Yesterday morning was an adventure to say the least. I woke up around 7:00 am, just like every other Saturday morning, to get ready to teach two martial arts classes at my local karate studio. I was especially excited because I had not seen two of the other instructors in a long time and I missed them. I left about an hour later, unaware of how the day would really play out.
One of the other instructors and I were opening up the studio when, all of the sudden, the security system alarm went off… and I was directly adjacent to the loudspeaker. I hit the ground and then bolted out of the room, head thumping and ears ringing from the piercing blare of the alarm. I tried to keep my cool but could not do so. I went into a private office within the studio, crawled underneath the desk, and hid. I was physically shaking, crying, and stimming. A good ten minutes went by when I heard a knock on the door from one of the instructors. I wanted to call out but the words would not leave my mouth. My head and ears hurt, and even worse, I felt a sense of helplessness. Finally, the door swung open and he/she saw me (I don’t know which instructor actually saw me because I was under the desk).
One of my dear friends (who happened to be the other instructor who opened up the studio with me) was apparently summoned. She opened the door and crouched down to where I was. In the ten or fifteen minutes that she was in that room with me, I was slowly able to calm down. Comforting me, we talked for a bit and also sat in silence until I was ready. Still shaking and overstimulated, I was certainly not in the right state of mind to effectively teach class. Good thing there were three other instructors there! Although my friend and I decided it was in my best interest to go home, she didn’t want me driving. There was no way I was going to win that battle. Coincidentally, her mom was actually in the area and offered to drive me home, which I greatly appreciated. As my parents once told me (and that I keep telling myself), this friend is definitely a keeper for life.
Even though the situation was not a good one, I’m so glad that I had someone to help me through it. Looking back on how I used my coping skills, I think that there was definitely some room for improvement, however, I realize that there was only so much that I could do. I got away from the noise as much as I could, went into a private space to try and calm down, and accepted help from someone willing to give it. If anyone has any other advice about how to de-escalate after overwhelming sensory stimulation, I would love to hear it. I’m still working on this one!