Tourette Syndrome and employment, part 2

As some of you know, I started working as an usher at an opera theater company for a summer job to make some money and keep me busy. I’m only 18, so this is really my first official paying job besides lots of babysitting. I wrote about my first night on the job, so this entry is about my second night on the job.

The second night was much better. My mom drove out in front of me so I could follow her and not get lost this time, and so she could show me the right street to turn on to come back as well. It made much more sense to me this time, since I wasn’t as anxious and ticcy as last time.

When I was standing at the infamous Door No. 2 to check people’s tickets, I kept banging my knees against the ticket stand, which got to be painful after a while, and kept stomping me feet, too. At one point, one of the patrons walked past me and said, “Just keep stomping blood into those feet.” I found this slightly amusing.

Afterward, when I was with all the ushers outside again, I was hanging out with two girls and I felt like it was the right time to briefly mention Tourette Syndrome and just get it out of the way and in the open. I told them that I had found a very good way of getting out of having to see the operas.

“Hey, don’t get me wrong,” I said. “I like the operas, but I move around more than other people and the people sitting next to me tend to get annoyed”. I then went on to say, “I have these things called tics, which are involuntary movements and sounds. It’s technically called Tourette, but I don’t swear or anything like that. That’s only 10 percent of people who have it.”

After I was done with my short explanation, one of the girls said something to the effect of “They shouldn’t get annoyed. You can’t help it.”  She said it in a way that made me think she was trying to make me feel better, which I always appreciate.

A few minutes later, I ticced and she stopped talking for a second and I looked at her and she said, “It’s OK,” like she was trying to reassure me it was OK that I ticced and she was OK with it, too. I love those people who try to make me feel better or more comfortable when I tic. They really just make my day.

So the first two days went very well in my opinion. I felt really good being open about my TS, and I felt really good getting to really have a paying job for the first time. I’ve had another night of work, too, that went really well when I told pretty much the whole group of ushers about my Tourette.

I didn’t really intend for it to work out that way, but it’s really great that it did! Everyone was sitting in a big circle and going around and saying their name and one interesting thing about themself. I thought about saying that I have Tourette, but once again decided not to because it seemed too defining to say it that way.

I said that I was going to Washington University next year instead. They seemed really interested since they know what a good school it is and asked me what I was going to major in. I told them that I was probably going to major in psycology and neruological research, and they thought that was really cool and meant I was really smart.

One of the girls in the group said, “I have a neurologist. I have epilepsy.” Immediately, without even thinking about it, I said, “I have a neurologist, too. I have Tourette Syndrome.” The all looked very accepting and interested when I said it, and another girl in the group announced that her brother has Tourette, which I thought was really neat!

Now that everyone knows, I no longer go back to my car and explode with tics from suppressing the smaller tics and am coming to be able to just tic regualy around them! I feel so much better knowing I was open about it and knowing that they know what’s going on when I start ticcing. I really think it was the right thing for me to tell them.


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