Monday, May 28, 2012

First Three Nights as an Usher

Well, I've been avoiding blogging for a few days. I've probably been avoiding it because its summer time now and I'm out of school. I've been so busy with my senior project for the past two weeks, and now i'm finally done with it! Yay! I enjoyed the project, but am so looking forward to the freedom of the summer. Not complete freedom of course, but more freedom than being on a school schedule.

As some of you know, I started working as an usher at an Opera Theater company for a summer job to make some money and keep me busy. I'm only 18, so this is really my first official paying job besides lots of babysitting. Although I enjoy freedom, I also get bored easily and hate it when I have nothing at all to do. I was somewhat worried about the challenges Tourette's would pose when working in a professional setting like this, but so far so good. Everything seems to be working out just fine for the most part.

I've only been working for three days as an usher, but I've made it a point not to be ashamed of my Tourette's and to also be open about it in the new work setting. The good thing is that all of the ushers are around my age (high school/college aged) and there is so much down time during the acts to just chill and hang out with the other ushers. The first night I decided to feel things out and not really jump into telling the other ushers about my TS right away. I'm not the kind of person who feels the need to introduce myself with the TS label attached. I feel it out and then I've found that if I keep an open mind and tell myself i'm going to be open and willing to talk about my Tourettes, then I always know when the time is right to talk about it.

There is always a downside though to not telling the people i'm around that I have Tourette's. Even though I can't stop a majority of my tics from happening, I do stop the smaller tics from happening almost unconsciously when i'm around people who don't know I have TS. This usually ends in a major and sometimes violent explosion of tics at the end of the night when I get in the car and go home. Luckily the girl I hung out with most of the night just happened to know my cousin who also has Tourette's. I think when she saw my ticcing she guessed that I have Tourette's too, because even when I did vocal tics around her that night, she didn't react. Even though I hung out with her and another girl the first night for the most part, I had still been suppressing tics throughout the night and when I got back in my car, I couldn't help but erupt in an explosion of jerking tics and loud screeches. I was so anxious and ticcy and I ended up going the wrong way and getting lost. I called my mom practically in full panic mode and put her on speaker phone so she could help direct me back home from where I was. Even though it was a semi-rough first night, I still had fun hanging out with the other ushers and getting to experience my first night of a real paying job.

The second night after that was much better. My mom drove out in front of me so I could follow her and not get lost this time and so she could show me the right street to turn on to come back as well. It made much more sense to me this time, since I wasn't as anxious and ticcy as last time. When I was standing at the infamous door #2 to check people's tickets, I kept banging my knees against the ticket stand which got to be painful after a while and kept stomping me feet too. At one point one of the patrons walked past me and said "Just keep stomping blood into those feet". I found this slightly amusing. Afterwards when I was with all the ushers outside again I was hanging out with two girls and I felt like it was the right time to briefly mention Tourette's and just get it out of the way and in the open. I told them that I had found a very good way of getting out of having to see the opera's. "Hey don't get me wrong," I said "I like the operas, but I move around more than other people and the people sitting next to me tend to get annoyed". I then went on to say "I have these things called tics, which are involuntary movements and sounds. It's technically called Tourette's, but I don't swear or anything like that. That's only 10% of people who have it". After I was done with my short explanation one of the girls said something to the effect of "They shouldn't get annoyed. You can't help it".  She said it in a way that made me think she was trying to make me feel better which I always appreciate. A few minutes later I ticced and she stopped talking for a second and I looked at her and she said "its okay" like she was trying to reassure me it was okay that I ticced and she was okay with it too. I love those people who try to make me feel better or more comfortable when I tic. They really just make my day.

So, the first two days went very well in my opinion. I felt really good being open about my TS and I felt really good getting to really have a paying job for the first time. I've had another night of work too that went really well when I told pretty much the whole group of ushers about my Tourette's. I didn't really intend for it to work out that way, but it's really great that it did! Everyone was sitting in a big circle and going around and saying their name and one interesting thing about themself. I thought about saying that I have Tourette's, but once again decided not to because it seemed to defining to say it that way. I said that I was going to collegenext year instead. They seemed really interested since they know what a good school it is and asked me what I was majoring in. I told them that I was probably going to major in psycology and neruological reserch and they thought that was really cool and meant I was really smart. One of the girls in the group said "I have a neurolgost. I have epilpsy." and immediatly without even thinking about it I said "I have a neurolgost too. I have Tourette's Syndrome." The all looked very accepting and interested when i said it and another girl in the group announced that her bother has Tourette's, which I thought was really neat!
Now that everyone knows, I no longer go back to my car and explode with tics from supressing the smaller tics and am coming to be able to just tic regualy around them! I feel so much better knowing I was open about it and knowing that they know what's going on when I start ticcing. I really think it was the right thing for me to tell them.


  1. What a great look at what can happen to someone with TS when they start a job. This will help anyone who looks at it, Ruthie. We'll be putting this on the teen blog tomorrow!

  2. Cool beans!

    I've got a similar situation at the place where I work. I've told the people who need to know, and everyone just kind of takes it as part of who I am. I only ever had one co-worker really weird out about my tics, and they don't work with me any more.

    Can't beat it when you wind up working with a group like the one you describe. That's just gold.