I have always known I emotionally shut down, but perhaps withdrawal feels more accurate. I withdraw when my sensory input becomes too much, where there is too much negativity, too many decisions to deal with and too little time to process it all. I’ve been doing it since I was a child.
Having autism means it’s almost compulsory, it’s easy for me to feel the withdrawal creep up. My mind switches, grows quieter, I hear nothing. I disconnect from the conversation when it becomes too hard to formulate or listen to responses.
I am physically there but I’m not consciously co-operating. As I quietly detach from everything going on around me, I am calm. My environment becomes calm. As a child, shutting down was my coping mechanism.
Even now when I know what is happening, there is little I can do about it to control it, or stop it. The environment I grew up in made shutting down more inevitable. Shutting down is also triggered by anxiety that is part of Autism.
I hate the idea that I struggle to take control but the answers usually lie in what happens before a withdrawal trigger.
Although it’s not easy for me to anticipate or deal with change, I am getting better at reading the signs. Change itself is difficult because there are so many elements that I have to deal with before I can handle anything new. I try to embrace the unfamiliar, although the unfamiliar still catches me out.
It’s easy for environmental sensory overload to blow up into something bigger and those cause me to shut down. It is inevitable, but I must learn to compartmentalise my anxieties so that I can manage those.