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Tic, Skate and Music

Posted Mon 4th Nov 2019 at 09:38
by George Spence



I’m George Spence. A fellow young ticker. I am 21 years old.

I have had Tourretes since I was 7 and I was diagnosed in 2008. Life has always been a bit up and down for me.

My mum raised me as a single mum and she is the best person I could have ever asked for to support me through my life.

When I was 7 I got tics. Myself, my family and friends didn’t understand. It was 2006/7 we’d just moved from Italy to the UK.

I am half Italian and Bi-lingual. My whole other side of the family are Italian and I don’t think even they know about my tics as sometimes it can be really subtle or sometimes more severe. I’m a bit up and down in the severity of my ticks and I find it hard to talk about it to other people.

It was really difficult to go to school. I was bullied and I cried a lot after schooI days. I never explained my tics to anyone as I never wanted to. I was so so embarrassed that it hurt me to even think of mentioning the “T” word. It still hurts.

Regardless, I trooped through all the pain from school and the confusion of not understanding why I was the way I am for many years.

I refused to go to the Tourettes Action meetings as a young boy because I wanted to be normal… but the normal thing to do would have been to be more in touch with the charity and I’m so thankful for their support at the moment.

I started to take supplements (Omega 3, Iron, Vitamin C, Magnesium) and my tics reduced between the age of 11-13. They virtually became non existent sometimes, but I still had mechanisms to hide my tics.

At the age of thirteen I started skateboarding. It was the best decision I have ever made. Skateboarding is a unique activity with a community of unity, fun, creatives, individuality and people with issues themselves using skating as a release. Skateboarding taught me to not care as much, to just do your own thing and when you fall down, you get straight back up again and again and again and again and again and again until you get that trick! I remember the day I did my first kickflip. I remember the brand of the skateboard, where I did it and who I was with. There is no better feeling in the world then landing a trick you’ve been trying for ages!

I still skate frequently and it is something I will never stop doing.

My teenage years were very up and down but I have made many close friends and great connections and experiences in this life so far. I have travelled alone to three different continents and have always enjoyed my lone experience in connecting with people and their journeys in different parts of the world. I aim to travel to every country in the world.

I have Tourettes, Depression, Anxiety, ADHD and I am on the autistic spectrum.

I feel like these factors that are part of my DNA have developed me to grow as a person into what I want to be and what I will do in this amazing fruitful life.

To bring us back to present day. I am an activist for the environment, I work/worked in different parts of the music/events industry and I am aspiring to be a professional sound engineer one day. I currently study an Event Management degree at the BIMM London campus.

I am relearning Piano and learning guitar by self teaching and I write and perform spoken word.

Performing spoken word at open mic nights is something I have been doing recently in the last month and it is a great release for my anxiety, depression and to express my tics. I also practice vipassana meditation daily for good state of mind (I highly recommend it).

Tick Tock is a rather dark and honest poem I wrote about ticking and mental health. I wrote this after a full day at Uni where I struggled to suppress my tics of swallowing and tensing my neck. The same day I couldn’t attend a friend's party for longer than ten minutes because of my anxiety.

Tick Tock

Tick tock in my brain Twitch out Switch my brain around I'm pained

Tick tock in my brain Twitch out Switch my brain around I'm pained

Silence triggers my leg movements

I swallow deeply to devour the cave

Tick tock in my brain Twitch out Switch my brain around

I'm pained

Tick tock in my brain

Normality scares me Normality scares me Normality isn't me

Tick tock in my brain Twitch out Switch my brain around I'm pained

Tick tock Tick tock Rain rain Tick tock Tick tock Pain pain

Tick tock clock cough

Tick tock in my brain Tick tock here I am Tick Tock your station is here Tick tock a train pasees by

Tick tock in my brain, I was supposed to go to that party today

Therapeutic ticking from clock on the train

No life feels real today

Tick tock go home

Tick tock there's nowhere to go

The ticking stops

I walked to the door then walked away again

And with rage I skated back to the temple of doom

Knock knock knock The echo still rings in my brain

Bang bang bang

I hear in my brain

The room is gold like a light that's been left on for years

I wish it would switch off

Glaring people in the room

Kitchen talk Kitchen talk Oh the Kitchen talk

In the toilet again

I need to leave with no one noticing

I cried to get to this mic

Tick tock in my brain Twitch out Switch my brain around I'm pained


Shortly after this party I went to an open mic night in Camden Town and performed this poem to express my emotions.

I had this lovely person called Remy come up to me and talk to me after my spoken word performance. She was worried about me as she could see I was in true pain whilst performing. We talked about Depression and anxiety and we gave each other a big hug after the performance. Remy if you are reading this (which I doubt it cos I didn’t mention my tourettes to you) I thank you so much for coming up and taking your time to just talk to me.

That performance in Camden was probably my most favourite even regarding the circumstances. I felt so lonely that day. However, I trapped and engaged everyone in the room, it was silent and I was spilling my guts out (metaphorically) to the audience and I couldn’t of cared less, which I think the crowd was even more engaged because of my honesty and lack of care. For a moment they could maybe relate to my feeling of despair..

To end this briefly, my ticks at uni have been getting more and more severe this year and I failed to attend many of the classes due to this issue. Last year I felt like some of the students were mocking me because of my ticks. This year I am overly paranoid they still are. Step by step I’m telling friends at my university. Next week I will be explaining to everyone in my class about Tourettes and my issues. Whether they notice them in lectures or not, I feel like everyone needs to know as I am not attending class because of my anxiety and ticks.

In truth, I am terrified.

Absolutely terrified to release such a personal matter, that for me and I’m sure for many others is really scary.

It reminds me of being 8 years old and hopeless. However I am not hopeless. You are not hopeless. No matter how hard it is, we will get through it.

My fellow Tickers, we are STRONG. STRONGER than anyone will ever know about our day to day struggles.

I will update you all next week on this.

Much love and peace to you all, stay strong.

George x

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