Billie Eilish has been living with Tourette syndrome since childhood, and she is not ashamed of it. The 17-year-old singer opened up about her condition on Monday morning’s episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Eilish revealed that she kept the diagnosis to herself for several years until a fan-made compilation video of her tics during interviews appeared on the web last November. Now, she finds comfort in the fact that fans who also suffer from the disorder can relate to her.
Tourette syndrome is a neurological disorder that causes those affected to have involuntary physical or verbal tics. Eilish exhibits physical tics, such as moving her neck or widening her eyes.
DeGeneres noted during the interview how important it was for Eilish to speak out about her condition when the compilation video went viral.
“That’s amazing that you spoke about [Tourette’s], because it kind of takes away the scariness of it,” the talk show host said.
“It’s something I’ve lived with my whole life and… all the people closest to me know I have it and it’s not really anything different,” Eilish responded. “I just never said anything because I didn’t want that to define who I was… I didn’t want to be ‘Billie Eilish, the artist with Tourette’s.'”
The singer continued on to explain that she usually has ways of “making it go away,” such as letting her tics out during the questions portion of interviews. Eilish noticed that most pre-recorded on-camera interviews cut out the questions and show only the responses, so she let her tics out when she figured no one would see them.
However, last year, a fan posted a video of Eilish’s tics, which later forced the singer to address her condition. She took to Instagram in November to confirm that she was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome as a child, according to Billboard.
“I’ve taught myself ways of suppressing my tics and certain techniques to help [reduce] them when I don’t want to be distracting in certain situations,” she explained on her Instagram Stories after announcing that she has Tourette syndrome.
She later explained in another interview that no one has seen her “really bad” tics because she can suppress them, but suppressing them often makes the tics worse later, NME reported.
Now, Eilish embraces her tic disorder, especially when fans realize they are not alone.
“I’ve learned that a lot of my fans have it, which makes me feel more at home saying it,” she told DeGeneres.