How Tourettes Impacts Day to Day Lives
Tourettes syndrome is a neurological condition that affects 300,000 people in the UK alone. Whilst some symptoms of the condition are well known, many of us are still unaware of the hidden side of Tourettes.
25-year-old Alice Franklin is one of those people who live with Tourettes on a daily basis. Franklin recently sat down with the BBC to discuss her condition and how it affects her day to day life.
“Punching walls is a favourite one of mine. Punching windows. I’ve broken three windows in the past year. Punching myself in the head, whacking my head against the wall.”
It was four years ago when Franklin first began to experience symptoms to which she said, “I didn’t even notice them or recognise them as tics. They were opening and closing my mouth and screwing up my eyes and then things deteriorated really quickly, I was shouting, swearing, jerking, shaking – any movement or sound I was doing it.”
As well as vocal tics like swearing, Franklin has also seen others occur to her which often cause her harm. “Slapping myself across the face, banging my head on the table. All of these things are painful, all of these things hurt.”
She also has things called ‘tic attacks’ which are bouts of continuous tics which happen suddenly and last either last minutes or hours. One of the most recent tic attacks happened a few days ago at her new job.
“My whole body was shaking, I was grunting, my head was nodding and it lasted about an hour and a half. They’re completely exhausting, where you can’t stop moving and it feels like you’re trapped in a body that someone else is controlling”.
Franklin is just one of 300,000 adults and children in the UK who live with the neurological condition but even though there are a huge amount of suffers all around the country, the cause of Tourettes is not yet clear.
The charity; Tourettes Action, has discovered that patients are looking at long delays to getting diagnosed with the condition. Even though there are treatment options, they are limited and there are long waiting times to access the therapies that are available.
A Professor at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust is a consultant in behavioural neurology. Prof Andrea Cavanna spoke to BBC Radio 5 Live saying:
“Although the exact cause is still unknown, it is thought that genetic mechanisms can predispose individuals to the development of tics, and the role of environmental factors is currently under investigation”.
Let’s take a look into the long-term side of things and how that affects someone mentally and physically.
Tourettes Action carried out some research on the pain, injury and physical problems that come and in hand with tics. Speaking to 462 across the UK, 86 percent of the respondents reported having had tics cause them physical damage or pain.
In addition to this, the study found that some of the injuries or physical problems that people experienced including broken bones, dislocations, whiplash, eye damage (constant eye rubbing crunching eyes etc.) head shaking and nosebleeds.
The research manager for Tourettes Action, Dr Seonaid Anderson said:
“The NHS long-term plan sets out our intention to improve choice and personalised care for people with long term conditions, as well as to support local areas to tackle unwarranted variation in services”.