The Ghosts Of Breakdowns Past

✉️

An interesting thing came up earlier when I was wondering if I could figure out who originally inspired me to blog: a reference on one of my websites from the final month of 1998 to “nervous breakdowns (you know, the ones where [I sit] under a pine tree in the parking lot of the Asian market down the street, chain-smoking and watching the rain for an hour)”.

This would have been one year into ownership of The Millennium Cafe in southeast Portland; I and another regular had bought the business about a year prior, and this would have been around the time that the other party left the business. I’ve legitimately no recollection of the reasons for this, except that it definitely had to do with me and my capacities or performance as a business partner.

We’ll have to blame that on the severely-deficient autobiographical memory, which also would be responsible for the fact that I didn’t remember these so-called nervous breakdowns, but I know exactly which market and exactly which tree.

In all likelihood, the issues between me and my business partner retroactively can be traced to my then-undiagnosed autism: either the responsibilities of business ownership were beyond my capabilities, or they were beyond those capabilities absent accommodation and mitigation. These breakdowns were some form and fashion of autistic burnout.

The business hobbled along, mostly due to friends and regulars bartering internet access and coffee in exchange for working shifts, then died altogether the following November.

Around the time of my autistic burnout and “depressive episodes” brought on by a job placement in late 2017 and early 2018, I’d tried to recall other moments of that kind of mental health crisis prompted by demands exceeding my resources. All I could remember was that time at the New York Public Library when I realized I was hiding from everyone behind the office door of my absent boss, and that one time I couldn’t get out of bed and go to work at all, both in the mid-90s.

It makes me wonder what other moments are hiding in reservoirs to which I have no access due to SDAM, or which never really became encoded as memories at all.