Emma bites herself, occasionally pulls her own hair and less frequently will smack her head into the wall or punch herself in the face. I hesitated writing about this on such a public forum because… well, because it is so public and people come to this topic with a great many strong feelings. But Emma asked me to “put it on the blog” so I am, though with some ambivalence. I ask that anyone who chooses to comment do so with the love, care and compassion you would hope others would have for you, were you to talk about things that are so deeply personal. I will just add that Emma is incredibly courageous and I have nothing but admiration for her desire to speak so publicly about a topic that brings up so much distress for so many.
I asked Emma if she would be willing to discuss what is going on when she bites herself. This is something that has happened nearly every day at her school this past week.
“I am anxious about angering those who are watching, but can’t control my aching feelings of distress.
“Biting my arm is helpful in giving those difficult feelings a pain I can control. Getting mad at me makes it worse.
“Trying to force me to stop does not change how badly I feel, just adds to shame I already have.
“I know it upsets people, but it’s not about them, it’s about not being able to describe massive sensations that feel too much to tolerate.
“Fear takes over.
“Stress becomes impossible.
“I need helpful thoughts of calming kindness. Reassuring words of understanding, instead of irritation and impatience.”
*I asked Emma if she could sense people’s emotions and if that added to the overload.
She wrote, “Yes, it makes it worse.”