The author of this essay was a second place winner of a 2023 NJCTS Scholarship Award.
This was the essay that was included with their application.
Living with tourette syndrome was something that I would ever expect. I developed tourettes when I was in my freshman year of high school. I had suffered a concussion from a spiked volleyball and started to have involuntary movements later that night. After recovering from the first concussion I then got hit again with another volleyball due to some girls playing recklessly. Some time later I had these movements again. My mother and I sought neurologists and possible other specialists to get an answer. And after time and time again searching I was officially diagnosed with tourette syndrome. I was afraid of what this disorder could mean for me.
I am a very creative person who loves using my hands to create artworks and sculptures. I also started to pick up an old hobby that I had from when I was a kid and it requires a steady hand at times. This hobby turned into an artform is called perler beads. Before I was diagnosed with tourettes I used to create pieces and post them on social media. Soon after, fans asked if I sold them, so I ended up creating a shop. People often buy my products and some even commission me for specific or even custom characters. I was afraid of this disorder. I did not know what would happen or how I would react. But one thing I did know for sure, was that I was not going to give up.
I slowly started to get back into the art I love and crafting. But it was not easy, I had to adapt and learn to the unwanted movements. Whenever I had mortar tics my hands are one of the limbs to move. And because I rely heavily on my hands to work it caused problems. I had to learn when to stop whatever I was doing to take a moment to let the tic out. I also had to learn to move away from the area I was working in so I won’t disturb anything.
Another concern I had was how people would react to muy tics. I have seen people on the internment document how tourettes affects their lives or even had them visible in their content, and I would see piles of people being rude and uneducated. I was nervous how my friends and close ones would react. But for the most part I have had a very positive response. People who have responded positively were open to being educated on the disorder. I also met people who did not have a positive response. They would often make fun of the fact I have tics and often assume I say curse words when I tic. While those people are hard to deal with, I learned to accept people who don’t want to be educated and will keep bothering and making fun of you.
But over time I learned how to live with my tourettes. I also learned how to deal with people who are rude to me and make fun of my tics. I also learned how to manage them and calm down when a tic attack would arise. I also learned how to accept it and even have it become one with me. While tourettes are a hard disorder to have, I have learned so much from it. And I will not let it stop me from the things I love to do.