My TS, My Story, Part 3: How I cope with tics

Part of the Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada’s mission is to help individuals affected by TS through programs of self-help. That is why our posts this week will focus on self-understanding, self-knowledge and self-awareness. Today’s post is from Tina T.

closeup-on-womans-hand-writing-in-planner460x300Over the years, I have noticed changes in myself — who doesn’t as they get older? Similarly, I’ve also noticed changes in my tics.

As I mentioned in part two of this blog series, people with TS sometimes get a physical clue that they are about to tic. Today at the age of 24, I’ve learned to recognize the buildup of tension in my body that precedes my tics; I feel I am able to recognize which body part needs to move by the buildup of tension I feel.

I have always wondered if others with TS also can recognize the signs that a tic is going to happen.
As I’ve grown up, I’ve thought a lot and learned a lot about how my tics functioned and why they manifest. I feel that I’ve learned how to recognize how, and in which manner, my tics will present themselves. Having the ability to do this has allowed me to hold my tics in when I am in a public places, and (if I absolutely need to tic) how to move subtly. This is an acquired skill that I am sure is difficult (even impossible perhaps) for many people with TS.

I acknowledge that, depending on the severity of the TS and age, some people may have a much harder time with tics. When it comes to self-understanding and self-knowledge however, I do believe that most adults can acquire this if it is strongly desired, whether they have this particular condition or not.

For the average (“neuro-typical”) person, the feeling of relaxation can be conjured up in different ways; for me, this simple feeling of relaxation (regardless of method used to achieve it) can turn into the enhancement of tension buildup, which for me, can have the end result of me ticcing.

When I move around or keep myself active, it gives me the opportunity to become distracted from the thoughts or feelings of tics and their episodes. In contrast, if I lie back and attempt to relax I become more focused on the tics.

This is backward, I know, in the sense that what conventionally allows a neuro-typical person to feel good/relaxed, makes me hyper, more tense, and sometimes more frustrated. Figuring this out has really helped.
I believe that understanding my body, my tics, and myself is the key to coping with my TS.

Getting to know myself and my body is something that has helped me not only deal with my tics when and after they happen, but also helped me figure out the environmental factors that can lead ticcing (sometimes called triggers).

Were I to have a one-on-one conversation with another adult with TS, I would say give your body a chance to not only tell other parts of your body to move as part of normal body functioning, but also to tell you how you can cope with your tics.

I am not a doctor. This is what worked for me and I hope that by sharing it, I am helping others. That said, what works for me may not work for someone else. I have attempted many different strategies, and sometimes a strategy that I find helpful doesn’t work all the time, and when it doesn’t, I am not able to explain why.

TS has been a test of my inner strength and a challenge of my abilities. To anyone reading this that is tested by the condition like me, take advantage of the resources available to you in regards to TS. For the longest time, I never wanted to be part of any activity or support group related to TS because I was in denial and trying to convince myself that there was nothing wrong with me.

Today, there I have realized that there is in fact nothing wrong with me, but what was wrong was that I was in denial and not open to support. I now am fully accepting of the disorder, but it took me a long time. There are many people in this world who will not understand TS, but I do strongly believe there are plenty more people who are open to understanding. Stay strong because you are definitely not alone.

About Tina T.: Tina T. is a young adult with Tourette Syndrome and a volunteer with the Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada. She currently lives in Ontario, where she is a full time post-secondary student. If you would like to contact Tina about her blog series “My TS, My Story” please e-mail tsfc@tourette.ca or leave a comment.

** The opinions expressed in this blog entry are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the TSFC, TSParentsOnline or NJCTS.**

One Comment

  1. Hello Tina I really love reading your story. I haven’t tried it yet but I had to respond. All my life I thought something was wrong with me. I thought I was crazy or something until I gotten older and realize that wasn’t the case. I’m just different. I really love the way you break it down to fully understand what I’m going through.

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