This is the essay I submitted to the NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) for their 2017 Youth Scholarship Award contest.
When I was in kindergarten, my home was full of stress. I don’t remember actually knowing why, I just knew my home was different than others. I had a younger brother being diagnosed with Autism, parents who didn’t get along, and my mother was battling cancer. Needless to say, things were a bit stressful.
It started with just slightly shaking my head, and eventually over the course of the year, progressed to also making musical noises with the head shaking. I wasn’t aware that people were noticing it until I got to third grade. My friend asked, “Why do you make those noises.” Once kids started noticing, and my grades started to be affected, my mom took me to a neurologist where I was officially diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome.
I was put on medication which worked beautifully, my mom got me a tutor so I could catch up, and socially I began to develop. Once I reached this point, my mom and I started talking openly about stress and how to manage it, as well as when it’s time for help. Let’s face it, life is full of stress and changes. It’s just the way life is, maybe more now than ever before.
I’ve learned to stay active in sports, have a nice work-play balance, and try to get enough sleep, and eat right. I do believe it’s a combination of all these things that has helped me manage my disease as well as I have. Over the past decade, I’ve only needed to return to a medication regime, and only for a very short period of time. I’m aware my future is unpredictable, but I do feel that with the right tools, my future will be bright and productive.
Tourette’s does not define me. It’s part of my life and always will be, but has forced me to take care of myself mentally and spiritually, which can only be a good thing in my eyes.