Stimming, tics, fidgeting, psychomotor agitation



My name is Xanthe Wyse. Diagnosed bipolar 1 disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety disorder.

I made another video about this topic a while back which is one of my most viewed videos so thought I’d do an update.

Dozens of people have asked me if I’m autistic, as I ‘stim’ a lot. Hundreds of different ways. The movements are subconscious and I tend to put a few objects related to what I’m processing nearby in case I need to fidget. The objects help me with memory issues, to focus and stay on topic and also to process something.

I don’t need any objects at all though as can do things like run my hands through my hair.

Stimming (self-stimulatory behaviours) also called stereotypy are repetitive, often rhythmical movements. Can also be auditory, vocal, visual. All humans and animals ‘stim’. It’s not an issue unless it’s at excessive and impairing and distressing levels.

A lot of people think stimming is a feature of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) but this is not necessarily the case.

I also have mild tics at times such as hard blinking and occasional involuntary hand and face movements. Not severe nor impairing enough for a diagnosis of a tic disorder.

Psychomotor agitation is a clinical term used with some diagnoses such as bipolar disorder and anxiety. Can include talking faster (pressure of speech), pacing, needing to move all the time, restlessness and rearrange things.

I show some of the ways I have ‘stimmed’ or fidgeted in my videos. Also why I do it.

– to discharge excessive energy (hyperarousal energy with elevated/mixed mood episodes or anxiety) eg leg jiggling
– to stay grounded and present enough to keep speaking (I speak like flow of consciousness in my videos – completely improvised – I find this easier) – eg squeezing tube of paint
– to express myself – eg dance-walking, dance-painting, hand-dancing, symbolic colours
– self-soothing (eg hand in hair, soft-toy)
– for fun & entertainment eg when spinning around on swing as a child
– to stop myself from dissociating eg when driving I might sing to get to a safe spot to pull over to rest

I am more sensory seeking when I am manic – more interested in sensual sensory experiences (masturbation, nice fragrances, shimmery things, colours etc).

My movements are more jerky when I am expressing intense emotion (unfamiliar to me). Usually have intense emotions shut down, including in this video.

Last minute of this video cut off – bit more about shutdowns and psychomotor agitation.

Some people stim and tic in ways that are indicating distress and impairment. I didn’t really discuss that in this video as was talking more about my own experiences. In these cases, may suggest a diagnosis (see a psychiatrist and psychologist if concerned).

Source: Youtube