Consider this a letter from a loved one who is having a meltdown because of a panic attack, an autism spectrum disorder, or sensory processing overload…
Please be patient, I’m trying to sort things out. I need to feel some comfort and acceptance from you right now. I’m really sorry for the way I responded, but I’m just trying to cope with something that is making me feel anxious and afraid for reasons that I can’t explain. So be my friend and remember who I am.
If you ask me questions, or try to get me to make decisions, or if you treat me like I’m a child who is misbehaving, beware I might slip into a deep well of sadness, feeling all alone. If you tell me that I should get over it, or tell me that I’m being irrational, I would certainly agree with you, if I could think clearly, but I can’t. Those kinds of comments will actually work against us, since I already know that I am wrong and I don’t desire to be in this place of fear and confusion. I’m embarrassed, but I can’t pull myself out. I can’t just choose to flip a switch that makes me feel like all is well.
You have the power to show love, comfort, kindness and compassion, to bring me back to a place where I feel safe and protected. You may feel like pushing me away or avoiding me right now. If you choose to treat me like I am a problem, I will feel like I am alone, abandoned, and in danger.
Choose loving words, a gentle and firm touch, be kind, encourage, and remind me who I am and why I am loved, why I am wanted, why I am safe, why I am treasured and worth it.
Right now I am most likely struggling with feelings of misplaced fear, and humiliation because I can’t be who you want me to be. I love you so much that it breaks my heart to know that when I face the pain of this sensory overload, I can’t be myself.
When I am melting down and wrought with confusion because of this social situation… I can’t be cheerful and funny and sweet. Maybe you think that if I really love you I can choose to snap out of this mode, but I can’t figure out how to be lovable right now. Even though I resemble a hedgehog, but less cute, I need love and acceptance more than anything in the world.
So maybe you will try to show me a little love, but I won’t respond like you expect. I know that this is really hard for you, but don’t give up. I need you now. Don’t give the silent treatment, don’t try to force me to choose a restaurant, don’t try to get me to apologize for my bad behavior.
Just protect me, cause right now I am very weak. Be strong. Be like Jesus who loved us and gave himself for us, when we were yet sinners. To love is to deny self, and I’ll thank you later. Right now just remember who I am and keep me safe.