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October 20, 2010 3:22 PM   Subscribe

I ended up not taking my meds on the weekend to conserve them for workdays in case something went wrong when it came time to renew, as it always seemed to, and so the character of "Mike on the weekends" became much more sweary and unpredictable -- but even I had to admit, weirdly entertaining. I was known to unload a series of f-bombs on people wearing shorts (why shorts?) and the behavior was weird enough that I never got beat up. When Tourette's took over my life
posted by defenestration (16 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Very interesting article. Funny that he diagnosed himself while reading "Motherless Brooklyn." When you encounter a book or article (or AskMe) like that, do you find yourself checking the person's symptoms against yourself? That's what I always wind up doing, but I've yet to figure out exactly what is wrong with me.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 3:48 PM on October 20, 2010

On the subject of "Mike on the weekends", see also, Witty Ticcy Ray
posted by heyforfour at 3:51 PM on October 20, 2010

Huh. My kid brother has Tourette's and does the same thing on weekends. His is mostly physical tics, so it's a little less socially problematic.

Anyone know how common this is?
posted by honeydew at 3:51 PM on October 20, 2010

Going beyond Tourettes, the "weekend version" sounds like something I've heard people with anxiety and forms of manic talk about, in terms of being off of medications. You lose the lows at the cost of the highs, or with Tourettes, you lose the socially unacceptable at the cost of the impulsive and weird, except Tourettes medicine sounds like it works faster and more distinctly than anti-anxiety medication.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:09 PM on October 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

I thought the love story in it was pretty sweet.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:21 PM on October 20, 2010

defenestration: I was known to unload a series of f-bombs on people wearing shorts (why shorts?)

Because, fuck shorts.
posted by paisley henosis at 4:35 PM on October 20, 2010 [19 favorites]

paisley henosis: I think you're mixing up cause and effect.
posted by aubilenon at 5:03 PM on October 20, 2010

"I've let go of my self-indulgent interest in my own drama and become far more interested in the task of actually accomplishing something."

I think that's pretty inspirational, and something to aspire to for people with and without mental disorders.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 5:43 PM on October 20, 2010

When David Mamet writes his Rahm Emmanuel biopic, he's going to have to stay clear of these anti-Tourette's meds...
posted by Schmucko at 6:14 PM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

There's a temptation for your mental illness to become synonymous with your personality.

You know, I actually think that statement from the article could be expanded to any kind of chronic illness.

I have an autoimmune stomach disease called colitis, and it's certainly been the case for me, especially when the illness has been particularly recalcitrant and/or unresponsive.

When something becomes such a large part of your life, and day-to-day activity and thought processes, I think it's natural to not only identify with it, but to acknowledge that it's a fundamental part of you. After all, you spend much of your day thinking about your illness, or reacting to it - even when it's not physically manifest.

This led to some awkward times in my early twenties. When an illness causes you such intense pain, discomfort and disability, it's natural I think to rage against it, to hate it, to despise it. At the same time, you feel almost like there's a kind of Stockholm Syndrome operating. Your illness is part of you, has become part of your personality, how you move in the world, how others perceive you and who you are actually are. Part of your essence, if you will.

And thus, hating it, in some ways can feel like hating yourself, or hating your taste in t-shirts, or your shoe size. It feels wasteful, redundant, self-defeating, childish. Why hate who you are? You need to embrace who you are, deal with your foibles and humanity, and process it. Self-hating is self-defeating.

Personally, this thought process would then always swing me the other way. I'm fetishizing my illness? Letting it define me, who is so much more than that? Am I going to become one of those sad people on support forums; a walking co-sign of my disease, unable to be anything else, a dumb vessel for this malevolent parasite living in me and controlling my actions and thoughts? This disease I hate? Am I going to spend all my time thinking and talking about something I hate, with with the twin unpleasant spectres of hypochondria, and mental instability hovering unspoken behind such actions?

There is no right answer to these questions, of course. Different people, with different problems, personalities and needs answer them in different ways. Or perhaps we all answer in different ways ourselves at times, depending on our health, our support networks, our medications.

But this uneasy binary dwells within lots of us with chronic or untreatable illness, I think. An uncomfortable dualism which may help the healthier understand the awkwardness people like myself sometimes demonstrate when discussing what, exactly, is wrong with us; the tendency to either over-share or mutter brusque, cryptic half-sentences. It depends where on the spectrum of acceptance-rejection we currently sit, and how we're dealing with that at the time. How okay we are with our illness - because we're healthy, medicated, able, happy; in pain, furious, or beaten, embarrassed, ashamed. Or something else. I have been ill for many years now, and still grapple with this all the time - moreso when my medication is not working well and I'm thinking about my illness a lot.
posted by smoke at 6:26 PM on October 20, 2010 [15 favorites]

I live very near a hospital that does neurological tests and, apparently, is a center for the diagnosis and monitoring of Tourette's. This can be unnerving, as patients will sometimes walk around the neighborhood to stretch their legs and take in the architecture (mostly 1920s bungalows and turn of the century brick homes). The sight of a stranger walking in circles outside while muttering to themselves... or walking along to stop, pause, turn to look back, and then walk forward again in three step increments... or making loud bird-calls while admiring your front door... is, at first, alarming. When you get three or four a month, you begin to figure out what's going on.

Google was surprisingly unhelpful, as the hospital does it's best not to advertise to the public that it's involved so closely with mental health on a "nuts and bolts" level. It's not a secret secret, tho, and neighbors have had discussions with the cops, who are used to calls from the area. No, they're not dangerous. No, they're not lost. No, they probably don't need help, but let us know if they are asking for help, just in case it's not a tic.

This article had something to teach me, as there is a neighbor who has very severe episodes of =screaming= obscenities, the most filthy sexual and ethnic insults imaginable, especially at passing cars, often for minutes at a time, hours on end. This person is actually a young and attractive individual, well dressed and groomed (better than I am, at any rate), and they pretend to be talking on a cell phone when pacing the sidewalk. I will admit to getting grumpy when they go at it... especially when the baby is trying to nap.

Looking back, yup, happens around once a month. A tight supply of a rare and expensive drug absolutely explains what's going on, and the proximity to both the hospital and a nearby mental health center for young people explains why this person is living here. Knowing this makes it easier to take, and removes the bitterness from saying "Someone's off their meds again!"

Someone's off their meds again, and it's probably not their fault.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:32 PM on October 20, 2010 [7 favorites]

Smoke - that was my relationship with severe asthma for much of my young life. I couldn't leave the house without a rescue inhaler, needed a nebulizer at home, and could count on at least two trips to the hospital a year when even that didn't do the trick.

Then came Advair, around 7 years ago. I take one dose a day and... I need my rescue inhaler once a week, maybe, if it's allergy season. Most of the time, I don't need it for months and months on end. When I do need it, it's an annoyance, not a screaming emergency like it once was.

All of the self-identification with the inhalers and the attacks and the conditions it set on my life, all of the fundamental me-ness involved with severe chronic asthma... it just went away. I didn't even notice it going until it was gone.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:56 PM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

A tight supply of a rare and expensive drug absolutely explains what's going on...

It doesn't need to be rare or expensive - it just need to be a pain in the ass to fill on short order when your pill accounting wasn't stellar this month and your doctor has gone to go do something to someone's brain Thursday when you call about getting a new script and he isn't in the office on Friday.

At least I'm only distracted when I screw this up and not screaming random obscenities at people. Well, not any more than usual.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:46 PM on October 20, 2010

Thanks defenestration, this was both educational and touching.
posted by Ahab at 1:26 AM on October 21, 2010

I liked this article quite a bit - thanks defenestration!

I've always sort of been fascinated by Tourettes because I think it (along with a host of other intermittent disorders, like sporadic aphasias) really show how our conscious minds only hold the illusion of control over our bodies and behaviors.
posted by muddgirl at 8:40 AM on October 21, 2010

Been living with TS for almost 40 years now and just want to say thanks to defenestration for posting this. The author was able to put into words exactly how I feel about living with TS.

One interesting thing that I discovered about my TS came about when I was going through rehab/recovery/therapy for alcohol abuse. I was able to finally understand where my secretiveness and tendency to "hide" thoughts and actions, came from. Years of disguising my tics and suppressing them, both in public and with people one-on-one have devolved into an ingrained behavior that became second nature. I was always hiding, keeping secrets about my thoughts, actions and whereabouts from the people I loved, especially my drinking, drugging and and bad behavior. I really think that the origins of this were in my need to disguise, suppress and hide my tics because they were "bad".

Although I have not been on meds since my teens (Haldol was the only option at that time, and Harold Klawans was the doctor that got my med regimen straightened out, finally), I have recently experienced recurring tic behavior, due in part to being on meds for Adult ADD. The side effects clearly state that taking the med with Tourette's can exacerbate tics. However, at this time in my life, I can handle them much better than when I was actively presenting TS.

Oh, and it's reassuring to see that others here have TS.
posted by sundrop at 8:59 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

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