Why me – autism and shutdowns

I’ve recently talked to my counselor, who helps me with everyday struggles, and now I’m quite depressed. That’s obviously not her fault, but I guess it’s the conversation’s fault. That’s because we talked about my shutdowns and about, how I’m doing. If you don’t know what shutdowns are, don’t worry. I’ll explain it in a second. Anyway, I’m pretty annoyed and sad. But most of all, I think, it’s really unfair, that I have to feel the way I do.

When autistic people get overwhelmed (and that can happen due to a lot of things like sensory overload), they often react with a meltdown or a shutdown. A meltdown is definitely more visible. Autistic people might scream or hit things in those situations. Shutdowns are often less visible. In my case, I feel like I can’t move and/or talk, when I have a shutdown. Also, my arms and legs are so heavy that it nearly hurts. People often ask me, if I really can’t move and talk during a shutdown. If there’s something really important, I can talk and move, but it definitely feels impossible and it takes a lot of energy.

Why me, why us?
I’ve talked to a lot of neurotypical people (people without autism) and I don’t know anyone, who has experienced something similar to a shutdown. So, my theory is, that neurotypical people always have some energy left in their bodies. That’s why they don’t end up in a situation, where they don’t have any energy left. I can be quite jealous of that. Why does it have to be autistic people, who have to struggle with shutdowns? That’s probably a rhetorical question, because I do know the answer. It’s probably because autistic people live in a world, that’s not adapted to their needs. And that takes a lot of energy. So, it makes a lot of sense, that we often lose so much energy, that our bodies don’t work properly anymore.

Am I alone in this?
What also frustrates me, is, that I’ve never met anyone else in real life, who has had a shutdown. Therefore, I feel quite alone. When I want to talk to someone about shutdowns, I always have to explain, what shutdowns are to begin with and then they have a lot of questions. Questions are totally fine, but I really just wish to talk to someone, who knows, what I’m talking about.

Also, it would be so great, if you could just go to your doctor, and they would say: Yes, that’s because of this and that and it’s totally normal. You just have to do this… But that’s never going to happen, because there are no doctors or psychologists, who know anything about shutdowns. At least I’ve never met any in Denmark, where I live. The only ones I have, are you guys. I know there are a lot of you, who feel similar, and that gives me the feeling of not being totally alone.

Why do I write this text?
Maybe you’ve hoped for something more encouraging. Something, that could help you. But I can’t write something like that in the moment. I just need to get rid of my thoughts. And the reason, why I don’t just write those things in a diary instead of sharing it with you, is, that I’m sure, that there are a lot of you who feel just as frustrated, hopeless and annoyed. And I want you to know, that you’re not alone with it.

More about shutdowns
If you want to read more about shutdowns, there’s another article I wrote about it: https://www.unbemerkt.eu/en/autism-and-shutdowns/

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