Friday, November 18, 2011

How my Tics have Progressed Through the Years

So I saw a youtube video just a few moments ago which I really liked the idea for and I thought I would do the same and write my post today on how my tics have progressed through the years . Maybe tomorrow I'll do one on how my OCD and anxiety has progressed through the years. Anyway I'll do it by year, although it probably won't be 100 percent accurate for the most part since It's hard for me to remember exactly what years these kinds of things happened.

The first sign of Tourettes showed up when I was in pre-school beleive it or not! My first tic like behavior showed up when I was about thee years old. I started to pick my lips. Not just a little though, I picked them until they bled and scabbed up. I've been told by certain professionals that lip picking does classify as a tic, but others say that it's part of an OCD spectrum disorder  that often co-occurs with Tourettes called dermotillaminia (compulsive skin picking). I have picked my lips all my life, and still do today and to me it feels exactly like the way my other tics feel. So if you ask me, I'd say its a tic. Either way, it was one of the first signs of Tourettes. Another thing I started doing in pre-school was sucking on my hair. I don't know if this is a tic or more of a compulsive type behavior but I probably sucked on my hair pretty constantly for at least a year or two. I also had small facial tics, would roll on the ground in a strange way, and would sometimes flap my arms.

1st grade-3rd grade 
Between 1st and 3rd grade there were tqo tics that I had that I was aware of. The only reason I was aware of them though was because other people commented on them and drew my attention to it. If my parents and and grandparents hadn't mentioned these things to me, I probably would have never even realized that I was doing them at this age. Sniffling and skipping were my two main tics at this age that I was aware of. I probably did have others, but I just wasn't aware of them. I sniffled pretty much constantly and it drove my parents and grandparents crazy! They would always tell me to blow my nose or use nose spray and I would always refuse and say it didn't help! In my opinion the skipping tic is a pretty cute one :) but my mom was always on me about it and told me that I needed to stop skipping because I was "too old" and "looked silly". I didn't stop skipping or sniffling though no matter how many times they asked me to stop; I couldn't control it. I still have sniffling as a pretty frequent tic today although the skipping seemed to subside for the most part after elementary school.

4th grade-6th grade 
Starting in 4th grade my tics seemed to get more complex. I had a pretty decently long list of tics through these years but I didn't know what they were. I knew I did weird things at this point, but I didn't even know Tourettes existed. I just thought I was really weird. I still had the sniffling tic pretty frequently which in 4th grade seemed to be combined with a slurping sound that I made with my mouth. Sometimes I would just do the slurping sound on its own though. Also I started a squeaking sound which I usually only did while just waking up, trying to fall asleep, or sometimes while watching TV. My friends would say "What are you doing?" and my response at the time was "I'm stretching my voice". I think this is a pretty cute response and explanation for a tic for someone who had no idea what a tic even was at the time. I also started having more motor tics at this age. I had a motor tic where I had to hold me breath, tighten all my muscles in my stomach and chest. It essentially just look like I would freeze for a few seconds. I also had a tic where I would twitch my eye brows up and down and people would regularly say to me "you're really expressive with your eye brows" when I was doing that tic a lot. This is also when copropraxia showed up. Copropraxia is a type of motor tic that consists of inappropriate gestures or inappropriate touching. I started grabbing at my crotch area, which caused me a lot of trouble in terms of bullying. 5th and 6th grade were the only times in my life that i've ever been bullied for having Tourettes. There were two boys in my class who spread rumors around that I grew up in a trailer park and that my parents never taught me that grabbing at my crotch area was inappropriate. They would give me nasty looks, and spread rumors, and tell me that I was gross. I wanted them to stop saying these things so much, and I wanted to be able to stop myself from doing these things that made them make fun of me, but somehow I knew that I wasn't going to be able to make myself stop. I couldn't help it, and a part of me seemed to know this. I tried to ignore them the best I could, but what they said really hurt me. I just couldn't stop myself from ticcing no matter how much I tried to control it. Looking back I realize that my tics got worse at this time because I was being bullied. The extra stress and attention to the tics only made them worse. During this time, my lip picking/biting tic was at its worst. I would pick and bite at my lips so much that my they would start bleeding in the middle of class and I would have to leave class and hold paper towels to my lips for 10- 15 minutes just to get the bleeding to subside. I had to leave class a lot because of this.

Now at this point you may be wondering, how the heck was I not diagnosed with Tourette's when all this was going on? And I myself have been trying to figure this out. I recently asked my mom this exact question. I asked her why she never took me to a doctor and why she kept insisting that it wasn't a problem when I was younger. She told me that she had learned her main parenting strategies from her own parents and that at the time she was told by the older generation that if there was a problem it was best to ignore it and not draw much attention to it. My mom had no idea that Tourette's was anything other than yelling out swear words (which I certainly have never done). In her mind I had "behavior problems" and she was told if she drew attention to a "behavior problem" like this it would only get worse. In her mind, if she ignored it for long enough, the problem would simply go away.

7th grade and 8th grade
7th and 8th grade were pretty uneventful in terms of tics. I moved to a middle school and since I was rid of the boys who had bullied me, my tics decreased. My crotch grabbing tic went away for the most part (thank goodness!) and I was just left with my other tics which were fairly minor and not very noticeable to other people. I made some absolutely fantastic friends in 7th and 8th grade, some of whom I havn't mentioned on my blog, but you now know two of my best friends that I made in 7th and 8th grade as Tie Dye Socks and Steam Punk. I sniffled, couched, clenched my jaws, twitched my eye brows, froze up from tightening my muscles for a few seconds, and twirled my hair, but they weren't very frequent and my friends really didn't think anything of it.

9th and 10th grade
I kept most of my old tics for these grades, but lots of new ones seemed to be coming up probably because this is the age when tics seem to get worse because of puberty. List of tics in these years: Sniffling, clenching my jaws, twitching my eye brows, freezing up from tightening my muscles for a few seconds, twirling my hair, rotating my shoulders in and out of their sockets, coughing, clearing my throat, tapping my face or my collar bone, stomping my feet, rubbing my face, flapping my hands (only did this a few times), and air swallowing. The air swallowing got really really bad at the end of 10th grade and during the summer of 10th grade. Sometimes I wouldn't be able to go more than 10 seconds without swallowing and it would go on for hours. It would give me horrible stomach aches and I was really fed up with it. I put up with it all summer long and it got really really bad over the summer. I finally insisted that my mom bring me to the doctor during the summer time but when I went to my pediatrician and explained it, but he looked at me like I was crazy. He had never heard of someone "not being able to stop swallowing" and told me it was all in my head. That was just great.

11th grade
Well 11th grade was the year of my official Tourette's diagnosis. Finally after all those years an explanation! My tics got really really bad in the fall and winter of 11th grade. It seemed like I would get a new tic every single day. I started with the loud and most obvious squeaking tics and "pokemon" sounding tics. I started jerking my arms and legs and head and rolling my eyes. I had about a million other ones, half of which I cant even remember at the moment and I was finally diagnosed! :)

12 grade (Senior year!) 
Well if you read my blog you know my day to day life living with Tourettes. So I guess I'll just do a tic list. It will be very long and I probably will forget a few but here I go.
Vocal: Sniffling, clearing my throat, coughing, a clinking sound in my throat, air swallowing, bird chirping noises, "Pokemon" noises (pretty loud), squeaking and squealing noises, grunting noises, forceful "heh" noise.
Motor: Eye rolling, facial tics, blinking, squinting, arm and leg jerking, any type of arm movement, hand movements, head jerking, head shaking, tightening any muscle group, banging my hands or arms on things, jumping, shaking my legs, pulling my arms into my chest, hitting my chest, hitting myself in the stomach, full body jerking, full body muscle tightening, and probably a bunch more that I'm forgetting.

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