After what feels like almost a lifetime of trying to hide my symptoms from others, it feels nice not only to admit having OCD and tics but to be open about this with others. That means sharing with people in a way that is meaningful. That being said, I’m still reluctant to tell every single person I meet that I have OCD right away; I have no way of knowing how they will react. In fact, I still wonder how many of those close to me are secretly ashamed of who I am after finding out. Would some people rather me hide my flaws, and pretend they don’t exist, than admit them? But also, some people just don’t take it that seriously — the casual, faux “I’m so OCD” type of people. And I don’t even want to judge or be rude to those — they just misunderstand, after all. So while I don’t necessarily announce to everyone, it’s nice to be comfortable with being open about who I am and why I am that way. I like not feeling like I have to hide anymore. I wish that I could trust everyone to be reasonably understanding. If I knew that, I would tell everyone right away.
Upon publishing my last entry to WordPress, I found out it was my 100th post. So in honor of 100 posts on this OCD and Tourette’s weblog started almost one year ago, or rather in honor of 101 posts now, I present to you: The Best of “Will It Be OK.” The following is a list of hyperlinks to what I feel have been my best — or most memorable — posts throughout this blog’s short life. These picks do not necessarily reflect what I think is my best writing, but also sometimes what links to the most interesting material or important points.
OCD Meme: This is an image post, and I link to it because I’m proud that I made this meme myself. It describes the way different parts of society may sometimes view OCD, fused with humor. This image is featured on my “About” page along with a Tourette’s (non-meme, non-humorous) image which I did not make myself.
Monk And The Lamp: Probably should’ve been titled, “Mr. Monk And The Lamp.” In this “episode” I pick apart an episode of Monk and how that particular story doesn’t portray OCD accurately. That being said, Monk is a great show, and I’ve watched it frequently. At times it does accurately represent OCD — just not always.
PANDAS: Now that I’ve lost my father, I especially treasure this one because my sense of humor therein reminds me so much of his. I feel like he was kind of writing through me with this post. Not that I’m the greatest comedian, but I don’t get many chances on this blog to be humorous, so it was a refreshing change. Also, Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcus is a super interesting topic! More research needs to be done on this controversial issue.
Link Time: Contains links to several very informative videos (not mine) about OCD and Tourette’s syndrome. If you don’t know much, this is a great place to start!
“The Spectrum”: Autism is not the only spectrum.
Tourette’s Brains = Greater Motor Control?: Do people with Tourette’s syndrome have greater motor control? Are they less likely to respond reflexively?
You Might Have OCD If…: While I was kidding when I wrote this, it’s probably half-true!
Alphabet Soup Syndrome: When you have so many disorders that it’s like, OCDTSASADHDADDALKFLKSJDFKJDF.
Game Illustrates Inner Struggle of Tourette’s: A videogame to help people understand Tourette’s syndrome? Sweet!
Tourettic OCD: It’s not alphabet soup, but we’re getting there.
Dude, I Know You’re OCD…: Another image post. This one shatters a stereotype (albeit with another stereotype), and really cracks me up.
Dealing With Crises: Are people with high levels of anxiety, especially OCD, better equipped to deal with real emergencies than normal people?
Don’t Hate Me Because I Look Crazy: Insane or dangerous people don’t always look that way.
I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother’s Doctor’s 8th Cousin Twice Removed: Because someone in the blogosphere finally had to say that.
Easy Hand Washing Guide: Another humorous image post. What if the air was germy? Better wash your hands again.
OK so, you all know I’m not really an expert on… well, anything. So this is just sort of a crazy, out there idea I have and we’ll see what you think.
You know how all men have nipples? Probably because if men are born with nipples they don’t need, that doesn’t hurt anything, but if any women were born without nipples, they most likely had no way of feeding their newborn babies?
Well, I was thinking the other day that there might be a similar evolutionary explanation for tics. As annoying as tics can be (for us who have them and for our friends and loved ones), and downright miserable and heartbreaking even for some, imagine if there were people born who did not have the urge to blink or breathe. These body actions are somewhat voluntary but also somewhat automatic, much like tics. Try not to blink and the same thing happens when I try not to tic — you will either get distracted and accidentally do it, or become so uncomfortable that you must eventually do it. Certain automatic body functions are very, very important. So maybe we’ve evolved to have tics because the simple fact is, if some people did not tend to have tics, the trend could have gone the opposite way and there would be people born who did not feel the urge to do things their body really needed them to do. If that happened, those people would have died. Maybe it did happen, and they did die — or it happened to animals long before humans evolved. Either way, I can’t help but wonder, and also not feel so strange or unusual for having tics when they’re really just an exaggerated normal feature of being human. I would rather feel like gasping every five minutes if it means preserving the same neurological mechanisms that mean I don’t forget to blink.
Here’s a funny new acronym — Screen for Child Anxiety-Related Emotional Disorders, also known as SCARED. I discovered it reading this interesting little article called “OCD in Adulthood Traced to Cues in Childhood.” It discusses the proposed idea that “rituals and sensory hypersensitivities in a child may be early warning signs of adult obsessive-compulsive disorder,” which is interesting to me because I have some odd sensory quirks and sensitivities that might not put me in the realm of diagnosis with anything, but are unusual to say the least. The article discusses primarily two studies which explore the (potential) link between OCD and sensory sensitivity.
“Consistent with the results of the first study, recollected childhood oral and tactile sensitivity was positively correlated with results of the OCI-R (r=0.41, P<0.001) in study two. When they controlled for anxiety, they continued to find that the sensitivity was correlated with obsessive-compulsive symptoms beyond their correlation with anxiety.”
What does this mean? For some, could rituals be a way of coping with sensory overload (or even under-stimulation)? This reminds me of tics, which often have physical or environmental triggers. Tic disorders seem to have a stronger established correlation with sensory processing problems than OCD does, but we also know that tic disorders and OCD are more related than we used to think.
The old rule “If it’s a response to a physical feeling, it’s a tic. If it’s a response to a thought or a fear, it’s a compulsion” is hard to apply in this situation. How could we truly connect OCD and sensory issues, when if there’s any sort of direct connection at all, any response to a physical feeling should rightfully be a tic, and not OCD-related (unless it’s Tourettic OCD)?
I have a tic. I’m pretty sure it’s a tic. And it’s really, really weird.
I have the breathing/gasping tic, which I’ve written about before. I also feel the need to sniffle or snort sometimes that’s different from a typical need to do so (hard to explain, but makes sense if you already know what having tics is like). The need is real, but it’s also different. But now there’s this other thing that’s popped up or I’ve just begun noticing and it’s really, really weird.
I’ll be eating, chewing my food, and about to swallow when all of a sudden I feel like I need to sniffle. There’s nothing in my nose, and my nose is not itchy. This is simply the worst possible time I could need to sniffle, because it involves the danger of choking on my food. For some reason that seems to actually tell my brain: You need to do this right now. So what I have to do is sniffle very, very carefully in order not to choke on my food, and often feel like I need to do it several times.
It’s funny because when people think of Tourette’s they think of people who blurt out the worst possible thing in social situations, such as a curse word. In my case it seems to be more about the worst possible thing in a more inward sort of way.
Of course, I can just avoid doing it — but then I think about it. I have to think about not doing it, and that’s distracting. So then I have a choice — do something distracting, or be distracted by feeling like I need to do it. Which is more distracting?
It’s not like this is greatly interfering with my life — it’s just odd, and mildly interesting. I do hope I don’t choke on my food, though.
I know, I know, everyone already saw this video of Dustin Hoffman months ago. But I want to take the theme from my previous post about how men and women aren’t THAT different (or that’s my idea anyway) and apply the same principle to this. Today I saw a post online from someone whose partner left them because of their tics and I found that so frustrating that I ended up wanting to do something about it (write a blog post).
“There’s too many interesting women I have not had the experience to know in this life because I have been brainwashed, and that [Tootsie] was never a comedy for me.”
The real reason this is so touching is because we can all relate to it on some level regardless of the gender aspect. What Hoffman says here is true — we are all pressured to feel that women must fulfill certain physical characteristics (and even moral and emotional ones) to be acceptable. And it is very beautiful that he recognizes this. But this is so beautiful on the subject of difference and bullying in general, because all of us miss out when we disrespect others for being different. While it’s often more obvious and blatantly oppressive, women are not alone in having standards imposed on them by society; men have things they’re expected to live up to as well, and so do all of us as people, no matter what our gender is. Hoffman is crying not because he feels guilty for mistreating anyone, but because he realizes he missed out on knowing a lot of cool people. He missed a lot of really great things in life. And that is something real to be sad about — not only for others but for yourself.
So if anyone mistreats you for having OCD or tics, or if anyone dumps you from a relationship because they can’t handle how different you are, please remember that they are the one missing out — not you. It might sound really stupid or cliche at the time you are going through a heartbreak, but when you see someone like Hoffman crying because he finally gets it, maybe it will start to make sense. We should be acceptable, lovable, and desirable as whole people — not artificial, detached concepts and ideals which are difficult if not impossible to live up to.
Google “OCD jokes” and “Tourette’s jokes” and you’ll see a big difference. Of course, OCD is no stranger to stereotypes — but they are at least much closer to the truth than the ones about TS. People with OCD do not necessarily, but do frequently have obsessions with germs, neatness, symmetry, and orderliness.
So it’s not that I have a problem with people making fun of Tourette’s. As long as it’s done in a respectful way, it’s OK to make jokes about pretty much everything in my opinion, and can add a touch of optimism to an otherwise depressing situation. The problem is that when people make fun of TS, 9 out of 10 times, they’re not even making fun of TS — they’re making fun of what very few people with TS actually do. Not just that, but they’re making fun of what very few people with TS actually do while wrongly assuming they do it out of anger or inability to control rage, or at the very least poor impulse control in general, which is also not true. (Some studies indicate people with TS might actually have better impulse control than the general population, because they have so much practice resisting impulses!) So they double-misunderstand it. You can’t make fun of something you double-misunderstand. So all I ask is that before you make a joke about TS, learn what it actually is. I’d be happy to laugh with you about how I randomly blink, clear my throat, sniffle, or gasp repeatedly at inappropriate times because I can see the humor in it — I just can’t see the humor in something that’s mean-spirited, or has no bastion of truth.