Last night, as I tried to settle back to sleep after waking up for no particular reason, I started to shake gently. I wasn’t worried by this because it’s something I’ve done since childhood when I’m going to sleep. In fact I can’t remember a time when I’ve been able to lie still and to go to sleep without it happening.
As I lay there I remembered being about fourteen and babysitting a neighbour’s daughter. She was about six and I’d put her to bed in the upper of the two bunk beds, where she normally slept. She asked me if I’d sleep in the bottom one, and I decided to do this until she’d fallen asleep. After about five minutes a tiny voice called out ‘Stop shaking the bed!’ I remember feeling embarrassed that I’d got caught wriggling about and made an excuse to go back downstairs.
When I first started this blog I wrote about another time, when I was older and had just moved into a shared flat with Laura and Emma. They’d tease me about the noise of my bed squeaking every night, and I preferred their assumption to the reality, which was that I just couldn’t lie still.
When my tics started to get much worse in my early twenties it was particularly at night that I remember struggling. By then my vocal and motor tics were very noticeable and they’d get even more pronounced when I was trying to go to sleep. Gone was the gentle shaking – I’d tic constantly and vigorously, making it very hard to settle.
Looking back, this seems to have been most pronounced at times when I’ve put a lot of effort into holding my tics in so other people wouldn’t notice them. I still notice a slight increase in my tics at night, but it’s a lot less marked than it used to be.
This extra activity probably occurs when I lie down because it’s one of the only times I feel no pressure to try and keep still. Of course, it could be that the level of my tics doesn’t actually increase at all. It might just be more noticeable when I’m alone in a still and silent room.