Kevin Williamson is my name. I am 58 years old, and was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome (TS) when I was 35. However, the ticks, movements, and jerks started at about age 9 or 10.
In 1970, nobody really knew about Tourette Syndrome. My mom thought I was twitching to get hair out of my face, so the solution was to keep my hair short. This obviously did nothing to stop the tics. The tics then began showing up as leg tremors and leg jerks while I walked, then moved to other extremities of my body, such as my shoulders and arms. My parents took me to our family practice doctor, who simply told me to not be so “nervous”, and just stop twitching. My mom told me the same, while dad just belittled me. I also took the usual ribbing from the neighborhood kids as well and just dealt with it, either by mocking them back or ignoring them.
Hockey was big in our neighborhood and state; I started to play and was actually very good. That served as a good diversion, and got the other kids to give me some breathing room, though the teasing never really stopped, and occasionally I was referred to as a bit of a freak.
My body was in constant motion, and sitting still for longer than seven or eight seconds was not a possibility. I played hockey through high school, college, and I ultimately coached at both the high school and college levels. Speaking in front of my players was always a challenge for me to stay still, but my players often would ignore it. Once in a while, a kid playing for me would ask about my twitching. Until I was officially diagnosed, I had no good answer to those questions.
Beyond hockey, my main occupation of 30 years was, and still is, that of a hotel manager turned owner. When speaking with employees, customers, or the general public, I can quickly see when a person I am talking to focuses on whatever area of tics or tremors might be consuming me at that time, despite my extreme attempts at trying to stay still. Among my staff or co-workers, I have found it very helpful to explain to them what I am dealing with, and I have experienced nothing but understanding from them over the past 20 years. This was a vast change from my childhood experiences and I appreciated it very much.
My other occupation over the past 20 years is that of a wildfire fighter, both in northern Minnesota and out in the western states. This is part-time and seasonal, but it allows me to be active and channel the energy that I presume to be related to my TS.
My three daughters have never known me without my tics, and have simply accepted it as a part of me, and have never been bothered by it. My first wife thought it was weird, and admitted to being bothered by my tics. My current wife has been extremely supportive and sees me as me.
Unfortunately my tics have never subsided, and in fact, have gotten a bit worse over the years. On two occasions I sought medication to mitigate the tics, but in both cases I was given pills to minimize the tics, and a second set of pills to quell the suicidal thoughts that the tic pills would give me. I’d rather just be me and deal with the tics than create a whole new set of problems.
Diet has helped as certain foods will contribute to the severity of my tics. Loud noises or music, and lots of activity around me seems to make them worse as well. So as I reach the later stages of my life, the tics are a part of me, and don’t seem to be going anywhere.
Admittedly, if some sort of practical treatment were to come forth, it is my subdued dream to be tic free and see what it is like to be at peace in my body. The years of tics have created some arthritis as well as other aches and pains in the areas of manifestation, and I do not know the peace that a “normal” person knows.
I advise young kids with Tourette to just be strong, don’t hide and know that, even though you are different, you are just as special in God’s eyes, and do not let TS hold you back from your passions!