Earlier on I had a trivial disagreement with Leftwing Idiot on the phone. The issue itself was minor.
I was frustrated by it, but not upset or angry. Nevertheless, at the end of the conversation I told him I was going to kill myself and that I’d be “Dead in the morning.” These tics didn’t reflect any actual intention to harm myself and I made this clear to him, as I’ve had to do on previous occasions.
When I hung up I felt unsettled, not by the conversation but by the tics.
My tics often threaten to do all sorts of harmless things such as “Panic-buy cheese” or “Wipe my nose with a disco ball.” I’ve never felt bothered by these, or felt the need to explain them. But when they’re straightforward threats that I’ll harm myself, they do bother me and I do feel the need to explain them.
One key difference is that tics like the ones today often come out when I’m worried or annoyed about something. However, my actual level of annoyance is often very slight in comparison with the strength of the words that emerge.
Although these tics don’t indicate that I’m actually thinking about killing myself, like most aspects of Tourettes, they’re not entirely straightforward.
I know my physical tics mean I’m at risk of accidentally hurting myself, even when I’m not upset. For example, the other morning I was happily eating breakfast and I stabbed myself in the throat with a knife. Fortunately it was made of plastic so it was a shock, but not deadly.
However strongly I assert that ticced threats don’t mean anything, they do indicate that I’m more agitated than usual. When I feel any heightened emotion, whether it’s excitement, anger, frustration or fear, my tics become more and more intense and impulsive, so the chances of me injuring myself increase.
What bothered me tonight was that these tics happened at the end of a conversation, after the problem had been sorted out. It upset me because it took away the relief of knowing we’d resolved our disagreement.
I don’t worry that my friends may be thinking I’m actually going to kill myself, but I do worry that they might over-estimate how bothered I am about something, or that they might feel pressurised and upset by my dramatic outbursts. What I find particularly hard is that because these tics are often said in the context of an argument, they may sound alarming or manipulative. I feel thrown by this largely because I don’t fully understand them myself which makes it hard to explain it all to anyone else. And this in turn makes me even more uncomfortable and upset.
Words and behaviour are two key guides in helping assess a person’s state of mind. My tics muddy the water and make it hard to work out what has a real feeling at its root and what doesn’t.