new girl. The chemistry was palpable. With the giddy thrill that can
only come from being consumed with attraction I cast a hook and waited
for a call. When it came she confessed to having spent that entire day
reading my website. Not knowing much at all about TS, she said, combined
with the intense feelings she was experiencing towards me very much
scared her. And so she had prepared some questions for me. Questions
about disinhibition ("will I be able to have any secrets from you"?).
About rage ('what do you do, and how should I react?'). About sensory
sensitivity ('will there be times I will touch you and you will be repulsed
by me?'). And she needed some real answers before we could go any further.
a new internship. At long last the opportunity to "roll up the
sleeves" and hone my clinical skills was mine to exploit. I couldn't
wait to plunge headlong into the caseload. Within a couple of weeks
I was notified that my three rotation supervisors wanted to meet with
me, and that I "should bring some of my [TSFC] pamphlets".
Evidently my tic symptoms had been less pronounced the day of my initial
interview - my supervisors felt caught off-guard by my presentation
now and had some reservations around my capabilities. How could I do
a valid assessment given that my tics were so disruptive? How could
I help others should my own neurology preoccupy clients?
situations above the questions were hard, fast, direct and pointed,
and there were many of them. I did my best both times to respond in
kind - without pulling any punches either. I told the girl that, yes,
for better or worse I AM often disinhibited in voicing my perceptions
of others, and so one requires a healthy ego and reasonable insight
into oneself to handle that aspect of me. I told the supervisors that
yes I don't often suppress my tics for a number of articulated reasons,
I am quite comfortable with that choice, and by NOT constantly fighting
my symptomatology it is considerably easier to effectively suppress
in a circumstance where the tics would inappropriately interfere with
the task at hand (such as an assessment).
felt begin to well up inside me in these situations was not resentment
or anger or even a sense of discrimination. It was admiration of their
honesty. Of their frankness in recognizing the important need to ask
and learn about such things, and of the guts it took to follow through
- people really make themselves quite vulnerable by exposing themselves
in that way. I was grateful for the respect each showed me. It is easy
enough to dismiss a suitor or potential employee who has TS, based on
what one thinks that diagnosis means. These people didn't allow their
fears of the unknown, their assumptions of what TS is, or their shame
that the disorder was influencing their choices stop them. They DID,
however, afford me the honour of HAVING A SAY - they asked, listened,
and thereby made informed decisions about me. And regardless of the
outcome, you can't ask for any more than that.
being brazen and explicit examples of the persecution and strife we
must endure on a daily basis, and regardless of whether you despise,
decry, ignore, lament or accept that the TS does raise issues that need
addressing, people like those above are offering you dignity. Take it.
Correct those perceptions that are misguided and confirm those that
are not. Assure and educate them. Get the girl. Get the job. If we ever
want the general public to feel wholly comfortable with the differences
of others we need to celebrate people like those above.
Until next time, my friends!!
B. Duncan McKinlay, Ph.D.