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COLLEGE WEEK: Gaining the support of “Goldie,” my RA

Recently I decided to tell my RA about my OCD and Tourette Syndrome over Facebook. I decided to tell her before I move into my dorm and before college starts for a lot of different reasons:

  1. I got access to my dorm building and dorm room in order to do my OCD exposure therapy, and I kept getting afraid to go into the dorm building because of the fact that I might run into one of my RAs. If I’ve learned one major thing from all my exposure therapy, it would be that if you’re afraid of something, then just do the thing you are afraid of and it won’t be a problem anymore. I was afraid that my RA would see me in the hall and question why I was there and then I would have to explain about my OCD. So I messaged her, gave her a heads up about my OCD and why I would be in the dorm early. Problem solved. No more fear or embarrassment about going into my dorm early to do exposure therapy.
  2. I am living in the dorm room next to my RA’s room and wanted to give my RA a heads up about my Tourette because my vocal tics seem to be getting louder and more prominent. Now that it’s getting closer to the time I move into my dorm for college, I’m stressed and excited and nervous — which makes for more tics, of course. I was afraid that if I started college, moved into the dorm and didn’t tell her about my Tourette, then she would hear my tics from her room, come into my room incredibly annoyed and yell at me to be quiet because she would think I was fooling around or being silly. I didn’t want this to happen, and just thinking about it made my tics worse.
  3. Well, you all know how nervous I am about my dorm situation if you read my last post about my roommate and how she has no idea I have Tourette because she won’t respond to any of my messages. I’m so nervous that my roommate will hate me, or already has made some judgment about me, or something like that. With all these nerves, I just felt like I needed someone who I knew was going to be on my side next year to understand me and support me. Even if my roommate is a wonderful person, I felt like I needed someone to tell me they are going to accept and be OK with my Tourette in college even if I do have loud vocal tics sometimes. I needed to hear that someone was going to be there for me, and that’s exactly what I got.

Here is the message I sent to my RA:

Hi (RA Name here)!! I wanted to send you a message to give you a heads up about something. Feel free to let the other RA on our floor know about this, too.

I wanted to let you know that I was given temporary access to my dorm and my dorm room because I have OCD, and I need to do some exposure therapy in the dorm before I start school. I wanted to let you know about this in case you see me in the dorm ahead of time so that you know what’s going on. I’m not very good at explaining on the spot, lol.

I also wanted to give you another heads up since you’ll be living in the room right next to mine and since you’re one of my RAs. I have something called Tourette Syndrome (a neurological condition that comes alone with OCD). I don’t swear or have inappropriate outbursts (only 5 percent of people with Tourette have that symptom).

For me, having Tourette means that I jerk my body, have other twitch-like movements and make sounds. When I get stressed, excited or sometimes for no real reason at all, my vocal tics (my noises) can get kind of loud. Right now, my vocal tics sound like high-pitched noises or like a yelping sound, but tics change all the time. They’re not always loud, because tics fluctuate between being bad and being not all that bad.

I can’t really predict when my tics are going to be bad, but they may be bad for the first couple of weeks because of all the excitement and nerves. But at the same time, they could be pretty mild, I just don’t know. So I wanted you to know that if you hear noises coming from my room, I’m OK and I’m not making noises on purpose. Most of the time people get pretty used to it, and we usually joke about it or just ignore it because people who know me tend to be just so used to it.

Anyway, thanks for putting up with this long message! If you have any questions, feel free to ask. It will make me feel better that you know about this ahead of time, because once again I am bad at explaining on the spot, and now telling you is one less thing I’ll have to worry about taking care of on the first day. 🙂

And here is the message that she sent back to me:

Hey! Thank you so much for the e-mail — it means a lot. When are you planning on checking your room? If you want, give me a call or text me (RA cell number here) the next time you come. If the other RA and I are free we will come introduce ourselves!

Thank you so much for opening up about your OCD and Tourette. I am right next door if you need me for anything. The noise thing will not be an issue! Last year, I actually shared a vent with someone who enjoyed singing opera (it was very very loud), and I did just fine 🙂 Please feel free to come to the other RA or myself if you need anything. Again, I look forward to meeting you and if I can do anything to make your transition easier just let me know! I can’t wait to see you!!

I feel soooo much better!!! I feel less nervous already. I feel like I have someone to go to now if anything goes wrong with my roommate situation and someone to be on my side no matter what happens. The adults (or in this case, the RAs) are the ones who set the model for everyone else to act.

If my RAs are supportive and accepting of me and my tics, then the other students on the floor will probably model their behavior and be supportive and accepting as well. I feel like I’ve made a real step in the right direction with this, and I cannot express how good it feels to know that my RA will be there for me.

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I think I will give her a nick name now for the blog…hmmm…I think i’ll go with Goldie because she has blonde hair, she is making my experience golden so far, and she is for sure a person who follows the golden rule. And on top of all that, I saw a golden retriever when I walked on campus today.

So with that all said, thank you so much Goldie. You have just made me feel like a different person compared to how I felt yesterday. Your message was so reassuring, and it is one of my first real signs that everything next year will turn out to be just fine even if my tics overreact to the stress and excitement. I feel so lucky to have you as my RA next door. 🙂

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