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Talking Tourette's with John Davidson MBE

It's Tourette Syndrome Awareness month and we wanted to share some some short interviews with the Tourette's community. To kick us off, we caught up with our friend, John Davidson MBE.


John was the first person to bring Tourette's in to people's living rooms with his incredible documentary, John's Not Mad, and he continues to inspire us now.


Photo of John Davidson holding his MBE medal and his black labrador Suki
John Davidson MBE with his dog, Suki

How did your Tourette's first present itself?

My TS first presented itself at around 10 years old with continual eye-blinking and generally being unable to sit still for any length of time.


What age were you when you were first diagnosed?

I was diagnosed at the age of 13 after being admitted into hospital for 9 months due to having a full mental breakdown.

Do you have any family members who also have TS?

To my knowledge there isn't anyone else in my family who has TS, nevertheless, my Grandad always had little tics and there is a sign of OCD in my family.


What, if any, coexisting conditions do you have?

Alongside my TS I also have OCD, ADHD, sensory issues, very poor impulse control and, from time to time, a bit of depression.


What is the most challenging part of your Tourette's?

For me, the most challenging part of my condition is OCD and lots and lots of overthinking and intrusive thoughts which then become intertwined with my vocal tics.


Can you share any positives to having Tourette's?

The most positive things that have come from having TS is that I'm very empathetic and have the most amazing ability to notice things that others generally don't see. I'm a very good public speaker and can get things across that otherwise may be difficult to others. I have very good organisational skills and I'm very meticulous in everything I do.


If you could tell your newly diagnosed self anything, what would it be?

The one thing I would tell myself at the time of diagnosis is to stay away from medication. They just didn't help me and made me feel so much worse. I would also tell myself to take each day as it comes and to keep busy as much as possible but I suppose also to try and slow down and be a more patient person.


If there was one thing you wished everyone knew about Tourette's, what would it be?

The one thing I wished people knew about TS is that every person with it's unique and different from the next. I also wish people didn't just assume that when you have TS that you swear uncontrollably and that it does not affect our intelligence!


Thank you John!