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New Series: How To Have Tourette’s

tourettesI have mentioned Tourette’s Syndrome often enough that several readers have asked me to elaborate a bit on this absurd disorder of mine. Writing about something painful can be dangerous:

I either wind up sounding pitiful or self-congratulatory. This series will be my attempt at discovering whether I’ve put enough distance between myself and my condition to write about it in a way that will edify readers, not trigger their gag reflexes and BS meters. Whenever possible, I will discuss my experiences with TS in terms that will be applicable to anyone interested in strength, knowledge, and living a rewarding life. I have no lessons to teach–that would imply that I know something, and that ain’t happening–but take what you will from the stories.

Tourette’s , named after Gille De La Tourette is strange and interesting. If I hint at anything you would like to know more about, please ask. People often feel intrusive if they ask me questions. I like to answer them. The more awareness there is, the easier it will be for the next person with TS that you meet.

Finally, I suggest you listen to the audio even if you read the piece first. TS stories are way better with the sound and I will be able to express things that don’t translate well in print, like all these weird noises I make.




If you would like to save the audio as an MP3, right click How To Have Tourettes: Intro and choose “save as.”

 

The first time I tried to write about Tourette’s Syndrome it was going to be a novel. I was 23, miserable, pitiful, and in love with my own cleverness. I churned out a couple hundred wretched pages with enough angst in them to fill a billion debut novels. Nothing is more dangerous to the writer than falling in love with the idea of yourself as being “tortured.”

I aborted that project because I lacked the writing skills and the perspective. I was still in the thick of my symptoms and at rock bottom. It was too close. Too painful. My attempts at honesty were lies and my attempts at cleverness were self-serving. Come to think of it, the best book about Tourette’s would be like the children’s books that have the buttons in them–when you see the appropriate picture, you could push a button to hear the appropriate tic.

It is time to do better. It is a story worth telling, but only if it can be told honestly. Unfortunately, I believe that no story can be told with 100% accuracy. Especially stories about great pain.

Memories and Pain

There are two reasons for this. The first is that stories change and memories change. We change them. Without going into it here, I would suggest you read my article “Do We Remember The Event Or The Story?” Here’s the gist: we change stories based on our circumstances. Embellishments or omissions–change is change. Whether we exaggerate to impress or cut things out to hide our weaknesses, we change things. Please read the article if you haven’t before.

The second reason: it is hard to talk about pain and suffering accurately. I will be talking about the greatest pain, mental and physical, that I’ve ever experienced. But I’m not feeling it anymore. All I can say is that I know it hurt and I know how badly it sucked. But ten years after you break your leg, you can’t make yourself feel the pain of that broken leg because your leg isn’t broken anymore.

So when I say things hurt, I mean it. They may not have hurt as badly as I think they did–if I had the same symptoms today they might not seem as horrific as when they were at their worst.

That’s the only disclaimer I’ll make. I’m going to tell you things the way I remember them, but my memories may be fuzzier than I think.

The beginning

When I was six years old, my parents noticed me touching my upper lip to my nose while watching cartoons. Over and over, up and down. My mother tells me: “We weren’t sure that you knew you were doing it.”

Over and over, up and down, sometimes interspersed with rapid blinking.

Was it cause for concern? Hard to say, perhaps, but who are any of us to tell parents when they should worry about their children and when they should let things play out?

A word about specialists

My parents eventually grew concerned enough that they took me to a specialist. “Specialist” as it pertains to Tourette’s is a word I’ve hated for the last ten years. I’m trying to do better. It’s not their fault, but the truth is, people who specialize in Tourette’s know a lot about it, but that doesn’t mean they can treat it.

One of the most maddening challenges of the disorder: there are no hard rules for treatments. Symptoms vary wildly, as do the ages at which Tourette’s might originally manifest. I have a niece and nephew who each have it, and they do all sorts of loony stuff that I’ve never experienced, and vice versa.

Specialists don’t like to admit they are guessing. After all, they know more than the laymen, that’s why we turn to them: because someone has to have the answers.

My specialist diagnosed me quickly and accurately, which must have provided my parents with equal parts relief and unease. Relief because it wasn’t more serious. Unease because there were so many unknowns, as is still the case today, 24 years later.

A brief description of Tourette’s Syndrome

Here’s what it boils down to at its most basic level: too much of this or that in the Tourettic’s brain causes a person to either vocalize or move their body involuntarily.

It sounds weird. It is weird. This is the best way I know to describe it:

Think about the worst you have ever had to sneeze. I mean when it’s right there on the brink and you want relief so bad that you’re willing to close your eyes and let it go even if you’re driving on an icy road in the snow. Now think about having that feeling all the time–you could stop it, but choking off a sneeze never feels satisfying, does it?

The “best” part about Tourette’s is, when you let that sneeze go, again and again and again…you don’t know how it’s going to come out. You feel the relief but then you start over immediately. Tic tic tic tic tic. The clock never stops and the battery never winds down.

Tic tic tic tic tic…

Maybe it just makes you curl your lip and touch your nose. Maybe things get a little more exciting. Maybe, in cases like mine, things get much, much, much more exciting. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

What Tourette’s is not

Hollywood has not done any favors for people suffering from Tourette’s, or for those seeking to understand it. Watching Deuce Bigalow does not grant one an understanding of the condition, yet what are the alternatives? Nothing, because too often we only love the sensational, crass, and lowest common denominator.

Novels aren’t much more help. Some are a lot of fun but use Tourette’s as the gimmick, such as the awesome Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem–but that book is going to teach you more about how a great mystery is supposed to work than about Tourette’s. Some are dismal, superficial failures that use Tourette’s as a gimmick while pretending to be profound and daring, like Icy Sparks. Yep–it’s that one Oprah recommended and I don’t care. She shot an airball. Nothing is less moving than artifice.

Even though I’ve said that what comprises one case of Tourette’s may not relate to the next, please forget what you know or think you know about the condition, whether you’ve learned it from Deuce Bigalow, Oprah, South Park, or even myself. It’s more fun and enlightening that way and you may get a kick out of getting caught off guard as often as you’re going to.

This ends part 1. I’m going to write one entry a week until there are no tales to tell you. This means that we should all settle in for a long time, but it’s going to be great. As horrific as some of this stuff will be…wow it makes a good story.

And once more, if you have questions, please ask me. Either leave a comment for me after the post or send me an email. I will respond to each and every one because this is worth doing right.

Most importantly, if you know someone with Tourette’s, send this to them. It will help them know they are not alone. If I had found someone to talk to earlier, things might have turned out different. Not better, but possibly via a less twisted and anguished path.

In part two we’re going to be ramping up the weirdness a bit, so if you haven’t subscribed to the RSS feed yet, please do it now to make sure you get it just in case you can’t make it back to the blog.

As always, thank you all.

Josh

Update: If you’re just getting here and you or someone you know has Tourette’s, I would check out this post on tourettes medication and also subscribe to the Tourette’s newsletter. It’s got a 20 minute video in it that I think will be useful to you.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jeff June 17, 2009, 11:02 am

    Thanks so much for writing about such a misunderstood condition! My wife and two oldest kids all have Tourette’s, so we’ve been through what I’m guessing are many of the same experiences as you have.

    My kids were diagnosed when they were about 6 years old. During the process for our first kid my wife began to realize she also had been dealing with it her whole life – the unexplained tics, accompanying OCD, etc. My kids symptoms came and went over the years, often times brought on by stressful or exciting circumstances (think Christmas).

    Thankfully no one’s on any medication at this point, and the symptoms are largely unnoticeable to the general public. As the kids have aged (they’re now 20 and 17) the symptoms have lessened.

    So, thanks for being brave enough to tell your own story. I’m sure it will help others who know what they’re dealing with, as well as anyone who may be wondering what in the heck is going on.

    Jeff

    • Josh Hanagarne June 17, 2009, 11:27 am

      Glad to hear it Jeff. Thank you. It’s pretty rare that things get worse later on. However, that is exactly what happened to me. As you’ll see in the series, my 20th birthday was when things exploded for the next 8 years. My experience past that point is anything but difficult, so don’t take that as meaning “dark days ahead” for you and yours.

      I’m so happy they don’t need medication. Too often you get all of the side effects and none of the potential benefits.

      Brave doesn’t really enter into why I’m telling the story. I’m a chicken but after speaking at enough support meetings for TS, the recurring theme is that people want someone else to understand what they’re going through. If I can be that person for even one other person, it needs to be done. Thanks for the kind words and support.

      Good luck to you and please let me know if I can ever help with anything.

    • Joy April 4, 2011, 8:36 am

      Good Morning Mr. Hanagrine,
      My husband has Tourett. We’ve been together for 11 years and it was not until 15 minutes ago, while reading your article, that I have taken any time to truly understand what he deals with on a daily basis, especially with me. I make him tic. I’m thankful for your audio and cannot wait to hear and read all of your experiences as I believe they can truly help me to understand for the sake of our marriage.

      Thank you

      • Josh Hanagarne April 4, 2011, 9:42 am

        Hi Joy, I’m very happy that you’re here. Don’t be so sure that anything really “makes” anyone do anything. Meaning, if you’re blaming yourself in any way, that’s not going to be helpful to either of you.

        If you haven’t done so, I’d recommend watching the video I shot for the newsletter. You can subscribe through that link at the top of the right hand sidebar.

        And of course, read through the Tourette’s series. If you’ve got any questions afterward, please let me know. Good luck to you both.

  • Megan Horton June 17, 2009, 2:47 pm

    I’m excited to read this and scared. I don’t like hearing about how much pain people I love have dealt with. I don’t like watching others suffer and those days when you were your worst I can’t think about without tearing up. Still I’ll read it. Are you going to tell about your bathroom fight in Wendover?

  • Maren June 18, 2009, 7:56 am

    I am looking forward to a well written account about Tourette Syndrome. I have read Icy Sparks and agree that it did not really educate about TS but just used it.
    It seems easier to talk about something when it is in the past. T. S. is still our present and for Rose may well be her future so I am looking forward to your future articles.

    • Josh Hanagarne June 18, 2009, 8:54 am

      Glad to hear it, Maren. thanks. Sounds like Rose’s graduation went really well. I know your frazzled mother had a good time, but wow were they nervous about the trip. Congratulate Rose for me. I’m really proud of her and know she has great things coming up.

  • john dalton June 18, 2009, 9:09 am

    josh you are an amazing man.i dont know if i could live as strong as you do ,with what you deal with in your life,,i am truly a fan of yours your an awesome man

    • Josh Hanagarne June 18, 2009, 9:47 am

      John, that’s one of the nicest compliments I’ve ever had. Thank you so much. I love your email address, by the way.

  • Laree Draper June 18, 2009, 10:56 am

    I’ll be an enthusiastic reader of this series, Josh. I was really impressed at the seminar a couple of weeks ago when you introduced yourself before Dan got started, mentioning the Tourette’s and letting us know in advance in case something ramped up rather than silently hoping nothing would come up.

  • Chris Mason June 18, 2009, 11:05 am

    Hey Josh,

    I happened to come across your blog last night. I also have Tourette’s. Ironically, I train with kettlebells and also enjoy tearing up phonebooks. I look forward to reading more stories.

    Chris

    • Josh Hanagarne June 18, 2009, 11:14 am

      That’s awesome, Chris, welcome. Do you have any thrilling symptoms?

  • Chris Mason June 18, 2009, 12:42 pm

    The tics I have most often are shoulder jerking, eye blinking and then a few vocal tics like grunting and clicking my tongue between my teeth. I would guess that I have had over 100 different tics at this point. They change frequently depending on the day, stress, sleep, etc.
    I also have a complex eye closing tic that appears most often when I get nervous (usually public speaking). This is the tic I hate the most.

    • Josh Hanagarne June 18, 2009, 1:05 pm

      Sounds familiar. Good for us. As we go farther, I’d love to hear if I’ve got anything going on that you recognize. I currently have a bunched of chipped teeth from that stupid clicking.

  • mary j. June 18, 2009, 1:25 pm

    Josh,
    I’m glad you’re writing everything that you are. For about two years, I’ve been secretly in love with a friend of mine who has Tourette’s. I don’t think he knows it, but he’s my favorite person in the whole world. I don’t really know how to tell him what I think of him, because he feels like his Tourette’s cuts him off from everyone else and that nothing anyone does can ever make him feel better about anything. I’ve been scrapping around for so long just trying to figure out how to make him laugh and see how much I love him. And, (because I’m also a writer) I have this whole blog of anonymously addressed love letters and notes (for him) that he reads and comments without any idea that they’re about him.
    So I’m subscribing to your writing because, while it is also very inspiring and uplifting, maybe it will help me understand my friend a lot better than I do.
    Thanks for writing about yourself, keep it up, and I hope you have a wonderful day!

    • Josh Hanagarne June 18, 2009, 1:36 pm

      That’s wonderful, Mary, thank you. I hope you continue to enjoy the series. Just know that he may not understand himself at times. The best thing you can do is to be supportive and just be there.

  • Adam T Glass June 20, 2009, 10:43 am

    Superior, keep them coming.

    • Josh Hanagarne June 20, 2009, 11:59 am

      Superior. That’s a word I’ve never had applied to me or anything associated with me.

  • jo June 20, 2009, 1:43 pm

    Hi i just came across this my son who is 10 and my husband also have tourettes.My husband has severe ts and we recently took part in a documentry on bbc 1 ( uk ) he also likes writing and has a regular column on http://www.tourettescotland.org.uk .Keep up the good work as educating people i think is the key to making life easier. xx

  • Ann Elise June 24, 2009, 4:47 am

    Josh,

    I must admit, I smiled broadly about the part about specialists. I think people would be surprised to know just how often we don’t know what is wrong. In my practice, the most common discharge diagnosis for a person who comes in with abdominal pain is… abdominal pain. You show up in my ED with a rash, and you are likely to be diagnosed with a rash. “I don’t know what is wrong with you, but it is safe for you to go home tonight and follow up with your doctor” is all I have to say.

    All this education, and there is still so much we don’t know.

    To put a name on a condition does give patients some relief, even if we can’t allay the symptoms.

    Bravo to you for speaking out. As you requested, I am going to put aside my medical understanding of TS and try to see it through your eyes. I hope that by speaking of the misunderstood and parodied will lift some of the stigma from this disorder.

  • Tim June 24, 2009, 4:42 pm

    Josh:

    Thank you for telling your story. In college, there was a guy with TS who lived on my floor in the dorms. But honestly, he never revealed much about his condition and what he was going through. I look forward to learning more about TS.

    • Josh Hanagarne June 24, 2009, 7:42 pm

      Thanks Tim. I appreciate the kind words. I hope you continue to enjoy the series.

  • Marie June 25, 2009, 1:08 am

    I just happened to wander over to your blog by clicking on a link from another page. I’ll admit that I know almost nothing about Tourettes and don’t know if I’ve ever met someone who has this particular condition. I look forward to learning more about it through your blog and through my own research.

    • Josh Hanagarne June 25, 2009, 6:35 am

      Glad you’re here. If you ever have any questions, please ask.

  • Jane Steiinberg July 6, 2009, 9:09 am

    Did I just call you Jeff? Apologies, while I go look up my own name.
    Just last night I watched the Oliver Sachs interview on music and the brain, with the extraordinary young man with Tourettes who has channeled it into drumming and also has a drumming group for Tourettes sufferers. If I keep reading you I won’t get around to my own writing, so I’m making an assumption that the kettle weights work for you in a similar way. I don’t have this disorder, but I understand how an activity can perform this transformative miracle: it happens to me every time I hear the music and move toward the dance floor with a good partner.

    • Josh Hanagarne July 6, 2009, 9:25 am

      Thanks Jane. I actually watched that program as well, as long as I could. It’s still hard for me to watch someone with TS. You’ll never hurt my feelings by not reading as long as you’re away writing yourself:)

  • Enrique Aguayo August 9, 2009, 9:01 am

    Josh; You’re one hell of a writer. I woke up this Sunday’s planning on getting some paper work done before Monday catch me behind chores. I got so involved reading your blogs. It’s 10:00 already ad haven’t begun intended schedule as yet. As you may very well guess, English is not my native tongue. Am based in COlombia, South America, if you ever decide to come down here be sure I’ll be of lots of help. Please keep on writing I shall keep on reading. Congratulations and thank you for enlightening my day. Rick

  • Beth L. Gainer August 13, 2009, 4:22 pm

    Great posting. I love your writing style and have subscribed to your blog. I know another excellent writer you might want to check out: she’s Jeannie Anderson, who writes about her autistic son in The Adventures of Mr. Busypants. Her stories are moving, funny, beautifully written, and just darn great. Her blog is at mamabusypants.blogspot.com.

    • Josh Hanagarne August 13, 2009, 4:44 pm

      Beth, I will definitely check out Mr. Busypants. Did you read The Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime by Mark Haddon?

  • Jeannie September 11, 2009, 1:42 pm

    Hi Josh,
    I’m sitting here with your internet crush, Beth Gainer, and her newly adopted daughter Ari. Ari is actually crapping in her diaper right now. Anyway, Beth and I just listened to your first podcast about Tourettes and loved it. I love your writing style and particularly love your twisted sense of humor. You may not know it yet, but we are writing soulmates.

    My six-year-old son Alex has autism. I don’t know if there are many parallells with Tourettes, but I do know that while, as you explained, people with Tourettes make involuntary sounds and movements, my son has zero internal filter and speaks what he thinks. If he’s pissed at my husband, he looks away and says “I’m not talking to daddy and I’m not looking at daddy,” to no one in particular.

    Anyway, when the massive amounts of papers that I have to grade subside, I will be further catching up on your blog and when I am able to spend more time on my own blog, I would love for you to guest post.

    Take care,
    Jeannie aka Mamabusypants

    • Josh Hanagarne September 11, 2009, 1:45 pm

      Jeannie, my dear, one can’t have too many writing soulmates. I accept and bind my soul to yours forever. Thanks for the kind words. Don’t let Ari get a rash.

  • Beth L. Gainer September 12, 2009, 6:28 am

    Hi Josh,

    I’m so glad you and Jeannie are communicating. She’s also a great person. Ari didn’t get a rash by the way. :). By the way, I forgot that you asked me if I ever read The Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime by Mark Haddon. I haven’t; is it scary? I get scared by the bugaboos at night, which is why I can’t read Stephen King.

    If it’s not scary, I’ll get it and read it. I assume it’s excellent and you recommend it…..

    • Josh Hanagarne September 12, 2009, 7:02 am

      Beth, Haddon’s book isn’t scary at all. It’s written by a 15-year boy with autism who’s trying to solve a mystery.

  • akhlis September 21, 2009, 3:34 am

    Thanks for the brief description on Tourette’s Syndrome. Really reminds me of the unsaid gratitude I should say to God whenever I can sneeze normally. Actually this is my first time I read something on Tourette’s Syndrome. I’d never heard of it before. Thanks for sharing anyway.
    I think having some kind of ‘abnormalcy’ is cool. I mean, our abnormalcy can be a blessing in disguise, provided that we know how to deal with it wisely. Some people are special and outstanding because they suffer from dire abnormalcy they conquer. How we can deal with it shows our personal quality. We should thank God for being given the chance to prove that we no matter what finally manage to deal with it.

  • Julie October 10, 2009, 6:47 pm

    I came across this site because I have a nine year old who suffers from Tourette’s Syndrome. His symptoms are eye blinking, sniffling, and neck twitching ( he likes to refer as his “neck bends”). I stopped to look at your page and listen to your story. VERY touching! I could hear some strong emotion in your voice. I’m glad I stopped to listen to your page. You are not alone in this crazy world. Thank You.

    • Josh Hanagarne October 10, 2009, 6:51 pm

      Julie, thanks. How long has it been since your son was diagnosed? The series will be back once I get some things sorted out with the book. glad you liked it. Please stick around and feel free to contact me if I can answer any questions or help you guys with anything.

  • Lindsey January 3, 2010, 7:26 pm

    I’m amazed at your candidness! I’ve had Tourette’s since 2nd grade with fluctuating degrees of severity. Medication never worked, actually only worsened my symptoms and my mood and I felt even more isolated because Tourette’s is more common in men. I knew no other females with the same embarrassing affliction. Now, I am married and living with it but it has shown no signs of disappearing. I recently met another female my age with very pronounced Tourette’s and we told our stories in such a way that made us both feel like finally someone understood what it felt like.
    Growing up, the media misrepresentation of the syndrome was both infuriating and saddening and I wince everytime I hear a TS quip on TV or in movies. But I suppose we’re not the only people with disorders who serve as the butt of jokes.

    Are you writing about this in your book? Matt Cheuvront will be doing a guest post on my blog in the near future (that’s how I came across yours) so I hope you’ll stop by and check it out.

    • Josh Hanagarne January 3, 2010, 7:34 pm

      Lindsey, it would be hard not to check out a blog called Lost In Cheeseland, particularly since my favorite food is cheese. I’m sure you know that the ratio of males to females with TS is out of control. Sorry you’re one of the lucky few! I’m glad you’re here. Please let me know if I can ever do anything for you. Candidness is key.

    • Stuart Atkins April 25, 2011, 3:47 pm

      Lindsey, you may be more of a minority in gender, but not in courage. Tourettes gives you a special uniqueness. If some don’t accept or understand you, that’s their problem and not yours. I would not trade the added intellectual energy and creativity my Tourettes gives us for anything. Really. Hey, perhaps we can feel sorry for those who don’t have Tourettes.

      This is not to minimize the frustration that comes with our TS. It’s hard. There are times I just wish it would go away, but, as I told Josh, then we would not be we, so to speak.

      You have the foundational attitude and that’s what will get you through. All the best to you!

  • Amy January 7, 2010, 5:46 pm

    I’m looking forward to reading all the articles on your blog. My friend Cathy sent me the link today. She thought it would be good for me to read since our oldest boy was just diagnosed with TS & Asperger’s today.

  • Jill June 23, 2010, 8:07 pm

    I have a 6 year old boy with Tourette’s and I am really looking forward to reading your articles. Just today, a stranger was looking at my son like he’s going to infect the building with H1N1 because of his throat clearing tic. Touretters are SO misunderstood so I am thankful that you’re on here telling your stories. I hope I’ll be able to better understand my son from reading your blog. Thanks!!!

    • Josh Hanagarne June 23, 2010, 8:25 pm

      Jill, please let me know if I can ever do anything for either of you. Ask all the questions you want. Keep in mind that my case is extreme and your boy might never experience any of it. Welcome to the party!

  • Stuart Atkins April 25, 2011, 2:04 pm

    Hi Josh,

    Came across your site by accident. I have had Tourette’s about 40 years now. I am a consultant, professor, speaker, and author. I always tell people I may jerk, but I am not a jerk! My tics have dwindled somewhat with a good night’s sleep and exercise being my best medicine. I recently posted on my blog (but as a blogger, I can’t say, “go visit my blog” so just trust me on this one), about James Durbin on American Idol and my Tourettes.

    I have learned to live with it. It’s a part of who we are and I would not be me without it. Keep it up and glad you are a Seth fan. Me too. I wish you all the best and am glad I found your site. Take the best of care, as a brother in Dopamine 🙂

    • Josh Hanagarne April 25, 2011, 3:15 pm

      Stuart, you made my day. I’d love to talk more if you’re ever in the mood to chat.

      • Stuart Atkins April 25, 2011, 3:30 pm

        Very kind of you, Josh, and glad you appreciated my comments. Of course–would love to chat sometime. I signed up for Ticktalk (love the title), and look forward to your words of wisdom. Thanks, again.

        • Stuart Atkins April 25, 2011, 3:40 pm

          One other thought: one day we should all do a “Tourette Guru Panel” on Dr. Phil 🙂 Even Seth and Tom Peters may learn something by asking us all questions! We all have our “thorns in the flesh.” Ours just announces itself on its own clock and is hard to hide.

  • Stuart Atkins April 27, 2011, 9:35 am

    Hi Josh. Watched your video–facinating ideas. One constructive recommendation. You could get that 18+ minute video down to 3 minutes max. If you had to summarize that video in two minutes, what would you say? What are the two key benefits or points you want the listener to bring home with them?

    Also: how often do you life weights and do you do cardio prior to lifting?

    • Josh Hanagarne April 27, 2011, 2:07 pm

      Thanks for the recommendation Stuart. Agreed. I’m going to reshoot it this week.

      I do pretty brief workouts. Sometimes it’s as little as twice a week, or as many as 10 5-15 minute sessions in a week. I don’t do any dedicated cardio but I keep a pretty quick pace when I lift, particularly in the kettlebell movements.

      • Stuart Atkins April 28, 2011, 2:36 pm

        Two to three minutes is the “YouTube Sweet Spot.” It helps the listener cut through all the reading and media clutter we all fight so much. Less is more. If you focus on the practical benefits and reduce the detail, you will have real winner!

        If you don’t have time for a critical point, just make another short video. If you have a YouTube channel, it also allows for another SEO/SEM string of keywords that can be both video and channel specific.

        Two other question on weights: do you lift for bulk or repetition? How many sets do you typically do?

        Thanks so much and I’m glad I met you!

      • Stuart Atkins April 28, 2011, 3:00 pm

        I have to confess my ignorance. I have never used kettlebells and will get some. I ride a stationary bike (30 minutes) and then use free weights. The Kettlebell concept looks interesting.

  • Lisa May 9, 2011, 4:29 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this! I’m pretty sure I don’t have TS, but I’ve had a small tic for a few years that could go unnoticed, until the last few months. Every day it gets a little worse, and someone new at school notices it. Everyone looks at me weird now. Which is okay. There are far worse things in life than having people look at you weird. I just wish they would try to understand, rather than poke fun everytime my whole upper body twitches. Anyways, I have been trying to explain what it’s like to my mom, how you feel like you can hold it in if you want, but that only lasts a few seconds before it gets so uncomfortable that you just want to let it out. And once you do let it out, the pressure comes right back within seconds. The sneeze analogy is a very good way to explain it. Thanks for writing this!

  • Dana June 2, 2011, 2:32 pm

    Hey Josh,

    My daughter (age 7) has Tourettes. She’s had it since she was 3, but wasn’t diagnosed until she was 5 1/2. Most people don’t seem to notice it, because she is young and energetic. I actually home educate her and her siblings, and her tics don’t seem that bad, even though I notice them.

    The first movie I saw about TS was “Front of the Class,” the story about Brad Cohen. I also read his book. You have probably already heard about him and his camp in Georgia, “Camp Twitch and Shout.” It made me feel hopeful, and even positive about her TS, and we just take it in strides. She has never been bullied by anyone for it, and is happy and confident. If people notice her tics, we just explain to them, and she is fine. I don’t think she is old enough, or has the desire to stop her tics yet, but I am glad that that I read your article, and will have something to try if she ever feels like she needs some help. Thanks.

    • Josh Hanagarne June 2, 2011, 2:45 pm

      Hi Dana, I’m glad to hear that it’s going so well. It sounds like you both have a great attitude about it. I think that my parents did the right thing by not really getting stirred up until the questions forced themselves on us later as the tics worsened. If she’s happy, what’s to complain about?

  • Cory Morgan June 3, 2011, 4:33 am

    WITHOUT ABNORMALITY WHAT IS TO DEFINE SIMPLISTICALLY NORMAL??

    Wow whew finally.. made.. to… bottom (lot of comments).

    First of all (naturally) thank you so much for writing this, truly inspirational and thank you for putting an audio (so much easier than trying to force meself to read it).

    I would like to say that it appears you and I have similar senses of humour from this one I have read and there are quite a couple of points I think were very interesting. I am 14 years old and have Tourette’s. But I choose to look at the lightewr side. Of course nobody does it justice but at least it’s getting a bit more recognised and sure without would be nice but would I choose to give it up? Nope. :D. It’s quite a beautiful thing when thought about. I quite liked going through and so to say “repeating” the tics you mentioned. :). You seem like a very intelligent man and I hope that you and I can have a good chat some time.

    And always remember… A FLOWER CAN NOT BLOSSOM BEFORE A CRUEL WINTER (which is just a poetic way of writing things have to get worse before they get better.

    P.S. I particularly like your idea on the specialists and your comment about the sneezing and clock. I would describe it as like a weird itch almost and to perform these things gets rid of it. “Stupid Clock”. 😀

  • Harry June 12, 2011, 4:36 pm

    Dear humanity, I have been living with Tourette’s now for nearly 25 years – I feel that it is certainly a case of “till you’ve walked a mile in a man’s (or lady’s) shoes…….” My mother (dad has TS) and my closest of friends simply have no idea what we have to put up with every day – I agree with the comment from the author that people with Tourette’s simply need people to understand – people who are close to you and should understand come out with the most nieve and ill informed bile sometimes (something we can change through education).
    As for the young 14 year old who left the comment concerning this “beautiful thing”, I’m glad you can take it on the chin, young wippersnapper, coz there came a point in my adolecense were the incesant twitching and being called a ‘spastic’ everyday pushed my to the point of suicide (loved my family too much and didn’t have the gonads) – I do not jest. Having said that I do recognise that there are certain benefits to the syndrome, how many people do you know who can drive around central London at rush hour, skinning up whilst on the mobile phone? (don’t try this at home – or in central London) Peace out to all the spastics out there! One day everyone else will catch up…….

    • Cory Morgan June 17, 2011, 10:42 pm

      I believe lighter is better. People will make fun of it no matter what so I say… Laugh at it too. Do not let it get the better of you! If someone makes fun of a twitch you say back to them yeah hey it does look funny doesn’t it, just like you… whatever. If a joke is made laugh at it (because honestly it is a bit funny when you watch others with Tourette’s). If someone slips a snide comment, laugh at their ignorance.

  • Stuart Atkins June 23, 2011, 4:43 pm

    I was eating out the other night with my wife and son. Tacos and tics, you might say. A 10 year old girl and her mom were eating inside and facing us as we ate outside. The 10 year old noticed my occasional jerks and started copying them in a “hmmm, what does that feel like” fashion. After a few mirrored tics, I got up, calmly walked inside and introduced myself. I told the mom and daughter what I had and that I was just a normal guy with a normal life with a not so normal condition. The girl “got it” and learned from it. The mom even thanked me.

    Not all public tic events go over this well, but kind and calm education goes a long way. Just the fact you catch them off guard with you communication usually gives you the upper hand, surprise advantage. They often listen 🙂

  • Stuart Atkins June 23, 2011, 4:45 pm

    Hi Josh. It’s been awhile. Sorry, I have been a busy guy these days. I trust you are well? Keep the great writing coming. Also, I hope the Kindle obsession is wearing off so you can get more sleep. Kindle + Less Sleep = More Tics. At least it would with me. All the best to you!

  • Janine Almquist August 12, 2011, 7:43 am

    You did a great job speaking at the Pacer Conference. You should consider doing this more often. Is the video you shared in the breakout session available to view on-line?

    • Josh Hanagarne August 12, 2011, 8:22 am

      Thank you Janine, it was a blast. The video you refer to is part 7 of this very series. I would love to do more speaking. I can’t believe how much fun I had and how many wonderful people I met.

  • Diane Requena April 27, 2012, 8:43 pm

    I’m a 46 year old women and believe I have Tourettes but have never been diagnosed. I started when I was 3. My mother noticed
    my head jerks and would tell me off. I took my self to the Doctors in my teens, he said it was a nervous tic born out of habit and that it would stop as I got older. I had all sorts of facial tics going on, shrugging the shoulders, sniffing, coughing, grunting and twisting my abs. Now I’m reduced to the head jerks and occasional facial tic and still pull the abs in. Is this tourettes or just a bad case of tics?

    • Josh Hanagarne April 28, 2012, 9:47 am

      Hi Diane.It certainly sounds like it could be, but if you’re truly curious about a diagnosis I’d see a neurologist. Are you looking for treatment, or just wondering?

      • Diane Requena April 28, 2012, 2:03 pm

        Hi Josh, No I’m not looking for treament just a name for my tics. I’ve spent my life living with it and thinking everything was a habit. I didn’t think I fitted in the TS catercory. Ive avoided talking to people due to the tics, I find I panic a little when spoken to. Now, at least I can tell people that I have Tourettes. Which will make me feel easier. I’ve always avoided the subject hoping that no one will notice and I’d like to thank you for confirming my thoughts on TS. Thank you Josh

        • Josh Hanagarne April 28, 2012, 3:08 pm

          You’re welcome. If you ever want to talk, let me know. I’d be happy to compare notes.

  • Diane Requena April 29, 2012, 3:33 pm

    Hi josh, I have to apologize for jumping right in and asking you whether you believe I have TS without reading all these amazing stories above first. I just like to say being one of the rare few females I can truly relate to most of the stories. Unfortunately my mother, bless her didn’t understand what was going on and because it irritated her so much she used to tell me off, which of course made it worse. I would jerk my head so much I used to rush to the loo and spend ages just tring to shake it all out. This would cause me to have lots of head aches. I found it quite exhausting. I spent a lot of time in self pity. I found my head jerks intensified in my 20’s. As I said I had lots of facial tics one was
    particularly amusing for all to see. I used to elongate my jaw, kind of like starting to yawn with an exaggerated mouth opening and eyes stretching. I used to called Giraffe because stick my chin out. Its kind of hard to discribe. I developed a new one which is pressing the tongue to the roof of the mouth. Oh, god you’ve unleashed something in me now, all these things are coming up. I’ll stop rambling now. I will say that exercise is a must, all that energy has to go somewhere. I also do Yoga which for me is a big must. It’s taken over 40years to discover that what I have is TS and not a habit of which I could stop if I wanted. That comment by the Doc all those years ago affected everthing I thought about myself. I’m really going now, thanks for listening.