A London woman utters the word “biscuit” over 16,000 times a day.
Jessica Thom suffers from Tourette disorder and engages in several tics such as saying the word “biscuit 900 times in an hour, beating her chest, and hitting her forehead against the wall. At times, Thom also involuntarily swears and creates guttural sounds.
The 32-year-old detailed her journey in her new-memoir Welcome to Biscuit Land: A Year in the Life of a Tourettehero which hits shelves in October.
Although Thom repeatedly says biscuit, which means “cookie” in Great Britain, she does not recall feeling hungry when she says it involuntarily 16 times a minute.
In one day, Thom said she has hit her forehead with a phone, a carton of apple juice, keys and a strawberry.
In her new tell-all, Thom explained what it is like living in a world that reacts to her outburst which has been both heartwarming and heartbreaking. She admitted that she can now laugh at her unique quirks and flares by comparing herself to Bridget Jones.
“I know I tic all the time and it sort of pisses me off — biscuit, biscuit," Thom told reporters. "But if I paid attention to it all the time, I wouldn't get much done. Sometimes with the Tourette's, I get overloaded — biscuit, biscuit. I'll punch myself in the chest hundreds of times a day and my legs move erratically about."
The National Tourette Syndrome Foundation defines the condition as a neurological disorder that is expressed by a variety of motor and vocal tics that last over a year. Tics can include shouting, throat clearing, grunting, and barking.
"The challenges are dreadful, but it has helped make me a more resilient and empathetic person," she said. "You can overcome most things, and I have become more confident."
Symptoms are typically apparent before the age of 18 through involuntary movements of the face, arms, limbs or trunks which can result in kicking or stomping.
Less than ten percent of those suffering from Tourette have tics that involve using swear words or other inappropriate words.
Dr. Jonathan Mink, chief of pediatric neurology at Rochester University, who sits on the board of the Tourette Association, recognized Thom’s condition as one of the most extreme cases.