Dear Eve: Meltdowns

Dear Eve,

Thank you for reading my first letter. It means a lot that someone, however fictitious you are, is reading these. So, my fictitious friend, here is my second letter.

I have meltdowns a lot. When I have a meltdown, it’s because everything gets too much for me. These show in various ways, depending on who I’m with. If I’m with my family, I generally have more active signs. I’ll start talking loads at first, basically saying why something’s not how it’s supposed to be, and eventually I’ll cry if it isn’t resolved immediately.

My meltdowns with other people aren’t so obvious, however. People won’t really notice that I’m having a meltdown. I go subdued and quiet, and I kind of try to think about nothing at all because if I think about something, I’m worried my meltdown will become visible. On occasion, I do have more visible signs, but I try to postpone them for as long as possible. I’ll go on my phone a lot if I’m feeling really worried and I will probably text my mum. My mum usually answers quickly and she always distracts me with updates on the pets. I find talking about my pets calms me down instantly.

I’m terrified that someone will notice I’m having a meltdown and think that I’m being ridiculous or that I’m a bad person. I heard a story of someone buying all the apple pies in McDonalds because they heard a kid ‘being bratty about wanting one and having a tantrum’. It made me think: this person judged this kid without even knowing the kid. Perhaps the kid, like me, was autistic or had another problem? How do you know? You don’t. So I always worry that people will think terribly of me because I look so ordinary. I don’t want to be thought of like that.

I wonder if you’ve ever had meltdowns, Eve. A lot of people have them; it’s just that they’re more common in autistic people. My mum has them herself quite often but she isn’t autistic. She is dyspraxic however, so isn’t exactly ‘neurotypical’.

It’s nice discussing these things with you because I know you’ll never reply with advice on how to fix my problems. The truth is, Eve, I can’t fix my problems. I will live with them for my entire life. I can figure out ways of dealing with them, but that isn’t fixing them. I don’t like it when people, especially people without autism, tell me ways I can improve myself. They don’t know how tough it is for me and how terrible that advice makes me feel, Eve. I feel constantly like everyone is trying to see me as a person with potential, someone who can become something. That pressure to be what they want me to be sits inside me always. My IQ means nothing. It’s not about how clever you are, it’s about how suited you are to the world, and I’m a cat in a dog food factory. Basically, the world is wrong for me. I try to fit in but I never will.

I’ve accepted that I won’t fit in, but some people still try to see me as someone who needs to fit in with society. I need to work hard to get somewhere (where am I going? I don’t know), I need to not have meltdowns, and I need to respond when people talk to me. I like how you don’t expect these things of me, Eve.

People think these things are simple, but there are a million reasons why, for me, they’re not simple. I could go over the list but I don’t think you would finish this letter, Eve. So I’m just going to say one thing: this isn’t me. I’m not steady, I’m not calm, I’m not social. None of that is me. I sometimes feel like no one really knows me but I guess you’ll know me, Eve. These letters will help you know me. Thank you, again, for reading.

Love,

Lia

The Worst Part of My Mum’s Cancer Treatment

You might not know this, as I haven’t really mentioned it much in my blog, but when I was 13/14, my mum was diagnosed with breast cancer. Actually, at the time she got diagnosed, I had just started at a new school, so I had to deal with that, my own mental health & social issues, and this at the same time. It was very hard to make friends when you’re constantly worrying about your mum. I did make friends but not very quickly or easily and they were hard to find. I’m lucky I found them eventually but, as I said, I did struggle a lot as well, especially considering I can’t make friends very easily anyway!

She was actually getting a mammogram for a problem she had in her other breast. She felt so lucky that she had that problem in her other breast because it might not have been diagnosed so early if she hadn’t had that. Like I said, it was diagnosed pretty early, which was good, but obviously I still worried a lot about her. At first, they thought she would need radiotherapy, but then they changed their mind, which was good. She instead had to have a number of operations and is still having operations at the moment. A lot of them got delayed due to skin infections, which has been very annoying for her!

But none of that is the worst part of her cancer treatment: the worst part was hormone therapy. This is the drug prescribed to stop the cancer coming back. The side effects are terrible and my mum said they were “like a toned-down version of chemotherapy.” She’s very happy that she never had to endure chemotherapy or radiotherapy, but she’s still suffering a lot. Her hair is in poor condition, she’s had joint pains, tiredness, rashes, and lots of other side effects that really affect her quality of life.

She’s been on the drug Tamoxifen for three years-ish and she’s decided to come off it. It is recommended to be used for at least five years but she just can’t deal with the side effects any longer, and I agree with her decision. She’s been a completely different person since being on the drug. Her mood has been down a lot. I just want her to be happy again — and I feel that coming off of this drug will do that for her. The drug doesn’t even guarantee that the cancer won’t reoccur so, in her opinion, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. I really hope that she can come off of it soon and finally feel like her old self again!

Lia

That Time I… Almost Killed My Mum?!

Okay, so when I was seven I won a dance competition. The prize was four tickets to this amusement place called ‘The Milkyway’. It was really great there — lots to do.

I was having such a fun time, as was the rest of my family, until one devastating mini golf match. I was doing quite well, actually, and probably could’ve won… In my defence, my mum was standing too close to me.

You can probably imagine what happened next. I took my swing and the next thing I know, she was on the grass, holding her head, which was bleeding. Obviously, I felt terrible and like I was a criminal. I actually thought the police were coming for me and I was really crying.

I went in the ambulance with her and she had stitches. She was more comforting me than the other way around… I was in a terrible state! She was fine after she’d had the stitches done but I really felt like a criminal.

I hope we both learnt out lesson: don’t stand too close and always look before swinging…

Thanks for reading this post,

Lia