I have finished high school!

Hi everyone. Today is a very very VERY hot day! I already miss the cold weather. I do look forward to swimming, though. So, yesterday, I finished high school. I still need to contact my teacher to finalize my grade, and then I need to get the paperwork done. But I am excited for what’s in store for me in my future.

I know I will struggle since it is the real world (especially since I have TS). But I have my family, friends and you awesome people to support me on my journey through life. I can’t wait! Thank you all for the support through my school days. Official adulthood, here I come!

Poetry: “Visibly seen”

This is my razor blade life.

It’s sharp and it cuts like

a knife stabbed in my heart.

Shadows in dark corners,

sewn together like pieces

’till no light and no sun

are seen anymore.

And all I’ve ever wanted

is to be visibly seen

by all those around me.

Holding and binding like

chains ’round a box.

Crammed in a crate

like a million sardines.

And all we want

is to be visibly seen.

The words are haunting.

Screams. My ears pierced

by every lie and false

execution of love from

the crowds of black hearts

gathered all around.

Confining in handcuffs.

Smothering with sheets.

And they keep me

from being visibly seen.

They close their eyes tight.

Holding and binding

like chains ’round a box.

Crammed in a crate

like a million sardines.

They make sure we are

not visibly seen.

These are the guards

in my razor blade life.

The ones who won’t

let me grow and be free.

Drowning me in safety

and intentions so cruel.

Being held captive in

basements so cold.

I am demanding

to be visibly seen!

I’ll command your attention,

exclaiming so loud that

you can’t stand not to look!

You’ll be drawn so close,

uncomfortable like sardines.

Now we demand

to be visibly seen!

Finding my voice

I can write a 20-page letter to someone in which I share my deepest secrets and fears. When I write, I can say things that I have never told another soul in my life. If I sit down to talk to another person face to face, you can just forget it. I will sit and stare at that person for hours and not say a word. I don’t understand it. It’s as if my mind freezes up and the words just refuse to come out.

Take the things I have written on this blog for example. I can not imagine saying these things out loud. Possibly, one day, I may just randomly acquire the ability to speak what is on my mind. I have not been able to as of yet.

In fact, I have had to keep journals for therapy and counseling. If it were not for me writing during the time between appointments with the therapists and counselors I have seen, I would not have been able to share any information with them. I have rehearsed conversations in my head before arriving at their offices to prepare myself so that maybe I will find the courage to say the things that I have felt and thought out loud. I have not yet mastered this skill.

My fiancé can confirm this fact. When we first met, I was totally out of my element. We were at my cousins’ house for a housewarming party. I knew most of the people who were present. Most of them were people I had not seen or talked to in years, though. I definitely had not seen them or talked to them since my Tourette’s had become so prominent, and I am sure most of them did not even know that I had been diagnosed with Tourette’s. I know they definitely did not know of the other things I had dealt with over the last several years.

Meeting new people makes me nervous and anxious. So, when my fiancé introduced himself, I was quite backward and seemed very indifferent to him. I was in a fairly large group of people. I was loud and twitchy and just wanted to get somewhere I could let my tics out in full force and be completely comfortable with myself. I try to put on an air of not caring what people think and perceive of me, but I think that if we are all truly and completely honest with ourselves, we all care at least a small bit at times. Perhaps not all the time, but we all find ourselves feeling self-conscious at times.

I have always been terrified of showing my feelings. I guess I am really afraid of being hurt by reactions to what I feel.

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Poetry: “Stories”

Stories written in lines

horizontally, diagonally,

some thick, some thin,

scattered and organized.

Stories I started.

Gruesome and ugly,

sad and distorted,

somber and dreary.

Words carefully engraved,

composed by such pain.

Their purpose unclear

’till the author’s replacing.

Gathering up pages,

recovering the pen,

reconstructing scripts,

yet not erasing history.

My stories, You refine.

Stories written in lines,

scattered, yet organized,

on surfaces of me.

Stories You finish,

bringing them to ends

promising, beautiful,

filled by Your love.

New Canadian rock band features members with TS

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Say hello to Pariah.

They’re a young, ambitious Canadian rock band, and two of their members happen to have TS.

A five-piece ensemble, Pariah hails from Mississauga and Oakville, and they all love to write music, record and perform.

The band already has their own Facebook pageTwitter account and YouTube channel. On the latter you can hear a demo and watch a video of them performing live, and if you live in the Greater Toronto Area you’ll have a chance to see them play live on Sunday, April 27, at the Rockpile West in Etobicoke, ON.

Pariah is:

Chanel Martins – Lead Vocals

Jiverny Marshall – Rhythm Guitar/Vocals

Dylan Murray – Lead Guitar

Justin Speers – Bass

Ian Coll – Drums

Here’s a video of them performing a song called “Adrift.”

Share Your Story: Everything that happens in life can be used for good

Hello, my name is Jasmine. I am 24 years old. If you know me or have read anything I’ve written previously, you know that I have Tourette Syndrome. However, there are a few things about me you may not know.

For example, I have fought a battle for much of my life that a lot of people fight. Like others who fight, I have always fought in private. It is not a battle against others. I have defended against darkness, hopelessness and ultimately myself. Now, I am taking big steps to fight offensively, not defensively. I am not telling you all this for sympathy or for pity. I am simply sharing my story because I know how it feels to wish you weren’t alone. I know that it helps to know that someone out there understands what you are going through. Part of being human is having flaws and faults.

I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety at the age of 18. The fear I felt at having a mental illness was almost as intense as the fear that it would never end. There is so much stigma in the world around us about mental illness. It’s sad, really. I find it sad that people create such stigma. It is such a negative thing.

Not only does it create misunderstanding, but it makes those who already feel so alone in the world feel even more isolated than they did in the first place. It keeps those who truly need help from seeking it out because they are afraid of what people will think of them. We become afraid of being judged and looked at differently. Sadly, that does happen … and it’s because of the stigma. Stigma is why a lot of people, such as myself, suffer in silence for far too long.

I suffered in silence until I absolutely had to find a means of escape. I searched desperately for a way to numb the pain I felt on the inside, so I created a pain I knew the source of and could control of on the outside. That is where self-injury entered the scene. Contrary to the stigma, it was never about attention. It was never an attempt to do permanent damage such as suicide.

In fact, it was something I desperately hid from everyone around me, from all those whom I loved. It was a way to cope so that I could stay alive. Even though it was only a temporary relief, it became an addiction that I couldn’t control and didn’t know how to quit.

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My newest tic is tough

My newest tic is a rough one I have to admit. I’ve had it for three days now, and it’s not the easiest to deal with. I hit myself in the chest with my hand which makes a loud slapping noise, and I also have a fairly loud vocal tic that usually happens at the same time as well. Besides leaving my chest sore, it’s also made my friends jump a few times because it’s so sudden, loud and forceful.

It hasn’t stopped my from having a good weekend, though, or doing the things I normally do. On Friday, I went to an outdoor concert on campus with five of my friends, and today I went to an on campus carnival and went shopping at the mall with two of my friends. I was doing my new tic at pretty much all of these events, and although I got quite a few stares, I’m used to it for the most part so it didn’t bother me.

I also felt a lot more comfortable and OK with the fact that I was ticcing a lot in public because I had my TS medical ID card with me. I haven’t had the need to pull it out or use it in any other way yet because no one has approached me about my tics in public, but I still felt better having it. I knew that if I needed to, I could pull the card out and also explain my TS verbally and they would understand or at least leave me alone. Knowing this made my confidence lever better than it would have usually been in public this weekend, which was really helpful.

I don’t know how long I’ll have this tic, and I’m not too thrilled with going back to classes on Monday with it, but I know my classmates and teachers will understand. They have all been so understanding and make me feel comfortable in the classroom regardless of my tics.

Also this is kind of unrelated, but on Friday one of my friends commented on another tic that popped up and told me it was cute and she liked it. It was a vocal tic where I said “rawr.” My other friend said I should do it in class, and I laughed and said I probably will end up doing it in class at some point. I like when my friends are able to talk with me and make light of my tics. It makes me feel like it’s not this big elephant in the room. It makes me feel like it’s something we can talk about and it’s not such a big deal.

When tics surprise

And the story of my heightened level of tics because of the stress and excitement of the last month of school continues, lol. I was watching a TV show with three of my friends and one of my friends left her pretty much empty orange juice cup on the table in front of us. Most of the time when we have open containers on the table, my friends are careful to put the lids on them because of the fact that one of my tics includes knocking things off tables and counters, which has ended in a messy situation quite a few times. But there was really only a few drops of orange juice left and I hadn’t had that tic in little while.

The tic surprised me though even though I thought I could fight it, in the end, I ended up knocking over the cup with my fist forcefully. It ended up flying onto my friends lap which I felt really bad about. I immediately got up, started apologizing profusely, and went to throw the orange juice cup out. My friend was very understanding and when I kept saying, “I’m sorry,” she kept assuring me it was OK in a kind voice which let me know she knew it was a tic and knew I couldn’t help it.

Friends like this and people who understand are what get me through these times when my tics are bad. I’ve found mostly every time that when you explain yourself and give people the opportunity to be compassionate, they typically are. 🙂

I don’t have anyone like me in my life

My grandma, who is one of my best friends, showed me this website. I was excited that people like me can share stories and talk about our experiences together. I longed to have a spot on the website so I can do the same!

Tourette’s Syndrome affects my life because when I was about 6 years old, my mom noticed some eye blinking and throat clearing behaviors, not knowing they were tics. It’s stopped for a while, but resurfaced when I hit about 12.

Ever since I was in third grade, I stuttered. My speech was sometimes so bad I couldn’t get out sentences. That also stopped for a while, but has always found a way to come back. Around the time my tics appeared again, my stutter was in full swing, and hasn’t stopped since. I am now 14.

My mom was worried about me and was always looking up possibilities that could be causing these tics and my stutter. She thought it might be Tourette’s Syndrome, and I was in denial. I didn’t know what to do. This went on for years — no diagnosis, bad stutter, and tics. I’ve always had Tourette’s like symptoms as well — couldn’t ever fall asleep, OCD, as well as general anxiety and depression.

All still impact my life, and it’s very hard to deal with. So this past November, I went to University of Michigan to find out what’s happening to my body. The neurologist told us that I had Tourette’s Syndrome, and having a name to what was going on felt relieving, yet, I also was at a loss for where to go from there.

The neurologist also told me that my stutter was something along the lines of a vocal tic. It’s all connected in some way. So, being on this blog website would be a release for me to talk to other people like me, since I don’t have anyone like me in my life.

I’m featured in the Trenton Times and on NJ.com!

Check out my story that appeared yesterday in the Trenton Times and on NJ.com! It’s about the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders’ (NJCTS) Children’s Scholarship Program and the NJ Walks for TS at Princeton event this Sunday that is taking place to help support the scholarship program.

I was an NJCTS scholarship winner last year, and this year’s winners should be named in the next couple of months. This is very exciting! One of my favorite parts of the story is when they used this quote from me:

“My parents have taught me to be outspoken about Tourette syndrome and to never be ashamed.”

It’s so true! I hope you like the story. Let me know what you think by leaving a comment here. I’d appreciate it!