The Beast Within

by Sarah James - age 14

I remember the days when I was just another fish in the sea, a single hair in the lions mane, a drop in the metaphorical ocean. The days when my childish innocence was the perfect alibi for any naughty act of mischief. Ah, the joyous days of believing the world was oh so perfect, believing nothing could ever stand in my way, I was unstoppable, but time was to prove me very, very wrong.

Through out those happy years grew inside me a beast that was to show me how confusing and hateful the world could be. A “thing” so scary it would show me the real meaning of being afraid. It was to lock me away in a solitary bubble of pain and deception, testing my toleration, pushing me further and further towards the edge.

It seems so long ago now, the first time the beast showed it’s ugly head and took a breath of the air outside me, but still I remember, though sometimes I wish I couldn’t.

I sniffed in a lung full of the damp air and then sniffed again. “Not another cold” I told myself miserably, at the age of eight being ill just seemed like an unnecessary waste of time, kind of like shopping, and school for that matter. However this was no cold, no virus, it was the beginning of an uphill climb without a rope.

Again I snuffled and sniffed, they seemed to just come involuntarily, sometimes startling even myself. I thought nothing of the excessive sniffing or even the occasional grunt that accompanied it. “It’ll pass” I assured myself.

Quietly and patiently I waited for the noises to stop, indeed my nose was now remarkably sore, that day is still not on the horizon, nor I fear, will it be for many years yet. People started to notice and of course comment, ridicule my disruption of lessons or distraction to their concentration. Intrigued school friends gazed and stared at my spasmodic actions. Questions were plentiful, answers were not. Other movements and motions started to find their way into my helpless body, seemingly from no where, dropping from the storm clouds and painfully only striking me. My inexperienced mind tried hard to understand but with no true reason it was forced to do the best thing, compromise. Give the teachers an excuse and your friends something to chew on.

“Why do you do that?” the dreaded question flew my way and hit me like a knife “You nod up and down, grunt, wave your hands, you know?”

“It’s just a nervous twitch.” I always answered.

Saying that it was just a nervous twitch was like saying Mount Everest is just a hill. I was not to know the truth for another four years yet. Every day, every twitch, every painful comment stung me until no more could I bear to live under the command of the elusive beast. Real answers, I said, must be found, lies will not last forever. Someone once told me ‘A liar speaks more truth than a wise man’ I didn’t understand then, our western minds, so busy, no longer contain the ability or understanding of our old ancient wisdom. After weeks of endless nagging, this I was good at, I eventually persuaded my parents that a visit to the hospital would reveal the truth. Oh, how right I was to be, truth that day was to bring to my life, the answer to the everlasting riddle, the famed missing piece to the glorious puzzle. It seemed however while it unloaded tens tons of my mind it put another twenty tons on. The beast though, now had a name, Tourette, a word I don’t think I will ever forget, it’ll always be there, imprinted in the back of my mind, there to haunt me forever. My ‘tics’ as the doctor called them had reason and for the first time meaning. I understood at last, no more deception, no more disgrace, just honest truth. Why then was I ashamed? Some times people don’t need the truth, it is better for them no to know.

Syndrome, the one word no person ever wants to be associated with, the blatant stereotype that accompanies it. Would people now treat me the same as the had before, or would they shy away unsure of me? I was suddenly afraid of rejection, humans can be so spiteful and blind to the consequences of their actions. I did not want to be shunned or outcast because of one small fault of which I have no control. Judge me not by what I am but because of who I am. I’ve grown wise to realise the most effective way to avoid being noticed by people, and thus judged, is to deny them the opportunity to do so. Be quiet, keep your head low, that way any unwanted wandering gaze will pass you by unnoticed. You do not see the ostriches eyes when it has it’s head in the sand.

To the untrained eye I may look like the regular run of the mill teenage misfit, but dig to deep below the protective surface would be to uncover a secret me, my beast, my true person. No more am I just another fish in the sea, for now I swim side by side with the life form that controls my action.

Will there ever be a more significant thing in my life? Only time will tell. Oh well, just another hurdle in the race of life. One thing is for sure, now I am unique.