When I was in 3rd grade, my friend began loudly proclaiming I was “blinking funny” and wondering why. I knew I had Tourette Syndrome, but I wasn’t sure how to explain it. I vividly remember thinking it was better to lie and say my eyes were itchy for some reason, instead of explaining my condition. I’m still not fully certain why I thought I should lie about my Tourette’s, but I figured it was because it meant I’m not completely normal.
Normally this would be the point most people would come to the conclusion that we should celebrate our differences, or start conversations about conditions and disabilities, both of which I whole heartedly agree with; however, I came to realize that I simply was not bothered by Tourette’s. Most of my tics that have been around my whole life cause me to bend my neck, clench my core, flex my fingers or sharply breathe out. All of these tics are only a minor physical discomfort for a short few seconds to me. The biggest discomfort I had for the longest time was the awkwardness others felt around me. I have realized that the Tourette’s Syndrome does not cause me to feel embarrassed or awkward, only to act out a tic.
All of the social effects of Tourette’s was entirely under my control. If someone is confused or awkward when I act out tics, I’m not. A friend once asked me if I wanted them to ignore my tics or joke about them. The answer is that personally, neither option no longer has any real effect on me. Some of my friends ignore my tics and others joke about them.
I often wonder if someone is arguing to themselves what is the most courteous or progressive way to behave around someone with Tourette’s. As I have said before, there is no answer, which means that the truly worst, real awkwardness, exists only because someone is internally debating what the best thing to say is. This fact is perhaps the worst symptom of Tourette’s to me. However, the mild social discomfort others feel trying to say the right thing is by far, a small thorn in my side compared to the original view I had of my condition.