When I Couldn't Fully Prevent a Holiday Meltdown


This year, for the Thanksgiving holiday, I did everything in my power to stick to my routine. I knew it would be important for me as someone on the autism spectrum. I still had my college class the day before, and then I requested to work on the holiday itself. Then, I had a meal with my family. To keep myself a bit busy, I decided to plan some shopping for Black Friday with a friend. For the most part, things ended up going pretty smoothly.

Two days after Thanksgiving, I was sitting in front of my computer and suddenly felt this extreme restlessness and anxiety. I couldn’t figure out what was going on, and I attributed it to the fact that maybe I was just upset over something I had lost a few weeks ago. Maybe it was just frustration from my school assignment. But the feelings escalated.

I ended up having a complete meltdown. So I messaged a friend of mine and started to vent. I was so upset and couldn’t calm myself down. At one point I asked, “Where did this meltdown come from? It seems so out of the blue!”

My friend stopped me by saying, “You’re coming off of a holiday.”

I believe she was right. My meltdown likely had nothing to do with the item I had lost or the school assignment I was working on. I believe it was simply because — although I had stuck to routine as much as possible — there was still a holiday. And my brain just wasn’t able to process it. I compared it to feeling dizzy and knowing the ground is not moving, but your brain just feels like it is.

The moment my friend mentioned this, my meltdown stopped. I understood. And I could think clearly again.

I realized no matter how much I prepare for the holidays as someone on the autism spectrum, sometimes there may be no way I can fully prevent a holiday meltdown. But that’s OK. It’s nobody’s fault. It’s just that my brain processes things a little differently.

Image via Thinkstock.

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