When I was eight, I was diagnosed with Tourettes. I was in second grade, and my parents had just gotten divorced I remember being aware of my tics at school. Kids would stare and laugh at me because I was blinking. Some kids would even asked me “what are you doing?” I felt so uncomfortable because I had no clue how to respond. I didn’t understand my tics myself.

Fast forward to sixth grade, when the Tourette’s got much worse. I was having a difficult time transitioning to middle school. I started having this tic where I would make a barking noise. It was so annoying and painful. I remember having sleepless nights or not falling asleep until 2:00 in the morning. After those tics developed, I stopped showing up at school; I didn’t want kids making fun of me. I ended up feeling so hopeless and depressed that my Mom took me to a psychiatric hospital.

When I got out of the hospital, I got home school services for awhile. My tics isolated me from the outside world. During this time, I didn’t have many friends because I was out of school and couldn’t leave the house because my tics were so disruptive. I thought that no one outside my family would want to talk to me or be around me, but there were a few people who helped me get through this time; my Aunt Lisa, my neighbor Don, and my mentor Julian. Julian would come and hang out with me during the days when I was home from school. Julian and I would play video games and watch ESPN. My Aunt Lisa, came to take me out on my birthday. She didn’t care about being seen in public with me and my tics. Don would have me over at his house, and we would watch The Big Bang Theory. His family would have my family over for Pizza Friday. Because of these people, I was able to feel relaxed and my tics started to get a little better.

When high school came around, I was very excited because it was a fresh start for me. Of course I was still very nervous about being judged for my tics. A neighbor helped me to become manager of the varsity football team. I had tics around the team like throat clearing. One day, a player asked if I was ok? I responded “yes it is just a tic.” This was the first time that I said this outloud to somebody and they accepted me for who I am. I realized that I didn’t have to be embarrassed; my tics were a part of me that I had to accept and then others would too.

We all have challenges in life, but you can’t give up. It can be hard at times, but you have to accept yourself for who you are. It felt and feels so good to come to that conclusion.