For the last five years I’ve kept track of my regular tics, the ones I say or do over and over again (for months or even years on end). Up until now though, I’ve never paid much attention to the tics I don’t repeat all the time. These occur every day but I only say them once or a handful of times and they’re different each time. They’re more likely to be linked to or triggered by specific situations or sounds but the majority are mostly random. Recently, I’ve started to record these one-off tics. Below is today’s selection:
“Careless Whisper costs £1”
“Long division killed your soul.”
“Joy Division killed your soul.”
“Jim Davidson killed your soul.”
“Les Dennis, Margaret Thatcher? Choose.”
As you can see, I say a lot of fairly random stuff. I can state with confidence that I was not actively thinking about any of these things when I said them. Some people describe Tourettes as simply saying what you’re thinking, but for me this doesn’t ring true, and it over-simplifies something which I’ve always found both complex and mystifying.
This doesn’t mean that my tics are never triggered by things I’ve seen, thought or heard, because sometimes they are, but I still wouldn’t describe this as saying what I’m thinking. The vast majority of my tics tend not to be triggered by events or my surroundings at all.
Also, a lot of my tics are inoffensive. For example:
However, some are offensive:
Some of my tics can be pretty complex:
“Good afternoon, Legoland Windsor.”
“Tony Blair sucks cock through his tiny mouth.”
Sometimes a tic will come out in two or more parts:
“Squirrels ejaculate, over their mums – on Sundays.”
Or it will be a response to a previous tic:
“Russell broke the shower…”
“…but he didn’t shoot the deputy.”
They also evolve, and go through distinct phases over several months:
These phases sometimes are sometimes linked to words or sounds:
“God loves gerbils.”
“God loves sandwiches.”
“God loves you, except when you’re a cunt.”
The difficult thing for me to get my head around is that while I feel that my tics are not a reflection of what I’m thinking, they clearly draw on things that I know, or that I’m aware of, or have thought about at some point. These things get jumbled around and then spat out again. They are often random but are not incoherent. I know I’ve ticced immediately after it comes out and sometimes I can catch myself half way through. If I catch a tic that isn’t a regular before it’s complete I’ve no idea what it would have been if I’d let it continue.
Why certain words become regular tics is a mystery to me. They become fixed features in my life and can usually be linked to certain times or experiences. If I think back I can date the start of most of my regular ones by using my memories of places, people or events. I often notice that I stop saying a certain word or making a certain movement, and that something else has taken its place.
The tics that are words or phrases will feature a lot in this blog because they’re often funny and create interesting imagery. However, by themselves these tics don’t give the full picture of Tourettes, as they’re often accompanied by other vocal sounds and movements which vary a lot.
One medical handbook describes Tourettes tics as:
“Irrepressible, explosive, occasionally obscene verbal ejaculations.”
It goes on to say:
“There may a be witty, innovatory, phantasmagoric picture, with mimicry, antics, playfulness, extravagance, impudence, audacity, dramatizations, surreal associations, uninhibited affect.”
Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine, Eighth Edition, Murray Longmore, Ian Wilkinson, Edward Davidson, Alexander Foulkes, and Ahmad Mafi, Oxford Handbooks Series.
I like this definition because it recognises aspects of Tourettes that can often get lost in other descriptions.
There are many unanswered questions about Tourettes and I expect the journey we’ll go on will unearth more. Hopefully the blog will provide a place to reflect on and enjoy some of my ‘witty, audacious and surreal’ tics.