I'm Sam, founder of Dealing with Disorder!

Photographs make young Sam look calm, but he wasn’t. He was restless. He was anxious. He wasn’t ‘normal’.

I used to hate that. But not anymore. I’ve learned that what makes us different makes us unique, and I want to celebrate this.

The diagnosis
in childhood

I was 9 years old when I was diagnosed. I was first taken out of my primary school class to be assessed by the schools psychiatrist. I was making complex movements and sounds that seemed forced.

After discussions with the family GP, a neurologist and counsellor, it was made official. I had Tourette Syndrome and was put on medication.

I used to have an overwhelming urge to bite the carpet. I would bite my knee. I would scrape my hand against a wall until it bled. I had intrusive thoughts that would make me start things over.

My main vocal tic was to shout ‘huh, cool!’ whenever the urge came up.

My teens

The teenage years are never easy. And they weren’t for me. I was pretty badly bullied in my pre-teens, thankfully this eased in secondary (high) school. 

Tourette remained but I learned to mask my symptoms, at a price. I was emotionally drained constantly, and did not socialise very well apart from with those I was close to. Even to those friends I remained quiet about my diagnosis. I still haven’t told most of my close friends.

My tics went from complex to more subtle ones. I would blink more, cross my eyes and shrug my shoulders. I would hum and grunt instead of say words. Anxiety that came with my neurological disorder had me sticking to my comfort zones as much as possible. 

OCD was a problem for me, although I didn’t know it at the time. It took many more years to realise how much of my life was driven my compulsions. 

 

My twenties

I became a lot more confident in my twenties. I successfully enrolled in a University near me, and made myself leave my comfort zone. An internship in the USA was offered and I took it. It was incredible. This was the year that really changed me as a person.

Simple tics still plagued me but were certainly bearable.

Sadly, my father passed away when I was 23. The anxiety I managed to overcome would creep up again after his shock passing and I would spend the rest of my twenties in a drunken state. This did not help my tics at all, and OCD started to really control my life. I sought therapy for my OCD and chatting to a professional really helped take a big weight from my shoulders.

My thirties (present day)

My twenties had some incredibly tense moments. It was as if everything finally had me held down with no sign of releasing me. I think this breaking point really helped me figure some things out once I hit 30.

I realised that I needed to quit alcohol. Reduce caffeine and sugar. I went through some horrible withdrawals as a result of this, but coming out the other end has been amazing. I haven’t felt better in years. 

Now sober and a lot more aware of how I found myself on the path I am on, I am using my time to understand how to improve my life further. My tics are slowly making a comeback, but this could be to do with the withdrawals. I have become much better at spotting when OCD is trying to take over and not letting it.

My aim

I want to spend as much time as I can understanding Tourette Syndrome, OCD and the co-occurring conditions that come with them.

I want to write about every single way that these disorders manifest, from the tics to the intrusive thoughts, to the sleep issues. 

I want to learn how diet and exercise can have an impact, and how I can be of support to others going through a similar struggle.