Last night I had a meltdown. Not a quiet withdrawn shutdown, but a full-on meltdown, the worst in years. I guess I should have seen it coming, with a long work week behind me and a lot of things causing a huge amount of stress, including today’s family visit.
We worked all evening to get the house in order for today; my partner was preparing food and I was hurrying to get my new bookshelves set up and anchored so that the five plastic tubs of books lining our downstairs hallway could go back to my room.
I got everything out of the hall and even mounted the long shelf over the closet doors between the bookshelves, and got some of my beloved books shelved. It felt good to see them back on display – I’d missed them. I’m very attached to my books.
“Now it looks like a grownup room,” I proudly announced to my partner when I was done. We both looked at the shelves full of hardcover Harry Potter, Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series, and Dresden Files books… “ok, it looks like a forty-eight year old teenager’s room, but it looks good,” I ammended.
We worked some more on other things, and then it was time for bed. Well past time, actually: I’m not usually up past nine, and it was almost eleven. The neurotic little dog had been antsy for hours because her routine was off.
Usually the last thing I do is let the dogs out one last time, but they had been out less than an hour before so I skipped it. Big dog stays upstairs, and the ‘littles’ sleep in my room – neurotic dog on the bed, and eater-of-things in a crate under the bed. He’s been having some sort of anxiety about his crate every since I rearranged the room, and for the second time this week, he squatted and peed on the floor in front of the crate when I asked him to go into it.
I was exhausted; all I had wanted to do was crawl into bed, and now I had to clean the rug. I wasn’t mad at him, I know it was a submissive/anxious thing, but I was frustrated. I got him locked up without scolding him and went storming off to get carpet cleaner and a rag.
As I was about to do that, neurotic dog started sniffing where eater-of-things had peed and, worried she might get the wrong idea, I told her to ‘leave it’ and shooed her away. I cleaned up the spot, put away the cleaning supplies, and prepared to crawl into bed, thoroughly wiped out.
I stopped and stared in horror.
My pillow was soaked in urine. The comforter was also soaked. As was my beloved weighted blanket. I assume neurotic dog did it (even though it was way out of character for her) when I left the room, as it was pretty fresh and I don’t think they had been out of sight before bedtime. Also, she was now hiding in her crate.
I. Lost. My. Shit.
I texted my partner an incoherent series of expletives that mostly contained f-bombs witb no spacing or punctuation. Then I started stripping the bed. When I came out of the room, I saw she’d come downstairs to help and was getting the washer ready. She tried to calmly explain that we had spare blankets and pillows and this wasn’t the end of the world.
“But those aren’t my pillow!” I wailed, “and I can’t sleep without my weighted blanket!”
“You survived without it for 47 years, didn’t you?”
I tried to convey the enormity of my distress, but failed. I flapped. I noticed that I was flapping, which alarmed me, made me more distressed, and I flapped even harder. I would not have previously (before my diagnosis) called this flapping; it was just ‘what I do to try and make the words come out when I lose them’. It’s usually slower, but I was very agitated and couldn’t explain what was in my head so the hands were moving very fast. Flapping.
“I… can’t … make… words.” I managed to slowly stammer, punctuating with my flailing hands. I knew I was completely overreacting and out of control, but couldn’t rein in my behavior.
She was exasperated, but calm. “You need to sit down and get ahold of yourself.” she said firmly, then started to explain what we needed to do to fix the problem. I wandered into the next room in the middle of the explanation and sat in a chair, trying to get my breathing under control.
“… I’m not going to talk to you if you aren’t even in the same room.” she called after me.
I was baffled. I think the confusion actually helped bring me back down. I came back down the hall…
“But you just told me to sit down?”
In retrospect, I guess I can see a bit of humor to the whole exchange. In my state, I took her very literally; I did not comprehend that turning my back on her and walking away while she was talking would be interpreted badly. I was just doing what she suggested.
I got some spare blankets and a pillow, slept like crap, but as she’d predicted, I didn’t die without my precious weighted blanket and pillow. This morning I apologized profusely before heading off to the laundromat (a fifteen pound blanket full of plastic beads has to be washed in a commercial washer) to get my blanket cleaned. She hasn’t had to deal with me in that state for many years. I guess, at the very least, I owe her a good bottle of wine and some flowers.
This got me thinking about how a meltdown is perceived by others; if it’s a child, I’m guessing it’s actually probably more likely to be accepted whereas an adult runs the risk of being treated like a lunatic, maybe? I wonder how many undiagnosed autistics end up getting run through the mental health system and labeled as having a mental problem such as a nervous breakdown and put on antidepressants? I almost was, before I learned I was an aspie.