Teasing, Bullying, And Finding A Place

For some reason I missed this video when its creator, Olivia Matlin, posted it to Vimeo back in 2014. I only ran into it last week:

Living with Tourette Syndrome from Olivia Matlin on Vimeo.

It’s a short series of interviews with a number of kids who have Tourette’s Syndrome. As far as I know it’s unique in that the person doing the interviewing has TS as well. (Way to go, Olivia!) At various points in the interview process the questions are turned around, and the interviewee is interviewing the interviewer. So when she interviews these kids it’s really a two-way interview. Pretty cool stuff!

(Did I get all the parts of speech with the word “interview”? No? DARN!)

This video brings up a subject I haven’t really touched on yet: bullying and teasing. In case you didn’t know, yes it happens. Kids are the perfect detectors of the condition scientists like to call “not like me”. They can spot “not like me” from a mile away. And once spotted, it must be explored. Poked at. Prodded. Brought to light, never to sink beneath the surface again. Want to know how to avoid being bullied or teased? Be exactly like everyone else. Want to know what’s really really hard to do when you’re constantly ticcing? Mmmyeah… You guessed it.

Sadly, this isn’t limited to kids. Most of the teasing I got came from two of my teachers rather than my classmates. I spent all of third and fifth grade under the microscope, with every flaw laid wide open for everyone to enjoy. I could go into all kinds of lurid details about some of the teasing I got as a kid, but I won’t. Suffice it to say that most kids and an uncomfortably large proportion of adults seem to think that it’s their personal duty to point out every difference, every flaw, every “not like me” they can in an effort to improve the people around them.

It’s enough of a drain to have to tic every waking moment. It’s a heckuvalot more of a drag to be under the constant barrage of, “Stop it.” “What’s wrong with you?” “Are you a retard or something?” “Shut up already!” “I HATE YOU!”

Oh dang… I said I wasn’t going to go into the lurid details. Skip that last part. Sorry.

Here’s a little tip: Pointing out a person’s flaws to them does not “fix” them. It just makes them feel miserable. So here’s my plea: DON’T FEEL THE NEED TO FIX EVERYONE! IT’S NOT YOUR JOB! It’s that simple! Want to stop bullying and teasing? Set a good example and don’t do it.

In my first several drafts of this I tried to point out that the teasing and the bullying decreases once you become an adult. While that’s true for me, it’s not true for everyone. This is why you still see discrimination and harassment suits filed by people with TS. For my part I’ve only really been teased once in the last fifteen years, even though my tics have become more severe over time. What’s the secret? I wish I knew. Maybe I’m just lucky. Maybe I just hang out with a cooler bunch of people these days. Maybe I’ve just found a place in which I can be myself without being judged.

Or maybe I just got fed up and told the assholes to go take a hike and stop consuming my oxygen. We may never know.


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