I’m not particularly proud of myself for writing this post and saying all that I’m about to say because as a person, I like to think I’m relatively secure with who I am and who I’ve become. I hate that I felt this way, even for a minute, and I hate that this post will probably arouse a feeling of pity from some of you (even though I hope it doesn’t…please.) However (and unfortunately), there are always going to be those moments in life that shake your self-confidence completely and make you feel as small as you can possibly feel. And also unfortunately, you can’t keep those moments and feelings to yourself because if you do, they’ll slowly destroy you.
Today, I had to present in my Latin American Literature class. I had everything planned to a T, and everything was going according to plan until 5 minutes in. At 5 minutes in, I almost lost it. I was mid sentence when I felt a-bigger-than-normal twitch run through my right arm, shaking the papers that were in my hand. Being used to these little outbursts, I thought nothing of it. I just kept talking until the professor interrupted me momentarily to clarify something for the class. I looked up to listen, and that’s when I saw the girl in the second row staring at me with wide eyes. I didn’t get it at first…why was she looking at me like that? Then I watched as a grin crossed her face. She then proceeded to turn to her friend next to her, point at me from under the desk, whisper something and then imitate the twitch that had just left my arm. Her friend then turned and looked at me with wide- eyes, looked me up and down, and then whispered something back. Then, both turned to look at me…giggling…
At this point, the professor was still talking. I could feel my face turning redder and redder as I became aware of the fact that those two girls were now telling everyone in their row about my twitch. Finally, the professor allowed me to continue, and as I did, I felt about 10 eyes scrutinizing my every move as I started talking again.
I completely blacked out. My mouth was moving, and I was presenting just fine, but my mind was thinking about what I had just seen. At that moment, a million emotions ran through my body: anger, shame, embarrassment, sadness, helplessness, resentment, etc. Usually, people just ask about my twitching when they see it—they at least give me the opportunity to explain myself. But at that moment, I had no chance. I was at their complete disposal—I was completely vulnerable. I had no opportunity to explain myself, or to yell at them, or to punch them in the face (if it came to that). All I could do was continue presenting.
Fortunately, the presentation went extremely well, and the professor seemed to like what I had to say. As the presentation closed, I put my eyes to the ground and walked back to my seat without a word. I had wanted to cry when this whole shitty situation had manifested itself in front of my very eyes, but now I just felt dizzy. I couldn’t see straight, my mind was in a million different places, and all I wanted to do was sit down and try to sort out how I was feeling.
I guess this is why I wrote this post. I seriously considered not talking about this with anyone, but I decided against it because if I didn’t say something, I would have gone straight home after class, gotten in bed and stayed there the rest of the day. But I didn’t and I don’t want to do that. I know this post will probably make my mother cry, (sorry, Mom), but I guess this is just the reality of my situation.
I have been so lucky in my life. I am surrounded by people who love me for me and know me apart from my Tourettes. Everyone has always been so supportive and understanding, and usually, even people I just meet typically don’t notice the twitching straight off. And when they DO notice, they’ve already spoken to me long enough to feel comfortable to ask…or at least they don’t laugh….
I suppose this situation was a huge reality check for me. I hadn’t felt this insecure about my twitching since I was first diagnosed. When I walked into that sixth grade classroom after having been gone for so long, I didn’t know how my friends were going to receive me. But again, I was lucky. All of my friends were happy that I was back, and after I explained why I had been away for so long at the end of 5th grade, they accepted me back, no questions asked. I really do have a beautiful life filled with beautiful people.
As for those girls in the second row, I don’t think I’m mad at them anymore. They just didn’t understand, and I guess I can’t fault them for that. The best I can do is just go on with my day, try to just move past it and accept that there are always going to be “those people” in this world. If anything, this has taught me that it’s all about how you react. I’m glad I didn’t cry or allow my presentation to take a turn for the worst. I’m glad I kept it together and didn’t let them see me sweat. But honestly, I’m also glad that after this, I will never have to see them again…