Lewis Capaldi is not letting his struggle with Tourette’s syndrome deter him from performing and releasing the heart-wrenching music his fans love. Since revealing his diagnosis last September, the “Before You Go” singer has remained candid with his fans about his struggle with tics, and how they affect his body.
Over the weekend, Capaldi performed at Glastonbury Festival, where his Tourette’s-caused twitches on stage during “Someone You Loved” led fans to finish the lyrics for him as he let the symptoms subside. “I really apologize. You’ve all come out and my voice is really packing in,” he told the crowd. “We’re gonna play two more songs if that’s cool, even if I can’t hit all the notes.”
The Glastonbury performance arrived after he canceled all of his shows for the month of June leading up to the festival so he could “rest and recover” and be healthy enough for the festival performance. “I freaking dreamed about this, man!” he said on stage. “If this is the only time I ever get to experience it, I’m telling you, it’s more than enough.”
Tourette’s syndrome is a nervous system disorder that causes repetitive movements, sounds, or tics that cannot be easily controlled. More than 200,000 people, including singer Billie Eilish, report having the chronic condition each year in the U.S. according to the Mayo Clinic.
In March, the singer released his documentary How I’m Feeling Now, which gave a closer look at Capaldi’s mental health issues and Tourette’s. It captured how he’s been able to manage his tics throughout his career as he revealed that early on he pushed back on getting treatment, calling the tics a normal part of his life.
In one intense scene, he fought with his dad about addressing his symptoms. Capaldi wanted to ignore them while his dad wanted his son to take action. It took a serious onstage flare-up during a Wembley Stadium performance to get Capaldi to act. His dad recounted the concert tearfully: “He fucking stopped singing. I bolted down the stairs. The crowds cheering… [It’s] breaking my heart.”
Capaldi admitted in the documentary to taking a four-month pause to focus on his mental health, which is when he got his Tourette’s diagnosis. In the documentary, Capaldi spoke at length about how his anxiety can exacerbate his tics as well. “When I’m in traffic it flares up. When I’m exhausted or after a big thing, it gets very bad,” he said in the documentary.
His show at Glastonbury marked one of his major performances since releasing his sophomore album Broken by Desire to Be Heavenly Sent in May, after he toured both Europe and the U.S. earlier this year.
In late February, during a performance in Frankfurt, Germany, the musician had a flare-up of his condition as he performed his closing song “Someone You Loved.” As he attempted to push through the bridge and the final chorus, his fans helped him sing the last chorus of the song.
On Instagram Live last September, Capaldi revealed his diagnosis and said he finally understood why he would often get involuntary twitches, and that he noticed his tics in filmed interviews as early as 2018.
“I’ve always had it, apparently,” he said at the time. “The worst thing about it is when I’m excited I get it, when I’m stressed, I get it, when I’m happy I get it. It happens all the time. Some days it’s more painful than others and some days it’s less painful.”
“It looks a lot worse than it is,” he added. “Sometimes it’s quite uncomfortable … but it comes and goes.”
During the Instagram Live, he also recalled seeing his TikTok followers writing comments like, “Why is he twitching?” and questioning whether he was on drugs. “It’s a new thing, I haven’t really learned much about it — I’m learning,” he said. “I’ve got Botox on my shoulder to stop it from moving. It worked for a bit.”
Capaldi explained on the Jonathan Ross Show in October that his “left shoulder goes up like this” and his head twitches whenever he has a flare-up. “People think I’m on cocaine a lot and I’m not! … Now I’m the poster boy for Tourette’s, and I’ll accept that.”
In January, Capaldi joined researchers at the University of Nottingham to test out a device that sits on his wrist like a smartwatch and helps combat some of the syndrome’s symptoms. The device intercepts signals from the brain to reduce tics, and last year, it was part of a clinical trial with more than 100 people, according to the BBC.
“The results were remarkable,” a professor leading the project told the outlet. “Lewis stated that the stimulation made him feel calmer and the device clearly suppressed the head and shoulder tics which can be quite painful for him.”
It’s unclear whether Capaldi has continuously used the device, though he cautioned a crowd in Belfast, Northern Ireland last month: “You might see me twitching a little bit up here. Nothing to be worried about – I have Tourette’s.”
“I’m good, baby. I’m up here, I’m good,” he added. “I’m absolutely fine, everything’s good, I just twitch a little bit.”
Late last year, Capaldi did an interview on The Zach Sang Show to talk about his diagnosis and how he “never even expected” Tourette’s syndrome to be the root of his issue, and that he worried that he was “immediately dying” because of the twitches.
“When they told me, I was like, ‘That makes so much sense,’” he said. “It ebbs and flows… Unfortunately, there’s no clear and ‘here’s this thing we can do nothing about.’ But now it’s about handling my general anxiety.”
Capaldi explained that struggling with Tourette’s also affects his sex life as his medication has a side effect on his libido. “How do I say this? It makes it hard to climax. It’s like a rollercoaster that goes up and up and up and it never comes down… That was an issue. Just decreased libido.”
Then he joked, “As a sex machine like myself, I was just not going to let that go by!” Capaldi said he continues to take medication, and that he also tried cannabis drops to help treat his symptoms, though it didn’t work.
This story was updated on June 26 at 12:50 p.m. ET to include mention of Glastonbury Festival and his documentary.
From Rolling Stone US