I was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome when I was a freshman in High School, although I didn’t go on any Tourettes medication until I was about to turn 20. My symptoms had finally progressed from annoying tics to some more injurious manifestations of an increasingly-frightening movement disorder.
Like most people in America who get ill, I agreed to take all the pills the doctors could throw at me. Unfortunately, there really is no Tourette’s medication that is designed specifically to treat it. The drugs are those that have shown some success, in some person, in some trial, in some place.
But I didn’t know any of that. They prescribed for yours truly:
- Klonopin/Clonezepam: Used to treat panic attacks and certain types of seizures. This isn’t much of a stress and I hope it does truly help some people
- Tetrabenazine: I reacted horribly to this. Shakes, sensitive skin, pain in my eardrums. It really freaked me out.
- Zyprexa: This is an anti-psychotic used to treat Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and more. This is the helpful little pill that made me balloon up to a non-svelte 265 in about 5 weeks. I was a chub.
- Risperdal: Another anti-schizophrenia med.
- A plain old-fashioned nicotine patch (I’m a non-smoker)
At best, a pill would help–or seem to help–for a couple of days, and then it was business as usual as far as tics. Most of them had no effect on me besides the side-effects. I was also tired, groggy, nauseated, freaked out, slowed down, or all of the above.
If I were a doctor I would probably experiment with pills and patients as well. Most of my neurologists said they had never seen a case as extreme as mine, so they wanted to tinker.
If I had known then what I know now, I would have said no to everything. But that’s the luxury of hindsight. Also, our bodies and chemistry are all unique, so maybe every single one of these drugs has done a world of good for some kid with Tourette’s.
I like to think that’s true. If it’s not…I’ve been there. It’s not pretty.