This topic contains 16 replies, has 14 voices, and was last updated by  Penny Williams 2 years, 3 months ago.

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  • #52541


    First things first I have ADHD, severe anxiety, OCD, SPD, mild depression, and a few other minor mental issues. I actually can’t believe I am about to post this right now, but here goes nothing. I am 19 about to be a junior in college and I am still having meltdowns that I can’t seem to control. If I am in public I do my very best to stay calm and if needed and available, I go to a bathroom or somewhere I can be alone before I completely loose control. However, that luxury doesn’t always happen. During a public meltdown I am stared at and I have had comments like “grow up,” “get a grip,” “you’re too old for this,” or “you’re just embarrassing yourself”, it isn’t like I already feel embarrassed, scared, and out of control, the comments just add to the problem. When I am at home or with my boyfriend most times I do not control it and I just let it all out on whoever is around. I regret it all immediately after I calm down but words that are said can’t be taken back. My meltdowns are caused by frustrating, overwhelming, aggravating, confusing, anxious, loud or annoying noises, not being able to see something coming up from behind, not knowing what is going on, and so many more situations and thoughts. I can’t seem to control this problem and no one seems to know how to help me, but being 19 and having meltdowns is not okay with me. My meltdowns consists of shutting down, crying, yelling, shaking, not being able to talk, flinching, contracting muscles and getting as small as possible, and shutting everyone out. I wish people knew that some people don’t have a choice to control it or not, but more importantly, I wish I knew how to make it better so I can stop hurting myself and the people I love, mentally and emotionally.

  • #52592

    Penny Williams

    Have you ever been evaluated for Asperger’s? The anxiety and extreme reactions to sensory stimuli and stress could be symptoms. It would explain the “meltdowns” just about completely.

    ADHD and the Autism Spectrum

    Have you tried working with a CBT therapist? That is regarded to be most effective for anxiety.

    How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Works

    Check out hypersensitivity too — that could be another potential explanation.

    ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #80827


      Hi, I have been in your situation a lot lately.
      I am in my 30’s dating a guy who has baggage and
      Also adhd. He purposely makes me go running with him or to the gym when I’m angry. That makes me angrier and I recently had a screaming all-out tantrum after 5 miles because I hate to run. I try to go to the batting cages or do something fun that wears me out.
      Also I am going back to therapy to deal with this as it’s never been this bad. The other night I started cleaning his place because he acts and lives like a 20 yr old-no offense. Dishes everywhere, piles of clothes on the couchetc. I don’t know if I can handle it he says I have split personalities.
      Find your outlet it will help.

    • #86360


      My son has these symptoms/Issues as well but he is 12 yrs old. A stuffed animal and being wrapped up in a soft blanket helps him to settle also. His Doctor put him on Tenex and Abilify and it worked great with helping him stay more in control, but he was tired a lot more. Our bodies just get flooded with so much and you just can’t control it. I know it’s hard when other people haven’t seen it first hand or even understand. Definitely talk to your Doctors and keep talking cause something needs to be done to help you.

  • #53599


    I’ll have similar issues periodically. I’m 24. Normally in the form of just breaking down and crying, but sometimes fits of anger. I found getting a weighted blanket and stuffed animal has helped. When I’m at home and feel a meltdown coming on, I just shut myself in my room with something soothing on or nothing at all, and wrap up in the weighted blanket or hold the weighted stuffed animal. It takes some time, I think an hour has been the longest, but the weight helps me come down enough that I can start looking at things in perspective and figure out how to tackle them. It has decreased in frequency and difficult in holding in until I can let it out. As for not hurting people around you, sometimes that’s hard during a meltdown. It’s like all the filters get turned off. With the help of my roommates we’ve worked out letting me get through the meltdown and I come to them when I feel better. And then we discuss and apologize (normally both of us because I feel bad for blowing up, and my roommate feels bad for setting it off) but until I start speaking or sit in the same room, they completely ignore me. There’s this weird middle spot when I’m coming out of a meltdown where I feel like I need food or water but being noticed will cause me to scamper away or slip back into the meltdown. Just know it is a process, there is hope. I can’t guarantee the meltdowns will stop completely, but there are things that can be done to make them more manageable. There is a website called Happify, it is free unless you want to unlock premium stuff (which is really just more levels of the games) that helps me a lot when my anxiety is going haywire. And when I can, I try to squeeze in yoga because it’s gentle and the person who does the youtube videos (Adriene) is very laid back, very big on the do what you can (which is great for me, because I am not flexible lol). I hope you find some of these tips helpful, encouraging, or at least re-assuring you are not alone. Emotionally speaking we feel things very deeply, which sometimes prompts intense displays. Not necessarily a bad thing either. Just another thing that makes us different.

  • #53601


    I’m 21 and still have meltdowns. They can be because I have something stuck in my throat and can’t stop coughing, because I don’t understand what someone is trying to explain to me, or sometimes even simply because I can’t figure out what I want to eat for lunch. I typically flap my hands, make whiny, grunting noises, and can’t really use my words; it resembles something most people would expect out of a toddler, which is quiet embarrassing at times, so I share that feeling with you. For me, my initial strategy is to avoid what causes them, such as always having a water bottle with me. I also find that I struggle to pull myself back from the brink, so to speak, at the end of the day when I am tired. This leads me to avoid working with my tutor at night when I’m more likely to get frustrated and have a meltdown.
    My first suggestion is to know what typically causes them, which is seems you have a good handle, and try to limit those stimuli. You could try having ear plugs to help filter noises, I have a pair of custom molded ones that are easy to pop in and out, and I can still hear people I am with but they help to reduce the volume or everything else so I don’t feel as overwhelmed.
    I also sympathize with you on the challenge with not knowing what is going on; when I have it in my head that I am going to do something and plans change it throws me off extremely. Try to explain to a close friend about how not knowing what is going on is hard for you to handle, and they can give you a heads up about possible scenarios before you guys go to do something, or they can be someone to ask questions of when you’re feeling overwhelmed, they can help simplify things by being able to answer one thing at a time instead of trying to process everything at once.
    Most important for me is the friends and supportive people I have around me, especially when I am at school and away from home. Find people who, maybe not even fully understand, but are caring and patient with you, and are willing to help you out with whatever you need, even if it is just a companion when you’re having a hard time.
    Best of luck to you, keep you head up and don’t worry what other people say! Remember, the people that mind don’t matter, and the people that matter don’t mind.

  • #54209


    These descriptions are very helpful. My 8-yo son has meltdowns like this, and is sent home from school when he does. How did all of you get through elementary school with this problem? How did your school deal with it? Did you find anything helpful?

    Thanks 🙂

    • #54262


      @ MosMom: Maybe have it put into his IEP that he needs to be able to go to a quiet space when he’s having a meltdown, instead of being sent home? Both the school and my parents tried to punish away my symptoms of ADHD, so elementary school wasn’t too bad, the worse that would happen was I would start crying. Which would then lead to my classmates picking on me. Which is part of why I now go to my room if I feel a meltdown coming on. I’ve had years of people telling me that my ADHD is inappropriate behavior, and if I can’t control the behavior, I try to hide it, in either suppression or I hide until the behavior passes. I have found lavender essential oil is very helpful for calming. Maybe try giving him some that he can smell when he feels a meltdown coming on.

    • #54302

      Penny Williams

      As @bookworm described, my son has in his IEP that he is allowed to go to a quiet space and be left alone when he’s overwhelmed by frustration or emotion. His coping mechanism has been to avoid school or to call me from school and beg me to come get him (and even make up lies to make me come get him). After a while, we realized 30 minutes or so at home alone, with zero prodding, he would come to me and say he feels better and could probably finish the school day. That’s when I asked for this accommodation to be added to his IEP. At first, school staff would prod him every 5 minutes to go back to class, and that only made everything worse. When I was finally able to get them to leave him totally alone, he would get back on track and go back to class eventually in most cases.

      By sending your son home, the school is teaching him that that behavior will allow him to go home. Eventually, he’ll learn to use it to get out of being at school. It’s 110% the wrong approach.

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #85080

      Stephanie in CA

      I didn’t get any help. When I was 8, it was the late 1970s, and teachers labeled me a behavioral problem and kids either teased me or ignored me.

  • #75580


    I’m 27 and had a melt down just a couple months ago. It can be something like me curling up in a ball or me yelling and throwing things and k rocking things over in a public resurant. Very embarrassing. Its annannoying when people think its bipolar. I just get set off easily sometimes. What helps is learning your triggers and either avoiding them or preparing for them. Also the right med regime and some therapy. I did pre Dbt therapy which helped. I ha e a good support system. Also watch your hormone levels. Our hormones effect how well our meds work and our stress levels. I take birth control for my stress specifically. Hope some of this helps.

  • #75590


    28 years old, and meltdowns happen specifically when I feel assailed by forces or people beyond my control. I’ve blanked out into a gibbering mess during a case presentation that didn’t go well. Mostly it’s just crying jags and repetitive thoughts about my worthlessness and why people are better off when I am away. The meds have mostly helped, but I still have a way to go with anticipating and managing stressors.

  • #76220


    I hate them, they are so hard to control, I do the same thing at work wth the bathroom etc. I think it’s over stimulation I give myself, I use to look for reasons, or hope for a reason to be pissed, so I could just hit the button to just handle it my way.. now with trying hard to hold back and not let this Halen as often, because it always feels like I brought a natural disaster to take on something frustrating.. Which is embarrassing, then anxiety etc over hoping it wasn’t seen as me making a giant mountain of frustration… It sucks, but for me it’s like a tic I guess it just has to come out, the more suppressed the more stress the hotter the Meltdown.. ^^ that was a lot of I’s , feel like a narcissist now :/.. don’t feel bad for taking a break. That’s anticipation waiting for some type of change. You probably like surprises, maybe the feelings are your mind taking hold of it to keep you interested..? Lost where I was going with this, phone typing is hard on here.. We aren’t perfectly able to control all these things all the time, that takes up so much resources and either there’s a lucky outcome or a big feeling of can’t/ failure, manage what you can, you’ll get better and better, just keep your mind on what it is you truly want and over do it so it stops bothering you or let it be maybe and let it out through an aggravating task before work. You gotta remember man they’re going to happen if they don’t, than your cured and well… that would probably be a meltdown in itself. My inspiration for this is think of a chameleon maybe it’s a change of color because of a change or transition that was sudden that you weren’t prepared for, I’m probably going to far out on that one, but it makes sense in a odd way. The best thing to think about is transitions are rough, because the mind is literally already doing it alot with everything.. I call it overload, it leads to hyperfocus for me sometimes. Or a big breakdown full of negative talk too work up to motivating and completing something left field unintentionally. Hope that you will find something that helps some how in this wall of text, if not, I know you’ll find a solution some how.


  • #86335


    College, and shortly after was the worst. So much change and insecurity. Suddenly, you have to do it ALL on your own. They got bad again when we had major life changes. The meltdowns got better once I started practicing self-care and working on self-love. And eating. Never doubt the power of low blood sugar… Therapy REALLY helped, too. Therapy helped me realize that, even though I have ADHD, I am still capable of living a full and successful life. They completely disappeared when I started facing fears and making choices about life, created more personal security, minimized general stress, and learned to recognize when I was feeling stressed (before the meltdowns happened). Once I started making changes, I started believing that I could make MORE changes in my life. Now, instead of melting down, I calm down and look for a solution to whatever the fear/anger/stressor is that is causing it. Self-care, self-love, and self-control. It’s unsettling when your body scares you, when you don’t trust it. If you take care of it, and take care of your mind and emotions, maybe it can get better?

  • #86486


    Hi! Thank you for posting!! I know how hard it is to admit our issues and perceived shortcomings!! Emotional outbursts is something I’ve dealt with all my life. I was diagnosed as a young child so therapy and meds along with behavioral modifications have been part of my daily life for as long as I can remember. Even with all of this I still have complete meltdowns! Embarrassing to say the least! I’m 37 now and they don’t happen as much but they still happen. I can tell you my best defense is recognizing and isolating my triggers and letting my support system I.e. my husband, close friends that know about my ADHD and are in my life everyday. My husband knows my triggers like crowded places and noise and he become attuned to the change in my facial expressions or body language and most of the time he sees me losing it before I even realize it and helps remove me from the situation or keeps me calm. Yes it is a lot to ask of the people in our lives but you have remember that they choose to be a part of our lives and choose to accept us as we are. My worst times and most irrational times come with my hormonal fluctuations right before my monthly cycle – there is no birth control or med that has been able to combat the rollercoaster that happens during that 7-10 days every month and trust me I’ve tried them all! Some women have found the ticket I have not but I would still encourage you to try because maybe one will help. It took me YEARS to make the connection between my cycle and the meltdowns! Once I did it was a revelation! I become highly cranky and sensitive along with angry for no reason and completely irrational! Things that would never bother me otherwise become the biggest issue ever and I lash out or become depressed even hateful at times. Talk about crazy PMS right?! Anyways the way I learned to help with this is with my best friend. We came up with a system and it has worked and it helps!!! We call these thoughts, feelings, anger or whatever the ‘crazy train’. She is my sound board. Any thoughts or emotions that come up I immediately either text, call, email or whatever with her and bounce it off of her and ask her is this legit or not. Am what I am thinking or feeling justified. For me this works best because she is honest and non judgmental so I openly tell her all the things that go through my brain without fear that she will think I’m mean or harsh or hateful. I tell her the situation and she tells me flat out if I’m justified or riding the crazy train. Most of the time while I’m explainibg things to her I see already that it’s not justified. Sometimes just voicing thoughts and feelings calms things and lets you ‘see’ that you’re over the top or maybe not thinking clearly or feeling something that is outside of typical self. I hope this helps you some or maybe gives you a different window to look out of. I would suggest keeping a journal of your meltdowns to help you pin point triggers and patterns. Once you identify them you can combat them! Pick a person that no matter what day or time it is will be your sounding board and don’t give up!
    Best of luck!

  • #86562


    I have a 7 year old son,just want to know when these habbits like hitting,throwing,threatning,pushing i mean getting physical to other persons during meltdown goes off?? Even in general when things are not against his wish and medicines are wearing off he shows these acts but they are milder..He is currently on abiilify and methylphenidate.Because least i wish that anyone should get physically hurt by him by lack of impulse control.Thanks in advance for any help.

    • #86644

      Penny Williams

      Those are not things someone would grove out of or that would just fade away. You have to work on teaching lagging skills and coping mechanisms. I highly recommend Ross Greene, PhD’s book, “The Explosive Child.” He teaches an approach that works.

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

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