- Manish Pandey
- Newsbeat, BBC
American singer Billie Eilish revealed that living with Tourette syndrome can be “exhausting”.
The 20-year-old experienced a tic on camera while speaking on Netflix’s “You Need No Introduction, With David Letterman,” the fourth season of which premiered on May 20.
“If you film me long enough you’ll see a lot of tics,” he told the interviewer.
It is believed that 1% of the world population suffers from this syndrome which causes a person to make involuntary sounds or movements, and in some cases leads them to suddenly swear or curse.
It usually begins during childhood, but tics and other symptoms usually improve after several years and sometimes go away completely.
Billie Eilish said during the interview that she doesn’t experience tics at her concerts and that some specific ones disappeared over time, but others are still there.
“I never completely stop having tics because there are some that I do constantly, all day long. I move my ear back, I raise my eyebrow, I click my jaw, I flex this arm and this other arm, I flex these muscles… things that You wouldn’t notice if you’re just having a conversation with me. But for me they’re exhausting.”
Offensive reactions from others
The singer said she “loves” talking about her experience with Tourette, but acknowledged that she is “incredibly confused” by the syndrome.
Others don’t always react well when she experiences a tic.
“The most common reaction is that people laugh because they think I’m trying to be funny. I’m always incredibly offended by that,” she said.
“The funny thing is that there are so many people who have it and you would never know. A couple of artists have told me that they also have Tourette’s. I won’t name them because they don’t want to, but that was very interesting to me because it was, ‘How? You too?'”.
That reaction is something Terrina Bibb can relate to.
The 29-year-old Englishwoman started showing signs of tics when she was 21 and, after going through many neurologists, was finally diagnosed at 24, relatively late.
Bibb recalls that a year ago someone was constantly looking at her in a restaurant during a “really bad tic attack.”
“It’s just rude and it frustrates me. People ask ‘why do you have to say so many bad words?’ I wish I didn’t have to, but it’s something I can’t control,” he says.
She wants people to treat her and others with Tourette normally, adding, “I don’t mind educating people about it, I just don’t think people should be rude.”
On a day-to-day basis, Bibb is a freelance artist, so she is able to work from home.
There are “good days and bad days” as he lives with verbal and motor tics.
“It’s a very disabling condition. I carry a cane constantly, I can’t walk properly and I also have a wheelchair,” he says.
Mornings can be “really bad” for her because of her leg tics, and she has to ask her boyfriend or her mother for help with homework.
Terrina uses her art as a way to “release those tics”.
“Especially for the tics in my hands that I have, I hold a pen and do scribbles in a zigzag style. So those tics are released into something that I love to do, and it’s quite relaxing.”
He also has a punching bag in his garden that he says helps stave off Tourette’s effects for a few hours.
Bibb feels that it is significant that someone like Billie Eilish share her experience.
“Hopefully, it will make it a bit more normalized,” he adds.
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