I read a news report this morning that both disturbed and saddened me. Yesterday a 22 year old woman was shot dead by police outside a Hungry Jacks in Sydney’s west. She was wielding and swinging a knife around and acting in a ‘zombie’ like fashion.
It was later learned she had Aspergers.
Apparently she got to a point where she was swinging the knife at police officers, they tried capsicum spray and tasers but that didn’t stop her. So they resorted to shooting her.
I find it interesting that she was described as zombie like. It seems as though she was focused on one thing and had blocked out everything else since she was also weaving through traffic. I’m no expert but I suspect she was having a serious meltdown.
There are meltdowns and there are serious meltdowns. I’ve experienced two types of meltdowns – the sensory and the emotional. A sensory meltdown is one that occurs when I feel like my senses are overwhelmed – too much noise or too much touching and I’ll usually snap in anger. An emotional meltdown occurs when I feel overwhelmed emotionally.
Extreme versions of either of these meltdowns occurs when I can just block everything else out and I’m focused purely on whatever is overwhelming me. This is when I’m more likely to act out and do something dangerous such as run onto a busy road or throw a chair at someone. I’m just trying to release my burden. I’m not thinking about consequences.
I have to wonder if this type of meltdown occurred in this tragic case.
I don’t blame the police for doing what they did. They were trying to keep the community safe and they didn’t know the woman had Aspergers until after the event. How were they to know?
I sometimes have the attitude that my loved ones just need to deal with the fact that I have meltdowns and I try to remove myself from responsibility. But I don’t know if I really can have such an attitude when it could potentially lead to danger.
I often roll my eyes when I’m told to just ‘take a deep breath’ or ‘calm down’ but maybe I shouldn’t just shrug that off as ignorance. I’ve come this far. Maybe there is a way to relieve my sensory overload in a safe way. I just need to find out what that is.