“I attempted suicide three times before I was eleven. I was terrible at making friends, didn’t know how to talk to people, didn’t know who I was. I had not [yet] been diagnosed with Tourette’s, but the problem was I still had Tourette’s.”
Justin Bachman leaned back in his chair as he spoke. He seemed relaxed– Or as relaxed as somebody could be with severe Tourette’s Syndrome. Justin described Tourette’s syndrome as a spectrum. Most people were a one or a two, but he was an eight. Tourette’s Syndrome is a condition which causes people to either say or do certain things against their will. Some people say inappropriate things, while others make movements without wanting to. These words or movements are called tics.
“I don’t look at this as a bad thing that I have to live with, I look at this as something that I get to live with,” Bachman said.
His early life was anything but easy, however. Burdened with his Tourette’s, Justin found himself lost and confused, but more than that, he found himself extremely angry.
“I had these movements, I had these noises that I was making. I had no idea why. And not only did I have no idea why, but the people who were annoyed by them had no idea why. I would get angry because I couldn’t stop and I would get more angry because the other people were upset and I thought I was a nuisance and it was a whole spiral until eventually I just said ‘that’s it’. I’m done,” Bachman said.
Due to his increasing feelings of frustration, loneliness and anger, Justin attempted to take his own life three different times. He felt like nobody understood him. He felt like he was a burden to the those he cared most about.
“The most selfish thing I had ever done was thinking that people didn’t care, thinking that if I was gone others would be happier. Putting their happiness on my own shoulders, thinking that their world revolved around me and those suicide attempts put more strain on my family than I could have ever imagined.” said Bachman.
Justin was able to get help before it was too late. With the love and help of his family and the support of a social worker, Justin began to not only accept his condition, but also help others with whom he shared a common trait.
After being disqualified from a Track and Field tournament for his ticks, Justin decided that enough was enough. He was going to give a voice to those who were different and might be abused, made fun of, or put at a disadvantage because of it.
“I never wanted to face an incident like that again … I wanted to make sure that not only I didn’t face things like that but that nobody else did, so I decided to educate,” Bachman said.
And just like that, ‘Different Like You’ was born. Along with a speech, ‘Living Loud’, in which Bachman speaks to schools all over the country about not only accepting but living your differences, Bachman has created a platform in which people of all ages, genders, ethnicities and backgrounds can come to to either share their differences or see that others are going through the same thing.
“One of the stats of living loud that I’m most proud of is … that there have been 17 students who, after hearing me speak, have halted suicide attempts, who have reached out saying that they had either considered ending their life at some point in the future. The most extreme was when we had to send an ambulance to a girl’s house because she was in the act of attempting to take her life and realized that if I had gotten through it that she could as well.” said Bachman.
Although Justin has left a lot of the workload at home, he still spends a lot of time trying to help out people in any way he can. He currently is a part of Orange Seeds (a first year empowerment program), the Chancellor’s work group on diversity & inclusion, as well as the diversity board in the Newhouse school.
These days, Bachman always has a smile on his face. He has been to the brink and back, and he knows what it’s like to feel different, but he sees it as a strength.
Bachman leaned back in his chair and flashed a quick smile before saying “I’m different. That’s it. I’m different, but I’m not bad. Each and every single one of us has something that makes us different.”