12/1/13

"Breakdowns come and breakdowns go."

It's been a while since I've cried.  I'm not talking about tearing up during Forrest Gump or Piano Man.  I mean sobbed.   I don't cry often and the few times I do it generally gets reported back here.  I was feeling a little under the weather.  I had really bad poison ivy.  My arms, legs, chest and stomach itched.  Itched and itched.  And I was done with the scratching.  I was really trying to refrain from scratching.  My baby was crying.  And there was so much clutter!  Papers piled up.  Pens scattered about.  The whole world started closing in on me all at once.  When I am sick, OCD gets nasty.  It plays dirty.  I felt like I was in the fetal position, getting the living shit beaten out of me by 5 men in combat boots.  I couldn't handle it.  I toyed with the idea of storming out of the house, leaving my wife to deal with our crying baby.  But I didn't move.  I sat in an armchair, head in hands, itching.  I couldn't move.  I was stuck.  Reason kept me there.  Responsibility and love for my family grounded me.  I had visions of grabbing something like a chair or computer and tossing it against a wall.  I felt dirty.  Sweaty! I couldn't stand the clutter around me.  It all had to be cleaned up and organized right then!  I wanted to wash my hands and my face. I wanted to run scalding, hot water over the poison ivy.  I wanted to scream!  When I finally did get up, I ran upstairs and sat on the bed.  My wife and child remained downstairs.  I started to cry.  And then it was a sob.  Through this sob I repeated, "I don't want it.  I don't want it anymore.  Take it.  Take it away."  I don't know who I was talking to or why it even came out aloud but I needed to hear the words.  The tears just erupted.  I couldn't control them nor did I try. And then just as suddenly as the tears had started, they stopped.  So, I sat there, quietly.  It's not as if the ordeal was over.  I didn't feel better.  I just felt nothing.  The world still wanted to crush me.  But I am a grown man.  I am bigger than this.  So, I let it go.  And there it went.  I stood up, went downstairs and the family got dressed to leave the house together.  We went to the park.  We let the dogs chase squirrels and laughed at our baby's 9 month old smile, giggles and babble.  I let it go.  I let it go somewhere deeper inside my head.  Deeper but not gone.
I remember a day when I would actually press a random payphone receiver up against my ear.  I remember when I would hold onto poles in the subway for balance without giving it a second thought. I remember reaching for the door knob in a public bathroom without a care.  Is it age that has progressed my OCD?  Is it just time collecting my experiences, presenting them to me in a big, pile of germ infested clutter for me to sort through with gloves on and hand sanitizer in my pocket?  "Take all of this bullshit that drives you insane and slowly lose your mind."  What happened to the little child who would absentmindedly put money in his mouth?  I remember slapping hundreds of hands a day in high school.  Now, I'm hand sanitizing my knuckles after an awkward fist bump.  I can't even open the bathroom door in my own damn bathroom in my own damn house without a tissue.  What is this torture to be when I'm 60?  Worse?  Will I live in a bubble?  Will I wear gloves all the time?
I must resolve not to let that happen.  Every once in a while I need to sob.  I need the OCD and the TS to crush me a little bit.  I need to take a beating.  This, too is experience.  Experience is all we've got.  I am bigger than this.  I will take my beatings and I will survive.

10/27/12

"The choice is for us to say. Completely change or fade away."

My life has changed so much over the course of the last year.  It is amazing how comfortable we get in our routines.  And then one day our routines are no longer a part of our daily existence.  Something gets in the way and new routines develop.  New life experiences.  We're uncomfortable.  Out of our element.  But the storm subsides and we get into the flow with the new shit.
I got married.   I went on a 5 week honeymoon to Europe.  I quit my job.  I moved back to NY.  I left the house that I bought and spent the last two years renovating.  I put all of my shit in storage.  I started a business with my brother.  I worked endless hours.  My wife got pregnant.
We started that business in February.  9 months later, we have a successful business.
Things have changed.
I am having a baby.  There is a living being moving around inside my wife's womb.  I had something to do with that.  I helped create that being.  I ignored the fear and the uncertainty.  That being will be my child.  That child is change.  That is new!  I do not want to be stuck in a routine.  I will find newness and power in life.  I will increase.  I will grow.  I will change.

3/11/11

New tics

Most of my tics are the same tics I have had since I was young.  Some go away, some never leave and then there are old friends that come back for a visit after being absent for years.  They just randomly come and go, these tics.  So, it is interesting whenever new tics show up.  Man, I must have so many tics in my repertoire.  I am sure there are plenty I have even forgotten about.  It's a regular reunion when we get reacquainted.
Whenever I notice a new tic arriving, I try not to pay it much mind.  I don't want it to develop into a major tic that dominates the competition.  There is usually one or two tics that control the game for the most part for a few weeks or months.  Lately, it's been the neck shake and wide open eyes/eyebrow raise.  Relatively mild ones, actually.  They are being accompanied by the back arch and lip curl over tooth slide but those two are just minor players, right now.
I have, however noticed a new, never before seen tic show up on the scene.  It's hard to explain.  It's sort of a fight between my tongue and my lower lip.  My tongue pushes out against my lip as my lip pushes back against my tongue.  It's that "perfect" feeling pressure we're aiming for, here.  It's actually a pretty satisfying tic.  It's one of those tics that's easy to appease.  Once I get the feeling right, I can move on for a little bit.  And it is not that hard to get it "right."
So, now the tricky part is not letting this tic get too much play.  If I pay it lots of attention, which I am doing right now by writing about it, I will be thinking about it more and it will make its way to the forefront of my tic roll.  Sometimes, new tics will show up and then disappear shortly after.  Hopefully that will be the case, here. We shall wait and see.

2/5/11

SFW

My wedding is coming up.  I will be getting married in August.  I will be standing in front of everyone I know during the ceremony.  I will be on display.  There will not be a  moment when I know no one is looking and I can sneak a tic or two.  Every second that I am standing up there, at least one person will be looking at me.  So, I will hold the tics back, naturally.  But am I that good?  I wonder what tics will slip through my veil of camouflage.  Maybe I should practice hiding tics.  Or maybe this will be the day it all comes out.  All those who never caught a tic and all those who were not sure if they saw what they think they saw and all those who know my tics all too well will get to see the show.  The Tic show.  It comes with a meal, drinks and dancing.  
To be honest I am not really stressed about it.  I am pretty goddamn good at hiding my tics.  This shall be a nice test of my skills.  I figure if I think about it, I will stress about it.  So, I will not think about it.  It will be what it will be.  So, I'll tic.  So fucking what?

10/21/10

"Turn around, now. You know your home's back there."

I have noticed that my OCD has gotten much worse in the past few years.  It is starting to take over.  It's the very reason I don't post more often.  I can't just sit down and bang out a quick blog post.  It doesn't work that way.  I often have ideas of things I would like to write about.  The act of sitting down and writing about what's going on in my head is not so easy.  I have to write and rewrite and rewrite everything.  I review and edit.  I review again.  And then again.  Everything must be perfect.  If I am not happy with my grammar I will rewrite whole paragraphs.
That is really the tip of the iceberg, though.  The hand washing has gotten really bad.  I wash my hands all the time.  I've always been that way to a degree but it has become an absolute hindrance to whatever I am doing.  I want to wash them right now.  And I know they are clean.  When I cook or prepare food, which is all the time because I am obsessed with what I put in my body, I find myself washing my hands over and over.
I was just upstairs trying to study Spanish.  I could not concentrate because I was constantly dusting my desk and the various things on it.  I was rearranging everything on the desk again and again.  I could not get out of that part of my head.  It drove me to stop studying, altogether.  I feel like there is a layer of dust on my fingers from wiping the desk down.  I still feel like it is there.  I keep rubbing my fingertips together to disperse the dust.  And there's no fucking dust!  Despite knowing this I will continue to try to release my skin from this nonexistent dust.
I always feel like my house is cluttered.  It is not, really.  In fact, we just cleaned the whole thing.  There will always be clutter!  Unless I am living in a stainless steel box that is wiped free of dust and dirt every 5 minutes there will always be clutter.
And in these moments when I am overwhelmed, instead of losing control of myself, I regroup.  I know there is nothing I can do about it.  I refrain from going crazy.  Images of myself rocking back and forth in agony flash through my head.  I am scared I can end up that bad some day.  I can lose all control over my compulsions, OCD or TS driven.  I can see myself crawling into my head and huddling as close to myself as I possibly can, desperately wanting to be put out of misery but ill equipped to ever make that happen.
Last week, I hit a very low point.  My fiancee and I drove from Colorado to California for a wedding.  Half way into the drive we stayed at a motel.  She made a very strong effort before we retired for the night to find a good place to get some breakfast the next morning.  She spent an hour looking for places online.  She knows how picky I am when it comes to nutrition.  She found a place.  In the morning we went there and couldn't get in because of the wait.  I said we can eat wherever she wants to.  I was trying so hard not be  a pain in the ass.  I was trying to make her life easier.  I was bottling up my frustration and resigned myself to dealing with the situation, the reality that I would have to sacrifice and eat crap food.  Eating crappy food is not OK with me.  I will be tortured for days over what went into my body that I did not approve of.  But I was trying not to bring all of that shit to the forefront.
We ended up going to a Starbucks drivethru.  She got coffee and an egg sandwich.  I got nothing.  We had some almonds in the car.  I snacked on those.  As the ride continued she insisted I needed to get something to eat.  This turned into a fight.
And then I completely lost control.  Any restraint I possessed disappeared.  I just couldn't take hiding all of my craziness anymore.  All of the frustration I feel from battling and hiding my OCD and TS took over.  I cried hysterically for a long time.  I wanted to die.  I really wanted to just die.  I remember saying, "I just want to be normal.  I don't want to live like this anymore."  At that moment I absolutely felt that way.  I was so defeated by Tourettes and OCD.  I was against the ropes and getting the shit beaten out of me.  I was devoid of all my strength.  I cried and cried.  I hated that my fiancee knew about any of my bullshit.  I don't think she realizes how bad the OCD is.  I told her about the TS but never really went into how bad the OCD is.  I felt I was better off when she didn't have any inkling as to why I may be crazy.  It was better when my "craziness" seemed like a bi product of my intelligence or eccentricity.  But here we are.  She now knows where it all comes from.  In that car, at that moment I felt naked.  I couldn't look at her.  She was driving and I sat in the passenger seat sobbing into the window.  I craved death.  I wanted to no longer coexist with the demon in my body and brain.  He won't leave.  I felt like it was me who needed to go.  I haven't felt that broken by the demon in a long time.  I just ceased to care about anything.
I am alone now.  I flew back to Colorado and left her there, as was originally planned.  She has work to do out there.  She has our two dogs and I have the solitude of an empty house.  Honestly, I think I need this time away from the three of them.   I need some space.  I need some time to regain the strength I used to command in order to get me through this constant battle.  For that is what it is.  A battle.
If eating breakfast can draw so much conflict inside of me, imagine what other battles exist inside my brain on an hourly basis.  OCD pushed me close to my limit last week.  It brought me down.  And all the while, the tics were kicking me on the ground.  TS and OCD are in cahoots.  They work together.  Bullies.  When one pushes, the other pushes harder.
I am still here.  I am still fighting the good fight.  Waiting for the bell...

10/2/10

Stunt my growth

Facial Hair.
     I hate shaving.  I think most men do.  Some men go through their entire lives shaving every single day.  They never even let it grow out more than a few days on their vacations.  Some men never shave.
I subscribe to both approaches.  I go through lengthy periods of time when I shave every day and I also go through stages in which I don't shave at all.  As of late, I have been wearing a beard.  It is a trimmed, short beard but a bear nonetheless.
     I once grew my beard out for 6 months without so much as a trim.  People I knew for years didn't recognize me.  I liked that.  I felt like a different person.  I felt like I was wearing a permanent disguise.
Men get to indulge in the playful enjoyment of face grooming.  We can grow a mustache or a goatee.  We can grow a full beard or sideburns.  As much as we all hate shaving, it is something we must do in our society.  And a  lot of us do enjoy playing around with our facial hair options.
     When my father was post-op in the hospital, I convinced him to grow a beard; since it was hard for him to lift his weak arms to his face, let alone shave.  He hadn't worn a beard since the early seventies.  As long as I've known him he has shaved every day.  Maybe he'll let a day go by but never more than that.  In the hospital,  he let it go a few days, then went nuts and had to shave.  He wobbled over to the bathroom in his gown, using his walker and spent 3 razors shaving.  The man has a thick mane.  He couldn't take it.  It bothered him to have that growth on his face much in the same vain as it bothers me to feel the wool of a sweater on my arm skin.  Who knows if it is OCD or not but he could not have it.  He had to have it removed.  And much to his credit, he did just that.  He struggled past his post surgical limitations and made sure that beard left his face.
     I love growing beards.  I hate having the hair on my face as much as I relish in it growing there.  I obsess over it.  If I know I am growing a beard, I think about it all the time.  I lie awake in bed and imagine the little hairs flourishing.  I think about the crop the new day will bring when I awaken.
     And then I have a beard.  I have this bushel of hair on my face.  And once it is there, I lick.  I cannot help but to play with that hair.  I play with my tongue.  I put the mustache hair in my mouth. I am constantly working my tongue all over my beard, as far as it will reach.  It is an obsessive compulsion.  Then, I grab my bottom lip with my teeth, pull it into my mouth and grab a hold of the lower beard hair.  I suck it into my mouth.  I have to feel the individual hairs in my mouth.  If I can work one, single hair between my two front teeth...oooh, that's heaven.  Or hell.  I'm not sure.  I have to run the individual hairs through the gaps in my teeth.  I will do this over and over until it feels right.  And it never does.  I will use my hands to push the sides of my mustache into my mouth so that my tongue can grab it and feel it inside my mouth.  I am not satisfied until my tongue feels the individual hairs.
     Years ago, I had a very long goatee.  It was probably 5 or 6 inches off my chin.  I used to just grab that whole bushel of hair and shove it in my mouth.  It was such relief to have that chunk of hair in my mouth.  In fact, as I type this I long for that feeling.  It is frustrating the shit out of me to not be able to do that, being as my beard is not long enough.  All I can do is force the short "soul patch" beard hairs into my mouth in a repetitive attempt to get one between my top two front teeth.  This is what I am doing now.  Over and over.  Obsessively!
     I have often tried to get my father to grow his beard.  I think his beard would look pretty cool, considering it is most certainly all gray.  I took advantage of his sedentary state when he was hospitalized.  But that was not the first or last time I made the suggestion.  A comment he made once stays with me.  He said the reason he doesn't grow it anymore is because he ends up playing with it too much with his tongue.
     Wow.  Is that just something he does because it is there and so close to his tongue?  Maybe.  I think a lot of people with beards do that.  But do they obsess over it? Is it all they think about?  Do they lie awake in bed at night, thinking about all the hairs they will be able to stroke with their tongues the next day as I do?  Probably not.
     I still wonder if my dad did.  If he obsessed over his beard.  My father.  My flesh.  My blood.  His beard. The beard he refuses to grow because his tongue traveled its established design too much.  Who knows?  I am not about to ask.
My beard will continue on.  I shall grow it and shave it.  And I shall obsess over its growth and lack thereof.

9/24/10

"...Is sometimes what you need"

I don't cry often.  Almost never, in fact.  It's interesting when you think about how little adults cry.  I mean, we've all cried in our lives.  As babies, of course.  Then up through adolescence.  After puberty, a bit less.  A touch here and there in high school.  Maybe some in college.  Then, we become adults.  We stop crying.  Perhaps this is not the same story for most women.  I don't know.  Regardless adult women cry less than little girls do.  That has to be true.
I am sitting here trying to think of all the times I have cried in the last ten years.  Not too many times.  I cried after my grandmother died; not right away I might add.  It took me a few days.  I cried when my dog died.  I sobbed, to be honest.  I teared up during a recent fight my fiancee and I got into.
I probably cried five or six other times in the last decade.  I have my moments when depression overwhelms me.  I usually don't let it get to the point of tears but it can go there.
The night I told my fiancee about my TS, I cried in bed.
I also cried the next night when we were talking about my not wanting her to see my tics.  I felt so alone and not alone at the same time.  I wanted to curl up into a ball and just cry by myself.  But she didn't let that happen and I am glad for that.  I sobbed in her arms.  I couldn't control it.  I felt like I wanted to run and hide on an island of despair as I had so many times before.  But I couldn't.  I couldn't hide because she knows of my secret.  There was nowhere to hide.
This was a good feeling.  It is a good feeling to know that when I run away, looking for a place to hide someone is right behind me, making sure I am OK.  She gives me space, which I need.  But I know she is hanging back with worry in her heart.
The morning after I told her about this awful pain I've been hiding in my head for all these years, I caught her crying.  It is not an uncommon sight to see my fiancee cry.  Yet, this was different.  I opened the bathroom door to see her in tears.  I asked her what was wrong.  She said, "I hurt."
I thought she meant physically.  I thought maybe she had a bad headache or cramps or something.  She said, "I hurt in my heart."
She preceded to tell me how much it hurt her to not know about my pain and to not be able to help me.  The thing is she has helped me immensely over our courtship.  Just her being in my life makes it easier to deal with the demon.  And maybe now that she is aware of my pain, it will be even easier.  That remains to be seen.
I wish I could cry that easily, sometimes.  But I cannot.  It is not machismo that prevents the tears.  Maybe it is the strength I have built for myself over the years that keeps them at bay.  Whatever the reason...I seldom cry.  But I do know how good it can feel.

9/21/10

"...a warm safe place, where as a child I'd hide."

I am taking a Spanish class.  I haven't been in a classroom setting in 12 years.  I have class once a week for three hours.  I have been wanting to take a Spanish class for a while.  It finally worked out with my schedule so I jumped on it.  It's exciting.  It's a very different feeling taking a class at my age than it was when I went to college.  Even the classes I really liked back then didn't ever get me excited about attending them.  But I am excited to go to class, now.  That being said, I find myself in an uncomfortable situation.
I am back in school.  I sit at a desk in a room full of other people.  It has been a long time since I had to deal with TS in that setting.  It brings back memories.  The good 'ol days when I fought to suppress tics for hours at a time.  It brings back memories of taunting and bullying.  Classrooms are tough, even for an expert tic suppressor like myself.
The urge to belt out a big, fat vocal tic is incredible.  It still makes its way out there but in a much quieter fashion than it would like to have been heard.  I don't care as much as I used to about being noticed.  And in a room full of adults, most of them my age or thereabout, they probably don't give a shit what I am up to.  I am, however, aware of the eyes that may or may not be on me.  I can feel them looking, watching, observing.  So, no matter how comfortable I may be I still fear being caught.  I am always scared of "them" seeing me.
And as long as "they" are out there watching, I'll be hiding.  

9/9/10

"Even if things end up a bit too heavy..."

I find myself living within a new set of rules.  I catch myself hiding my tics when I know I don't need to.  And once caught I laugh at myself and let the tics fly (to an extent).  The vocal tics are a bit louder, now.  Before the confession, I would always be conscious of where she was in the house.  Is she in the next room?  How loud can I be right now?  Is she going to walk in on me while I am having an apparent conversation with the wall?
But things are different, now.  Although I don't want her to see any of it, there is no legitimate reason to hide it.  She already knows.  So, in baby steps I am letting go a bit.
The funny thing is I find I am more comfortable with my TS.  Everywhere.  Not just in the house.  I am less afraid to let strangers see it than I used to be.  Maybe it's because my fiancee knows about it and that is way more important than any stranger's observations.  I am not saying it is a ticcing free-for-all out there in the world but I have unconsciously let go of the reigns a tiny bit.  It is a new realm for me.  I am existing in a new frame of mind that will only evolve into something new.  We shall just have to wait and see where it takes us.  All of us.  I feel naive and late to the party.  My reluctance to "step out" for so long has put me in a box.  I was a child.  I shall rise above that, now.  I don't know how quickly or to where exactly I am rising but something new is happening.
I just hope I don't float away.

9/5/10

Guest Post: Tic's fiancee.

So, its been four and a half hours since I heard the news.  Since then, I've read all the blog posts and had a bit of an emotional break down because I tried to write a response comment to all of what I read.  As soon as I hit the button to publish, all was lost due to an error.  So, I will make an attempt to recapture all of what I had written there.

As I was listening to this confession (about 4 and 1/2 years overdue), I felt myself sinking into myself, looking out two little windows at him...  a little dizzy... "Am I really sitting here on this couch?"
What does this mean? What is this alternate identity I was unaware of? I said: "Are you sure you have it?" "Who told you that?" In a response to some of the comment posts: Either he is really THAT good at hiding it, or I am a total moron.  But who really does look at the one they love and think "Why does he do that?... Maybe I should google it."  Later I asked him if he googles any of the things that I do.

I know that he makes noises- Everyone does some little thing that comforts them....
I know that he smells books- I really think it's adorable. Hell, I've even done it cause he makes it look so enjoyable. I think I kind of like the smell of books, too. I think its cute; the way he thinks I'm cute when I lick jars, spoons, lids and any other surface with food dripping down it (why waste a perfectly good paper towel?).  I know that he clicks the mouse incessantly sometimes- I just honestly thought he was entertaining himself, the way he does when he repeats things he hears on the radio and tv.
I honestly don't mind any of it. Nor did I think it any more strange than some of the things other people do.

In conversation with a friend during my recent trip out of town, I was asked if I felt there was anything missing from my life. I realized, as I said it out-loud, that I DO have everything I need. That is because of the man I love. He works very hard to pay the bills (when I can't), he does the dishes every night (when I make a mess in the kitchen), he makes breakfast for me most mornings (when I am too lazy to get up earlier), and he pretty much sees to it that my life is easy. Who could ask for more? Hopefully, that it is not because of his tics that he feels he has to do these things.

No one ever wants to find out that the person they love is tormented daily by something that they cannot control.  The biggest problem I have with his TS is that I cannot carry any part of this burden that he bears... that I can't really do anything to stop it.
He apologized after telling me. I am the one who is sorry. Sorry for not being aware. Sorry that I thought nothing of it when he told me something "bothered" him. It is much easier to break my stupid little habits than for him to fight these overbearing urges. This is a new step into our life together.

I really am in shock a little...
There really is so much I don't know.
I blame it on the "love goggles" I've been wearing ever since the first weekend I spent with him. They have never come off since, and something like this has no chance of changing that. I have a wonderful man, who makes me happy. I only wish that someday I can make his life a little easier.
I really don't know if I believe it still. Guess I need time to process.
Thanks to everyone for all the support and kind words over the years. I wish I could have helped him too.
I love you, Tic.

Soon to be, Mrs. Tic

8/19/10

"Onward and upward."

I made a decision. I am going to tell my fiancee all about my TS. I actually made this decision quite a while ago. The opportune time has just not presented itself. She works days and I work nights. When we see each other one of us is usually too tired for that sort of a conversation. We haven't shared a day off together in a while. She is out of town and has been for almost three weeks. She will return on Sunday. And then we have a house guest coming into town for a few weeks on Monday night. I am not sure if it is a good idea to tell here before he gets here. Maybe it is too much to throw on her and then not have time to discuss it further considering we will be entertaining.
I figure I will tell her I have TS, explain what that really means and then let her read my blog. Honestly, I probably convey my struggle better in this blog than I could in a conversation.
I have reservations about telling her but then I realize it is silly to keep hiding it. We are getting married in a year. We bought a house together. We plan on spending the rest of this life with one another. I might as well let her in.
So, that's it. I have resigned myself to this decision. In a few days our relationship will be different. She will know more about me and I will change the way I act around her. She will be watching me with a different set of eyes. Everything will be different. Every time I make a noise she will wonder if that is the TS or not. Every time I tic I will wonder if she caught it. I can finally explain to her why I repeat the shit I hear on the radio or t.v.
What scares me is I am not sure how comfortable I can be around her with my TS. I know I will still hide it. It is not about her not knowing about it anymore. It is about me not wanting her to see my disease. I don't want to see it. I can't imagine she would want to see it, either.
Oh, well. Let's see how this goes...

2/15/10

Bus stopping

I was waiting for the bus. I had a "green" shopping bag filled with a bottle of vodka, bottle of coke and dog food. I placed it in the snow bank. As I waited for the bus I paced and strayed from the bag. But there was an undeniable connection to the bag. I then thought about someone in a similar situation who might have seen their approaching bus, boarded and shipped off. Easily this person could have left their bag of alcohol and dog food behind. But not me. I feel a connection. It's almost as if a string is tied to my arm and also to the bag. We are connected. There is no way I could see the bus approaching and board without an irresistible urge to drag my bag along. And if I did board said bus without my bag I would go crazy. I mean, I imagine myself getting on the bus; sitting down, watching the doors close and speeding off. I imagine myself very quickly decomposing. I don't know what would happen. I might lose it. I NEED that bag. I cannot leave it and if I did I would lose my shit. The need to have it with me and the fact that it cannot be would fuck me up. And to what extent that would happen I do not know because I would never let that happen. A touretter would not watch the bag disappear. It would never happen. That bag is mentally connected to me in a way that no "normal" can understand.

5/22/09

From whence we came...

It seems I am at the tail end of a rough patch.  The tics are calming down.  They were very bad a couple of weeks ago.  I didn't even notice that they got better but here we are.  So, I'll enjoy this period of relative calm.  And of course I will be back where I was once again, in the future.  That's just the way it works.  I'm 32 years old.  I think I've got this thing down, by now.
When we think of diseases, sicknesses, syndromes; often there is an end to them.  People get better.  People beat cancer.  People get over the flu.  I was watching this HBO series on Alzheimer's.  There was an interview with a child of about ten years old.  He said something like: "My grandfather will have Alzheimer's until...until...he'll always have it."  This kid knows what Alzheimer's is.  He knows it will never go away but for a moment we could see him still grasping onto the fantasy that it will.
I totally relate to that glitch in acknowledgement of the reality of disease with my TS.  I often experience similar moments in which I almost forget that TS is here to stay.  For a second or two I look forward to its end.  And then of course I snap out of it and view the situation from an adult point of view.  There are moments of doubt, disbelief and hope.  It's amazing that I can still feel this way, if for only a moment, this late in the game.
TS does go away.  It will leave me with my last breath.  I will have Tourette Syndrome for as long as I am alive.  Death is the only relief.  And what a bitter reality that is.  For it will take death, where cognition and lucidity are no longer extant, to rid me of the suffering I feel in life.  It is in death (the very absence of everything we need to experience pain) when the suffering will finally take a bow.

5/12/09

Click, click, click boom!

The mouse. Right and left click.
I cannot just click the left. I cannot just click the right. I Have to do both over and over... Over and over. Click right, click left. NO!
It's no joke!
I'm on the goddamn computer all the fucking time and I have my hand on that mouse...
You know what I am talking about. That mouse...
Hand on it.
Left button. Right button. I am just Waiting for a goddamn reason to click! A fuckin click! Goddamn right to fuckin left! Ohhhh, and it doesn't fuckin matter cause it's always left....
and the the floodgate's open.
I click back and forth. Left, right, left, right, left, right, left, right...... etc.... and it goes on. Have to grab that goddamn mouse and go on and on and on and on...
I cannot control it. I can't even view a page.
I have to cick!
I have to go lkeft, right, left, roght, left, rigfht, etc...
I have to!

"From fossil to fossil, Dust to dust, I'll see you all in the earthy crust."

My grandmother died today.  I feel the same as I did yesterday.  I mean it wasn't a surprise. Even so...
I live 2,000 miles away.  I visited a couple of weeks ago.  I saw her right before she died,  I knew when I left that it was the last time I would ever see her.  
My girlfriend left at 9 AM for Cali this morning.  After she left I logged onto my computer and my sister in law sent me an I.M.  She said : "Are you OK?  Are you coming in?"  I knew right then that my grandmother was dead.   I immediately called my mother and it was confirmed.  
So, here I am alone with this.  I am actually calm.  My TS has been at its worst lately.  But not now.  I am calm.  No sounds and no one to here them, regardless.  Apparently, the passing of a life does not stress me out.  It does the opposite.  I have been very stressed lately.  I lost my job and am not seeing a new one on the horizon. Yet...Grandma dies and I am more calm than I have been.  Maybe I am relieved.  I went to NY to visit .  I had a week off from work and I knew she was in bad shape so I visited.  The day I saw her in her apartment in Queens freaked me out.  She looked really bad.  The last time I saw her a few months before she was walking and talking and joking.
I stood outside her apartment building and her nurse pulled up with grandma in a wheelchair, head down and hair gray.  I had no idea she looked so bad.
The next day as I was driving in to Queens to see her, I called and the nurse told me she just called an ambulance.  The next three visits were in the hospital.  I said goodbye and left.
I am alone in my house.  I am not as sad as one would think.  I don't know how to be.  My tics were so bad this week.  I mean, to the point where I didn't give a fuck who heard them.  I was ticcing it up.  
My girlfriend and I had a friend over last week.  We were sitting on the couch, watching T.V. and said friend said to me: "Are you aware of the sounds you're making?"
My heart sank.
Fuck!  I thought I was being quiet.  Hell, I was trying hard to be so. OK.  So, she heard me.  Big deal.  I said, "Of course."  That drives me nuts.  I mean, if someone notices your tics; fine.  But to insinuate that you are unaware of the noises your are making for all to hear, including yourself, is insulting!  Yes! I know I am making noises.  Do you not think I can hear them, too?  I am closer to them than you are!
Gladly, it ended there.  I don't mean the vocal tics.  I mean the comments on them from the gallery.  
And as the week went on, the vocals got worse.  I was just letting them fly around my girlfriend. More so than ever before.  She says nothing, though.  She knows I am doing something.  I am not sure she knows what.  Maybe I should just tell her.  She should know.
And so that was last week.  I fly to NY tomorrow and the funeral is the next day.  I can almost guarantee my tics will be on full display.  We'll see.

11/29/08

Nothing a little Listerine can't cure.

I went to the dentist a few months ago.  The hygienist was cleaning my teeth and asked me if I knew that I grinded my teeth.  I told her, "I do now."  This was news to me.
When the dentist came out of his hole to do his exam, he said the same thing.  I told him I was unaware of this new discovery his team has stumbled upon.  Dr. Toothenberg said, "You may be doing it while you're sleeping."  Then as he glanced at my arms hanging out of my tank top he added, "You may be doing it when you're lifting weights and not realizing it."  These were both very good theories.  But I knew right away what the true cause was and is.
I don't grind my teeth in the conventional headgear requiring sense of the term.  I have a tic that involves my teeth.  Actually it's not just one tic.  It's a whole gang of them.  
So, when I got home from the dental fiasco I took a long look in the mirror.  It's amazing I hadn't noticed this before.   The dentist said I had done considerable damage to my teeth.  He told me I have already worn away quite a bit of the tooth and its enamel.  He suggested I be aware of the grinding and put an end to it.  Easier said than done, doc.   And the mirror that cannot lie clearly pointed out that my front teeth are a mess.  At a glance, they look fine but upon closeup, mirror-type  inspection it's all right there to see.
Basically years and years of tooth tics are ruining my teeth.  I go through phases, of course. Sometimes I don't bother with my teeth at all.  And sometimes I chop away at them.  Needless to say after that visit to the dentist chair the demon within decided it best that we choose a nice selection of teeth grinding tics to concentrate on for the next few days.  Man, I went at these teeth hard, too.  
I even invented a few new tics just for fun.  I attacked my teeth so badly in the next few days that I had trouble opening my mouth to talk or eat.  My jaw ached so badly.
Serves me right for going to the dentist.  I should know better.

10/30/08

"Please concoct me some pill I can take"

I have been very stressed, lately.  I have been looking for a job and have no money.  Not to mention my grandmother is in bad shape.  This has of course caused my tics to increase in intensity and frequency.  Some old favorites have come back.  I am riding a strong vocal tic wave, right now.  It's all saliva, throat and breathing stuff.  Not as many facial tics as usual.  But they'll be back.  
I might have found a job today.  This will cause my tics to calm down a bit.  But not, yet.  It doesn't work that way.  It doesn't just get shut off.  I have to wait for it.  It's as if I have a splitting headache and just took two Tylenol.  Now I am just waiting for the pills to kick in.
It's amazing how clear the connection between my stress levels and tic frequency is.  
But if it's not stress it's something else.  There are a million cause and effect scenarios I could list.  It doesn't really matter, I guess.  Knowing what caused this particular increase in intensity is not important.  It's not like once I figure it out I can stop.  
Stress is temporary.  TS is not.

6/28/08

"Another one bites the dust."

I saw George Carlin perform in Vegas a week before he died. I saw one of his last shows. I think he did three more after I saw him. The whole first half of his act was about death. In fact, his set was incredibly morbid. So much so, that it had me thinking about death the whole next week. The man was so well spoken when it came to his point of view. He really got me thinking. So, last Sunday I went to bed thinking about death. I got really bummed out. I was thinking about George's act and the things he said.
I awoke the next morning and reached for my phone to shut off that horrible buzzing sound it was making. After the alarm was disarmed, I read a text message from my mother telling me Carlin died. My parents saw the Carlin show with me, the week before.
Wow. After he sparked so much thought about my own mortality through joking about his; he kicked the bucket. It kind of freaked me out.
I always thought George carlin had a tic. He was a blinker. There was no doubt about that. He blinked on camera compulsively. Was it TS? I don't know. It could have been his contacts. Maybe he had minor TS and was unaware of it for his 71 years of life. Or maybe he knew. Or maybe it was something else. The point is I noticed it years ago.
When I saw him a week before he died, he did a TS joke. Fuck if I could remember the joke... All I know is it involved the words: Tourette Syndrome. It wasn't particularly funny. But it wasn't poking fun, either. It was a joke that used TS as a device to get to the punchline. I felt awkward beacuse my girlfriend was seated next to me and I never want any flags risen. I can see the light bulb going off over her head as if we were in a bugs bunny cartoon. "Tourettes? Hmmmm.... Eureka!" Other than that I let it slide.
There are lots of famous people who have TS. This must be true. There are too many of us out there and so many varying degrees of the syndrome for it not to be. I have suspected many people over the years of it as I watched them make money on my tv screen.
What if they all came clean? That would be something...

5/6/08

Speculation

The other day, my girlfriend was telling me about something that happened at work. She had an argument with a coworker about allergies. The interesting thing is how the argument started. The guy was sniffing repeatedly. She suggested to him that he may be allergic to something. He immediately got very defensive and said he was sure he was not. My girlfriend insisted that he may be and not know it. This is when they started arguing about whether we are born with our allergies or if they can develop over time. That's really what her story was about. What I got out of it was a very different one.
Now, I only received a second hand account of that conversation but I couldn't help thinking that this guy she works with may have TS. He's a "sniffer." That could be why he became so defensive and why he adamantly denied the possibility that he could be allergic to something. In my girlfriend's defense, she doesn't know much about TS. Even if she is aware of my affliction on some level, I'm pretty sure she has not assigned it the label Tourette Syndrome.
She was innocently trying to help this fellow. But if in fact he is a touretter, he knows all too well, that allergies are not his problem.
It was awkward hearing this story. I didn't say much about it. I let it go. I never like drawing any attention to anyone else's TS for it might turn the focus to me. But I wonder if my girlfriend is in the loop about what is really up with me; how that conversation with her coworker may have been different...

3/7/08

“I thought so hard I got a headache.”

I have a memory...I was about 13 or so. I could have been as old as 15. I had a major headache. It's the closest I can say I have ever been to a migraine. It may have even been one. I wouldn't know. My mother suffers form chronic migraines. Anyway, every once in a while my TS triggers some major headaches. The tics cause my head to hurt. The more my head aches, the more I tic. The more I tic the more it hurts and so on.
On that particular day, I let it get away from me. The headache became so intense that I no longer had any control over it. I became hysterical. I cried harder and harder. My parents didn't know what to do. It got to the point that I could not stop crying. If I stopped my head would hurt more. So, I continued to cry. The pain was so intense that I could do nothing else.
I am sure my parents gave me some Tylenol or something. I don't remember. I also don't remember how that night ended. I remember the worried countenances, though. I guess I fell asleep at some point.
I never told anyone what really caused the headache. I have never shared the cause of frequent headaches with anyone. I have headaches that last for several days. I am on day three, right now. I awake in the morning and as soon as my consciousness recognizes the headache is still there my facial tics go to work. They begin hammering away with assorted grimaces and twitches. Fear not, the demon will keep this headache going.
I often worry that one day I will develop migraines like my mother has. I can't even imagine what that will be like.
A debilitating headache instigated and prolonged by the sufferer, himself.

1/28/08

Caught inside

I think I am destroying my eye sight. I have this tic. I unfocus my eyes for a second or two. I am not even sure how I do it. I have looked in the mirror while doing it and I don't appear to be crossing my eyes or anything.

I have been doing this for years. I did it when I was a child. It was never leading the pack of tics, though. There are usually one or two tics that seem to take priority over the rest for a period of time. A few days, weeks or months. And for whatever reason a new tic or tics will take the lead when it is their turn.

My point, here is that this eye business has been my tic of choice lately. Not only does it give me headaches but I think it is ruining my vision. I feel like I need a new prescription for my contacts all of the sudden. This must be a direct result of this horrible tic. By the way, wearing contacts is a great way to excuse yourself in public when banging out some eye tics for all to see. "Are you OK?" "Oh yeah. It's just my contacts."

Once, when I was in college, this girl caught me in the middle of a series of eye tics. She said, "Do you wear contacts?" Half way through her sentence the inflection in her voice changed dramatically. This was probably just around the split second when she realized I could not be wearing contacts because my face was in fact bespectacled. This was before I ditched the glasses and switched to the more intimate version of vision correction I wear to this day.

I am unfocusing my eyes as I am typing this. This tic sucks. It really does. I hate them all; don't get me wrong. But within that madness I do have my favorites. And believe me, this is not on that list. I would much rather be making tight fists or jerking my jaw all over the place or tilting my head back as far as possible so as to feel that painful stretch on my throat. Ahh, what a feeling that painful stretch is. Good stuff.

I have always worried about long term effects of my many tics. Arthritis, dis alignment of my jaw, backaches, etc...

I saw a chiropractor once. He did an x-ray. He mad a comment about how the bottom of my spine looks crooked or weird or some such word that aroused curiosity in me when hearing it being used to describe my spine. But he got distracted by something else and then seemed to forget about it. Of course, I could have and should have reminded him but I chose to ignore it out of fear. As a kid I had some tics that wreaked havoc on my lower back. I have always feared they did some damage. And this "Dr." or rather a guy with and X-ray machine noticed something a little off. He confirmed my fears but I don't know to what degree. Yes, because I ignored it.

So, here I am. Perhaps right in the middle of a long term effect. It's a difficult position to word. When you are in the middle of something, I mean. It's after the anticipation of something and before the looking back at it. Right after the September 11 attacks during a conversation with a good friend of mine I expressed how weird I felt. And that I did not know how to describe the feeling. His reply made all the sense in the world. He said, "We're in history."

The sentence itself makes no sense. But it makes lots of sense, too. How can we be experiencing history in the present tense, right?

And, now I am in the middle of something that is happening to me. A result of my own self destructive nature. And my self destruction is beyond my control. Now, that sentence makes no sense! But, yet.

It makes perfect sense all the same. If you're a touretter, anyway.

1/11/08

"Sweet pain, don't you dare leave me alone."

Tourette Syndrome hits us when we're down. It fights dirty. Every time I get injured, which is often because I am a pretty active fella, the demon attacks the injury. I once separated my shoulder. This is very painful and takes lots of rest to heal. But the demon would not let that happen. I developed a new tic that involved moving the injured shoulder. This repeated action significantly delayed the healing process, not to mention hurt every time that particular tic was acted out.
Right now, my back is messed up. It's nothing major but it will need a day or two to heal. And of course, I immediately implemented a new tic that makes sure the injury will heal as slowly as possible. Some back arching nonsense.
But pain is all part of it. Many of my tics don't feel complete or right unless there is a bit of pain involved. I need the pain. And I am no fan of pain. Not in the least. I dislike pain very much. Unfortunately the demon knows this. And so Pain I must endure.

1/2/08

Dirty hands

I've been biting lately. Not other people but myself. Although, there was a short period of time in college in which I was biting other people but that's another story. I bite the back of my hand, right where the middle finger meets the rest of my hand on the top knuckle. I don't bite till it hurts. I just need to feel the skin in my mouth. Some times the urge is so intense it drives me mad.
It does so because due to my occupation, my hands get dirty at work all the time. So, I need to constantly clean them or I will be sticking my filthy hands in my mouth. So, now I have two urges fighting each other. There is the need to feel my rough skin in my mouth and the need to wash any bacteria off my hands. I want to put my hand in mouth very badly but due to the nature of my job I won't be able to get to a sink for a few minutes.
Sometimes I lose the battle. I cave. I shove my knuckle into my mouth before I get to clean it. I also stick my index finger's knuckle in my mouth. I bend it and shove the callused middle knuckle up against my gums. I push until it starts to hurt. Many times, also dirty.
Now, I have canker sores in my mouth. Oh well.

12/26/07

TOCSD

I have trouble remembering tics from when I was very young. I think they were there. I guess I remember them but I am having trouble putting a date to the memories. I do, however remember many examples of OCD from my very early years.
I have this one memory from kindergarten. I remember seeing this kid in my class who was wearing his father's watch. It was huge on his wrist. It wouldn't sit right on his little 5 yr old arm. The clock face would just slide down and end up on the wrong side of his wrist. I wanted to leap across the desk and fix it. I couldn't stand that the watch was upside down.
This is something that still bothers me. It always has. When I see people wearing their watches with the face on the inside of their wrist it drives me nuts. I want to grab it and flip it around. But I can't. I can't just go grabbing at people's wrists on subways and bank lines.
I remember when I was a teenager, I had some friends that would wear their watches this way. We were friends and comfortable enough with each other that I could "fix" their watches. And I would. I did it all the time. It got to the point that one friend would turn her watch around on her wrist whenever she saw me coming. I would see her doing it as we approached one another.
Wow. What a feeling. The feeling of elation I get from something as ridiculous as another person adjusting the way they wear their watch to the way I liked it to be worn is otherworldly.
While we're on the subject, when I was a child I could not stand when a girl's hair would fall down in front of her shoulders. Ya know, when just some of it is in front and some in back. It "had to" be back behind her shoulders. I couldn't stand looking at a girl or an adult for that matter and see her hair not behind her shoulders and down along her back. It drove me nuts and this was another one of those situations wherein I could not just go around flicking stranger's hair behind their shoulders.
Come to think of it. This went on during my college years, too. I remember being with a girlfriend of mine and always putting her hair behind her. Oh and another thing. Their hair has to be behind their ears. I hate when it just hangs down in front of their ears. I still tuck my girlfriend's hair behind her ears all the time.
So, back to OCD in my youth. I can remember when I was in elementary school...I would find myself spinning around. See, if I turned to my left for example, I could not keep going to the left in order to face front again. I would have to go back the way I came. And if I did make a full turn in one direction, I would then turn back the other way to correct it. I always imagined I had wires attached to me. And I would be untangling them by spinning back the other way. I was a spinning fool, as a child. It got so bad that I sometimes could barely function unless I twirled around this way and that way for minutes at a time. I never told anyone about the wires attached to me. Not until just now have I ever really let that out of my head.
Today, I am obsessed with flips. I have to flip. I can do a standing back flip and have done flips on skis and off of ocean cliffs and diving boards. There's something about completing the rotation that needs to be done. It's almost like untangling the wires. It needs to be a complete rotation.
I don't just flip myself. I flip everything that is in my hands. I flip glass bottles in stores before I purchase them. I flip wine bottles and snapple bottles. I flip my cell phone all the time. I used to have this job which required me to have a walkie-talkie on me at all times. I would obsessively flip it. Over and over again.
The list goes on and on. I have severe OCD. And yet, I am way more concerned with my TS. As a child, I did not know I had OCD. I did not know I had TS, either. I diagnosed myself with TS when I was about 12 or so. Maybe earlier. I always thought of my obsessions and compulsions as a part of my TS. It was when I got older and everyone and their mother suddenly had OCD and it was ok to have OCD, that I realized I indeed have OCD. But to me my OCD will always be my TS. They are one and the same. I do not believe you can have TS without having OCD.
Some people make that argument and I believe they are naive. TS is an extension of OCD. It is merely a rare symptom of OCD. Much like copralalia is a rare symptom of TS. Not all people with OCD have TS. And not all people with TS have copralalia.
But it is my strong belief that all touretters have OCD.
Deal with it.

12/22/07

It neeeeeds to feeeeeeeeeeel right.

What makes a tic "feel right?" When is it ok to move on? There really are no set of rules on this. Sometimes I will do something over and over until it feels right. But then it felt so right that I have to recreate that perfect tic and so I start the cycle all over again until it "feels right" again.
Yesterday, I found myself saying something I was thinking out loud, repeatedly. I started to analyze the process. It's the way the words feel when they pass through my mouth that needs to be done just right. The way my mouth feels when I say the letter L, for example. The way my tongue feels as it catches the spot where my teeth meet the roof of my mouth. Sometimes I hold that L for a time extended past the appropriate accepted length. No one notices. It's a split second. But I am savoring the feeling of my tongue pushing hard against that tiny space between the back of my front teeth and the roof of my mouth. I press hard.
Sometimes if it didn't feel hard enough I will reach into my mouth and stab the spot with my fingernail to emphasise the feeling that is still lingering in that spot from the recent L that has just been uttered. I also sometimes stick my knuckle, because it is calloused and hard, in my mouth, into that spot for the same reason.
When I hear a breathy sound, like that of an AH or OH exit my mouth, it needs to pass through my mouth hard. I need to feel the sound push through my lungs, throat, mouth and lips. And after I speak these sounds they need to be repeated. They need to be said again with much more care than when they were spoken in mere conversation. Upon repetition there will be careful attention payed to the way they feel as they exit my body and enter the world.
W. This is an interesting sound, too. That fucking W does some funky shit to my lips. They have to be pursed just right when I repeat this sound. The top lip has to be nice and wrinkled up and pushing it self out hard. I have to "feel it." Over and over and over again. And I may be caught making a bonobo-esque face, uttering hard and concentrated W sounds. Then those W sounds evolve into some other throaty sound that is a whole other vocal tic, altogether. And suddenly I am onto a series of vocal tics that had nothing to with said W in the first place. But don't worry, I will get back to the W. Once I am done here, I will return to my prior engagement. No tic will be left behind.
I will get to you all, my dears. I can promise that. There are so many sounds to repeat. Don't even get me started on the S sound. You don't want to hear that one. Not unless you like hearing me whistle in a really high pitch.

12/14/07

Quit it.

I am extremely obsessive. I know, this is no shocker. I have Tourettes. And where goes Tourettes follows Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I am often heard saying that I have an addictive personality. And to accompany that statement you will hear that I have tremendous will power. And this is, somewhat, true. But that seems like such a moronic way to explain obsessiveness. I latch on to things. I was a total pot head at one time. I was also a raging alcoholic. I go to the gym every single day. I am a huge skier, so much so that I quit my well paying job and left the city of my birth to ski the Rockies full time.
I quit smoking pot. Just stopped one day. I used to smoke 7 times a day, every day. One day I decided not to do it anymore and I stopped. I did the same thing with drinking. And I was drinking 7 days a week. I just quit. That lasted 5 years. But I have never returned to the drunk lifestyle I once led. I never smoke pot anymore, either. This is the will power.
The truth is I do not have an "addictive personality" or amazing "will power." I have Tourettes Syndrome. It annoys me when people say, "you're obsessed with the gym" or "you're obsessed with skiing" or "I don't have the will power you have." These obsessions take hold of me. I cannot rest. I think about them constantly. And when it is set in my head how things are gonna be, then that's how it's gonna be. When I decided to quit smoking pot; I did. It is not an amazing display of will power. I will just mentally fall apart if I go against what the demon has decided I do. If I do not eat right or work out I will feel "off." And in OCD or TS terms that is not a good thing to feel. It will only result in much trouble for me.
The point is I have to keep myself in line or else I will pay for it. I will pay either in tic form or an indescribable feeling I am sure other touretters can relate to.
I wish I could skip a day at the gym. I wish I could feel comfortable or at rest without meeting my skiing quota. I wish I could but I can only do this when I am told to do so by the demon that lives within.
It is true I am easily addicted to things. And it is true I can easily quit them. But it is a constant struggle within my physical being that I dare not try to explain to those around me. It is simply interpreted as strength.
Maybe one day I will actually be the strong person I am thought to be and thus tell of how much a weakness my apparent strength truly is.

12/9/07

"All the live long day."

I have a new job. I am the new guy. No one knows my story. No one knows I have TS. The vocal tics have been bad at times but I am an expert at hiding them. And the nature of my work environment makes it easy for others not to notice.
I was thinking about what I would say if someone called me on the sounds I was making. The funny thing is that after all these years I don't have a bullshit answer. I mean I should have some answer I can throw at people. "Clearing my throat" or something. But I have nothing. I laughed out loud at the thought. I have no answers.
When people have said something in the past I either ignored them or shrugged my shoulders, saying, "I dunno." Once, in college, this guy who was sitting next to me in class asked me why I was making all those noises. I said, "what, you don't make noises?" Playing it off as if it were normal activity to be taking part in during English Lit 101. That stumped him. "Ask me questions, will ya?"
I am sure he just thought I was weird. Which is not incorrect. I am weird. Weird people do things like make frog noises in class and a face like they just bit into the world's largest lemon while in line at the bank. Yet, there is no frog. And I sure as shit ain't holding any lemon. Yeah, that's what weirdos do.
OK, so I am weird. What am I gonna say? "No, I am not weird. I have Tourette's Syndrome." That's fucking weird. People who go around telling strangers in supermarkets about their syndromes are weird.
So, to sum up. New job. New people. No one knows how weird I am, yet.

11/27/07

"I can run like the wind blows."

I started running when I was about 7. It was the 80's and my parents were big into running back then. So, I started running with my dad. I guess I was pretty good at it. I entered races and placed in my age group. It was the only sport I was good at as a child. I ran until I was about 14 because I injured myself while running cross country track in high school. So, I just stopped. I started running again when I was about 25. Been runnning ever since. And I do love to run.
It is really one of the few times in my day I can get out there and be by myself. It's just me and my thoughts out there trudging along. Away from my girlfriend, away from work, away from my money problems.
Usually when I run, I don't tic so much. When I get in a groove and am lost in thought I forget I have TS. Sometimes my thoughts make their way over to that fact and I do start to tic. It mixes in with my breathing. The vocal tics do, anyway. But no one is there to hear it. And if they do it's either lost in the Doppler effect or in the blurry sound of a passing runner's heavy breathing. Once I start ticcing, though I tend to get loud with it. Mostly because I know no one will hear it or notice it. It's kind of like when I am alone in a room.
But when I am running it intensifies because all of my thoughts are intensified. I am thinking hard thoughts; pumping blood through my heated, adrenalin ridden muscles. It's just an intense feeling to begin with. Mix that with TS, and escapist thoughts and you've got a ticensified 40 minutes of alone time.
I do enjoy the lengthy periods of running time that are not overwhelmed by my tics. The exercise frees me from them in a way. That is until I realize I haven't been ticcing and the demon takes hold of my brain. "Woah, easy guy. You thought you had me tricked. Not so fast, track star." And the tics resume. The battle continues.
I can run all I want. I'll never be able to get away.

11/18/07

Talking to myself

It often appears that I am talking to myself. I don't think I get caught doing it all that much, though. The thing is I am not having a conversation with voices in my head or even with myself aloud. I am repeating things I have heard, said or thought. Phrases, words and thoughts just get stuck. It's like when a needle gets stuck on a record. It keeps skipping over and over, playing that same lyric until someone taps the needle head and the song continues on its course.
This goes on in my head all day long. And usually it stays right there, inside my head. But sometimes it makes it to my lips. And it's not just words. It's the facial expressions that go along with the words. And then these expressions become more and more exaggerated as the repetition goes on.
I figured out a trick the other day while in my car. I was driving alone and pulled up to a red light. I was yapping away. The driver in the next car looked over, seemed disinterested and looked away. I realized I was holding my cell phone in my hand not far from my head. The indifferent driver must have thought I was using the speakerphone. Brilliant. So, now I am driving all over the place, repeating all sorts of shit with my trusty cell phone near by. This can work on the street, too.
Hell, all I need to do is pop my bluetooth earpiece into my ear and none will be the wiser.

11/9/07

"Something's got to give."

I was on the edge of the Grand Canyon. It's pretty cool. You can just walk all the way out to the edge. I walked away from the crowds and found this cool pillar of stone that was somewhat separate from the rest of the rock. It didn't look like you could get to it but I investigated and did.
So, I sat out there on the edge of the canyon by myself for a long time. I had my legs dangling over the edge. It's a great feeling. It shows you how close to death we all are. I don't mean close to death as in it's easy to die at any time. I mean close as in it's right there. Right there next to you. When you're driving 80 miles an hour on a highway and just ten feet to your right is a deep trench. If you swerved into it you would most likely die. It's right there. It's so close. And that is the feeling I got with my legs draped over the edge of the nation's largest canyon. I thought about a lot of things while I sat there.
I went back at night. There was not a soul there. The canyon was blank. Total darkness. My headlamp would illuminate the rock but beyond that was a dark abyss. I climbed back out to my perch and sat there. And death was right there next to me, just minding its own business. And then came the urge.

Tourettes is all about urges. That's really all it is. An enormous amount of irresistible urges. I don't want to die. In fact I am so scared of death that sometimes I think that fear will drive me mad. It wasn't an urge to commit suicide. But it was an urge to jump. TS doesn't create this urge in me because I want to die. If my heart hadn't beaten so quickly while on that edge the urge may never have presented itself. Basically, TS is your own brain telling you to do something you know you are not supposed to do. It's why we yell curse words out loud. It's unacceptable behavior.
So, there I was on the edge of one of the most impressive examples of natural beauty in the world. And I wanted to jump. I wasn't going to do it. Deep down I knew I wouldn't. But that urge to jump was so intense that I cannot accurately put it into words. The demon that lives symbiotically inside my brain knows I am scared of death. That is the reason it gave me the powerful urge to jump to my death. All it would have taken was a step. Just a step.
I wasn't scared that I would do it. I thought it was funny. Here I am standing beside the edge of darkness and something inside me can't resist the temptation of pushing me to my limit.
And obviously I didn't jump. I was able to resist that urge. Yet, I cannot resist the urge to arch my back for no reason or tilt my head back, stretching my neck until it hurts or a million other itches I scratch on a daily basis.
Maybe if every tic resulted in death we would all be cured.

10/29/07

Maybe I am just insane.

I'm in Arizona. I am visiting a friend. In the last hour or so my TS has gotten really bad. I am not sure why. It's annoying. I am sitting in a computer lab at the school he attends. People are probably looking at me. I have my headphones on. I am ticcing vocally - extra loud. When I wear headphones that happens because I need to hear it. If I don't hear it, it doesn't count. Sometimes just feeling the vibration in my throat is enough. It's funny. If I could trade in all my motor tics for just vocal tics I would totally do it. I like my vocal tics for the most part. I mean I hate all of it but sometimes the vocals comfort me. It's almost like they're my buddies. Wow, that is nuts.
I am not denying that I might be nuts. Whenever I think I may be crazy I shoot that idea down because I know it's just the TS that makes me seem crazy. But then I think that maybe I am crazy because the TS has made me into someone that I wouldn't otherwise be. A crazy person. I have become this way because of my dealing with TS. I am not like other people. I have to go through different channels to function in the same world they do.
You ever notice in movies that take place in insane asylums, the nuts are always ticcing? People tend to associate ticcing with being crazy. Now, we can chalk that up to ignorance but there may be some validity to it. Maybe all of us touretters really are fucking nuts. That's why we're penned up in nut houses. Ticcing ourselves to death.

10/25/07

"You'd give everything you had if you could be over there."

Ok. I'm in Cortez, CO. I am sitting in my car. I set up my tent and am going to sleep soon. I have been staying off the interstates. The trip is so much more enjoyable that way. I was in a shitty mood all day today. As soon as I got on the road this morning I called my girlfriend. She started crying and yelling at me for who knows what. I hung up on her. So, the whole day I was just bummed out. And I was driving through some beautiful examples of our country's incredible landscape. It was hard to enjoy it because of my lousy mood.
I barely notice my tics anymore. I guess because I am spending so much time by myself I am not thinking about it. I am not worried about who hears me or sees me. It's sort of like picking your nose. When no one is around you just get right in there.
But today I noticed I was ticcing it up. I had a regular symphony of vocal tics going. As loud as I fucking wanted. No one but the engine could hear me. I am sure it was because I was stressed out. Either I was ticcing more or was just more aware of them. It doesn't really matter.
I think I have been ticcing less lately, though. This trip is good for me. I have no job, no plans, no stress for the most part. I'm just taking it easy. I am headed to the Grand Canyon in a couple of days. I have never been. Tomorrow I am going to cruise through the four corners. Never been there, either. Big deal.
I have been to a lot of places. I am fairly well traveled by most people's standards. I've been to almost all 50 states. 46 down, 4 to go. I have been to a whole bunch of other countries. I have traveled to sketchy places with almost no money and no plans. Sometimes I fly to foreign lands on a whim. Why not? I wonder why that is. I mean I do love to travel. But it's more than that. I can never settle. I never want to stay put. It's sort of a bigger picture of my everyday actions. I can't sit still. Always twitching. Never comfortable. I guess that's why I live the way I do. I never live in the same place for more than a few years. I am always migrating. I am always picking up and going.
Maybe if I didn't have TS I would be more apt to stay put and lead a "normal" life. Maybe I am running from myself. Maybe I feel like if I stay in one place and live like everyone else it would be more obvious to them how different I really am. I would stand out more. No one can see how strange I am under the guise of an outlandish lifestyle. I am the pick up and go traveler. I am the guy who goes all the places and does all the things everyone says they wish they could.
But I wish I could be the guy who doesn't have to keep moving. I want to stay put. I want to feel like I have something to lose. I want to envy people like me.

10/20/07

"Hope can always go up. Tears can only come down."

I am in Denver. I used to live in Colorado. I miss it here. I have seen many old friends. The long drive yesterday was a good one. I realized something.
Ever since I started this blog and started talking about my TS online I am getting more comfortable with it. I am not constantly trying to hide it. I mean I am but not as much I used to. I think it is a step in a very important direction for me. I have been hiding from my TS for so long. And I have been hiding it from the world.
I am not saying I want to tell everyone I know that I have TS. But I am thinking less about who is noticing and how and when I should hide my tics. It still sucks. I mean I am still ticcing, regardless of how comfy I am. I am just fighting the urges less.
I wonder if in the future I will not hide it at all. I wonder if I will just let it go. That may be what my life will be like one day. I can't imagine it. And it doesn't necessarily sound so great. Having people stare and feel uncomfortable around you is not always a welcoming situation.
But who knows. That just may be the way we all end up, eventually. Apathetically going about our days.

10/15/07

45 states down, 5 to go

I am in Texas. The TS is pretty bad. I still have a headache. I was going to stop near Houston and camp. But it is raining terribly here. I am going to push on to Austin. I have some friends there. I have been doing a lot of thinking about my life during this trip. Many hours alone in a car will do that to you. I always wanted to do something important with my life. I always assumed I would when I was younger. As I got older I stopped thinking that way. And then I thought about writing about TS. Maybe I can help other people. I can help others deal with their TS by sharing the knowledge I have gained from fighting mine.
But I don't want to be known as a touretter who made something of himself. And I feel like that is always how it will be. Can't I just be me? Ha. yes, I guess I can. And me has TS. I am tourettes. Hear me roar, you normal bastards.
Ok, back to the car. I have some driving to do.

10/14/07

On my own

I am sitting in my car in New Orleans. I just finished walking around Bourbon street. I have been driving all day. My TS is pretty bad. I have a headache. I am tired and irritated. I have this vocal tic I do with my saliva in the back of my throat. I am doing it like crazy, right now. I can't stop. It gave me this headache. It's enough already! Can't I ever get a fuckin break? I feel lonely and annoyed. Sometimes this life is hard enough. I hate TS. No one to turn to.

10/11/07

"Time to move on. Time to get going. What lies ahead, I have no way of knowng."

I am about to set out on a drive across the country. I am in Florida right now. I will be visiting a friend in Orlando for a couple of days and then I am headed west. I am moving to California. I am moving in with my girlfriend. Our long distance relationship has evolved. Everything I own is in my car. I will be spending a lot of time by myself for the next few days. And I am totally looking forward to it.
I was thinking about this today. It's the time we spend by ourselves that let's us truly get to know what makes our brains work. And as a touretter, the way my brain works is a tricky subject.
When on my own, I am able to enjoy my TS in a way I usually don't. When I am lost in my own thoughts with no one to bother me I find my tics amusing. Normally the echolalia drives me crazy. But when I step outside myself I can truly enjoy it. I find it interesting to observe myself repeating things and mimicking gestures. It's funny to see which sentences stand out. Why are some more appealing to my tourettes than others? What makes the demon want me to repeat certain things I hear or see or even think? I repeat shit I think to myself. Over and over. Sometimes my thoughts strike me as something I need to repeat. The point is it can be funny enough to make me laugh aloud.
And it can be sad. Sad because I am the only one in on the joke. No one else gets it. No one else knows why am laughing and trying to explain it would be futile. And sad because the joke is not funny at all. The humor I find in it comes from my defenses protecting me from how scary TS really is. But we all need to build up our walls somehow. Otherwise it would get the better of us. And fuck that. No syndrome is going to take me alive.
So, I am looking forward to this long drive by myself. I will be driving and camping all over this USA and hopefully meeting some interesting characters along the way. Or not.
Maybe I'll be the interesting character.

10/8/07

Good for you. Good for me.

So, I just spent two weeks with my girlfriend. Once, when I was thwacking away at the keyboard of my computer, she said: "why do you do that?" She wanted to know why I make those faces when I am in front of my computer. And then she proceeded to attempt the very faces in question. She did a pretty decent job, actually. What she doesn't realize is that it's not that I make these faces when I am in front of my computer. It's just that I forget she might be watching me when I am all wrapped up in whatever it is I am doing in front of the screen. And when I think no one is watching...
Once, when we were in the back seat of my parents' car I was staring out the window lost in my own thoughts in the midst of a vocal tic parade, she put her hand on my arm and said: "stop it." She looked at me with absolute concern and compassion and uttered those two words. I smiled and looked away.
People have asked me how it is she does not know I have TS. How can my girlfriend not know? Of course, she knows. She knows I make funny faces and funny noises. She knows I avoid telling her why. She doesn't know it is tourettes that makes me do it. And she doesn't know how much more often I tic than she gets to witness. It's not that big of a deal. It's not like I am hiding in dark alleys to tic. There is plenty more to my life than the tics. She knows lots about me, already. Must I bare all to her? Must every relationship be based on full disclosure? Is there no entry level information sharing program we can partake in? Isn't that what relationships are all about? We will get to know each other in due time. I am not going to force it because some people in the TS community believe it is our duty to inform the world of our condition.
Maybe it gives their lives purpose. Good for them. My purpose is to live my life as best I can without going crazy or hurting anyone else in the process. And if I help some people understand TS better than good for me.

9/23/07

And now, our feature presentation

Movies. I love them. I was a huge film buff as a kid. I still am to some degree. The problem with movies for me is the ticcing. I don't know why but my tics increase big time when I am watching a movie. The same is true for TV. It's gotten to the point that I will not go to the movie theater with anyone. I do go to the theater but always by myself. When people question this, I just say I like to go by myself, which is absolutely true, but still I am not against going with others. I am against ticcing like a mad man and having people I know catch me.
I went to see the movie, Maze by myself. It was the middle of the day on a weekday. There were maybe 5 people in the theater. The combination of watching a movie and watching a movie with tics in it forced my ticcing into overdrive. I was ticcing loudly, too. But you know what? I was thinking, here I am in a theater watching a movie about TS. How can anyone in this theater look at me and not understand? I am just like the guy you are watching on that screen. That's me! Deal with it! But no one said anything.
My girlfriend always wants to watch movies with me. She wants to sit on the couch and watch a movie with me, like normal couples do. But I told her I don't watch movies with people. Ha. that sounds insane. I tell her that it makes no sense. You can't talk during the movie. It's not interactive. Why should we both spend those 2 hours watching a movie together when we could be doing more productive things with our time together? Movies can be watched by yourself. When we are together we should be spending time talking or doing something together.
Anyway, that is what I tell her. And I do believe that to some extent. I mean, we should be valuing our time together. But sometimes I am tired and do just want to watch a movie with her. I know how badly I will tic and so I don't. And the reason I give her is the one I have already laid out for her. "I don't watch movies with people."
I wonder why I tic so much when I watch TV or movies. It's the same when I play video games. It's actually much worse when I play video games. I have read a lot of information about touretters' tics subsiding while playing video games. Not for me. They get much worse. I guess for kids it is about focusing on the task at hand.
Maybe as an adult video games seem less like a task and more like recreation. I do miss them, though. Hell, I grew up on Nintendo. There are plenty more constructive things I can be doing with my time.
It's funny. I love film. And, although I almost completely stopped watching television, I did grow up on it and did love it at one time. And I certainly loved playing Nintendo, Commodore 64 and Sega Genesis. What's funny is that it is at these times when TS gets the best of me. It's like the demon sees I am enjoying myself too much and makes sure to put a stop to it. Oh, well. I will just stick to reading, I guess.
My girlfriend is coming into town tonight. We will be spending the next two weeks together. I doubt I will be writing during that time. She doesn't know I have TS, let alone that I write about it for all to see.
Maybe, we will watch a movie when she gets here.

9/20/07

"Maybe just happy"

Nirvana has a song on their album In Utero called "Tourette's."
I was a big Nirvana fan in high school. I remember the day the album came out. I rushed it home from the record store, tore off the plastic, popped the CD in and listened. I liked to read the liner notes along with the music when I was hearing a new album.
Serve the Servants, Track 1, was playing and I started skimming through the titles of the songs in the liner notes. There it was. That word. What's it doing here? Why was it in Nirvana's world? Was I seeing things? No. There it was!
Tourettes. My heart skipped a beat. Was I about to find out that Kurt Cobain had TS? Can he relate to my situation? This man whose songs I idolize? No way. But there it was. It said, "Tourette's."
OK, take a deep breath. I begin to read the lyrics. Now, Kurt Cobain was not known for writing the clearest of songs. His lyrics usually took many listenings to grasp the meaning within. And this song apparently was no exception. Here they are:

moderate rock...Moderate Rock
May day, every day, my day
Could've had a heart attack,

my heart We don't know anything,
my heart We all want something fair,
my heart

Hey(5x)

Out of town, out of sight,
is my heart Queen of lies,
today, my heart One more on the phone,
my heart One more at the door of my heart

Hey(5x)

Mean heart Cold heart(7x)

Yeah... Uhh....

What the fuck? Not only was I disappointed but confused. Does he have TS? Does he know someone with TS? Does this song have anything to do with TS? Why is it called Tourette's?
Maybe Cobain did have TS. Maybe he knew someone who did. Maybe that song is about TS. I don't know. Those lyrics don't relate to the TS that I have.
That plagued me for years. Every time I heard the song it made me angry. And if you know the song, TS or not, it seems designed to do just that. So, I started to think that maybe that was his point. The way that song sounded was the way I feel inside when I come face to face with the reality that I know I cannot escape from. I have no control.
Maybe Cobain was bridging his experiences with that of a touretter. But how would he know anything about TS if he didn't have it? Cobain suffered. He was a depressed, drug addicted, tortured man who was physically ill with some sort of stomach deal. He had no control of his life. He was a rich and famous rock star. But he was miserable. He felt trapped.
Now, that I can relate to. I feel trapped all the time. And when I hear that angry song called Tourette's it speaks volumes to me. I know what that feels like. I know. I am angry. I am trapped. I want to yell and scream just like Cobain does in that song.
I will probably never know why Cobain wrote that song. I probably do know the pain he felt when he wrote it, though.

9/18/07

Digging to China

I'm sitting here trying to watch a video on my computer. And the whole time I am obsessively plucking my chest hairs out with tweezers. And some of them I can't get to. And it is driving me nuts. I get so angry. So frustrated.
These are compulsions that need to be dealt with and I can't do it. I put the tweezers down and angrily started typing this. Ok. I am calmer, now.
I have memories of being very young and lying in my parents' bed. I used to try and pluck my father's few grey chest hairs out. Obviously as soon as I did it he would get very angry, yell at me, etc... And I would have to stare at them, begging to be plucked but there was nothing I could do about it. So, eventually, I would go back for more. When he calmed down and forgot about it I would pluck again. It's a good thing for him, he is all grey, now. No need to clean up the strays.
I did this with people's hair, too. If I saw one stray hair sticking up, I had to pluck it. I did it to my brothers. I did it to students sitting in front of me in class. Ya know what? Come to think of it, I still do that to my girlfriend sometimes. She gets livid when I do. Ha. She probably just thinks I'm weird. And this is true.
Sometimes I work at plucking a hair out of my arm or chest for so long that I dig and dig until it is bleeding. I used to use my teeth in class in high school. I remember my best friend, after class asked me why I was eating my arm.
But I get them out eventually. And then I am ok until I see they grew back. The little bastards. Always growing back. Maybe one day I will lose interest.
I used to bite my nails obsessively. I don't do that anymore at all. And I stopped cracking my knuckles. The truth is I haven't stopped a damn thing. I just replace one tic with another.
I stopped biting my nails because it didn't make my fingers look so hot. I stopped cracking my knuckles, neck, back, etc because it can't be good for me. Ya know, shaking my head and slapping myself can't be good for me either. Bound to cause some injury. Why the fuck can't I stop that? Can't I replace those tics with something else?
I will. New tics come, old tics go. And the veteran tics either stick around forever or just make cameo appearances every once in a while.
OK. I've got plucking to do.