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How To Avoid Having a Meltdown?

Discussion in 'Help and Support' started by donna_noble, Jul 28, 2021.

  1. donna_noble

    donna_noble Active Member

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    I want to be vaccinated against Covid-19 but getting a shot (or anything involving a needle) triggers a meltdown. I’ve sent e-mails about this to some of my local autism resources, but I thought I’d ask the community while I’m waiting to hear back from them.

    What I’ve tried so far is taking an anti-anxiety medicine in order to get the shot in the car from my primary care doctor. This did not stop the meltdown. I couldn’t even stay still to let the nurse touch my arm (I’m not usually touch averse). She also explained to me that jerking my arm away during the shot might potentially harm either the nurse or myself. It would be impossible for me to keep my arm still if I was having a meltdown. At this point, I feel like I would need to be either sedated or physically restrained to get these shots. My doctor is not willing to allow me to do either of these options.

    Does anybody else here get meltdowns from needles? How do you handle it?

    If I must be sedated or physically restrained, where should I look for those options?

    Is there anything I can do to avoid having a meltdown?
     
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  2. Skittlebisquit

    Skittlebisquit Keep trying to be as amazing as you really are V.I.P Member

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    I dont know about going somewhere to have it done your way, except for a psychiatric facility, no one else would be equipped to deal with what you are asking them to do.

    What if you never saw the needle? No that wouldn't work. You just have to sit still and take it, they are right if you start freaking out and jerking around it will almost certainly hurt you both.

    Self medication is just not well advised. It's not safe or ethical. I guess you need to start with the county mental health people, or do you already see someone? Where are you in the world anyways, USA? Europe? Asia?

    In USA is all I know about. I do not travel

    Your very last question is worth more to me than any price you could name. I dont know if it's the same for everyone or not. My answer for me is sometimes I can forestall the meltdown, but mine are different than yours. It's embarrassing to talk about, I would rather not give details about what I experience.

    These meltdowns are more common in a dilapidated state. And with stressors. And big psych internal unresolved conflicts about guilt, shame, self esteem, survival, undesirability. When I am well in mind body and spirit. freak city doesnt happen.

    Anyways if you do have a shrink, they should be able to get you into a lockdown psych ward at a hospital, which is the only place that is trained and equipped to place people in restraints, I think.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2021
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  3. Progster

    Progster Gone sideways to the sun V.I.P Member

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    I've had both shots and for what it's worth, it didn't hurt much - I didn't even feel the first one, and it was over in literally a couple of seconds.

    What might help is to have some kind of fidget toy or something you can clench in the hand of the arm that's not getting the jab, and focus on that rather than the jab. It also helps with the anxiety.

    Whenever I have to have invasive or painful medical tests, I sometimes pinch myself or dig my fingernails into the palm of my hand - replacing a kind of pain I can't control with one that I can.
     
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  4. VictorR

    VictorR Random Member V.I.P Member

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    Autistics United Canada has a vaccine resource info page with lots of stuff you may find helpful including some plain language information, and information about needle anxiety.
     
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  5. Barymore

    Barymore nevertheless, she persisted V.I.P Member

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    Hi there!
    So I personally feel getting the shot is important in the current situation.

    My impression is, that apart from the general issue of meltdowns, you are also dealing with a specific trigger. I doubt there is a quick fix for this

    A short term solution would be to, as you suggest, use sedation. Maybe something similar to what is used for colonoscopy. Try to get your therapist to recommend this in writing - doctors may be more willing then. Also, "shop" around for a doctor willing to do this. Dont let anyone tell you "its not a big deal" or "it doesnt hurt" - its a major issue for you and this is a real thing!

    Long term I suggest a well designed ds/cc training (desensitizing and counter conditioning) please dont get offended at what I am about to say: as an exotic animal trainer I work with many different species and individuals - many of which have / had issues with needles that have been resolved with careful ds/cc.

    As a human, you could also look at exposition therapy with a competent and trusted therapist ideally with ASD experience (i know, pigs may fly).

    Good luck!

    In the end, you may have a legitimate reason not to get vaccinated. Unlike many others.
     
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  6. DK’s_Ghost

    DK’s_Ghost Member

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    It sounds to me like your reaction is so extreme that it’s unlikely that fidget toys or methods to reduce anxiety will help. It’s a shame because this must be really frustrating for you.

    All I can think of is that it may actually be a good idea to seek a second opinion from your doctor about this - one, to see someone who will give your meltdowns the consideration they need and, two, to make sure that whatever you do get to sedate or calm you isn’t likely to interact with any of the ingredients of the vaccine. The latter is a really good reason to do this medically rather than self-medicating.

    I would not recommend restraint. I think it would be difficult for a flailing / uncontrollably moving person to be restrained sufficiently to allow for the safe administration of a vaccine. Your arm will likely still move even if they strap you down by shoulders and elbows.
     
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  7. 1ForAll

    1ForAll Active Member

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    My advice would be dependent on why you fear needles? Yes, I know it is a very common fear for many, but many may not have severe fear or meltdowns. So, it would be helpful to learn more the source of your fears, like is it some fear of the appearance of needles, the perceived pain you would feel by getting the shot, some bad experience you received in the past, the unknown of what will happen when a needle is used, anything in the needle, some sensory other issue you are worried about, or anxiety of the meltdown before during or after etc.? Or a combination.

    Each person is different in why they could fear certain things. I just know in my case I always try to get to the source, then after I determine what that is, I find the solution best for me, based on past treatment attempt successes or failures, my capabilities, my preferences, and/or what I feel would be easiest or more ideal way to combat any fears. The good news is fears can be conquered. Many different ways to do that. Besides the mentioned, you may resort to calming and positive things, like:

    --being around a positive support person
    --bring a comfort item with you
    -- slow and deep breathing techniques
    --calming music
    --positive visualizations of you being really relaxed, smiling and still there
    -- diverting the mind and eyes to some other positive in that room or elsewhere
    -- imagining or getting some reward happening after
    --having other positive thoughts like, "it'll create more opportunities in life for me, by doing this; it's just a one second slight pinch and I've been through far worse and longer anxious things before; doing this will make me less sick in the future, and so forth.
    --Changing your eyes, posture and facial expressions temporarily to a more serene, positive or confident state, to make the transition easier for your body and mind to actually believe you are not at all fearing that moment.

    I can only say these types of things work for me, when I want to change my feelings or moods to something more desirable, to help replace or supplement bad or distressing experiences, with more positive reinforcements.

    Not all are into cognitive or self-help things, and that is ok. Just look at the replies in this thread, get more medical opinion, if need be, then choosing something than what you did before very well could work. So, try to not assume the experience will be not good for you, if you make efforts you have not tried before. Millions have your same fear, but still they will find some way to not make it bigger than it is. I feel you have that ability too. You just need the right answer for you.
     
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  8. Tom

    Tom Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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  9. Ken

    Ken Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Hi Donna,
    Well, I don't have advice for you, but I thought I would share how I got over my anxiety / meltdowns from needles.
    In 1989, I became a type-1 diabetic. The whole thing was extremely traumatic for me. The fear of the disease itself and the fear of what is required to survive it - needles!
    I knew that injecting insulin was a requirement. Choice was either the shots or die. The trauma was so great, it was not an easy choice!
    A hospital volunteer came to teach me how to inject myself. I simply couldn't do it. The anxiety was overwhelming. I was shaking violently and dripping in sweat. So she asked me to practice injecting on her. I was shocked! The very thought of sticking a needle in another person... for PRACTICE - and the thought of her actually asking me to do it was so shocking that it suddenly made injecting myself easy. Been doing that five+ times per day, everyday for the past 32 years. No problem. Sometimes when I have to get a shot at a doctors office, I will ask if I could get a discount if I inject it myself. :D
    Sometimes you just need some kind of little trigger to cancel a meltdown. I don't know what it might be for you, but I sincerely hope you find it and I hope it will be as simple as mine was.

    Best Wishes!
     
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  10. Suzette

    Suzette Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Regarding your doctor and sedation or restraint; I think you should consider a different doctor or another discussion with your present doctor.

    Your doctor's insurence might make your request for retraint or sedation impossible ir he / she might have ethical objections. If it is the later you could point out that not receiving the vaccine leaves you vulnerable to harm, and would therefore be unethical.
    Remind him that the delta variant is more transmissble than older variants of the virus so being vaccinated is urgent.
    Do you have a counselor or therapist that help you make your appeal? Maybe you can enlist them to participate in a zoom call between all three of you.
    It maybe that your doctor would need to admit you into an out patient care facility to sedate you. If this is the case your doctor might be able to coordinate your vaccination with a physican or nurse practitioner at the proper facility.

    The point is, your request is not difficult or wrong at all. Your doctor may not understand just how impossible it is for you to control your autonomic response. Sedation for minor medical porceedures happens all the time and should not be a real barrier for recieving the vaccine. I think your doctor is not being clear with you and, maybe even gaslighting you in their own ignorance of autisim.
     
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  11. Ken

    Ken Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I agree with Suzette. Even dentists use simple, effective sedation for many common dental practices.
     
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  12. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    There are anesthetics like EMLA™ (lidocaine-prilocaine), Ametop™ (tetracaine), and Maxilene™ (lidocaine) that are designed to be used topically just before you receive an inoculation to dull the pain. Something that might alleviate a lot of anxiety regarding getting a shot. Similar to what dentists do before injecting lidocaine.

    Pain reduction for kids, but I don't see why they can't be administered to adults as well.
     
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  13. Aspychata

    Aspychata Serenity waves, beachy vibes

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    Good luck. Great advice. It's scary to see the needle going in.
     
  14. Cher_Ami

    Cher_Ami Well-Known Member

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    What I do is
    1.) turn my head away (or close my eyes, in the case of the dentist) just before the needle comes out; and
    2.) Make a fist with my other arm and squeeze that fist if there are any sensations.

    This surprisingly has worked well with the dentist and vaccinations.
     
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  15. Thinx

    Thinx Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I found thinking it through was very helpful with injections at the dentists. Thinking it's actually a shallow prick of the needle, then a sensation as the anaesthetic goes in. The needle doesn't go in deeply at all. Actually for the flu and the covid jabs it was virtually nothing, hard to notice it had happened, less painful than if you prick your finger sewing, say.
     
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  16. Crossbreed

    Crossbreed Neur-D Missionary ☝️ V.I.P Member

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    My 27yo, ASD3 daughter takes Lorazepam one hour before blood draws & surgeries.
    She holds up okay for vaccines.
     
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  17. ForestGumpett

    ForestGumpett Well-Known Member

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    I have absolutely no advice, when it comes to needles I can run like crazy for an old phart and they haven’t caught me yet! No thank you, I have a medical condition whereas I cannot get the jab. Wish you the best, unless your overweight and/or have diabetes your chances of dying are better if you don’t get the jab. JMHO. I’m small, short, thin with hyperlipedemia (sp?) which means thick blood. I’ve had a stroke before, had relatives that have died from strokes. We also have Antiphospholipid syndrome that killed my brother in the family. Nope, not for me. We just live in solitude and that’s working for us.

    Wish you the best at whatever you decide. God speed ahead! :)
     
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  18. KimS

    KimS Active Member V.I.P Member

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    I feel for you! I still have a slight phobia but I'm better than I used to be. I talked my way through my shots, just spouting out whatever random thoughts popped into my mind as that very nice patient nurse did her thing. There's also the trick of pinching the skin between your thumb and index finger. If I remember, that confuses the nerves just enough you don't feel pain anywhere else at that time.
     
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  19. Kalinychta

    Kalinychta Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    @donna_noble What exactly do you mean by “meltdown,” though, because meltdowns are extremely misunderstood even within the austistic community. Do you mean extreme anxiety, or do you mean “on your knees screaming on the ground”? The latter is an actual autistic meltdown, the former is not. If the former, there is a lot you can do to help yourself. If the latter, less.
     
  20. Ken

    Ken Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I had a thought; a meltdown or anxiety fit due to getting a shot is entirely mental anxiety. Getting a shot is simply not that painful. Most of the time it doesn't hurt at all and most of the time there is not even any sensation at all. Sometimes it does hurt, but when it does, it is no more painful than popping a pimple. I think most people, even autistics, can handle that.
    With that in mind, the fix would be to eliminate the anxiety - eliminate the fear and anticipation of having a needle inserted in your skin.
    Here is my thought: Get a pack of 3/10cc insulin syringes. Spend some time in private just handling, looking at and examining the syringes. While totally calm in total privacy, take the cap off one and touch the tip of the needle to your skin. Don't press it in just a touch. Do this until you feel totally casually comfortable doing that. Eventually, you will be able to press it in just a little. Do not do anything with the plunger. You must be in absolute total control - no outside pressure. Eventually you can press it in a little further, and so on until you can insert it fully without any anxiety. This may take a while, but if you are like me you will need absolute privacy for it to work. To insert the needle properly, it should be subcutaneous. To do that, pinch the skin - not hard, but find an area where you can get a nice fold between your fingers - and insert into the skin between the pinching fingers. The best place to practice is someplace with some loose skin accessible to both hands. The abdomen or thigh is usually an easy spot.
    I just think that once you are familiar with needles and learn that they are not traumatically painful it will reduce or remove your anxiety for any future medical necessities requiring injections, IV,s etc. I find that any reduction of anxiety makes life just that much easier.
    This is just an idea that worked for me and thought I would share.
     
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