My Life with Tourettes

I was diagnosed with tourettes about about five years ago at the age of 19, which was a shock to my neurologist because typically people that have tourettes outgrow their tics around the age of 18, mine worsened to where my parents noticed something just wasn’t right. We were watching a documentary about tourette syndrome and my mom looked at me and I was doing the exact same things the teens on the television were doing, just not as violently. My tics cause involuntary movement of my upper body as well as involuntary sounds. Sometimes the sounds are quite funny. I’ve yelled ‘elbow’ and ‘yabba dabba doo’ and what’s even funnier is the fact that my best friend has tics she yells ‘yes’ and I typically yell ‘no’.

My tics are brought on by boredom, stress, and a few are chemically induced. The chemicals my dad uses at work cause a reaction with my brain that cause my body to go out of whack resulting in a major tic attack, which isn’t fun. And with me being ADHD I’m typically always bored, even if I am doing something, I’m bored. And I’m a full-time college student, and that is where the stress comes from, plus my worrying about my brother who has epilepsy and my mom who has a bunch of health issues, I’m a major stressed out person for my age.

My biggest issue with tourettes is that people do not understand it, so when I have an attack in public I feel really embarrased and people look at me like, ‘she’s a drug addict’ or ‘there is something wrong with her’. Technically there is something wrong with me, but it isn’t that I am a drug addict, far from it. They define me by my tics, which is hard to handle because if people wouldn’t label based on that, they would know that I am a straight A college student, graduated with honors with my Associates Degree, I am training to be a crime scene investigator, and am working on becoming an author. Not to mention I’m a pretty cool person once you get to know me for me and not my tourettes.

I’ve always have tourettes now that me and my parents have looked back. As a child I would randomly have tics but my parents had just thought I was dancing, because that is what it looked like. Or when I’d have a vocal tic they thought I was just trying to get my way, when in reality I was having a tic attack. But back then tourettes wasn’t too common in my area and we didn’t know anything about it, so we simply didn’t know I had it. And if it wasn’t for that documentary we might not have ever known I did. But my brothers neurologist had seen me have a few episodes in the office with my brother and she told me to go get checked out, and sent me to a neurologist for adults.

It was in that visit that I had been diagnosed with tourettes and shocked my doctor with my case. It is uncommon for a person’s tics to worsen after the age of 18, so it is a bit rare that mine worsened at the age of 19. Also I could tell when I was going to tic, and from what he told me, some people don’t know that they are about to have an attack, and at first he associated that with epilepsy, but after talking with him he had decided it was more like tourettes because I didn’t come out of them dazed and lethargic, and I knew what was going on. I was then sent for an MRI, where they examined my brain and my neck to see which part of the brain was being attacked, nothing came up abnormal. I can honestly say being in the MRI tube for 2 hours was not fun, and that afterwards I slept the entire day because I was physically and emotionally drained from the experience. And the bad part is I was suppose to have blood work done afterwards because of my bleeding disorder, but I didn’t make it to that.

Now it has been about five years since my diagnosis and I’ve learned to cope with my tics, and I’ve figured out tricks to suppress them. Which I might add for me makes them 10 times worse later on, so I try not to hide them, because it leaves me drained. I also know when I am going to have an episode, it feels like pins-and-needles creeping up my back and then bam, tic attack. But the best thing for me to do to eliminate the boredom and the stress is to pick up a pen, paint brush, pencil, computer, anything I can be creative with. Doing something artsy and that I love keeps me boredom-free and calms my nerves so that I am not so stressed out.

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2 thoughts on “My Life with Tourettes”

  1. Thats very interesting, i’ve never known anyone with Tourettes but i do find anything to do with the brain fascinating – sorry to hear you get people judging you for it. I’ve had several MRI’s recently and i know what you mean about them not being the most pleasant experience, especially if you get bored easily!

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