Illustration by Johan Björkegren
Remember when you were a kid and the teacher made you name birds on a poster in front of the whole class and one of them was called Bearded Tit, and ever since that day you were “tit girl?” Now imagine that, but instead you yelled “motherfucker,” and instead of blushing you started compulsively repeating what the teacher said. That’s almost like getting a taste of what Tourettes Syndrome is like.
Obviously neuropsychological disorders ain’t a walk in the park, especially if you’re a 15-year-old girl, like my friend Karin. But actually, almost 3% of the population has to deal with these kinds of fits.
Vice: Tell me something you would have to do because of Tourettes.
Karin: When I enter a room I have to look in all the corners. I have to touch them. Sometimes if a room has an unusual shape I have to look really hard. And when someone says something I repeat it. Oh, and I also say “cocksucker” without meaning to every now and then.
What do your friends think about that?
I used to always get ganged up on in class, you know, because I repeated what the other kids said. They called me a copycat. My close friends and relatives never pick on me, so I never think about it when I’m with them. But I try very hard not to get tics in school.
Have you ever felt good about your vocal tics? Like, did someone deserve hearing “cocksucker” when you said it?
Since the people who deserve it often are the ones teasing me about my symptoms, attacking them with symptoms doesn’t work. I don’t think my Tourettes has ever really helped me to defend myself. Sorry for being a bit of a bore.
That’s OK. Do you feel like Tourettes has ANY advantages at all?
Well, obsessions do help. Once my best friend lost her guinea pig and, by pure coincidence, I found him in a corner in the bathroom. I wasn’t looking for him, I was just being obsessive. He could have starved to death in there if it wasn’t for my disease. And that’s just one example. I often find people’s stuff when I’m strolling back and forth in their homes. I’m a finder.
Wow, you’re like the queen of Hide and Seek.
Actually I am. Locating people and stuff is what I do best.