This is the essay I submitted to the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome for their 2012 Children’s Scholarship Award contest. I hope you enjoy it! And here is my profile on the NJCTS website.
When I was 6 years old, I was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome. It is, as I found out, a lifelong disease for which there is no cure. For the rest of my life, I will twitch involuntarily, trying to suppress the tics going through my body.
While my particular “brand” of Tourette is not the cartoon version of a lunatic who spews obscenities implanted in most people’s minds, it is not going away anytime soon. Mine is an electrical surge through my body, causing an occasional, involuntary twitch that has been difficult for to contain in the past.
Although this disease has not affected my scholastic career too significantly, it has required a large mental and physical effort on my part to keep in that way. Fighting the impulses to twitch during class is a drain on my energy, time and concentration.
Tourette Syndrome also has been a bit of a social stigma. People have noticed my twitches — especially in elementary school, when it was the worst — making me a person to avoid for this reason.
However, I have been fortunate enough to make some friends and enjoy the company of people who have either not noticed or developed an understanding of both the psychological and physical aspects of my having the disease.
Since medications cause undesirable side effects, such as listlessness, tiredness and significant weight gain, my lifelong battle involves foregoing all medications and controlling — to the best of my ability — the physical turbulence that goes on inside me.
Whether or not it is uncommon to go without the usual pills and preparations for my condition, I would rather remian fully alert, focused and twitching rather than sleepy, fat and not. I am gratified when I occasionally hear from friends and acquaintances that they knew I had Tourette. I consider it a reflection of my success in dealing with and conquering my condition so far.
I found the best way to overcome the social problems caused by my disease is to take action — to get out of myself and take on activities. This proactive attitude has led me to doing a variety of deeds, from helping the elderly in a nursing home, to doing illustrations and game articles for my local and high school papers and a dot-com sports site.
It is the doing, the very action and activity that gets me out and involved, that develops my personal skills to go forward with in life. I have learned to use my disease as an impetus to move forward both academically and socially. When I take on my schoolwork, writing assignments or illustration assignments, I get a tremendous sense of fulfillment and self-worth getting my hands dirty and doing the job well.
Sometimes, I care too much about how people perceive me, but I will continue to use my past experience to guide me, with the realization that I do not have to be perfect — just be myself. I plan to use my upcoming college experience as an opportunity to slingshot myself into new life challenges.