Cooper Self

What Makes Me Tic: My Life with Tourette’s Syndrome

It’s my turn! Coach calls me in as relief pitcher. I step up to the mound, I dig my toes into the dirt, heels dangling from the edge of the rubber. I get the fastball sign and I nod. The crowd has been fairly silent but I begin to hear shouts from the opposing dugout. No time to listen, I throw my first pitch, ball one. As the ball returns, I roll my eyes and jerk my head. Their dugout seems to be getting louder, “He can’t pitch, look at him shake” “He’s scared” “It’s like he has Tourette’s or something.”

Because of Tourette’s I’ve had to deal with mockery in sports especially, so once I realized they were shouting at ME, it only added fuel to my fire. This time, embracing the mockery, I take two deep breaths and the sign for another fastball. I begin my motion, locked in, I hurl the baseball. Strike one! Their chirping continues as I make my routine walk around the rubber. I get another fastball sign, this time high and inside. “Shit” “Bob Saget” “Twitchy”. I’ve heard these all before and they roll off me, into the dirt. Again, I extend my arm and catapult the ball, it nips the inside of the plate, strike two. I begin my walk, the mockery has hit its peak when I get a sign for my favorite pitch, the curveball. I adjust my grip. I meticulously flick my wrist. The ball floats through the air, cuts hard at the last second. The batter takes a colossal swing at the curving pitch. Strike three! Silence in their dugout as our goes wild!!
I smile, relieved, proud for not succumbing to their trash talk and refusing to fold under pressure.

This is an example of how I was able to come out on top of what could have been a horrible experience, but I can promise you, they weren’t all that way. I have plenty of experiences with ridicule, teasing and sometimes even undeserved consequences based on my Tourettes. I remember a time in the 3rd grade on a field trip. One parent was so upset after giving me a direction because she mistakenly interpreted my “eye roll” tic as disrespect and promptly sat me out and reported me to my teacher! Thankfully, she knew of my tics and explained my Tourettes.

I realize that my struggles are nothing comparatively to many, but they are mine and up to me to meet and overcome. On the other hand, there are positives as well. I have a tougher skin and I am up for what life my tosses my way, much of this due to learning to live with my Tourette’s and accept that this is my challenge. Most importantly, I am more compassionate toward others. A large part of what makes me TIC as a person ARE my “tics” and I wouldn’t have it any other way.