This is the essay I submitted to the NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) for their 2015 Children’s Scholarship Award contest. I hope you enjoy it!
No amount of preparation or planning can stop the inevitable, for it is something from which you cannot run nor hide and no matter where you are it will always find you. From the day I was born, though no one realized it then, l would eventually face a medical condition that would inexorably direct certain pathways in my life. When l was 8 years old l was diagnosed with what would come to be the biggest obstacle in my life, Tourette Syndrome. Tourette is a neurological disorder characterized by repetitive, uncontrollable and involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics. For years I had been living with this disorder but never realized that the strange and unusual things l did with my eyes and arms, and the noises l made were abnormal. l was only a child and thought that l was no different from anyone else. l thought that l was “normal”. lt wasn’t until one day of elementary school and a call from the school nurse about a severe head jerking movement when my parents came to the realization that something was not right. After visits to the emergency room and various doctors, I no longer perceived myself as a normal regular kid but as the kid with the tic. Even at such a young age, Tourette Syndrome was the most frustrating and distracting thing in my life. There is no cure for this disorder, but there are many medications to help control symptoms. However, with the numerous medications comes lots of trial and error. In the search for the right medication for me I had to persevere through medication that make me sleepy, some that gave me insomnia, and some that gave me severe mood swings. Searching for the right medication that would suppress my tics without negative side effects was like searching for a needle in a haystack. Many things can trigger my tics to start acting up, like sugar, caffeine, stress, fatigue, to name a few. As life went on and l got older, all these things were becoming much more prevalent in my life. l ended up having to watch what I ate, manage my sleeping and homework patterns, and, while doing all this, try not to get stressed out. As a kid all l wanted to do was have fun and enjoy life with my friends but l was unable to do so because of the Tourette Syndrome. When l was younger, it was very hard to control my sporadic movements and noises and kids would always ask what was I doing. l was afraid of telling the truth because l thought l would not fit in anymore. As l got older l found different ways to suppress or redirect my tics into more socially acceptable actions and vocalizations. I also became more accepting of my disorder and didn’t feel the need to lie about it anymore. lf someone asked me about the strange things l was doing l was finally able to simply tell them the truth. Not having to lie to myself and others about who I really was allowed me to take control of my life instead of my Tourette Syndrome controlling my life. My tics may never completely go away, but am accepting of that because it is a part of who I am and I would not be the same confident person lam today if I had not once been “the kid with the tic.”