Formication — What is it and why do I have it

Photo by Zach Lezniewicz on Unsplash

Formication is a psychosis where the person experiences textile hallucinations. These textile hallucinations take place on the body in the form of bugs. This psychosis is unique and often leads to delusions, where the person believes that they have been infected with insects.
I have these experiences; they’re very distressing to me. It’s not just that you feel an insect crawling across you. It’s also the belief these insects can hurt you. Maybe they’ll be crawling in your ears; perhaps they’re crawling in your heart. If you google formication, you will find heaps of people asking why they are experiencing these hallucinations, and the answer is usually anxiety. They should check these feelings out by with the GP and any scratches that the problem has caused you.
Formication usually is brief and happens at the early stage of night when you’re trying to sleep. This type, although distressing rarely leads to anything more than a few scratches. The problem that most people find is that there is nothing that can be done about this. It’s true, there isn’t anything that can be done, and this is because the person experiencing these feelings believe it at the time of formication. So what we can do? Well, nothing, I can’t help you in that department. Usually these experiences will go on their own, sometimes it’s a sign of something different, and then medication will need to be given for X, Y and Z. I will, however, give you a few tips.
Don’t scratch or slap away the bugs. This is because scratching damages your skin, over time, scratching can cause harm and hurt you. Formication can last for months even years, so the best thing to do is think twice before scratching yourself. Don’t put objects in places. Before I mentioned that I get mine crawling in my ears, well I put a pair of tweezers in my ear and perforated my eardrum. I can highly recommend not doing this. Putting objects in your body can cause harm to yourself, and won’t stop the problem, remember, it’s all in your head. Don’t cut holes in yourself to let the bugs have a way to get out. Self-mutilation is often a sign of a severe case of formication and usually that it’s gone further than anxiety. However, I understand the logic behind this, but it will not help, and the opening will get infected.
What to do when you are experiencing formication
The best thing to do is to focus on something else, just like hearing voices, these are hallucinations. However, if sleeping is the problem, doing five senses will probably prolong the experience. Try to focus on something you love in your head, imagine cuddling it and feel its warmth and touch against your body. Smile as you do this, and you will feel a little better too. Think of all the times you are together and experience those feelings, wants and needs.

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