Thursday, September 14, 2017

"Hi, I have Tourettes....and I'm not Evil"



I was outside of my dorm building this afternoon, reading a book for one of my graduate classes. My little picnic table was off the beaten path in the center of a grassy area by a parking garage. I should mention that this table doesn't border any sidewalks.

It was a rather quiet afternoon. Perfect for studying.

I stayed there for over an hour, just reading. Not sure how much I actually retained, but I knew I was going to read it again later.

Then...off to my right (by the parking garage) I hear a shout - a shout that was coming towards me.

"Hey (name I missed), I'm going to make a new friend!" 

Odd. That's not a phrase I remember hearing a lot. Especially on a college campus.

I look up from my book, and a young African-American man (about my age) is climbing on the bench besides mine. I wasn't really startled, given what I had just heard, but I must say that I was surprised - and maybe a little nervous. Why did he want to meet me?

He said to me, in a very cheerful voice, "Hi, I'm (name). I have Tourettes...and I'm not evil."

I don't remember tensing up, but I must have, because I smiled and relaxed my shoulders.

He asked my name and we proceeded to have a pleasant conversation. It turns out he had already attained his bachelors and was on his way to getting his doctorate (at least, I think that's what he said. It was at the same time that he mentioned getting his black belt in martial arts). We ended our conversation by his mentioning that his favorite holiday was Halloween and that he was looking forward to it.

After he left, the only thing that I could think of was...

"Wow. That guy was very brave, and he will make something of himself." 

That young man is going to bring about more change than any activist for physical or mental illnesses. Because he's living proof that his disability didn't get in the way of attaining success - in classroom or out.

Now, I must confess, when I was younger, I was very afraid of people with a physical or mental disability. As I've grown older and met more people, I realize that I shouldn't focus on their disabilities, but on their humanity. As I've had more positive experiences with people with disabilities, that fear has diminished to nothing. I just never realized it until I met this young man.

As I sit here writing this post, it just occurred to me - why isn't more positive experiences with mentally or physically ill people present in fiction?

What about the people that have friends, best friends, boyfriends/girlfriends, husbands/wives that have these illnesses? Why aren't they present in books as being positive influences?

From my brief experience with him, I saw a young man grow in confidence, and come to think of it, so did I.

Let's keep that trend going.

Scribblingly yours,

Catherine

28 comments:

  1. OH MY GOSH!!!!!!!! YOU NEED TO TELL ME STUFF!!!

    -Lia
    catholicgirlstuff.blogspot.com
    lilahsmusicals.blogspot.com

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    1. IT LITERALLY HAPPENED A HALF HOUR BEFORE I POSTED!!!!

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    2. YOU COULD HAVE CALLED ME!!!!!

      -Lia

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  2. Replies
    1. I was...kinda awed really. It made me feel really good, praise be to Jesus for such an awesome encounter.

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  3. Wow! That was so inspiring! Thanks for sharing. :-)

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    1. Thanks for commenting, MEM! I have a sneaky feeling that he'll end up in my character bank for a future story...who knows?

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    2. That would be so cool. Yes, who knows? ;-D

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    1. Hello Jane!
      It was :) Definitely inspiring.

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  5. What a great experience! He's so brave!! :D

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    1. Not a lot of people would have been so open about it, that's for sure!

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  6. Wow! Great post, that boy was really brave, bravo to him. :)

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    1. Thank you Gray, and yes much bravo to my young new friend :)

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  7. That is really cool. Thanks for sharing this!

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    1. Thanks for visiting and commenting, Kendra! And you're welcome!

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  8. That's awesome. I will admit that I am a bit afraid of people with mental disabilities because I haven't had a good experience. But, I think this story is amazing. Thanks, Catherine. <3

    ~Ivie
    iviewrites.blogspot.com

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    1. That's understandable. I think my fear was more based on the fact that I wasn't sure what they would do next or something I say would set them off.

      You're welcome, Ivie!

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    2. That's what my problem is. But this post makes me feel better. 😁

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  9. Wow that's incredible Catherine <3 It's easy to be afraid and forget that our Lord is there even in the most mundane little moments of life.

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  10. Aww, what a wonderful and inspiring story. Such people have always held a special place in my heart. One of my best friends is slightly autistic, but it doesn't keep her from her dreams and having fun.

    Our church is downtown, so there are a lot of homeless people around and many of them have mental illnesses. Then I'm pretty apprehensive.

    But I LOVE your idea about including these "angels on earth" in stories. Hey! That gives me an idea! You know, a lot of YA fiction is about romance. But something we rebellious writers should consider is more friendships like these.

    God bless you!

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    1. Good for her!

      I have a similar situation with my church - sometimes they come in, and then it's a little freaky for the regular parishoners and their kids. I definitely understand!

      That is soooo true. I'd love to see more of them!

      Thank you Sarah!

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  11. This is a really cool story. Thanks for sharing, Catherine!

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  12. What a neat encounter! And what a brave young man (I am extremely shy... anyone who is willing to walk up to a stranger and start a conversation is heroically brave in my book!) Thank you for sharing the experience and your reflections on it.

    A couple of notable books that do include protagonists with disabilities that I've read recently are: Handbook for Dragon Slayers by Merrie Haskell (the main character is a princess who is crippled), Centaur Rising by Jane Yolen (the main protagonist's brother was a thalidomide baby and has serious deformities), and Beggar Magic by H.L. Burke (one of the main characters is Deaf). All excellent books that I highly recommend!

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    1. I'm rather shy myself, Jenelle. I agree, he's a hero in my book too (not quite literally yet :) )

      Thanks for the book suggestions! I'll have to check them out!

      Catherine

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