Case Study: My Breathing Tic

Present since the age of about 4 or 5. Seemed to greatly worsen around the age of 12, and since then has been about the same. There might have been one time, as a teenager, that it went away or I noticed it less for a few months; but other than that, I’ve always had it. Waxes and wanes a lot. Stress sometimes seems to make it worse; but there are also times that I’m stressed and it’s not worse, or it’s worse and I’m not stressed, so this isn’t always the case. I get a feeling like I need to sigh, gasp, or yawn; these feelings are almost one and the same to me. When the feeling is very severe, my shoulders have to be forward, and my body posture very rigid. Sometimes I even feel the need to hold onto something while I take the gasping breath. Other times, the feeling is not severe, and I can satisfy it by taking a relatively normal deep breath which is not very sudden. But even when it doesn’t have to be sudden, I always feel there is some kind of window of “just right” feeling I must try to hit when doing it, and it can often be very easy to miss, forcing me to repeat over and over until it “feels right.”

For the last few weeks, it’s been better. I actually thought maybe blogging about OCD and Tourette’s might be relieving my stress or the tic itself somehow. But, it’s worse again today. Today is one of those days it’s more associated with yawning; so I find myself yawning over and over. That’s another thing; people often see me yawning a lot, and think I’m tired. Which, sometimes I am — but often, it’s just the tic.

I’ve heard other people with TS mention having tics very similar to this, and it does make regular breathing difficult. On days that it’s bad, sometimes I wonder if it might be beneficial to take medicine. But most of the time, I can manage. The hardest times are when I’m out in public, especially when I have some important engagement; public speaking or reading out loud are difficult. It’s inconvenient when the “feeling” just doesn’t seem to go away, but unless it’s a “bad tic” day then the only inconvenient thing is when people wonder why I’m doing it and ask if I’m nervous or stare at me.

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