I was diagnosed with Tourette’s when I was 14 years old. I began to shake uncontrollably while on antibiotics and my mom thought I had a bad reaction. That summer I was in and out of hospitals, constantly passing out and convulsing, no one having an answer for what was causing these spells. We finally found answers at the Children’s Hospital where I was diagnosed with Tourette’s. We wondered how I had gone 14 years without a diagnoses but as my parents looked back on my life they remembered odd “quirks” I would have such as twitching my nose and having bad spells of intense chills. It was very hard being diagnosed the summer before my freshman year.
Thankfully, I had my family and my best friend Ashley. Ashley is my rock and was someone who was just as confused as I was by this diagnoses but she was there leaning about it, and understanding with me. I will never forget the summer I was diagnosed and the support she offered me. She is still my best friend and we got through this (and high school) together. She is just one example of how accepting my community has been despite my challenges.
I never struggled in school before Tourette’s, I maintained A’s and B’s, until freshman year. I found that my body was unable to do what it once could. I held in my tics all day and would come home fatigued, and pass out. Homework was unable to be done because I was physically unable to complete it, or if my body did cooperate it felt as if a cloud engulfed my brain and I could no longer think normally. I ended up spending more days home than at school because I would have such extreme shakes (usually my shoulders, back and head) that I could not go to school. I used my 504 plan but felt ashamed to need help, and rarely advocated for myself. Junior year is where I finally feel I accepted who I am and instead of fighting it. I remained in school through the day longer, my extreme shaking was dwindling and more common tics evolved such as, nose twitching, shoulder shrugs, and vocal tics. Despite challenges of trying learn while your body loses control, I did it and not only did I make it, I finished junior year and last semester with a 4.0! I got a 29 on the ACT and began to advocate for myself more. My biggest challenge remains my tic’s but now, applying for college, my next challenge is finding the aid and recognition I’ve worked hard for. My GPA is lower due to the struggles of my first years of high school. Many schools and scholarships don’t care what the reason is they only look at it as a whole. I will continue to overcome any obstacles and to work hard for what I want. I may have Tourette’s but Tourette’s doesn’t have me.