Lewis Capaldi And His Struggle With Tourette’s Syndrome

At the 2023 Glastonbury Festival, Scottish singer Lewis Capaldi delivered an extraordinary performance that showcased his remarkable musical and vocal talents. Capaldi, known for his raw, vulnerable lyrics and his ability to seamlessly switch between minor and major key melodies, has touched the hearts of people worldwide with his authenticity and emotional insight.

This connection was further deepened through a documentary on Netflix where he bared his soul. However, a recent revelation about Capaldi’s health added a unique layer to his performance at Glastonbury, shedding light on a critical issue that deserves attention.

Image Courtesy: Reuters

Tourette Syndrome, a condition Capaldi was recently diagnosed with, is characterized by involuntary verbal and physical tics. These tics can range from minor movements to the use of inappropriate language or gestures. While some may find these tics a source of humour, it’s essential to recognize that Tourettes is far from a laughing matter. It can be profoundly disabling, impacting the lives of those affected in various ways. 

At its mildest, it can lead to repetitive strain injuries, embarrassment and self-consciousness. People with Tourettes may feel the need to avoid public places during certain situations due to their tics. At its most severe state, some individuals have resorted to surgical interventions to control debilitating tics.

The exact causes of Tourettes remain unknown, but it is clear that anxiety exacerbates the symptoms. On the flip side, engaging in one’s passions and talents, such as music in Capaldi’s case, can offer a respite from the symptoms. Unfortunately, at Glastonbury, Capaldi faced a challenging moment as his tics became uncontrollable, preventing him from singing. 

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However, the response from the Glastonbury crowd was nothing short of heartwarming. As Capaldi struggled with his tics and vocal control, the audience rallied behind him, singing the lyrics and offering unwavering support. 

Capaldi’s experience at Glastonbury highlights the intricate relationship between pressure and performance, particularly for neurodivergent individuals. The pressure to excel can lead to heightened anxiety, exacerbating their neurological conditions. When we most need our talents, our bodies can unexpectedly betray us. This dynamic underscores the importance of understanding and accommodating the unique needs of neurodivergent individuals.

Image Courtesy: Vanity Fair

Employers, in particular, can draw valuable lessons from the Glastonbury crowd’s response. Like the audience’s support for Capaldi, employers can create a circle of care for their neurodivergent employees during moments of heightened stress. Providing the option for a recovery plan that allows for stress reduction is essential. 

Neurodivergent individuals often work in bursts and require significant downtime to recover from intense periods of work. Employers must offer consistency and care in aspects of work that neurotypical employees might take for granted, such as travel plans, food, timing and administration.

Image Courtesy: Evening Standard

In the case of Lewis Capaldi, his team must assess his travel arrangements, scheduling, and sensory support to ensure he can perform at his best. He should feel comfortable asking for the care he needs and taking the time required to return when he is ready.

It’s also essential to avoid judging what a neurodivergent person needs when they request help that may seem unnecessary or particular. These accommodations can be the key to unlocking their full potential, and it’s a vital aspect of providing support. In the end, creating environments and routines that are less physically uncomfortable for all is a win-win strategy, especially for headline performers like Capaldi.

-Britney Jones