Dr. McKinlay, While my tics are not as pronounced as yours or
many others are, they are there. I did not realize until just a few
years ago that I even had Tourettes. That diagnosis when I was a child
would have made my life a lot more pleasant. I had been ridiculed as
a child in school, felt like an outcast for most of my life, and had
been admonished by my parents to "quit the ridiculous 'habits'
" that I went through growing up. I had bad facial tics all through
elementary school (my brother did too). Mine faded away for the most
part, but were replaced by a tic in my neck.(my brother still has significant
facial tics, counting, and other issues) I do, however have the facial
tics back when I get scared or really nervous, but for the most part
the neck tic is what acts up the most.The worst part for me is the emotional
and social difficulties that came along with it. I fight with those
I am 41 now, and
about 3 years ago was reading an Ann Landers column in the paper that
had a letter from the Tourette Syndrome Foundation. It spoke of how
most people don't realize that there can be mild forms of Tourettes
and went on to explain the signs. It floored me. I read with intense
fascination as they described my brother and I to a T. I then agonized
for 2 weeks over how to "break it to him" that we have TS.
I managed to eventually work it into aonversation with him and he responded,
"You didn't know?!". I said, "You did?!".
Since then I have
done much reading on the subject and have never felt better about myself.
I found a book about TS and human behavior and was glued to it. Every
few pages there was another part of my personality being spelled out
to me in someone elses words. It was amazing. I finally began to make
sense to myself. (Does that sentence even make sense?!) I took a "test"
at the end of the book that is used to help diagnose people, and was
completely honest with all my answers. I was so stunned to find that
I have ADD, and socialization and OC issues. I was stunned because I
should have figured it out years ago, stunned because I suffered all
my life with the questions, stunned because nobody ever diagnosed me
before, stunned because for the first time in my life: I make sense,
I have an explanation, I understand, I can adapt, and I accept. I have
not had a Doctors diagnosis but don't feel a need to. It is so obvious
to me that I don't feel it's an issue now.
One of the things
I also learned from reading is that often people with TS are artistic,
talented individuals. I have been into the arts my whole life and have
always told people that I can't go for long periods of time without
doing any of my crafts or painting or singing, because I begin to feel
very uncomfortable and out of sorts and start to feel like I am losing
control of myself. I said that it almost felt like a physical need,
instead of a personal choice, although that made absolutely no sense
to anyone. Now I understand that when I am singing or painting, I am
finally, completely absorbed, engrossed and focused in one place. That
is such a release for me and it truly IS a physical need for me. I read
with much interest how some people find that medications for their tics
dulls their creativity, etc. I understand that my talents are the good
part of my TS and that I wouldn't trade them for the calmest of demeanors.
It wouldn't be worth it.
The relief I feel
now that I have a reason for my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors is
enormous. I can't stress enough how important it is for the word to
get out there in the public eye. People need to see and hear about TS,
and also about the milder symptoms so that the kids who are agonizing
about their "oddness", that aren't ticking enough to be an
easy diagnosis will finally be diagnosed or just see themselves in the
words as I did and understand and learn to accept themselves.