When one of my friends read about how my anxiety relieving scratching could lead to drawing blood she send me a photo and suggested I try something that I later managed to identify as a Tangles Toy. I purchased a couple, one rubbery and covered in small bumps, one covered in a velvet like finish. They are small and can easily sit in my short’s pocket without me noticing it. Unfortunately they really don’t do anything for me. I will happily sit and play with one but it’s like something I am fiddling with rather than gaining any anxiety relief from.
I was playing with friends on my games console the other night and my wife, who was sitting in the same room, commented upon my rapidly bouncing leg. I’ve always been a “fidget arse” as my family would say since I was a child and leg bouncing will often happen when I am sitting around a table. I think the problem is that where I play my video games is in a room directly above our bedroom and I am sure that I have had hints that my leg bouncing can disturb my wife’s sleep. When my wife commented again about my leg later, I explained that I didn’t know my leg was bouncing whereas she thought that if she pointed it out then I would be able to control it. I pointed out that if I am unaware of it, there is nothing I can do, it is just part of who I am. This incident reminded me of my stimming post and I couldn’t decide if leg bouncing in this case counted as stimming.
The other morning I woke up before day broke and I was unable to go to back sleep. As I sometimes to, I moved into the music room and lay down on the sofa with various blankets. Sometimes I don’t sleep well because I am a bit cold, so when the dog appeared as I left our bedroom, I encouraged him to follow me because I knew he would make an excellent hot water bottle equivalent. He waited patiently on the floor as I settled down on the sofa arranging the blankets to cover both my feet and shoulders. Finally ready, I told to come up and he settled himself down on my stomach, his substitute for underfloor heating. The change of scene and/or the warmth of the dog were enough to return me to my dreams and we slept together until I woke up at 8.30am with the dog looking at me.
I reached out and stroked my dog, enjoying the touch of his thick rather shaggy fur. I remembered the tangle toy and thought how much nicer and more comforting stroking my dog was. I pulled my other hand out and begin a two handed massage of his body. We must have spent a good five minutes, possibly ten playing like this him wriggling about and trying to mouth my hands whilst I changed positions and directions of attack, rubbing different parts of his body. It was a lovely start to the day, a busy day of anxiety for me.
Was it the thickness of my dog’s coat that gave me so much pleasure, or was it his warmth? I actually think the difference was that he was lying on me so that all his movements were also felt through my body; I was touching him and he was touching me. I think this is fundamental for my comfort, I need to be touched. Normally I will be doing the touching, I rub my legs, I enfold my hands in each other, I scratch my head, I run my finger over my scalp, I pull and twist my beard. Tangle Toys don’t provide this touch feedback sensation and so do not satisfy my needs. I think the touching feedback helps keep me grounded in the here and now rather than being lost in my distressed place.
My wife has taken the dog with her for a long walk today. I appreciate that this isn’t what she really wants to do (look after a dog) and that the dog will love the exploring and exercise but I miss his comforting presence and joy at seeing me.