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What People May Not Realize When I’m Having a Meltdown

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I am extremely gifted at a few things, but there are certain things I can’t handle.

Last-minute schedule changes stress me out. Meltdowns are the worst, and having one in public is embarrassing as hell for me. A woman in her mid-30s crying like a child. I hide and cry. This also happens anytime someone I trust misleads me (because I trust few people).

Sometimes if the schedule change is big enough, I will go into a full-blown panic. It is worse if I feel like I am trapped and can’t say no — I feel like I am drowning every time this happens. I know how to recover from them, but they are not under my control.

My meltdown is not a tantrum — it is a true expression of inner feelings I can no longer contain. The dam has broken, and a flood is imminent. Everything I’ve been holding in has got to come out.

People think I am being dramatic or exaggerating things, but I literally can’t stop a meltdown. In addition, the thing I am reacting to may seem small to them. They don’t see things from my perspective or know all the other factors that went into building that meltdown.

Maybe someone I love just passed away, or I am feeling sick, maybe I am having horrible PMS, or trouble sleeping, or sometimes my social anxiety gets out of control.

These are the things I don’t talk about that affect me.

I tend to bottle everything up, which can’t be healthy. And eventually, like a can of frozen soda, when the pressure becomes too great, I pop! I’ve done this all my life.

It’s too late once a meltdown has started — they have to run their course. Sometimes if I get away fast enough, I can help one pass more quickly.

While meltdowns are physically and mentally painful and I never want to have one, in my experience, sometimes the relief felt after one is amazing — especially if I’ve been under extra stress. I always feel worn out afterwards.

Please be compassionate the next time you see a 30-something woman crying in public. You don’t know what she’s got going on. She might be autistic, she might be stressed, she might even be me.

Follow this journey on Anonymously Autistic.

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Image via Thinkstock Images

Originally published: December 21, 2016
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