TRIGGER WARNING: TICS, MENTAL HEALTH
School is never easy for anybody. But it’s a whole other story when you live with Tourette's syndrome. Imagine if there was somebody in with class who couldn’t sit still. They move and make strange noises and shout over the teacher. That would be very annoying for you right? you just want to learn and get on with your work without distractions. Well, believe me when I say its most definitely more annoying for the person ticcing. They are well aware they are being loud and drawing attention to themselves but they can't help it. They have a right to the same education as you. And despite living with such a complex condition they are able to achieve anything.
That’s me. I'm the annoying kid in the class who shouts and jumps around and says things that they don’t mean. Having tics has proved a huge challenge for me academically and socially. Many people had never met someone with my condition before, some found it scary, some laughed, some said hurtful things and others were really caring and supportive. Tourette's is hugely stereotyped in the media and that’s something many didn’t understand. We don’t always tic all of the time. Everybody has different tics. WE DONT ALL SWEAR! For me, being open about my tics was super scary because I knew that not everybody would be understanding.
Just sitting through a whole lesson became a challenge. I was so embarrassed when ticcing in front of everyone and sometimes teachers would get annoyed as I would be so disruptive. At first other students hated having me in the class because it was so difficult for them to focus but soon enough the majority if them got used to me ticcing and don’t mind as much now. Trust me when I say if I could stop I would!!
I've always loved performing arts and that is something that has really helped me with my tics! Often when focusing on something they enjoy, people with TS will often tic very little or not at all which is amazing!! For me when I perform (whether that be music, dance, or acting) my tics are so much calmer and it's such a relief! To anybody with tics id always recommend looking for that thing which helps you whether that be listening or playing music, doing a sport or knitting.
Although I love to share positivity about Tourette's syndrome, I also want to highlight the harder and darker side to this condition. There are many days where it isn't the tics themselves I struggle with, it’s the mental side, the judgement, the fear, the insecurities. 70-80% of people with TS also have an anxiety disorder and about 25% of people with TS have depression. These statistics are upsetting. Many can feel to scared to leave their home and talk to people, many have been hate crimed or bullied. Unfortunately this is a big problem as people arnt educated about this disability and some are unwilling to learn and understand. People are often quick to assume that we are attention seeking and that we are faking this condition for attention which makes zero sense. Why would I punch myself, embarrass myself or hurt people I care about for fun?
Tics wax and wane. They can change day to day, hour by hour and this is something that can be difficult in school. One minute I can be fine and the next I can be having a serious attack with no warning. Its always good to have things in place at work/school so people are aware and know how to help you in those situations. I know its scary but make sure u TELL SOMEONE! Let somebody know about your condition so you can be safe.
I have found that having a few amazing supportive friends has made the world of difference on my TS journey! Having support from your peers can help so much with your confidence and overall happiness. As for school teachers, everybody has a different relationship with me and my tics. The same as with any student there are teachers that don’t like me and there will always be some who don’t understand but some are great! They will laugh with me and make jokes, have good banter meanwhile others prefer to ignore it and pretend it isn't there. Talk to your teachers and find out what works best for you and your classes.
It may seem impossible at first. But there's nothing wrong with being different and being you! 💖