This post from October 2014 has been moved from my book-blog to Identities.
Saturday I had my first major melt-down in a long time. I was at a family gathering. My family is loud. So am I. All of that loudness over a long time becomes confusing. I cannot help but hear everything that is going on, and concentrating on one conversation takes a lot out of me. Add to that strong emotions from a few of the participants and visual stimulus and I was teetering. The thing that pushed me over the edge was that I had been overly optimistic about the time my medication would last.
All of a sudden I knew I had to get out of there. If I didn’t I had no idea what would happen. Major melt-downs are like that for me. Thankfully, my husband saw that all was not as it should be and we got the crew going. Driving home I had to keep my eyes shut tight, put my fingers in my ears to lessen the volume and bend forward. Then I breathed as well as I could and kept on trying to get myself back on the edge. When we got home, I took my medication and went into my room, wrapped myself in our duvet and read a book.
That was when it hit me. I had kind of guessed that this was my method of handling the world when I was younger. But the feeling of desperation and pain that I felt Saturday evening and the relief it was to hide brought back memories of childhood.
My parents had no idea I am Asperger. Whenever I tried to hide at parties (i.e. hide behind a magazine or book) they thought I was being rude or pouting. At home I had to get away at times and hid in my bed all covered up and behind a book. My family thought I was out of sorts and would try to cheer me up. The thought was kind enough but just made matters worse. I was often accused of pouting. Looking at it from an objective point of view, I can see how it would seem that way. But pouting was the last thing I was doing.
I hate being dependent on my medication, but I dislike melt-downs even more. I love parties and noise. But once my level of stimulus tolerance is reached, I need to leave or find a quiet place. Being reminded of how long my strategy has been used and how comforting it is to me was interesting and educational. I wish I could have avoided my melt-down on Saturday. At the same time I am thankful for the trip down memory lane and all that it taught me.