About autisticaplanet

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Welcome to a blog about an autistic adult woman in her late 30's using words and images to advocate acceptance as well as awareness of those with life-limiting sensory processing issues and resulting social and behavioral challenges. I write about inclusion ideas for those who remain in isolation due to their neuromakeup and share how my Christian faith keeps me going. Thank you for visiting.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

I don't want to melt down.

My autistic brain on fire
This is how I feel when I am getting close to a meltdown. I am exposed to one of my trigger sounds (babies crying, dogs barking and fireworks). I am in a situation where I cannot escape them. 
Learning how to use a computer lead to many meltdowns, one so bad that 911 was called and I was hospitalized for several days. I have a low frustration threshold for the unexpected. 
Meltdowns are an inner and outer body experience at the same time. I can feel the interior of my body shaking, my throat becoming hamburger meat as I scream, and my hands like a vice as they hold my ears. There is presence and detachment at the same time. Afterword, there is an exhaustion that lasts for hours or even a full day. I swear, hit, spit, bite and attack anyone or thing within my flailing, spinning, Tasmanian Devil like path. I self loathe and feel helpless and guilty later. I have to wind down until the pent up pressure is gone. 
The worst thing another living being can do is try to touch me or yell. That dumps gasoline on a wildfire. Leaving me alone to decompress is the only thing that the helpless, well-meaning bystander can do. 
Strangers staring and trying to touch me or yell only makes it worse and a danger to them. 
This is why, when I go out in public, I have a safe person who can observe me to see if my body language and communication change and lead me out of overstimulation, because I literally and figuratively cannot see the way myself.
Here is a link I found helpful about meltdowns. I would say that this is a good one for those wanting to help family/clients with autism of any age.
https://www.ambitiousaboutautism.org.uk/understanding-autism/behaviour/meltdowns
When I can't make sense of something, when the pattern or routine is interrupted and I can't compensate (either by refusal or using a plan B), when I can't escape the problem sound, I melt down. 
I noticed the frequency and intensity of my meltdowns increased in puberty. I got on psychiatric medication and went through a nightmare of a time to get on the right combination. 
Klonopin along with antidepressants and psychotropic meds help me. I also am on birth-control to deal with premenstrual aggression and paranoia. This is called PMDD. I am noticing my meds don't work as well as they used to. 
My only advocate, my mom, is deceased. I am afraid to change anything without her there to advocate for me. She was a nurse and had insight into the atypical mind. I have been in autistic burnout since early 2016. I can't get my energy back and have gained weight. I have been through so much stress with having my Medicaid cancelled, reinstated, cancelled again, reinstated and cancelled. 
I am blessed to have my sister. She handles all the stressful stuff like dealing with making doctor appointments and calling DHS on my behalf. 
My caseworker quit unexpectedly. I could have had another, but due to the year I've had, I gave up. I had lost full time coverage anyway. I have no more spoons left in my drawer for changes this year. 
In the 2.5 years since my mom passed, I've become very good at saying NO. Not having anyone home with me most of the time, I don't go out. I don't want to melt down. 
Pushing myself, I've learned, is counterproductive. I've been attacked in my own neighborhood and collapsed a block away from home. If nobody is home, I don't go outside save for getting the mail and bringing in the trash caddies. 
When I do go out, I plan ahead, because I don't want to melt down. I have a "safe person" with me, someone I can trust, and I have extra medication, a tote-bag full of sensory stuff like my earmuffs, squeeze ball, extra gloves, a hat as I get overheated or chilled very easy and am afraid I will forget as I am forgetting much these days. 
My autistic memory is being killed off by the aging process. I research items I want online and make a checklist.  
It has become an obsession with me-not melting down. 
Reading for any length of time makes me want to scream. It hurts my eyes. I get audio books when someone is available to go to the library for me. Sometimes I leave a store if the sounds are too much. A safe person handles transactions if I do leave. I take sleeping medication on Saturday nights now as the neighbors have taken to setting off fireworks. Calling 911 only makes for more fireworks. So I put on my noise-cancelling headphones (I only wear in the house) and go to sleep. I don't want to melt down. I pray. I breathe. I shut down to avoid meltdown. I survive. 
I take comfort in knowing nothing lasts forever.