Last week we were getting changed after swimming and a sauna. Eldest asked Small about some scars she has. Small explained that when she can’t get her clothes on because they are hurting her, she instead scratches herself as hard as she can. Small said the pain from scratching till it bleeds stops her thinking about the sensory pain from putting clothes on.
Small asked Eldest about some of her scars. She was curious as Eldest doesn’t have the same problems with clothes that she does. So why would she have hurt herself? Eldest was confused for a while and looked me, not knowing what to say to her little sister. I wondered out loud if Eldest could think of other things she might want to distract herself from by hurting herself. Eldest thought then said yes maybe to stop herself thinking about difficult thoughts or when she feels anxious. She said she likes to use sharp things to scratch or cut herself.
And my girls stood comparing scars and chatting about when and how they did them, as though this was the most normal thing in the world to do when you are 8 and 10 year old little girls.
And I managed not to cry. But only just.
Both my girls suffer from a lot of anxiety. I am always trying to think of new therapeutic ways to help them. Neither child sleeps well (this is a huge understatement), Bunny suffers from quite severe separation anxiety, nightmares and cries A LOT and Kitten is probably the most anxious person I have ever met – self harming, very hyperigilant, rocking, stimming, nightmares etc etc.
So my mum found this lovely little creature online:
It’s a Worry Eater; you write your worry on a piece of paper and zip it into her mouth and then the Worry Eater deals with it for you. Isn’t that a lovely idea? Worth a try mainly for Kitten who is a bundle of stress and worries.
So I was explaining this to my girls and suggested we could share her and put our worries in there especially if they felt they couldn’t tell me. Bunny was very enthusiastic. I turned to Kitten ‘What do you think Kitten?’ ‘It’s very cute Mummy but I don’t think I’ll use her. I’m lucky I don’t have any worries.’
Well that has taken the wind out of my sails somewhat. It is all very well to provide the Worry Eater but if Kitten does not have the level of introspection needed then it’s never going to work. Everyone involved in Kitten’s care recognises how anxious she is, but if she herself is unable to recognise even the most minor worry then my Worry Eater will have to go back on the shelf for now.
Back to the drawing board….