Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Meltdown

I should have known it was coming. You could feel the tension in the air. It was inevitable that there would be an explosion of emotions. The night was far from great. In fact, it was awful. And I wish I could have prevented it, but the meltdown occurred.

The meltdown was like so many in the past. There were tears. There was yelling. There was feelings of rage and anger. There was one difference. This time the meltdown was mine. I own this one.

The day wasn't particularly bad in anyway. Everything was running like a well oiled machine, until Jacob stepped in the door after baseball practice tonight at 6:45. Stepped isn't exactly the right word. More like ran in guns blazing. He was fired up and I didn't have any idea what was about to go down. I knew from his footsteps that he was upset.

"Mommy, I am not eating that goulash!" Well, that explained it. It was about dinner. Suddenly Jacob has became pickier than ever when it comes to food. I knew when making the goulash this afternoon that he wouldn't eat it, but figured he would eat some chicken nuggets or a sandwich instead.

"Jacob, you don't have to eat it. You can have nuggets or a ham sandwich."

"NO! I want macaroni and cheese!" he demanded yelling at me. "Make it now!"

Again I tried patiently to reason with him hoping to ward off any impending meltdown, but I could tell we were already beyond that. Jacob proceeded to pick up the goulash and tried to throw it in the garbage. At this point I had already had enough. I took the goulash from him, filled myself and the baby girl a plate, and sat down to eat determined to ignore him hoping it would fizzle out. My husband walked in from returning from practice, and he was immediately sucked into the drama. With Jacob there is no way not to get sucked in. He is relentless. My meal was far from pleasant as he continued to cry, yell and scream about the dinner choice. At one point he even tried to remove my plate from in front of me.

"She is only thinking of herself, you, and the baby sister and not me!" he told my husband.

I knew I was at a breaking point. I was trying to be apathetic about the situation, but like I said, it is about impossible not to get sucked in. Jacob is good at baiting you and reeling you in before you even realize it is happening. Jacob continued to rant and rage all the while the rest of us were attempting to eat our dinner. He went back and forth from tears to anger still demanding macaroni and cheese.

Just as each child with Asperger's is different, there meltdowns are different as well. Jacob's tend to go on and on for hours. When they are done you feel as if you have been beaten with a wet stick drained of any emotion. For Jacob they seem to come in waves. He will go for long periods of time with no meltdowns or fits of any kind, and then you would think World War 3 was going on with the way they happen so frequently. Typically his meltdowns go back and forth with anger and sadness where he is feeling sorry for himself. During those times he will sometimes reach out wanting to be held, but soon the anger will continue.  He is extremely impulsive and irrational during a meltdown. There is hitting and kicking. Many times we have to physically restrain him so he doesn't hurt us or himself. We try to get him to his room so his sister doesn't have to witness the meltdown, hoping some time alone will help him calm down. Most of the time that requires us sitting in his room with our backs against the door to prevent him from getting out. He's been known to try to run from the house to which we have had to put chain locks on all of our doors. The entire time during the meltdown he is talking nonstop arguing his point better than any defense attorney in the state. And don't even think about trying to get your own words in. There is no hearing or listening during this time. Just a never ending looping conversation that eventually makes your head start to spin. Afterwards comes the remorse and the promises of never doing it again.

Usually when Jacob is having an episode, I hold it together for the most part. My husband and I typically take turns dealing with it, trying to give the other some relief. Tonight I just had enough. When he started going on and on about how I was the meanest mommy in the world, I just couldn't sit and listen anymore. I apologized to my husband and went to my room to have my own meltdown. I laid in bed crying listening to the rain hit the windows. Yes, it was my pity party. As I laid there I envisioned other families enjoying dinner together talking about the days events. I pictured them afterwards playing a game, or sitting on the couch with a bowl of popcorn watching a movie as they laughed together. And then as the night wore down they snuggled in bed reading their favorite books before soundly drifting off to bed.

Don't get me wrong. We have those moments, too. And I know not everyone's life is full of roses. And of course every child has their days regardless of Aspergers. But we have many of those days. Tonight was my pity party, and I will move on. As strong as I try to be, sometimes it just becomes too much to bear and I break.

As I laid in bed crying, I heard the bedroom door open. I wasn't surprised to see Jacob standing there. "I'm sorry I hurt your feelings, Mommy." Usually when he begins to be remorseful, the meltdown is close to ending. I pulled myself together and went out to help him find some dinner. At this point the clock said 7:45. Had it really only been an hour? It felt like an eternity.

I am guessing his meltdown had little to do with the goulash. I am guessing there is something deeper bothering my son that has yet to surface. He is so on edge and it doesn't take much to set him off these days. But I'll continue to ride the waves of his meltdowns and I know at some point the sea will calm down again, if only for a while.


  1. We all have days like this one. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I know exactly what you are experiencing, we have struggled for 2 years with meltdowns, they are emotionally exhausting and can be triggered by the least little thing. Until you experience them no other parent can truly understand how hard they are to deal with, especially when they are happening on a daily basis.