Saturday, December 8, 2012

Life with Tourettes in the Theatre

Just a little while back I wrote a blog post and mentioned that I had Tourettes Syndrome. I have lived with it for my entire life and sometimes it's hard to remember that the struggles that I've had every day of my life can be touching to other people.  The response to just one little part of my post was overwhelming and told me that telling the whole story might be something worthwhile to do. I won't give a full autobiography just yet. These are just flashbacks of personal events that still hold some meaning or personal significance to me.  I just hope that somewhere someone who also has been struggling to make art while impaired with a disability can be inspired to follow their dreams.

Chapter 1: The Beginning 

When I was around nine years old I was taken by my Grandmother to a specialist in Nashville to diagnose a problem. I had been sent to the principal several times for "acting out". Several times I'd been reprimanded by family members for "being annoying". 

This annoying behavior and acting out that everyone thought I was doing was centered around one little noise. I kept making this loud grunting sound not just once or a few times a day, but several times a minute like I had a metronome inside of me that I was keeping time to. And that was all that started it. One little noise. 

I don't remember exactly how long it had been going on. I know it was long enough to get most of the family mad at me. Long enough for most of the kids in school to start treating me like some kind of freak. Long enough for my Fifth Grade teacher to call me "her little pig boy" and the principal to have my grandmother's phone number on speed dial. And that's what I was, just a problem. I was just another kid that would go out of his way to make everyone miserable. 

But my Grandmother didn't see it that way. I had lived with her since kindergarten and I had given her a good dose of grief on a number of occasions but she saw something different about all of this. She knew that I was a very dramatic kid (probably saw the theatrical flair in me before anyone else did) and would go to great lengths to have some fun at other people's expense. But she also knew that I wasn't one to hold on to something that was getting me in trouble. The minute that I started to get punished for it I'd drop it like a sack of hot potatoes. No I had endured too much punishment, ridicule from other kids, and torment from my family to just hold on to something so trivial as an annoying noise.

Thus why we were here in the waiting room. My grandmother reading a Better Homes and Gardens and me reading a Highlights and trying to do the mazes. We looked over the side table at each other and she gave me a sympathetic look and touched my shoulder affectionately. Of all the people who had written me off she never did and to this day she never would. We didn't know when we took this appointment that I had Tourettes and didn't know all of the hurdles that I was going to have to jump over to get where I am today. But I know that the first hurdle that I had to jump was knowing that there was at least one person that wasn't going to write me off and be in my corner. And that's the first thing that I remember. That even from the very beginning she was always there for me.

Do any of you know someone that is also struggling with a disability? Do any of you have a story to share? Leave a comment below.

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