Invisible No More

my love affair with words

Who I Am. Part 2: meltdowns

A meltdown is when the emotions inside me built up to a point that I can no longer control them.  It usually happens when I am frustrated, scared, angry or if I perceive a threat (a threat to me could be someone telling me I did something wrong). When this happens words fill my head: things I want to say (but can’t), things you’ve just said to me.  These words fill my head until I can’t think anymore and they finally break free as tears.

I have only had five or six public meltdowns as an adult (that I can remember).  Most times I can feel it coming and remove myself from the situation or I can talk myself down: “You’re not going to cry. You’re not going to cry. You’re not going to cry.” I repeat that mantra until I eventually calm down or sometimes cry.  It seems like working with difficult bosses or people makes me more vulnerable to melt downs.

Like the one I had in the Meijer backroom when I worked there.  They manager would not let me go home after I hurt my knee (on the job, no less).  I was so angry and frustrated that I ended up hiding in the racks of shoes in the back room crying until my friend found me and asked me what’s wrong.  Most times I can get to a bathroom or any other hidden place and have it privately, but sometimes I can’t get away and I panic and say crazy things or do crazy things just to get away.

Like the time at the bookstore when my friend got fired, but I was her ride.  The manager told me to drive her home and come back to work.  My friend getting fired started the melt down, but this time I could actually get my words out and I told him. “Here’s the thing, I’ll take her home, but I’m not coming back. I QUIT!” He was upset, but what could he do to stop me.   That is when I uttered the hilarious and now famous (in my little circle of friends) words: “And I’m taking my Kleenex with me!” my friend and I stormed out Kleenex box in hand.  I knew I would need those Kleenex on the way home.

Back then I didn’t know what a “meltdown” was.  I always just thought everyone had these little insane attacks of not knowing what to say and crying for no apparent reason.  I didn’t know crying in front of people wasn’t “normal”.  Thinking back now I wonder what people must think when that happens.  Do they go home and tell their spouses.  “Hey I made a girl cry at work today.” to which there spouse would say. “How nice” and they would continue eating their meal.

Another not-so-hilarious meltdown occurred when I worked at Borders. (not to be confused with the bookstore mentioned earlier) I was older and medicated when this meltdown happened.  I was working the Info desk, I took a call and the customer was frustrated with me because I couldn’t hear what she was saying.  She said “Are you stupid? I said…” and repeated what she said which I still didn’t understand. (My hearing difficulties are much worse on the phone…no lips to read) to which I replied.  “Please Hold” Put her on hold and picked up the radio mic clipped to my lanyard. I asked if someone could please take the call on line one because I couldn’t understand her and she was a bitch.  (I had never swore on the floor at work and I was always extremely courteous to all the customers, so hearing me say that on the floor must have been a red flag for my coworkers)   I ran to the break room and threw myself on the couch in tears.  A manager got me and took me in the office to help me calm down.  (God, just writing about these experiences are making me teary eyed.)  The thing that calmed me down the most that time was when my friend James knocked on the door bringing me a Coke, to help me calm down.  He didn’t know it, but when I drink (Coke, water, anything) it helps me push the tears back, plus I thought it was really sweet of him. J

My meltdowns most of the time only involve crying.  Although sometimes (not as much as they used to) they involve self injury.  (Self injury meaning cutting, punching or biting myself) Most of that self injury occurred because I felt I was too stupid or not good enough or to punish myself for some wrong that mostly likely no one noticed anyway or because I was just plain angry. (That also leads to another long story about my self-injury or “cutting” problem which is a topic for another time. Don’t worry I haven’t cut myself in over 10 years)   I don’t know how to express anger.  I’m supposed to be working on that.  L  Although I do have my poetry and my journal entries, some of these are very anger-filled

 

The Hulk

 

There are walls

of silence that

surround me

that hold me

back

separate, apart

from my

future

walls of silence

that I cannot endure

walls of silence

that are

torturous

and too difficult

to bear

but I cannot

speak

the words

are choked

back in anger

shoved down

my throat

by silence

leaving my

soul raw

and

angry

a storehouse

of rage

lays there

deep inside

deep within

this

skin

a store-

house

of rage

that is

filling

fast

and when

it fills

and explodes

no one will

be safe

from my

wrath

for I am

like you

a beast

an animal

that cannot

control

my rage

I cannot

pull it

back

once it is

released

and like

the

Incredible

Hulk

you must

believe

me

when I say

don’t make me angry.
you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”

.

                                                12/11/98

                                            ©Patti Keno

 

 

The quote was from The Incredible Hulk TV series which was my favorite show growing up until Quantum Leap came out then I was a Leap girl, but I NEVER lost my love for Bill Bixby & Lou Ferrigno, even though Lou made me cry at a Comic Con. (He told me it cost money to have my picture taken with him after I just spent all the money I had on an autographed head shot of him.)  Luckily my brother was there to talk me down from that meltdown. See that is what I mean something that little and insignificant sent me into a vortex of emotions.  I was angry; I was sad; I was disappointed; but because I don’t know how to express those emotions they just came out in tears. I have seen the Hulk inside of me though, she’s been out once or twice and she’s not pretty.

Another thing that causes meltdowns in me is routines and schedules.  I need to know what I’m doing every day before I do it.  I need a clear plan; a schedule for the day’s events and deviating from that schedule could be catastrophic. If you tell me we’re going to Applebee’s and then at the last minute decide to go somewhere else.  I ‘freak out’ (mostly I’ve learned to internalize the freak out which is probably not good, but at least I don’t get embarrassed for melting down in front of people) I’ve also learned over the years to have a contingency plan for restaurants.  I plan what I’m going to eat at each one that we could possibly go to that way it won’t be as bad if plans change.  Just watch out if God forbid the restaurant we finally decide to go to stops carrying my go-to-meal, it’s more devastating to me when that happens and therefore harder to control my melt down.

Another example of routine breaking caused meltdowns…. I had a boyfriend once who would constantly make plans with me and then not show up. Normally people would think how rude and feel slighted.  Not me I would be constantly peeking out the window “Is that him?  Is he here finally?” As the day progressed with no word I would get sadder and sadder until I finally broke down in tears.  I was sure that his not showing up meant it was over between us and he no longer wanted to be my boyfriend.  I wrote a poem about that. (I write poems about everything can you tell?)

.

Promises

 

desperate and aching

waiting and waiting

on tiptoes

I stare out

through the window

in the door

and wait

and watch

and hope

to see you there

.

desperate and aching

waiting and waiting

pacing the floor

wanting

waiting

you said

you’d be here

.

desperate and aching

waiting and waiting

I say my goodbyes

and fly into

my room

fall into my bed

and cover up my head

desperate and aching

waiting and waiting

waiting and waiting

waiting and waiting

crying and sobbing

stood up again

.

4/10/15

                                                                                              ©Patti Keno

 

Well that’s it for now stay tuned for the next installment of Who I Am coming soon.  In the meantime check out my books at

http://www.amazon.com/Patti-Keno/e/B00UB8EJJ4/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1441147153&sr=8-1

 
Don’t forget to read Who I Am part one…
https://pattikeno.wordpress.com/2015/07/17/who-i-am-part-1/?preview=true
©Patti Keno

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Who I am. part 1

I have something different about me, but my difference is invisible.  You wouldn’t see it unless you know why I’m pulling my wrists or biting my fingers (Actually I’m pulling my jaw, but to you it probably looks like I’m biting all my fingers at once).

Wait, let me start this off by saying I have never been diagnosed with Asperger’s or any other Autism related disorder.  In fact when I brought it up with my (ex)therapist.  He laughed (at me? or because he doesn’t believe in Autism?) and basically guaranteed that I did not have Asperger’s, but what that man didn’t understand is I’ve had 39 years to learn to adapt to this world and hide my tics, my meltdowns, my obsessions and other quirks.

My nephew was diagnosed as PDD-NOS, but at first we thought it was Asperger’s and the more we researched Asperger’s syndrome the more I recognized the traits in myself, I saw in myself so many traits of an Aspie.  With this blog, I’m not trying to convince anyone that I have this condition, because honestly I don’t know if I do or not.  What I hope to accomplish is to give you a glimpse into the mind of someone who may (or may not) have Asperger’s Syndrome.

I was taught when I was very young that I needed to look people in their eyes when I talk to them.  I remember very specifically my mom sitting me on her lap and telling me to look her in the eyes.  (Of course she was trying to catch me in a lie at the time.  I frequently took the fall for my Brother and Sister when I was little.  They would pay me for it. “I’ll give you a dollar if you say you did it.”) I learned from that experience what was expected when talking to someone.

Most of the time I try to stare at people’s mouths, my sensory processing disorder (also never been diagnosed) makes it hard for me to understand what people are saying.  One of my friends explained it as I hear what people say then I have to translate it into Patti Language before I can understand it. Sometimes I have to repeat the sounds I heard in my head a dozen or so times before it gets translated. So if I look lost or bored I’m probably just lost in translation. 🙂   Reading peoples lips helps, plus it’s a good way to avoid eye contact in a somewhat socially acceptable way.  Once I was at a Halloween party and I wasn’t wearing my glasses and I realized I couldn’t hear what people across the room were saying to me when I put my glasses back on I heard them better.  That is when I realized I subconsciously read people’s lips.

Accents are very hard for me to process, two examples:  I was visiting Tennessee with my Aunt, Uncle and 2 cousins.  I had painted my nails purple awhile before the trip so as always (it seems) my polish was chipped and only on the bottom of my fingernails.  A woman looked at it and said “Did you mash your thumb?” with a very heavy southern accent.  I literally was at a loss.  I had no idea what the woman asked me, but she was waiting for an answer I just stood there staring at her until my uncle translated, “She wants to know if you hurt your thumb.” I just said “nail polish” and wiggled my fingers at her.  I was so embarrassed that I could not figure out what she said it just sounded like DIDYAMASHYATHUMB.

The other incident is somewhat funnier; mom and I laugh about it a lot.  My pediatrician was a lovely Thai woman (she actually saved my life when I was 3, but that’s a story for another time) who at the time had a pretty heavy accent, but I was used it because I knew her and most times I could understand her. This time was different; she used a word that I didn’t quite know yet.  She said “I need to get a urine specimen.”  I’d probably heard the words urine and specimen before, but it wasn’t something used in everyday conversation. So I said “What?” and she said “I need to get a urine specimen,” so I said “What?” and she repeated it. It probably happened 5 times before my mom finally yelled “GO PEE IN A CUP!” That was much less embarrassing than the DIDYAMASHYATHUMB incident, because we were all laughing about it. Now, I think of that every time I have to give a urine sample.

DIDYAMASHYATHUMB. If you look at that word and have trouble finding where all the spaces go, that’s how I hear.  I have to match word sounds with words I’ve heard before.  If I’m bored or tired I just nod and smile, sometimes it’s just too hard to translate what people say to me, sometimes it’s just not ever worth the effort.

If you’ve ever seen me singing along with the songs on the radio, I don’t actually sing the words (unless I know the song really well) I just sing the sounds. For example in Portishead’s Roads she sings “from this moment, how can it feel this” I know those words so I sing them, but until I wrote this blog I never knew that the next word is “wrong” I always just made the sound RA.  LOL How can it feel this RA.

Because I don’t always sing actual words I frequently sing instrumental solos too especially guitar solos.  My friend Carrie always gets a kick out of that.

 

stay tuned for part 2.

You can purchase my novel A Murder of One at:

http://www.amazon.com/Murder-One-Patti-Keno/dp/0692388338/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1437168287&sr=8-1&keywords=patti+Keno

AMOO_lg

and Stay tuned for my latest novel Shattered Souls coming soon!!!

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