Whenever I meet new people and I have to explain that I have Tourette’s, I make sure to explain that I am an anomaly.
Firstly, I’m a woman and Tourette’s normally affects males.
Secondly, I got Tourette’s in my twenties and most people get it when they are aged six to seven.
Thirdly, most people with Tourette’s don’t experience coprolalia – the compulsion to swear – and I sure as hell do.
In this sense, I am a walking, talking, yelling stereotype of the condition, because most people with the condition just equate Tourette’s with yelling out curse words. And I yell out curse words. A lot.
In some ways, I feel I’m letting the Tourette’s “community” down (hate that word – it’s not like we’re all in the same WhatsApp group or anything) for being so sweary. A lot of people with the condition have it quite badly and don’t ever utter an expletive involuntarily, and they have to live their lives explains that only 10 to 25 percent of Touretters swear involuntarily.
It’s a statistic I make sure to repeat as often as I can, because I don’t want to be purporting the myth that all Touretters swear involuntarily as I walk around swearing involuntarily.
In some ways, because I fit the media stereotype of Tourette’s, my life is easier. I don’t have to explain what I’m doing because my Tourettic symptoms align with people’s preconceptions. Instead, I just choose too, deciding to explain Tourette’s as thoroughly as I can, from the blissfully ignorant strangers I meet in bars to the people “whose cousin has Tourette’s too”. (Seriously, I’ve heard that sentence so much, I’ve come to believe everyone has a cousin with Tourette’s.)
I guess it’s my way of “doing my bit”. I’ve got this thing, and I’ve got it forever. I might as well tell the world about it.