How I Imagine Sensory Overload Feels

I can’t do this. It’s too much. Get him away from me. Leave me alone. I want to run. Run out of the door, away from everything. But I can’t. My whole body feels tight with this anxiety. I want to lash out. I wish I could just hide in my bed. I want to get away from it all. Leave me alone. Go away. I need quiet. I need darkness. I need you to go away. Go AWAY. GO AWAY. LEAVE ME ALONE. I don’t want to be here anymore. I can’t do this. Can’t do this at all. It’s too much. It’s ALL TOO MUCH.


This is how I felt when I was in the darkest depths of post natal depression, which I was diagnosed with about three months after Max was born.

I didn’t want him anywhere near me.

He cried. ALL the time.

I couldn’t cope with it all.

It was too much.

As soon as his dad came home from work, I thrust this screamy baby towards him to try to escape it all.

It was horrible.

Even now, when I think about it, my whole body tenses up. I look back, and I can’t even begin to imagine ever feeling that way about Max now.

What I now realise though, is that all that screaming he did as a baby. It was his pain, his fear, his confusion of being in the middle of sensory overload, and not being able to do anything about it.

I had no idea, just assumed that he was a difficult baby.


This is how I imagine Max feels when he’s in the middle of a meltdown.

The only difference between how I felt, and how he felt, is that he goes into destruction mode and can’t control himself at all, being only three and all.

I imagine if I had thought I could have got away with it, I quite possibly would have acted out in a similar way to how he does when he’s in the red mist.

It’s not something he can control, in the same way I couldn’t control my constant anxiety.

It’s really just pure feeling. He’s showing me how much it hurts, how frustrating it can be sometimes, living in his world.

Luckily for him, and me, I now understand him a lot better.

With me being a much calmer, happier, positive person, it rubs off on him too, I’m sure of it.


Could you imagine what it would feel like for a sound, or a bright light to hurt so much you just can’t cope? Those of you who suffer migraines can understand, but you know what it is that’s happening, and that it will pass.

Imagine living in a world where everything is just the here and now.

There is no past.

There is no future.

There is only how you are feeling right at that very moment.

That’s gotta be quite a scary place to live.

Really, it’s no wonder it can end in a meltdown.

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  1. January 14, 2011 / 12:06 am

    Beautiful Post!!

  2. January 14, 2011 / 12:09 am

    This is a great post!
    I remember at my old job, we had someone in from America and we had a “sensory overload experience” Let me try and explain.
    We had to sit on a chair with a toy on it, someone scratched the back of our hairline with a comb, someone was talking to us in our right ear, in our left ear we had music player. We had to read a book, and someone was shining a torch in our eyes, we had perfume on our neck and hands, and lemon juice wafted under our nose. We had to put our hand in a glove full of shaving foam.
    We had to sit in this chair for five minutes with all of this going on, without getting up and remember the paragraph that we were reading. It was hell, and we didn’t remember what we were supposed to.
    But it gave me the biggest insight into what people with autism go through every minute of their day. No wonder they get so destructive and upset as it was so horrible.
    Sorry for the waffle xxx

  3. January 14, 2011 / 3:51 am

    Absolutely brilliant post my lovely, it must be so hard for our boys to cope everyday, I can’t even begin to imagine how hard school is going to be for J, but I guess in a very short time we’ll find out 😉 x

  4. January 14, 2011 / 7:19 am

    Amazing post. You give an incredible insight into what your little un is going through. He’s lucky to have a mum like you, hon. 🙂

  5. January 14, 2011 / 9:28 am

    Fantastic post. You had me in the first paragraph as I have thought those things when I had anxiety attacks. It would be terrible to go through that ALL the time. Max is very lucky to have a Mum like you who understands what he must be feeling. 🙂

  6. January 14, 2011 / 10:11 am

    Thank you Debby! 🙂 x

  7. January 14, 2011 / 10:13 am

    Don’t you dare apologise for that! It sounds like a hell of an experience. Like you say, I can’t imagine living in a world like that all the time.
    Really, I think Max copes so well, considering this is how he feels much of the time. He’ll even take himself to a quieter place if he needs some down time now, which is wonderful. He’s starting to recognise when he needs the space. 🙂

  8. January 14, 2011 / 10:15 am

    The good thing is though, if J is anything like Max, he will notice the routine after just a few days of the same, so it’ll be easier once he knows what to expect.

    The first few days Max was at nursery, it was hellish. Now he knows that he’s going, and that when I pick him up, he’ll get to go back, so it’s not as difficult. Thank goodness!

    Hope J’s start at school isn’t too difficult for you all! x

  9. January 14, 2011 / 10:16 am

    Thanks honey, that means a lot! I just do what I have to do really. It definitely helps, being able to think of how he feels sometimes. Makes it easier to be patient with him. 🙂
    Hope you have a great weekend! x

  10. January 14, 2011 / 10:17 am

    Thanks so much Sam! I am lucky to have such a sweet-natured little man the majority of the time, it makes those hard bits that much easier to deal with! 🙂

  11. January 14, 2011 / 11:14 am

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Marylin aka Softi, Marylin aka Softi, Marylin aka Softi and others. Marylin aka Softi said: This is how I imagine my little man is feeling when he's in meltdown mode. What do you think? #autism #asd #spd […]

  12. January 14, 2011 / 5:39 pm

    I hear you. I found the worst thing has been moving up primary school. My son is in specialist provision, that they forced inclusion onto. He couldn’t cope, they couldn’t cope, with eventual result being meltdown and school breakdown.

    And they’re the ones who are supposed to have the experience. I have no doubt our kids cope with us helping them, but its the outside influences that worry me as they grow.

    Fab post.

  13. January 14, 2011 / 10:02 pm

    That’s something that worries me too. I guess we’ll just have to cross that bridge when we come to it… >_<

  14. January 16, 2011 / 7:29 pm

    Wow. Poor Max. Hugs for him, and for you. xxx

  15. January 16, 2011 / 8:03 pm

    Indeed, it can’t be easy for him, poor wee guy! At least it gives me an insight so it’s easier to be as patient as I need to be with him. 🙂

    Random tangent: 89 days!! (not that I am counting… *cough*) 😀

  16. January 17, 2011 / 8:21 pm

    You are amazing! Beautiful post and he’s very lucky to have a mum that understands, if for unfortunate reasons. *hugs*

  17. January 17, 2011 / 9:47 pm

    Thanks hon. It’s helped to have a bit of understanding for what it’s like for him. x

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