Poppy and I have been hanging out at the castle this evening and she’s staying over to provide my overnight care. Just now, as we were getting ready for bed, I began ticcing demands that she mimic my movements.
It started when she asked if I needed her to do anything, to which my involuntary answer was, ‘Look like an electrified meerkat.’
This is a term Fat Sister and her use to describe what it looks like when my body’s locked up during a ‘ticcing fit’. Poppy instantly did what she was told, which I found wildly amusing. This instruction was immediately followed by ‘Pretend to have a fit.’ She did this, but only very briefly because I massively overreacted and started frenziedly throwing myself around the room.
We went to brush our teeth, but I hadn’t finished with her yet, insisting that she hit her chest in the same way I do day-in day-out. She did it and said ‘Biscuit’ at the same time. I found this hilarious and uncomfortable in equal measure.
Teeth cleaned we went into my bedroom and as I settled into bed Poppy did an impression of my ‘wobbly walk’ around the room. I exploded with delight, banging my mattress and squirming about. Then my tics pushed it even further, shouting ‘Drop to your knees now!’ Poppy did as she was told and once again I went wild with a mix of excitement and discomfort at the sight of someone else doing such a personal and familiar movement. She got up to come and help me calm down saying, ‘Wow, that’s really painful!’
I’m often surprised by what causes me to overreact so excitedly. I’d certainly never have predicted that floating sawdust or rolling r’s would send me into a frenzy. But I do think I could’ve predicted seeing my movements echoed back like this would have a dramatic effect.
I’ve been fascinated with wanting to see other people perform my tics for years – at root it’s a curiosity about what they look like from the outside. I’ve seen myself ticcing in the mirror and on video but this isn’t the same as seeing a familiar movement enacted by a different person. Most of my friends are understandably reluctant to do this. I’ve begged Leftwing Idiot countless times to pretend to have Tourettes and he’s always refused.
But whenever other people try to demonstrate my tics there’s a big element missing – evidence of the sensation of the tic that underlies the movement or noise.
I remember that when I first met my friend Ruth who also has Tourettes I really wanted to stare at her and examine her movements from every angle because I recognised her tics as being similar to mine. It wasn’t so much the actual movements that looked similar but their speed and forcefulness.
There are loads of videos on YouTube of people pretending to have Tourettes. I can identify the fakes instantly and it’s because I can see that there’s no sensation driving these bogus tics.
Although I hate seeing non-disabled people pretending to have a disability, as is often the case in films or on TV, and it’s very upsetting when a stranger mimics me on the street, I loved Poppy’s tic-play tonight as we got ready for bed.