Most people don’t understand Tourette’s syndrome. If they’ve heard of it, they often think it means I swear like a sailor. While that’s true for some people, my Tourette’s causes my body to make movements and sounds beyond my control. The best way for me to regulate this is cannabis.
Since my freshman year of high school in Santa Monica, California, I started making a loud clicking sound with my throat. It’s brought on with a sudden feeling like my throat is tightening. This sound can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes, and is often painful and makes it difficult for me to breathe. Soon after these episodes started, I started throwing my neck side-to-side and spasms would jerk my body around. The combination of these sounds and movements ultimately lead to my Tourette’s diagnosis.
People would notice me squirming in my seat or bending to one side while walking, and I developed chronic pain in my muscles and joints. I tried targeting both the root of the problem and its side effects using various medications and treatments including hypnotherapy (I’m from Los Angeles after all), biofeedback and physical therapy, but nothing seemed to work.
During my senior year of high school, California voted to legalize recreational cannabis. Medicinal cannabis had been legal for a decade, but the move to open that to recreational pot spurred an interesting conversation. A close friend of mine who also had Tourette’s mentioned she was getting a medical card for cannabis. I researched and proposed the same idea to my parents, who were not so receptive. They wanted to continue more traditional treatments, but I was feeling desperate. I couldn’t take the pain any longer and once I turned 18, I knew I had to give it a try.