OPINION

Tourette syndrome is my super power, not my disorder

UNIQUE: Australian comedian and host Seamus Evans says that he has learnt to be thankful for Tourette syndrome. Picture: Supplied
UNIQUE: Australian comedian and host Seamus Evans says that he has learnt to be thankful for Tourette syndrome. Picture: Supplied

"Stop twitching!"

"What's wrong with you?"

"Take your medication weirdo!"

My name is Seamus Evans and I was born with Tourette syndrome, a neurological condition made up of both motor and vocal tics.

At the age of 10, I broke my dear mother's heart when she overheard me praying to God, asking him to take my "habits" away from me.

I was fed up with my grunting fits, jerking my head so hard I'd jar my neck, banging my knees together leaving bruises and barking like a dog loudly in shopping centres.

Growing up in the 90s, nobody had heard of TS, other than in movies.

After months of GP visits, my parents finally found an answer.

My diagnosis came with symptoms of both OCD and ADHD, which is very common in people with TS.

My doctor also informed us that my tics would leave by the age of 18.

Now at 30, I am writing this article as my left shoulder tics making me hit too many keys on my keyboardddffkj.

For years, I hated myself and hated my tics. I was embarrassed and wished I was born "normal".

As you can imagine, school wasn't much fun for me.

A hyperactive, skinny, late blooming kid who could't sit still, distracted the class and acted like he'd just put his finger in an electric socket.

I was a sitting duck for bullies. I used to have this tic where everything had to be even.

If I banged my hip against the wall, I would have to bang the other side just as hard to even it out.

I still remember the day some bigger kids cornered me and would slap me across the face as hard as they could.

They'd stand back, laugh and watch me slap my own face to the equal force, then they'd slap me again.

As time went on, I decided to pretend I didn't have Tourette's any more.

I ignored the puzzled looks of strangers and came up with funny quips, deflecting when people asked about them and just went about my life with blinders on.

That was until one day I was forced to face reality when my dream job was about to become a nightmare.

At the age of 18, I was lucky enough to land the role as host of Toasted TV, a cartoon show on Network 10.

About a week into the job, the producer pulled me aside and asked why I kept twitching.

After I told him, he reminded me I was still under probation in my contract and if it was a problem he could fire me, no worries.

So I was faced with a decision. Should I quit, give up and become a victim of my own syndrome? Or work a miracle and find a way to disguise it?

I decided to give it a shot, "what's the worst that can happen?", I told myself and got to work.

Every day, from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to sleep, I would focus on my body, recognising my tics, try to manipulate them to be disguised into my body language and be hidden on camera.

Still to this day, 13 years later I apply the same technique.

I went on to work in the media for 13 years, hosting Toasted TV and Totally Wild for Network 10 and various breakfast radio shows across Australia for the Hit Network.

None of my amazing career would have been possible if I saw Tourette's as a downfall.

Humour has always been the best coping mechanism.

As a stand-up comedian, the majority of my material is about having Tourette's. I have found a way to normalise it.

Something I once hated, is now my super power.

I am an ambassador for the Tourette Syndrome Association Australia, and as a public speaker I give talks in schools helping students overcome adversity by sharing my story.

Tourette syndrome separates me from everyone else, and I am so thankful for it.

If a cure came out today, I can say I wouldn't get it.

I love Tourette's, it's mine and I am proud of it. It has made me the man I am today.

Seamus Evans is a comedian and ambassador for ambassador for the Tourette Syndrome Association Australia.

This story Seamus Evans: Tourette syndrome is my super power, not my disorder first appeared on The Canberra Times.