After the Storm

News about Storm Eunice started in earnest yesterday, with weather forecasts and social media full of warnings about the hundred mile-an-hour winds due to sweep the UK.

It’s unusual for us to get severe storm warnings in London. I can only recall one other ‘proper’ storm, and that was back in 1987! I remember two main things about that storm: firstly, I got the day off school, and secondly the strange excitement I felt seeing stuff strewn across the city in the aftermath – pavements covered in branches, trees uprooted, and a brick wall knocked down.

It’s evening now and the high winds that have been battering the castle all day have slowed. But the gazebo Erik put up in the first lockdown, under which many friends have sheltered during COVID-safe garden visits, didn’t make it through. Eunice made light work of the fabric canopy, shredding it much like it did the roof of the O2 Arena.

 Touretteshero's gazebo that Erik put up in her garden during the first Coronavirus lockdown in 2020 whilst she was shielding. The gazebo is a faded mint green colour. The sunny and cloudy sky is visible through the large slashes and rips in the billowing gazebo caused by high winds during Storm Eunice.

As the wind’s settled, the edgy feeling I’ve held in my body all day has dissipated as well. I hadn’t realised I’d been holding this tension until it started to ease. This is also true of a different type storm I experience – what I call stormy thinking. It happens when I’m really tired or in the run up to a tic attack.

A digital drawing by Touretteshero. On the left of the drawing is a teal and blue circle with the word ‘Calm’ spelled out in sunrise gradient colours. To the right of this is a storm cloud raining. The words Stormy Thinking overlay the grey storm cloud. A red line leads through these into a big squiggly cloud containing 4 jagged black comic book like ‘POW’ symbols containing the letter ’T’ this is followed by the words Sorrow spelled out and stacked amongst one another 5 times.

During these storms my thinking gets stuck in loops, and I focus on things that wouldn’t otherwise register. I usually can’t recognise this at the time, but thankfully lots of my support team can, and they use it as an early-warning system, getting me into a safe place before my tics intensify.

Just like with Storm Eunice, when my stormy thinking passes, I feel intense relief. I also check for any damage, whether for physical injuries caused by my tics, or the emotional impact of managing a stressful situation. I often find it hard to recover from these episodes and get tangled up in feelings of guilt and shame.

Weirdly, I think experiencing an actual storm today might help me manage my own feelings in the future. I like the idea that these episodes are just part of the weather system of my brain, and that rather than feeling angry with myself that they happen, I can just enjoy the calm after the storm.

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