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  • Writer's pictureMatt

This Tourette Story

The matter of Tourette Syndrome is living and dying. Before I started rapping again in 2017, I read too many stories about people with Tourette Syndrome committing suicide. One of them was about a 9 year old who survived his attempt. Peers at school told him he should kill himself earlier that day and he listened. When he got home he tried to hang himself, but his father entered the room just in time to save his son's life.

How could a child so young wish to die? It's hard for most to imagine, but I knew this shame and abuse well. I was diagnosed with TS when I was 10 years old and began to understand a painful truth: our world is not built for people who are different, or strange, or damaged. I was publicly humiliated by my peers. Mocked by my teachers. Questioned whether or not my tics were real or manufactured for attention or pity. Asked to leave the library at my university who pretends to care about inclusion. I even watched a woman text her (presumed) spouse that I might bomb the airplane in which we sat. That hardly accounts for what I endured, and what we endure as a community.

This is our daily suffering. The compounding fear, anxiety, shame, paranoia, depression, and loneliness could make any human want to die. And as much as I thought about dying those years, I started asking myself: what about living? How can I make this a world where people want to live? I started answering those questions through my music. This song is a declaration that I have Tourette Syndrome and I am not ashamed. That we exist and deserve to live.

The first line of this song:

I have Tourette's/Do you fear me?

I bought the desk we used for this music video from a retired teacher in Southeast Michigan. She asked what we were doing with it, and I told her we were making a video for my song about living with Tourette Syndrome. Her response was harrowing: "Oh, I had a student with that once in my class. He scared me."

The last line in this song:

Catch me ticcin' and tockin' - I don't care what what you say.

I am worthy of life. We are worthy of life. You don't get to tell us whether we should live or die.

Learn more at the Tourette Association of America. Listen to our stories on the Tourette's Podcast.

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