Not worrying about friends judging my tics

So I know my past couple of posts have been on the more negative side, talking about how my tics have been bad so far this semester and how I’m fed up with it. So I decided it’s time for a more positive post!

Anyway, a little while ago (the summer after my freshman year of college) I wrote about my friend Ivy. For those of you who didn’t read that post, I’ll summarize it here.

Basically, my freshman year I started a two-year freshman program about the mind and brain. It’s basically an intro program for my major. In that class, I ticced a lot, just like I did in every other class. Freshman year I didn’t really tell my classes about my TS because I was too afraid to. So once people noticed something was wrong, they usually tended to take one of two positions.

They either stared at me in a very obvious way or ignored me so as not to get caught staring. However, in my mind brain program there was this one girl who kept making it a point to sit next to me every day. I didn’t really notice though until one day she decided to start talking to me.

The first time she talked to me I thought she was talking to someone else, so the first time she said hi to me and tried talking to me I pretty much ignored her because I thought she was talking to someone else! LOL! Then she kept persisting, and I realized she was talking to me, and I responded and started talking to her as well.

Since freshman year, we’ve become friends. We’ve met up to do  lunch and dinner together quite a few times. We’ve had other classes together, considering we’re the same major. And we’ve kept in touch, at some points more than others; but nonetheless, we’ve remained friends.

Last summer, I told her briefly about my TS and about Camp Twitch and Shout, and she told me she has an older brother who has autism and is nonverbal. I know a lot about autism since I’ve worked with autistic children quite a lot as a result of my senior project with a class of high-functioning autistic middle school students and my mom’s job at a special school. In fact, I’m soon going to start helping out with their Friday after school social skills group this semester!

Anyway, back to the point of this post. Ivy texted me about a week ago asking me if I would want to room with her and her suitemate next year. In the text she said that she thinks I would be a really nice person to live with and rooming together would work really well!

My two other suitemates from this year — who I’m very close to — and I all want to stay together, so we’ve decided on a preliminary plan of having the 5 of us (Ivy, her suitemate, me and my two suitemates) room together in an on-campus apartment! I’m very excited about this idea and can’t wait to room with Ivy and her friend.

We’re going to meet on Sunday morning as a group so that the people in the group who haven’t met yet can meet and so we can discuss things in person. I think it will be really great to live with Ivy, her friend and my two other friends. I think we’ll all get along really well, and in particular I’m excited to get even closer with Ivy.

The only thing I’m worried about, though, is that Ivy has never seen my tics to their full extent. I worry that she will have a different opinion of me once she sees my tics in full force. But then I just think how my good friends who I have now have all seen my tics in full force.

They all at one point had never met a person with Tourette’s and now they just ignore my tics and see them as something that’s just normal. I think if anyone would be the kind of person to accept my tics, it would be Ivy. Even though I’m worried about it, I know in reality that Ivy and her friend will both get used to my tics fairly quickly, just like everyone else has.

And once they get used to my tics, they will see me for who I am and not for my tics. They will see my tics as just one small part of me and get to know the person I really am. Even though I don’t yet know Ivy’s roommate, I trust that she is a good and accepting person. I could never imagine Ivy being friends with anyone who is not this kind of person. I think this will only bring new friendships and more support into my life. That I am excited for!

10 reasons I LOVE Tourette’s!

Like the title says, these are 10 reasons why I love having Tourette Syndrome! Of course, there are times when I get frustrated with my tics and wish I could just stop the things that I say and do. I have come to find reasons to absolutely love my Tourette’s and be thankful that I have TS. Here is my top 10:

  1. Something more serious is not wrong and causing the things I do. I had tics as a kid, but they reared their big, ugly head once again as a teenager and adult. They were subtle at first, but got so bad that I could not stop moving and twisting and contorting. It hurt. I had no idea what was causing me to do what I was doing. I think back now and am grateful that something more serious was not the cause of the sudden, severe outburst of my Tourette’s. I am not saying that TS is not serious. It should be taken very seriously. There are things that would have been much more devastating that my imagination came up with during those times before my diagnosis, though.
  2. It has taught me some great lessons in life, such as acceptance, kindness, not to judge people for what I observe of them. Of course, these are lessons we are all taught (hopefully) throughout our lives. However, when something like being diagnosed with a chronic illness or a traumatic experience happens to you, you tend to understand and implement these lessons in your own life even more (again, hopefully). Having dealt with mental illness such as depression and anxiety in my own life and struggled with self-injury, I had very strong feelings about not judging people by what you see or hear, but when my tics kicked in and started evolving into what they are now and what they were when they first became a real problem, I noticed the judgment and stigma around me even more. People stare, make fun, and can be downright rude at times. It can really hurt. I never want to be one of those people who misjudge someone because of what I merely observe about them. You never know why someone is doing something or why they look the way they do. Get to know a person before you judge them. You may make assumptions about someone and miss out on a great opportunity to learn, make a new friend or enjoy a great new experience that will never come again.
  3. It is so freakin’ hilarious! I have never laughed harder in my life than I have at some of my tics! In fact, I even wrote a post about funny tics and hilarious moments that have happened because of a tic! Great memories have been made because of a funny tic or situation that occurred because of a funny tic. These are memories that I will have forever. They will probably be some of my fondest, even. Continue reading

Telling friends about your Tourette can be a relief

My tics have been really bad for the past week or so. The stress of the start of the semester, being in all new classes with all new people and having to explain my Tourette’s to them all makes my tics so bad! Right now, just about everything is setting them off — including the awful cold I have … perfect timing.

I’m also supposed to be doing sorority recruitment, which is another thing that’s making my tics worse. Today, though, with my cold, my tics, the total overstimulation caused by the cheering and screaming and crowded rooms of recruitment, and the fact that I was feeling feverish earlier, I had to leave recruitment after about half the day and come back to my dorm. I feel like I’m missing out, but I really didn’t have a choice.

Last night, I went to our last sorority recruitment workshop and our pledge family gathering. I stuck through all of that even though it proved to be too much for me. At the recruitment workshop, I was ticcing so much. My grandbig sister is the sweetest person ever and kept checking in with me at various points during the night when she noticed me ticcing a lot to make sure I was OK.

Each time I told her I was fine, even though I was really pushing my limits by not stepping out of the room to take a sensory break and to fully let my tics out. I told my grandbig and my big sister in my sorority about my Tourette’s during this recruitment officially, even though they both had already suspected I had it.

It was interesting because for the most part I tend to tell people about my Tourette’s before they notice my tics or after they see just a few of my tics, but for my big and grandbig I had kept it from them for a long time. I have always been very afraid to tell people in my sorority for some reason.

Anyway, they both had seen me ticcing far to often in the past so they wouldn’t have really asked about it on their own, but I thought that they should know since I was getting so close to them. I told my big when we were walking to get lunch together when I was ticcing a lot by saying in a lighthearted way, “Walking long distances in the cold always seems to set of my tics. Have I told you about my tics before?” Continue reading

Top TS moments from the Camp Twitch & Shout counselor reunion, No. 1

These are not in any particular order! I just wrote them down as I thought of them. These are the top 5 moments that relate to Tourette’s that happened during the Camp Twitch and Shout counselor reunion weekend. Here’s No. 1:

At the end of the trip last Sunday, I was scheduled to fly back home. My plane was canceled, though, because of the weather. Luckily, though, the airport I flew into to make my connection is where Tasha lives! This meant that my trip got to be extended and that I got to spend more time with Tasha.

My anxiety went crazy, though, with having the flight canceled. When my flight was canceled and when I was alone in the airport before Tasha came to pick me up, I was shaking, having major obsessive thoughts and panicking. My anxiety is pretty irrational, but it takes over my body and mind when it hits, and it can be pretty brutal.

I called my mom and cried, but as soon as Tasha came to pick me up I calmed down pretty much immediately. I feel safe with her. So ultimately, even though I had some bad anxiety and got pretty upset, I got to spend more 1-on-1 time with her.

It was like a big sleepover! I went back with her to her apartment and she introduced me to her dog. Her dog is a Chihuahua-Dachshund mix and is so sweet! She is such a lap dog and will sit in your lap and sleep with you. She has such a personality and loves to play, too! She also understands English and listens to her owner better than any other dog I’ve met.

So we went out to dinner to a really nice restaurant talked and then when we got back we laid in bed and watched two great movies together, “Untraceable” and “The Butterfly Effect.” Kind of like how I let Tasha do my nails, even though it bothered my sensory processing disorder, she watched two semi-scary movies with me even though it bothered her OCD and anxiety.

The movies were psychological thriller movies, which are pretty much my favorite types of movies, and she really liked them even though they were scary and wanted to share them with me. We had a great time watching the movies together. Afterward she was a little scared, but she said because I was there with her she was OK.

My flight wasn’t scheduled to leave until 10 p.m. on Monday night, so that meant we got to spend the whole day together the next day, too. We slept in late, ate lunch and then watched the movie “Date Night.” Then we had dinner where we talked more, too, and had more good conversations!

She drove me to the airport and we hugged and said goodbye! She told me that she really enjoyed our time together. I often worry and obsess about what other people think of me, but when I’m with Tasha and the other counselors from camp I know they accept me — always.

I don’t have to worry that they think I’m weird or that they don’t accept my differences. They know my differences personally because they live with them every day. To them, stomping your feet on the ground, twitching your face, hitting yourself and making noises is normal. To them, going into panic/anxiety mode because your flight was canceled or having to avoid touching certain things because you think touching them will make you sick is normal.

It’s incredible to be understood on this level. Being at camp and being with the people from camp is the most understood I have ever felt in my life. I feel like they are all living my life. Even though we don’t have the same tics, same obsessions or same things that trigger our anxiety, it doesn’t matter — we get it, and we get each other.

That’s my complete list! In case you missed any of the others, here they are:

Top TS moments from the Camp Twitch & Shout counselor reunion, No. 4

These are not in any particular order! I just wrote them down as I thought of them. These are the top 5 moments that relate to Tourette’s that happened during the Camp Twitch and Shout counselor reunion weekend. Here’s No. 4:

On Saturday night, the same counselor who would respond to my “No” tic decided to make dinner for all of us since she likes to cook. So we all went to the grocery store to get the ingredients. On the way to the grocery store, the music in the car accidentally got turned up really loud.

One of the other counselors we were with who does have Tourette’s is very sensitive to loud noise because it always sets his tics off. So as soon as the music got turned up, he started ticcing pretty severely. When we parked in the grocery store parking lot he was still ticcing a lot, so we waited a few minutes before going in.

He started to insist that we not wait in the car for him, though, so we went in together and he was still ticcing a lot. It was so sweet how one of the other counselors (the one who does not have Tourette’s and who would make light of my “No” tic) said “Tell me what I can do” to him to try to help in any way she could.

She is so incredibly caring. She doesn’t have Tourette’s, had no idea what Tourette’s even was before she came to camp 5 years ago, and she is such a strong Tourette’s advocate. She has two bumper stickers on the back of her car, one says “Tourette’s Syndrome Awareness” and the other says “Camp Twitch and Shout,” and she even has a Tourette’s tattoo.

Anyway, back to the story… when we went into the grocery store, the other counselor was still ticcing badly, which made me start ticcing badly, too. The other people in the grocery store didn’t say anything, but both of us were going up and down the isles jerking and making noises like crazy!

I was doing a high-pitched noise that kind of sounds like a squeak or something like that while at the same time stomping my foot on the ground really hard. They could probably tell I was nervous about being in the grocery store, so two of them — the guy who was originally ticcing and the girl who makes comments after my “No” tic — made me feel better by saying that I looked like I was throwing the most adorable little temper tantrum and that my tics were so cute.

I would usually be so nervous ticcing this much in a grocery store, but surrounded by these amazing people from camp I felt so safe and accepted.

Look for No. 3 tomorrow! And in case you missed it, here is No. 5.