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Tics are physical, right?

Posted Mon 14th Feb 2022 at 12:00
by Ellen Adby

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A personal account of mental tics by Ellen Adby

Motor or vocal - the common tics that you can see. Internal tics the clenching muscles you can't see. Still physical though. So what if I told you there can be mental tics too? Some would call them intrusive thoughts.

I get images, words, phrases, videos and songs on replay inside my head. Sometimes I see the worst possible scenario, other times I see things my tic could do, I hear snippets of songs on replay, I get words stuck on repeat. Sometimes it gets so loud up there. It's hard to escape the noise in your own head. It can be like having 50 tabs on your computer open, all playing at once.

With so much going on it can be hard to concentrate, hard to think. My mind moves so fast, skipping from one thing to the next. Until it doesn't, it gets stuck on a topic, a word, a phrase… Sometimes I hear what sounds like a vocal tic, but it's just in my head.

Mental tics aren't often talked about. I think they should be. When seeking support for both physical and mental tics, no one knew where to send me. IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) and community mental health said they couldn't help with anything Tourettes related, the GP didn't know where to send me. As an adult with tourettes there is very little support or understanding, especially for the more complex tics. My physio does their best, but there's not always a lot they can do. Waiting to see specialists can take a long time, but something so many of us have to go through.

TS is a daily battle through pain, anxiety, stigma and your own mind/body. If you have mental tics, you're not the only one.


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