Friday, 7 June 2013

Self-harm and Autism

There are different forms of self-harm. e.g. biting, hitting oneself, cutting, head banging, eye gouging, face or head slapping, skin picking, scratching or pinching, hair pulling, hand or arm biting, cutting.

I used to be ashamed of the fact that I self-harm. I didn't even know there was a word for it until recently. I didn't understand why I did it. I just knew I had to, to cope.

I self-harm by biting my wrists. I am trying to re-direct it. It comes from my childhood when my Father berated, abused and belittled me. I was never taught how to manage my intense and overwhelming emotions. I was expected to behave at all costs, any further emotional outburst was seen as defiance which resulted in further punishment. So to cope with my intense emotions I turned to biting myself to relieve the emotional pressure so I wouldn't get punished. I wrote a blog post about how my Father tried to discipline the Autism out of me and how incredibly detrimental it has been to my mental health. So I am trying to now re-direct years of using self-harm to manage my emotions into a healthier way.

I have also slapped myself in the face (at times, not often) when I am incredibly frustrated with being misunderstood by someone else, usually my husband. It usually comes from a place of already feeling low self-esteem. We will be arguing and I will just slap myself in frustration, repeatedly, because I do not feel heard. I do not get a release from it, it is more about being misunderstood and not being able to get my words out how I need to, in order to get my point across. So I get physical and self-harm. I now realise that I was heading into shutdown which means I lose my ability to speak. I am now more accepting of this shutdown process so I do not force myself to speak when I cannot. I do not feel a need to slap myself in the face very often because I accept this process. I tell the person I am having disagreement with that I need to take break and talk about it later.

I am in the process of setting up a sensory/emotional regulation kit (I will share mine on my blog once it is set up) which includes a bite/chew necklace. I got mine from Ebay. The link I shared is just one place you can buy such a necklace. If you type into google 'Autism Aspergers chew bite necklace' a whole range of websites and online shops will come up. There is plenty of range. I am considering getting this have just bought this chew toy too. I get so much satisfaction from biting something. It is a release of pressure for me.

Anatomy of a meltdown The writer discusses about self-harm as being part of her meltdown and the release she gets from self-harm.

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