Everything online about catatonia is about what it looks like to doctors and strangers, from the outside.

If I google “what does catatonia feel like?” I get a bunch of articles about how it’s diagnosed. :/

What it feels like to me (and it’s different for everyone, sometimes very different), in approx order:

1) I start to lose words. I know what I want to say but I can’t say the words. Maybe I am hungry, and I have to try to say it in different ways before I find a way that works.

"I'm hungry" ❌
"I want food" ❌
"Can I have something to eat?" ❌
"Do you have anything I can put in my stomach?" ❌
"Empty, tired. Got anything?" ✅

2) I lose access to whole bits of language, like grammar. I can see/hear them in my head but they're stuck there. They don't make it even halfway to my mouth.

3) My movements get sluggish and stilted. I start to feel really uncomfortable that my face and eyes are exposed.

4) My gaze is lowered. I can't really move my arms. I can probably walk a bit but I can't really pay attention to where I'm going. Voices louder than a whisper are painful. My environment starts to become intolerable.

5) All my words are gone. I might be able to open my mouth.

Time stops happening to me. Everything is a neverending moment. Memories aren't really being formed any more. Anything you say to me won't get processed. I feel frozen in a state of permanent electrocution.

6) If someone tries to look at my face or into my eyes I will cover my face. I start to feel like my whole body is exposed, and I might hunch over and wrap my arms around myself.

At this stage if someone touches me I will probably lurch away violently and maybe make a noise.

7) Kaput. I'm probably curled up on the floor with my face covered. I've probably taken my glasses off and put them somewhere near me on the floor. Every muscle is as tense as it can be. I can't move, I can't respond, if someone touches me it makes it worse, but I'm frozen.

At this point I might be doing other stuff that I don't know about? Like, crying or making weird noises or breathing weirdly? I don't know, I'm basically unaware of my impact on the people and space around me.

The longest I've known this to last is two to three hours, I think?

The inside of my head feels like a relentless deafening volume. I can't relax anything. I'm probably pressing parts of myself into other parts of myself so hard that it hurts. (Like, hands into eyes/face, for example.)

The first sign that it's going away is I feel aware of my breath relaxing. Then other muscles start to feel like they might be able to relax too one day. I start to be aware that I'm in pain from the tension.

Being okay with my face being exposed is one of the last things.

Language comes back in bits gradually, sometimes from as early as my muscles starting to relax, but sometimes it takes much longer.

They're often caused by paradoxes. Like, my brain gets stuck in a loop, because two things that shouldn't both be possible are somehow both happening. Or, someone insists on something when I know the opposite to be true.

But sometimes they just happen and I never find out why. Sometimes stress/anxiety or sustained effort is a factor.

Once it was caused by the sound of the car engine while we were driving along a road. Someone asked if I was okay and I sort of grunted, but the driver didn't pull over. I sort of tumbled out of the car when we eventually stopped, badly hurt my knee, but couldn't move for ages.

They're completely exhausting, in a totally unique way, and executive function is just not even a thing for at least 24 hours afterwards. I'm often very slowed down and feel stupid and sluggish for many hours. Sleep helps.

For a long time I didn't realise this was catatonic episodes. I thought it was ~autistic shutdown~ or that they might be the same thing.

I am still really not sure what autistic shutdown is! There's this comic though: Shutdown seems... less unpleasant?

Oh I thought of another useful thing!

I don't always go all the way in to the worst part and then back out again. Sometimes it's only in as far as (3) and then back out again or whatever. If the environment/situation is safe and quiet, just stopping everything starts a reversal.

@cassolotl I get much the same thing, almost always stress triggered

I've found when the vocal subroutines crap out I can still write things down on paper or switch to a language I only half know

@troubleMoney Yeah, sometimes I can still write. But sometimes I can only write the things I can say, and I can't write the things I can't say. I haven't worked out the pattern for identifying the things I still have access to yet.

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@cassolotl I have shutdowns and yes what you have described sounds much more unpleasant. I really relate to a lot of what you said, but just not to that extent. Kinda like a more mild version. I can power through a shutdown if I have to (but I'll probably pay for it later with a panic attack). Definitely stress- and set off by being overwhelmed.

@Cyannin Yeah, it's like, with catatonia you either remove yourself from the situation or it gets worse and doesn't stop, and you don't really have any control or choice except to escape from the situation before you're unable to move! So if you can power through an autistic shutdown, even with delayed negative results, it does sound a bit different in that way.

Anyway, that makes sense! Thank you for sharing. :)

@cassolotl a lot of this up to 5 is very similar to how migraine onset affects me, which I've been told unofficially is probably some kind of non-epileptic seizure (there are definite differences along the way and i jump from 5 to 7 because the of the pain but wow, there really are similarities :thinking_fire: )

@LazyTechsupport Oh wow that is interesting, also your migraines sound hellish! D:

@cassolotl they're a whole basket of no-fun and I'd say the same for your episodes, stay safe Cas <3

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long response about my experience of catatonia 

long response about my experience of catatonia 

long response about my experience of catatonia 

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re: long response about my experience of catatonia 

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