Imagine a life where almost every moment of the day you swore, had spasms or tics, constantly shouted out at inappropriate times and you had no control over it.
Well that's what life is like for Ruth Ojadi. She suffers from an acute form of Tourette's Syndrome, a neurological condition that makes people do and say involuntary things. It affects about 300,000 people in the UK, there's no cure and it's pretty much misunderstood. Only 10% of sufferers swear and act inappropriately. This severe and rare form is called coprolalia.
In fact, Pete Bennett's stint in the Big Brother house back in 2006 was probably the first time many people were made aware of the condition and how it affects sufferers' lives.
Tonight, in Tourette's: I Swear I Can Sing, BBC Three follows Ruth, a talented singer, as she tries to rebuild her life after being diagnosed with the coprolalia form of Tourette's three years ago.
Ruth has dreams of getting back on the stage and gives us an insight into what everyday life is like, revealing her frustrations, fears and hopes, and how she is coming to terms with living with Tourette's Syndrome.
In this clip, you'll see how simple everyday activities like shopping can be a struggle for Ruth, but when she starts to sing all signs of Tourette's disappear:
So what exactly is Tourette's Syndrome?
The truth is doctors are still puzzled by this condition, and don't know its precise cause.
But this is what they've been able to find out:
- It's a neurological condition, which causes involuntary tics, sounds and movements
- At its worst, twitches can be severe and frequent, and outbursts of swearing are constant
- No two people have the same symptoms
- For many, it starts in childhood and continues on to adulthood
- A Tourette's sufferer might be able to suppress it for a while but will eventually have to let out the tics
- Doctors believe the condition might be genetic
- It's linked to other behavioural conditions such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).
What can be done to treat Tourette's?
There is no cure or remedy for Tourette's, but with more and more research into the condition, there have been some developments in reducing its effects on people:
- Medication can be given in severe cases to reduce any tics or sudden moves, but it can come with unpleasant side effects
- Some sufferers say taking part in relaxation exercises, like yoga, can help in the short term
- Psychotherapy and behavioural therapy have also been adopted as a way of controlling the symptoms
- New treatments are being developed and tested all the time.
If you want to find out more about the condition, or if you're a sufferer in need of support, check out these websites for help and advice:
- BBC Health - Tourette Syndrome
- Tourettes Action
- British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies
And we'd love to hear your thoughts on Ruth and the documentary.
Journalist Claudia-Liza Armah presents the 60seconds news bulletins on BBC Three