Hold Your Head Up

It’s the end of 2010 and the end of my first year as a blogger. I’ve been looking back and thinking about the key moments in my transformation from Tourettes sufferer into Touretteshero. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a ‘Best of…’ review but I do want to reflect on some of the more significant developments of the year.

Deciding to be Different
Exactly a year ago I decided to record my tics over a twenty-four hour period and to share my experiences of living with Tourettes through a daily blog. At the time I didn’t realise how significant a turning point this was. Until then my approach to having tics had been to try and ignore them, but this wasn’t working and my confidence was slipping away as I struggled to manage. What I resolved last New Year’s Eve was to tackle Tourettes head on and let it be my power, not my problem.

Celebrating Strangers
In February I met Thump-A-Youth man for the first time and he recounted an incident in which, without me knowing, he’d hit someone who’d been laughing at me on a bus. Meeting him and hearing this story made me realise how many unusual and surreal conversations I’d had, prompted by Tourettes. This helped me re-think my exchanges with strangers and realise they give me opportunities for amazing conversations, something most people don’t get the chance to have.

Finding the Words
Writing the blog has made me think about Tourettes in much more detail than before and this has made it much easier for me to find the right words to explain my tics to people. I also find it easier to ask people for help whenever I need it which has made me feel more confident and comfortable in social situations.

Practical Solutions
Discovering Access to Work and the perfect pair of padded gloves were just two of the practical solutions that helped me shift my approach to tics. Rather than try and fix things by using drugs, I started to focus on simple solutions that limit the effect that tics have on my life. This made me feel more in control and I reckon most things are solvable if you’re creative about it.

The Joy of Tics
I spent much of this summer claiming to be a ‘baby’. The most memorable thing about ticcing “I’m a baby,” is how much my friends enjoyed it. These three little words led to loads of laughter.

“Search for my soul on a database made of hay
Neil Armstrong loves you, depending on the cycles of the moon
Square cheese is the cousin of lychees
Donkey Kong broke the shower
Don’t buy a house, buy a pillow
Sign off squirrel tits
Roll-on dogfood
Earth, Window, Fire
Teenage Mutant Ninja Fuck-Buddy”

Coming Together
Towards the end of the year lots of things came to fruition. I did a photo shoot with photographer Sam Robinson that let me see my tics from a new perspective. I’m always curious about how I look when I’m ticcing and Sam captured some amazing images of those moments.

Some fantastic artists, new and established, created images, video and audio inspired by my tics. This collection continues to grow and involve more and more people. It’s interesting to see the variety of responses to the same tic.

We held an incredible event for children with Tourettes. This was the first of its kind and I hope we’ll be able to do many more.

My tics have been doing their bit too by preparing for the festive season since July.

Heads Up
Although thanks to Botox, keeping my head up is literally a struggle at the moment, in every other way I’m greeting 2011 with my head held high. Who knows what the next twelve months will bring, but I’m ready for new tics, new challenges, lots more art, laughter and friendship. I hope you are too.

Happy New Year!

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