The 230 Million Year Old Beast in My Belly

Today I have been mostly channelling dinosaurs. As well as shouting and waving my arms around, I’m in the process of adding various different prehistoric screeches to my collection of tics. Right now it’s all about Tourrassic Park.

Physical tics are difficult to describe but are as much a part of my life with Tourettes as the things I say. I make these movements all day and they include:

Banging my chest with my fist (which is as painful as it sounds)

Jerking my head backwards

Blinking and grimacing

Bending my wrist and elbows sharply

Stamping my leg, bending my knees, jumping or rising suddenly onto my toes

Physical tics make completing even small tasks difficult. For instance, turning on a light switch or putting my debit card in a cash machine can prove tricky. I find physical tics more distressing, but if I had to choose between getting rid of them or vocal tics, I would choose the vocal ones because I’ve always thought they were more intrusive. However, I was chatting about this with Leftwing Idiot the other day and he said that he found the physical tics more troubling because I look so uncomfortable.

Physical tics have a sensation attached to them that is intense, uncomfortable and impossible to ignore. It feels like it’s coming from deep inside my body and isn’t always located in the area where the actual tic occurs. For instance, when I hit my chest the feeling I’m responding to is often located in the middle of my back. The presence of the sensation doesn’t usually mean I know a tic is about to happen – my body responds instinctively and I only realise I’m ticcing after it’s happened.

Sometimes I can catch myself half way through a tic. If I really concentrate and shut down the rest of me, I can keep still for very short periods of time, much like you can stop yourself blinking if you try hard enough.

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