A Word from the Reed College Banshee

“Greetings new freshmen! As you’ve spent the past three weeks traversing the tribulating trials of Reed College, you’ve probably heard some unexpected, unexplainable screaming. While approximately 5.2% of this behavior can be attributed to Reed College’s party animal colony, 94.8% of the screams you hear in commons, in class, in dorm rooms, in broad daylight, or in the dark, cold expanse of the night as you walk back from your 9:00 p.m. evening class are coming from me. At every school I attend, every new incoming class represents a new personal struggle on how to explain to people that I’m not either a) very rude, b) dangerous, or c) three years old, and I decided the best way to spread the word and reach as many ears as possible (HA!) would be through the Quest.

I have Tourette’s disorder. My most notable tick is the loud scream, one that you’ve all probably heard and been startled by at some point or another during these past three weeks. I have no control over this tick. It manifests as a pressure at the base of my throat which erupts into a blood-curdling screech, and by the time I feel it, it’s too late to stop. This tick does not have any triggers, and no simple therapies have been able to cure it (I hope you all understand that I do NOT want to take tranquilizers). Unlike most people with Tourette’s, I have not had the ailment all my life, and this tick manifested pretty suddenly when I was 16.

As Reed is a socially conscious college, I’d like to let everybody know that I am NOT at all upset or offended by any startled reactions people have to my tick. Most of the time, they catch me off guard too, so I completely understand it. I also understand if you’re someone who’s easily panicked by loud noises and therefore might not want to spend as much time in the same general area as me. I completely understand all of these reactions; everybody has their vice and this is mine. I’d also like you to know that on the flipside, jokes about my condition are also NOT offensive. Sometimes a scream happens in the right place at the right time, and it’s very funny. I personally find my condition pretty hilarious, and I love the instances in which it can bring happiness to other people. It is also NOT offensive to ask me about my condition; I love any opportunity to meet new people, as well as to educate and enlighten, as telling my own story allows me to learn new things about myself and others. I understand that to many of you, I’m the only person you know of who has Tourette’s. Hell, until this past May, I was the only person I knew with Tourette’s. If there’s anything you’d like to learn about life with the condition (or at least, my rather specific case) feel free to email me at jensenm@reed.edu or chat with me in person. My bark is phenomenally worse than my bite.

As someone who is often heard but not seen, I’d like to say a little bit about myself before I finish this column. My name is Maya Jensen, and I’m a sophomore student from Columbia, South Carolina (go Gamecocks!), but since my mom’s boyfriend lives in Atlanta, Georgia, I technically reside there (in the guest room next to the *** *******). I work as a Reed Grounds Crew Assistant and love my job so much that I stayed in Portland all summer to work it. I enjoy drawing, reading, talking, and listening to music on YouTube.