Imagine this situation. You’re triggered. Someone says something to you to set you off. It can be innocent or malicious. Just like that the bomb goes off. You’d been calm and collected. Now you’re a force of rage. Something is wrong and your primitive instincts take over. The primal need to fix what’s wrong. You are a force of anger and wrath. Later, when you’ve calmed down, you look back at your actions in horror. What have you done.
Yeah, I’m going to guess I’m not the only autistic person who relates hard to the Hulk.
The Hulk is often understood as an allegory for the id. He’s Bruce Banner’s vicious rage made manifest in an inhuman form. The Hulk is usually not very intelligent, a caveman essentially. He’s the emblem of brute base emotions released. It’s easy to associate him with road rage or bar fights, sudden acts of violence caused by selfish need.
But that’s not the connection I make. For the purposes of this entry, I’m ignoring all the different versions of the Hulk to focus on the most classic one. (I’ll get to those next entry!) I’m talking the guy who gets angry and becomes a giant green rage monster. That Hulk. That’s the one we all know and get.
The Hulk is a deeply relatable character for the autistic reader. He’s mostly a good guy, a nebbish even. He’s smart. He’s good at his job. He never stops trying to do right. We all would be happy to be Bruce Banner. A loving, good soul.
The problem is Bruce Banner is cursed. He carries with him this monster that lives in his brain. He knows it can come out at any time. He does all he can to avoid him. That often means self denial because giving in is too risky. He knows the consequences are dire. He’s as scared of him as the rest of the world.
Everything I just described? That’s what living with a meltdown feels like. You do all you can. You’re in therapy. You’re on meds. You control your stimuli. But it’s there, in your dna.
And then it goes off. For Banner there is no control. For you? Some but the worst meltdowns? They feel like you witness them. They’re bad. So bad.
Then there’s the aftermath. Like Banner, you’re left with ruins. But yours are smaller yet worse. With a bad meltdown maybe you don’t destroy a town, but you develop a list of places you can’t go. People you can’t talk to. Coworkers you upset. Jobs you lose.
And like Banner, the sad piano music plays as you walk away, moving on, knowing you’ll do all you can. But it’ll always come back.