It has been living with me for six years now, breathing down my neck. It was playing a game of hide and seek for the first twelve years, and decided to slither down my spine and poison my innocence, leaving me more confused and embarrassed than I already awkwardly was. I always had the feeling it was coming, like a jump scare in a horror movie that never quite climaxed. A ticking bomb waiting to explode. The unknown – in our feeble minds – is our main antagonist. I would always wonder why I had this curse-like demon of a mental illness following me, stuck in my mind between the chasmic crevices of the lobes in my thinking house. My brain ached and melted at these toxic thoughts and realisations.
Whenever I disclosed to people that I was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome, they looked at me like I had just vomited a plate of food out in front of them. Without even understanding the condition – my peers would immediately express mixed emotions, which with the experience I have had, is common. To be fair, I could understand why – I did not even discern the condition for the primal years it was forming inside my brain either. The syndrome felt like throbbing crossed wires of electrical signals deep within the brain. People mocked the subsequent “tics” and awkward jerks. I showed symptoms of involuntary head movements and other twitches that would make anyone stare; the kind of stares that latched onto my skin like a sticky, wet, and old plaster.
When people were made aware of my past depression, deafening loneliness, and panic attacks – they exuded the kind of sympathy which I could feel they forced down my throat. Everyone who had heard my story – a somewhat tragic anthology of a broken childhood past – allowed their minds to either hastily run away and avoid the subject entirely or spew out sympathy. Usually they resorted to reciting embarrassing cliché quotes of hope and inspiration sprinkled with butterflies and rainbows. When life presented me with these mental-health issues, not once was there even an inkling of hope.
All of you may have witnessed my pain. All of you may have identified my suffering, my insecurities, my loneliness. That is where you would be incorrect. Without my Tourette’s, anxiety, depression, and plethora of other ailments, I would not be the person I am today. My Tourette’s is mine, not yours to ogle at.
This shouldn’t be the story that blinds you, it should be the one that is so bright that it is blinding for you to watch. From the outside, you see only a scraping of the shallowest layer of reality, your truth. Blinded by your conventional ideologies of mental illness being the death of a normal life, you judged me.
This is not a story of my loneliness; this is an awakening of societal ignorance and cowardice. Your clock is ticking, when will you finally understand?