completely overwhelmed's picture

I’ve been wanting to post on here about SD’s meltdowns because the only way I can deal with this is laughing about it. I’ve been keeping a list of all the times she has meltdowns for her therapist and I really wish I could put this on Twitter or live blog the crazy, bizarre reasons she has meltdowns.

I guess I have to explain about the meltdowns and I apologize if this is long because I feel like I have to explain why a friggin' 17 year old has meltdowns. SD has always had meltdowns but in the last 6 months the number of meltdowns has increased (despite many attempts by therapists and other mental health professionals to coach her on emotional regulation). Her meltdowns aren’t for attention. IMO, it’s now become her coping mechanism to deal with big emotions or when she feels upset she lets everyone know how upset she is by carrying on and on and on. She will thrash around on the floor but they’re pretty much harmless other than lot of crying. They typically last 10-30 minutes and it doesn’t matter what anyone does. If you walk out of the room the meltdown can keep going on for another half an hour and you can’t reason with her at all until she’s worn herself out.

Most of her meltdowns at are at school and it tends to happen when she’s told she needs to either do X or Y and she doesn’t want to do either. For example, her teacher tells her needs to either sit at her desk or go to the office because she’s refusing to do what she’s told. Result is also an immediate meltdown where she gets 1 hour of time in the quiet area and then it repeats.

At home, the meltdowns tend to be sensory overload or just she’s upset/angry/frustrated. Her therapist keeps assuming SD’s meltdowns are over big things like being overwhelmed at school or upset over her mom. But no. The stupidest things set her off.

Here’s a list of the weirdest reasons for meltdowns the past few days:

- She was watching nature videos on YouTube and a lion cub died.

- SD didn’t like what was for lunch and didn’t know what she wanted to eat.

- Tired? Itchy? I’m not sure. She just lost it while sitting on the couch last night and had an epic meltdown for over 45 minutes.

- DD was playing a game on my phone which has music. The music was bothering SD. Instead of going somewhere else, she had a meltdown.

- Standing in a crowded line at Costco. It was very hot and I knew it was going to happen. A very nice mom of an autistic son helped us get her out of the way of everyone else trying to check out. The other mom told us she doesn’t take her son out because of those issues, but if SD didn’t go with us to Costco, then DH would have to stay home with her. So we're stuck taking SD out and risking the public meltdowns.

- Not getting to go to a 4 year old’s birthday party and bouncy houses.

I have to explain the whole bouncy house meltdown. It happened at a Starbucks in Target. A few weeks ago, my 5 year old DD went to the birthday party of the 4 year old who lives next door to my sister.  SD doesn’t go over to my sister’s house any more due to behavior issues and there’s no reason she would be invited to this party. I saw the neighbor at Target and she showed me a cute video on her phone of DD and her daughter in a bouncy house at the party. We were exchanging Facebook information so she could share photos and videos with me when SD lost it. Complete meltdown, crying and carrying on while slumped on the floor with everyone walking by looking at me and her like “WTF?”

There’s major jealousy issues with SD and DD. When SD was DD’s age, things were very different financially for DH than it is now. She didn’t have birthday parties with bouncy houses.  For SD’s birthday last week, we went out to dinner because there’s no friends to invite to a party and of course SD had a meltdown at the restaurant. There’s no possible way we can make it through dinner at restaurant without a meltdown.  It’s too late to go back and give SD birthday party with a bouncy castle and she doesn’t actually want it. She’s just has to make a huge production about being upset so everyone knows it. I think part of her realizes what she's missed out on and the other half knows there's no use in her having a birthday party because she would be miserable.

And I want to add the next time you see some mom with a kid having a meltdown in public, please don't be a judgmental because it's so embarrassing to be in that situation.




completely overwhelmed's picture

She can’t stay home by herself so there isn’t a lot of options but to bring her.

beebeel's picture

In your blog you said she had to go with you or stay at home with her dad. She needs to stay with her dad or ______, whomever else is responsible for her. I wouldn't take her to the yard.

completely overwhelmed's picture

DH doesn’t get home from work until 7 or 7:30 many nights so it’s not really an option to leave her at home. Since he works so much it’s nice to at least run errands together but I think going to Costco is out for SD and I have to make Costco runs by myself. 

Ive been considering grocery delivery and anything else that can eliminate the need to leave the house. Still that doesn’t complete avoid having SD having to be drug along when I have to go do something and DH isn’t home.

MoominMama's picture

Something wrong with that girl. I was shocked at her being 17 and having meltdowns, rolling on the floor etc. Histrionic personality disorder? possibly. SD now 23 was like this with us, but hers were not quite so extreme, it was crying and sobbing and getting over emotional about anything she didn't like or want to do. I think for her it was learnt behaviour that had got her what she wanted in the past. Admittedly she was diagnosed as ADHD as a child but apparently this did not apply anymore after about age 12.

IMO she needs to see a professional. It's quite disturbing to be acting that way in public at her age. How does she feel about it? does she think this is ok?

completely overwhelmed's picture

She’s seen many professionals. There’s been a lot of coaching on trying to get her to gain control over big emotions, realize when she’s getting upset and walk away, etc but it never works. She doesn’t listen and nothing is ever simplified for her enough to follow.

She doesn’t care what her classmates or other people think of her. Or that she’s disturbing everyone else in her class when she has a meltdown in school. Or if classmates tease her about constantly crying.

Her explanations for why she does it are:

- She feels very upset and hurts and  no one understands how bad she feels.

- Everything is too much and she can’t take it

She wants people around her to understand how she feels and thinks the meltdowns help everyone understand how she feels. She’s very emphatic that if people would listen to her about how upset she is or how much she hurts then the meltdowns would stop. She blames everyone around her for the meltdowns.

MoominMama's picture

'There’s been a lot of coaching on trying to get her to gain control over big emotions, realize when she’s getting upset and walk away, etc but it never works. She doesn’t listen and nothing is ever simplified for her enough to follow'

This is interesting because in our attempts to improve SS18's behaviour we have run aground. I believe it comes down to a person wanting to help themselves and being willing to recognise that they are the problem not everyone else. I have no idea if this applies to your SD but from what I have read of your responses it does appear that there's a bit of manipulation and drama queen stuff going on there.

I can see she has had some problems, her health plus her BM etc but at some point we have to learn to deal with stuff. It seems people are listening to her but for some reason she does not feel heard, or maybe she doesnt want to. The anti depressants don't seem to be helping her much either.

If even the special ed teacher is overwhelmed by it then that sounds like it really has to be looked at with a fresh set of eyes.

Step-girlfriend's picture

You are a Saint for dealing with this, and she is not even your child. She can't even be left home alone? What are you and DH going to do when she is old enough to move out?

I honestly don't know how you do it. I do not have this kind of patience. I want to strangle SS12 when he gets pouty!

lieutenant_dad's picture

I'm going to assume she is medicated? This sounds far less like a mental affliction, but a physical one that manifests mentally. Like Restless Leg Snydrome of the brain - everything fires causing pain/confusion/emotional dumps. Is it possible that she DOES "feel worse" than others because biologically everything fires at once and she can't handle it due to the developmental delays???

My DH has a benign tumor on his adrenal gland. Whenever he is in a situation where adrenaline would be pumped into his system (like someone trying to merge into him on the interstate), he gets a MASSIVE dump of adrenaline into his system. It causes his blood pressure and heart rate to increase, and because he is a "fight" response, he gets angry. He has had to learn how to calm himself (meditation is a big one) so that he doesn't respond in immediate rage.

I guess I compare your SD's situation to that, but she doesn't have the mental capacity to bring herself back around. Are there hormone blockers they can put her on to see if that helps? Antidepressants? Mood stabilizers? Anything to even her out so she can't get spikes? 

You have my sympathy. I can't imagine what it's like to deal with her daily.

completely overwhelmed's picture

SD is on antidepressants and other medication including a beta blocker. She has a heart condition so it makes it more difficult with psychiatric meds.

A lot of the talk therapy is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy And mindfulness and it just goes over her head since she’s just not able to really focus or process all of that information. The way her mind processes information is just different than everyone else.  

And there are things that aren’t fair and she’s figuring out how bad things were when she was living with her mom when she was little and processing that isn’t easy for her.

after the bouncy house meltdown she was ranting at me that I don’t care about how unfair everything is. She was literally angry that no one at Target cared she never had a birthday party with a bouncy castle. 

Her main special ed teacher is just overwhelmed with dealing with SD and all of SD’s rants that no one cares about how much she hurts or cares about how she feels. It’s fine when it’s one or two days when SD is sick but it’s years and years with all of SD’s issues and her teacher has a job to do.

Major Blunder's picture

I keep comming back and reading this over and over, wanting to respond but not knowing what to say exactly. SD26 to this day has temper tantrums and says the same thing, "You just don't understand !" or " No one Cares!" in her case it's because she is a self centered self serving loathsome excuse for a human being.  In the case or your SD it does sound like she really can't help it, and I concur with Lt. Dad that it sounds physical as well.  God Bless you for your patience but my heart actually also goes out to SD, that strong of a mental illness is just horrible.

sunshinex's picture

Is it possible SD is using drugs? When I was a teenager, I took a lot of chemical drugs and often times, I'd have complete meltdowns - not rolling around on the ground but crying and screaming hysterically. My brain was so imbalanced from all the things I was taking and mixing and I'm sure it would appear like a "temper tantrum" a lot of the time. 

My other thought is possible pregnancy? I had prenatal depression and was an emotional mess. Again, not rolling around or losing it in public but with her psychiatric conditions, I would imagine a rough pregnancy could turn into a HUGE mess for her.