Tell us what “Tourette Syndrome” is, and how it looks, and feels like on you.
Tourette Syndrome is a neurological disorder that causes people to have involuntary movements called tics. There are two types of tics, Motor tics [movements] and Vocal tics [sounds]. To get diagnosed with Tourette, you need to have both motor and vocal tics for at least one year. Tics and the way they appear, are individual for each person with Tourette. Meaning, no one has the exact same tics.
My tics, you can say, are “socially acceptable”, they don’t appear as what you think tics would look like. For example, I have a stretching tic. If you won’t ask me it would just appear as if I’m stretching. Even though externally they are not as noticeable, internally I have experienced Tourette related anxiety since I was 11 years old. To me, living with that has been one of my biggest struggles.
A cure for Tourette syndrome has not been discovered yet. However, you say you can control your biggest symptom: “Tourette syndrome related anxiety” Tell us how.
Performing, being active, and changing my eating habits has helped decrease my ts-related anxiety. Other treatments I looked into included psychiatric medication, and habit reversal therapy. I used medications briefly but always preferred more natural solutions. I followed my passions harder, made changes to my diet, and saw my body react positively.
What dietary changes have you made that have helped your ts-related anxiety?
There is a connection between anxiety and tics. Anxiety can increase tics. After researching different types of food and beverages that can help reduce anxiety, I created a “diet” that reduced MY anxiety, which helped control my tics. What I found really helped me was a shift towards a more vegan approach. I added more veggies, controlled my sugar, and substituted fried food for air-fried or oven-baked. These changes, combined with constant exercise have been very helpful for me.
Can you share with us what your daily meals consist of?
When I’m tired I feel more anxious, which can increase my tics so I always start my day with a good breakfast to give me strength for the day. My go-to breakfast is two whole-grain rice cakes (or whole wheat bread) with tahini, cucumbers and olive oil. For lunch, I love making my own pita at Hummus Republic. That usually includes fresh veggies, yummy falafel and lots of hummus. One of my favorite dishes for dinner is tofu mushroom, Brussel sprouts, potato, and pesto. It’s delicious! And who can forget dessert! I love chocolate! I substituted my favorite chocolate bars for dark chocolate from Trader Joes. Lastly, I always end my day with a cup of camomile tea before going to bed. That helps me wind down and sleep better.
What exercise or activities do you currently practice to help your ts-related anxiety?
When I was younger I wasn’t aware I had Tourette. When I was dancing or performing I didn’t experience symptoms of tics or anxiety so I gravitated towards it. It was my only way to deal with the mental stress that came with Tourette syndrome. I fell in love with it. Now you can find me in dance class 4-5 classes a week! I also enjoy running. I run for 15 minutes 5/4 times a week every morning.
How did coming out about your Tourette Syndrome impact your career as an actress? Any ongoing or future projects you can share with us?
For me, coming out in my one woman show “Second Nature” was a way to accept myself more by doing what I love the most – performing. The show and my performance received amazing feedback, and I couldn’t be more thankful. At this moment I’m excited about future opportunities with vegan apparel brand –“Don’t Eat The Homies’. They recently brought me in for a photo shoot and to discuss a future brand ambassador partnership. I was captured by their passion for supporting a healthy lifestyle that doesn’t hurt animals, and I also fell in love with their clothes. They were so comfy and chic! I am honored to be considered as a role model for their brand and look forward to working with their team.
What would you say is the first step someone should take towards accepting a “flaw”?
Confide in someone you trust. Once you admit it, say it out loud, or share it; it won’t feel as scary anymore. Once you release this “secret”, you can start figuring out how this “flaw” makes you awesome – because trust me, it does.
DISCLAIMER: Current evidence suggests no single diet benefits individuals with TS. Lian Ben Porat, diagnosed with Tourette syndrome, shares her personal story on diet changes and other methods that have helped her symptoms. Please consult with your doctor before making any changes.