Saturday 25 October 2014

A History of Tourette's

This post was actually written as one of the header pages for the blog, but I felt it could do with a wider reading, so here it is.


"What is going on with my body?" I'd never ask myself as a child, as a parental scolding voice, or gorping child, would point out my flailing arms and legs or frantically rubbing hands.

"Talking to yourself again?" the stepfather would ask, as I continued a two hour session of playing imaginary cricket with a tree with live commentary thrown in.

I would shrug dfensively, say as always that I couldn't help it, and get on with the (part sub-conscious) job of developing an eccentric personality as a cover for all these strange behaviours.

So my life continued, being bright but always struggling in exams due to inability to write fast enough, enjoying chemistry theory but hating the lab classes as I was too slow and clumsy to set up my apparatus, and too obsessive about the results, often too restless to settle down to homework.

But I made it through school with good A Levels, although they should have been better, and went to Exeter University where the nightmare of chemistry practicals caused me to give up the subject and become a Classicist at the end of my first year instead.

Round about then, things started getting difficult...hardcore obsessions, contamination compulsions, sleeping problems, inability to concentrate. Again I didn't know what was going on, but it was causing a great deal of distress.

Luckily I read "An Anthropologist on Mars" by Oliver Sacks in the University bookshop, and it was his piece on a surgeon with Tourette's Syndrome that unlocked all the doors, and enabled me to get the diagnosis.

Things seemed better wasn't my fault anymore.

Obviously, it's never that straightforward. But my interest in nature, running and cycling has helped enormously. One of the main things I like to do with this blog is try and impress upon people how benficial even a slight interest in their local environment can be to their physical and mental wellbeing.

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