Anatomy of an Autistic (II/V)

Anatomy Of A Meltdown

My brain likes to alternate between being made of swiss cheese (full of holes to fall in and through and down) and wax (for optimal melting). I have meltdowns a lot, in part because I use the term “melting” very broadly. Meltdowns, moments in which one’s brain melts, are a physical thing, though they look different moment-to-moment and person-to-person. But they all start out the same, with that pressure behind the skull and the feeling of your thoughts evaporating, your language freezing, your body retracting inward. It’s called shutdown, meltdown, violent meltdown, tantrum, outburst, dissociation, a million different things, but they all refer to the moment wherein your body or your brain, independent of your vote, decides that it simply cannot and will not continue to function in this charade that wasn’t really working anyways and…


Maybe you don’t bang your head, scream, throw things, leave. Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I incur brain damage. Sometimes I just sit frozen for an hour.

Passing tends to come to a halt when this happens.

Meltdowns are of course a bit more complicated than all of this. What they are, to me, is a descent. A black hole opens up and draws you in, in, in. It’s empty and silent and ringing with screams and your intestines get itchy and try to crawl up out your throat, or maybe that is just the pressure everywhere building, building until it explodes out or locks you down.

The worst part about any of it, for me, is the silence.

The complete and utter silence. Silence so deep it fills up your ears. Silence like a scream.

And what’s worse is that, when I’m melting, as I enter or exit, I am silent too.

It’s why I type so frenetically. Why I get so upset when the words don’t mesh just right, or when they build up and won’t come out. That silence is to be avoided at all costs. When I’m silent, when I have no voice, I might as well not exist. I don’t, really. I’m not properly a person. I must speak, type, make my voice project over their heads and into someone’s ears.

Julia Bascom blogs at Just Stimming.

Anatomy Of An Autistic appears here, in five parts, by permission.

[image via Flickr/Creative Commons]

on 12/27/11 in Autism, featured | 2 Comments | Read More

Comments (2)


  1. Freya Maberly says:

    I hear you. And i’ll keep listening.

  2. Amy says:

    That sounds like a seizure, not a “tantrum”….

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