About meltdowns and dealing with stress

Once when I was little, like maybe first or second grade, my mom tried doing my hair in “rag curls”– braiding and tying it up with fabric scraps while it was wet, then having me sleep on it.

When I first woke up it was of course a huge mess, and for whatever reason that REALLY bothered me. I went in the bathroom and locked the door, and spent what seemed like a long time being viciously disgusted by how my hair looked, sobbing myself silly, calming down slightly and then seeing myself in the mirror again, and repeat.

There was no way I’d be able to untie and detangle it myself, and I wouldn’t let my mom in to do it, partly because I didn’t want anyone to see it and partly just because I was too upset.

This is the only time I remember having a really dramatic meltdown over anything.

So, this is a thing. I have the potential to go around and around in circles thinking about something that upsets me– not venting and then feeling better, not thinking of solutions to a problem, just thinking the same thoughts over and over about something that I can’t stand to think about, and not stopping until I’m totally exhausted. I don’t have screaming meltdowns about it, and I don’t even cry about it that often, but it’s a path that my brain can easily get stuck in.

It sucks. I don’t want it to happen and I don’t enjoy it.

So I don’t. I try not to dwell on things that bother me. If I am going to think about things that bother me, I try to focus on productive things like “what can I do about this” or “what should have been done instead/what should happen next time” or “why is this incorrect” or “why does this bother me”.

Sometimes that takes effort, sometimes it’s basically a reflex and I don’t even think about whether the thing in question would have actually bothered me That Much if I dwelled on it. Mostly I am very good at not dwelling on things.

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