If you are a regular here at RJsCorner, you know that I have said that I had more meltdowns during the last week of my wife’s life than I thought I could endure. They came so frequently that I began feeling that if they don’t stop, I don’t want to live any longer. In this post, I will try to give you an idea of what those meltdowns were like and how overwhelming they were.
I love the description of a meltdown given by Justine L, on the website Medium.com, so I will use her words here instead of trying to invent some of my own:
A meltdown is essentially an intense response to an overwhelming situation and is all too familiar if you’re Autistic or close to someone who is. Although described as the opposite of a shutdown where a person withdraws and becomes non-communicative, each involves the same mechanism. They are just expressed in different ways. I’m more likely to experience shutdown if I’m emotionally overwhelmed because it’s just so much harder to articulate my way through it. People experiencing meltdowns might find themselves unable to hold back a flood of tears or feel an urge to scream or hit something.
It is interesting to see Justine’s different descriptions of a meltdown and shutdown. I had not really thought of it before. I have kinda lumped both in the same category. Maybe I should start quantifying these periods to further understand them? But, hopefully, both kinds will now be rare going forward.
Let’s start out by my looking at why I might have meltdowns:
My “Question Everything” mantra of life demands that I think things through. I have to try to understand my meltdowns so that I have a better chance of recognizing them when they happen and at least control their intensity.
I think my meltdowns happen because I just don’t have the time to logically analyze what is flooding my senses. I usually can keep my emotions on a short leash without any visible presence. I have had years of practice at that. But sometimes the situation is just too intense. The death of a spouse is one of those times I guess.
Now, let me try to describe my version of meltdowns:
Meltdowns and shutdowns are generally a rare thing for me. I might have a handful of them a year. But, in the last week of my wife’s life, they seemed to come one after another. To cause a meltdown, my emotional state must be overwhelmed. It usually isn’t a quick, spur of the moment type thing that brings one on. Instead, things builds up over several minutes to a level that becomes overwhelming. Part of it is that I am a person who needs to be in control almost all the time. When it becomes obvious that I have no control, my brain sometimes overflows.
I hope this post finishes the discussion of meltdowns for me for quite some time, and I’m sure you are probably getting tired of hearing about them.