1. Welcome to Autism Forums, a friendly forum to discuss Aspergers Syndrome, Autism, High Functioning Autism and related conditions.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Our modern chat room. No add-ons or extensions required, just login and start chatting!
    • Private Member only forums for more serious discussions that you may wish to not have guests or search engines access to.
    • Your very own blog. Write about anything you like on your own individual blog.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon! Please also check us out @ https://www.twitter.com/aspiescentral

Featured Internal Meltdowns/Shutdowns (even as a child)?

Discussion in 'General Autism Discussion' started by zozie, Jan 1, 2021.

  1. zozie

    zozie Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    156
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2020
    Karma:
    +324
    Hi all,

    I am having some trouble finding research and personal narratives about internalized distress from childhood onward. So, a natural tendency towards silence, not one borne of masking. A loud expression of distress is one feature of autism I have never resonated with. My distress feels more stuck, and certainly more silent, than loud. When I was little I'd sort of phase out and disconnect from my distress. I called it "floating", even though I wasn't on the ceiling or a ghost or anything. I was just...porous, I guess.

    When grown-ups called me a "little peacemaker", I came to appreciate my detachment and saw it as a way to not be bothersome to anyone, and thus to be more or less free to do my own thing, which was basically my plan all along. My middle childhood was chaotic, but even as a baby, I appeared weirdly unresponsive to anything, yet also subversive in my activity. The kid who does what they want without saying a thing. That was me. It's still me, in a lot of ways, and contributes to my difficulty in communicating with others what's going on in my head. I have a lot of trouble with this, albeit less when I can write it down.

    I'm looking for community in this quietness, if possible. I would love to be able to relate to screaming and throwing things and destroying stuff and whatever else is documented as "classic presentations of ASD", but I just....don't. But I don't relate to "learning" how to be quiet, either, as a result of a trauma. Learning how to keep being quiet, maybe, but that's not the same thing. Even my therapist suggested that I developed maladaptive behaviors as a result of seeing loud brothers and how it taxed my mom. I don't think so.

    So. Anyone else a weirdly quiet baby who then grew up to have internalized meltdowns and shutdowns, looking "fine" all the time, while still not quite being able to "get their lives together"?
     
    • Like Like x 5
    • Agree Agree x 5
    • Informative Informative x 1
  2. Thinx

    Thinx Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

    Messages:
    3,738
    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2018
    Karma:
    +5,071
    I don't have the picture of high functioning autism as being loud and screaming and throwing stuff that you describe. Are you getting it from any actual examples you know of?

    My mum says I was quiet and rarely cried, and I still am like that, though I think due to doing such a lot of personal therapy and work on myself, all my life really, I am fairly secure and not anxious now.

    I didn't have children, partly because I was working towards recognising I wasn't heterosexual I guess, and being ambivalent around gender categories. You have responsibilities and seem to cope, you have high expectations of yourself I think. I only coped with work through having all the rest of my time to myself.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  3. zozie

    zozie Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    156
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2020
    Karma:
    +324
    I sort of cope. As I've mentioned in other threads, I'm going through Voc Rehab for the second time. I'm on city housing assistance and other welfare. And I did not give myself the opportunity to decide definitively whether or not I wanted children—bearing children was considered a demonstration of faith and obedience in the religion I was raised in.

    But I come across this divide a lot. I look more capable than I am. I have a flat affect, which tends to appear "neutral" or "unbothered". This has caused me huge problems all my life. It's true that I've learned some coping mechanisms along the way, but it's more true that people are shocked to hear that I struggle in the first place.

    Even so, I'm doing some broader research to round out my data. I am getting them mostly from parents and textbooks and some first-person accounts of meltdowns in early life. I did find one line in a book by Sarah Hendrickx, however, that references an eerily silent child. I will continue in that direction, then.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  4. Neonatal RRT

    Neonatal RRT Active Member

    Messages:
    112
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2020
    Karma:
    +262
    Oh yeah,...serious internalizer. At work,...good Lord,...lots of stim,...take those little 5 min breaks in the bathroom or locker room,...eat lunch by yourself. Those "code blue's",...those patient's in cardiac or respiratory arrest,...I literally, and consciously, have to step into the doorway,...pause,...take a deep, cleansing breath,...and click that imaginary switch in the back of my brain. When everyone else is getting excited and voices are raising,...I am the one speaking in a soft voice. It forces everyone to shut-the-F-up and listen to my directions. The best outcomes have been when the a visitor is walking by, totally oblivious to the situation, because I have calmed the team down to soft, quiet voices.

    Even as a kid,...spanking was pretty much the solution to everything in my house,...no such thing as autism,...I had "behavior issues". I would get spanked,...never react,...my parents would get so frustrated with me.

    I was a competitive powerlifter in the mid-2000s,...national level. At that level, you push your body to break,...literally. Multiple torn muscles, torn tendons, torn menisci in my knees,...what an idiot I was. You push your body beyond the pain,...and then,..."Snap!!!",...and the pain is gone,...a relief. Your limb doesn't work anymore, but it actually felt better.

    Having said that,...I did have my first, legit, meltdown in front of my wife last Spring. Talk about an out-of-body experience. Quickly squelched that one down, and was horribly embarrassed.
     
    • Like Like x 2
    • Friendly Friendly x 2
  5. dragonfire42

    dragonfire42 Box of leftovers in the back of the fridge

    Messages:
    352
    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2019
    Karma:
    +391
    I would have meltdowns sometimes as a child, but have always been much more prone to these shutdowns or internalized meltdowns. When I would have meltdowns, they usually consisted mainly of collapsing on the floor and thrashing around, I would throw anything I could pick up that I came in contact with but only to get it away from me, I didn’t scream or hit people or anything (granted, I probably would have hit anyone who tried to touch me, but my parents would just ignore me, assuming I was having a temper tantrum and would give it up if they did - coincidentally, this was exactly the right thing to do, I wasn’t doing it for attention or to try to get my way or anything, but the best thing to do was just let me ride it out).

    I can’t remember ever not having the ability to kind of “hold in” a meltdown until it turns into a shutdown instead, this is why I rarely had meltdowns in public even as a kid. I felt like home was a safe place to let things out, so I would. But I’ve never been much of a screamer, even in situations where NTs would typically scream, like out of surprise or pain. My instinct instead is to be as quiet as I can when in distress of any sort. For example, one time I closed a car door on my finger and the door locked, and I didn’t instinctively cry out in any way, I had to force myself to quietly say “Ow” so my dad would realize I was stuck and unlock the door. If it hadn’t locked, he probably wouldn’t have even known it happened unless I told him afterward. And if anything, I’m hypersensitive to pain, it wasn’t because it didn’t hurt a whole heck of a lot.

    I think my instinctive quietness is because I’m not a social creature by nature like humans (yes, I feel very much inhuman, and this is one reason why), so instead of crying out to attract the aid of others, my instinct is to stay quiet to avoid drawing dangerous attention. Also, when I’m overwhelmed in some way, my own noise is just as bothersome as outside noise, so screaming so I can’t hear other noises or something similar doesn’t work for me. It seems all the more unusual to me since I’m moderately autistic, not mild, and people seem to tend to expect those who are more severely autistic to be more disruptive. I have some vocal stims, but they only come out when I’m feeling content and relaxed.

    Shutdowns for me are basically like my brain, well, shuts down. I used to call it going on autopilot, that’s essentially what it feels like to me. I’ll continue doing simple activities like walking or eating, but my brain is completely tuned out and I’m barely aware of anything.

    Oops, super long post:oops: But I feel everything is relevant, so I’ll leave it that way.
     
    • Like Like x 4
    • Agree Agree x 1
  6. Aspychata

    Aspychata Serenity waves, beachy vibes

    Messages:
    4,899
    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2019
    Karma:
    +9,126
    I am also an internalizer. I believe this causes unwanted stress on our body and results in conditions such as eczema, headaches, etc. So l now practice looking at all my issues when blowing into my lockdown closet of internal chains. This has help me acknowledge the emotional wasteland that l am stuck in and then self medicating doesn't seem important anymore.

    True emotional shutdown is crying for an hour. But l am doing this way less.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  7. zozie

    zozie Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    156
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2020
    Karma:
    +324
    Oh my word, yes. And yes to so much of what you said, especially about not wanting to draw attention to yourself, lest the humans notice you and pounce. Thank you for your very long post, it is all relevant.
     
  8. zozie

    zozie Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    156
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2020
    Karma:
    +324
    I am thinking now that my draw to body-centered therapies is because of how much I internalize. Unlike cognitive therapies, there's not a judgment to make or problem to fix, exactly, with body-centered therapies. The emphasis is on exploring and discovering and asking questions and noticing and then integrating the body into a cognitive framework.

    I also look quite a lot at my body these days, and find the most internal peace when I approach stress from a place that is far from the brain and even language.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Useful Useful x 1
  9. zozie

    zozie Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    156
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2020
    Karma:
    +324
    Yes, so much relatability to being quiet when others are getting loud and out of sorts. People call me good in a crisis, and I have thought so myself because I am "the calm one" when something really bad is happening. But I wonder now, with your descriptions of needing so much alone time in the interim. That hits home in a big way.

    I hope your wife was understanding when you melted down? Must have taken a lot of trust to be able to show that...
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  10. Soleil

    Soleil Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    240
    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2020
    Karma:
    +323
    I've never had meltdowns. When I get frustrated or upset I tend to keep it to myself. I'm normally a pretty quiet person in general, but when I start to feel frustrated, upset, and overwhelmed I withdraw even more and end up kind of separated from the world in general. I'm still fully (or at least mostly) aware of the world around me, but I barely count as an observer. It can become difficult to communicate, especially verbally.

    Worst case scenario, when things get way too much for me, I end up crying and unable to talk at all. In which case the best way to help me would be to either leave me alone, or to stick around and just talk about random stuff. Once I've started to calm down, I can use a stim toy or a plushie to sort of get myself grounded again.
     
    • Like Like x 2
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  11. UberScout

    UberScout Are you there, God? ...Hello? V.I.P Member

    Messages:
    739
    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2017
    Karma:
    +1,062
    *muffled screaming and the sound of metal crashing*
     
    • Like Like x 2
    • Funny Funny x 2
  12. Sasha20

    Sasha20 Active Member

    Messages:
    22
    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2020
    Karma:
    +34
    My husband (seperated ) is the quietest man ive ever met . Ive only ever seen him lash out externally once where he started banging his head off a door and roaring . Whenever i use to get really pissed off at him he would shut down completely , say nothing , not a word and then lie on the bed , bit his nails and eventually fall asleep for hours . I remember him sayong that when he wad younger he would get punished by beening hit for no reason that he could identify with so he just learnt to keep his mouth shut as speaking out only made it worse. Even when i have seen him in extreme physical pain close to tears he doesnt even scream or shout but his facial expression have told me how bad it is . He is so quiet in everything he does its nearly like he wants to be invisible . He is over 6 ft . He move very slowly to add to the effect . I find it very relaxing actually !
     
    • Friendly Friendly x 2
  13. OkRad

    OkRad μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος οὐλομένην V.I.P Member

    Messages:
    2,442
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2013
    Karma:
    +4,392
    Both here. In extreme shut downs it is total withdrawal and almost non-verbal. But I have had meltdowns, too. It depends on how often need to switch coping skills. If you are shuffled around a lot it may change. If you are in a stable place (even if it's not the best) you might develop one "safe way."

    I think the "experts" are really realizing they have a lot to learn so you're experience is yours no matter what anyone says. :)
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  14. HeroOfHyrule

    HeroOfHyrule Chicken Chaser

    Messages:
    567
    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2020
    Karma:
    +487
    My mom said I was a really easy baby and that I didn't even really cry for them to feed me a lot of the time. I remember being relatively quiet as a toddler because I was usually just "doing my own thing". I did have full on meltdowns and still do sometimes, but shutdowns are what happen when I'm overwhelmed most of the time. I actually get really annoyed when people insist on making me talk to them, not because I'm trying to be rude but I just don't feel like talking/responding and it's hard to speak sometimes.
     
    • Agree Agree x 3
    • Like Like x 1
  15. Progster

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

    Messages:
    6,417
    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2014
    Karma:
    +14,067
    I had meltdowns as a child, but as a young adult these happened more rarely and I internalised a lot more. Stress manifested itself in other ways, through rules and rigidity concerning food and other aspects of my life, I suppose, in an attempt to feel that I'm in control in some way.
     
    • Like Like x 2
    • Agree Agree x 1
  16. Aspychata

    Aspychata Serenity waves, beachy vibes

    Messages:
    4,899
    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2019
    Karma:
    +9,126
    Now a blip is a anxiety haze. So l am working on this. Getting better at the full Tsunami wave that leaves me submerged up to my eyeballs. Meltdown is anxiety and dealing with these feelings quickly. If l ruminate then l need to meditate and maybe sit in soft lights or better, sit in darkness completely alone. My sense of self slowly comes back. But don't ignore, definitely address those feelings.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Like Like x 1
  17. Sarah S

    Sarah S Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,340
    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2018
    Karma:
    +1,734
    In my case i have had space outs from early childhood and still do ( but WAY less this days ) My space out and well according to my dad who one day came in my room (i was 15 ) and he saw me sitting in my couch and staring out in the blind space with my eyes blank like in some trans .

    As for the shutdowns OH yes when things gets to much all at once my brain just go blanc .

    Reg the tantrums screaming and throwing things arond. You sounds to me you MIGHT actually also have ADHD ( which is actually the case of up to if rember right 30 - 80 % of us with ASD , as its nowadays the norm that if you have either ADHD or ASD you most likely also have the other. = the norm is Minimum 2 NP diagnosis )
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2021
    • Like Like x 2
  18. LibraryLover

    LibraryLover New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2021
    Karma:
    +5
    Wow, it’s really so nice to read all your posts; I can relate to so many of the stories.

    I’m 45 and only recently diagnosed; I believe my late diagnosis has a LOT to do with my quietness. While I can be quite verbose with old friends and people I’m comfortable with, my general way of being is to be silent.

    I’m told that I too was a very quiet baby and that my parents found it delightful that they could eat at nice restaurants when I was a baby because I never made a sound (my poor baby brain must have been stunned into silence with all the bustle and noise).

    When I was five, I broke my arm by falling off my bed (don’t jump on your bed, kids); my mom came in after the fall and I was totally silent. I remember sitting against the wall holding my arm and just “being in my brain,” not saying a word. She had no idea I was hurt until she took off my shirt to put me in a warm bath to sooth me and saw that my arm was bent the wrong way above my elbow.

    I don’t know if I’ve ever had an externalized meltdown. I do feel similar emotions to those expressed in meltdowns, but it all happens quietly (to everyone else but me) in my brain.

    Silence feels more a part of who I am than a response to anything.

    Today, I tick off most all the boxes indicating I’m a well-adjusted successful adult; yet, inside everything feels absolutely chaotic and I’m so darn exhausted from keeping it all together silently.

    (Yikes, I too apologize for the long post!)
     
    • Like Like x 3
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  19. Aspychata

    Aspychata Serenity waves, beachy vibes

    Messages:
    4,899
    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2019
    Karma:
    +9,126
    I get perturbed alot. From pushy people telling me what to do. l just don't need a busy body at this age. l do walk away upset and l refuse to associate much with that person. Have one person who is from Miami who is bossy. But she does an excellent job of hiding it. l want to meltdown when she is telling me what to do but l think now she keeps a distance. l wouldn't drive her to xmas party after she lied about me.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  20. AprilR

    AprilR Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    281
    Joined:
    May 11, 2020
    Karma:
    +435
    I was also very quiet as a child, but like a lot of people said: ıt was my way of dealing with stress and being overwhelmed.

    I remember being almost paralyzed on the first day of primary school, so many screaming and crying kids. They were so expressive and brave to my eye.
    I was never able to join games where children wrestled each other, ran after each other either. I liked to be as quiet and inactive as possible and hid in bathrooms during breaks.

    I don't know if it counts as meltdown but i remember yelling and screaming at my grandfather after i come home from school though. I am not sure if it was because of being a bad mannered person or a meltdown though. I feel so sorry for my grandfather.
     
    • Friendly Friendly x 2