Friday, November 20, 2009

Texting: AKA, meltdown avoidance

I think whoever invented texting must have had me, or at least people like me, in mind. Oh, so you need a socially acceptable way to escape from a situation and connect to someone miles away from you? Here you go! Cumbersome though I thought it was at first, over the past year or so, I've really gotten used to it. It's become one of my top few meltdown-avoidance tools, right up there with cats and Magic Words.

I text when I'm stressed and want out. When it's loud, when I'm upset, when I'm overwhelmed, when I'm inevitably melting for whatever reason, I text. Usually, that person is Leigh. Sometimes I know she's busy and try for someone else, but it helps if that person understands how I use texting. The point of the conversation, for the most part, is the conversation. Sometimes we talk about what's upsetting me or how to fix whatever is going on, but the most important thing is that as long as I'm texting, I'm not losing it. I'm focusing on something else.

It happened in the car just tonight. Justin and I met up with two other couples to walk around downtown for Light Up Night. I'm still pretty sore from my cyst, and I wasn't sure if I wanted to go. The jury's still out, and probably forever will be so, on whether or not it was a good idea. I'm glad I got to see the fireworks with my new headphones, but I was sore and a little cranky the whole time, and my bandage worked its way off (I can't fix it myself... need Mom for that). By the time we got into the car to leave and the parking garage wasn't. going. anywhere., I started to get frustrated. "Leigh's going to Mexico for a year" picked up on that little bit of frustration and soreness, and it was enough that I wanted to cry in the car. I was, objectively, perfectly fine, but I was starting to melt, and I knew it. I didn't want to do that with Justin in the car...

So, I whipped out my phone. Leigh didn't answer pretty quickly and I was getting tears in my eyes, so I saw if Emily was around, and she was watching a movie with friends and asked if I needed to text for a bit. We talked about autism, about dealing with people with autism, about blatantly autistic behaviors and dealing with those, we talked about cats, we talked about ice cream, about "Leigh's going to Mexico for a year, about the fact that I don't have to worry about that yet, we talked about are you sure I don't have to worry about that yet?, and, finally, I made it home in one piece. Sometimes, even just holding my phone calms me down.

Other times that I've gotten out of meltdowns by texting include:
Disney World's fireworks
the mall
many, many restaurants
city crowds
storms at home
grocery store with Mom
sitting 2 feet away from Leigh but not having any words to verbally tell her what's wrong

My phone is a beautiful thing. Sometimes, I probably seem rude by texting when I should be "engaged," but you know... I've thought about that. I'm not engaged. At all. I'm barely holding it together. And if my options include 1. text or 2. meltdown... I'm going to pick appearing rude to my family or close friends over engagement. Anyone who matters, also understands (or will, now that I've thought this through and realize that I should explain it to them).

And yes, I hear you bugging me about those fireworks. You want to know how they went. Well, I held my phone the entire time, but other than that, they were absolutely beautiful. I could see some of those again.


  1. texting is a wonderful thing. I've often thought how liberating it must be for deaf people, and for families with young deaf people especially, keeping in touch, keeping in the loop just the same as everyone else. Never thought about it in that way for any one else tho'. Good for you keeping it together, and yes I for one would be far happier for all concerned if you spent a little time on your phone rather than have a meltdown. Meltdowns are just so exhausting all round.

    The best part about texting is you'll still be able to text Leigh as and when she goes away. :)

  2. Leigh can't text from Mexico :( Just e-mail.

  3. Does Justin also use texting in this way?

    (I know, depending on a boyfriend, and him so soon in the relationship. So long as you can sometimes rescue him, too).

    Oh, Justin was there. What about when he isn't around.

    And who were the other two couples. (Yes, gossip!)

    That cyst isn't too good, depending on where it was.

    Amanda's point about the deaf makes sense. It was developed very much for them.

    Glenda Watson Hyatt also uses her thumb effectively.

  4. Justin doesn't love to text but does it because I do it. He doesn't have as much anxiety as I do, it seems. The other couples included a girl from our autism group and her boyfriend, then the boyfriend's friend from work and his girlfriend. I don't know, read that six times and it'll make sense. It was just a rough night for me. It was hard to be out for almost 6 hours. That's long.

  5. No texting from Mexico? Poo!! How come?

  6. It's super expensive to text across the border, I guess. I agree about the "poo."

  7. Good to hear about these people.

    I can imagine them all very well.

    Six hours IS long! It's like being in school without a break.

  8. Lydia,

    I never thought of texting in this way. You are brilliant! I am also so amazed at the support system you have manifested for yourself.

    Good for you!