowns. When things get too much, when I’ve had too much social interaction. Or I have had too much input of noise I shut down, and just need to be on my own doing what I want when I want until I feel better.
There are many things that cause me to shut down. If I’m around kids screaming, babies crying or any of my other noise triggers.
There are certain tones that I just can’t tolerate. The constant base thud that you hear teenagers and young adults blasting from their cars. Some alarms like smoke detectors or lorry reversing beepers, then there are other noise like several people talking at once or the drone of a busy place with lots of people chatting to one another.
I find these are all things that feel like I’m being electrocuted in my head. I can only stand it for so long before I have retreat to a quiet space or if I can’t, put on some headphones to drown out all other noises so I only have one sound that I can hear.
The biggest trigger by far though is social interaction. I’m fine going to a shopping centre, I’m not directly dealing with any one person. If its too busy I find that hard, but when I shop I don’t browse I go in get what I want and get out, no hanging around.
Now I’m talking about having to converse with people directly, I feel very anxious building up to it then if anyone wants to talk to me I never know what to say even on the phone, people ask how are you today and I always think why are you asking, you don’t even know me.
In person when people ask me a question I just don’t know how to answer “how are you” “um OK” this is kind of how it goes, I just don’t know what to say, so just give one word answers. Usually people give up and talk amongst themselves this is fine then I will either just sit quietly, or more often than not try and find some, out of the way place where I can see people coming.
But you always get that one person that wants to try and include you in the conversation. They keep plugging away dealing with your one word answers and coming up with more and more complex questions, trying to drag conversation out of you. While I’m quietly having a meltdown in my head thinking please leave me alone, and desperately trying to think of any excuse to get away “I need the toilet” or “I’m just going to grab a drink” Anything just to get away.
But the absolute worse thing are the huggers, you know the ones I mean on arrival or departure they are going around hugging everyone or even worse kissing them as well. Even if someone has fore-warned them to not hug me, I’m always worried they didn’t get the memo.
I don’t like to be touched, its fine for my wife, daughter
or grandson, and I’m fine with doctors, they have a
medical reason to touch me, but with everyone else
I just really hate being touched. Handshakes are fine
but that’s it.
They are going from person to person getting closer and closer to me, all the time I’m trying to back away as far as possible, if I hit a wall, its like I’m trying to push through the wall to get further away, and finally they’ve run out of people. I’m next “Oh crap, here it comes” then it feels like they are lunging at me and all I can think is don’t touch me then they reach out their hand for a handshake. I’m still worried they are going to grab my hand and pull me in for a hug, but luckily they don’t. “Phew glad that’s over” I can now start to relax, unclench everything I had clenched, it’s over.
Now all I want to do is retreat to a place of safety, it’s after these encounters that my stress had reach epic limits, now I need to get away from the hustle and bustle and just be on my own until I feel better again, if someone dares to ask me to go and do something similar the next day, my reply would be something along the lines of “hell no” there is no way I can do that all over again so soon.
I have my life pretty well how I want it. The people I deal with regularly I can count on one hand, and they know what I’m like. They know what to do and not to do around me, and if there is any socializing involved keep it to a minimum and give me lots of notice.
Case in point it will soon be my grandsons Birthday and he’s having a party that kids will be attending from his school and family. I’m more than welcome to go but my daughter knows I won’t, it will be far too noisy and far too busy for me. So she said that she would do something else on his birthday for me, like go for a meal or something where the place will be fairly quiet, there will probably only be around four of us, so not too many people. It’s not too inconvenient as his birthday party is not on his birthday but near it, so on the actual day there won’t be too much happening, just some food and of course presents for the birthday boy.
So these are some of the things that make me shutdown, retreat for a few days to a safe place, somewhere I can feel safe and comfortable. Where I can do my own thing and it’s nice and quiet with only one thing to listen to, one thing at a time.
Just the way I like it.