What comes to mind when I use the word ‘tantrum’? Is it of a child stomping their feet because they want ice cream for breakfast and are being told to eat their porridge instead…or is it of a toddler in a supermarket who really wants that amazing, fun, best-thing-ever toy, which of course their life will not be the same without and is being told they cannot have it…OR is it of an adult who stands in a busy shopping centre desperately screeching and hitting their head because the shop they have visited does not sell the brand of washing powder that they use.
Well, whichever it may be…the latter is what comes to my mind and the image I see is of a person who is so terrified and frustrated that only by having a full-blown head-hitting tantrum will they make a little bit more sense of the world around them.
There are a countless number of supermarkets, shopping centres, restaurants, cafes, doctor’s surgeries, hospitals and outside spaces where I feel the piercing eyes of onlookers on me. I don’t even need to see them, the glares are so strong, I can physically feel them burning into us.
Anything can cause her to encounter a deep level of distress and anxiety that can lead to a tantrum – this could be because I’m walking too fast in front of her to the fact I haven’t given the right response to a question that I have been asked at least 15 times.
My mum has Asperger’s syndrome amongst other diagnosis, which causes her to frequently have meltdowns – not a term I really like the sound of but apparently it’s the medically correct terminology so I’ll go with it.
One situation I am particularly a little heartbroken over is that my mum went to an appointment at her local council due to a discrepancy with council tax (that they had made). She got very distressed at the whole situation – one because any change of routine (so in this case, a change in finances) can cause her to hit rock bottom almost instantaneously, the level of anxiety bubbles over like a saucepan on a hob and the ability to see any rationality or calmness is non-existent.
Even whilst enduring this level of emotional turmoil, she managed to make her way there, wait for up to an hour in a busy waiting room (which does not make her feel good at all) and have a conversation with someone who worked there who just responded with “You need to do it online!” – My mum has never turned an actual computer or laptop on in her life, she has certainly never filled a form out on any electronic device and definitely would not feel comfortable doing this when she is under so much stress. And thus, this lead to my mum having a loud tantrum in the middle of the busy waiting room, which consisted of her hitting her face so hard that it bled and bruised … and NOT ONE person asked if she was OK, needed anything or even acknowledged her … other than the two security guards at the front of the building who stared and stated that they would have to chuck her out! Nice!
The only fortunate part of this is that I think I am more deeply saddened to the core about the whole situation than her. Phew!!
It certainly made her feel isolated and upset but the emotional scarring sits more with me. I am absolutely gutted that when myself and siblings were not there, NO ONE else was and actually they never are. Other than sniggers, laughs and stares, she was offered no support.
So all I can say from this is if you see anyone who may be in a level of distress, please do not stare, please acknowledge that they may be unwell and they might need someone to ask if they are OK 🙂
X Rebecca x