My name is Angelina, and I’m from “down under,” on the east coast of Australia. I want to share my story in case it can help someone else. I’m now 23 years old but I’ve experienced tics since I was nine.
It started with rapid eye-blinking, and then I began squeezing my toes and hands. I also started squeezing muscles in my throat; this seemed to be more of a motor tic than a vocal tic.
A family trait?
My mum told me these tics were a bad habit that I should try to stop, but I never could. I also displayed minor traits of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) like checking doors, mentally obsessing over things, and repeating certain phrases in my head. This never really bothered me because I knew a lot of people who experienced traits of OCD. Even my mum would constantly “check” things. My brother twitched a lot, so I never thought I was that different.
The whole OCD thing is actually a bit of a joke with my friends and family because some of us have some pretty amusing habits. I used to have to tap the bathtub 13 times before the toilet flushed, and my brother had to run to the bird cage and tap it whenever a car passed our house. It was quite funny to watch! We all like things to be symmetrical, as well.
New triggers — and too much information!
My symptoms flared several months ago. As an adult, although mild twitches bothered me slightly every now and again, no one, not even my friends, ever noticed or commented on them. Yet about five months ago, my tics and OCD symptoms increased dramatically. I started repeating prayers I had created as a child over and over in my head, and I seemed to be twitching all day. In addition to my job as a journalist, which is stressful, I had recently moved to a new home for the first time in my life and was dealing with family problems such as my parent’s bitter divorce.
After researching on the Internet about tics, I learned about Tourette syndrome (TS). Having never even considered I had a “condition,” I found this information overwhelming, especially after reading that there was no cure and that medication could have adverse side effects. During this period I also started to feel like I needed to shout aloud.
It sent me into a serious depression because I convinced myself the condition was going to progress, with me developing much worse symptoms. I had to take two weeks off work because I was so depressed and unable to concentrate on writing stories.
On my first day off work, I visited a general practitioner. I told this physician about my symptoms and explained I thought I might have a mild case of TS. He said TS is a really rare condition and he’d never seen anyone with it. He also advised me that you only had TS if you called out swear words—which I know showed his ignorance. He gave me Zoloft for the depression, some sleeping tablets, and offered me Valium foy nerves. I refused the Valium, though I was such a mess, I could have probably used some!
Finally getting the message
Feeling no better, I soon visited a naturopath who put me on vitamins and recommended a change in my diet to healthier foods. I didn’t follow this diet because I was a bit lazy and can’t cook! At the time, I was living on bread, vegemite (a nutritional product), milk, cheese, flavored icy poles (popsicles), pasta, sushi, and some meat such as chicken and turkey. I rarely had vegetables and enjoyed a lot of chocolates and lollies (candies).
Still feeling extremely depressed, I visited another doctor who “diagnosed” me with OCD and upped the Zoloft dose. I then went to a psychiatrist! I was feeling pretty desperate because I was so worried that I was going to get worse and worse. My concern was sincere. I was reading stories on the Internet; while some were positive, many were negative about people with TS
Then I found ACN and Bonnie Grimaldi’s website. On these sites and others, I read success stories about people changing diet and taking vitamins. For a while, I didn’t have the energy or motivation to do anything but pop my Zoloft and head back to bed for the day. Then, finally I started to take things into my own hands. I took advice from Bonnie’s site and started on vitamin C, magnesium, lecithin, flaxseed oil, iron, vitamin D, zinc and vitamin B complex. I also cut out gluten, yeast, artificial colors and flavors, and most dairy from my diet.
Three months after my spiral into depression was feeling very good. I’m still on the antidepressant but I’m not twitching as much, and the OCD symptoms and repeating of phrases have mostly stopped. The diet change has also stopped daily headaches, flatulence, and stomach cramps.
I’ve decided that mild twitching is not bad and it kind of makes me who I am. I know that a lot of people with tics and OCD are actually really creative. I decided to write to you because without reading other people’s stories about diet/nutrient change I would never have changed my own diet, improved my symptoms, and felt so much better.
Thank you for the great Latitudes.org website, and best wishes to everyone on their journeys.