autism · journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

Day 1: Survived Anxiety

Day 1 of placement is over – and I can finally breathe a little. I survived. Savannah survived. I usually back out on everything that gives me anxiety and I didn’t…and I did it. I actually did it. I am tired; I am drained; I am feeling anxious, but I did it and I feel happy. I know I have to face it all again tomorrow but feel slightly more relaxed now that I’ve done it once…

My anxiety has been so severe these past few weeks – but that’s expectant when you have both Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorder, mixed with Avoidant Personality Disorder – right? It’s been so severe even standing up after being in bed gives me great anxiety, and it hasn’t been that bad in a really long time. So, I thought I’d share some insight into how I actually survived today…

Most of you know I’m religious, and I used this today to relax me. I put on my christian playlist on the bus which calmed me slightly. My tactic? Imagining Jesus sitting right next to me. Imagining him getting off the bus with me and walking into placement. Jesus walking right beside me every minute at placement. Feeling as though I wasn’t doing it alone – slightly helped.

The other thing – stimming. Stimming, stimming, stimming and more stimming. If you’re not sure what stimming is head over to my blog post on stimming. I pretty much stimmed when I got up until I got to placement. Then I tried my hardest to relax and be professional and be socially acceptable (because as much as I hate it – stimming is not seen as a positive). Then, as soon as I left the building; the stimming began again.

Anxiety is deliberating. It stops me from speaking; from asking questions; from expressing my thoughts. It stops me from having self confidence; from looking people in the eye; from getting involved in group conversations. It makes it harder to be alone; to work; to do things out of the ordinary routine. It gives me headaches; sickness; tummy problems; panic attacks; cold sweats.

It affects the way I think, feel and behave as well as sending lovely physical symptoms.

But anxiety isn’t going to win…

because Savannah survived today; and she’s going to survive tomorrow

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autism · journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

A New Diagnosis

So today we may have reached a good point in terms of ‘recovery’. I had a meeting with my DA to discuss referral processes for a new diagnosis. I did a referral test which gave a result of 10 out of 10 and have now been processed onto a referral to wait for assessment.

I’m not going into this ‘diagnosis’ until I have 100% confirmation that it is the diagnosis we have been searching for.

Either way, new and positive things may be coming up in the future that will help explain my entire life, my behaviours, my problems, my anxiety, and so forth.

It’s been a rough 24 hours and I have took about 10 steps back in terms of being ‘stable’. My depression has thrived in my defeated mind this last week and my anxiety has not been in my control. Either way, 12 hours later after 10 panic attacks, I’m feeling ready to fight again.

I think people underestimate the struggle of trying to remain ‘okay’ when you battle with so many internal illnesses.

Every single hour of every single day is a big deal for somebody struggling.

This morning was a success – leaving the house, getting a bus and attending two appointments before getting the hour journey bus back.

Little steps are everything.

Please keep trying to make those little steps and push and push and push until you get the help you feel you need.

Love you all, hope you’re doing well! ❤

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journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

Explaining my Stimming…

Stimming. Where do I start with stimming? Maybe I should give you guys an overview on stimming before I go into talking about it and my experience. It’s not really something everyone knows much about.

Stimming is basically short for self-stimulatory behaviours. This means, technically, that somebody is doing something to give themselves sensory input – but what does that mean? Think of it this way: when most people say something, it’s usually to communicate; when they do something, it’s usually to have an effect on the world or themselves; when they look at something, it’s usually because they’re getting information from it. You do something because you want to achieve a consequence. When someone is stimming, they’re speaking, moving or gazing purely to enjoy the sensation it creates, and the state of mind that sensation produces.

Common areas of stimming include:

Visual. Staring at lights; doing things to make the vision flicker such as repetitive blinking or shaking fingers in front of the eyes; staring at spinning objects.
Auditory. Listening to the same song or noise, for instance rewinding to hear the same few notes over and over. Making vocal sounds, tapping ears, snapping fingers etc.
Tactile. Rubbing the skin with hands or with another object, scratching, unusual hand movements and flapping, hands near or in mouth, hand clapping.
Taste/smell. Sniffing objects or people; licking or chewing on things, often things that aren’t edible. Pica can overlap with stimming.
Verbal. Echolalia, basically: repeating sounds, words or phrases without any obvious regard for their meaning.
Proprioception. Rocking side to side or back and forth, swinging, jumping, pacing, running, tiptoeing or spinning , walking in circles.

There’s no one reason why someone stims. It can be a way of shaking up ‘hypo sensitive’ senses – that is, senses that need stronger input to feel things. We all need a certain amount of sensory stimulation to feel comfortable, and if it doesn’t happen in the ordinary run of things, stimming can be a way to get it. It’s also, according to the people who do it, just a nice experience, something that you do because it feels good, calming you down and helping you relax. During stress and anxiety or emotional trauma, a person also reverts to stimming in order to shut things out or self-soothe. Tiredness can also trigger stimming behaviours. Stimming behaviours are likely to occur in those with autism, sensory processing disorders, mental health problems, and someone experiencing current trauma or distress.

[Information provided by ambitious about autism]

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In terms of stimming in relation to me; I didn’t really notice it until about a year and a half ago. I remember rocking in one of my college classes because I felt extremely uncomfortable and distressed in the environment. I’m not sure how long I’d been doing it before then, but it only became prevalent and part of everyday life about a year ago. I am usually oblivious and unaware of my stimming behaviour unless somebody points it out. Sometimes, I am able to notice the stimming and stop it or at least slow it down.

When I first started stimming, I would only tactile stim. I would often rub my hands together or wring my hands. I would sometimes scratch at my skin absentmindedly. I would also do what is known as ‘teepee hands’ which basically means interlocking the fingers into a stiff position. These stims were noticeable to me years before I even realised what stimming was. If someone noticed these behaviours, I was able to stop them. Hand scratching was the most prevalent – occurring when I had panic attacks.

Over time, I’ve developed more stims, targeting more sensory areas in order to fulfil my sensory processing needs. These stims were not noticeable to me until people began pointing them out. One of the biggest stims that people usually notice about me is rocking. I’m not sure when or why I started ‘rocking’ but when people told me I was doing it, I would stop. Eventually rocking became a ‘natural’ stim. I rock about 60-80% of the day where as I used to rock about 10% of the week. From what people have told me; I rock most of the time, more so when sitting. When standing I either bounce from one foot to the other, walk in circles or resort to other stims.

I have noticed recently that I involuntary clap my hands when severely anxious or tired. I clap twice and then stop. It’s almost like an involuntary muscle reaction that my body does when stressed. I also tap my fingers together rapidly, shake my hands, put my hands near my chin or in my mouth, or less frequently; flap.

I fiddle almost all the time, mostly with my tangle but other objects include pens, sleeves of a hoodie, and small stationary equipment.

I find it extremely difficult to open up about this behaviour on my blog because I struggle to tell people about it. I already have enough reasons why people would not consider me ‘normal’ and to stim at this age just looks ‘weird’ and frankly ‘crazy’. After deep thought I realised that I NEEDED to write this blog post because people don’t understand stimming or even realise the reasons why a person does it. Stimming is a self-soothing mechanism that a person does when clearly distressed, tired, emotional, going through trauma or struggling. It’s the body’s natural instinct; after all your mother rocked you as a baby so you could fall asleep.

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From a young age, I have been hypersensitive and ‘fussy’ with the senses. People with sensory processing disorder are oversensitive to things in their environment. Those with SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) and sensory issues often struggle with people touching them, hate mess and having stuff on their hands, fidget often, are bothered by changes (especially those involved with senses), are over sensitive to certain noises, are fussy with food textures and are easily anxious. They also take part in stimming and repetitive behaviours.


If you’ve read until here; thank you. Thank you for trying to understand stimming.

To the person in class who saw me rocking last Monday and then went on to mimic my behaviour to your friends to laugh at me; please understand the reasons why a person stims in the first place. It’s not for fun. It’s not because you’re bored. It’s the body’s natural reaction to trauma, stress, severe anxieties, mental illnesses, processing disorders and various other conditions.

Be mindful.

journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

What is Stimming behaviour?

Self-stimulatory behaviour, also known as stimming and self-stimulation, is the repetition of physical movements, sounds, or repetitive movement of objects common in individuals with developmental disabilities, but most prevalent in people with autistic spectrum disorders. Stimming behaviours have also been noticed in those with mental health problems or those who have been through some type of trauma.

Stimming is considered a behaviour that provides calmness and stimulation. It is also noted to be self-soothing during anxieties, psychosis, unsettled environments and trauma.

Common stimming behaviours, called stims, include:

  • hand flapping
  • rocking
  • head banging
  • repeating noises or words
  • snapping or tapping fingers
  • clapping of the hands
  • spinning objects

Stimming is usually related to the senses.

  • Visual: Staring at lights or ceiling fans; repetitive blinking; moving fingers in front of the eyes; hand-flapping, gazing at nothing in particular; tracking eyes; peering out of the corners of eyes; lining up objects; turning on and off light switches.
  • Auditory: Vocalizing in the form of humming, grunting, or high-pitched shrieking; tapping ears or objects; covering and uncovering ears; snapping fingers; making vocal sounds; repeating vocal sequences; repeating portions of videos, books or songs at inappropriate times.
  • Tactile: Scratching or rubbing the skin with one’s hands or with another object; opening and closing fists; tapping surfaces with fingers and the hand.
  • Vestibular: Rocking front to back; rocking side-to-side; spinning; jumping; pacing.
  • Taste: Placing body parts or objects in one’s mouth; licking objects.
  • Smell: Sniffing or smelling people or objects.

While the underlying cause for stimming is not clear, repetitive movements are associated with a number of medical and/or psychiatric conditions:

  • Sensory deprivation (blindness or deafness)
  • Seizures or brain infection
  • Intellectual disability
  • Drug use
  • Psychiatric disorders like autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, psychosis and anxiety
  • Undiagnosed pain
  • Trauma
  • Pervasive developmental disorders (PDD)

For more information on stimming, visit autism.wikia or speak to a professional. If you would like to talk please email:

savannahaliciax@gmail.com

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