Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Talking Tourette's

The summer really is winding down. My moms back at work, my brother leaves for his first year of college in 3 days, I'm taking the GRE (graduate record exam) for the first time in 'll be back in school in 1 week, and i'll be back on campus and starting my senior year of college in a little over a week.

Today as the summer is beginning to come to a close, I spent time with one of my closest friends. She's been my friend since 7th grade.  She's known me and been there to support me when I didn't know I had tics, when I had barely any noticable tics at all, when my OCD got so severe that I couldn't touch other people's hands, doorknobs, and when I washed my hands so much they would bleed, when my tics first started and when I had no explanation to give for why I was making noises and movements, and when I had my diagnosis and my tics got to the point where I was yelling out in class every single day and punching myself and the things around me. She's been there for me when not even my parents were able to support me.

She's stood up for me, and for others with Tourette's. I love that when someone tells a Tourette's joke, she tells them her best friend has Tourette's and it's not something to laugh at. She asked questions when I was first diagnosed and still asks questions today so she can learn more about what Tourette's is and what it's like for me to have it.

Spending the day with her today was bittersweet, because I know I won't see her for a couple of months since we go to college in different states. Regardless of that, I know that whenever we see each other again it's like we've never been apart.

Today, I talked about Tourette's with her quite a bit as i'm going into the school year with the goal of being as open as I can be about my TS. I told her about my new goal and she was surprised to hear that I'm not as open about my tics with everyone as I am with her. I told her sometimes it can be the elephant in the room because people in my sorority know I have Tourette's because they see me post about it on facebook or have heard about it from others, and yet i've never directly told them about my TS or talked with them about it. So when i'm ticcing, they just ignore it and while I do mostly appreciate that, sometimes I just feel like it's the elephant in the room, or I'll feel like if i'm ticcing badly I won't want to be around them because I don't know how they react. She reassured me that my tics don't bother her even when i'm having a lot of tics or when my tics are bad that day and that she of course doesn't judge me at all because of my tics. She told me maybe its because she's used to my tics, but that someone with a cold or stuffy nose bothers her more than my tics do and that I should just try to not worry about my tics and just go hang out with others when my tics are bad instead of letting it hold me back from being with them. Even though I already know this, I really appreciated hearing it from her because I really think I just needed some reassurance at this point. It helped SO much! I always get anxious about tics and what others are going to think before the start of school regardless of the fact that every year I receive so much acceptance and support from my professors and the other students at my university when it comes to Tourette's and educating others about it.

Also the last time I hung out with her, we went to the zoo and it was a pretty bad day for me in terms of my tics. I was having a lot of vocal tics and the tic where I punch myself stomach was acting up a lot. I would stop wherever I was standing, and punch myself in the stomach pretty hard a number of times. When we were at the zoo together and when she saw it she said "That looks like it hurts" and I told her it does. Today she brought up that tic again and asked if it was better. She told me every time she saw me do it at the zoo she would cringe not because she was bothered by it or anything like that but because it looked like it hurt so much. I told her it's been a lot better and that i've actually barely had it in the last week. The fact that she asked me about it and told me this is something I love because it lets me know she cares. She know she can bring it up even though its a tic that's more serious. When I have these kinds of tics in front of others I sometimes worry what they are think. My OCD tells me that when they see these kinds of tics they won't want to be around me any more because it's something that's too much for them to be around or that it will make them too uncomfortable and they will shy away from being my friend. I know for most people this is not true, but OCD worries can be so powerful. So to hear a friend talk so openly and express care for me like this surrounding one of these more significant tics is something that helps me more than I can even say. It gives me hope that if I choose to be around some of my other friends when i'm having a day where my tics are bad or i'm having more of these significant tics that they will express the same care or will just ignore it and won't mind.

Overall it was a great day. We walked to lunch at a coffee and crepe place near my house, we played with my dog and cat, decorated boxes and did a lot of fun crafting with she really enjoyed (she said we should have been doing this all summer and that she really loved it and was having fun!), and just talked and spent time hanging out. I love how we've gotten to the point where we can casually talk about tics. When we were decorating the boxes, I ticced and hit the table a bit and at the same time she accidentally scooted the table back. I then said casually "I was the one who moved the table! It wasn't your tic!" and then she joked with me when I did one of my tics by saying "bless you!" when I ticced because she knows how often others say bless you when I do a tic because they think its a sneeze. This year my goal is to have even more people at school who I can get to this place with, where we can casually talk about tics like it's no big deal. I don't want people to tip toe around me and think they can't bring up my tics because I may get offended. I realize that this will take work on my part because in order for others to be comfortable talking about my tics I have to bring it up first and talk about it causally and like its no big deal to let others know i'm comfortable with talking about it. My friend today suggested that I try telling stories about camp or bringing it up casually on conversation in a natural way but also just to be around them when i'm having a day where my tics are worse. All good ideas :)

Also I just sent out my annual emails to my professors asking them if there's a good time we could meet before classes start so I can tell them a little about Tourette's and how it will effect me in the classroom. When I sent out those emails, I know school is close! Nervous and excited as always :) 

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