A Mother’s Journey to Acceptance
He’s Not Broken: A Mother’s Journey to Acceptance is an emotional account of Ginger McGee’s journey through her son’s diagnosis of severe Tourette’s (TS) at six years old, followed by severe OCD at eight.
“Suddenly, I found myself in a foreign land. And all the stories I had told myself about how motherhood was going to be were no longer viable. I was in unchartered territory and I needed a guide map.”
She soon discovered that there were no maps for her journey. Most of the books related to her son’s diagnoses were either clinical in nature and gave her no personal comfort or were written from the perspective of the person diagnosed.
“When your child is diagnosed with something, anything, it’s life altering—not what you expected. No one talks about the unwanted, unmotherly feelings like disappointment, resentment toward families with “normal” children, and grief for the loss of the life you expected for you and your child.”
Those uncomfortable emotions led McGee to begin writing about them on her then-blog, Moxie Momma.
“I was completely transparent about how I was feeling, despite the voice inside my head telling me that I was a bad mother, and that others would judge me. But the more I wrote, the more mothers—both those with special needs kids and those with neurotypical kids—reached out to me. Many of them were going through some of the same emotions. Readers said that my writing made them feel less alone. And connecting with them made me feel less alone.”
One reader, Allissa, commented, “Her blog posts gave me hope that life would still have smiles and laughter. I had found a lifeline. Her words grounded me. I (was) so very thankful for her words to guide me through when I was lost.”
“I realized that these parents needed the same validation that I had been searching for—a been-there-done-that friend,” adds McGee. “And I thought if I took my writing further and created that guide map that I had been looking for, I could be that been-there-done-that friend for those parents.”
McGee admits that writing He’s Not Broken was one of the hardest things she’s ever done. “I relived every difficult moment, felt every emotion all over again, and sometimes, it was just too much.”
Although her son is now 23, and his tics have been dormant since he turned 15, McGee says she had no trouble seeing him as that six-year-old boy battling those invisible bullies.
She describes one moment in particular: “One day I saw him sitting on the couch, tears running down his cheeks while he watched SpongeBob. Looking closer I could see him stretching his jaw repeatedly as wide as he could. At one point he placed his entire fist in his mouth. The sides of his mouth were cracked and raw. I knew from experience not to interrupt, or he would have to start all over again, because his TS was fueled by his OCD—typically he would have to do a tic a certain number of times before he could stop and wait for the next wave that would inevitably be close behind.”
Thanks to the media who often portray TS as the cursing disease, or the butt of a joke, it is hugely misunderstood. in fact, coprolalia—the cursing tic—affects less than 10% of the TS population.
“Sadly, my own understanding of TS was largely from a documentary that highlighted coprolalia, leading me to believe that everyone who has TS yells obscenities,” She confesses. “And to many people that’s funny. I am ashamed to admit that even I laughed. I had no idea how disruptive TS was, or how it affected a person’s quality of life until I witnesses the affects it had on my son.”
“Having a son with TS has shown me that the pain it causes is far reaching—mental, emotional, and physical at times. Imagine watching your six-year-old stick his finger down his throat repeatedly, causing him to throw up several times throughout the day, touching the inside of his eye until it’s bloodied, or punching himself in the stomach until its bruised. Physical pain—that’s the reality of TS for many.”
“When Jake was much younger, we did a series of videos on YouTube about TS in the hopes of dispelling some of the stereotypes. People are more accepting of things they understand. That’s why education is key. It’s my hope that He’s Not Broken will serve to educate an even wider audience, as well as give other parents some incentive to teach others about their own struggles. Education breeds understanding which leads to compassion.”
Ultimately, He’s Not Broken is a heartwarming story of motherhood told with rare honesty that delivers a message of hope to all parents in need of emotional support, and a reminder that they are not alone.
Ginger is a Savannah native and currently lives in Pooler with her husband, two sons, and five rescue animals. When she’s not writing you can find her in her creative space Paper Soup Studio, where she does everything from abstract painting to embroidery. Her other books include a collection of poems—All These Things—detailing her struggles with depression and anxiety, and a yet-to-be-released YA novel—In Between Worlds—based on a well-known Savannah ghost. Watch the book trailer and find out more about her at www.gingermcgee.com.