2014 NJCTS Children’s Scholarship Award Essay: “I Have No Regrets”

This is the essay I submitted to the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) for their 2014 Children’s Scholarship Award contest. I hope you enjoy it!

When the word “disease” is said, overcoming is definitely not the first thing that comes to peoples’ minds. In my opinion, having Tourette’s is a battle. I have been bullied, ridiculed, and laughed at. I think a lot about the kid I could have become, that is, if I surrendered. But luckily, I didn’t.

I managed to muster the strength and courage to face my problem. In fact, I sometimes convince myself that I no longer have TS. I have accepted the fact that I will never be cured of this. So what does this mean for me? Hide behind excuses for the rest of my life? Succumb to being a nobody? Not anymore.

Ever since I entered high school, I slowly started to see the best out of every situation. I have used my tics to my advantage by channeling my energy into something positive: setting goals and achieving them. Why should I let TS get in the way of challenging myself? I found that I can use this obstacle to my advantage.

When I was in middle school, I definitely didn’t have the same optimism about having TS as I do now. Unfortunately back then, I fell into the trap of self-pity. I would always make excuses for myself. I didn’t challenge myself in school because I thought my mental abilities weren’t sufficient for mainstream classes.

My bizarre motor tics made me feel out of place and ashamed. My fear was that people would make fun of me, especially this one tic in particular (that I still have today) where I tweak my neck to the side to feel temporary relief. If I held my tics in, I felt like exploding. Often times I would tic then nonchalantly try to cover it up by using “normal” gestures, such as cracking my neck.

Once I gained the courage to move into mainstream classes in my last year of middle school, things weren’t as bad as I had anticipated.

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2014 NJCTS Children’s Scholarship Award Essay: “Born to Stand Out”

This is the essay I submitted to the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) for their 2014 Children’s Scholarship Award contest. I hope you enjoy it!

At a young age, I was faced with a choice. Let the diagnosis I just received define me, or accept it as part of who I am and embrace life head on. I chose the latter. I was diagnosed with Tourette’s, OCD and ADHD.

When some people hear Tourette’s, they automatically think of society’s inaccurate portrayal of a disorder where people shout out obscenities or inappropriate words. They treat it as a joke, as if people who live with Tourette’s choose to do the things they do, or could stop it if they wanted to. Very few people understand what having Tourette’s is really like.

Over the years, l’ve experienced a wide range of tics. My motor tics included excessive blinking, sniffing, jerking my neck, and popping my shoulder, often making everyday life uncomfortable and awkward. l’ve had vocal tics where I would constantly clear my throat, grun! or make strange noises that would often draw confused and disapproving looks from those around me.

Living with this disorder has been far from easy, fraught with physical pain and many ups and downs. When I was younger and just learning to cope with my Tourette’s, my tics would make it difficult to focus in class. Having an eye blinking tic or neck tic would make it difficult to read. Nevertheless, I pushed myself to make the honor roll every marking period from third grade on.

Whenever the classroom got quiet and the teacher was speaking, I would feel the eyes of my classmates burning deep into the back of my neck. lt was as if they had laser vision, with eyes fixated on me, examining my every move. Regardless of whether anyone was looking or not, I was different, I stood out and thought they were staring at me.

I would try to suppress the tic. But that’s just like trying to stifle a sneeze or resisting scratching an itch. Eventually you just have to do it, just as I do when the urge reaches that point of becoming no longer bearable. With time, therapy, and educating myself on Tourette’s, l’ve learned to adapt to the struggles this disorder entails.

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2014 NJCTS Children’s Scholarship Award Essay: “Tourette doesn’t define me anymore”

This is the essay I submitted to the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) for their 2014 Children’s Scholarship Award contest. I hope you enjoy it!

I don’t remember anything from my middle school years. It’s such a blur to me. I made myself not want to remember. I didn’t want to hear the other students laugh at me; calling me “Twitch,” “Twitchli’ or hear them say, “Hey everyone! Let’s do the Julia!” That’s what I heard in those hallways.

That’s the kind of stuff you would hear being said about a young girl with Tourette’s syndrome. Tourette’s syndrome is a neurological disorder that is characterized by uncontrollable tics, body movements and noises. It is caused by the nervous system. I was diagnosed with Tourette’s at the end of fifth grade.

My tics started around the beginning/middle of that year. Teachers weren’t attuned to bullying in those days, so I was left by myself to suffer. I would get in trouble with my teachers for making noises, rolling my eyes, raising my brows and having an episode. They wouldn’t believe me when I said I couldn’t control it. Some even made fun of it. They didn’t understand what I was going through. No one did. Not even my own family. They would yell at me to be quiet all the time.

Memories from middles have returned and I’ve had flashbacks from that time I remember being in the guidance office at least twice a week, whether it was during lunch and recess or during a class. I remember eating my lunch in the bathroom, sitting in the corner on the floor or in the giant handicapped stall.

During a huge science project in 6th grade, while I was giving my presentation in class, I became so anxious that my tics became uncontrollable, causing the other students to laugh at me. I finished my presentation, but as soon as I was done, I ran out of the classroom hysterically crying and embarrassed.

Over the years, my tics have gotten better and people have become more understanding. Now, I have an amazing group of friends. I have participated in the musical at my high school since my freshman year. I can say that I sang the National Anthem at the basketball games for boys and girls and wrestling matches at school.

I’m friendly to everyone I know and meet, despite how other treated me in the past. I am more outgoing than I was in middle school. I dance, sing act and even model now. Doing these activities have made me more confident. In everything I do now, I don’t let this disorder be such a conflict in my life.

I have been a victim of Tourette’s syndrome for more than eight years and have learned to deal with it. It’s part of my life whether I like it or not. TS has made me stronger and I will not let it become my biggest deficit. I will not let Tourette’s define me anymore.

Share Your Story: Everything that happens in life can be used for good

Hello, my name is Jasmine. I am 24 years old. If you know me or have read anything I’ve written previously, you know that I have Tourette Syndrome. However, there are a few things about me you may not know.

For example, I have fought a battle for much of my life that a lot of people fight. Like others who fight, I have always fought in private. It is not a battle against others. I have defended against darkness, hopelessness and ultimately myself. Now, I am taking big steps to fight offensively, not defensively. I am not telling you all this for sympathy or for pity. I am simply sharing my story because I know how it feels to wish you weren’t alone. I know that it helps to know that someone out there understands what you are going through. Part of being human is having flaws and faults.

I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety at the age of 18. The fear I felt at having a mental illness was almost as intense as the fear that it would never end. There is so much stigma in the world around us about mental illness. It’s sad, really. I find it sad that people create such stigma. It is such a negative thing.

Not only does it create misunderstanding, but it makes those who already feel so alone in the world feel even more isolated than they did in the first place. It keeps those who truly need help from seeking it out because they are afraid of what people will think of them. We become afraid of being judged and looked at differently. Sadly, that does happen … and it’s because of the stigma. Stigma is why a lot of people, such as myself, suffer in silence for far too long.

I suffered in silence until I absolutely had to find a means of escape. I searched desperately for a way to numb the pain I felt on the inside, so I created a pain I knew the source of and could control of on the outside. That is where self-injury entered the scene. Contrary to the stigma, it was never about attention. It was never an attempt to do permanent damage such as suicide.

In fact, it was something I desperately hid from everyone around me, from all those whom I loved. It was a way to cope so that I could stay alive. Even though it was only a temporary relief, it became an addiction that I couldn’t control and didn’t know how to quit.

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10 reasons I LOVE Tourette’s!

Like the title says, these are 10 reasons why I love having Tourette Syndrome! Of course, there are times when I get frustrated with my tics and wish I could just stop the things that I say and do. I have come to find reasons to absolutely love my Tourette’s and be thankful that I have TS. Here is my top 10:

  1. Something more serious is not wrong and causing the things I do. I had tics as a kid, but they reared their big, ugly head once again as a teenager and adult. They were subtle at first, but got so bad that I could not stop moving and twisting and contorting. It hurt. I had no idea what was causing me to do what I was doing. I think back now and am grateful that something more serious was not the cause of the sudden, severe outburst of my Tourette’s. I am not saying that TS is not serious. It should be taken very seriously. There are things that would have been much more devastating that my imagination came up with during those times before my diagnosis, though.
  2. It has taught me some great lessons in life, such as acceptance, kindness, not to judge people for what I observe of them. Of course, these are lessons we are all taught (hopefully) throughout our lives. However, when something like being diagnosed with a chronic illness or a traumatic experience happens to you, you tend to understand and implement these lessons in your own life even more (again, hopefully). Having dealt with mental illness such as depression and anxiety in my own life and struggled with self-injury, I had very strong feelings about not judging people by what you see or hear, but when my tics kicked in and started evolving into what they are now and what they were when they first became a real problem, I noticed the judgment and stigma around me even more. People stare, make fun, and can be downright rude at times. It can really hurt. I never want to be one of those people who misjudge someone because of what I merely observe about them. You never know why someone is doing something or why they look the way they do. Get to know a person before you judge them. You may make assumptions about someone and miss out on a great opportunity to learn, make a new friend or enjoy a great new experience that will never come again.
  3. It is so freakin’ hilarious! I have never laughed harder in my life than I have at some of my tics! In fact, I even wrote a post about funny tics and hilarious moments that have happened because of a tic! Great memories have been made because of a funny tic or situation that occurred because of a funny tic. These are memories that I will have forever. They will probably be some of my fondest, even. Continue reading