Max Jackson

Teenagers face many challenges and hardships such as broken homes, being fatherless, and having a mom that works all the time to keep things going. Teenagers also have mental health issues like anxiety, ADHD, OCD, and Tourette Syndrome. I was handed all of those hardships and issues. I call them the “gang”.

I didn’t know that the “gang” and I were going to be inseparable for the duration of my life. The “gang” is a very odd group. Some days they leave me alone and other days they set the agenda on how I am going to function. I hide the anxiety, ADHD, and OCD, yet one member of the “gang” called Tourette hurts me the most.

Tourette is a drill-sergeant dad. He is very hard on me, pushes me around and justifies himself by saying it adds character to my life. However, I see the look of hopelessness on my mom’s face when I have a large surge of tics. I too became more aware of my tics and the rest of the “gang” when I started middle school. In the 6th grade, the most reliable member of my “gang”, anxiety began to rule my life and I shut down. My whole “gang” went out of control. My teacher made me stand in front of the class and declare that “I am a sinner and a slacker” for forgetting my math assignment.

By 8th grade, my tics were very noticeable. One tic looked like I was fist bumping with an invisible man. My classmates would constantly ask, “Are you okay?” and I would casually answer, “Yeah, are you okay?” I was fully aware of why they were asking.

Later that year we watched a movie called “Front of the Class”. It was about a man with Tourette Syndrome who wanted to be a teacher. I’ll never forget the scene when he was turned down for his dream job because of his disability. He wept powerful tears and I too began sobbing in class. It was an unforgettable moment where I could relate to someone with this hideous “gang” member.

There is a lot of heartbreak in this world. Though I have a constant “gang” of obstacles, hardships, and physical pain I believe that it is my calling to overcome all of this and be an example of happiness and success for others that have a similar “gang”.

I have learned over the course of my life to combat my tics, anxiety, ADHD, and OCD with tutoring, support from my mom, counseling, patience, gentleness and kindness for myself and others, meditation, and most of all love. I look at myself everyday in the mirror and ask myself what awesomeness am I going to achieve today, rather than what things am I going to fail at today. Wonderful people in my life have taught me about having a quality life. Tourette’s and the rest of my “gang” are no longer a curse, but a constant blessing.