Jamie Grace was 9 years old when she started to squeeze her eyes shut uncontrollably, constantly make weird noises and burst into song. The tics became more aggressive, and she had to carry a pillow in the car that she could punch, so she didn't cut herself or break any bones.
"I would just be crying trying to stop it, and I couldn't," she says.
After two years, she was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, a neurological condition characterized by sudden, repetitive, involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics. Tourette Syndrome often is diagnosed between the ages of 3 and 9, and most people experience their worst symptoms in their teens.
"For the longest time I forced myself to hold back my tics. I didn't want people to think that's who I was. I was on the brink of not wanting to live anymore," Jamie Grace says. "We all have things that we are daily fighting through, but it's not about the stuff that happens that we can't control, it's about how we choose to respond to it."
The daughter of a preacher and a Grammy-nominated singer, Jamie Grace learned to open up about her condition through YouTube videos and her music. She founded the I'm a Fighter organization to offer support and encouragement to people facing life-altering health challenges.
"It's not just people with Tourette Syndrome who are fighters," she says. "This is what I've got, but we're all fighters."
Learn more about Jamie Grace and her I'm a Fighter campaign.
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