Witham (U.K.) teenager with Tourette's syndrome makes viral video about living with the condition
Essex Chronicle
December 6, 2015



A teenager who (lives with )Tourette's syndrome has made a short film showing what it's like to suffer from the condition, which can cause outbursts, involuntary swearing and tics.

Brandon Harvey, 18, of Colne Chase in Witham, teamed up with youth charity Fixers to create a three-minute video that challenges stereotypes and highlights awareness of the "cruel condition".

The former New Rickstones Academy student, who now works for a digital technology firm in Chelmsford, said: "Tourette's is often portrayed as a syndrome which is all about swearing, but it isn't.

"I wanted to create something that realistically shows viewers what it is like to live with the condition. I don't think you can understand something like this until you experience it.

"That's why I wasn't in the video myself. I had actors undertake tasks that use up all your concentration and drain you mentally.

"If you have ever tried to hold a heavy weight in your hand before you let your arm drop that is like holding in a tic. You can only hold it for so long until you no longer have the strength."

Brandon explained that he shot the clip in a single day of filming at a bespoke shooting studio in Colchester last month.

The video, which racked up more than 500 Youtube hits on the day it was released, features actors attempting tasks like building a house of cards, trying not to blink, and holding a weight for as long as possible.

Brandon added: "Controlling a tic can be exhausting. In the film I wanted to set challenges where people are forced to use their concentration, so they would understand what it feels like.

"As I've experienced this cruel condition first-hand I know the strains it can put on your life," continued Brandon, who still suffers mildly from Tourette's but has found a way to suppress his condition - by disguising tics as natural movements.

"It can be very confusing and upsetting as you may not understand why your body is forcing you to make strange movements and sounds, and I ache in places where I'm trying so hard not let all this stress out.

"It's probably one of the most socially awkward things to have. Most people go through Tourette's by themselves not knowing anyone else who has it, but this should show them how strong they are."

Fixers works with young people aged between 16 and 25 across the UK by providing them with resources to help them campaign on issues they feel strongly about.

Brandon added that he enjoyed the creative process more than he anticipated, and hopes the experience will act as a springboard to more campaigning projects.

He said: "I'd quite like to help medical professionals treat people, by sharing my own experiences. I've not found a cure for Tourette's, but I've found a way to live with it."