Over the past couple of years I’ve been ridding myself of the harmful behaviours and practices that I’ve let become a part of my stimming and my meltdown management. It’s been an interesting ride and I’m not quite there yet.
Here is a list of the things I’ve accomplished:
- No more scratching until I’m bleeding
- No more cutting
- No drinking in access
- No more reliance on nicotine
It’s not been an easy ride, each new stage of letting go of a behaviour has had its own issues. In actively changing the scratching and cutting behaviour that has become a stim, I was reprogramming a part of my brain what controlled my reaction to immediate stimuli. Now, with time and practice and no short amount of effort my stims no longer involve those two things.
Alcohol wasn’t such a hard one. Alcoholism runs in my family and I chose to make a conscious decision to stop after one or two drinks. It’s easy for me to get carried away and drink more than that, but again with practice I’ve found that I don’t have to give in to that particular side of my family history. In part that’s down to my desire to support C3 and C Three Europe, which I wouldn’t feel right doing if I hadn’t addressed what could (although it didn’t) become an issue for me down the line.
The nicotine though…. That one has been the toughest of all to beat. 8 weeks nicotine free and I’m slowly starting to see my thoughts of grabbing a piece of nicotine gum or a lozenge as just thoughts, not cravings. Over half my life addicted to nicotine, whether smoking it or using NRT (nicotine replacement therapy), not to mention being exposed to second hand nicotine from birth, and it’s not that difficult to see why I never thought I would see this day.
In giving up nicotine though, I’m finding I need to reach a whole new level of coping with sensory issues. I never ever suspected that the nicotine dampened my sensory reactions to stimuli. I just wasn’t aware how a hit would literally stop the way so and so across the office snorting every time she coughs could send my auditory nerves crazy. Or how coming out from behind my partitioned desk and seeing so many faces would make me dizzy.
There’s a lot that goes on in everyday life that has suddenly become louder, brighter, stranger. I’m tapping, flapping, humming, rocking, and patting more since I quit nicotine than I had in about 15 years combined. Add in the horrendous bursitis pain on top of my arthritis and I’m pretty much living on sensory edge.
I’ve discovered something to help at work though. The simple building of a rubber band ball which I can pass from hand to hand is a beautiful thing. I’m still working on ways to help in other situations, but I’ll get there. I’m determined to get there.