Reoccuring Reaction during therapy

Hi all,

Don't know how many of you experience this while in therapy, but I have had this problem for some time and I'm just now getting the nerve to post about this.

Like many others during therapy, I get anxious. And when we start to get into the nitty gritty of a certain topic, it's like my mind takes over and I begin to rub my left wrist with my thumb/fingernail of my right hand. T wants to know why I do this. He does know of my past and realizes there had been a SA...why do I do it? Well, I told him I don't really even know I'm doing it until he points to it or reminds me of it. I tell him I don't even feel anything when I'm doing it, so he wants to know why I do it then. I really have any answers for him. He just says that "Everything has a purpose." But, what if it is subconsious?

We have talked about it several times, but he tells me that he still doesn't understand it. I guess I don't either. Last time we did trauma work, he gave me two stress balls to hold onto to help curb the digging into the wrist syndrome. It did help. Maybe it takes time?

I don't know. Any advice you wonderful people could offer would be excellent. Thank you in advance.

LJB
Original Post
I do a similar thing....but more of a hand-wringing I guess....I was told (not by me T) that it is a "self soothing" thing....I know my T notices (I eventually notice on my own) but she never says anything about it (when I notice on my own, I can usually stop)....this was awhile ago, now I tend to grab her small couch pillow when I get there and I hold it in my lap to help keep me comfortable....instead of rubbing my fingers/hands I kind of rub the corners of the pillow, I guess, when I get anxious.
Hi LJB,

Weird, I do something very similar. I sometimes tightly grab my left wrist with my right hand. Other times I just gently rub it with a few fingers of my right hand. I feel this ache, deep in my left wrist, when I am anxious or talking about past trauma.

I am not sure about a meaning, but it probably means something.
Well, my T has been telling me that I'm going to wear a hole right through my wrist if I keep doing that, and last Thursday, I did. Horrible session, full of triggers and flashback and hightened anxiety. I didn't even realize a blister had formed and burst from my rubbing it. It didn't hurt at the time, but I sure notice it now...like every time I move my wrist!It's probably my fault, since I opted not to use a "stress ball" before we started.
When I get anxious in sessions I usually hold on tight to the pillow on the coach or shake my foot! I never notice I am doing anything until T either brings it to my attention or asks me why my anxiety is running high. Once I know I am doing it I can usually stop but I am really focused to not do it.
Interesting! I too have problems sitting still when I'm anxious/distressed. I'm always fidgeting with my hands and I'm always shaking my foot up and down. My SE therapist explains it as an autonomic nervous system response. For me, my normal response to something stressful/traumatic is to freeze. But I also have this underlying flee response. My system is not able to regulate very effectively. I often simultaneously have a powerful urge to run out of the therapy room but am, in reality, stuck frozen on the couch. My SE T says that it's like the gas and brake pedals in a car - they are both being pushed. So the response is that I'm caught feeling frozen but also have this overwhelming energy deep inside me. It comes out in my fidgets and inability to stay still. (a lot of times when I feel really frozen in session, I will exercise right after I leave. I feel like I have to get out my stored energy that was accumulating as I sat frozen.) Sometimes in session, we have followed my urge but without moving. I imagine myself completing whatever the urge is. It's supposed to complete the response..follow it until the end so that I won't be caught up in the urges. That's a very basic explanation of it. I find it so interesting! Even though I've done some of these exercises, I still find myself fidgeting though. My regular T has never commenting on it, although it's very obvious and I know she notices. I get self-conscious when my SE T draws attention to it. But I guess that's the kind of therapy she does! The body is so interesting.
That fight/freeze/flee response is very powerful for me. I have even gone to the extreme of asking my T to lock the dead bolt. I have no idea if that is to keep me in the room so I don't run away or so no one else can come in when we are intensely processing information. Whatever the reason, I think it helps calm me down to some extent.

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