There’s little in her young life that Billie Eilish hasn’t opened up about, but she’s been relatively private about her experience with Tourette syndrome. Apparently, that’s just because no one has really asked about it.
David Letterman only brought up the subject when she experienced an involuntary movement while filming their interview for My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. “If you film me for long enough, you’re going to see a lot of tics,” she explained. The host asked if it was okay to discuss the condition, to which she replied, “Absolutely.”
“It’s really weird, I haven’t talked about it at all,” she said. “The most common way that people react is they laugh because they think I’m trying to be funny. They think I’m [ticcing] as a funny move. And so they go, ‘Ha,’ and I’m always left incredibly offended by that. Or they go ‘What?’ and then I go, ‘I have Tourette’s.’”
“So many people have it and you’d never know,” she continued. “A couple artists have come forward and said, ‘I’ve always had Tourette’s.’ And I’m not going to out them because they don’t want to talk about it. But that was really interesting to me because I was like, ‘You do? What?’”
The Grammy winner had previously shared about the diagnosis, which she’s had since she was 11 years old, on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, but hasn’t discussed it much since then. “I’m very happy to talk about it,” she told Letterman. “I actually really like answering questions about it because it’s really interesting, and I am incredibly confused by it. I don’t get it.”
The tics don’t occur when Eilish is performing (or horseback riding, moving, or “thinking and focusing”) but it happens frequently off stage. “I never don’t tic at all, because the main tics that I do are constantly, like, I wiggle my ear back and forth and raise my eyebrow and click my jaw and flex this arm here and this arm there. These are things you would never notice if you’re having a conversation with me, but for me, they’re very exhausting.”
“It’s not like I like it, but I feel like it’s… part of me,” she reflected. “I have made friends with it. And so now, I’m pretty confident in it.”