So after having a particularly bad rage day, complete with a meltdown, my friend Jason decided to ask me about it. I found the conversation good to have, and maybe a good run down for anyone who doesn’t experience these horrible emotional occurrences. What follows is the log of the conversation, in case anyone is interested.
Jason: As a person that doesn’t crazy rage. Is it something you are aware of or is it more like a panic attack? It just picks you up and dumps you somewhere else?
Me: Ummm…. I’m not aware of it when it’s happening. I feel.. Simultaneously in control, and not in control. I feel like the rage is valid, but if I try to back off or drop the argument it just sort of goes crazy, like it did today.
Jason: Like you are sort of aware but you don’t really have control… So there is no “I’m just raging” moment until it’s completely over?
Me: Sort of. I could start off as reasonably angry at a thing that’s worth getting angry at, but the moment I try to turn my attention away from it, my emotions and self-control go completely out of whack and start clinging to anything that requires processing, and my rage transfers there.
And because the rage doesn’t make sense, especially if it’s at a person, any kind of attempt to reason with me just makes me worse and tends to trigger other emotions like panic or intense sadness and then it becomes a meltdown and won’t stop until I self harm, sleep, or Liam sings to me. Which doesn’t happen anymore. So today I fell asleep.
Jason: Can you sit with the feelings with out focusing on the thing?
Me: No. Noooo.
It’s a really uncontrollable experience. I have no control over what I’m doing. Even if I realise I’m raging, I literally can’t stop. I can’t go sit somewhere quietly or I’ll have a sort of really angry panic attack where I feel like I’m going to literally claw myself to shreds.
Jason: Maybe channeling? Like punching bag?
Me: I get urges to tear off my flesh with my nails.
Jason: Ok that’s a little like channeling. Just not positive.
Me: I haven’t tried a punching bag, but walking helps sometimes. I walk around in circles for hours. I used to scare Liam because I’d just get up and leave the house and walk to the park or the beach or Lyn’s place.
Jason: Those are good things
Me: Rages and meltdowns are probably where I look the craziest to other people.
Jason: Yeah, because they’re terrifying. Lucky they can’t see what’s actually happening in your head.
Me: Eh… Maybe if they could they would see I’m no actual threat.
Or would understand.
To them it just looks like I suddenly turn on angry bitch mode and tear them a new one for no reason.
Jason: People have trouble processing stuff. Very few even attempt to do it. No warning? For these rages?
Me: No warning at all. It just happens.
Me: With meltdowns there’s a warning, because that feels like reaching a limit. It can happen really fast, but I show signs of stress and upset before having a meltdown. Rages just turn on like a switch.
Jason: What about general frequency?
Me: Depends. Sometimes I can go months without either. Sometimes they happen less than an hour apart.
Jason: Are you angry first? Or could you be happy patting Hannibal…?
Me: Sometimes. Usually. Usually rages are just anger that lost its anchor. Sometimes they’re a trigger I don’t know about, or a random thought I don’t notice. They’re definitely triggered when I’m trying to talk to someone and my processing gets all mixed up and I can’t think straight. It’s like an immediate reaction to things being out of place, like my brain has glitched and self control fell through the floor.
Jason: Ah ok I get it now. It’s the anchor. Could you have a backup anchor?
Me: Not really. If I can, I don’t know how yet. I used to run anger past Liam or Lyn, but that usually requires they be there in person. When I’m by myself or if I’m non-verbal at the time, it’s a bit of a lost cause.
Jason: What about an object. Like a stress toy or your chewy thing. Or a photo of xena in your wallet?
Yeah, they help with meltdowns. Meltdowns will turn into shutdowns if I have my stimming things with me.
They don’t help with rages. Most of the time they make rages worse, because I’ll get angry that they’re not helping. Although, chewing things helps with the clawing urges.
Jason: Packet of gum? Cold shower. That pretty much turns your brain off! But needs to be proper cold.
Me: I haven’t tried that, but I will next time. Hopefully I’ll think of it.
Not with meltdowns though. Meltdowns would be horrible in a cold shower.
Meltdowns require curling up somewhere totally removed from stimulation.
Jason: You seem to have meltdowns covered. At least strategy wise.
Me: Yeah. Just need to work on the rages. 😛