Great question, and I have talked about this in some of my other posts, but it is a common question, so it never hurts to refresh this!
Personally, I choose to try and not suppress my tics. Suppressing tics is actually a very difficult thing to do – and while it may not seem to be the case, suppressing tics uses a lot of energy and concentration. Essentially it becomes exceedingly difficult to focus on anything other than suppressing the tic.
I can compare it to coughing, think of that tickle you get in your throat or chest when you are sick and how hard it is to NOT cough! Most of the time, you will end up coughing, and trying to hold it in becomes your only focus. Now imagine what that is like in a very quiet location – say a special performance, and how stressful it is to try not to cough, worry about coughing, etc. That is what it is like to worry about tics and suppressing tics.
Suppressing tics can also cause a “tic fit” which is essentially when our brain has worked so hard to suppress that one tic, when it finally DOES come out, it is often followed by a flurry of other tics. A bit like shaking a soda… if the lid is on, no problem! But when you open that lid, a bunch of extra pressure comes out! Removing the lid slowly helps stop that eruption, the same way that allowing our tics out as they happen stops the eruption from a buildup after suppression.
Tics can be painful for us, not only in the tic itself (hitting, jerking, flailing, etc.) but can also cause overuse injuries, fractures, sprains, and strains. If we could suppress them without causing additional harm and stress, believe me we would. Nothing is worse than having an injury and your brain then deciding that it MUST do a repetitive tic that will then hurt you repeatedly until the injury heals.
I choose to allow myself to tic when I am able to do so – and I apologize and let those around me know that I have TS. It is much easier to be open and upfront about it, trust me. There are rare times that I do work to suppress my tics though… and they are not fun.
If you have TS, find ways to be open about it and allow yourself to tic… your brain and body will thank you! If you love someone with TS, please allow them to tic without drawing attention to it or making a big deal about it, we need to be able to release and relax. <3