My experience with Tourette’s Syndrome has fluctuated greatly throughout the years. Before I was officially diagnosed, I had a variety of tics that seemed to flourish in stressful situations, such as anticipation for a holiday or beginning a new school year. It was often difficult to concentrate in school because I was so preoccupied with suppressing these tics. I would focus all of my energy into resisting the urge to shut my eyes tight, or let out a sharp, vocal exhale, or whatever tic consumed me at the time. As a result, I needed to let out every suppressed urge when I got home from school.
Unfamiliar with my condition at the time, my parents were reasonably confused by my uncontrollable behavior. Ever since I was officially diagnosed, they have been incredibly helpful with my Tourette’s. They have helped me meditate when I become stressed, which greatly diminishes the intensity of my tics. I am thankful that they understand the position that I am in and continue to support my internal stress management. In truth, my parents are often more keen on recognizing my level of stress than I am. They notice when my tics become more intense and help me to evaluate my situation and determine what is causing me stress.
Over the years, I have learned to remain calm under stressful circumstances. I can evaluate a situation internally instead of expressing my discontent physically through tics. While I still tic on a relatively frequent basis due to the ordinary stresses of life, I do not give into these urges as much as I did when I was younger. I used to feel ashamed of my tics and do everything in my power to suppress them, counterintuitively resulting in more stress and more tics.
Now that I have a greater understanding of my condition, I am more open about how it impacts my life. I learned to joke about my seemingly unprovoked responses rather than hide from them. I am open with all of my friends about my condition and they all understand the situation I am in.
My most impactful memory of Tourette’s Syndrome occurred only a few years ago. I had developed a tic where I exhale sharply until I run out of breath. To my knowledge, the tic originated when my friend, Zach, and I pretended to laugh in a similar manner. I recognized that I was exhibiting this tic with Zach and a group of friends a couple of weeks after it began. Instead of panicking and trying to suppress the urge, I decided to jokingly blame Zach for inspiring the tic.
While it may be a strange memory to hold so fondly, it represents a significant change in my internal perception. This simple redirection of my reaction in a social situation really helped me realize how meaningless it is to stress about my Tourette’s. My friends and I are comfortable with joking about it now because I have come to accept my Tourette’s Syndrome.