who has met me in the last few years probably knows that I am pretty
positive about my TS. My belief that I am JUST FINE the way I
was "built", thank you very much, is integral to my entire
approach as an individual with TS and as a speaker. Quite honestly,
I don't ever want to lose my disinhibition, never mind purposely
get rid of it. That's why it surprised me some weeks ago when
a friend suggested I try a new, much more effective medication that
is now on the market. This person of course had only my best interests
in mind, but nevertheless the experience helped to remind me that, for
many people, not being on medications is synonymous with not being treated.
Medications absolutely are a valid and popular choice. But they
are not the only available one. Other responsible, purposeful
and legitimate choices do exist.
I'll explain: on a very basic level, TS and its associated problems
involve disinhibitions in various parts of the brain. TS "amplifies"
you. It takes all of your thoughts, feelings, actions, and impulses
and brings them closer to the surface. Everything comes out quicker,
more often, and BIGGER than it would if your censors were working like
everyone else's. Think of yourself as a stereo, and TS is
the thing that turned you up to full volume.
Now think about the choices that you have in dealing with a stereo blaring
on full. One is to turn yourself down. Suppress your amplification.
When a person inhibits a symptom, in essence they are trying to turn
down their volume. However, conscious suppression, no matter how
determined a person is, doesn't work well, and only serves to frustrate
and instill the belief that you cannot control your symptoms yourself.
Hence the suppression method of choice is medication. For those
that prefer to turn their stereo down, medications can be a godsend,
and by far the best choice to make. There may be side-effects,
yes; maybe some good stuff is turned down too. But to these people
the costs are more than worth the gains.
On the other hand, some people like loud music. These people
don't have a problem with the volume at all. They just want
to change their music to a better tune. People who make this choice
realize that TS is not necessarily about "bad" disinhibitions,
and not necessarily about "good" disinhibitions. Like
any quality of oneself, disinhibition can be bad OR good depending on
what you and others focus on. These people may have learned ways
of using their volume to their advantage, and are likewise responsible
for learning methods for changing any of their songs which are unacceptable.
Albert Einstein, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Howard Stern, Mozart, Robin Williams…….these
guys all roar with intensity, and were in fact heard above others BECAUSE
of that. There may be side-effects, yes; maybe some things that
aren't turned down should be. But to these people the costs
are more than worth the gains.
Basically it comes down to a choice between what I call Suppression
or Expression. Whether you turn the music down, or put on a CD
that everyone enjoys, you've solved the disruption. Neither
route is better than the other - soft music is nice, but a great song
deserves to be heard at full-blast. It would be a boring world
if everyone's music was low, but it would be an annoying one if
everyone spoke through 200-watt speakers.
Both methods of dealing with the problem have benefits - in some situations
medications might be of much more help. A person who is very young,
or who is intellectually challenged, or who has insufficient supports
and resources for learning coping strategies, or who needs some easy
and consistent positives in his/her life to build back some esteem,
or who needs a stable foundation on which to start building some strategies
might fit this category. On the other hand, an individual who
is capable of developing a deep knowledge of and positive attitude toward
TS, or who can learn techniques like tic and rage modification, or who
can learn to tap into their energy and capacity for hyper-focussing,
might find that the long and difficult years these things take to perfect
wind up being the grains of sand that form the oyster pearl.
Having a hard time choosing? Then don't! There is no
reason why one might not find the most comfort in only turning down
the volume a little after slightly changing the music,
or deciding to leave some of the same music on now that it is not so
deafening. In fact, some studies suggest that while medications
result in some improvement and therapies result in similar improvement,
combinations of both medications AND therapy might result in more improvement
than either alone. Of course, that all depends on whether you
define improvement as "less symptoms" or "more happiness"
though, doesn't it…?
In the end, the direction you choose is, and should be, your own individual
choice. A person who cannot stand the fracas of their personal
stereo should not be forced to endure it, nor should a person who thrives
on the beat be forced to hit "mute". My own personal
preference is to keep the volume high, and to continue learning the
best melody that I can. I recognize that unacceptable behaviours
are unacceptable behaviours, and require change: whether that change
be through therapy or Respiridone, behaviour management or Ritalin,
disorder-specific strategies or Orap, the change itself is not negotiable.
As long as I can continue improving my tune, I have bought the
right to keep it cranked. Then it isn't a matter of whether
the medication really works or not -- the undeniably perfect medication
could exist yet still I would not take it. After all, all that
medication is trying to do is turn a piece of me down. And why
would I do that? I love me!