scared to stim

I spend so much of my time in public *not stimming*. I really wish I was more comfortable letting others see me move the way I want to….. need to.

I know it would allow me to stress release as I go through my day and mean I would need less recovery time at the end of the day.

My hands want to move, shake, flap, tap my fingertips against each other in rhythmic sequences, make patterns on my face, twist my hair.

My feet want to wiggle, bounce my legs, push down on their own sides and feel that firm pressure.

My shoulders want to move, to hunch up and down. Tight, loose, tight, loose.

My hips want to sway, soothing and steady, side to side.

But instead I sit on my hands, plant my feet flat, stand still, and conform.

I feel cross and disappointed with myself.

“It is okay to need to move” I tell everyone else. Yet I do not often allow myself that same permission.

My internal voice says “sit still”, “concentrate”, “don’t fidget”, “BE STILL”.

The more stressed I am the less I listen to that voice. Sometimes, I find myself tapping my fingers or . Sometimes, I stop when I notice I am doing it. Sometimes I let myself go. No one has ever commented, or asked me about it. So why am I so self conscious?

Why don’t I let myself stim in front of other people most of the time?

It’s fear.

Fear that you will notice. Fear that you will think differently of me. Fear you will pass judgement about the way my body moves. Fear you will comment about it. Fear I will not know what to say if you comment.

I am scared to stim in front of you.

You probably haven’t done anything directly to make me scared to stim in front of you. You would probably tell me that you don’t mind if I do what I need to feel grounded and regulated. You would likely tell me I don’t need to feel scared. But have you done anything to help me feel safe?

Do you challenge societies expectation of normality? Are you vocal about the value of diversity? Do you celebrate difference by sharing the words of people from minority groups? Do you promote less therapy for neurodivergent children? Are you active in defending the bullied and marginalised?

Or do you use words like disorder and deficit when you talk about children, adults, families like mine? Do you tell your children they need to be still, concentrate, stop wiggling? Are you silent when you see people begging for their rights to be upheld?

I notice these things….. I bet your children notice them too. We know what you want from us, and who you want us to be. We know you want us to be normal so that you don’t feel challenged by our natural way of being.

What are you doing to help us feel safe?

5 thoughts on “scared to stim

  1. I know a bit how you feel. Mine are more subtle but I hide them nonetheless. I tried to explain them to certain people in my life but I do not think they understood. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Hi Michelle. My first comment. I love how you’ve written this; it gets me inside your head; inside the head of others who may be struggling with similar issues. I for one, get what you’re talking about though I don’t struggle with the exact same issues. I think we all need to conform to some extent, otherwise society would cease to function. But being paralysed by fear of other people’s expectations is not healthy, either. Perhaps there is a middle ground?

  3. This is exactly me, and the reasons I am scared to stim around people, even my lovely dance mates who I’m /sure/ would reassure me that it’s okay for me to self-regulate when I need to.

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