Thursday, January 31, 2013

I love my friends and how they support me! :)

So I know it's been a little while since I posted directly on the blog, but I promise I am still here and blogging! I wanted to write about a little TS experience that made me feel super supported!!!

So the other day, I posted one of my Tourette's awareness pictures on my main facebook page that I use for school and communicating with my high school/college friends! I wanted to share the picture with my friends because I was proud of the picture I made and I wanted to spread more TS awareness among people who are friends with me but might not be my closest friends (who already know loads about TS because of being one of my close friends). Anyway this was the picture I posted on my wall:

The first thing that happened was a lot of people liked it!!! Among the people who liked the picture are best friends from high school, friends of mine who I have met through TSA functions, new friends in college from my dorm, new friends in college from my sorority, my roommate from a summer program who I was really close with, and a person from my summer job at Opera Theater. I was really glad that all of these people liked the photo, but that's certainly not all to this story. 

After a lot of people liked it, my ex-boyfriend commented on the picture. Now for those of you who have been following my blog for a long time you may have seen posts that I posted on here about my ex while I was still dating him. He was always very curious and asked me questions about my TS which I liked at the time because I always prefer if people ask questions if they have them as opposed to wondering and making an incorrect assumption. My ex does however, have Aspergers syndrome and doesn't always know what questions are appropriate to ask or what comments are appropriate to say in social setting or online. 

I ended up breaking up with him after about 6 months because of a totally different reason which has nothing to do with my Tourette's or his Aspergers. That reason isn't really pertinent to this story, so I'm not really going to talk about that on my blog. 

Anyway, with only very good intentions my ex commented on the post and said, "I am really really really proud of you for trying to live life to the fullest despite this!" I initially looked at the comment thinking that it was kind of sweet of him to say but I also saw the errors in this kind of comment. The words "trying" and "despite this" began to nag at me because of course I am not just trying to live life, I am living life, and I am not living life "despite" having Tourette's but rather Tourette's is a part of my life that has given me some extra challenges but has also given me so many good things such as the opportunity to be an advocate for people who have different challenges in their life and the opportunity to see the world in a unique way. I don't see myself as someone who has succeeded in life in spite of my Tourette's, but rather because of it. 

Even though I had these nagging thoughts and was slightly annoyed with the words he chose to use in his comment, I knew he meant well so I wasn't going to let it bother me. On the other hand though, one of my best friends from high school wasn't exactly feeling the same way when she saw this comment. Soon after she saw the comment she texted me and we had a conversation that went a little something like this: 

Steam Punk: "OMG did you see your ex's comment on your newest pic?" 
Me: Yeah 
Steam Punk: If I were you I would say back tourette's is a condition, not a handicap douche. 
Me: lol, I think that might come off a little harsh. 
Steam Punk: That comment was so dumb though XD 
Me: Maybe, but I think his intentions were good. He wasn't trying to be offensive. 
Steam Punk: I guess your're right. I had a nice chuckle though. I say just ignore it. 

Anyway that was basically the conversation we had over text. Although my friend may have been overreacting just a bit, I really appreciated her texts. Even though I already know this, it reminded me just how much she supports me and is ready to defend me if anyone were to insult me because of my Tourette's in any way. It reminded me just how awesome my friends are and how supportive they are of my Tourette's! 

A little later I also told one of my new friends in college what my ex had put as a comment on the picture. My friend was also very supportive in spite of the fact that he hasn't even known about my TS for that long since he is one of my newer friends here at college. He told me that he can see my ex was trying to say something nice to me but it just came off the wrong way. He told me that he has an older sister who has an intellectual disability and he understands why the comment was a bit off because of the fact that having his sister in his life has brought many good things to his family as well as challenges. He said he felt like the comment was ignoring the good things challenges in life may bring. 

And even a little later another one of my friends (who has known about my TS since the beginning of school) offered to post another comment on the picture under my ex's comment saying something to defend me. In the end, I decided it would be best to just ignore the comment because of my ex's Aspergers. I didn't want to make him feel bad for saying something he didn't know might have come off in a bit of a negative way. 

The point of this all wasn't even really what he said in the first place in response to the picture. What was most important was the way all of my friends reacted and supported me! I have amazing friends who understand and support me, tics and all and I am so happy to be in a place with people who support me and send me so much love! 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Exercising for Anxiety/OCD treatment.

Today I started my exercise routine that is part of my treatment for my OCD and anxiety! 30 minutes of Cardio a day! at least 3 days a week at the gym and the rest running outside/inside or 30 minutes of cardio in my room. It felt really good to finally be getting started with it because truthfully I have been putting it off for a long time just because it's an extra thing to have on my plate and i'm already so busy in college! Well today I put it on my plate with everything else and I'm going to keep it up! It felt really good to get it done and feel like I accomplished something that I know is good for me. I will let you guys know how it goes and how it affects my anxiety when I get in a more regular routine with it :)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Got into a sorority

Hey everyone! I know it's been a little while since I've posted but I've been soooo busy with Rush week and today was my first day of classes! Needless to say Rush week was AMAZING! I had so much fun and my tics were not a problem at all. They were pretty low key all week and I didn't notice them all that much. I'm sad rush week is over since I had so much fun, but I was soooo excited and glad to join my sisters at the end of the week and become a proud member of a sorority. My TS did not stop me from rushing and becoming part of this amazing group of girls :)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Rushing Sororities? Who? Me?

I never really thought I would really be saying this but, tomorrow I will be rushing sororities at my college. Rush starts tomorrow and lasts all week. I decided pretty last minute that I wanted to rush. At my college sororities are really not all about partying, but instead they are more about making lifelong friends and doing community service. 

This is the first time in a while that I have really thought to myself "please don't let my tics be bad and ruin this". Most of the time my tics are part of my life and just part of why I am. I usually don't worry too much about having tics in front of my friends or in my classes. I usually think to myself "the people who like me for who I am--tics and all-- will be my true friends".

Rushing feels like a whole different world. My aunt (who was president for her sorority in college) told me not to tell anyone about my TS or OCD because during rush week she says everyone wants to think everyone is perfect even though most of them have differences and problems of their own. She told me that telling people about my TS or OCD may hurt my chances of getting into a sorority. Once you're in she says its a sisterhood of support for who you really are. Before you're in though, she says its all about being who they want you to be. I don't know if any of this is true, but for now I seem to be stuck thinking "please don't let my tics ruin this".

Saturday, January 5, 2013

New Years Resolutions for 2013!

Hey guys! So I just watched a video made by my friend Lena who also has Tourette's and who will be participating in the documentary! Here is a link to her fabulous video:

Her video is about her New Years Resolutions and while watching the video I thought about how I really haven't sat down yet to make my resolutions for 2013. Let's just say I've kind of been putting it off. So in this post, I plan to sit down and write out my New Years resolutions for 2013 once and for all! Some will relate to Tourette's and my associated conditions and some will just be about resolutions for my general life. Also they are not in any particular order of importance. I will just write them down as I think of them!

Also, you can comment on this post to share any or all of your new years resolutions! I would love to hear your resolutions for 2013!

1.) Actually talking to my professors during the first week about my Tourette's.

The first semester of college, I didn't really tell any of my professors (besides one) about my Tourette's. I am kind of disappointed in myself that I didn't tell them about my tics. None of my professors had a problem with my tics or brought them up at all really despite the fact that I ticced a lot in class but I know it would have been better for both them and myself if I had given them a heads up about my tics so that we would be on the same page about it and so that they would know that I wasn't making faces at them or reacting to the lecture in any way, it was just my tics. I missed an opportunity to educate them about Tourette's and to stand up for myself and to show both them and myself that I was not ashamed of my Tourette's. So this next semester (which starts next Monday) I plan to stop by my professors' office hours during the first week of school to let them know in person about my accommodations and about my tics.

2.) Work my hardest in school.

The first semester of college was a big transition time for me. I was adjusting to a completely new situation. I was living away from home for the first time, trying to make new friends, and just trying to adjust to everything that was brand new. Although my parents are very happy with my grades from first semester, I know I can work harder. So next semester I am going to work harder academically which means reading more, studying more, and spending more time hitting the books!

3.) Be open to new ideas and new experiences.

I think I did a fairly good job of being open to new ideas and experiences first semester, but in college new ideas and new experiences are everywhere! I will be even more open to these new experiences and will try to approach things with an open mind.

4.) Get involved!

The first semester I was so busy with the new social life and academic life that I didn't really get involved in extra curricular activities. I did work in the neuroimaging lab at the medical school all semester and plan to continue working there next semester, but I feel like I need to get involved with something like the literary magazine or the newspaper, so I will really try hard to get involved with something like that this semester.

5.) Exercise to help with my anxiety!

My therapist that I see for my OCD and anxiety keeps telling me that I need to start doing at least 30 minutes of cardio exercise a day as a part of my treatment for my OCD and anxiety disorder. She said that doesn't have to mean going to the gym every day but it just means doing something to get my heart pumping for 30 minutes a day. I can run or walk quickly outside for 30 minutes, do jumping jacks and run in place in my room for 30 minutes, or on days when I do have the time I can go to the gym. I also promised my friends in my dorm that I would go to the gym on campus with them after break so I need to keep that promise!

Well those are my New Years resolutions so far for next year! Again, comment on this post to share any or all of your new years resolutions! I would love to hear your resolutions for 2013!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Early Warning Signs for the TS+ Child

This winter break I have spent some time thinking about why I wasn't diagnosed sooner, and why my mom did not see the early warning signs as warning signs as part of the larger picture for a TS+ child. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term TS+, it stands for Tourette's Syndrome in combination with the co-morbid conditions that commonly come along with Tourette's. I myself have OCD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder, and Panic Attack Disorder (although I haven't had a major full fledged panic attack in about two years), and implsivity issues also known as disinhibition. Some other co-morbid disorders that can come along with TS are ADD, ADHD,  mood disorders such as bipolar disorder, Aspergers Syndrome, rage issues, and other disorders as well.

In this post, I will outline and summarize two of the main types of tics that are warning signs for TS+ in a younger child anywhere from the ages of 2 years old to a middle school aged child. It is important to remember that in order for the types of things I describe to be tics, that they must be repetitive in the sense that you will see your child doing these things over and over again throughout the week, month, or even day. 

1) One of the first classic warning signs for the TS+ child is a simple tic, usually in the face. Simple facial tics like eye blinking, slight facial grimacing, or slight facial twitching will usually be the first tic a child has. After a child's first simple tic, other tics may develop in the trunk, arms, and legs. A simple tic however, is not always the first tic for a child and each child with TS or TS+ will differ in the way they present with various symptoms. TS is a very unique disorder as a result of the fact that every case is different which includes the way the symptoms start. I think my first tic was a slight facial grimace, however it was so subtle that neither myself nor my parents can be 100% sure. I have seen videos and pictures of myself which make it look like this was my first tic which started when I was about 3-4 years old and it probably continued in the same way until a little after 1st or 2nd grade. I seem to find pictures of myself around this age all with a very similar positioning of my face which also makes me think this may have been my first tic. The tic looks like it was a slight facial grimace in some pictures but then looks like a much larger facial movement in other pictures. I really don't think my parents even noticed it at the time. They probably thought I was just a "twitchy" or "nervous" kid. Here are just some of those many pictures: 

2) For some kids, they have more complex tics as children and for some these more complex tics can even come before the more simple tics. It is a little less typical for a child to get complex tics before simple tics, but it can certainly happen. One type of complex tic that can be common in children is what I call a compulsion like tic. These tics appear to be more like compulsions but are tics none the less. Complex compulsion like tics are very common in children to show up at some point in childhood and more commonly show up after simple tics show up. Some examples of compulsion like tics that I had personally when I was younger are skipping, lip/skin picking, lip licking, lip biting, hair sucking, hand/finger smelling, sating off into space/doubling vision, grabbing at various parts of the body, putting hands down pants, and shirt or sleeve chewing. Some other possible compulsion like tics are hand/finger licking, stomping, and other types of complex body movements. It is important to remember that although these tics look more purposeful in nature than a something like a simple eye blink, they are tics none the less and the child has no more control over these tics than a simple tic. Asking your child to stop doing these kinds of tics will only make them worse. Here are some pictures of me doing more complex tics as a child:

Shirt chewing: 

Staring off/doubling vision:

Lip Picking: 

Lip Picking: 

Lip biting: 

Red/scabbed lips because of lip tics: 

Grabbing at neck: