Born and raised in Christchurch, Westen Dunn came from a tight-knit family. With her mum single-handedly raising Dunn and her five siblings, there was never a dull moment.
In 2020, Dunn decided she wanted to be a teacher. She was half a semester from completing her degree at the University of Canterbury when she developed Tourette syndrome.
Tourette Syndrome is a condition in the nervous system which causes people to experience “tics”. Tics are sudden movements, twitches or sounds people do repeatedly. They have little to no control over when or how these occur.
In most cases, the condition starts in early childhood between the ages of four to six. The symptoms usually dissipate during adolescence.
This was not the case for Westen Dunn.
In January 2022, she was laying in bed trying to get to sleep when her whole body started convulsing.
“I didn’t know if I was having a seizure or a stroke. I had no idea what was happening”.