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Billie Eilish Gets Honest About How She Has ‘Made Friends’ With Tourette Syndrome And How People Typically React To Her Tics

Billie Eilish on My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman
(Image credit: Netflix )

Twenty-year-old Billie Eilish has been growing up in front of the world as the singer’s popularity has continued to skyrocket, between her chart-topping music, Oscar-winning James Bond song and recently even getting her own Simpsons short. With that, Eilish has used her platform to talk about body image, climate change, encourage youth to vote and in a recent interview with David Letterman, she opened up about her Tourette Syndrome. 

During her 45-minute conversation with the former late night host on Netflix’s My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman, the conversation came up organically when one of Eilish’s tics caused Letterman to initially ask her if she was OK. The pair got into a discussion about her experience with Tourette’s Syndrome, which she was diagnosed with at eleven years old. In her words on the Netflix series: 

I actually really love answering questions about it because it’s very, very interesting and I am incredibly confused by it and I don’t get it [Laughs]… I never don’t tic at all, because the main tics that I do constantly all day long are like are like, I wiggle my ear back and forth, and raise my eyebrow, and click my jaw and do that, and like flex my arm here, and flex this arm, and flex these muscles. These are things you would never notice if you’re just having a conversation with me. But for me, they’re very exhausting.

Tourette Syndrome is a condition of the nervous system characterised by sudden, repetitive, rapid, and unwanted movements or vocal sounds called tics, per the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. The singer, who exhibits physical not verbal tics, confirmed she had the neurological disorder back in 2018 at the age of 16 after compilation videos of her tics began to surface online. Eilish also talked about her experience with Tourette’s to Letterman with these words: 

It’s really weird. I haven’t talked about it like at all. The most common way that people react is they laugh because they think I’m trying to be funny. They think I’m going like [imitates one of her tics] as, like, a funny move. [Laughs]. So they go like ‘Ha!’ and I am always left incredibly offended by that or they [turn their head behind them] and go ‘What?’ And then I go, ‘I have Tourette’s’.

When the singer first shared she had Tourette Syndrome on her Instagram, she said she had not talked about it before because she didn’t want people to think of the disorder everytime they thought of her. As she’s shared, living with Tourette’s is not easy and can often be “exhausting,” but after speaking out about it, she has been reached out by other famous people who have it. In her words: 

What’s funny is so many people have it that you would never know. A couple artists came forward and said, ‘I’ve actually always had Tourette’s,’ and I’m not going to out them because they don’t want to talk about it, but that was actually really interesting to me. I was like ‘You do?! What?’

Recently, Billie Eilish has been checking off some major career highs. The singer recently became the youngest artist to headline Coachella, she and her brother Finneas O’Connell were also given the opportunity to write music for Pixar’s Turning Red after previously writing the final James Bond theme for Daniel Craig’s 007. When speaking to David Letterman, she continued to share her relationship with the disorder: 

It’s not like I like it, but I feel like it’s part of me. I have made friends with it. And so now, I’m pretty confident in it. When I’m moving around, I’m not ticcing at all. When I’m riding my horse, I’m not ticcing. When I’m moving and thinking and focusing, when I’m singing [I’m not ticcing].

You can watch Billie Eilish’s full interview on My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman with a Netflix subscription along with episodes featuring Will Smith, opening up about protecting his family, Cardi B, Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Durant and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. 

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