Waitaki musician Mads Harrop is hoping her newly released single will help bring more awareness for those with Tourette syndrome.
Harrop released Hiding in Colour last month to great feedback and was encouraged by the amount of air time it was getting on Aucklandbased student radio station 95bFM.
‘‘I wrote it just after I got my Tourette’s diagnosis — it reflects how my Tourette’s can make me feel, and then in the chorus, it kind of symbolises hoping for positivity, when my Tourette’s is really bad. That’s what hiding in colour means,’’ she said.
Harrop hoped the song would highlight her condition, and help have it recognised as a disability by the Ministry of Health for easier access to disability services. Despite its potentially debilitating effect, Tourette syndrome is not recognised as a disability in New Zealand at present.
‘‘I’d get more support services,’’ Harrop said.
‘‘I’m not just speaking about myself, but I’m speaking on behalf of the entire Tourette’s community here in New Zealand.’’
Not only did Harrop have Tourette’s, but she also had the added challenges of anxiety and Asperger syndrome. Tourette’s was more commonly diagnosed in people with autism and ADHD, she said.
Her diagnosis at 19 caused her anxiety to ‘‘skyrocket’’, and she was initially reluctant to go out in public or to university.
‘‘I had to work on it gradually. I mean, I was petrified at first when I first started going out in public after getting my Tourette’s, but now I’m used to it.’’
The 22-year-old had joined ‘‘a few’’ support groups and enjoyed listening to Tourette’s Podcast, which introduced a variety of people with the condition, and their different perspectives.
She tried to consider how her tics affected other people out in public, especially the swearing tic, and once she explained her condition, most people were understanding.
‘‘As much as I understand their perspectives on it, I find it makes me feel really sad and infuriated, because I can’t control it.
‘‘It just feels very awful.’’
Covid-19 had added an extra layer of complexity to Harrop’s diagnosis. Some things were easier, while others were harder.
It meant she could Zoom into her university lectures, and have online grocery orders delivered when her tics were bad, but the infamous 1pm press conferences could also trigger an attack, she said.
‘‘I remember last year, when Jacinda announced we were going into Level 4 lockdown, I was exhibiting this tic where I said I had Covid, and it was right before I was about to play at a gig. And when I was doing my set I had to let the audience know I had Tourette’s, and that it was just a tic, so it was a false alarm.’’
As a performer and lover of live gigs, Harrop said she and her band were ‘‘gutted’’ their O Week performance at Dive bar had to be cancelled and they missed live music in general, but they were still having fun rehearsing.
Listen to Hiding in Colour on Spotify and Bandcamp. To find out more about Tourette’s visit tourettes.org.nz.