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Life with TS This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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People stare when I walk by. I ­pretend not to notice. It’s not their fault; they don’t know I can’t stop. Can’t stop ticcing.

When I was 11 years old, 16 letters changed the way I live my life forever: Tourette syndrome. Now, four years later, I am still suffering from that fateful diagnosis. Tourette syndrome, or as I fondly call it, TS, is a neurological disorder that affects the brain. It causes a person to have tics, which are uncontrollable vocal sounds or motor movements. I have both.

When I was 12, I would bang my knees together when I walked, creating bruises. Yet I couldn’t stop. This went on for months and then my tics changed. That’s another thing; the tics can suddenly go away or appear when you least expect them.

I clear my throat and sniff uncontrollably. I make vocal sounds that cause people to turn in the hallways and look at me. I also have tics that only affect me at certain ­moments. Scooting in a chair, closing a book, or even setting down a cup can turn into a battle of will as I fight TS to get it just right.

A tic is like a mosquito bite. You don’t want to scratch it because it will get worse, but eventually you give in, and it feels so good you don’t want to stop. Only there’s no anti-itch ointment for TS; you have to live with it.

I take pills three times a day to help, but TS has no cure. My family loves and supports me, and I have great friends, but I still wonder what it would feel like to be normal – not to have to fight to be normal. I have learned to accept life with TS, and I am even a little proud of it. I know God gave it to me for a reason: to educate others.

The most common misconception is that TS means you curse a lot. Uncontrollable cursing is called coprolalia and affects 15 percent of those with TS.

Nearly all of my friends accept my TS, but recently a friend asked, “Can’t you just stop?” It hurt me more than words can say. I had expected him to understand. I would love to stop if I could.

All I’m asking is that the next time you see people twitching or making weird noises, try to step in their shoes and understand how embarrassed they feel. I’m a straight A student, so having TS isn’t a mental handicap. My feelings can get hurt just like everyone else’s, maybe even more so.

I try to stand up and be tough most of the time, but inside I am crying. But I know I must be strong and show everyone that even though I’m different, I’m special too.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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This article has 29 comments. Post your own!

GoodnightMySomeone said...
Nov. 6, 2009 at 11:04 am:
I really liked your story! I have has TS for five years now. In 7th grade I couldn't stop tensing up and coughing, it was horrible. My teachers didn't understand, and thought I was doing it on purpose. Thank you for posting this, it made me feel better.
 
i<3steven! replied...
Feb. 24, 2010 at 4:03 pm :
like the sig 2!
 
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TigerLynn said...
Oct. 15, 2009 at 8:40 pm:
This was a really good piece and ifeel much compassion for you. Keep writing.
 
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SamuelK said...
Oct. 15, 2009 at 7:42 pm:
This courageous article was inspiring to say the least. The part that was the most inspirational was when you stated, "I am even a little proud of it. I know God gave it to me for a reason: to educate others." I have heard of Tourette Syndrome, but did not know the awful affects it has. After I read about the affects and tried to imagine living with them every day would be impossible for me. When you said, "I make vocal sounds that cause people to turn in the hallways and loo... (more »)
 
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writer24/7/365 said...
Oct. 15, 2009 at 5:30 pm:
I love this articel! It's amazing! I'd never heard of TS. Have you heard of CF (Cystic Fybrosis)?
 
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Maverick said...
Oct. 15, 2009 at 4:56 pm:
Awesome article! I have TS too (I actually didn't know what it was called until now) and I hate it, especially when people get mad at me and tell me to stop. But at least it can be a way to tell who's really your friend - true friends will learn to accept it.
 
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i<3you said...
May 23, 2009 at 10:07 pm:
That is a very nice article, lots of thought. I really did teach me to think twice before shying away. Thank you, and good luck!
 
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CABhahahaHPhahaTL said...
Jan. 3, 2009 at 7:02 am:
I hope you have the best of luck, your so blessed with your positive out look, I hope that your friend can understand that somethings we can't controll even if we hate them or get impatient. Good luck!!!
 
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lpartner said...
Dec. 31, 2008 at 9:45 pm:
Great article - truly inspiring. I have passed it on to my 15 year TS son. Thanks for sharing.
 
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GrammyGail said...
Dec. 31, 2008 at 8:33 pm:
Very well written article. You might be interested in a new book called Jerk, California. It was written by an author who also has TS. The main character of Jerk, California is a teen with TS, learning to live with all the problems it can bring.
 
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