Saturday, November 5, 2011

Self Injurious Tics and The Issue of Control

Over the past few months I've had a startlingly abundant number of self injurious tics. Self injurious tics are really no fun at all but just like any other tic, no matter how much it hurts I can't stop. My main self injurious tics right now are hitting my chest with my fist, hitting my stomach with my fist, and arm tics in which my arms often end up bashing into my face, legs, or head. Last week I bashed myself so hard in the jaw due to an arm tic that my jaw was sore for at least a solid few days. Luckily it didn't actually bruise visibly but it sure did hurt! the combination of hitting my chest and stomach  is no fun either. I usually end up hitting so hard that I go into "coughing fits" where I start gagging and coughing violently. I've been having these a lot lately due to the frequency of my chest and stomach hitting tics. These tics are hard because they really hurt my body and I know I may be causing real damage, but they really are out of my control.

This actually brings me to another subject: control. I wanted to clear up this subject. Many people confuse suppression of tics for control. Many people with Tourettes have very little or no control over their tics at all but still many others can suppress their tics for a certain period of time. Suppression of tics is often confused with control. A lot of people can and do suppress their tics for short or even long periods of time but this really should not be confused for control. While many people can suppress their tics it often makes tics come out more severely later when they are able to let the tics out and some people can only suppress tics for very short periods of time or cannot suppress them at all. I'd say that my ability to suppress tics is pretty typical for a person with TS. There are times when my tics are not that bad that I am able to suppress my tics for periods of time, although its usually no more than 5 or 10 minutes at most that I am able to do this. Then after I can no longer suppress the tics, I basically "explode" with tics. My motor tics can become rather violent and very painful and my vocal tics usually end up being rather loud. Suppressing is painful and no fun at all and I rarely acctually suppress when I am able to because the consequences are so unbearable. There are other times though when I can't physically suppress my tics. Usually when my tics get to a certain level I am unable to suppress them and they come out whether I like it or not. There are also times when I don't even feel the tic coming and I don't realize it until after I have already ticced. I know a lot of people with Tourettes who explain their level of control over their tics in a very similar way. All in all, control is a funny word when used for someone with Tourettes. Suppression is certainly not control, especially when it is a full out battle with your own body to stay quiet and still for more than 5 minutes and when you always lose the battle no matter how hard you fight. Suppression is not control when there are consequences for fighting that end in you hitting yourself in the stomach over and over again so violently that eventually you end up in fits of couching and gagging and lurching over in pain but are still unable to stop yourself.