Cover art for Living With You featuring a drawing of a boy in a black hoodie and sunglasses sitting against a wall with a wolf walking towards him

A short play based on the real lives of young people living with Tourette Syndrome. Made possible by funding from Creative Lives.

Living With You is a two month storytelling project that began in April 2021. The aim was to enable young people with Tourette's to share their stories and bring them together through creative participation.

Eleven young people with Tourette's, aged between 12 and 22, took part. During 18 hours of Zoom calls, they each shared their stories about life within their families, schools, and communities whilst they dealt with Tourette's and how other people respond to it.

Sharing their moving stories about how Tourette's feels inside, they provided amazing insights, some that they'd never spoken about before.

Click here to watch the video of Living With You, or read on for a behind the scenes look at how it was developed, and who was involved.

Creating the Story

Two main themes came from these shared stories. The first was that whilst Tourette's is painful, confusing , and irritating, it actually isn't the worst part of their lives. What's worse is being stared at, questioned, told to stop, deliberately triggered, or called a faker. It's other people who make living with Tourette's so hard.

The second theme was about how Tourette's feels inside, the part other people never see. The anxiety, over-thinking, and intrusive thoughts. Tourette's can feel like a separate, different person, who's like you but not you. They are loud, impulsive, vulgar, cruelly funny, and often able to control you. Tourette's takes over until it's hard to know where you end and your Tourette's begins. Sometimes it feels that having Tourette's is all you are.

Tourette's is like owning the world's worst behaved pet. You didn't ask for it and can't control it. It keeps doing things that other people don't like and you get the blame. 

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The Contributors

 

Eleven young members of Tourette Scotland took part in this project by bravely sharing their stories of living with Tourette's. If you're on our desktop site, hover over each picture below to find out a little more about them:

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Bruce Lyons

"My name is Bruce, and I'm 16yrs old. I was diagnosed with Tourette's in 2019. I find playing music on guitar and drums helps with my tics and helps me relax."

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Micah Hall

"I'm Micah and I'm from Hawick. If you walked around my town you'd probably spot me rather easily as I'm often dressed in alternative clothes that can be rather shocking. Part of my style is so if people stare at my tics they also get something else to catch their attention. Tourette's is definitely the weirdest thing, unless you've experienced it yourself or been close to someone who has, you can never fully understand the wonderful weirdness that comes with it.

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Robyn Smurthwaite

"My name is Robyn. I live in Auchtermuchty, Fife. I am so grateful for Nigel including me in this experience. I had such a good time learning about people's Tourette's and telling Nigel about mine. I feel as if Tourette's makes me, me, makes me unique. I love sunflowers and my favourite colour is yellow because it reminds me of sunshine.

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Morven Edwards

"My name is Morven, I also go by Lani/Link to some people. I don't exactly know when my Tourette's started but I remember when I was 10 the internal tics started (tics inside your body). I managed to get diagnosed when I was 12. I am now 13 and my Tourette's has gradually gotten easier to live with. This is mostly because I have learnt a lot about Tourette's since I was diagnosed, like how a side effect of it is having difficulty controlling your emotions, and how tics can also be as small as little blinks. I am determined not to let my Tourette's define me but to live my life. I have enjoyed being part of this project."

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Kristian Smurthwaite

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Iona McDonald

"I'm Iona and I was diagnosed with Tourette's when I was 13 years old after a sudden onset of tics. It came as a huge shock and lots of people said I was lying which made it so much harder. Thankfully I had lots of support which helped me get through. I enjoy swimming and pushing myself to try new things. I have completed Tough Mudder and the Kilt Walk which was a very big achievement for me. I hope to do more things like this in the future."

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Johnny Milne

"I'm Johnny. I started ticcing about 12-13 years ago and have been fully diagnosed 11 years. I am currently a mental health ambassador and campaigner. My tics have affected me quite a lot growing up, especially at school but now I embrace it as part of who I am."

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Heather Mrosek

"My name is Heather and I'm 23. I have Tourette Syndrome and other health problems and it will affect me my whole life. But there is more to me than my health problems and I wish people would see the whole me and not just my health issues. I love animals, playing computer games, and watching movies."

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Tyler Moffat

"I'm Tyler, I am 19 and I'm a student at the University of St. Andrew's. I have had Tourette's and ADHD since I was a child, but it has never stopped me achieving my goals."

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Ross Macpherson

"I'm Ross, I was diagnosed with Tourette's when I was 9. I'm currently 19 years old and I'm studying full-time at art school.

The Staged Reading

 

Covid restrictions meant we couldn't all come together to watch the play live, so instead we filmed a staged reading.

This was rehearsed and filmed in just one day, on the 7th June 2021, international Tourette's Awareness Day, at The Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh. In a 'staged reading' the actors have scripts to read from, there is no scenery and very few props.

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The Creative Team

 

Living With You was conceived, written, and directed by Nigel Ashworth. Nigel runs our monthly Storytelling Group and is a professional playwright and theatre director, based in Edinburgh.

You can read an interview with Nigel about the project in our news section. To find out more about Nigel's work by visiting his website.

Meet our brilliant cast of professional actors for staged reading

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Angus Taylor and Joe Urquhart are recent graduates from The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Pauline Lockhart and Irene Allan are both very distinguished actors. Pauline has performed with the Royal Lyceum Theatre, National Theatre of Scotland, Traverse Theatre, Stellar Quines, Vanishing Point, BBS, and many others. Irene has performed with the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Citizens Theatre, National Theatre of Scotland, Pitlochry Festival Theatre, BBC Radio, and many others.

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The video of the staged reading was made by Edinburgh based professional videographers, Cro + Kow, who you see hard at work below. To see more of their brilliant work, visit their website.

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Acknowledgements

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This project was made possible by funding from Creative Lives (Voluntary Arts Scotland), Creative Scotland, and Get Creative.

Special thanks to Kyla McDonald, Mark Thomson, The Brunton Theatre, Brennan Artists, Ali & Phil Anderson-Dyer, Ali McDonald, and Mike Crane Photography.