What is a shutdown for me?
A shutdown is when I can no longer cope with the world and its demands. If I don’t catch it early it I am likely to completely shut off from the world. I struggle to communicate and I can no longer help myself.
Why is it called a shutdown?
It’s called a shutdown because it is like a computer shutting down and turning off. I no longer work properly and input and output isn’t processed, just like a computer when it is off.
What causes a shutdown?
Lots of things can cause a shutdown. For me, it is usually caused my too much social interaction, too much sensory information or too many different activities going on at once. For example, on Saturday I was trying to do four different things at the same time and that overloaded me and nearly sent me into shutdown. It was too much and it was stressful.
Can you avoid a shutdown?
The only answer I can give you is sometimes. If you spot it early it can sometimes be avoided but not always. I often go for walks or play the piano if I can feel a shutdown coming on. Sometimes it helps but sometimes I go into shutdown anyway. If I communicate with somebody that I feel like a shutdown is coming on then they will often help me to do something about it. In some instances instead of having a shutdown I will have a panic attack (that’s for another post)
How does it feel before a shutdown?
Strange. Not very descriptive I know but honestly it just feels strange. My mind feels overwhelmed, I want to flap around and everything slows down. It’s like I am in slow motion while watching the world, which is on fast forward.
How does it feel during a shutdown?
Nothing. It’s almost like a trance. I remember very little afterwards.
How does it feel after a shutdown?
I am usually exhausted after a shutdown. I need time to process what happened and have some time out. I sometimes need to get rid of excess energy by walking or doing something active. Sometimes I want company but doing my own thing – I just want someone with me while I do it. It is a learning curve though and knowing more and more triggers helps me plan better.
How can people help me during a shutdown?
- Be calm – I’m already in high alert and can’t cope with somebody else panicking, it will make me worse
- Be quiet (volume) – it’s quite likely my senses are overloaded and I don’t need any more sensory information coming in. in fact I am unlikely to hear anything you say.
- Let me have my shutdown – don’t try to bring me round, it won’t work
- Give me space – as I said I am probably overwhelmed with sensory information and I cannot cope with a hug or a pat even though I know you are only trying to help
- Be kind – don’t judge me – I am not doing this on purpose. I can’t “snap out of it”
- Help me afterwards – take me somewhere quiet and give me time.
Is a shutdown the same for everyone?
No. This is my experience of a shutdown but everyone will be different.