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Pink Elephant

The following blog entry is a guest post from Troye Evers.

One tic, two tic, three tic, four tic,

That’s the way my life is.

In a majority of articles, books and helpful pamphlets, you always find someones story that they are asked to “Stop doing that.”  I’ve heard it all my life; “Stop doing that,” “Why are you doing that,” or “Do you know you’re doing that?”  Yes, I know what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, and no, I can’t stop.

However, I will tell you this, the more you point it out, the more I will do it.  It’s like the old saying, “Don’t think about a pink elephant.”  What are you thinking about right now?  Let me guess, a pink elephant.  In fact, every time I say pink elephant, one is going to pop in your head.  I don’t even have to say to think about it, or don’t, I just have to say pink elephant.  The same goes for me with TS and their tics.

I have list of tics that seems never-ending and I have been for almost 30 years.  Still to this day, if someone say “calm down, you neck tic is getting bad,” my only thought is Great, thanks for pointing it out, now its just going to get worse.

I know it sounds odd but think about how odd we feel with the uncontrollable things that are going on in our body. Pink elephant.  As a kid, I always felt like there was a little puppet master hiding in my body telling different parts of my body to move with out my knowledge.  “Blink, shake your head, twitch your nose, clear you throat, grunt.”  I never gave this person permission to take control of parts of my body, but he is here, and I have come to terms with him taking over residence.

This power of suggestion is not limited to only tics.  It also accompanies my OCD and my anxiety disorder.  “Don’t step on the cracks in the sidewalk,” now I’m just going to walk in the street, “Did you press the elevator button 3 times?”  Yes, I did, but now I have to do it three more times, and I might just take the stair up the six flights.

My favorite is, “Relax,” HELLO, I have anxiety disorder. I wish it were that easy.  Even though I took my med, I still have anxiety.  I have also had people suggest yoga and no, yoga is not going to help me.  Have you ever tried downward facing dog while shaking your head back and forth, it’s a little scary.  Plus, with my OCD’s and germaphobia, there’s no way I’m sitting on the floor where a dozen other people have sweated out their DNA.

I have found over the year that whether I’m having pink elephant moment (Don’t think of it) or just a regular TS moment, I just go with it.  I don’t find excuses, or find myself apologizing for what uncontrollable motion I might be doing.  If I have to tic, then I tic.  My friends and family don’t make an issue of it; in fact, they don’t even acknowledge it or make an issue of it.  The conversation continues without a hiccup, unless my old hiccup tic decides to make an appearance.

As for my anxiety and OCD, I have learned to take a time out.  I can feel things getting to the boiling point and I have to keep in mind to walk away and take a break.  Go sit on the sofa and watch 30 minutes of mindless TV, take the dogs for a nice long walk, etc.  I know what “I” need to do, but that’s not always the solution.

If someone else is around me or perhaps part of the cause of the anxiety, I need to walk away from them, and I hope they walk away from me.  The last thing I need at that moment is someone else telling me to calm down, or even suggesting taking a time out.  All this does, is build to the already boiling anxiety.  For myself, in most cases, if I walk away from whatever situation or activity that maybe causing the stress, I am back to normal, or close to it within 5-10 minutes.  (Thanks ADD)

With all these triggers to the power of suggestion, I’m beginning to think the puppeteer that has taken over residence in my body has oppositional defiant disorder.  He never want to hear suggestions from anyone else during these times of need, especially when I know what ever is suggested is the right thing to do and coming from someone who cares for me. I know in these times that I need to take a time out, but I don’t need you telling me.

A suggestion of a “Time out” can be a valued tool for any person with TS as long as it is discussed before the situation, and it is not suggested that “You need at time out.” The fact is, don’t we all need a time out.  Besides doing this for my own well-being, I have done this in other situations with children with TS at camp, schools and TS events.  Separate them from the cause of anxiety. “This situation is making my anxiety worse, which is making my tics worse so I’m going to walk away and do something else until I have calmed down.  We are going to take a time out.”

Pink elephant (don’t think about it).

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