Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Experience with Bullying and Jaylen's Challenge

So today I thought I would share my experience of bullying as a child. I was talking about this earlier today with a friend and we both agreed that today as teens it only takes one word. Tourettes. And then the person who was staring, or mocking shuts up real fast and becomes very very apologetic. They genuinely feel bad. It only takes one word. Although it usually only takes one word now as I am a senior in high school, I think almost everyone with Tourettes deals with being the target to bullying at one point or another in their experience, especially if they had TS as a kid. And yes, this is something I dealt with as well. The fact that I wasn't diagnosed as a kid made being bullied for something I didn't even understand so much harder. 

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. A

Also I started a squeaking sound which I usually only did while just waking up, trying to go to sleep, 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 my 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. 

So 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, spread rumors, and tell me that I was gross to my face. 

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 I just wasn't able to stop. I couldn't help it. 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 greater attention to the tics only made them worse.

The worst thing was that I wasn't even able to tell anyone about the tics or about the bullying. The boys in my class and the things they said to me made me feel so ashamed of the things I did and because of this I was ashamed to tell anyone about it. A lot of the time I felt like I was just a weird kid and that I deserved to be picked on. 

I wasn't even able to tell anyone that these boys bullied me until years later and even then I lied to my parents and said that the boys spread rumors about me growing up in a trailer park for no reason and just because they were bored. I never have told them that it was because of Tourettes because even today there is a 5th grade me inside that is still ashamed. I have declared war against this 5th grade version of myself since I was diagnosed, and this blog is part of that war. 

Everyday I tell myself not to be ashamed of the fact that I live with Tourette's, and I try to show the people in my life this as well. Even though my friends are incredibly acccepting and supportive of TS, I still have to make an effort to convince that 5th grader inside of me to be okay with the fact that everyday I will wake up twitching and making noises and won't be able to stop. It's just a part of me, and even though it sucks sometimes, I'm going to have to deal with it. The other alternative is to hate TS and be miserable about it all the time and i've tried that before and trust me it doesn't work so well. 

Anyway I thought this would be the perfect post to introduce you all to Jaylen Arnold. Jaylen is a kid with Tourettes who is spreading awareness for TS and is on a mission to stop bullying. He's a very inspiring kid and I wish he had been around when I was being bullied in school. Visit Jaylen's Challenge and join Jaylen in helping to stop childhood bullying. Watch some of Jaylen's awareness videos as well. Way to go Jaylen! Bullying NO WAY!  

Click here to go to Jaylen's website:

Here's how Jaylen says you can help his cause: 

  • Donate as much as you can. Dont forget, donations over $10 gets an exclusive 'Bullying No Way!' glow in the dark wristband.
  • Spread the word about this cause. I am trying to change the world, one classroom at a time.
  • Don't bully people for ANY reason. When you bully someone, it is because you are insecure with yourself in some way.  If you can't help yourself, talk to a parent, a teacher, or another adult about receiving help.
  • If you are a parent and you know your child "picks" on other kids, don't laugh and think it's merely "child's play" or harmless. This is serious. Kids are losing their lives. Talk to your children, educate them. Let them watch my videos under the video links tab.
  • Take up for someone when you see bullying. Just as I'm trying to do in a sense, 'Pay It Forward'.  Stick together. A bully will pick on an individual, but a bully will not bully 5 kids standing firm together.
  • If you are getting bullied, you HAVE to tell someone. I know you don't want to tattle and make it worse, but tell someone. Tell me and I will try my best to do an 'in-service' to your school if we have the funds available. The bully will never know it had anything to do with you.
  • Come back to my website often. I am going to try and receive a strong rally of supporters in order to get help to children.

Some of Jaylen's Video's: 

Jaylen was also recently in a documentary about TS that showed on discovery health channel called Tourettes Uncovered. Here is most of the documentary which features 4 kids who have Tourettes (Jonah, Jaylen, Collin, and Marques).

Part 1:

Part 2: 

Part 3: 

No comments:

Post a Comment