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An Apology to My Tourette's Syndrome

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Dear Tourette’s Syndrome,

When I met you I was just 10 years old. I’ll admit, I wasn’t your biggest fan back then. I’d never heard of you before, but everyone I trusted told me you were bad news, and at the time I believed them. You were like that annoying relative you’re forced to see every year at Thanksgiving. But for me, every day was that thanksgiving. How could I be thankful for something that caused me so much physical discomfort and social stigmatization? 

I couldn’t. For the longest time I couldn’t bring myself to tolerate you. I even tried to pretend you didn’t exist. I tried to ignore it when you interrupted me with peculiar sounds and muscle movements. Yet, you kept showing up to parties I never invited you to–you’re pretty sneaky that way. But recently, something changed in me. I began to realize that beneath your disrespectful behavior and constant disruptions, there is something extraordinary, something uniquely beautiful.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times I wish we’d never met. After all, you’re the reason I blink my eyes as if there was something stuck in them. You’re the reason I was bullied in fifth grade for making clicking sounds with my mouth and pursing my lips together as if I was trying to kiss the air. You’re the reason I yawn when I’m not even tired. You’re the reason my elementary school music teacher yelled at me in front of my entire chorus class for making too much noise. You’re the reason my yoga instructor told me to spit out my gum when I wasn’t even chewing any.

But you’re also the reason I’m so perceptive to the world around me. You force me to work harder and look further. You give me a riveting, rhythmic presence that reveals itself when I’m singing and performing. But most important, you’ve helped me learn about the unrealistic standards of normality that exist in our society, and you’ve dared me to break them. 

Sometimes I think of you as my own personal trainer. Your push me to be better. You inspire me to be open-minded to eccentricity and peculiarity. You’re a challenge I was forced to accept, a challenge that has made me stronger.  

The problem is, most people don’t approve of you. They think you’re a bad influence on me. So I try to hide you from the world. I’m doing it for your own good, really. If I showed you, the true you, I might embarrass the both of us. So I disguise you as natural acts like yawns and coughs and sneezes to avoid the looks of disapproval and disgust I might receive otherwise. However, you always get back at me, appearing fervently when I least expect you to and making up for lost tics. 

I’m writing to you because I want to say I’m sorry. I’m sorry for complaining about you and refusing to appreciate what you have done for me. My whole life, I’ve focused on your flaws rather than your artistry. But I’m finally ready to accept you, to embrace you and to introduce you to the world. After all, I can’t imagine my life without you, and to be honest, I wouldn’t want to. 

Yours Truly,


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Originally published: March 14, 2015
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