Before I was even born, I faced adversity. My birth mother was only fifteen, so she made an adoption plan for me. From the time I came home, I began facing physical challenges. These included, but were not limited to, having tonsils and adenoids so big that I did not grow very much the first two years; ear infections leading to six surgeries; ADHD; Dyslexia; anxiety; Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; tinnitus; partial hearing loss; and just to keep things interesting, severe acne! All these physical problems simply made my most visible challenge more difficult: being an African-American male in a mostly white community. But by far my most severe challenge was my diagnosis of Tourette’s Syndrome.
When I was in elementary school, I began making all sorts of strange noises and making funny faces. My older brother said my room sounded like a rain forest at night! I spent every day at school trying to suppress my tics, and every evening letting them out! I had so many challenges that were physical in nature but basically invisible, and I was great at hiding them, but this one wasn’t quite as easy to hide. Fortunately, I had a very understanding family, teachers, and support system of accepting friends.
Since I was very small, I have handled this challenge, and adversity of any kind, with humor. I just figure that if I can make others feel good, I can then feel better as well. If I’m funny and people are laughing, it helps me forget my challenges and I am happy. Keeping this positive attitude has allowed me to move past my issues and even embrace them. I always like to joke about my problems to make others feel comfortable with me. I’ve become so good at reassuring others that I now mentor younger students with learning disabilities. In fact, I am now the Chapter Leader of a local Eye to Eye group and received a week of training at the national get-together at Brown University this summer. With my hearing loss, I now have a cool set of hearing aids. They are great conversation starters for teaching people about tinnitus. I’ve gotten support with my ADHD and Dyslexia as well.
As for my Tourette’s, it is still a daily struggle. I’ve tried many different medicines and seen a ton of doctors. But no medicine has ever worked as well as my keeping a good sense of humor, honesty with others, and a positive outlook. All my struggles, especially the Tourette’s, have led me to explore psychology as a major in college at Ohio University next fall. Maybe my experiences can someday allow me to help even more kids struggling with this baffling situation.
Everyone faces adversity at some time. I think that I’ve just had more practice than others. This has led me to feeling that no matter what comes along, I’ll handle it.