‘With Tourette syndrome, vowels are the hardest. When I speak, it’s like listening to Porky the Pig…that’s-that’s-that’s all folks! I get looks from people all the time. I’ve had Tourette’s since I was a kid and I have a few tics, quirks and a few abnormal mannerisms. But I didn’t know I had it until I was fourteen. I was told it would go away as I got older and started socializing. Most days, I can speak well even if there’s a pronounced and halting stammer. The involuntary noises I make can get loud sometimes. I’ve been asked to leave when they get loud and when I’m supposed to be quiet. I can understand because it can be distracting, but that doesn’t make the insensitivity that people show hurt less. I’m pretty good at managing how I respond to people who don’t understand.
When I was serving a Spanish-speaking mission in Philadelphia, I had a great time and worked hard. One day, I was on exchanges with some elders, and a burst of tics hit me. All of a sudden, I was ticking super bad almost in a palsy sort of way. I was hitting myself and my companion drove me home. After a neurologist and a psychiatrist looked at me, I was on a flight back home. It flipped everything I wanted to do completely upside down. But I have a good family. My mom and stepdad have been so caring and my dad has been there for me, as well. I’ve tried a dozen different medications and therapies. With Tourette syndrome, it feels like your body needs to do something, like blinking, and the brain wants to satisfy that need but I have hundreds of tics that keep my brain from letting my body do what it wants to do. So, in a way, when I need to blink, my body makes me bite my lips, instead. I want to breathe but it’s like my body doesn’t know how to inhale. There’s always a sense of panic that I can’t always do what I want or need to do.
I don’t believe God gave me Tourette syndrome and I don’t believe He can take it away, as much as I’d love a day without tics. It’s just something that happened. Humor is vital in my life. For me, my humor is dry and dark and it helps me cope. I control what I can and I don’t worry about what I can’t. The dream is to be a lawyer. That’s my thing and I work for a lawyer now and I love it because of all the learning opportunities. It’s kind of tough to imagine going to law school because I’m bad at school in general. My mother is a godsend because she whipped my butt into gear to get me to high school graduation. I had a 1.8 GPA but I went to Snow and took their ACT and got a 34, so I found out I wasn’t dumb. I was just bad at school. But I’m working to save the money I need to go to school. I want to know and do more and I want to be able to speak with authority. I am not my Tourette’s. There are reasons I talk like I do and have the mannerisms I do, but they are not me. If you look hard at and listen to me with your heart and with patience, and not just your eyes and ears, you’ll see and hear who I really am, not Tourette syndrome.’