Last Monday, one of my best friends – let’s call him Rob- came into school with a head tic.
At the time me and my friends thought it was trapped nerve but we didn’t take it seriously as rob is normally quite dramatic so we just thought he was faking or overreacting. We laughed like dicks at him as that is how friendship works when your 15: laughing at each others fails. Sure, Rob felt like he was failing that day but no-one thought it would continue on to Tuesday.
The next day it developed into more violent head shaking and Rob looked fed up. We still joked about it but not as much since he told us how much the tic was affecting him. Some of my friends took it seriously but others still called him a “attention seeking whore” as a “joke”.
That night, Rob went to the doctors and he official confirmed it as an early form of Tourettes but he still had a chance of it going away for good. Thinking about what he was going through, i decided to do some research and try to prepare myself for what might be coming although i was secretly in denial that this was happening. I wished it was all a bad dream and it would be over for him. Still, i continued to read online about how to be supportive of someone with tourettes and what the symptoms were. The whole time whilst researching i also couldn’t stop thinking about how Rob must’ve felt. Out of control for certain.
The weekend came upon us and i didn’t see Rob; he didn’t want to go out because he was embarrassed about what was happening to him. Thinking back now, i wish i could have seen him and got him out the house and now i feel bad as i wasn’t there when he needed someone most. I mean, he had his parents but there are just some things your parents don’t get however wise they may be. Robs parents didn’t understand the idea of tics because unless you have tourettes, it’s very difficult to. His parents kept asking him to just to “control” them which is impossible when they are like “an itch that can’t be scratched” (Robs words). I still don’t fully understand about them so i did more research because i want to be there for him through possibly one of the toughest times of his life.
Yesterday, it took a turn for the worse as his tics turned vocal into unfortunate sayings like “vagina” and swear words. This was when the doctors fully diagnosed him with tourettes but a rare case called coprolalia that only 10% of tourettes patients get. It seemed like a wake up call to all the people who didn’t believe him (like me at first) and it really showed us that you need to be there for people no matter how unbelievable a condition may seem. People are diagnosed with rare diseases and because they are labelled “uncommon” or have statistics of “1 in a million” it comes as a huge shock when it happens to someone you know.
A big eye opener to me was that people do not know a lot about Tourettes and do not understand that it’s a condition for life. In recent years especially, Parkinson’s and Tourettes jokes have popped up making it normal and “funny” to mock people who can’t help what they do/say. Many are also under the impression that tourettes people control the tics and say/do things out of their own will. This is concerned me and I think awareness needs to be raised for this neurological disorder as it actually affects 1 in 100 people making it fairly common. When awareness is raised, i really hope that any extra money could go towards research of a cure or therapy to suppress tics.
If YOU know anyone with tourettes, please show empathy and respect towards them and their loved ones. Rob’s been so grateful for the ginormous amount of support he’s received and i’m so touched people have checked to see how i’m coping because it has been an emotional roller coaster of denial for everyone involved. There has been some awful times when instead of being showed kindness, people have been bullied for having tourettes which is in no way right. It’s not easy for anyone watching someone’s life being overran by tics however we’re all keeping our hopes high that when Rob see’s the psychiatrist things will get easier for him.
Thank you for reading and please keep raising awareness for Tourettes x