I’M really hoping they don’t put ads on the ABC because my husband says my tic worsens during ad breaks. Since my childhood I’ve had Tourette syndrome. It’s thought an overproduction of dopamine, which controls fine motor movement, causes you to tic and twitch. You could call it an affliction, as it’s a lifelong companion, but most of the time it doesn’t bother me that much. Just during the ad breaks.
One of the features of Tourette is that you can defer your twitching for a spell. So if you’re meeting the Queen, say, you can wait until you’re safely outside Buckingham House before having a good twitch to make up for lost time. It’s like not wanting to scratch in public. This being the case, even your closest friends may not have noticed you doing it. There are two common reactions when you bring it up. One, they ask you to demonstrate your twitch as if you’re a performing poodle; or, two, they do a demonstration for you and say ‘‘Is it like that?’’ It’s not the most sensitive response, but if they want to make a spectacle of themselves that’s up to them.
It’s an inherited condition, so there’s a 50-50 chance of my children having it. Since my diagnosis I’ve become adept at spotting other people who have it. This is how I know that if I had children with the presenter of a popular motoring program, our progeny would be guaranteed to inherit it and our household would be a festival of twitching. Also, my present husband would be rather taken aback.
The Tourette Syndrome Association is keen to move away from the commonly held perception of Tourette as the swearing disease. A compulsion to say inappropriate things at the wrong moment is a characteristic for a small minority of people. I feel compelled to swear at corporate jargon, sales pitches and ad breaks but believe this is common to many people. I don’t think it’s a feature of my condition. Perhaps it makes me better at swearing. Or maybe I just enjoy it.
Since I have only a mild case it’s easy for me to be philosophical about it. There are plenty of people who have worse to deal with. I’m not in pain and it’s not going to kill me. The day is coming when I’ll have to explain it to my ever-watchful daughter, and she’ll probably ask if she’s going to get it. It was harder to bear in childhood, so let’s hope we can help her be philosophical about it, too.
It was a worry when it came to attracting a decent man. But there’s always something to put up with, isn’t there? Indiscretions with the toothpaste cap. Coming from different planets. A decent man doesn’t worry about a bit of twitching. Mine says it gives him something to watch in the ad breaks.
So we don’t watch much commercial TV any more. And I’m hoping they don’t put ads on the ABC.