Day 9: Tourette Awareness 2020

Day 9: Tourette Awareness 2020

So now we know now why it is problematic to use Tourette Syndrome as a joke, media fodder, entertainment, or stupid headlines. We know that suicide rates are 4 times higher in those with Tourette Syndrome, and we have some idea as to why.

Today I want to talk about humor, jokes, and memes. When is it ok to laugh at TS? Let’ find “the line”.

Here are some tips:

  1. I do not care if your friend who has TS says its ok to laugh at jokes/TS… this will NEVER apply to all situations or people, especially if you do NOT have TS yourself. If someone with TS says “that joke is offensive/upsetting” you need to stop and listen, learn from the moment, and stop telling the joke. This should not need to be said. Let me say it again. IF YOU do NOT have TS… and you are laughing at something related to TS, and someone WITH TS says “that is really hurtful please stop”, you do not defend the joke, tell them to just lighten  up, etc. You say “I am really sorry, I will not do that again, I did not know it was hurtful” etc. That is the line.
  2. If you have TS, you are free to laugh at things about TS you find funny, but again, if someone else with TS says “hey that joke actually is really tough, can you not?” please don’t say “toughen up, get over it, its just a joke”. What is ok humor to you might NOT be ok to someone else… it is not about someone else needing to lighten up. Please listen… it could be much deeper for that person than it is for you. Just apologize, and let it go. That is the line. Perhaps you can filter it if the joke is really that important to you, but even better is to think more globally about what that joke may be putting into the universe and if it could be causing more damage than it is worth?
  3. If you have TS, and your joke about TS is about YOU in particular, an experience you had in living with your own TS, you are free to laugh and joke about it… that is your experience. It can be healthy to laugh at your own weird ass brain! I do it all the time. OTHERS laughing at your weird ass brain, not so good unless you invite them to do so – TS is a medical condition that can be INCREDIBLY challenging to live with. It’s down to the old saying, laugh with me not at me. I get to tell the joke and invite you in.  Now in this situation if you have a spouse, friend or partner that you are OK joking about your TS, that is good – BUT this does not give the spouse, friend or partner the green light to laugh at ALL TS, and all PEOPLE WITH TS, as above… if someone says “ouch, please stop” they should immediately stop, listen, apologize.
  4. If you are a spouse/partner/etc. of someone with TS – you might still hurt your person laughing and joking about TS, no matter how chill they are. If your person says that something is upsetting to them, or that they want you to not joke about certain things, or to not laugh “at” them, or not do so in public, etc. Any boundary they ask for – please just respect that. Again, TS can be incredibly challenging to live with, is this joke you are sharing worth the hurt you might be causing? That is the line.

Really as you can see, it all comes down to respect. If you are asked to not joke about something? Just apologize and stop telling the joke. I am sick of seeing people say lighten up, have a sense of humor, snowflake, etc. When someone lets you know you are causing damage? The correct response is “oh shit, I am so sorry, I did not know… I won’t do it again.”  Not “suck it up”.

Let’s try and reduce the number of people with TS who are depressed, ostracized, bullied, and suicidal… all it takes is for you to open yourself, hear the person, and apologize.

Let’s do better. TS can be funny, but it can ALSO be tragic. Find the line.

Thanks for reading!