My “Neurotypical” Meltdown and Why I am Grateful for Autism
(This week I was “tagged” in a Facebook “tagging challenge” to post three positive things every day on Facebook for a week. This is my response.)
Yesterday I had a straight-up-meltdown.
Yesterday, was tough on me. Sometimes, I just break, shattering like a delicately blown glass ball that the gaffer has placed just placed slightly under too much pressure. Consequently, I missed the 3 daily positives that my friend Lisa had assigned to me. So here are my three positives for yesterday: they just might surprise you.
Positive #1: Sometimes blown glass shatters into a million pieces.
Typically it’s not a major thing — but rather an accumulation of stressors that overwhelm the fragile, molten and irritable medium. Yesterday it was not a major, life-altering event, but rather a “Murphy’s law” attempt at a cat scan angiogram of my abdomen. After drinking almost a gallon of “Instant-Puke-Barrium”; what followed was 18 failed IV sticks, and a contrast-infiltrated IV. After 4 hours of trying to complete the imaging study, we were unsuccessful at getting the images my physicians needed. So that means I have to go back and do it all over again. Soon. I left with contrast infiltrated into my forearm (which burns), 18 bruises, and 12 hours of nausea.
This is not an unusual occurrence for a chronically ill person. Veins stink, and when you are sick, they go away. This same situation happens every day, in hospitals all across the country, to people everywhere. But for me, it was the proverbial straw that broke the camels’ back.
I fell completely apart.
What happens when glass shatters under heat? A couple of things. During the explosion, the light fractures and a million tiny rainbows escape. Things that need to be said often get said. In yesterday’s case, that meant me putting my foot down with my healthcare professionals. As a disabled RN (they know this) I am over-focused and motivated to be liked, sweet and kind to them. But I realized yesterday that it doesn’t really matter, does it? If a person is torturing you, even if it is their job, it’s not necessary they like you. You cannot be both your own advocate AND nice, sometimes.
When the glass explodes, a mess is made, but it is only temporary, and the resulting pieces are beautiful in their own way. In fact, these broken pieces are often rearranged into other pieces. Their unique shapes allow a unique prism for light, love, and time to pass through. There will never be another piece like it.
Despite the devastation, it is beautiful.
Positive #2: Finding my voice.
I’m grateful for finding my voice yesterday. It was HARD for me to say, “You know what? I am done.” It was, in a way, very good for me to have to say that. In a time where I am constantly studying, learning, and discovering the world of autism, I have developed a deeply profound appreciation for our voices.
Yesterday reminded me that you don’t necessarily have to have an autism diagnosis in order to lose your voice — sometimes, our own limitations in our cognitive resources are limited and our voice is silenced by our own intentions. I am grateful for everything autism is teaching me about myself, and even more for everything that autism is teaching me about my son. The more I learn, the more I collaborate with autistic individuals around the world, the more I realize that while we are all very different, in more ways, we are all the same.
Sometimes, you gotta have a meltdown in the middle of a hospital, which — is pretty much what happened yesterday. And I am grateful for it.
So in a way, I’m saying I am thankful for meltdowns (said no autism parent, ever, before this moment!).
Positive # 3: Advocacy.
Typically, when it comes to my medical care, Brutus is my advocate. Today I am grateful for his constant advocacy of me over the past four years. Yesterday was a bit of an eye opener as to how much effort it really takes, and how important it is, to have an advocate. I am so grateful to him, and all the advocates out there, on this day. As an advocate, you speak the words that are hard to say and become the voice of the person you are helping. This is a fragile, delicate, precious process that requires you to be fair, objective, calm, cool, and collected. It is a delicate balancing act as you try to separate yourself from the situation, while still placing enough of yourself into the equation to be effective. You have to be that person’s voice without changing their message, which is subconsciously challenging because at our core we are biased in one way or the other.
Overall, today, I am grateful for autism and all it’s taught me.
I am grateful for the outpouring of friends that supported me yesterday and listened to my barely-coherent-babbling as I completely fell apart.
And thank you for being there for me, as you always have been.
I LOVE YOU ALL.