I'm currently in the middle of what's called an autistic meltdown. I can't stop crying, I can't stop shaking. I experienced a sustained trigger while working through some stuff, and I got completely emotionally overwhelmed.

I'm going to be in a bad place for the next day or two.
Meltdowns happen when our nervous system is overwhelmed with stimulus. It's not a tantrum, which generally stops when the audience disappears. It's not manipulation. I can't control it. I can breathe through it to try to ride it out.
"Stimulus" in this case means I am emotionally overwhelmed after a particularly difficult therapy session. I had too many feelings all at once, wanted to say too many things, and I ended up unable to say any of them.
But stimulus can also be sensory - lights too bright, sounds too loud, unpleasant textures, etc. Stimulus can be cognitive, trying to reconcile ideas that won't fit together.

It's rarely any one thing, a meltdown is often brought on by having too many stimuli at once.
I'm slowly writing this thread to ground myself, to remind myself who I am and what's going on, and also to turn this awful moment into a teachable moment. I'm eloquent and charismatic and smart and fun -- and also, I have meltdowns.
Very little in my life is more embarrassing than being unable to get in front of my emotions. I'm so emotional right now there's a high risk I'd say something I don't mean out of frustration. That means that on top of this profoundly alienating experience I also have to isolate.
Historically, one of the best ways for me to get out of this state is to smoke some marijuana. I knew today's therapy would be hard, so despite my current sobriety I made sure to get some weed to have on hand just in case. I'm not sure if I'm going to smoke it.
Meltdowns will go until they run their course. As I write this thread I can feel myself slowly grounding. There will come a moment soon where I breathe in without sobbing -- here it is. And I can start breathing more normally. Slowly, this subsides.
I want you to know that it took me a really long time, as an adult, to learn that I'm responsible for containing myself when I'm melting down. That this isolation is necessary even if it's not fair, because this is something that I can't put on anyone else.
It's been about 20 minutes since this started, and I'm finally feeling myself enter the next phase. My whole body feels exhausted from clenching. I'm sleepy. I feel, on some profoundly deep level, like I'm not okay and can't be okay. This is fine, it will pass.
For the rest of today, and tomorrow, I'm going to be highly sensitive. Stimuli that I would normally be able to ignore or brush off may be enough to send me back into meltdown; on no level do I feel somatically safe, I'm low-key panicking.
I want to share this with you because this is #AutismAcceptanceMonth and it's not all rainbows and butterflies. There are terrible traumatic parts of the autistic experience, and I know my #actuallyAutistic community knows how I feel right now. I'm not alone, even if I feel so.
That's it, that's the thread. No happy endings. I'm going to be crying for a while. I may smoke a bowl and break the past three weeks of sobriety, and if I do that I'm not going to feel bad about it this is medicine that helps me even if I have a complex relationship to it.
A thing to remind myself: two years ago I was literally having multiple meltdowns a day, every day. I never got to the place where I wasn't either melting down or recovering from meltdown. That was horrible. This? This is a really painful excerpt from a much better life.
Thanks for the love, everyone. I smoked a bowl and ordered dinner and I'm feeling a lot better. I emailed my therapist to set up a session tomorrow afternoon to help me integrate some of what I was reacting to today.

"The only way out is through" is really a tattoo I should get.
By the way: I know this thread seemed calm and composed. It took me years to be able to compose my thoughts while melting down, but I could in no way have articulated any of this verbally while it was in process. I was a sobbing mess, a large scary bearded dude emotionally wild.

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More from @mykola

6 Apr
A thread summarizing the kinds of heartbreaking messages I've received from autistic young people, or young people wondering if they might be autistic. #autismAcceptanceMonth #AutisticPrideMonth
"I'm really sorry to bother you and this is probably nothing, just me looking for attention, but I made this *huge list of autistic traits I have* and showed it to my parents but they got really mad at me. Do... do you think maybe... I mean, actually, nevermind."
"I'm really sorry to bother you, and this is probably nothing, but I have almost no memory of my childhood other than I guess throwing a lot of tantrums. But I've recently learned about autistic meltdowns and I'm wondering if... well, probably this is just me making excuses, nm"
Read 6 tweets
6 Apr
I've been playing video games for almost four decades. Some of my earliest memories are pressing buttons on a keyboard and watching characters react on the screen. Video games have been there for me through every life crisis, every good time.

But lately they do nothing for me.
It's a really bad feeling to feel like you've outgrown your best hobby, favorite special interest, most soothing way to spend time.

I feel so agitated when I have some free time and sit down at my computer and just... don't... want to.
I keep buying new games thinking "maybe I just don't have any good games right now", spending 20 minutes playing through the tutorial or opening area and closing them forever.

I spend so much time just staring at steam, wishing I felt any of that joy that got me through so much.
Read 6 tweets
5 Apr
Suddenly want to start a giant charity called "Allism Speaks" where we offer incorrect advice for dealing with people with allism.

We can make the logo a squawking parrot, they should appreciate that because it captures the way their allism makes them talk too much, see?
We can help families afflicted by allism by teaching their allistic children to be more normal. We do this by withholding food until they demonstrate a normal amount of interest in normal things. "Normal" in this case of course means spending hours of uninterrupted time on it.
Yes, @SNeurotypicals has done a lot of the prior art in this area!

Read 4 tweets
5 Apr
One of my interests for a long time has been modernist literature. I studied English as one of my majors in undergrad, and I wrote an honors thesis talking about Joyce, Woolf and Ford through an "alternative world theory" lens.
I should really dig up and re-read that thesis, because I had no idea at the time that I was neurodivergent but have since become convinced that all three of those writers in particular were autistic.
What I loved about the modernist period is that they were writing after the literal end of the world. The entire social order in europe collapsed in the early 20th century, up was down, left was right, peasants were leaders and emperors were over.
Read 7 tweets
5 Apr
Things people have said to me when I disclosed my autism that made me feel pretty shitty, an incomplete inventory:

#AutismAcceptanceMonth #AutisticPrideMonth
"You don't look autistic! I never would have guessed!"

This is the one I get most. I hate it, as do most autistic people. There is no "look". What this person is really saying, on some level, is "OOPS I thought you were people!" even if they don't realize it.
"I'm sorry"

Got this one from close family. Autism isn't a curse, you don't have to be sorry. If I'm disclosing to you it's because I trust you to understand that this is important to me. Please don't pity me, that's not the point - I LOVE my autism, I wouldn't be different.
Read 15 tweets
4 Apr
Just remembered how the guy who was best man at my wedding literally called me to have a friend breakup while I was trying to figure out how to come to terms with my autism and learning to unmask. Said he was happier without me in his life.

His loss, I’m awesome.
So many of these experiences across all kinds of relationships from personal to professional in my life.

Mostly when I was younger. This one hurt because it happened when I was older, post-masking not pre-masking.
I want to be clear I wasn’t blameless here - we’d had a number of increasingly intractable interactions on Facebook where I’m told by third parties I was less than gracious. I believe them.

Also I was trying not to die, and learning to set boundaries. It’s hard.
Read 9 tweets

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