Billie Eilish Explains that Having Tourette Syndrome Can be “Exhausting”

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Photo credit: Amy Sussman - Getty Images
Photo credit: Amy Sussman - Getty Images

Billie Eilish appeared as a guest on the Netflix show My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman, and the pop star got real about what it’s like living with Tourette Syndrome.

Billie is no stranger to opening up to the public about her personal life, she’s talked about getting COVID-19, let fans into her world through TikTok, and has even explained in a Calvin Klein commercial why she used to always wear baggy clothes to hide her body. You can even read about Billie's net worth (or at least, our best educated estimate). But the talented singer doesn’t often bring up her Tourette Syndrome, so it was a rare occurrence when she spoke to David Letterman about what it’s like living with the nervous system disorder.

Billie was diagnosed with Tourette’s at age 11, and has lived with the symptoms ever since. The CDC explains that the condition causes people to have “tics,” which are “sudden twitches, movements, or sounds that people do repeatedly. People who have tics cannot stop their body from doing these things. For example, a person might keep blinking over and over. Or, a person might make a grunting sound unwillingly.”

Billie's tics (opening her mouth wide and blinking quickly) began when she was young, and they now include flexing her arm, clicking her jaw, wiggling her ears, raising her eyebrows, and moving her eyes back and forth.

“If you film me for long enough, you’re gonna see lots of tics,” Billie explained. However, not everyone she interacts with understands when she is experiencing tics, which has led to some hurtful reactions. “The most common way that people react is they laugh because they think I’m trying to be funny…and I’m always left incredibly offended by that.”

But the bright side of talking about Tourette’s is that Billie has been able to make friends and connect with other people who have the same condition. “A couple artists came forward and said, ‘I’ve actually always had Tourette’s,’ and I’m not gonna out them because they don’t wanna talk about it, but that was actually really interesting to me. I was like, 'You do?! What?”

When David Letterman admitted that he doesn’t know much about the complexities of Tourette syndrome, Billie shared that she actually enjoys talking about the subject.

“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. These are things you would never notice if you’re just having a conversation with me, but for me, they’re very exhausting. It’s not like I like it, but it’s part of me. I have made friends with it. And so now, I’m pretty confident in it.”

Watch Billie’s full interview with David Letterman on Netflix.

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