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Aspects of Tourettes

Posted Wed 16th Jan 2019 at 12:55
by Chloe Evelyn

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Photographer Chloe Evelyn talks about her latest project and the relationship between her creative outputs and TS

I was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome aged 16, having had symptoms for years before that, which were masked as side effects to the medication I was on for epilepsy at the time.

Over the years I have always been creative and had a creative output to which I could make my tics disappear and be calm for a while.   That creative outlet used to be acting and performing, I even did my undergraduate degree in Drama and Musical Theatre, and for the most part, I loved it, until I realised something had changed.  Performing no longer brought calm to my tics, instead, it brought stress and complications to my tics. I turned to photography slightly before I came to this realisation, which was starting to take over as my creative outlet, and as it was something I had always enjoyed I started to take it more seriously, as more and more people kept telling me I was quite good at it. To cut this long story short, after finishing my degree, I was not happy at the thought of spending the rest of my life auditioning for parts I would not get and not enjoy playing even if I did get them, especially if they weren’t going to bring calm and silence to my tics like performing had once done.  So, I turned all my attention to photography, did online courses, bought every book I could get my hands on to learn the ins and outs of a camera and photography. A year and a half on and I’m now doing a Masters in photography, and photography still has such a therapeutic effect on my Tourettes.

Through the first term of my MA, I decided to expand upon a project I started accidentally during the summer, which captured the ugly faces I made during my tics. It was a total accident that started something quite wonderful. I spent the whole of my first term expanding on the idea and experimenting with new ways of capturing my tics. My reasoning for doing so? Because people with or without Tourettes don’t have anywhere near the amount of accurate displays of Tourette Syndrome that should be available, so it becomes a joke, something to laugh at, a misconception, something filled with incorrect, non-factual stigmas, and I wanted to change that.

Aspects of Tourettes is a series of self-portraits, and photographs of my hands during my hand tics which documents the painful, challenging, distressing, anxiety-inducing and intricate moments that anyone with Tourettes will be able to relate to, and hopefully, people who don’t have Tourettes, will begin to understand the incredibly complex condition that Tourettes is. I want this project to reach as many people as possible, because after the immense amount of struggle and anxiety I went through during the experimental process of expanding this project, I believe it finally has the power and force behind it to impact people in a way that it may start to change and decrease some of the misconceptions and stigmas attached to Tourette Syndrome.

 

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I struggled a lot through this project and at times I wanted to quit and just focus on some of my other projects, which would have been a lot less stressful and challenging, but I would not have created something as emotionally raw and impactful as I have with Aspects of Tourettes. The emotional exhaustion only added to the final collection of photographs, because it encapsulates many of the very real aspects of Tourette Syndrome which are never mentioned when people joke about “the swearing disease”. Tourettes is so much more than just swearing, it is more than just tics, and people with Tourettes can do amazing things, and I want this project to prove that. So that’s why I’ve decided to try and share this project far and wide, to reach as many people as possible, with or without Tourettes, and change these totally inaccurate stigmas.

To see more of my work and the work for Aspects of Tourettes please visit my website; www.chloeevelyn.co.uk

I hope this blog reaches people that need to see this and that my project can reach people that it will have a positive impact on. Thank you for reading this blog.

 


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