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From my blog: “ACCENT” at www.nijolels.wordpress.com

 

I find it frustrating to read statements like, “Nervous tics are often noticed in children, but they commonly disappear within a few months or years.”, or “Well, at least it won’t kill you.”…as I’ve heard from more than one doctor. But, on the other hand, it is uplifting to hear and read that the disorder does not adversely affect intelligence or life-expectancy.

At 50-something years old, I still experience the symptoms of Tourette’s Syndrome , such as intense , rapid blinking of the eyes, twitching of the shoulders , neck, toes and fingers, and tensing up the stomach muscles. These symptoms began when I was in my early years of grade school. As for the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder…It used to involve checking and re-checking the locks on all the doors in the house before going to bed. This particular action is not as prominent in my life as it was when I was a child. Now in my “old(er) age” it’s more a matter of general anxiety and intrusive, repetitive thoughts about possible danger.

I remember having these “issues” from the time I was around 7 years old…mostly blinking intensely and continuously. I don’t remember ever being teased about it in school or elsewhere, but I could tell that people noticed. In those days, no one spoke about it as a known “syndrome”. It was simply referred to as a “nervous tic”. I remember my father asking me from time to time, when he would notice my blinking, “What’s the matter Honey? Are you worried about something? Relax! Everything’s fine!” My response was usually a heavy sigh and telling him simply,” I know Dad!” followed by the frustrating feeling that I just “can’t help it”. I’m grateful to my parents for their calm concern throughout my life.

I deeply sympathize with people who have these afflictions in a stronger and more frequent form and consequently feel much more discomfort, both physical and emotional. I know that it feels like you’re uncomfortable in your own skin and your body’s response is to try to relieve this discomfort…often in the form of involuntary muscular movements. Some feel that all they can do is waiting for it to pass, which reminds me of a saying: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…. It’s learning how to dance in the rain.” My particular “storm” has never passed completely, so I’ve had many opportunities to find ways of “dancing” through the various episodes of TS and OCD.

I only started reading about this behavior and hearing about the subject in my adult years. Nowadays it’s wonderful to have the media paying attention to and informing the general public about this and other neuropsychiatric disorders. From time to time I go to the website of “The National Tourette Syndrome Association” and its Facebook page for updates on meetings and conferences, as well as fundraising projects for children, teens and adults.

More information can be found at:

http://www.tsa-usa.org

Maybe because I was so used to the symptoms when I was younger, I never looked for information about TS or OCD. I remember being diagnosed for the first time as having “generalized anxiety” around 20 years ago, when I felt desperate to get relief from excessive worry and nervousness. It was literally making me sick. (Isn’t that so typical…seeking help when you’ve reached a “breaking point”!?)

Besides visits to psychiatrists and psychologists or certified counselors, I have sought and found effective relief from stress and anxiety through books, seminars and webinars as well as through certain types of music that I listen to day and night. Soft music often does the trick. (I generally feel that music is one of life’s miracles, and I thank God for it.) I also seem to forget the tension and tics when I’m involved in group activities, such as singing or dancing. (There’s that “dancing” again! :o))

Having Tourette Syndrome and/or OCD is no fun, but I agree with the advice: “When life gives you lemons… Make lemonade!
  • On November 14, 2012, my beautiful son, who suffered from depression, OCD, and substance abuse, took his life.  In October, 2013, I was admitted to the hospital for suicidal ideation and PTSD.  I found my son shortly after he had shot himself.  After a 3 week intensive therapy program I was able to admit that I have a mental illness.  I suffer from Major Depression and Panic Disorder and have for many many years.  Only, stuck in a society where such words seem to be taboo, I accepted it as a part of my life instead of educating myself.  Had I had more knowledge I might have seen the signs in my son.  I know now, and can look at our family dynamics and see, that mental illness has been a  issue in our family through generations.  I am so grateful for NAMI and all the information, and for the ability to seek help with those that are trying to educate others about mental illness.
Today, I am working towards finishing my nursing degree and transitioning our horse rescue into a people rescue, developing a program for others that suffer from mental illness.   There needs to be more awareness so that people don’t have to feel ashamed that there are some things we cannot control without therapy and medication.
I miss my son tremendously, but will not allow his death go in vain.  It’s vital that I speak out and help educate others in a hopes to preventing anyone else having to go through the pains I have had to.  My emotional sobriety is as important to me as my physical one.  If I can reach one person, what I set out to do will be a success.

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