Tic Tock

After contemplating the pros and cons of this, I’ve decided to do what I am about to do. I’m not going to add it as a tag like I did with depression and PTSD, however; posts regarding this topic will simply go into my health tag. I mean, most of my health posts pertain to mental health, anyway.

I decided to do this, because I have an invisible illness, and it’s highly likely that my readers have an invisible illness as well. At least one.

You can’t see my mental health issues by merely greeting me for the first time, or even by reading my blog. I have lately tried to be more descriptive with my writing in hopes to make people feel what it is that I go through on a daily basis.

I have family members who think that it’s just because of the environment I grew up in — that I can’t make eye contact because of lard or that I have to do certain things a number of times because I think I need to. Just because I have struggled for years and years to figure out how to make my tics less visible to you does not mean that they’re not there.

For starters, I have tics, not ticks. There is a difference between the two spellings; one has to do with people, and the other has to do with a clock. I cannot control my tics, and I stopped suppressing them years ago because it’s too painful to do that. They build up. They get worse. I have to do them even though I don’t want to. In fact, sometimes I don’t even realize I’m doing them.

An example of my typing tic using livetyping.com

  • I have neck tics. By this, I mean that my neck (usually the right side) does this sort of tic thing. I’m doing it now. It happens the most when I’m under a lot of stress and/or getting sick. Currently, I’m both of those. This one is more obvious, and if I don’t give into it when due, it will start doing it on its own. If I rest my right cheek on on my right hand with my elbow on a table or something, letting my hair fall to my right side, I can hide it pretty well. However, this solution works only in situations that allow it. I also sometimes have to pop my neck multiple times. Then it pops a certain way, cramping it up. I hate it so much.
  • I sometimes have to breathe on my collar bone, the center of it. It’s frustrating and annoying, and my chin has to align just perfectly in the center of it whilst I breathe downward.
  • I have the complex tic example stated on the fact sheet:

    Complex motor tics might include facial grimacing combined with a head twist and a shoulder shrug.

    This one is not at all something I can hide. I can suppress it, but suppressing my tics causes me to have to do them more, and it’s just overall exhausting.

  • Did you just cough? Sniffle? When you sniffle/cough around me, I may feel that need to do the same. And then again. And then again. And I can’t stop it. And then I have to rub my nose as if I actually need to do it. And then I need to do it again. And again. And quite honestly, this tic is one of the most annoying ones, because lard would always get onto me and say, “Go blow your nose, now!” I can’t help it. And then in school, it was horrible, because teachers would always say, “It’s so annoying when people just sniff instead of blowing their nose,” and classmates would just look at me, and I was so embarrassed and ashamed of myself for that. I just can’t control it. People don’t seem to understand this.
  • I have to silently say phrases over and over in my head a certain amount of times (it varies), and it gets in the way of what’s actually going on. It’s annoying

Those are just a small few. When I was in fourth grade, I’d have to touch my knees and then my ankles in kickball all of the time. Now I assume it was a tic I’d developed due to sometimes being put on the spot. I’d actually have to bend down, like in the heads, shoulders, knees and toes! song just to do this. It was extremely embarrassing. Elementary kids can be really cruel.

With that said, I have no idea why people tell me that it’s just something I need to learn to control. It’s called a tic for a reason. I have muscle spasms. They often move on their own. I don’t even realize I’m doing it many times until I’m either actually doing it or it becomes highly obvious to others that I am doing it.

They increase when I’m pissed off, nervous/anxious, sick, annoyed, angry, etc., and they decrease when I’m sleeping. I often do it in my dreams as well; it just seems normal to me since I’ve done it all my life.

People who say they wish to see the papers for my diagnosis need to stop being so ignorant, because they’re acting like having Tourette’s is something I should be ashamed of when they do it. You don’t have to believe me; I’ve had doctors ask about it. I don’t need to prove anything to you. Having Tourette’s makes it difficult for me to work as well; at Walmart I’d have new tics to deal with that I couldn’t suppress. It’s something that embarrasses me; please don’t make me “prove” it.

If I lash out on you (this has happened on Twitter in the past with a few people that really make me tick), I can guarantee you that it’s because I’m been suppressing that anger for far too long, and most of that is coming from my Tourette’s. I just get so pissed off that I can’t take it anymore, and I end up looking like I’m mad in the end.

“It’s just not normal for people to act like this. I mean, don’t you, too, feel like this just isn’t normal? People are supposed to be able to control their anger, not let it all loose on people. You need to start doing something to act normal again, or else I’m going to find something to do with you.”

Mimi said that to me last year before I went to the psychiatric’s office. Then, in the office getting my diagnosis, this is how it went:

Mimi, to the psychiatrist: “She has to be Bipolar or something. Her mom and brother even have it, and they take medicine for it.”

Me, to Mimi: (trying to sound as logical as possible) “I’m not Bipolar. I was tested multiple times growing up. I remember this!”

Mimi, to the psychiatrist: “See? She’s lashing out at me. She needs help! I don’t know what to do with her anymore!”

Me, to the psychiatrist: (smiling, some sort of snappy/mockingly sarcastic, but also serious, tone) “It was determined that I have Tourette’s Syndrome.”

Psychiatrist: (to me) “Well, that makes sense. I can see that.” (to Mimi) “Bipolar Disorder, on the other hand, is not genetic in the way that you are thinking of. It doesn’t work like that. You have to be patient with her. Mental illness or not, you need to stop treating her like she’s crazy.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget that conversation.

Don’t treat people like they should be ashamed of something medically wrong with them. Whether you can see it or not, they’re not one less because they have something different.

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Comments on this post

Leanne’s gravatar

There is such a stigma with mental illness. Society is getting better- a little bit. My family recognise it as a choice not an illness which infuriates me. It’s difficult because they can’t see it and it’s also difficult to mend. Afterall you’re competing with this person’s lifetime of experiences, bad habits and emotions.

Angie’s gravatar

I can’t imagine having to deal with your symptoms and then have someone who only compounds the situation because they don’t understand or refuse to. It really saddens me how quickly people are to make suggestions when they just do not understand the extent of the circumstances.
I wish there was more I could say or do to help but alas, all I can say is if you ever need to vent or let it out. You know where to find me.

Liza’s gravatar

@Angie,

♥ Thanks.

cantaloupe’s gravatar

Interesting. I recently met someone who has tics and he was the first person I’ve ever actually known in real life with them. When he first did it, I thought he was stretching or had a cramp or something. Then after about the third time, I realized what was going on. I didn’t say anything and neither did he since we were all just having a few drinks together, but I do think that if he and I were to bond and get closer, I would inevitably ask about it. In a curious way of wanting to know what other tics he has that I’m not noticing and how far it gets and how much it bothers him. At the time, it wasn’t really a big deal though. He was still able to hold a conversation while doing the tics and seemed to not be embarrassed about them. Which is good since, like you said, he can’t really do anything to make them stop all together. Might as well just accept that they happen and move on with the day.

Stephanie’s gravatar

Reading about all your tics just made me want to tic… To everyone reading this blog post and wondering whether anything she describes is accurate, I am a second person who will affirm it!

And I hope that eventually, everyone will be informed enough so that the conversation between Mimi, you, and the psychiatrist will never happen again. Not too long ago, some used to think that people with physical disabilities were crazy, and we all know that that’s gone now!

shot’s gravatar

I used to have tics when I was younger, sometimes noises, sometimes the way I blinked, sometimes doing things in patterns, even scrolling strangely on a computer and having to touch certain parts of the screen. I had the blowing collarbone one at one point, and my I used to tighten my neck all the time – mine always changed, they never stayed, always fluctuating. They’re all basically gone now, as I kind of learned to control and suppress and they more or less stopped happening. I never had tourette’s or anything, though, so I can’t really begin to imagine how hard and annoying it must make you feel. I feel sorry that you have to put up with it.

I totally agree with that last statement – no one should be judged in that way. We’re all human, we all do human things, and that’s what matters at the end of the day.

Liza’s gravatar

@shot, if you had tics and these were things you couldn’t quite control, you could have possibly had a mild form of it. It often goes undiagnosed, because many people perceive it as outbursts of profanity and/or just having constant tantrums. I’m not a doctor, though, so all I can really say is what I know.

Sara’s gravatar

Dear Liza,

I know you like Liz, but I really Liza:~) The last line did me in…I mean I cried. This is so important and you are so young to speaking so wisely.

The truth is we all have nervous habits — strange things we do without having a lot of control over them. For example, I talk to myself ALL the time. Sometimes I even answer:~) I used to be stared at when I was driving because I’d talk to myself. When I stopped at a light, the person in the car next to me would stare and, when I realized it, they’d just quickly look away. I wonder what have happened if someone had just smiled. Well, for me the good news is we now have phones which hide this strange behavior of mine. It just looks like I’m talking on the phone:~)

I know this was not meant to be funny in your post, but the line from your psychiatrist to Mimi was very funny, especially the part, “Mental illness or not, you need to stop treating her like she’s crazy.” That’s a great one and true.

We don’t stare or make fun of someone who needs oxygen or is a wheelchair (well, hopefully we don’t)…people with psychiatric issues deserve better care in our thoughts and words. As you said “Don’t treat people like they should be ashamed of something medically wrong with them. Whether you can see it or not, they’re not one less because they have something different.” You would think we would learn kindness doesn’t mean picking and choosing who we are kind to.

Kudos to you to speaking out!

Hiro’s gravatar

You talk about having to do things a certain way, or having to repeat things a certain number of times… When does it become a symptom of OCD as opposed to tics? Or is what we in the general public dismiss as “OCD” actually considered tics?
It’s kind of embarrassing I’m coming to this now, since I’ve been dealing with a lot of people with extremely varying differences, and I myself have grown up with tics (mostly physical muscle spasms on side of my nose/my eyebrows/corner of my lips/etc.). But I also have things I just HAVE to do like touch certain fabrics when I pass by them (I can suppress it a lot more than I used to these days), touch some things with my nose/mouth (gross, I know… but soft/squishy looking things…), having things an exact certain way before being able to move on, etc. I don’t think I have too many things I have to do a certain number of times, but a lot of my behavioral things get in my way of getting things done, because when I keep myself from doing them, I just get to distracted and frustrated. :X
I just looked up Tourette’s. And all my life I’ve been getting the definitions incorrect because of general public and mass media. Bah.
You know what. Now that I just looked up the actual definition of Tourette’s, the first part of this comment makes no sense. But whatever. HEY. LEARNING EXPERIENCE.

Liza’s gravatar

@Hiro, I’ve actually been told I should look into getting tested for OCD multiple times, but it takes time to get to that. I think it’s possible, though, because a lot of the things I do I feel like have to be done. Last year I went to a clinic that couldn’t diagnose OCD, only certain disorders that the psychiatrists working there specialized in, but it was highly suggested. The two are often associated with each other.

Tics are things that have to be done. They’re typically something in the body, like muscle spasms. OCD is serotonin, and Tourette’s is dopamine.

Two things I found to explain things, since I don’t know how else to explain it and it make sense:
OCD Related Disorders: Tourette’s
Yahoo! Answers

Georgie’s gravatar

Standing ovation for your psychiatrist please.

Reading through what Mimi said to you before you went to your psychiatrist made me furious. She doesn’t understand mental issues at all. Not one bit. She does not.

Also, thank you for showing what your tic-typing is like. It really opened my eyes, in a way, and I know I’ve been taking my own typing skills for granted. I am so sorry that it bothers you at work and in your everyday life. I have a friend who has a similar tic with nose-wrinkling and shoulder shrugging. I don’t know if I’d call it a tic, but I have certain movements that I have to repeat or that I just do without thinking. There’s one thing I do where I wink (usually my right eye) when I’m concentrating really hard, or sitting so still that I realise I’m sitting still. I have mild ADHD so it’s always been hard for me to keep still. :/

Sage’s gravatar

Wow, just wow. Thank You so much for this. I knew people with Tourettes had Tics, but how you explained it really made sense. It’s like when I was disgnosed with BPD my father said, ‘oh thank god, we thought she was on drugs with how her emotions were up and down every second of the day …’ When I get really angry I get, ‘oh she’s just angry because she cannot control her BPD!’ like WTF! I am not allowed to be angry anymore without it being about BPD, so I let it fester and then BOOM I crash.
It’s funny, you and I have different things going on YET we both get treated exactly the same by people because it is not the norm in society, but guess what? if it wasn’t the norm why are more and more people being clinically diagnosed every day? and those are the ones we know about 😉

You’re a very intelligent lady from what I can see here.

definelulu’s gravatar

I semi secretly read your blog. I just thought I’d chime in with this thought…

“Flaws” are what makes us unique. The trick in life is to find people that either have “flaws” that complement your own and/or find people that ENJOY your “flaws”.
<3