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I Am Not Afraid of My Tourettes
I am fifteen years-old and I have a disorder called Tourettes Syndrome, or TS for short. Lots of people in the world know what TS is, but for those who don't, it is an inherited disorder that causes the body to perform vocal and involuntary movements known as "tics." The person who has TS cannot control these tics. Yes, they can try and not do the tics, but sooner or later, they have to let them out. An example of a tic would be one eye twitching. TS makes your brain tell your body that your eye must twitch. Therefore, you twitch your eye. You can try and hold it in by not twitching your eye, but sooner or later, you're going to have to let the tic out and twitch your eye.
There is no way to cure tourettes syndrome. That is simply the main downfall. There are medications for TS, but they are not guaranteed to work and some may cause it to worsen. The good thing is, for over half of the people in the world with TS, their tics go away when they start to hit about 18 years of age. But others are not so lucky-- the older they get, the worse their tics get. It's hard to understand for those who do not have TS. If you want to know what it's like, try not to blink for as long as you can. You can do it for a little while, right? But sooner or later, you have to blink. That's what we are like with our tics. We have to blink even if we try and control it for as long as we can.
I was diagnosed when I was only thirteen. That was three years ago, when tourettes was new to me. Completely new. I had just been diagnosed by a neurologist and I was simply petrified. I had no idea what this meant. I had absolutely no idea what was ahead of me, or how my future was going to play out after this news. I honestly thought I was going crazy. My mind raced wants the neurologist told me and my mother the news. I kept asking myself the same question, “What does this mean?”
I was almost to the point of going insane with my tics. I have Tourettes Syndrome mixed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), which is where I have to do things a certain number of times or I have to get it just right. I had to do a tic over and over again until I got it just right and to be honest, that took a half an hour to an hour. Do you understand how that could possibly drive me mad? My mother and father didn't want me on medication and neither did I. I didn't want it to worsen and I didn't want to take the chance.
I was never put on medication. Even after three years of having this disorder, I am still not on medication and I am doing just fine. I really encourage everyone with tourettes to really think about the decision if you are even thinking about taking medication. I got to a point where I wanted medication; I just wanted my mind to be free. I wanted my pain of having to do these "tics" to just simply go away. I was going insane. I wanted my mind to be set free. I felt like I was being controlled, like my mind was taking over. Almost as if I was separated from my brain. But I never gave in.
Now that I got past the hard part, the first year of dealing with finding out that I had tourettes, I am so glad I did not take medication. I am also very proud of myself for not giving into the easy way out. In the end, it made me stronger. The first year was the hardest, for I had no idea of how to even deal with being diagnosed. I had no idea of have to even begin trying to stop myself from doing these "tics" if I even could. I tried so hard to not do my tics. “It’s just my imagination”, I said “It’s just my brain playing tricks on me.” It wasn’t my imagination, I had a disorder and I could barely cope the first year.
Three years have passed now since I was diagnosed and it amazes me how far I have come. I don't do my tics as often as I did my first year, and it doesn't drive me insane like it used to. It's honestly hard to believe it has been three years, and it's hard to believe how far I have come, but I did it, and I tell myself that every day.
I am in high school. New people, new classes, and new teachers. It doesn’t faze me. I still led on with a slightly less than normal high school life, just as I am now. I like it. I know I am unique, and it makes me happy. Of course, I still have to camouflage some of my tics. When my arm starts shaking I suddenly put it up to my mouth and cough. A simple camouflage routine, for those people who like to stare.
Now, more people joke around with me. They will see me my arm start shaking really badly and say "Oh what? Do you have tourettes or something?" They didn't mean it; they didn't know I had it. Then I have to tell them I have it, and they feel bad. Of course I never hear them make a joke about a disorder ever again, so I guess it teaches them a lesson, and I'm perfectly fine with that. I would rather someone make fun of me and learn a lesson then them make fun of someone else, and hurt their feelings. Because it doesn't bother me and I am glad to inform people.
My second worst fear was when I started to settle down and realized that I had to deal with it in a mature fashion, I thought about driving. What do I do? Is it going to affect my driving? Can I operate a vehicle? Will I need medication to be able to drive? I really didn't want to take medication, as you know, even to drive. Well, I'm 16 and it barely affects me at all. I can drive perfectly fine. I may have a twitch here and there, but my worst fear of it past, and I can successfully operate a vehicle. I am proud of myself and I can't believe I did it. I cannot believe I came this far. But I did.
I had a lot of doubts in myself, especially the first year of being diagnosed. I actually thought dying was better than having to deal with this, but I didn't let my doubts get the best of me. The first year is always the hardest. After that it simply becomes a piece of cake. I want to tell everyone with tourettes or any disorder, especially if you have just been diagnosed, that it's not going to be easy, but you CAN do it. I believe in you. If I can do it, you can do it. I completely have faith in you, and once you get past the first year, you will be so proud of yourself. I promise. You will be so strong, and so glad you won't be able to stand it.
I have learned that at first I would have rather died then to deal with tourettes, it almost got the best of me. Now, now I love having tourettes. Not that I love it, of course. But what I mean is that it makes me, me. And having something as tourettes makes you realize who matters in your life. I am never afraid to tell people I have tourettes. Why? Because if they can't accept me having tourettes, then they can't accept me for me. What it does is simply get the people that don't matter out of my life sooner, quicker. It saves a lot of time, and a lot of pain. I have had tourettes for almost three years now, and honestly it feels like a lifetime. It wasn’t easy, but I made it.