I didn’t think I needed more evidence to but I guess at some point I’ll be grateful for that confirmation.
I’m still just a self-diagnosed autistic. I don’t have that official “label” and may not ever get it but what happened yesterday (it’s now past midnight) has removed the last sections of doubt. A few small sections remain but even with an official diagnosis I’ll probably still have moments of doubt.
It began when the place I was going to get supper at had closed the location I had come to. I should have checked but I had no reason to suspect anything had changed. I was forced to go to an alternate store. Though I had been in there before tonight felt wrong. I wasn’t anxious but I felt like I wanted to be anywhere else. I pushed on and after having the screen ask multiple times if I needed more time I had chosen my sandwich. Just as is was finished something started beeping and it took way more than I expected to calmly walk to the checkout and leave.
In the car, I sat there and started shaking a bit. I didn’t understand: I wasn’t cold or afraid yet I tried to hug myself and close by eyes for a few minutes before pulling myself together and heading to the church for the service. Had I recognized what was going on, I would have most likely gone home instead of heading to the church.
Once I arrived at the church, I thought whatever was going on had mostly passed. In retrospect, it was probably the controlled, safe, environment that existed in the solitude of the drive over (including the Christian death metal playing).
I’ve occasionally, had moments recently where I’ve questioned this self diagnosis. Maybe, even though it made perfect sense, I was wrong with this understanding that I was autistic. I had not experienced the type of meltdown of unexplainable crying, difficulty speaking, and with near total exhaustion following.
Initially, things seemed fine once the worship service began. The lighting wasn’t bad and there wasn’t any auditory issues that I recall. Yet, it wasn’t too long before I could feel the pain in my sinuses and eyes. I put on my sunglasses and hoped that this would be the end, and beforehand it had been. That night, it didn’t end. I could feel the tears coming, and the first echoes of discomfort became more evident. I remained standing for a bit but once I sat down, I could not stand up, the energy wasn’t there. I wanted to curl up, to compress myself, to, well, honestly, I don’t know what I wanted at that point. I was squeezing my arms, pressing my fingers against myself, trying to understand what was going on and what could make it stop. Thankfully, my wife was there and it seems like it was constant contact with her, that steady, gentle pressure, which seemed to start slowing this descent and bringing calm.
Though it wasn’t long in reality, hours felt like they passed. We met some friends from our church there and I felt like my interactions were typical. A part of me still was insisting on finding some place of quiet but it wasn’t overwhelming the rest of me.
We left and I did try to explain what I was feeling and what happened at that point but I was still rather unsure. I still am for that matter. I am certain it was a meltdown but as this was a new experience, I have nothing to connect it with. I’ve had the “angry” meltdowns before but never this.
The next two days gave me ample evidence that what I experienced was indeed a meltdown. I completed much of what I expected to but it felt like the mental cost was higher and even physically I didn’t feel like I was my usual self. Perhaps, I should have done nothing Saturday or Sunday but I prefer to be in motion and keep my mind from focusing on what I should be doing.
As I finish this, I’m left with two thoughts. First, I can no longer deny the self diagnosis of being autistic. Second, I have to assume this will happen again and I have to do as much as I can to be prepared when it does.