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Guest speaker at the opening of Hichki

I had the pleasure of being the guest speaker for Cold Lake’s (IFFA) India Film Festival of Alberta 2018 showing of the movie Hichki, which is an adaptation of “Front of the class,” written by Brad Cohen.

I sat down to write a speech with only a subtle idea of how the ink would pour. With my tics in tow, I wrote a piece that I feel reflects my experiences. I would very much like to share parts of it with you in a blog series built of inspirations from this speech.

I quote myself as saying, “There was a time when my tics made it so I wasn’t always the most capable. No. That’s not true. The truth is, I didn’t BELIEVE I was the most capable. I had given up on myself and in what I could do. I BELIEVED I had failed; that I could amount to nothing.”

Tourette syndrome was an itch at the back of my mind, irritating the bits left of me that could stand up straight and hold my head high. I lost my poise to stumbling and stuttering; my fingertips scratching away at the walls of the frame that contained me; me and my noises, bursting without eloquence. I thought I was losing my value and that the more I scratched, the more it chipped away.

In those moments where I could control my posture, I used it to bow my head; to look at the ground under my shoes because that was the value I found in myself.

If I were to look at my surroundings, I would have to face the snickers and the stares that awaited.

Eventually, all it took was a peek upwards to see that I was not the spectacle I had imagined. Once in a while, the snickers found me, but overall, I was not defined by onlookers.

What started with a quick peek quickly turned into a confidence that my shoes would find the pavement on their own. I dared to feel that I was capable; that my path was the right one.

There was no “with” or “without” Tourette syndrome scenario. Tourette was here, in me; living, breathing, accentuating.

Tourette syndrome is the double dot over the ï. It’s the extra spitfire, or the bit of kick to a meal when you add salt.

Embrace your Tourette. Keep what accentuates you, and whatever you do, don’t look down.


By Melissa C. Water

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