Growing up, Ohio resident Trent Miller was an active and energetic boy. His mother, Michelle, recalled the blissful days of Trent sliding down a slip and slide, playing baseball, and running lines for plays in an article on Scary Mommy. Yet, during his 8th grade year, Trent’s life changed forever.
“I started to make a very quiet noise that sounded as though I was clearing my throat in a very strange way,” Trent told The Epoch Times.
Back then, neither he nor anyone around him knew what was happening. Trent couldn’t control it but others thought that he could, and would often tell him to stop.
As time went on, it became harder and harder for Trent to stop and his noise was getting louder too. So he took a break from school to visit the doctor where he was diagnosed with “tic disorder” also known as Tourette’s Syndrome.
“I didn’t really know what was going on,” Trent said. “I didn’t really know much about Tourette’s honestly, except maybe a joke here or there heard through media. Other than that, I knew nothing at the time.
“I was a bit confused and, because of that, honestly I wasn’t listening very well at the time except for [hearing] ‘Tourette’s,’ what it means, and that I now have a disability that just appeared out of nowhere.”
He returned to school but wasn’t even able to make it through one period. Trent had been holding in his tic to avoid embarrassment but, when he did so, his body’s natural reaction was to later release that tic all at once. This is what is known as a “tic attack.”
Sitting there, Trent could feel the desire to do the tic growing and growing until it got to the point where he couldn’t focus on anything else. He ran out into the hallway just before his attack, which lasted between 15 and 20 minutes.
Trent called home that day and later had a meeting with the school. He needed to be pulled from regular classes and instead learn via “in home instruction.”
Later on, Trent developed more tics: rolling his eyes and blinking, rolling his wrists, and grinding his tongue against his teeth. These tics were painful, distracting, and embarrassing. For a while, Trent avoided going out in public at all.
Dealing with these symptoms not only took over his mind but his daily routine as well.
“My life was now MRI scans, doctor appointments, and struggling day after day,” Trent said.
Luckily, this downward spiral didn’t last forever.
Over time, Trent found ways to overcome his difficulties. He learned how to do “reversals,” simple actions that used the same parts of the body as his tics but weren’t as disruptive or painful.
Trent tried several of these but only a few ended up sticking; those that did helped tremendously.
For instance, he was able to reverse his vocal tic by holding air in his throat and releasing it when he felt the need to tic. This would still make a noise but it wasn’t anywhere near as loud or disruptive as before.
Through it all, band was a constant thing that gave him a focus in his life. He got involved in band in 5th grade, choosing to learn the saxophone, and made many of his closest friends through it.
“We all kind felt out of place, but band was the one place where we all felt we fit together,” he said.
Those friends stuck with Trent through thick and thin and didn’t treat him any differently because of his disability. Trent deeply appreciated this as he hated being talked down to.
“The one thing I didn’t like was when people started treating me differently,” he said. “All of a sudden it was like ‘Are you ok? Do you need this?’ like I could not fully take care of myself and know what I need. When people talk down, that kind of hurts.”
Most people in his life, from his classmates and teachers to his family and friends, were understanding of his situation, and supported him with compassion.
“I lucked out, honestly,” he said.
Trent the Gamer
When Trent was feeling depressed as he tried to come to terms with how his life had changed, he would create “reasons” to keep him going throughout the day. One of those challenges was videogame related.
During his senior year of high school, Trent was trying to figure out what his college major would be. He was considering studying to become a lawyer or a doctor or any of the other jobs “you’re supposed to get,” as he put it. Yet his mother had a different idea.
“I think I was just talking to her about games at one point and she was like ‘Why aren’t you doing that?’ and I was like ‘What do you mean?'” Trent said.
“‘You obviously know your stuff, you obviously have a passion for it, why don’t you learn how to make them?’ and I was like ‘You know, that’s kind of a good point!’”
So, when Trent started classes at Ohio University in fall 2017, he decided to major in Games and Animation with a minor in Computer Science. He’s had the time of his life in his first year of college, he said, and is looking forward to his second.
This photo was originally published on Humanity.