While I had always suffered from various mental illnesses during my life, I began experiencing symptoms of Tourette Syndrome in the third grade. It started after switching elementary schools and being assigned a new teacher who was difficult to read, and I believe the change made my symptoms worse. Every day I’d twitch and shake. Every night came a new seizure-resembling tic attack that’d last hours on end—typically from 2 to 5.

At first, my family and I thought my symptoms were compulsions, but this was disapproved by doctors. My tics continued until I was 13, and then I came down with Lyme disease. As a result, my tics skyrocketed and I was referred to a movement specialist at Yale Children’s Hospital. There, they diagnosed me with Tourette Syndrome.

I hadn’t a clue about the condition and what it meant. However, now I am knowledgeable of through my experience and research, so my team and I have found ways to cope with it. Since the diagnosis, my tics have worsened and have grown further debilitating. After recovering from some emotional/mental complications and being in and out of the hospital in middle school, my tics started to show even more as my symptoms of mental instability had dispersed. I began experiencing debilitating vocal tics and a plethora of motor tics.

And that leads us to today, where I am working with my team on a treatment to assist with combatting my Tourette Syndrome in hopes of living a happier, easier life. Back in April of 2019, my father and I purchased my ferret, Momo, for therapeutic purposes. Since then, I’ve had an easier time coping with this disability. Momo is an active emotional support animal and is currently in training to become a Tourette Syndrome service animal. While I know my suffering and the impact Tourette has on me, the only thing I can do is push forward in order to live in contentment and serenity—and while I may not worship, I pray that those suffering alongside me will be granted the same.

– Kai