Friday, August 17, 2012

My Roommate got back to me and General Update Before College!

My roommate got back to me! She sent me two really long messages! She explained that she was out of town and out of the country and that she had limited internet and cell phone access!!! Yay, i'm so glad she wasn't just ignoring me all this time! 

She seems soooo nice! I think we will be friends!  I still haven't told her about my TS, because i'm afraid it will freak her out if I tell her before we meet in person. But I will tell her when I meet her in person on Thursday. I will let you guys know how it goes! :)

For now, i'm a bundle of nerves, excitement, stress, and tics. Oh joy. Pre-orientation starts in two days (on Sunday) and regular orientation starts on Thursday and then classes start the 28th. I get to see my puppy in about a week too! SOOoo excited about that! 

I also got to meet Lazlo (the dog who lives in my dorm) and the faculty member that owns him. Lazlo is an adorable, very ball focused, 2 year old golden retriever. I'm glad I won't be completely dog deprived this coming year. I've been so dog deprived this summer without a dog. I miss having a dog so much! Dogs really help me calm down and relax, I can tell you that much. 

Well I don't know if I'll have time to blog during my pre-orientation or during my regular orientation, but we'll see. Oh and I also am going to keep working in the neuroimaging lab that i've been working in this summer at the med school. I've been working mainly on the Tourette Syndrome studies and New Tic studies, but i've also done some anatomy tracing and work with the brain, specifically the Thalamus. I'm taking about 4 weeks off to get adjusted to college and then I will start working once or twice a week in the neuroimaging lab. Everyone is fantastically flexible there and just fantastic in general. Dr. G, the neuro-researcher with TS, is still a huge mentor for me and Dr. B, another neuro-researcher, is becoming another mentor to me as well.  

Also I finished my OCD intensive program today. I am so proud with all the work I did. I will now confidently be able to do laundry and take showers efficiently without ritualising so much and that is a huge accomplishment for me and is going to be a huge time saver as well. I never thought I would be able to make this much progress and my therapists at the program have told me many times that they are so proud of me and the progress I have made. Things are going so well in terms of this!! :D 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Meeting Goldie and My Other RA!

Today I met Goldie (the RA staying in the room next to me) in person and I also met my other RA (who is a guy) too! I only met the guy RA for like two seconds because he was just moving in, but I talked with Goldie for longer. Goldie was soooo nice and I was so glad to meet her in person! I wasn't ticcing a lot, and I hope she realizes that tics fluctuate between being worse and being better. Even though I mentioned this in the message I sent her, I tend to worry about people understanding that part fully anyway. I can't worry about it to much though because soon enough I'm pretty sure she'll see my tics at their worst.

Anyway, Goldie was really nice. I hope I end up being friends with her and having a good RA to Freshman relationship with her, how ever that kind of thing works out, lol. She showed me her dorm room, which was huge!!!!! She said it was meant for two people, so she got a big room! And I asked her some questions about herself like what her major is and how long she's been an RA. Goldie is a bio-medical engineering major, now that's impressive, and this is her second year being an RA (she's a senior).

She then showed me the first floor (we're on the second floor), where a few student rooms are and where the RCD (residential college director) lives and where two faculty members live. I then remembered about the golden retriever I saw yesterday and asked her about it since I saw it going our dorm building. It turns out....wait for it....wait for it......wait for it.....the golden retriever belongs to one of the faculty members and LIVES IN THE DORM!!!!! I was sooooo excited! I'm pretty much a dog fanatic. I love love love love dogs! I was so sad thinking that I was going to live all year without a dog and with only short visits from my new puppy, but now that's not a problem anymore obviously. Goldie (who is also a dog lover and who has a border collie at home) said that the dog's name is Lazlo (I think) and that the faculty member lets the students walk it and play with it! She said that the dog is really friendly and loves to play ball and is a great stress reliever after finals. I'm even more excited now than I was before! Yay for dogs! It just seems like this college was made just for me! I mean how much more could I ask for? I have an awesome, supportive, understanding RA who lives right next to me, I have a dog living in my dorm to play with, and I'm able to do my exposure therapy easily because I live so close. Well maybe I could ask for a few more things. Like a supportive and understanding roommate, supportive and understanding friends, supportive and understanding teachers, good grades, and an awesome year over all! Let's hope for all of that! Who says things can't be awesome next year? So far everything has gone great!

Well all in all a good day! After I talked with Goldie for about 10 minutes, I went down to the laundry room to do my OCD exposure. That went pretty well. One thing is for sure, I no longer feel like i'm intruding and I no longer feel nervous about just being in there since now both my RA's have met me. Meeting my RA's helped a lot :)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

RA Support! Meet Goldie!

So today I decided to tell my RA about my OCD and Tourette's over facebook. I decided to tell her before I move into my dorm and before college starts for a lot of different reasons.

#1. I got access to my dorm building and dorm room in order to do my OCD exposure therapy and I kept getting afraid to go into the dorm building because of the fact that I might run into one of my RA's. If i've learned one major thing from all my exposure therapy, it would be that if you're afraid of something, then just do the thing you are afraid of and it won't be a problem anymore. I was afraid that my RA would see me in the hall and question why I was there and then I would have to explain about my OCD. So, I messaged her, gave her a heads up about my OCD and why I would be in the dorm early. Problem solved. No more fear or embarrassment about going into my dorm early to do exposure therapy.

#2. I am living in the dorm room next to my RA's room and wanted to give my RA a heads up about my Tourette's because my vocal tics seem to be getting louder and more prominent. Now that it's getting closer to the time I move into my dorm for college, im stressed and excited and nervous which makes for more tics of course. I was afraid that if I started college, moved into the dorm, and didn't tell her about my Tourette's, then she would hear my tics from her room, come into my room incredibly annoyed, and yell at me to be quiet because she would think I was fooling around or being silly. I didn't want this to happen, and just thinking about it made my tics worse.

#3. Well you all know how nervous I am about my dorm situation if you read my last post about my roommate and how she has no idea I have Tourette's because she won't respond to any of my messages. I'm so nervous that my roommate will hate me, or already has made some judgment about me, or something like that. With all these nerves, I just felt like I needed someone who I knew was going to be on my side next year to understand me and support me. Even if my roommate is a wonderful person, I felt like I needed someone to tell me they are going to accept and be okay with my Tourette's in college even if I do have loud vocal tics sometimes. I needed to hear that someone was going to be there for me, and that's exactly what I got.

Here is the message I sent to my RA:

"Hi (RA Name here)!! I wanted to send you a message to give you a heads up about something. Feel free to let the other RA on our floor know about this too. 

I wanted to let you know that I was given temporary access to my dorm and my dorm room because I have OCD and I need to do some exposure therapy in the dorm before I start school. I wanted to let you know about this in case you see me in the dorm ahead of time so that you know what's going on. I'm not very good at explaining on the spot, lol. 

I also wanted to give you another heads up since you'll be living in the room right next to mine and since you're one of my RA's. I have something called Tourette's Syndrome (a neurological condition that comes alone with OCD). I don't swear of have inappropriate outbursts (only 5% of people with Tourette's have that symptom). 

For me, having Tourette's means that I jerk my body, have other twitch like movements, and make sounds. When I get stressed, excited, or sometimes for no real reason at all, my vocal tics (my noises) can get kind of loud. Right now my vocal tics sound like high pitched noises or like a yelping sound, but tics change all the time.They're not always loud, because tics fluctuate between being bad and being not all that bad. I can't really predict when my tics are going to be bad, but they may be bad for the first couple of weeks because of all the excitement and nerves. But at the same time, they could be pretty mild, I just don't know. So I wanted you to know that if you hear noises coming from my room, i'm okay and i'm not making noises on purpose. Most of the time people get pretty used to it, and we usually joke about it or just ignore it because people who know me tend to be just so used to it. 

Anyway thanks for putting up with this long message! If you have any questions, feel free to ask. It will make me feel better that you know about this ahead of time, because once again I am bad at explaining on the spot, and now telling you is one less thing i'll have to worry about taking care of on the first day :) " 

And here is the message that she sent back to me:

"Hey! Thank you so much for the email -- it means a lot. When are you planning on checking your room? If you want, give me a call or text me (RA cell number here) the next time you come. If the other RA and I are free we will come introduce ourselves! 

Thank you so much for opening up about your OCD and Tourette's. I am right next door if you need me for anything. The noise thing will not be an issue! Last year I actually shared a vent with someone who enjoyed singing opera (it was very very loud) and I did just fine :) Please feel free to come to the other RA or myself if you need anything. Again, I look forward to meeting you and if I can do anything to make your transition easier just let me know! 

I can't wait to see you!!" 

I feel soooo much better!!! I feel less nervous already. I feel like I have someone to go to now, if anything goes wrong with my roommate situation and someone to be on my side no matter what happens. The adults (or in this case, the RA's), are the ones who set the model for everyone else to act. If my RA's are supportive and accepting of me and my tics, then the other students on the floor will probably model their behavior and be supportive and accepting as well. I feel like i've made a real step in the right direction with this, and I cannot express how good it feels to know that my RA will be there for me. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I think I will give her a nick name now for the blog...hmmm...I think i'll go with Goldie because she has blonde hair, she is making my experience golden so far, and she is for sure a person who follows the golden rule. And on top of all that, I saw a golden retriever when I walked on campus today.

So with that all said, Thank you so much Goldie. You have just made me feel like a different person compared to how I felt yesterday. Your message was so reassuring and it is one of my first real signs that everything next year will turn out to be just fine even if my tics overreact to the stress and excitement. I feel so lucky to have you as my RA next door :)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Nerves are Hitting Me

Well the nerves about college are finally started to really hit me. I have exactly 11 days until I move into my dorm for pre-orientation. Everyone is getting ready. The RA's for my floor moved in today for RA training. I'm really buckling down and rapping up with my exposure therapy. And, I got my books, school supplies, and some other preliminary things to pack for college. Yikes! This college thing is real!!!

I still have only had a little bit of contact with my roommate and I have no idea if she's going to be doing a pre-orientation like me, or if i'm going to be alone in my room for 4 days....Not knowing is hard for me, because my OCD and anxiety makes me worry so much about things that I don't know or things that are not set in stone. I keep worrying that the reason my roommate isn't replying to me on facebook is because she's checked out my facebook page and has already decided that she hates me or has no interest in being my friend. I know its more likely that she's just busy getting ready for college, but my worries seem to get the best of me sometimes even if I know they probably aren't rational. This is one of the parts I hate the most about Tourette's: the inability to control my thoughts and worries even if I know logically they are irrational.

I keep telling myself that my roommate is just busy getting ready for college, or she has to many facebook messages to sort through, or maybe she's as worried about meeting me as I am about meeting her. But my involuntary thoughts are still there. Half the time I just keep thinking that my pictures on facebook make me look to much like a nerd, or a spoiled brat, or something like. Or I think that while looking at my page she came across some of my posts or documentary statuses that talk about Tourette's and that she's decided that  I am probably one of the people with TS who swear and shout out profanities and that she is not afraid of me or is dreading even meeting me. Gosh, I just wish my brain would quiet down or that I could just have all the answers right now.

I also keep worrying about telling my classmates about my Tourette's and just having to be in a completely new environment and having to explain Tourette's all over again to pretty much everyone who sees me tic. This is going to get annoying for me, but I just have to remember to try to be patient with other people. They don't know that i've already told 5 people that day, or that I feel like I just don't want to talk about it anymore. They're just curious.

My mom also got me this college book last night. It's called "How to survive freshman year". It should be called "How to scare yourself into thinking freshman year is going to be awful and that everyone is going to hate you".......It's not a very good book. In the roommate section there were SO MANY stories like this:

"Freshman year, my roommate was just awful. She was such a nerd and never left the room. And she always made a big deal out of such little things. By the end of the year, I was so happy to move out"

"My roommate was really unstable and went from loving me one minute to hating me the next. She was inconsiderate to my friends. After a few months I had to go to my RA and have her kicked out."

"My freshman roommate was from the deep south, and told me I was going to hell in all seriousness. She was concerned for my soul"

And the one that scared me the most....

"I would argue with my roommate all the time. I would tell her that she's an obsessive-compulsive and couldn't couldn't deal with her anymore. She would tell me i'm a psycho. So I didn't spend very much time in my room."

While i'm afraid that my roommate could be a person who's being described like this, i'm even more afraid that I would be the one described like this by my roommate. While I wouldn't tell my roommate she's going to hell or be inconsiderate to her scares me to think of her possibly going back home and saying something like, "My roommate was a psycho. She told me she had Tourette's and OCD. I was freaked out by this and never stopped being freaked out. She was a complete weirdo who twitched all the time and made these obnoxious and annoying noises. I was so fed it with it half way through the year that I had to request to change roommates. Glad I got out of that situation." Gosh I really hope that isn't the way my roommate feels. But after reading all those stories in the book, the roommates just sound so critical and mean.

Thinking this way though isn't helping me, and I have to look at the real evidence in my life rather than this book about people I don't even know. The reality is that no one in my life who I have told about my Tourette's or OCD has ever been any less than understanding and accepting. Whenever I tell someone about my TS or OCD they seem interested and curious and they want to know more. They are never freaked out by me and they never reject me. Also everyone I know tells me that people in college are just so more accepting than people in high school and middle school. If people in college are really more accepting than people in high school, then I should be just fine, because I was just fine in high school. No one was ever mean to me because of my tics and no one ever made fun of me or mocked me. I was accepted, even when my tics got pretty darn bad.

I just have to keep reminding myself not to let my worries take over and to look at how things have been in the past for me. I have to remind myself that these are just my worries and they are not destined to be reality.  I have to think positively. Maybe my roommate will go back home and say, "My roommate freshman year was amazing. She told me she had Tourette's and OCD. At first I didn't really know what this was going to mean for me and I was a little worried. Then she explained, and the way she explained it really put me at ease. Everything went really smoothly after that. We ended up being really close friends and living with her opened up my eyes to diversity and what it means to be different. She's just a normal person who happens to have tics. Her tics are just a part of her, and she's so relaxed about it which helped me be relaxed about it too." This is what I am hoping for!!!! I want her to feel like that, and I just hope she can be accepting of me. I hope she isn't as critical as the people in the "Surviving Freshman Year" book.

Whatever the outcome though, i'm going to have to live with it. I think i'm strong enough to live with however the situation with my roommate turns out. If my roommate and I don't end up being best friends, I know I have other friends already who are going to my school next year and I know I will make more friends too. There are people out there who will want to be friends with me and who accept me for who I am, tics and all. I know this because of my fantastic friends and the people I have met who show me this on a daily basis. Just like anybody else on campus, I will surround myself with people who like me for who I am and who don't care about my quirks and differences.

I will end with this quote which I try to live by most of the time:
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who matter don't mind, and those who mind, don't matter" -Dr. Seuss