Sunday, 18 November 2012

The melting pot

Among the common aspie traits are meltdowns. In fact, this is not a trait or a feature, rather it is a recurring behaviour. Hence I think it can be 'cured', at least to an extent.

A meltdown is an uncontrollable anger and sorrow, expressing itself through me, but using means of communication that are unfamiliar to me. During the meltdown I say things I didn't know I felt, in a horrible and hurting manner. I shout and I swear. I cry. Afterwards I am exhausted as if I went to war and fought it all by myself. About half an hour later I start getting a headache.

The feelings expressed by me during a meltdown are mine. They belong to a hidden subconsciousness and perhaps it's best if they stay there. But they are mine, I admit that. Before my mouth expresses these feelings I didn't know I had them. Afterwards I take responsibility (though somewhat reluctantly) for the feelings.

I have nothing positive to say about the way I express these feelings. I wish I didn't express them at all, I wish that at least I could express myself in a more civilised manner. I am trying.

My son has the same problem. When he feels that he is being treated unfair, he risks having a meltdown. Some circumstances may trigger this, e.g. being under under types of pressure - if his peers look at him in class, if there are guests at our house etc. It has been a long while since he had a meltdown at home though. Feeling secure prevents meltdowns apparently.

My son describes the process like this: In an unpleasant situation, there are two men (in his head that is): the ignoring-man and the anger-man. The ignoring-man wants my son to ignore if he is being bullied or laughed at. He (the ignoring-man) demonstrates this wish by sitting on a chair, ignoring. The anger-man wants my son to be angry (leading to a meltdown) and cry. He expresses his wish by being angry, and acts aggressively towards the ignoring-man. So if the ignoring-man tries to tell my son to act sensibly (i.e. ignore the annoyance), the anger-man will jump from his chair and press his hand against the ignoring-mans mouth. The anger-man usually wins.

I like the picture, but I am sad about its implications. The tendency to melt down is, due to its aggression, superior to more sustainable and wise coping strategies, when they are confronted inside the head (my sons head, or mine, for that matter). The ignoring-man needs assistance, and I told my son that. I said: 'You need to help the ignoring-man by imagining what he would say, and do as he does'. I am going to do that myself, I go with the ignoring-man, because going with the anger-man only leads to more trouble.

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