Nearing a meltdown…

I actually wrote this post out, in its word-for-word entirety, many months ago.  The situation described here happens occasionally, but it hasn’t happened in a while.  I’m OK right now 🙂

I don’t know why I sat on this post for so long.  It’s not that I’m embarrassed by it; it happened; it was–and is–a part of my life.  Maybe it was a simple case of “it was a passing thing, it has indeed passed, and it’s no longer relevant”.

But the truth is, even though I’m approaching 40, it is relevant.  And it will continue to remain so for the rest of my life.  Unlike children who grow out of voluntary “temper tantrum” behaviors engineered to induce parents and caregivers into giving in to the child’s wishes, the Asperger’s/autism spectrum meltdown is an entirely different concept that, aside from surface appearances, shares nothing in common with a garden-variety tantrum.

What made me decide to post it today?  I can’t pin down my motives precisely; all I can say is that an Inner Voice of some type suggested I do so.  So, maybe someone needs to see it, and the timing is Now.  And just maybe, hopefully, it will reach its destination and provide some kind of help. 🙂

I’m issuing a Content Advisory on this one: family dysfunction; overbearing, authoritarian, and inconsiderate parenting.


I tried to clean today with my partner.  He’s been very gracious and helpful, willing to help.

But today…it’s tough to describe.  I’m not sure if it was just bad timing, a situation in which I overestimated my resilience or energy levels or patience threshold.

I’ve written before about how our apartment is messy.  For the record, I do not like living this way.  I do want to have a clean and organized/orderly place to live and rest.  The mess creates a buzzing chaos in my brain.

But we’re busy people, home just long enough to sleep and make a mess, but not home enough to clean much.  I do want to change that.

So, every so often, I clean some.  It’s not much, but it’s what I can handle.  Recently, I’ve recognized that I need help.

I need this help because if I’m honest with myself, I know deep down that I won’t do it on my own.  I despise cleaning.  Having to make decisions about whether or not to keep something, where to put it, how to organize it with other items, having to train my brain to remember that it’s now in this new place, etc…all of this is extremely taxing.

And then there are the memories.  Memories of my father coming down on me, singling me out, barking at me to clean, not letting me do anything else until it was done, and throwing my things away while I was gone.  Everything was a rough, tough, gruff, “pitch it” mentality.  Weekends weren’t times to look forward to.  They were not nostalgic times filled with Saturday morning cartoons.  They were all about “chores”.  Spoken in a tone that accused me of doing something wrong before I had done anything at all.

Unable to get into it and gain momentum or make any progress, it was a slow process that took all weekend.  For hours I would drag my feet, unable to get into the spirit or focus or concentrate, unable to stay on task.  Getting sidetracked by anything that I could escape into: the cat, a book, another activity.  I would be fine as long as I stayed in my room and didn’t hear the signature footsteps coming up the stairs or down the hall.  But I hadn’t gotten anywhere; the mess remained.

And I had to do it again and again. Yelling and tears were imminent; I could expect confrontation, and it became a regular part of the weekend. I knew this wasn’t normal; other kids didn’t seem as nervous, and since the TV networks aired cartoons (I got to find out about them by looking through the TV Guide), I knew that the TV stations wouldn’t air cartoons unless most kids watched them.  So, the resentment grew, alongside the anxiety, frustration, boredom, and stress.

When this goes on and on every weekend for about 15 years (age 3-18, after which I moved out), the nervous system begins to anticipate the event and launch a response.  At almost 39 years old, weekends themselves aren’t as traumatic.  But cleaning still is.

It’s like replaying a traumatic accident in slow motion, the kind you can’t bear to watch, but can’t escape from.  An autopilot button gets pushed and I’m seemingly doomed to relive that stress.  I get impatient, for I just want it to be over; I just want to be done with it.  I get irritable…especially when my partner doesn’t do it right.

Just by embarking on a cleaning project, my tolerance starts to slide downhill.  When I have gone through a stack of DVDs, sorted them into separate piles (give-away and keep on shelf), and hand them to him to disperse to the appropriate places, and he fails to carry out that simple task and mixes them all up instead, this saps me further.  Queue more irritability….a lot more.

It doesn’t help that he’s legally blind and lacking any parental guidance.  Nothing was really expected from him when he was a kid, so he applies the same customs to his own household now.  To give you an idea of how lackadaisical he was, I had to scold him for not having dish soap when we first became an item.  I had to teach him to save his bank statements, because he just threw them away.  Our backgrounds couldn’t be more different, and it caused friction.

Even today, the kitchen is a mess. I’m the one who has to close the DVD player after he has taken out the movie we just watched, even though he was right there.  My counselor explained it well one time: those little things are like having a pebble in your shoe; it won’t kill you and when you first feel it, it’s not a big deal.  You figure you can manage.  But eventually it becomes more and more of an issue and you get exasperated, and you just have to deal with it, once and for all.

This week alone, five full recycling bags sat under the kitchen table.  The stove can go for weeks without being wiped down (I already wash the frying pan after dishing up my dinner and then I usually fall asleep on the couch right after dinner, doing my dishes in the morning).  I used to clean more but it was never appreciated, nor was any effort made to keep it that way, so somewhere along the line, I think I said, screw it, and stopped giving such an effort.

So where does that leave me now?  Alone outside (venting my notes on my phone), away from the apartment, away from my partner, and done with cleaning for the day.  Distancing myself, giving myself space, in serious meltdown prevention mode.

Trying to think of solutions, but failing, at least for now.  Trying not to cry.  Trying to recover.  Trying to feel normal again, and if not normal, then at least more myself.


Related Posts:

What does a meltdown feel like?” ~ July 4, 2016

So maybe I don’t have my shizz together: an Aspie / autistic mini-meltdown” ~ November 24, 2016

Stop hijacking our terms; meltdowns and tantrums are not the same” ~ June 13, 2016

Meltdowns and showdowns: How to prevent a meltdown?” ~ July 7, 2016

My personal triggers, and my meltdown prevention strategies” ~ July 8, 2016

Navigating the potential pitfalls of relationships for people ‘with’ Asperger’s / autism” ~ November 12, 2016

Sometimes driving makes me cry” ~ December 3, 2016

What your Asperger’s / autistic partner probably wants you to know ~ Part II” ~ November 20, 2016

Asperger’s / autism and shame” – September 30, 2016

 

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31 Comments

  1. I am so so so glad I found your blog dude! 💞💓💞 Most of our mess is caused by Ben and he can be forgiven. What can’t be forgiven is the other two adults who live here not doing their parts. I rarely go out, I live in jammies, I don’t usually cook much, I don’t make messes. But because at some point I just. Can’t. Stand. It. Anymore. 😤 I wind up cleaning, or at least straightening. And like the mature adult I am, I do it with a lot of banging & slamming😏 I’m glad today isn’t that day for you & hopefully won’t be for me either. You are one wicked cool dude. Totally rad! 😎

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your gracious words, darlin! I have to try to tell you how mutual the feeling is 💓💓💓

      We sound so much alike, girl! Omg 😍. Fellow non-cook, Jammie-loving dweller here 💞. The only difference is that I make some of the messes 😂. Lol @ the banging and slamming; that’s definitely my modus operandi too 💪🏼💖

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love to cook but don’t do it if there’s a mess. Presently I live with a high school friend and his wife and kids. So mess is often and unpredictable. They have three kids, including a 6 year old who needs constant care as well as a 2 year old. His wife deals with fibromyalgia and scoliosis so she isn’t always capable. Sometimes I get pretty overwhelmed here. But otherwise it’s the most stable living situation I’ve had in a year or so, so I try to just keep canned food in my room and keep my room as clean as I can. And stay out of it all as much as I can.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s neat! What a cool living arrangement (at least, most of the time)😊 I think you handle it quite well, too – staying clear most of the time. I’d probably take a similar approach 💜 The overwhelming factor, though – do you have some effective stress relief or enough downtime for yourself when that happens? 💞💙

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There are woods behind the house that are on the property. If I need to I can spend time back there. I do have a pretty relaxing set up in my room. A bed and a couch. Nice window looks out at the woods. If I really need to disconnect I put a sitcom I’ve seen bunches of times on Netflix and play Solitaire and Wheel of Fortune on my phone. I want to start going for walks again while the weather is spring like. I’m in a neighborhood that’s kind of off the main drags so it may be nice.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s tough for sure. Though it has been difficult for me, over time I have learned to identify my triggers and avoid them if possible or if not entirely possible I remove myself from the stressor or situation as soon as is convenient or possible.

    As I am single and have no children I don’t have many stressors in that context but I do with like work and such.

    I know it is incredibly hard at times. I wish I knew what to say other than I hope you’re alright.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, dear! I definitely am now, at least *for* now 😊. Yep, I’m gradually learning to identify mine as well (my early progress on this is in one of the posts at the bottom of this one). It’s definitely a process, though; I don’t have it all figured out yet 😊. Thank you for your well wishes! Yep, definitely OK today ❤️

      Like

  4. We are so glad you are okay now. Wow, we feel so bad you have gone through times like this. I know the book of James notes “when we go through trials…” NOT if. You are a survivor and our heart cries for you but know you will regain your footing. Hold in there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, friend! 😘. “When we go through trials” indeed! I consider myself lucky that I haven’t endured what many others have, but yeah, lots of us have been through shizz ❤️. Of course, that’s so true for so many 💪🏼🌟

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I get rather overwhelmed by the cleaning process myself. I can look around and know what needs to be done, but, physically, my body protests so many of what most people consider basic tasks. I always seemed to fumble them from the time I was a kid and my mom-a true clean freak-was perpetually irritated with me for it. Many times when I start some of these tasks now, I can still her sharp voice in my ear. And all it takes is perceived criticism from my husband for my heart to plummet as if I am that little girl again. Sigh. He has quite a lot of awareness of this and seeks to be reassuring, but we do have our days we both lose patience and wind up locking horns! I should add we actually have an interesting dynamic at our house-he is much more into scrubbing and inner organization of shelves than I can manage. And I want the readily visible things to be uncluttered where he is fine with piling tools, etc. wherever they were last used. Makes for some bending for us both to make it work. Letting go of our respective perfectionisms takes a lot of effort. Glad you decided to share this and glad things are better. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for sharing! Oh, those old echoes of parental voices – that’s the worst! It’s really tough to banish them. And even when we’re successful one day, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re gone for good; they can come roaring back, needing a re-banishment ❤️

      You’re just doing the best you can 😊 That’s all anyone can do, and it’s all anyone can ask of anyone else 💜 So glad your husband is open and understanding! It’s not unusual to butt heads at times. Just having the knowledge and insight is a big chunk of the battle 😘

      Sending you many happy vibes, girl 😘❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Your mind is brilliant. Even under stress, you very accurately articulate your processes that from an outward perspective might not understand. Thank you for finding and posting this even after the fact. I’ve worked with folks that have extreme OCD that have a difficult time cleaning. Its stressful for everyone.

    I love your writing and the way you think. It’s truly something of beauty.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. OMG thank you, girl! 🤗🤗. The post itself probably wasn’t my “best” writing work, but I had written it during the time of the near-meltdown, and I thought it was important to leave it in its natural form, with minimal editing 😊

      Like you, I have a tendency toward OCD (although probably a bit “milder” in my case; I won’t claim to have the same issue, because it wouldn’t be fair, since I don’t know, and haven’t been diagnosed or anything 😊). I find that this particular characteristic increases when I’m under more stress, so I try to keep that down to a dull roar if I can ❤️

      Thank you again for your kind words, dear friend 😘. Power to us! 👏🏼💖

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear friend ❤️. Yep, you nailed it – Oooh! I just thought of a possible idea: the desensitization technique, where I could clean under different circumstances than those of when I was a kid. Maybe like for 15-20 minutes on a week night. And a very specific area or task, as opposed to the nebulous “let’s clean the apartment” thing 💖. But then there’s the hyperfocus and the insistence on perfection lol. Well hell, I can try it a few times and see how it goes, right? 😉💪🏼💞

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Would listening to music while cleaning help? I like to use music as a guide to the pace of my cleaning, so for eg. I’d think to myself by the end of this song or the next etc, I will finish up cleaning a section. I find that makes the chore less dull. That’s just my weird habit 😆

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Awesome idea! Yeah, sometimes it does 😊. Especially if it’s the right match/synergy for/with my mindset. And if it’s got the right tempo, mood, etc. Music can work for or against me, but when it works for me, it works awesome! I hadn’t done that in a while, though–thank you so much for the reminder! 💜💓💜

          Liked by 1 person

            1. You’re awesome! 😊. Thank you! Yeah, music is totally amazing. Provides a backdrop that enhances all of the preferred sensory aspects of a particular event or situation, and even provides a memory anchor for later, which has proven to be an incredibly powerful tool 💪🏼❤️

              Thank you so much for thinking of me! You’ve been on my mind a lot lately, too 💙💜

              Liked by 1 person

  7. Hey SW,
    By the time you read this, I’m over with my (first) assessment, which I detailed a bit in another reply.
    I’ve read this post and my heart shrunk. I lack most basic emotions and feelings, but there is a very narrow side of my responsive system hardwired to vulnerability and suffering. In such special cases, I can literally “see” with my mind everything you describe, like I’d be there, in sometimes frightening detail.
    I have “seen” you while reading, and I felt your distress, and I also dare believing to have understood a side of you I kept wondering about while reading your other posts. As mentioned before, I live by logical rationalism, with a mind automatically computing ways to solve problems in light of the identified causes. Naturally in this case, out of respect, I’ll refrain from sharing what I understood, but should you wish so, please contact me directly about it.
    One thing became rather clear to me, and I fully agree with your counselor, namely that you must implement changes, ASAP, once and for all. Because your neuro-biology can’t be domesticated into acting contrary to your mind’s systemising function. Otherwise, one day, you’ll automatically switch to reboot mood, which neither yourself nor anyone else shood want.
    And I have to stop here sister, thinking with my kindest respect of you. 🙏🙏🙏

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so, so much, luv! Omg I’m touched 🤗. I felt the caring vibe in your words (who says we “need” body language? Who ever said that was a lazy arse with words and didn’t know how to use them right lol) 😉

      I’m working my way through the WordPress app notifications, so I’ll be on the lookout for your other comment 😊.

      Yep, I agree with you and my counselor, too 😊. I haven’t seen him since before my evaluation in November, because he doesn’t specialize in Asperger’s/autism, but his–and your–advice is well taken 😊. I do have another counselor at the ready–the one who did my evaluation is a great guy–now I just need the funds lol. But that will come with time ❤️

      Ok I’m going to go see how your evaluation went! 👏🏼👏🏼💙

      Liked by 1 person

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