Living with Neurological Tic Disorder, a form of Tourette’s Syndrome, sometimes makes me feel like I have no control. I cannot stop turning my head or scrunching my nose until my brain tells me I am allowed to. No matter how much I try to be discreet and hide my disorder, I have no say in it. The tics just happen whenever they want to. Before I was diagnosed, I referred to my tics as “habits”. These habits included sticking my finger down my throat until I gagged, rolling my eyes into the back of my head until it hurt, and a variety of other tics throughout the years. I remember when I was in third grade, after being picked on by the other girls at school, I finally admitted to my mom that I had no control of myself. That’s when we started visiting doctors and specialists, trying to find out what was happening to me. In every office I went to, despite knowing that the doctors were there to help me and not judge me, I broke down. I felt that being in those offices officially meant there was something wrong with me; I was the weird kid who had no control of her body. I tried to accept it, but refused to admit my condition to anyone. I even swore my parents to secrecy– no one could find out.
I started going on different medicines, which had various reactions. One in particular made my entire body heat up; my skin became very warm, while internally I felt on fire. It was frustrating that I had to try multiple medicines before I found one that worked for me, but eventually I found one that gave me some control back. I still scrunch my nose and turn my head, but it is less often and I can wait until no one is looking. At this point, it is not even about who notices, it just feels good to have regained some control.
I have learned to accept the fact that I have Tourette’s, and I have become comfortable explaining my situation to friends and family. Finally, after almost ten years, I was able to tell my younger brother, which was a big step for me. I feel like he looks up to me because I have good grades and play sports, but having him know that I have Tourette’s lets him realize that no one is perfect. Life comes with struggles and obstacles, but we get through them– that is the lesson I have learned from my disorder. While it would be nice to not have them, my tics are a constant reminder that everyone has their problems, but it is how you handle them that makes you who you are.