Speeding Towards Freedom

I’m beside myself with excitement and it’s got nothing to do with Piggy!

This weekend I’m swapping my London castle for a tent in the grounds of another castle – in Northumberland. Leftwing Idiot, Poppy, Claire and I are about to head off to meet Ruth and then together we’ll set out on our adventure.

As I mentioned a few days ago, this weekend is the first Tourettes Family Friendship Festival. Over a hundred and fifty people of all ages will be camping together and enjoying activities, talks and friendship. Everyone there will either have Tourettes or know someone with it.

I’m excited for all the usual reasons – hanging out with people I love, meeting new people, being somewhere different, and having fun. But I’m also really looking forward to spending a whole weekend in an environment where my noises and movements are unexceptional and completely taken for granted by everybody.

One of the tricky things about living with Tourettes is the unpredictability of other people’s responses. I’m always very happy to explain my tics to strangers and to answer their questions, and every phone call or meeting I have with someone new starts with a quick explanation. This is absolutely necessary and it’s something I rarely think about. It’s so automatic that the only time I’m really aware of this extra layer of pressure is when it’s not necessary.

Fat Sister and King Russell’s ‘hag do’ was the first time I really appreciated how brilliant it was to be somewhere where I didn’t need to be at all concerned about other people’s reactions to my tics because everyone understood all about them. I’d been blown away by how relaxed and free this had made me feel. I felt the same thing at an Access Events festival and at a Tourettes get-together in Scotland last year.

I’m certain the Family Friendship Festival will offer a fantastic safe space and experience, and I’m bursting with anticipation. I’ve been packed and ready to go for the last three days, and now the fun’s just a train journey away.

To all those heading to the Festival I’ll see you there, and to everyone else, have a lovely long weekend – I look forward to telling you all about it in a few days.

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