What Makes Me Tic

Let's talk about something not many know about me – my dance with Tourette's Syndrome.

In my world, it's like a symphony of quirks and twitches. Even a simple task like brushing my

teeth could be an epic saga. People think I’m rolling my eyes at them, or worse– winking at

them. (Oh, I have stories…)

Here’s where it began: Back in 2nd or 3rd grade, my parents noticed I kept squinting. Maybe I

needed glasses? Maybe I had something in my eye. Then I started shaking my head, as if I was

trying to get my hair out of my face. I couldn’t stop, and I really didn’t notice it until my face and

neck started hurting.

What my parents and I didn’t know was I would be diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome a

couple years later. But before this diagnosis happened, I was put on a reward plan to stop these

“habits.” Example: If I could stop squinting for 30 minutes, I could have a dessert.

It wasn’t working. I would stop for as long as I could, but these twitches, these habits, kept

happening. I felt so deflated. I loved dessert. And I didn’t want to let my parents down.

Teachers and students at school would ask me to stop. “What’s wrong with you?” “You need to

be on medication.” “Quit shaking your head at me.” I was devastated. I felt like I was a nuisance,

a failure, and just plain awkward.

I developed a “chicken arm” twitch, which would affect my writing, my softball pitch, and even

daily tasks— brushing my teeth and hair, eating food. I felt really bad about myself when I

accidentally hit my mom with my arm while we were walking in the mall.

Now, I was a kid that didn’t necessarily “care” about people’s opinions. I wore comfy clothes,

refused to brush my hair (just like my 9 year old!!) and often enjoyed being “different.” But this?

This bothered me.

Finally, in fourth grade, we went to a doctor. I remember the office being extremely cold as we

waited to be seen. And I remember the doctor– he had no personality. I was bored, confused,

and wanted to get out of there.

After questions, it was concluded that I had TS, ADHS, OCD and WTF? Ok, just kidding. There

were a lot of acronyms thrown out. What I did receive was the diagnosis of: Tourette’s

Syndrome paired with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive

Disorder. Then it sunk in— I had a name for this “problem” I had. And I was ok with it.

“Tourette syndrome (TS) is a neurological disorder characterized by repetitive, stereotyped,

involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics.” To be diagnosed, one must have at least

2 motor tics (movement) and 1 vocal tic (sounds.) I had a few.

The following years I went to a private school that specializes in helping children with learning

disabilities. I met some very cool individuals at that school with disabilities far worse than mine

ever was or will be. I was very blessed to have mild symptoms, which I learned to cope with—

because I was confident and just made things work.

On that note, let’s jump to the present. My mild symptoms eventually turn into milder symptoms.

“Tics typically show up between ages 2 and 15, with the average being around 6 years of age.

Males are about three to four times more likely than females to develop Tourette syndrome. Tics

often lessen or become controlled after the teen years.” Mayoclinic.com

Fortunately, I fall under this category. My tics were much worse and frequent in my teen years.

It really wasn’t until mid-college years that I noticed a difference. However, if I was emotional in

any way— excited, sad, angry, etc. My tics got worse.

Nowadays, most people don’t notice my tics until they’ve spent some time with me. If I am calm

and focused, my tics are extremely minimal.

It wasn’t until recently that I learned about neurodiversity. I never even knew the word existed. It

wasn’t until people started talking about it and how their learning differences are their

superpowers. Hearing their stories and thinking, “Wow! I can relate to that at a deep level!”

I reflected back to how this could have helped me as a child. Even though I was surrounded by

peers that may have been experiencing similar symptoms, we weren’t taught that it could be

channeled as a superpower. Gosh, I am so thankful to have learned it now.

I believe that because I learned to control stress, my brain moves fast naturally, and I have

always just “owned” being who I am– it has helped me in business and throughout life. Though,

during high-stress moments, my tics may sneak onto the stage.

My confidence was learned. It was not natural. And I’m thankful for all of the experiences that

have helped shape me into who I am today.

Remember, it's not about what sets you apart; it's about embracing it and letting your

authenticity shine. That’s what makes me “tic.”

PHOTO CRED: Photo by Ricardo Luis Canez / Amazingness After Dark

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