Growing up with Tourette’s isn’t something I would describe as “easy.” First you have to get used to the staring. I’m sure everybody has had that feeling where you can feel everybody in the room looking at you. Whether you did something embarrassing or maybe you had a zit on your face, I’m sure you can relate. Just imagine- at all times during any public interaction you happen to be a part of. Luckily, I got used to that quickly. The next, more annoying part, comes from the bolder and curious people out there, they ask questions. “Why are you blinking so hard? Why do you keep stomping your foot? Why are you doing that with your hand? Do you really have to make that sound?” That is the hard part, because I never have a very comfortable response. When I tried to make friends, and they’d ask about my Tourette’s, it hindered the relationship process.
Whenever I explained Tourette’s to people they’d look at me in two different, but equally depressing ways. They can either start to look at me as an object of pity: they feel bad for asking, they feel bad around me, etc., or they look at me as some sort of curious science experiment. People seem to have some sort of obsession with those that are different from themselves, and seem to ask question upon question. They ask things like “why” or “how” but when I was in elementary school, I wasn’t able to accurately describe the minute details on why my brain isn’t like theirs. So I ended up with either somebody feeling horrible, or somebody feeling disappointed with my lack of knowledge. And it’s all my fault. At least that’s what I thought when I was young.
In third grade, I had a certain tic where I smacked one of my hands together in a kind of clicking way. It would eventually start to hurt, and it made me very self-conscious. A kid in my class thought it was the coolest thing he had ever seen. He came up to me, and complimented my “talent” out of the blue one day. “You have to show me how to do that! I want to be able to do that.” At first I thought he was trying to make fun of me. Why would somebody want to be like me? After a certain amount of persistence, I finally showed him. After about a week, my entire class was doing it as some sort of a fad. Everybody thought I was so cool. This taught me an important lesson about life. I don’t have to change for people to like me, people should accept me just the way I am. I shouldn’t feel bad if other people don’t like my tics. Of course when the teacher realized everybody was copying my movements, she got pretty upset and yelled at everybody. She was trying to protect me. But the moral still stands, if people are willing to let you into their life, they might like what they find.