A bad batch of lemons or the best batch?
How my life has been affected by trying to overcome the struggles of having disorders.
When life gives you lemons, what do you do? Well, maybe you are like me and like lemons. I would just eat them. Maybe make a nice chicken salad, squeeze some lemons on top, add some rosema... That’s not the point! The point is the expression is to mean you turn lemons into lemonade. That’s what I’ve been doing with Tourette Syndrome and the various disorders I have.
However, turning lemons into lemonade isn’t always easy. Sometimes, you are given a bad batch of lemons. There’s a popular belief today that we should stop saying that people suffer from disorders/syndromes and say that they are living with them. While I understand that and agree to an extent, I wouldn’t describe my experiences until recently as “living”. “Suffering” is actually the word I would use. Throughout my life, I have been diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, OCD, ADD, Panic Disorder, Anxiety, Depression, a few other disorders have been discussed, and I’ve been told by a few therapists that they feel I’ve been misdiagnosed. I also get suicidal thoughts the same way I get tics from TS. I get many of them every day and they are never caused by anything specifically. They just simply happen.
After over a decade of pain (both physical and mental), suicide attempts, hospital trips, and a lot of escaping in my head, I not only decided to try stand up comedy, I decided to talk about my experiences in my sets. At the beginning of this year, I spoke to my friend Elva, who is also a comedian with TS, about doing a show together for the Reykjavík Fringe Festival to highlight being comedians with TS. I then thought of asking my friend Hannah, who has Schizophrenia, to join us because I thought it would be good to get some mental health diversity in this kind of show. Before I knew it, “My Voices Have Tourettes” was born. This show is a stand up comedy show that features comedians with disorders and syndromes to help raise awareness in a fun way.
What’s interesting about this show, though, is that it didn’t just help other people, like we intended. It also helped us. Because of this show, I went from actively trying to suppress my tics (by tensing muscles, sitting on my hands, holding my legs or arms...) to actively trying not to suppress them. Since we started the show, several things have happened. I started feeling more confident and comfortable with having my tics. When a whole room of people know about your tics, laugh with you, and smile because of the confidence you have from embracing who you are, the feeling you get from that is incredible. For the first time in my life, I didn’t feel like I was different. I didn’t feel like I didn’t belong and when people with TS came up to me after some of the shows to thank me for showing them the confidence and love they could have for themselves, I realized how important this show had become for all of us. Because of this show, I can finally say that I am “living” with TS and the various disorders I have. I may still “suffer” a little bit, but learning about what I have and from the pain in the past has actually changed these “lemons” into lemonade. My life has become better BECAUSE I have what I have.
It’s one thing to tell someone that they are not alone. But, when you actually show them in person that they truly are not alone, that’s when the magic happens and that’s why we do what we do.
Welcome to “My Voices Have Tourettes”