I am having a meltdown.
I use to tell myself after reading the experiences of other people on the spectrum ‘Well, at least I don’t have meltdowns”. Then I remembered, there were times when I would be doing my computer programming and I would make a typo in my code, ruining hours of work. On these occasions, I would deliberately tense myself up as much as I can, with the intent to give myself an aneurysm or heart attack, just to escape from it all. Sometimes afterwards I would have to go lie down. Well, I guess I do have meltdowns.
I don’t do this anymore – how did I change this behavior? There are different angles in approaching this.
First – where does the distress come from – attachment. You see – I am not married and have no children, so I do not need a lot of money, just enough to get by. Working extra just to accumulate more money has no interest to me. If I had a family or dependents to support I would feel differently, but I don’t. What I want is free time. I would rather cultivate more free time than have more money. So when I screw up my computer program and have to do that work over again, I am loosing free time. I am attached to that desire, so I go bonkers. So the first step is to release your attachment. When you feel a meltdown coming on, examine what it is you feel that you are loosing that brings upon the distress. Remember one of the three marks of existence – all things are impermanent. Whatever is causing the distress will not last, it will eventually go away. So – do not become attached to whatever you feel you are loosing (in my case free time) and know the situation will not last (after I re-do my work I will have my free time).
But how do you deal with the meltdown when it is happening? This is where the mindfulness technique of going to the breath is helpful. When you feel that rush of voltage through your system, start counting your breaths, in – out, in – out, count, one, two, three, four. The more times you do this, new neural pathways are created in the brain, so with practice, when that voltage starts flooding your nervous system, it becomes easier to go to the breath, rather than, in my case – trying to give myself a heart attack or aneurysm.
Another mindful technique in these situations is to remember the duality of the mind. When we are engulfed in these experiences, go to the part of the mind that is the ‘observer’ of what is happening, rather than the part of the mind that is experiencing what is happening. Again, this becomes easier the more times you do it. I found Eckhart Tolle’s book ‘The Power of Now’ to be a very good guide in learning this technique.
Well – I hope some of you find this helpful, and I know every now and then it feels good to really let the fur fly – sometimes that’s when I feel alive.