Kirk Ricketts

When I was diagnosed with Tourette’s in my sixth grade year I didn’t have a clue as to what it meant or what my life up to my senior year of high school would be like. I had no clue it would affect how fast I get my homework done, taking tests or walking to class. What should take the typical person 30 minutes to do an assignment would easily take me double if not triple that time. When I walk from class to class on a normal day at school is a challenge because when I shake my head from side to side and then transition into a look down I will almost always walk into someone. I don’t think I ever apologized about a topic more than when I’m saying sorry about bumping into a fellow peer. Even something as simple as reading my emails or checking my instagram is hard for me due to my constant head shaking. Driving is always a scary adventure as I never know when a tic will happen.

My passion is wildlife photography. I am particularly interested in snakes and I can vividly remember finding a den of venomous copperhead snakes. As I carefully handled a copper head, I can remember my dad telling me to focus on the snake and not the tic. After everything was said and done that day I took a look at the video my brother took of me handling the snake and was shocked as I watched myself repeatedly tic with my head going back and forth uncontrollably as I held a venomous snake.

To me, when I try to control my tics it becomes like an itch. When I say to myself in class, “Dont tic”, it becomes the itch I just have to scratch. If I don’t scratch it then it just becomes worse until I have to scratch it which results in me going back into my tic series. This has been my daily challenge for the past 6 years. My life with tourettes may seem to be awful to the average person but in reality I see this as a daily challenge to try and overcome. Over the years I’ve come to accept who I am with Tourettes. I have never been bullied and I have no fear of telling anyone who asks me, “are you having a seizure”, that I’m not having a seizure but that I just have something called Tourette’s Syndrome.