Bite your Tongue! (No Really, Don’t…)
Helios 44-2 film lens + Canon Rebel XSI
I’ve decided to write this post about a sensitive subject matter that is both confusing and often misunderstood. While I’m not a doctor, I do have my degree in Behavioral Sciences (yea! I can say that now!) as well as my bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and, I’m currently working on my Masters’s in Psychology of Addiction and Counseling and have spent a great deal of time studying OCD and other psychological and emotional disorders. I’m not merely spouting theoretical book noise, however, I’ve been an OCD sufferer from the time I was a young girl. These days, my symptoms are almost always dormant, due to aggressive home therapy (and homeopathic medicine which is somewhat controversial) but it works for me, and that’s what’s most important at the end of the day. I do what works for me.
Ten years ago, I couldn’t find any posts about tongue or cheek biting. Nor could I find any five years ago. Only recently, I’ve seen more and more posts about people who bite their tongues until they bleed, etc., most are asking questions and wonder if it’s a form of OCD or other psychological disorder. I can answer that.
Yes. It is.
When I was a young girl, maybe 7 or so, I developed a horrific habit of chewing the flesh on the insides of my cheeks- ripping off the cheek flesh and spitting it out. It’s really quite a disgusting habit! My habit was still in its infancy, unfortunately, and gradually, I began to chew on the sides of my tongue- often not satisfied until it bled and my tongue would swell. I didn’t dare speak to a therapist about it. I knew she would think of it as a psychological disorder and the next step would be medicine from a shrink. No thanks! I don’t think the solution for every problem that manifests is pharmaceutical medicine. There must be other ways.
Taking medicine for an uncontrollable habit is merely putting a band aid on an amputated limb. It does nothing to get to the root of the problem. Oftentimes, a psychiatrist will prescribe a medicine for OCD or other tricky disorders all too quickly, without really breaking down the matter and getting to the roots of what is really going on. It should be understood that tongue-biting isn’t a “cause” but a result of a cause. It’s the effect.
I needed to get to the root of why I was ripping at my tongue, and why I was causing my own muscle to bleed. When the pain would begin to set in, I’d gently scrape my teeth over my tongue, causing a “sweet” kind of pain. It was like pain on pain, and it brought about a euphoric feeling. It was only when I began studying Substance Abuse at my university that I realized what was really going on.
Children spin around as toddlers to get dizzy. The child is literally trying to get high! It’s a human curiosity and it’s in every one of us. Do we all act upon it? No. But we all have the built-in curiosity and capability to settle that curiosity by trial and error. I experienced heightened trauma and abuse as a child. I never really made a connection between the trauma that was inflicted upon me involuntarily, and the trauma that I voluntarily inflicted upon myself thereafter.
Somehow, in my mind, I felt that I needed to punish myself. I’m not talking about consciously, but subconsciously. And also, the physical pain distracted me from the emotional pain. Again, much of this was taking place on a subconscious level, which is why I would find myself doing it over and over, absentmindedly.
Eventually, after much introspection, I came to realize that biting my tongue in such a way, put me in the same category of self-mutilators. I didn’t want to accept it for many years, but it is the exact same thing. Cutting one’s arm with a razor or cutting one’s tongue (or cheek) with the teeth is still cutting just the same.
I used to think it was self pity. And then I believed it was guilt. From there, I made connections psychologically. Over the years I’ve discovered that it’s a multi-tiered disorder. It’s not just one thing that is causing a person to self-mutilate, but a combination of physiological, socioeconomical, biochemical, psychosocial (the list goes on) factors that when combined- cause an explosive reaction that results in pain, and the desire for pain.
To better understand the depth of this disorder, one should consider what’s going on in the brain every time a biter rips off the flesh, or, a cutter cuts him or herself. Our brain releases neurotransmitters called endorphins. These are the feely-good chemicals that act as natural painkillers. They actually mimic opiates such as morphine and codeine. Stress and pain are the two most common reasons that these endorphins are released into the bloodstream. Once the endorphins are kicked out, a series of natural biological responses occur immediately following: feelings of euphoria, a regularity in appetite, enhanced immune responses, and a release of sex hormones. Who would have thought pain could do all of that?
Upon learning this, I have a new theory as to why cutters cut and biters rip off their tongue and cheek flesh: it’s not simply OCD, or self pity, or guilt (or anger, etc.), it’s much deeper than those things: It’s a drug addiction. Inflicting pain triggers the exact same endorphins that morphine, codeine, and other narcotics/opiates do! Once these chemicals learn their neural pathways repetitiously, they take on a life of their own and without the consent of the host, they begin to call the shots.
There is a difference, however in degrees of this “drug abuse”, between cutters and biters.
Cutters are ritualistic. They prepare for their cutting and even just the very thought of their utensils and other preparatory goods will trigger the release of those euphoria-inducing endorphins. The adrenaline kicks off a bit, and the sympathetic nervous system goes into fight-or-flight mode. The heart beat speeds up, breathing becomes quicker, the pupils can either dilate or shrink, depending on the level of adrenaline, the palms may get sweaty- there are very physical changes that take place in cutters. Secrecy is a large part of their preparatory ritual. Contrary to what many people think about cutters trying to “get attention”, it’s quite the opposite. It’s not a “cry for help”; they’re often very secretive about their cutting.
Biters (of the tongue and cheeks) however are not ritualistic in their behaviors. I am a biter. (I would know.) Cutters have times throughout the day and night that they prefer to cut. Sometimes, it’s because of environmental factors, such as people being home or not, etc. Usually, they’re more systematic and methodical though. Biters don’t have to “plan” for biting. If the stress level rises, the tool is right there! The teeth get to work at once, nibbling first- scoping out the territory to find a good soft, painful, “raw” area to traumatize. And so it begins. The teeth start to dance in a bit of a frenzy, darting here and there, finding more flesh to attack- taste buds are mercilessly ripped off in pieces, or in whole- and then the host realizes what’s happening and the guilt comes in. The biter stops, and swears to try and stop for good. But by now, the endorphins have already been sent out and the mission has (temporarily) been accomplished. The “drug” has been partaken and the person has gotten his or her “fix”. Literally. Just like a junkie.
And so it must be treated like a substance abuse issue also. It’s not merely a “psychological disorder”, like OCD. It’s very much a biological/physiological disorder and should be handled as such. There absolutely will be withdrawals if a person tries to stop “cold turkey”. Perhaps not seizures or other dramatic withdrawal symptoms, but changes in appetite, sleep, stress levels, hormone levels, attention and focus, irritability, and other areas will absolutely be affected.
I wouldn’t recommend prescription medication in treating this type of disorder. Why treat a “neurochemical drug disorder” with drugs? I would recommend replacing the cutting/biting activity with other activities that release the same endorphins: laughter, sex, exercise, ginseng, vanilla scented aromatics, dark chocolate, a firm massage, and music- to name a few.
What’s helped me tremendously is pausing for a moment, when I realize my thoughts are going in that direction, and cleaning out my mind- immediately- taking a few deep breaths- calming myself, and I’ll “regroup” my thought processes. Usually, the # 1 trigger of biting/cutting is stress. I can’t really speak for cutters, as I’ve never really been a “cutter”, but the cutting/biting process is the same, so I would assume that cutters are triggered by stress as well. Even if it’s not an overt and obvious stress, stress is most likely the culprit.
There’s truth in the adage “mind over matter”. I was able to give birth to four children calmly through my determination and solid mindset. I had very little pain medication (I chose to have my 3 girls “all natural” so that I could be bonded with them in the pain process) and didn’t scream at all. I controlled my mind and told myself that the pain was “nothing at all”. And, through deep meditation and control, I was able to give birth without screaming and wailing. So, I do believe the same can be achieved by simply taking a moment, pausing- and telling myself that “biting isn’t the answer”.
At that moment, I can redirect my “biting thoughts” to the source of my stress. After locating the source of my stress, I can then reroute my energy to do what I can to eliminate the stress, rather than cut my flesh with my teeth. In this way, I’m laying the axe to the root and over time and with practice, will become more successful and efficient at eliminating the biting(/cutting) altogether.
It has to be a conscious effort. And it has to be a cold, hard choice.
But these simple “mental exercises” shine the light on the problem area, allowing the person to see what is truly going on (and where), so that he or she does not continue to drone on in the same methodical disease-driven behavior, and to proactively and consciously choose a healthier path- one step at a time.
Footnote: Just as there are various degrees and types of substance abuse, there are various degrees and types of cutting/biting. One person’s combining factors may not be another’s. Each person must identify his or her own stressor/s and work to eliminate the source or sources of those stressors. If the person feels that he or she is the source of his or her own stress, then rather than eliminate the source- try and peacefully merge to coexist harmoniously with oneself.
I hope this was of some help to some of you biters and cutters out there. Your mind is a very powerful machine. You absolutely have the goods to turn this thing around, and I wish you all the best. x
Wow. I’ve actually never heard of biting. I’ve heard of cutting, of course (in fact, one of my main characters is a cutter!). Thank you for explaining all the aspects. I’m so glad you’ve found things to help you. There are so many dimensions to OCD, it’s astonishing really.
btw, I never got your poem book. Remember I mentioned I was worried the purchase didn’t go through cuz the page shut down on the last step? I guess my concerns were valid. DANG.
April 14, 2014 at 7:43 pm
Beth, you need a medal after reading that 10 mile post. Ha…but really, thanks for checking it out! And one of your main characters is a cutter- get outta here! What timing, eh? And yeah, I’m always surprised at the ever-increasing number of OCD sufferers I encounter on a daily basis. So many more than I would have ever expected. Looking forward to your debut. ;0)
April 14, 2014 at 10:00 pm
I always love reading your posts, but my favourites by far are ones like this. I’ve chewed the inside of my bottom lip since I was about 6, I don’t even notice I’m doing it until either someone points it out or my mouth is full of blood. I’d love to get a handle on this mind over matter thing, would love to kick my back pain into touch.
April 15, 2014 at 2:03 pm
I had a feeling you’d understand exactly what I’m saying here. I’m finding a connection more and more with the number of people who have been traumatized as children and their subsequent behaviors afterwards. It’s amazing to discover these things and I’ll tell you, learning about the brain and endorphins and pain’s correlation (pleasure’s too) have been tremendously liberating. It all starts to make sense! And that’s a huge relief compared to having “no answers” or understanding of things. Glad you found it interesting and (hopefully) helpful some. x
April 15, 2014 at 5:59 pm
That’s a fascinating read. I like that you recommend all routes but medication.
I had no idea you had any children, much less four!
(By the way, I tagged you in my L post — don’t feel obligated in any way, but just wanted you to know.)
April 15, 2014 at 6:20 pm
No problem. ;0) And yeah, my kids range from 17-24. (I can hardly believe it myself sometimes!)
April 15, 2014 at 7:32 pm
Oh my goodness! That’s amazing. I simply didn’t know.
April 15, 2014 at 7:33 pm
Yeah, that’s why I’m finally “allowed” to be in college. I wanted to raise my kids first and THEN begin my life…heheh. Thanks for popping in. ;0)
April 15, 2014 at 7:38 pm
Man, i guess I am a double trouble. I am a cuter (I don’t do it for years, but not because I have no desire to) and I bite the insides of my mouth, left cheek specificaly. I can attest to the stuff you said. To put it openly, cuting is like a ritual. You have tools etc, what you already described. Ofcourse, there is so called darkness moments induced by various elements and events that make these not be present and its a violent skin slashing, but if I look at it objectivly, it is ritualistic. It is addictive.
While, on the other hand, the cheek biting, I don’t even know I am doing it until I notice it. I don’t plan it, I don’t want it, I don’t feel I am doing it when I am doing it at all, a lot fo times my husband tells me to just stop doing it and notices I am surprised, because I was not aware of it at all.
April 17, 2014 at 7:52 am
It’s reeeeeally hard to give something up that’s been with you for 30+ years, you know? It’s like trying to not breathe. I went through a moment in my reckless teens when I cut my wrist- still have the stupid scars (for life). If only we could look into the future and see that we’re not going to turn out half bad! But at that age, it’s all “life or death”…heh.
April 17, 2014 at 11:57 pm
I have the damn habot of biting my tongue the last 12 years or so. Stupid doctors dont tel me till few days ago. Im doing orthodontics. What can i do? Jaw massage?
July 17, 2015 at 2:22 am
Well, did you not know you were biting your tongue for 12 years? You say the doctors didn’t tell you. Do you mean they didn’t tell you you were biting your tongue? (I’ve always known that I was doing it.)
The first thing you’d need to do is to locate the source of the need or desire to bite. Chances are, it’s going to be an emotional or psychological imbalance or deficit of some sort; it usually always is.
I’d recommend getting a journal, and every time you find yourself biting your tongue- without consciously being aware that you’re doing it- search your thought processes immediately. How do you feel? What were you thinking? What were you doing when you started biting it (this time) and write these things down. Over time, you’ll see a pattern developing where there will be one dominant set of behaviors and thoughts that correlate with each other. This way, you’ll be able to pinpoint exactly WHAT is causing your brain to tell your teeth to bite. (It’s an addiction; and it’s no different than being addicted to drugs.) Once you establish a pattern (again, over time) that you’ll be able to see and analyze from keeping a journal, you’ll begin to better recognize your “triggers” that set off the biting. You’ll be able to know specific thoughts and feelings to watch out for that will cause you to want to bite more, and in this way, you’ll be able to better resist the biting by “re-hard wiring your brain”. It isn’t easy. But it can be done!
Hope this helps. x
July 17, 2015 at 3:33 pm
p.s. Thanks for the links! I was misdiagnosed with a few of those disorders as well. You can’t believe every label that’s placed on you by a “professional”. It’s their job to find something wrong with you. ;0)
July 17, 2015 at 6:48 pm
thanks for your tip, i know is mostly related with anxiety or psychological but i do this in a non-stress moments too so its very hard my situation, but thanks anyways this can be helpful
Yeah i didnt knowing for many years until just a single doctor tell me (the rest of 999 doctros didnt tell me) but i didnt believe much at that moment, I realized later that when the doctor tell me…
its a hell damn habit, because you dont aware what are you doing, also i dont feel the pain in the moment im clenching my teeth and my tongue tongether, the pain becomes a time later, also doctors dont know this problem (scalloped tongue with burning in the edges) because this dont lead in any visible syntom (something changes a little the shape of the sides of the tongue, but they dont realize) there is no blood or visible injuries when the pain is lasting, the vision of the tongue is almost the same when is not pain, so doctors (odontologist, psychiastric, clinics, dermatologist, etc, etc) dont know the problem…
it is the same in example to pinch your arm with your fingers, but instead the fingers is the teeth and instead the arm is your tongue, ( in the case that you dont need to have injuries when you pinch yourself, so in the tongue is the same) also you dont aware because the pain is not instant when you “biting” or “clenching” your tongue, the pain developed in more anxiety that becomes in more and more biting… Mouth guard splint of silicone doesnt work to me (i used 5 months to sleep) but my problem is mostly in awake hours,
mostly of people are like “wtf” when they heard about tongue and pain with no health problem knowing. also like the tongue is inside the mouth with teeths is not like a thumb sucking for example.
so is very very hard this subject in all the senses. 😦
anyway a specialized unit of dentists agreed that I should expand the maxilars with orthodontic, although other disagreed. Im doing that so i hope this helps, my orthodontic doctor also tell me that my low maxilar is a little small that the upper …
http://i.imgur.com/yWaeeo1.jpg ( i dont know if this look small to you lol)
even there isnt much info about that, i searched by “sea and land” lol and found this webs:
http://thedailybipolar.blogspot.com.ar/2014/10/deconstructing-anxiety.html (similar like your, a blog)
and in spanish as (lengua dentada)
July 17, 2015 at 6:16 pm
Wow, I totally see your point in those images! I would think the scalloped tongue is definitely from clenching/biting down- hence, the “ribbed” effect from the teeth. You’re right though- this “disorder” is a monster; because, it’s a subconscious thing.
I liken this disorder to someone who is a “cutter”- cutting his or her arm with scissors or a knife- it’s the same thing to the brain- so it’s funny that you likened it to that too. :0)
In our situation though, it’s worse, because even cutters have to make a conscious effort and choice to pick up that knife and make a slice. It’s a PROACTIVE move on their parts. But for us, we’re chewing and biting and ripping off tastebuds (or, in MY case, anyway) before we even know we’re doing it. So…a lot of times the damage is done before we even know what we’re doing.
That makes it THAT much harder to pinpoint the actual causes for our self-inflicting pain.
In your case, it’s not quite the same as mine, but it’s still pretty close. Here’s something you might not have considered: sometimes, certain types of medications (or drugs/narcotics) can cause the jaw-clenching and/or teeth grinding. Look closely at any and all medications you take and research their possible side effects. It could be something along that line too.
Unfortunately, until you’re able to locate the actual source- anything is a possible determinant. I feel your pain and frustration! This is a severely understudied disorder and we both suffer from two variations of it. I’ve battled mine for more than 30 years now and it’s been the hardest addiction I’ve ever tried to break. It’s a daily battle.
Feel free to drop me a line sometime or anytime! It’s nice to know you’re not alone in this. 😉 x
July 17, 2015 at 6:47 pm
To be honest i dont know what the fuck happened to me because outside of my poor health of last 10 years+ has not touched me a hard life. I could have had some personality disorder or trait GENETIC anxiety i think . I really dont know.
I have sailed over the years by doctors at all 😦 wasting time, money and health in the process despite my great effort to get out of this.
Since 2004 i guess or so i have tongue burning pain, and after years of different many doctors who say “you do not have any injury, I see nothing..” thinking of backterias and a lot of nonsense treatment when the solution was one of the most obvious, pain at the edge of the tongue also my tongue had some marks…tongue biting.. few years ago one dentist told me that i bite my tongue which it was shocking and rare to hear, and he offered a silicone splint for one year to use and didnt work… now I’m doing orthodontic for recommendation of medical specialists. I dont know if is mainly anxiety or what?..I have tried to live my life as much as possible outside pressure (which is not convenient) and even so no end to solve my problems, so I’m lost because life entails much responsibilities and pressures that added to my health does not improve (even with no pressures), i could see it much ruined in the future :(. Also i had acne for ten years or so wasting time with treatments that did not help the last I’ve done is the most efficient (isotretinoin) hope to finish with at least one problem. And since 2008 burning feelings in the legs, feets, fingers, now is also in chest, belly, back, arms…EMG studies nerves and blood studios ok… and coldness in legs feets hands and others parts..Now i did a small fiber test and was abnormal and im trying neurontin but i dont know if it works well…
it’s all very confusing and awful it is also difficult to explain this to relatives or acquaintances since neither doctors understand much less them. After suffering all these Painful symptoms I have started with serious insomnia so I’ve seen psychiatrists I have not seen him sense or did not see much improvement (like back then did not understand the mind body relationship and had no idea bites tongue or other things) but i dont know if is best… Some people that dont know nothing just said its all “mental” you should go a psychiatrist but i was in the past and dont seeems an improvement.. even there is not proof of psychiatrist is better, maybe is for worse i want to get out of this trash where I’m stuck to my very surprise since i was a teen 😦
I’m sorry for being so extensive but is very rarely how I feel
I hope you watched the links i sended to you as there is a lot of related info about tongue biting. PS: i compared the problem of tongue with pinch arm because “you dont need to have cuts or injuries that justifies your pain if you pinch your arm, and with the tongue happens the same and doctros even complain when i tell they that grrr. I tough is a nervous tic, a “habit” which I am very likely to have, even though I did not feel so nervous
sorry for my english, i speak spanish and i didnt alot of effort to write my best in english right now, i dont have much patience now hehe, greetings
July 17, 2015 at 7:14 pm
Well for starters, anxiety (and other disorders) can totally be congenital- meaning, “born with it”. If you can inherit a funny nose, or dark hair, or a better-than-average smile, then you better believe you can inherit the “nasties” too. There is even something that can be said “Biblically” for “the sins of your father”- if you’ve ever heard the expression.
In the old days (Old Testament), people were punished by God for the sins of their forefathers. In God’s own mysterious way, he skipped a generation sometimes, and put the blame (and again, the punishment, mostly) on the next generation of people or the one after that even.
So, we, as people and humans, are capable of inheriting all sorts of things that we can’t exactly explain, I guess you could say.
That said, I have a request. Can you list your physiological symptoms, and then separately, list your psychological ones and maybe even your perception of your emotional ones. I don’t care what many doctors have to say, but I do care what YOU have to say. For you and your body (and mind) know MUCH more than the most educated of doctors- about your own body, etc.
July 18, 2015 at 6:26 pm
i found a post up there very similar to mine
“Bad bruxism …which my tongue always fell victim to.
The elastics actually helped me in this area – but I would say it was well past the first year of treatment before I noticed a dramatic decrease in my tongue chewing and sore jaw.
I did opt for Essex retainers as they also act as a night time bite guard. I would take a more current pic of my tongue BUT I DONT BITE IT ANYMORE! I have been chewing my tongue up since I was 15. Definitely stress related. It was always worse if I drank alcohol or caffeine at night…
Quality of life has improved SO MUCH since my orthodontic treatment really started correcting this issue for me. I had suffered with so many mornings of a chewed, sore, mutilated tongue that it just became a way of life.
Do you guys know how many doctors and dentists saw me enduring this and COULD NOT OFFER ME ONE PIECE OF ADVICE?!?!?
So happy we are not alone!”
I also started at 15 or 14 and i visited several dentist and im in the point of orthodontics (3 monts for now) so i hope im the way
Also this another post
wich info, all of these links i gave here contain a lot of info to the visitor of this blog should have very chances to resolve his problem. bye!
July 25, 2015 at 8:21 pm
Hey, thanks so much for stopping by and adding more helpful link to this topic too. I can believe you when you say that no dentist or other specialists could offer you any helpful advice in fixing (or alleviating) bruxism and involuntary tongue-biting.
They’re trained to work in areas of the teeth and gums- but not the tongue. Interestingly, the tongue and its off behaviors (that correlate with the biting of the teeth) is really a matter for the BRAIN and neurons, which are misfiring. It’s not too different from having OCD and someone needing to wash his or her hands over and over. It’s the same system of wires, nerves, patterns, and signals that are firing off instruction to “chew on that tongue”- to bite it, to make it feel pain- and so on- because our brains have long since been “mis-wired” to receive and interpret pain as a “good thing”. When we feel pain, endorphines (feely-good chemicals) are kicked out into our blood streams, so while we may be feeling pain in the biting process, we’re feeling “sort of high” in the recovery process which immediately follows the biting/grinding.
I’ve learned these things through my years of studying psychology. And it makes sense. I’m so glad there are others (besides me) who can relate to this bizarre disorder- whatever form of it you may have.
I hope you all continued help and success. Please do feel free to add more links or helpful information or anything at all that you’d like to here. I know there are a lot of us out there! They just don’t know what to call us. x
July 26, 2015 at 2:43 pm
Yes, yes, and yes! Thank you! You put into words what I’ve been trying to figure out my whole life. I do this exactly the same. In trying to stop, I have also tried “stop thoughts” as in, “oh shoot, I’m biting (and bleeding) again… What was I thinking about?” And trying to identify my stressors. I am a former addict, 5 years clean so I relate to that as well. I am going to begin seeing a therapist soon to help me get to the bottom of this. I can’t wait to be free from this as I have been freed from drug addiction!
March 8, 2016 at 2:29 am
Hey, hi! First of all, let me say congratz to you on being clean for 5 years. That’s pretty huge. 🙂 As much as I’d like to say that I’ve stopped biting my tongue and can close that door, unfortunately, it’s a far more powerful addiction than any I’ve ever experienced prior. It’s still an ongoing battle. I’m in my 5th year of psychology now- preparing to begin working on my Master’s in Forensic Psych. this fall- and while that’s helped tremendously, it’s done next to nothing to help me actually stop. Is there a Biter’s Anonymous? heheh…
Seriously though, this is a wild monkey, as you know. I’m so glad that I’ve met someone who understands the battle! Every day I tell myself, “this is the day I stop,” and every day, I fail. But I continue to try, regardless. And I think that counts for something! Try, try, and try again. It’s only failure if/when we give up, eh? So, I can then say, “I’m succeeding in trying,” rather than see it through failing eyes.
I wish you the best too, and hope you you’re able to kick this thing. I know it’s possible. Please let me know how things go, and feel free to stop by anytime! x
March 8, 2016 at 7:50 am
“As much as I’d like to say that I’ve stopped biting my tongue and can close that door”
How do you stop biting your tongue???
, I suffered it for centuries and made me cry of pain … We have born with extra anxiety? It can be compared with the habit of biting your nails as example or another unconsicus habit to fight anxiety?? Its ironic because this cause much more anxiety than the thing it try to fight haha 😦 . There is a way to kill that habit once and for ever? Maybe paying atention to your mouth when is possible and reeplacing for example with pressing the hand, muscles , etc, or doing another thing to stop the goddamn tongue habit ;(
August 3, 2016 at 6:17 pm
I think you’re on to something, Nicholas! If we can occupy our hands with other things, perhaps we won’t be so inclined to use our hands as “guilty accomplices”. As I was sharing with Fiona, I think it’s important that we take things day-by-day. And yesterday’s failures do not = “today’s” failures. This is so strong….I wish I had a solution that absolutely works. The truth is, there is little research in this area and little help in the area of psychology. I’ve studied psychology for 5 years and I still have very little information that’s actually useful. I do know that our addictions have to do with the neural pathways and our reward centers of our rains. We’re rewarding ourselves every time we bite. To somebody who doesn’t fight this “disease”- it sounds utterly ridiculous, that biting and pain would be considered a reward, but to others who have this addiction- they understand! I’m so glad that there are several of us here that understand one another and understand what the other is going through. It’s important to have a support group! So, I encourage you to come here and share as much as you like, because sharing this type of information is educating others. And education is powerful. 😉 Thanks for sharing your story/experiences with me too. x
August 9, 2016 at 7:14 pm
Hi been researching this habit for 12 mths now, and your input is by far the best logical answer to this nightmare I am suffering at present. Mind started about a year ago I have been through a lot of stressful situations recently ( past 3 yrs) I’ve had no choice but to except them and try and carry on. Everything is fine with my life at present but I think all that happened has finally took its toll and tongue chewing is now my coping mechanism. I am also convinced it may have something to do with the menopause, mine started around the same time as my habit. I had my dentist filing my front bottom teeth down convinced it was a sharp tooth making do it. She said she thinks it’s in my head and am I stressed, Hell yeah I am ripping my tongue to bits and loosing my teeth, damm right I’m stressed!!! I am going to take on board some of your advice, here’s hoping thanks x
August 9, 2016 at 5:13 pm
Hi Fiona! So glad you stopped by. And thanks for sharing your story here too. I think we all have interesting insight and various reasons for why we bite. But as you said, stress definitely plays a heavy role in it all, I think. I wish I could tell you that I’ve conquered this beast! Alas, I’m a hamster in the wheel with the rest of us here. it’s such an overpowering addiction- it really is. Years ago, on September 18th (on my birthday), I walked out onto my front porch smoking a cigarette. At that moment, I took a draw from my smoke and thought to myself, “This is the last cigarette I’ll ever smoke.” And that was 10 years ago, and indeed- it was. I had tried so many times to stop smoking (unsuccessfully), and I have to believe that when that happened to me, God intervened and took that away from me. It certainly wasn’t my willpower or even my choice! It was just a quiet resolve and a knowledge that it was over. But this thing? It’s so much stronger of an addiction than cigarettes, or anything else I’ve ever battled, for that matter. I’ve begun using my fingernails to trap taste buds in between the fingernail and the tooth, so that I can scrape the skin gently, as opposed to ripping the whole darn thing off. Also, it’s a last ditch effort to save my teeth as well. Miraculously, my teeth are in pretty good shape still, but I know I’m pushing the envelope in thinking they will hold up if I continue grinding/biting against them. So…it’s a daily battle, right?
No matter how much you feel like you’re losing the battle, just remember, each day is fresh and new and has nothing to do with the day before. That mindset saves me daily. If I strung one day with the one before it, to the one after it, it would feel like one long succession of failures. But by acknowledging that each day is a “fresh, new slate”- it frees up the mind so that there’s room for hope, you know? And without hope- there’s no chance of success- in “anything” for that matter. So yes, every day, I hope you can wake up and say to yourself, “Yesterday I may have failed, but that has nothing to do with today.” And you may fail throughout the day, and it may seem like Groundhog Day, over and over- but keep forgiving yourself and allowing yourself the freedom of that “new day”- every day. It’s so freeing, it really is. That way, we don’t have to lug around years of guilt- but just the failure of that day, if indeed we do fail in that day. Also, it’s so important to give yourself credit for all of your efforts! Because failure is only proof that you indeed are trying at all, right? So, forgiveness, and being kind to myself in this battle are two things that help me so much.
Please do stop by again and share your future efforts, strengths, failures, experiences and anything else that you’d like to share. Thanks again, Fiona and it’s great to meet you. 😉
August 9, 2016 at 7:00 pm
Hey I posted before here, I improved my tongue pain, maybe with the help of orthodontics, by I have another health issue, my skin or tissues I dont know what really very sensitive to pain, I describe the pain as “burns” “biting” “scratchs” “rash” “insect biting on toes” “slap” in the skin, or “inflamatory” pain in foot and legs (hurt to press) like if I was kicked and have a bruise. I suffered this for years and visit thousand of doctors for nothing, but they believe it can be some kind of neuropathy not detected, while others (mainly psychiatric) tough is all mental and etc. I had this for years but was better until 2 years ago when became worst than ever..
I know this is not directly related with your post (tongue issue) but do you think this can be something organic or “psychosomatic” ? thanks in advance
August 29, 2016 at 1:01 am
Hi. 🙂 So sorry for the delay. I’ve been taking a break from bloggie-land for a bit but am now returning. To answer your question, yes. I do think it’s entirely possible for this to be an organic cause AND/OR effect and physiological, rather than PSYchological. Every person is different, naturally, and so each of our situations will be different as well. We have to take into consideration a host of factors; such as diet, sleep patterns, stress levels, levels of hydration, and really- the list can be quite long, depending. I say all of that to say that a battery od tests would need to be conducted before any professional could diagnose the disorder as being grounded in a physical or emotional capacity. Thanks for stopping by! Do feel free to stop by anytime and share your thoughts, feelings, and latest findings. We’re our own support group here. So glad we can all help each other. 🙂
December 25, 2016 at 4:27 am
Girl, this info just changed my life! You are amazing. This opened my eyes to my recent beyond compulsive tongue chewing habit that appeared in the last couple of months. I was so baffled, hurt and confused and couldn’t stop. It was ruining my life. I’m currently clean of a 13 year heroin addiction and now this “issue” popped up. I’ve tried to find an answer so hard for this. I just want to give you props. you’re amazing and no other site describes it this way.
December 11, 2016 at 2:31 am
Hi Anastasia, thanks so much for taking the time to read this post, and for also sharing your own thoughts and feedback. I appreciate that. 🙂 I’m glad you found this information useful. I’m happy to report that it’s been about 5 months since I’ve gnawed on my tongue- nothing short of miraculous! Really, I simply got sick and tired of being defeated. I realized that I was the one standing in my own way- nobody (and nothing) else. I decided that if I was ever going to stop the biting, I simply had to put my foot down, dig deep, and make that concrete decision. In that one day, I was able to stop. I have to congratulate you on kicking smack- WOW. That’s quite incredible. Good for you. 🙂 Addiction is addiction. There are those who like to think that some peoples’ addictions are worse than others, but really- the same things are happening in the brain- regardless. The results of the addiction (such as the wearing down of the body due to drugs or alcohol- or even sugar, for that matter) may be worse, but the chemical reaction in the brain is all the same regarding addictions. Each addiction is really just as bad as the next, whether it’s heroin or candy. Lately, I’ve battled a nasty sugar addiction that is NO JOKE. I’m talking chewing 20 to 25 pieces of Buibble Gum every day. I began waking up and feeling dizzy. I had merely traded one addiction for the other. (I’ve been “clean” for two days now…heheh…) Believe it or not, it was easier to quit smoking cigarettes than it was to quit this raging sugar addiction. What a monster! Anyway, thanks again, Anastasia, for popping in here. Please do stop by any time, ok? So glad to have met you and you hang in there, ok? Stand tall and proud that you were able to kick heroin. You can kick this thing too- I promise. One day at a time. 😉
December 25, 2016 at 4:20 am
I’m my own toungue grinder.
Its good to know these things do happen, I thought I was crazy.
September 29, 2017 at 10:51 pm
Yes, they certainly do happen, When I first started researching this phenomenon, several years ago, there were almost no forums or blog posts of any kind- anywhere. I couldn’t even find a clinical name for it, much less any type of peer-reviewed journals or information on it. There were literally 0 articles of any kind- I felt like I was alone on my own little (weird) island. But over the years, people like you, me, and a handful of others have continued finding each other (here) as a result of this post. It’s at least SOMETHING, right? Something that we can all share to feel a little less stigmatized and alone in this strange habit/addiction. Please do feel free any time to stop in and chat or ask questions, or offer a window into your own experiences. I appreciate everyone of you guys. 😉
February 3, 2018 at 9:04 am
Biter, since like probably 4, 5 or 6, and cutting since halfway through 6th grade.. Actually I had calmed down with biting for a while but I started middle school and it came back. I have been biting for an overwhelming amount of time and I want to stop it honestly. I am on the route of stopping cutting but I guess biting is supposed to “replace” it. Unlike most people on this thread, I am not someone who has a history for 20+ years. I am 13 and I want to stop it since its been over a decade already and I do not want it to get longer. Your article perfectly described the situations and I am inspired by your story. It really is an addiction, I daresay it is worse than a drug addiction (I will so get chased by haters with that claim). Any Advice??
September 22, 2018 at 1:06 pm
Hey, thanks so much for reaching out here and sharing your thoughts and your struggles too. I totally understand how you feel. 🙂 And no worries! You didn’t say anything that would cause anyone to be offended- and even if they were, that would be their fault, not yours. I’ll share something with you that a wise woman once shared with me. She said that other people can press our buttons and we can choose to allow them to change our feelings- or not. Thy only have power or control over us if we give it to them. Since then, I’ve stopped allowing others to change my feelings. if somebody makes me mad, I think about it and deliberately choose to NOT be angry. It’s helped me a lot and I hope that by sharing that, it helps you too. Do feel free to pop in anytime! Consider this a safe place with no judgments. I do hope you’re successful in stopping cutting. (I say that with a sore tongue. 😉 ) But we do need to try and be kind to our bodies. So, on that note, I wish you all the best. Take good care of yourself! ❤
October 2, 2018 at 6:14 pm
FINALLY something on the internet that has given me peace and validation. Thank you soo much for the tips as well! So very helpful
cant thank you enough!
December 5, 2018 at 1:40 am
So sorry to have not commented sooner, Megan. It’s been a helluva year. 😉 I’m glad that you’re able to find something here that helps you! Back in the day when I was searching for help on the internet, I combed many sites and there was just nothing about jaw/tongue biting. It was terrible. And then I began to study drug use and abuse both personally and academically. After a few years, I began making the connection between the endorphin-release when experiencing pleasurable things and the endorphin-release when we bite our tongues and jaws. I realized that it’s virtually identical because it’s a “brain thing”. it helped me soooo much, so I’m so glad to know that it helps you too. It at least gives us an angle that we can begin to work I think. I hope 2019 brings you all that you desire and do feel free to stop by anytime and say hello. Take care. 😉
January 3, 2019 at 4:48 am
Im literally crying after reading this. I am a 42 year old happy woman and you just described my life. I’ve been biting/eating my tongue since age 5.
September 15, 2019 at 3:20 am
Hello Yesinia! First of all, I want to thank you for taking the time to stop in and share your thoughts and words. And secondly, I’m soooo glad you found this helpful. (My apologies for the delay! Life has been super crazy lately.) As I mentioned in my original post, when I first researched cheek and tongue biting, I couldn’t even find any articles or forums on this phenomenon at all. So I began applying my psychology and medical training to what I know about our own biting processes and it all made sense. It was at least some sort of explanation. I wasn’t interested in subjective conjecture! I wanted concrete facts. Anyway, I do want you to know that it’s absolutely possible to be “bite free” completely. My younger brother died this past January. I was crushed. For me, it made sense that if I was going to be suffering and grieving for the next few months pretty hardcore, that I should throw my tongue biting in there too. I mean, if I’m going to be suffering anyway, right? It worked. I decided that it was the perfect time to stop, because the extenuating circumstances made the tongue biting problem seem small. So that helped tremendously. I highly recommend waiting until you have a pretty serious life crisis (death in the family, divorce, great loss of some kind, etc.) and then stop cold turkey. Our brains have a funny way of numbing what we deem to be too painful. It lumps the biting in with the rest of the trauma/sadness and it becomes one big blurry mass as opposed to a screaming need to bite that is like a non-stop warning siren exploding in your mind 24/7. 😉 I do hope this info. helps! I’ve been bite free for 10 months now. I no longer have cravings. Also, Ice Cube gum (Peppermint) is very helpful! It stays soft and sweet for a long time and helps with the urges tremendously. I wish you the best! Always know that you can come here anytime and drop me a line. It may take a bit in getting back to you, but I always will, I promise. TC. x
October 18, 2019 at 4:41 am
wow! this is amazing, I remember when I was 14 I used to look up “biting taste buds off my tongue??” and nothing would come up. I felt so weird about it. I’m 20 now and I still bite, it’s very random. stress is a huge factor and I have pretty intense ocd so I think that plays into it as well. I literally bite until there’s a noticeable dent in my tongue:/ I’m so thankful for this post and all the comments!
January 14, 2020 at 9:00 pm
I’m so glad to hear that this helped you, Hope! When I first wrote this article, I was about halfway through my degree in Addiction + brain studies, which included studying OCD and exactly why we do what we do. it’s not enough to focus on just the emotional and psychological components, but we have to focus on the physiological brain functions (of addiction) too. When we pair the two, we gain deeper insight as to exactly what’s going on in there. 😉 Always know that there IS hope! It can be beat, absolutely. It’s not always going to be a super strong battle. After time, it’s more of a little nibbling in the brain, but that can be reduced much easier than trying to slay the dragon with a toothpick. 😉 For me, what helped me finally kick this biting thing was losing my little brother one year ago (this month)l to cancer. I was in such emotional pain and hell anyway, I thought, “What’s a bit more gonna hurt?” So I slapped my biting addiction in with everything else and was able to stop while I was distracted. I wanted to give it up but trade it in for something worthwhile. What I received in its place wasn’t tangible or visible to the eyes, but quitting the biting during that time was my way of making my brother’s death less traumatic and I wanted my addiction to die out too, so it was a personal sacrifice, but it worked. As I grieved his death, I grieved the loss of my “personal relief” too, and had to find new ways of processing my pain and trauma. I strongly urge you to try this. Our biting addictions are so strong because they’re lifelong addictions from childhood. We may not have been “active biters/chewers” during childhood, but I guarantee that it manifested in other ways all the same. If you’re going through a really hard time or loss of something in life, it’s a perfect time to “throw that in there too” and process it all as one thing, simultaneously. (That is, if you’re going to be suffering anyway, you may as well toss it in there too, and recover from everything together.) It’s been a year ago today since I’ve been free of those demons. My brother’s death was the catalyst to free me. In that way, he helped give me a parting gift. I hope this information helps! And feel free to drop in anytime, or, if you ever need to talk or are really struggling, please feel free to email me personally at my primary email address: firstname.lastname@example.org . Take care! 🙂 x -Birgitta
January 15, 2020 at 4:23 pm
ok I understand why I’m biting, and I’m doing millions of mindset and relaxation and redirection, but I still can not stop… The article addresses the “what” very well, but gives to light as to can it be stopped permanently? When the suggestions mentioned about don’t work are there other options or treatments? I NEED HELP and my doctor just brushed it off as well as my dentist. I don’t know where to turn. It’s hard to stop something that feels better then sex
July 7, 2020 at 9:25 pm
Hi Bonnie! A huge apology for being so late in answering your comment here. I guess the pandemic ate me. 😉 Seriously, such a rough year, as I’m betting you know all too well! I totally hear you and understand exactly what you’re saying. And, I agree. When it comes down to it, and literally nothing else in the entire world works, there’s really only one thing left to do and that is, dig deep and make a cold, hard, choice to stop. I know. Sounds super easy, eh? Ha! But this is the only way I was able to quit. I fell off the wagon too many times. A little bite here, a nibble there until I was ravaging my inner flesh again. I just had to get so sick and tired of not being able to stop and I had to dig SO deep within myself and just say, “If you’re ever gonna stop, you need to quit the bullshit and CHOOSE IT.” It wasn’t easy at first, at all, but every day got easier, once I actually COMMITTTED. Nothing else worked for me. See, I think even though we want to quit so badly, somewhere in the back of our minds, we’ve resigned ourselves to failure. Not because we cant do it, but because we don’t WANT to do it. So, we fail as a way to continue getting our way. Make sense? We fail because we’ve never fully committed, not really. So, do some self seeking an some truthful self dialogue. When you reach the point of absolute honesty and dedication, I promise, you’ll finally be able to cross over to the other side. You WILL be able to do it, Bonnie, I promise! Stick with it. You can do this. ❤
January 14, 2021 at 3:50 am
Hi. I know you made this post a long time ago but I am so glad I found it. I’ve chewed on my tongue on and off for years upon years never really knowing why I would inflict so much pain on myself. (The actual biting and removing of a tastebud isn’t painful it’s the aftermath of the swollen sensitive tongue after) it usually starts without my knowledge when I feel a swollen bud – don’t know if I just happened to notice it for no reason or if I burned it on food/drink but what happens afterwards is a horror story. As I was reading your post I was literally able to relate to everything while I was actively chewing and biting too. I had a horrible break-up in February and it has gotten completely out of control. I am also in recovery (5 years from opioids and 3 from alcohol) and I never knew the connection between trauma and biting. I’m out of control now bc I will put hydrogen peroxide on it after and I never used to do that before. I’ve even resorted to using my small fingernail (clean) scissors to cut a bud I can’t get with my teeth. I also have TMJ/lockjaw and I can’t even begin to tell you how sore my jaw and teeth let alone tongue are after a good session. I never know when I start but when I become aware I usually can’t stop until the pain is just too great, right now breathing in hurts when the air hits the tip of my tongue. I also never used to bite the sides and it’s progressed down the sides too even the very edge past the edge doing towards underneath!!! I hate that I do this. I mentioned it to my therapist and asked if it is similar to when a cutter, cuts and she said she didn’t think it is , or mine atleast – course I neglected to tell her it’s been almost my whole life (I think it started when I was 14 and now I’m 45 – I was violated at 14 so I know that was my original trigger and then physically abusive relationship after relationship plus my addiction to both drugs and alcohol – I am aware they are all factors and it sucks!!) I am just thankful of your post because it shed so much light on the subject from a much more reasonable mindset than any other post I’ve found. Thank you. I want to stop and I feel if I can stop drinking and drugging and finally broke up with (yet again) abusive boyfriend that I can definitely kick this too. I dnt know if it’s harder because it’s within my own body – I don’t have to go anywhere, I don’t have to do anything really. I never thought of the connection between the endorphins when I cause myself pain – that was an eye opener!!!!! Well I just wanted to say thank you, you’ve helped me a lot ! Gunna talk to my therapist next week and hopefully once I’m honest as to how long it’s been going on she can help me because I really do want to stop – it affects me physically bc I dnt like to talk to people bc I’m afraid they will see the tip of my tongue!
August 29, 2020 at 7:25 pm
Hi Kimberly! I am SOOOO sorry for being so late here. Needless to say, 2020 kicked my butt, to put it mildly. l) And, I too fell off the waon again and started biting again. Ugh….but now I quit again, and it’s been about 3 months, so, so far so good! I totally relate to every word you wrote here. We’re an interesting breed, aren’t we? ha. We really are. I too have used my fingernail to simply cut a tastebud off, completely, so that it begins to bleed and that sickeningly sweet pain washes over the area, and it almost causes a euphoric dizziness. I know you know what I’m saying! It’s such a heavy addiction. I too am well versed and rehearsed with drugs and alcohol, for many years in my past. Thank God, that’s over but we really have simply “traded addictions”. Your therapist is wrong, unfortunately. Biting one’s tongue/jaws, etc. is absolutely another form of cutting. I believe he (she?) thinks it’s different because people don’t understand cutters. They think they’re doing it for sympathy or self pity, etc. and they fail to connect the endorphin release to the cutting/biting process. If they truly understood the chemical exchange there, they would change their minds dramatically regarding the causes. Alas, they’re “textbook trained” and we’re the ones who know on a personal level. I just graduated with my Master’s in Psychology and Addiction Counseling, so while I’m not a “practicing therapist”, I’m at least a trained one. I too was sexually abused (but as a child) and you better believe our biting has everything to do with that. We learned long ago to carry guilt and shame, and above all else, secrecy. “Secret biting” sort of takes the place of continuing to carry those secrets. Does that make sense? We not only get addicted to the actions of biting our tongues, but we get addicted to the secrecy, to the point of ritualizing it. It becomes something so private that we sort of nurture it, almost. I can’t thank you enough for sharing your story and experiences with me! I really appreciate you taking the time to do that. Whatever you do, don’t give up, Kimberly. It IS possible to quit. I know, because I’ve done it. I’ll tell you what helped me more than anything else. As I was telling somebody else earlier, we fail to be able to truly quit this addiction, because somewhere in our subconscious, we WANT to fail. Why in God’s name would we want to fail though?! So we can continue biting our tongues, that’s why. It’s a bit like we give up before we start because it’s our safety net, and our pressure release valve. Ya know? So, for me, the ONLY thing that has worked was for me to yank my comfy blanket away from myself and have a super honest discussion with myself. Do I want to quit or do I want to continue ruining my jaw, not to mention my tongue! (I too have TMJ and major jaw issues, not to mention, biting excessively causes excruciating 3 day migraines for me that are beyond hellish.) I had to get super serious with myself and say, “Choose, damn it! CHOOSE.” And I had to make that cold choice to just STOP.. it IS possible, I promise. I’ve been thinking about starting some Skype Therapy at some point down the road. If I do that, I promise you, you’ll be the first person I invite to have a session with. Stick with it, ok? Never give up! Just choose to not bite, every day, one day at a time….one STEP at a time. Feel free to come and chat anytime you want, Kimberly. I promise I won’t take half a year to get back with you next time… 🙂 TC! xx
January 14, 2021 at 4:15 am
Thank you so much for replying – you do not have to apologize for the time it took – this has been a hellish year for everyone! I’ve had some good days where if I am busy enough I realize at the end of the day. As I sit and inspect my tongue in my magnify mirror, that I didn’t bite or make my tongue any worse but I am still doing it. I get mad at myself and talk to myself but I still succumb to the addiction over and over. I’ve even analyzed it to the point where right now I’m single and we cover half our faces practically all the time with masks so since there is no way for someone to inadvertently see the damage I’ve done by catching a glimpse when I talk or laugh (oh yes that has happened in the past) I think it’s keeping me from stopping. It is so comforting to know I am not alone – although we are torturing and damaging ourselves it still makes me feel a little better to know I am not some weirdo freak with this affliction. I agree with you about my therapist being wrong – it’s been months since I told her and she hasn’t even asked once and we meet weekly so I decided not to talk to her about it – honestly as of late I dnt feel she does anything but let me vent for 45 mins – which in itself is good especially now since I don’t really conversation with anyone but my 13 son (who has Down Syndrome and doesn’t really understand anything I say so even saying I’m having a hard or bad day he doesn’t understand). The want and desire are there. I was even thinking of wearing an hair elastic on my wrist and do that whole snap yourself when you catch yourself doing it but knowing me I’d enjoy that little spark also so I haven’t tried it. You are 100% correct with just needing to rip the cord (or whatever that saying is) and force myself to stop. It’s ridiculous how much damage I’ve done and how dedicated I am to stand in my bathroom looking into that mirror and pulling and tearing my buds off and even the skin when it’s trying to heal – because it’s tougher so I feel it and I obsess and obsess over it! Not to mention the pain with my teeth – they ache, my jaw – oh boy does is hurt and sometimes bc of the TMJ the joint right near my ear swells up out of nowhere to the size of a golf ball and hurts so bad. You mentioned headaches I didn’t even put the connection there but I have them daily – wake up with them, go to sleep with them!!! It’s crazy!!!! Thank you so much for responding and helping me feel a little less wierd. I def I want to keep in touch and if you do a Skype YES please let me know! I’m shy by nature (although super outgoing once I’m comfortable) and normally do not travel outside my little bubble too much (painstaking anxiety effects from all the trauma) but I would be willing to do that! Again thank you so much, today wasn’t entirely a bust – I made it until the afternoon without too much permanent damage but when night time sets in whoa that’s another story! I’m just so happy I’ve found other people. I’m really going to give it a try and hopefully by the time I respond again I can say I’ve been successful – even 1 hour of not biting is success! Have a wonderful evening and relaxing weekend! Talk soon!
January 15, 2021 at 10:13 pm
I have 100% faith in you and know that you WILL beat this. I understand all too well and have fallen off the wagon too many times to count. Falling down isn’t the crime. Staying down is. 😉 And yes, the headaches are absolutely caused by the biting. When we bite our tongues, we’re not just lightly nibbling. We’re like mandible contortionists! We’re twisting our mouths back and forth then adding excessive force while in those unnatural positions, which causes inflammation and pain. And hey, I know what you mean about privacy. I’ve been a recluse for the past 25 years and I’m not even sick of the isolation. I much prefer it. I’m a fiercely private person and so I use this blog to journal. It helps to get the feelings out. If you’re not journaling on a semiregular basis, you really should consider it. (If you’re worried about doing it publicly, then be anonymous.it still has the same effect.) It really does help to transfer those emotions from the inside, out into the external sphere. Sure, we still have the feelings, but they’ve been lessened, not unlike a pressure release valve. And you’re so not a freak or a weirdo for biting! We do what we must to survive, and what works for one won’t work for the next person. I want you to try something. It’s gonna sound hella crazy, but hear me out. 😉 We’ve abused our bodies for many years. Our cells are alive! There’s life in every part of our body. No, the cells we continually rip apart don’t have brains, etc. but we’re wounding more than just our tongues when we do that. If we did it to another person, wouldn’t we apologize for hurting them? Absolutely. So then, do we not deserve an apology also? YES. We do. I know it seems confusing to apologize to something when it’s us that are causing the pain, but that doesn’t matter. Our bodies are ALIVE and they have their own unique ways of healing. So, I want you to tell your mouth and tongue (and jaws, etc) how sorry you are for hurting it/them for so long. I promise it makes a difference. (I’ve done this on many occasions, myself.) After you’ve done that, speak to those injured areas and tell them that you’re going to do everything in your power to not do that anymore. These are the first steps of accountability. True change can only happen AFTER we reckon and reason and make ammends with ourselves. Once you’ve done that, it’s important to reboot your mindset. How do you do that? By reclaiming your health, and in order to do that -successfully- you need to identify as a nonbiter. Because in that moment, you no longer are. Acknowledge your victory! CLAIM your new identity. Only you can change this, and so, even if it’s for a moment and a moment only, you WILL be victorious and identify as being successful. After you’ve done all of this, sit with it for a bit. Don’t do anything else for a while; just experience the positivity and have faith that you’ll continue going forward with this new identity. Stress is going to happen in the future. Pain will be there around the corner. Anger too. But we don’t have to go back! We’ve convinced ourselves long ago that “we can’t stop”, but we were lying to ourselves. We CAN. I urge you strongly to do all of these things I’ve suggested. Baby steps. 😉 You deserve happiness, Kimberly. You really can do this. I promise. But one step at a time, right? One well-placed step with faith and purpose is so much more powerful than 1,000 careless ones. Every step you take in the right direction matters. Keep me posted. 😉x
January 16, 2021 at 2:43 am
Thank you so much for writing this article! I’m a bitter. Reading this was a bit shocking at first for me but it does make sense. Thank you for the practical substitutes for bitting. I’m gonna try my best to use them. Thank you.
August 14, 2021 at 9:08 am
Hi Samantha! I’m so glad you could find some comfort and even help in my post. Please let me know if I can do anything for you! It’s a hard road to walk (being a tongue biter) and I’m forever riding the fence! I feel you, believe me. Just recently, I went through a whole ‘nother round of biting and felt like I might have fallen back to the old habits. but I reminded myself that I needed to stop, to really dig deep and make the comittment. Remeber, falling down here and there is gonna happen. Take it easy on yourself when it does, becasue we can set ourselves up for failure by telling ourselves we’re done for, and then we believe it. If/when you fall off the wagon, tell yourself that it’s a fling and nothing more. 😉 Each time you reject it, it gets easier, believe me. The last time I bit my tongue I stopped it fairly quickly and moved on just as quicly. We have to, ya know? Don’t give up! And you can do it. 😉 xx
December 10, 2021 at 12:55 am
This explains it exactly.
I got another fix tonight and was upset I’m just stressed right now.
Thanks for relating
July 21, 2022 at 4:37 am
I totally feel you. Well, we do the best we can though! If we fail, it’s simply proof that we tried. Remember that. 😉
July 31, 2022 at 12:42 pm
Well I’m on here.
It’s 2023 y’all. Damn.
I came back to this article after coming to the cold realization that my long lasting history in biting might have lead to why my dental health hasn’t been so hot. I’m wondering if I might have bruxism and how that might’ve lead to how my teeth are now. I constantly fixate on other peoples teeth now and how different they are compared to mine but yet we seem to eat the same things and why mine are so different.
Maybe my tongue and occasional cheek biting from probably since I was 4 (earlier even idk) also has me in the chains of bruxism, idk? I don’t know if I’ll have the balls to speak to my dentist about it considering the shame and anxiety the dentist brings me now. And i doubt if they could tell I have a history of biting.
This article continues to make me feel seen especially knowing I am approaching 2 years clean from cutting and knowing it’s been a hot minute since I’ve bitten. I imagine the start of the spring semester might bring it back. I’m trying to use your words of advice to bring myself the slightest bit of compassion towards myself and to simply move forward and look to find what works for me.
2018 me is still so shocked how someone wrote a whole article on a habit I felt insane for having. So thank you.
January 2, 2023 at 2:01 am
I actually want to thank YOU for taking the time to write this all out and express yourself so openly and honestly; that takes courage and yes, self-compassion. When I wrote this years ago, I was so caught up in tongue-biting hell and hadn’t been able to stop for anything. But I wrote this because I had Googled tongue/cheek biting and couldn’t find one thing on it- not one helpful article that explained anything from a helpful or psychological standpoint! I applied my years of psych studies to my own personal lifelong biting and tossed it out into the world, knowing that others would find it and hopefully, I’d be able to offer them some sort of hope. I finally have been able to stop for the past few years now, but it took a huge catalyst- an entire life shift- for me to achieve it. My catalyst was my brother’s death. It was already so painful of an experience, I was determined to come out of it with something positive. That’s when I chose to stop biting for good, and that way, I’d be able to look back on that time and see positivity and change and growth rather than just death. It worked. Believe me, I know how hard this is! You’re worth every single drop of “try”. And there will be failures, but failures are part of success- the rough and rocky parts, but they’re still a success because you TRIED. So don’t give up, and look at each day as a new one. We don’t need to tack on all of our hundreds of yesterdays onto our brand new day, which is a gift. Hold onto that mindset! Big hugs coming from me over here. 🫀🫀
January 2, 2023 at 11:45 am