At a young age, I had an itch in my neck that could never be scratched. It would twitch and I’d feel relief only to have that same desire resurface seconds later. My eyes never felt like they were in the right place in my head. I would roll them to scratch the sensation I had. Never bringing the desired relief. A frog always sat in my throat. Attempting to push it out with air results in a small noise but again, the frog still lives. This is life with Tourette Syndrome. At least for me it is.
My name is Josh Ashford and I have a very mild case of Tourette Syndrome. What does that mean? Honestly, it just means that I do things a little differently than others. My symptoms aren’t very noticeable, until they are. There are many others that have cases that are extremely more severe than mine. I can’t wear contacts because I still roll my eyes. That’s about the only “hinderance” Tourettes has caused me. I’ve always been athletic and excelled. At the age of 9, a rival PeeWee football team asked my parents to move so I could play for their team. I am a Commercial Insurance Broker in Flower Mound, Tx, married to my college crush (it only took me 12 years to ask her out on a date), a follwer of Christ (attending Antioch Christian Fellowship in Corinth, Tx) and a supporter of my community and aluma mater (Go Mean Green!). For so long I allowed Tourette Syndrome to shape me. Throughout my life, I built a defensive wall because of it. I tell people, if it weren’t for Tourettes I probably wouldn’t be as sarcastic as I am (That’s not the truth. It’s in my DNA). This is actually the first time I am publicly “annoucing it”. The first time I’m acutally comfortable enough to say this is me. Growing up I was teased for being different. As an adult, I am still teased. People make fun of things they don’t understand. Sometimes my voice gets high pitched. Sometimes my eyes REALLY hurt and I need to roll them a few times. As a child, I would try to hide my “ticks”. I’d try to hold off the little noises I made unitl I was in a room by myself. If I needed to roll my eyes I would make sure they were closed so no one would see. Now, I don’t really care all that much. Some might say, why did it take you until the age of 30 to make this statement?Hoenstly, it took a while for me to be comfortable with having Tourettes. Once I became comfortable I simply assumed everyone else knew. If we’re being honest, I’m not as comfortable as I like to think. I still wonder are people juding me. If my co-workers, friends, family talk about me when I’m not around. But I know who I am! I know that Tourette’s doesn’t have to define me. It’s not an excuse for anything. It’s kind of an advantage. One of the perks is I’ve always been great at public speaking because I’ve always assumed all eyes were on me (Get it? Because I roll my eyes). So why am I wrinting this blog? My hope is that someone out there won’t have to suffer like I did. It’s okay to be who you are. People are going to talk about you whether you tell them or not so you might as well “dance in the rain”. My other hope is that people would open their eyes and hearts. Love people for who they are. If we’re honest with ourselves, there’s probably something “wrong” with all of us. Thanks for reading!