Thursday, February 2, 2012

Friends who understand Tourette's on a level like no other- Tie Dye Socks

Today I was reminded yet again just how fortunate I am to have the amazingly wonderful friends that I have been lucky enough to have in my life. Tie Dye Socks has been one of my absolutely best friends since 7th grade. She was originally my assigned buddy to show me around the school and make me feel welcome as a new student and since the first day we met, we just clicked as friends and have been friends ever since.

 She has known me at times when my tics were not noticeable, at times when my obsessions were not noticeable, at times when my obsessions were very noticeable and interfered with my life, and at the times when my tics were the most obvious. She has known me as the shy 7th grader who barely talked and as the more confident and outspoken senior I am today. She has known me through the bad times and the good and has always been there for me. She was my friend before I knew I had Tourette's or OCD, was my friend through the difficult period of diagnosis, and is of course still my friend today. 

The nick name Tie Dye Socks that I use for her on my blog comes from our little inside joke that she will ask me almost every single day if I tie dyed my socks because I always wear two different colored tie dyed socks (I didn't actually tie dye them; I bought them that way). It's actually part of my OCD though. I can't wear two of the same colored socks or else I just don't feel "right". 

So today Tie Dye Socks and I sat outside to eat lunch because it's been sooo warm and beautiful here the past three days. When we sat down she told me she had just come from a highly interesting class discussion in her English class that she wanted to hear my opinion about. Her class is reading the book Acceptance which is about a prep-school like ours and acceptance into college. There was a mother in the book who said that she essentially wanted to "buy" her child a learning disability by paying an extreme amount of money to have her child tested for some bogus "reading disability" so that the kid could get extended time on standardized tests like the ACT and SAT. The class had a huge discussion about this because at my school a lot of parents pay for testing like this to have their kids evaluated for these types of things. 

Tie Dye Socks and I are among the group who gets extra time on these tests and have also been evaluated which does indeed cost money. The whole class apparently went into this giant conversation that a lot of the diagnoses were bogus and that a lot of the kids just payed for extended time and it wasn't fair. They did agree that some students did actually have a real need for the extra time, but the majority of kids in the class argued that there was abuse of the system and some parents had paid for "bogus diagnoses". 

So Tie Dye Socks wanted to know what I thought of this conversation and thought I would be the best person to ask because of my Tourette's and my documentary. I was very happy that she was so open about asking me about this. Some of my friends are hesitant to bring it up, but she just treats it as normal and as no big deal. I told her that there was a lot of ignorance out there and a lot of people were very uninformed about how hidden these disabilities can be. 

Disabilities don't have to be obvious to have a large effect on someone's life or their ability to test well. There are people out there who are uninformed and who think that if you can't see the disability it isn't there. They have the right to their opinion about the fact that maybe the system is being abused, but for the most part what's really unfair is that people who have extended time are judged for possibly "buying" a diagnosis if the disability is not obvious to the uninformed onlooker.  

I told her it's just like Tourette's. For some people who have Tourette's the tics are very obvious to other people, but for others who have Tourette's other people really may never know unless they are told about it.

Tie Dye Socks's response to this really made me smile. She said that she liked my perspective on the whole thing and that she totally gets the thing about Tourette's. She told me that it's like that with me. She said that she doesn't even notice my tics all that much because she is used to them and that when she does notice it she quickly recognizes what it is and moves on because it's no big deal in her mind. She says this is the way she thinks it should be. 

I feel so lucky to have friends who don't see me as just a person with Tourette's and can look far beyond the tics to the extent that they don't even notice that much. I also feel so lucky to have friends who want to discuss this type of thing with me and are not afraid to talk about Tourette's or extra time on tests or subjects that some people might shy away from because of possible sensitivity. I loved our conversation today at lunch and I will be so sad when senior year is over and when Tie Dye Socks and I will no longer go to the same school.

 I know college and the distance between us will not effect our friendship though. Our friendship has already survived so much more than that. I hope to meet other people like her in college and in my future but something tells me that a lot about her is one of a kind. I think most people will be accepting and understanding in college, or at least this is my hope, but I don't know if I will meet another Tie Dye Socks.

She is special and I just feel so lucky to have met her and to have her in my life today and going forward in the future. She understands, accepts, genuinely cares, and knows me on a level that few others do. Some of it is just too much to put down in words. You have to meet her to really know. There are all these little things about her that make her so unique. She wants to hear about my life and what's been going on with me and deeply enjoys it and tells me that she does. She writes letters to the people she cares about the most in case she would die unexpectedly so that we would get the letters after her death and know how much she cared about us in case she never got the chance to fully express it to us (she told me that she wrote a very very letter for me). We made a wish together in 8th grade by throwing shells into a pond that we promised not to tell each other until graduating day senior year. That day seemed like just yesterday and here we are about to graduate in a few months and tell each other what we wished for. I know it will be a very special moment. 

Thank you Tie Dye Sock and all my other friends for making me feel so accepted and loved. :)

Pictures from the gardens where we took a very memorable picture together on the day that we made our wish in 8th grade!

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