Belfast Telegraph

Internet sensation Tourettes teen Lewis Nickell recalls moment he shouted 'there's a bomb' on Belfast plane and why he encourages people to laugh with him

A 17-year-old from Northern Ireland who suffers from tourettes has recalled the reaction he got as he shouted about a bomb onboard a plane as he told how he encourages people to laugh along with him through his tic disorder.

Lewis Nickell from east Belfast has become an internet sensation as he started making videos to highlight what life is like living with Tourettes Syndrome.

Tourette’s syndrome is a neurological condition (affecting the brain and nervous system), characterised by a combination of involuntary noises and movements called tics.

At first he said the videos were for him and for his friends, but now they have began helping others. They have now received more than 70 million views.

One of his first videos saw him boarding a plane at George Best Belfast City airport where he shouted about a bomb.

He said: "That video was the first time I was on a plane with my tic disorder and it was a bit nerve wracking, but I was looking forward to it.

"People had really mixed emotions,  one of the newspapers said people were 'mortified and distraught and everybody on the plane was terrified' - everybody was laughing it off and was really, really relaxed.

"One wee lady turned around and gave me a dirty look after I shouted there is a bomb, I don't think she understood. Then she went back to her normal life and that was generally it."

In an interview with the BBC Stephen Nolan show the teenager told how the tic disorder came on one day as he was sitting in school. He developed a twitch in his shoulder which developed into a spasm.

He spent five weeks in hospital before he was diagnosed on April 22 2015.

He said: "I can't control it at all.

"That's the thing with Tourettes or a tic disorder, it all depends on the situation you are in.

"If I was on the Falls Road I would shout something like catholics or about being a protestant. And if I was in east Belfast I'd shout I'm a catholic.

"People seem to think it's what I'm thinking but it's really not"

Lewis said that people react differently to it, but the main point he stressed was that he doesn't mean what he is saying.

"If a blind person walks in to you, are you going to turn around and shout at them ? You say 'sorry sir'. If I swear at you, do not take offence. I can't help it. Why would I cry over spilt milk?

He added: "Different people react differently, older people do not like it one bit. Sometimes my own grandad looks at me and says wise up. But everybody takes it differently, wee kids love it."

Lewis encourages people to laugh and engage with him as the more nervous and uncomfortable he feels the worse it gets.

"I think it's hilarious laughing for me breaks the ice. If somebody is going to sit and be quiet and try not to look at me I'm going to feel really awkward and my tics will get worse."

And he said he doesn't mind that people may be laughing at him - as he says still has a sense of humour.

"Of course people laugh at me constantly. Before I had the tic disorder if I seen somebody sitting going 'Simon Cowell licked a nipple', I'd take the p*** out of them.

"That's the reason I don't mind people laughing, I had a personality before tics, I have a personality with tics, I can laugh. It is the funniest disability you can have by far."

To view his videos and follow his profile click here

Belfast Telegraph Digital


From Belfast Telegraph