“I’m going to kill myself. I don’t want to be alive any more.”
Of all the words in the English language, none come close to describing the feeling that took root in my heart the day I heard those words fall from my child’s lips. Here he was, only 7-years-old and already exhausted by his existence, overwhelmed by a body beyond his control and destroyed by the certainty that he was less than. Bad. Stupid. Here was my son telling me in the clearest words possible that he felt he had no value, that having Tourette Syndrome meant his future would never be equal to his peers. He was giving up.
“I want to die.”
I couldn’t stop picturing my son being committed, confined behind barriers I couldn’t cross.
I thought of the mistakes I’d made before his diagnosis, remembered every time I’d begged, “please, just stop!” I thought about the times he’d been removed from class, punished, and sent home.
“Mommy, I don’t want to live like this.”
With my throat feeling thick and my stomach churning, I called his doctor. Sharing our pain in that moment remains one of the toughest acts of my life. I know now that it was also the right thing to do.
“I was so lucky to find the Tourette Association of America.”
It was their strength I leaned on, the care of their Centers of Excellence and the amazing web of volunteers who helped us survive from one day to the next. My son was one of the fortunate ones— eventually he was able to find his way from despair to joy. The young man he has become is full of strength and resiliency; an incredible self-advocate, a successful student and a very happy (almost) adult with Tourette. I know that the TAA serves as a light for the countless other families currently struggling to find their way in the dark.