How not to become a craz(y|ier) person?
July 27, 2009 11:35 PM   Subscribe

So, my minor tics are developing into more pronounced tics. Is there something I should be worried about? Is there something I can do?

Full Story: When I was a child, I had a wicked stutter. Maybe this is unrelated, I don't know. Anyway, after several unsuccessful bouts of speech therapy, the stutter eventually cleared up on its own.

I have, however, for as long as I remember, had a habit of occasionally vocalising or sub-vocalising a word from my line of thought, though only when I am alone.

Recently, this has become more pronounced and I will find myself vocalising quietly some repetitive word or short phrase that's on my mind almost any time I am alone or even quasi-alone (such as walking down the street by myself, even if it's a busy street). Sometimes it will be a name, sometimes a totally random word (even prepositions or the like). Sometimes it will even be a string of profanity for no reason at all.

I've also had a lifelong case of bouncy leg disorder (aka the jiggles) and in recent years this has only been growing worse.

I've also found myself clearing my throat way more than is reasonable. This one is completely new.

Anyway, I know this all sounds a lot like classic tourettes. If it is, is there anything short of medication I can do to stop it from getting worse? Right now, it doesn't really negatively impact my life, but only because it limits itself to when I'm relatively alone. If it starts to manifest itself in social situations, I'm going to be much more upset about it.

Also, I've read/heard the occasional quip that tics like this can be an early warning sign of brain tumours. There is a history of brain cancer in my family, however I don't want to waste the time/resources of the medical community over nothing. Given that I'm 30 years old and this is a worsening of a pre-existing condition rather than something new, would I be crazy to go to a doctor babbling about having a brain tumour because I talk to myself?

finally: I've got a nagging (i'm almost certain) irrational fear that this could be a harbinger of schizophrenia or more serious mental disorder... could someone please harshly disabuse me of that?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Well, I thnk you'd need to be evaluated by a doctor to be diagnosed with Tourette's. FWIW I have restless leg syndrome, and I also occasionally vocalize random words from my thoughts, although the latter usually only when I'm in the shower or laying in bed at night. I am typically feeling strongly about whatever I'm thinking about at the time, so I think strong emotions might play into mine. See this previous thread about being compelled to blurt something out when feeling embarrassed.
posted by IndigoRain at 11:45 PM on July 27, 2009

Oh dude, please please please see a doctor. It could be one of a million different things, some of them not a big deal, but a few of them incredibly serious.

Getting these serious things recognised quickly and early could be vital in treatment, or - without being alarmist; chances are small - even saving your life. See a doctor. It's only a small amount of time, and it could end up with a very big pay off.
posted by smoke at 12:22 AM on July 28, 2009

From the way you spell "tumour," I'm guessing you're from Canada/the UK/Australia/NZ, so use your government-provided health care and see a doctor.
posted by smorange at 1:06 AM on July 28, 2009

I've also had a lifelong case of bouncy leg disorder (aka the jiggles) and in recent years this has only been growing worse.

"Bouncy leg" is surprisingly common, especially amongst males. I did an informal survey once and out of 8 guys, 7 did it. As far as I know, it's not correlated with any pathology.

It's my (completely subjective, spitball, guesstimation) observation that "bouncy leg" and the like often get worse with boredom, nervousness, stress and (yes) depression. If you are getting stressed about your tics, this feeds back onto itself, you 'tic' more, get more stressed, etcetera. Perhaps you might want to look at your stress levels.

But, as others have said, if you're really worried about brain cancer, schizophrenia and tourettes, nothing short of a medical examination will bring you any resolution.
posted by outlier at 2:49 AM on July 28, 2009

Best answer: My apologies 256, I didn't realise you had already seen a doctor. I wasn't thinking cancer so much, but a few other brain-affecting diseases/illnesses that might present with these kind of symptoms - but I definitely ain't a doctor, and if they aren't worried, I'm not as inclined to be.

This said, did you mention the symptoms to your doctor, or just the cancers? If you didn't mention any symptoms, I would go back if I were you. It's only a small amount of time, truly, you have nothing to lose.

I wouldn't be too worried about schizophrenia et al. I think you'd have a few other things bothering you if this was the case!
posted by smoke at 3:05 AM on July 28, 2009

Best answer: It could be something serious. It could be nothing at all, a plate of beans overcontextualized by worry.

None of us here will be able to narrow it down for you, and you're obviously concerned enough that you asked the question.

You can do nothing, and maybe it's nothing. (you're out nothing but you'll worry yourself sick.)
You can do something, and maybe it's nothing. (you're out time and money but no more worries.)
You can do something, and maybe it's something. (You're out time and money, BUT you can begin treatment, whatever that means.)
You can do nothing, and maybe it' something. (You'll worry, it'll get worse, and depending on the pathology it could quite seriously affect your life.)

Of these options, I think it's pretty clear that you should go talk to a doctor.
posted by TomMelee at 4:27 AM on July 28, 2009

Best answer: I agree with the suggestions to see a doctor of course, but to address the schizophrenia concern: as a mental health therapist who has worked on 2 locked psychiatric wards and met lots of folks living with schizophrenia, I've never heard of an onset like what you describe. (I have little to no experience with those who have been diagnosed with Tourette's syndrome.)
posted by dreamphone at 5:24 AM on July 28, 2009

I remember an incident with a guest lecturer in college who came to talk to my psychology class about Tourette's. So much of her lecture resonated with me - I've always had similar, but milder symptoms, and so I went to talk to her after the class.

Her response? She said that without fail, every time she gives that lecture, at least one person in the class approaches her to talk about their similar experiences. Minor tics are apparently much more common that we think, we just all do them in secret, so we think we're all strange. I believe that Tourette's is a spectrum, and I think there may be a lot of us at the very mild end, who think we're all going crazy.

That's not to say you aren't.... and if your symptoms are changing, then definitely, seeing a doctor is a good plan. But I just thought this little anecdote may bring a little comfort. Your behavior may not be as abnormal as you think.
posted by Tooty McTootsalot at 6:04 AM on July 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

FWIW, and to support dreamphone's comment from a similar perspective, doesn't sound like beginnings of schizophrenia to me, either. There could be non-tumor-related neurological causes, too, and it would definitely be worth getting assessed for Tourette's (and I want to add that there are a lot of therapies and interventions for Tourette's to help with the symptoms!).
posted by so_gracefully at 10:05 AM on July 28, 2009

This question is pretty old, so apologies if I don't type a novel here, but here is a very long comment I wrote for someone who was wondering whether it's worth getting a diagnosis of Tourette Syndrome, written by me, a person with Tourette Syndrome.

As far as looking crazy, I've accepted that I do get overheard by strangers, and that I probably look batshit. I've just tried to channel that into being more accepting of other people who look crazy. Since I take the bus, I see possibly-crazy people all the time, and I've learned that some uncontrollable behaviors do not make you some unhuman nutter without intelligence that we all need to be scared of or look away from uncomfortably.
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:27 AM on July 29, 2009

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