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Welcome to Biscuit Land: A year in the life of Touretteshero

Jessica Thom (2012)

Jess Thom has Tourette Syndrome, a neurological condition that manifests itself through multiple vocal and physical tics. She says ‘biscuit’ up to 16 times per minute, (about 6 million times a year), she beats her chest regularly, her walking is in her own words ‘chaotic’ and, in common with only 10% of the 300,000 people in the UK with Tourette, she swears involuntarily. When she agreed to talk about the condition for Stephen Fry’s series, Planet Word, little did she realise the impact it would have. Her humour, courage and complete lack of self-pity touched the audience and led Fry to declare her ‘a true hero’. Other media followed, including interviews on the Today programme and This Morning, and now her remarkable story is told in full in WELCOME TO BISCUIT LAND. Based on her entertaining blog, Touretteshero, the book follows a year in Jess’s life, and shows that although living with Tourette’s is tough, it can also be funny and inspiring. As her alter ego, Jess transforms herself into a superhero to educate children and adults about her condition, and to empower others who have it not to feel downhearted. With wit and considerable frankness, she describes her daily challenges, while celebrating the creativity and humour of her condition. (‘Biscuit’ may be her most common word but others are more poetic with “The history of iguanas can be written in a tea pot” and “The clouds are chasing Helen Mirren” being two favourites). Jess introduces Leftwing Idiot, Fat Sister, King Russell, Poppy, and others, who provide friendship and support and enable her to go to work and live in her own flat. She talks of the frustrations of coping with everyday tasks when her body won’t stay still, such as using a cash machine or washing her hair. She reveals how she deals with the inevitable funny looks and nasty comments, and how the simple kindness and understanding of strangers can make a big difference. Through WELCOME TO BISCUIT LAND, and her blog, Jess aims to alter the perceptions of Tourette’s, showing it as the creative, if somewhat surreal, force that it is.

Find the book online.

"People need to know that TS is involuntary. We don't need pity, but some will always need help, support and understanding"