Updated: Nov 16, 2019
Read At Your Own Risk, While I live it at mine.
To explain a meltdown. From my perspective. Writing this, on the brink.
But controlling. Seeing.
It’s best summarised like being thrown into a swimming pool of boiling water. The panic. The seeking of any way out, clutching at the water burning to pull yourself out but fail. Worse still, not knowing the cause, but also knowing the cause clearly, but never able to leave the cause of it. Being trapped in the situation. Full of panic. As my therapist saw from my note in one of my worst meltdowns, a desperation, rage, anger at myself and all others.
A rage that no one will ever know, enough to end all life on this world to show people my daily pain. I can describe the rage and pain in one sentence but that’s not for here, it’s one I don’t want to accept is true of me during a meltdown, a time when I in body and mind are alien to who I am. This itself brings pain, pain from being, being in the moment trapped in a body and mind of one not my own.
“Demons” is the word that has described the worst parts of panic, rage, anger and sadness for many years now.
The aspects I always hide for others’ benefit. But it’s getting harder and harder. The need to release. Hence all the scars. A rage. A hurt. The last time, having to clear the mess off my walls, because of the blind panic, fear, overthinking and with nothing and everything on the mind.
You don’t understand a meltdown. Not unless you’ve been thrown into a pool of boiling water. I cannot describe. But my brain does so much as a first priority to hide it from others, even if hiding it fuels greater panic until I’m alone and it is all unleashed.
Imagine spending 40 hours self harming, the blind panicked state you must be in, where nothing helps, everything you know and are, are gone in a flash. You’re left without anything, any identity, coping mechanism, any motivation or even bodily needs. Just the mere totality of blind panic and fear of your own panicked state.
It’s something I’d never wish on anyone, no matter the crimes committed. I wouldn’t wish this state on another living being. It isn’t living, it’s blind panic. Where nothing helps. I wrote a note during one of these meltdowns to my therapist as a part of my homework to explain the thought processes. Even she was shocked, considering self-harm a necessary but hopefully temporary coping mechanism to deal with these.
Nothing helps in these states once they’ve started. Nothing. If you haven’t stopped it before, you just have to ride them out. Ride them out and hope the collateral damage isn’t too great that you can pick up the pieces that remain. But in the state you don’t even care to look that far ahead.
I’d rather lose everything than go through it again, but nothing works.
It’s like watching someone burn alive without you or them having an ability to stop it. You just watch it, feel it, and hope it ends and leaves a part of you left to pick up after.
Imagine a week later being tired, being low, still “hungover” from the meltdown. Pained and empty, wishing for anything but feeling. Anything to take all the feeling away. Alcohol, drugs, anything. Distraction of all sorts and everything. Even going to sketchy locations in order to put yourself in potential harm’s way, to feel the fear, a fear that isn’t the meltdown to be freed for a split second.
It turns you into someone you don’t recognise and you do not want to.
The only thing of me that continues is empathy. For others. Imagine years ago, a ‘friend’ forcing you to stay in a seminar room, stopping you leaving till you stop trying yourself, yelling abuse, torture, and you leave when you’re “allowed” as you care about how they feel. What they have to say. You sit on a bench in the dark. And smoke over 80 cigarettes in a few hours, anything to escape, your lungs burn and throat aches for weeks.
Imagine at the age of 7 when you’re alone in the house smashing your head against a wall until you bleed.
Imagine at the age of 5 biting your hands so hard until you bleed.
All, protecting others from your state, suffering alone. Being alone. Pretending you’re fine, until you’re alone.
Imagine every thought on the bus on the way home, how and every way you can hurt yourself to distract yourself from the pain in your mind.
It’s an altered state of mind in panic. Thinking electrocution, cutting, pain, suffocation, starvation, mental torture. Calculating everything, to cause pain, a distraction.
It’s a state of mind you hate, fear, and you don’t recognise but know very well. But all you can think of first is hiding it, pretending okay until alone and you can panic.
It’s worse than anything imaginable, unfortunately it’s more than imaginable. It’s lived and it’s all and it’s fear in totality. Panic. But all you can do is hide it, convincingly as the mind prioritises that at most.
It can change your mood, from the happiest you’ve ever been to the total antithesis. A change that cannot be imagined. One I cannot wrap my head around.
Fear, heart racing, breathing heavy, mind racing, hands shaking.
You can have all the coping mechanisms in the world and they all mean nothing in the split second of the meltdown. Can last weeks. And that’s before it subsides and the hangover begins. The thinking, fearing and not recognising the state that just passed. Left empty as all emotion was felt in that time. Apart from the fear that continues. The recognition that, your mind was not your own, it was panic. And it was not control of its actions or thoughts. It was totally running amok on its own. All against the self, in fear, trying to escape, yet also trapping itself.
But the thoughts are coherent, my note to my therapist was “eloquent”, even writing my blood was the paint and my arm the canvas. I couldn’t even bring myself to read the note since it was written, it would bring me back there, would remind me, and also show who I wasn’t. Even asked my therapist to take the note, discard it or whatever. I couldn’t take it back.
It’s a state of mind you cannot access, cannot remember, cannot describe unless you’re in the thick of it. It’s one you can never describe no matter how you try, and one you’d never want to.
After you can remember the ‘what’ but never the ‘how’.
My best friend who we chatted everyday, the closest family I had left after seeing a small glimpse of how bad these get. And I honestly don’t even blame her. She’s used to meltdowns from others, but the smallest glimpse of the “calm” aftermath of mine were too much. And she doesn’t have to live it. To put it into perspective. The only person I felt comfortable and trusted to see the smallest glimpse and in the end what happened was what I expected, I thought at least with her it was the best chance to be “honest” and it failed. And anyone wonders why hiding these meltdowns is such a quite frankly subconscious priority that I cannot even consciously control, like I cannot control the meltdown itself.
Even in the middle of it. If someone messages I reply like everything’s okay if I even reply at all. And empathy is still a priority for me, if someone was to message in a bad state my brain would pretend okay to help them and as we finish the call then the meltdown would continue.
If you see the scars then they're out of my mind, they're lessened, they end at the moment the meltdown ends. If you don't the scars are internalised, they're repeated every waking moment, every time my brain is active. Yet some may say I'm being 'spared'. How I see it, you're being spared while I'm embracing torture for others' 'benefit'.
I care about people too much to ever show this side, I’ve subconsciously trained myself to hide it at all costs. When you notice something’s wrong, something’s not wrong but because you notice it means I’m so exhausted of hiding it that I cannot anymore. It means it’s far worse than you can see. It’s been whittling me down for a very long time to get to a state my being unable to manage to find the energy to hide it.
I care about others to let my pain spill out so I attack inwards, you can’t control the explosion but can redirect it.
Some of you may not believe me when I say it’s out of my control. I do not fucking care. It isn’t controllable, I know things that help to prevent or lessen it, but when it’s started in full all I can do is ride it out and hope the outcome isn’t too bad.
The one thing that helps to “stop” it? Care, understanding, in one word, my word, my life, all I hold dear to show the world and always have, what quite frankly I don’t see as often as I offer, largely because I hide to protect others. Empathy.