Stimming is pretty awesome. I think everyone should do it. I have apparently been doing it almost constantly for my entire life, but only recently learned that it is called stimming. Stimming is basically self-stimulating. It can be anything really, anything that you do yourself that can keep or hold your interest.
For me, stimming usually manifests as spinning things around that are near me. I will spin my phone, my watch, pencils, binders, and laptops, anything that is small enough to be spun. Anyone that knows me will probably notice that I constantly spin around my ring that I wear. That is precisely why I wear the thing. It is an endless source of mild background entertainment. Ironically, I started wearing the ring as a reminder to ‘act more civilized (normal)’ while I am out in public. I never wear the at home, it comes off as soon as I enter the door. Anyway, the ring isn’t a bad thing entirely. I wear a spinner ring, and that’s what they are made for. Most people just assume that I am really nervous or jazzed up on too much coffee, both of which are usually true at all times.
I also really enjoy making knots out of my fingers – this one is a bit weird and hard to explain. I find it very satisfying to make patterns with fingers, especially if I can make symmetric patterns, and even better if I can make a pattern that exposes the nice soft skin of the second knuckle. Yeah, like I said, this one is a bit weird. I make a concerted effort not to do this one in public ever unless I am about to have a breakdown and have to distract myself from something.
I tap my fingers a lot. I try to make rhythms and patterns, but mostly I am trying to see how fast I can tap in a row. I will make symmetric patterns such as 1234 Bass 4321. The thumb counts as bass here, try it. If you tap your fingers and then your thumb, it sounds like a really cool bass drum. You can also get a totally different sound effect if you tap your fingernails instead of the fleshy pads at the fingertips. There is a whole art and science to finger tapping; I bet you have never even thought about it before. There is endless entertainment waiting at your fingertips (pun intended).
Sometimes, I will start a new stim without even realizing it. One day a few years ago, I started blowing bubbles out of nowhere. Now it’s pretty much automatic that if I am trying to think, I start to blow bubbles. That one annoys the crap out of me, because it’s really embarrassing and not something adults do.
While I was in college, I used to constantly move my eyebrows up and down while squinting. I liked the way it felt on my eye, it kind of scratches the underside of the corner of the eye in a way that nothing else can. It is very satisfying, but also very weird. I get a lot of strange looks when I do that one around other people.
I also spend a lot of time rubbing soft or smooth things. Smooth things just feel amazing, that’s just a fact of the universe. And if something is smooth, then it seems rude to not appreciate it for being smooth, so I have to rub it, and sometimes run my lips over it. Apparently, that one is called mouthing. I got made fun of daily all throughout school for doing that. It took me until senior year to figure out that I could put duck-tape over my pencils so that I wouldn’t put them in my mouth.
Well, now that I have bared some of my most embarrassing traits, please don’t lose respect for me. Let me explain why I do these things.
Stimming for me is something that is very calming. Life is stressful, in case you hadn’t noticed. Now try to imagine going through that same stressful life, while having no understanding of most of the things around you. Try going through life with very little or no support network around you, and knowing that there is nothing to save you if you fail. Try going through life knowing that you are fundamentally different than everyone else, but not knowing any words or ways to describe it other than the nasty things that everyone yells at you and the hateful terms that they throw at you. Try going through life believing that you are stupid, pathetic, ugly, and useless and that you will never have friends or be happy. Try going through life without understanding who you are on any level.
Suddenly, fidgeting with a ring, or chewing on a pencil, or making patterns with your fingers seems a lot less weird. All of those things, all of those stimming activities, provide a way to offer some small miniscule form of security and protection. Stimming is a tiny activity that I have complete control over, no matter the outside world throws at me. Stimming is like a security blanket that is always there, no matter where I am.
There are very few things in life that are ever stable or consistent; change is the only constant thing. That is true for everyone, but it is especially true for trapeziums. For trapeziums, we have to deal with the regular changes that everyone faces, but also the changes in ourselves, the changes in other people’s emotions, the changes in our own emotions, and the changes faced with aging and growing up. All of those changes happen so much more frequently than the usual changes, and what’s worse is that no one ever talks about or teaches you how to handle them. All the regular shapes seem to just learn it one day and never question it.
Stimming is one of the few things that is actually truly permanent. I can always find something to stim on or with anywhere I go. I don’t need to rely on anyone else or anything else in order to do it. I can stim anywhere and anytime and instantly start to feel better. I can’t really imagine a life without it.