Entry One of a Voyagers Journal: Living with Tourette Syndrome; Life According to Jake

 

Not a lot of people have the grit to go to school full time, teach gospel doctrine at their local church, and put in 40 hours a week at their job. But for Jake Lofgran, it’s just normal everyday life, with one slight complication. You see, Jake suffers from a condition some of you may have heard of, but have never really seen in the real world. In fact, most of you have probably seen it in movies, but more in a comedic role. Jake has what doctors call Tourette Syndrome (TS). A nervous system disorder involving repetitive movements or unwanted sounds. But it’s more than that for my buddy Jake. He has a rare characteristic called coprolalia (cop·ro·la·li·a), which can cause involuntary obscene language. But from what I can tell, that doesn’t stop him from being himself. It took a while for Jake to get to that point. But now that he has learned to live with his illness, he decided to sit down with me and share his story. So everyone, this is life, according to Jake.

It started around a year ago. Jake was sitting on a school bench, watching some videos on his phone, when his head started to jerk to the side. Thinking it was some kind of chill he went on about his day. But over the course of the next few days the ticks started to get worse. After seeing some doctors, it was determined that Jake had TS. The adjustment was difficult. The ticks and sudden outbursts were a constant and very prominent factor in his everyday life. It’s not something he could escape and something he wasn’t sure how to handle. Support from family and friends was difficult to accept. They don’t see the worst of it. They don’t see him in a locked room being bombarded by severe ticks and outbursts. People don’t see him struggling, everyday, to not yell out those words no one wants to hear. It became demoralizing for him. But for anyone who knows Jake “Bad-Arse” Lofgran, knows he doesn’t stay down for too long.

Jake is one of the funniest and most positive people I know. He can take any situation, and turn it into something to be learned from. That shows when we got on the topic of online dating. While Jake was using a dating app, he realized that he didn’t want to be the guy that kept his disability hidden. Which is pretty unique, if you ask me. So Jake decided he would do something a little different with his profile. As he started to list his qualities, interests, and goals, he would add random words throughout, then stating at the end, “I have Tourettes, lets do this!” To his surprise he was actually getting a lot more matches than he had previously. He says, “people don’t care as much as we think they are going to care.” Although he never followed up on those dates (typical Jake), it was amazing to see peoples acceptance on something he was so worried about; something we would all be worried about.

According to Jake, honesty is the best way to go about your life. Being honest with yourself and with those around you. If someone has a question, don’t be offended by it. Educating the masses is how we erase the stigma on TS and other illnesses. You don’t have control of a lot of things in your life. But you can control how you react to those around you. Educate those who want to be educated and don’t be afraid to be yourself.

You can hear the full interview here. Please keep in mind that there were a couple of edits do to privacy concerns.

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