When Leftwing Idiot and I set out to create a website that celebrates the humour and creativity of Tourettes I felt certain of a few things: we’d do a good job together, it would be interesting and we’d have loads of help from our friends, families and supporters.
What I didn’t realise, until we’d got quite far with site, was what writing a blog would entail. Leftwing Idiot kept mentioning the blog section and I’d thought what he meant was a news section. I remember it coming as a bit of a shock when he said, ‘You should start practising writing.’ My initial response was, ‘For what?’ He then explained what a blog actually is and I quickly realised how important it would be for giving context to the rest of the site.
So on January the 1st 2010 I started writing.
There were three things that surprised me about doing this. The first was that I really enjoyed it, not just the act of writing, but planning what I was going to say during the day. It gave me an easy way of reframing difficult experiences – something that would previously have been upsetting became something interesting to think and write about. Equally, I started to note down all the acts of spontaneous support and funny conversations I’d had, both with friends and strangers. Before my blog these positive moments tended to get lost. I could always remember the upsetting exchanges or times I’d been laughed at, but not the times I’d laughed with other people and had their help.
The second surprise was that my life would be improved by thinking about Tourettes. For years I’d tried to ignore it. Suddenly each day I was spending time thinking and reflecting on it, and this helped me develop the language and confidence to explain my tics to other people. It’s had an amazingly positive impact on my quality of life.
If I were giving one piece of advice to a parent of a child with Tourettes it would be, ‘Talk about it openly and encourage your child to develop ways of explaining their tics and experiences to others.’ Building this simple skill has helped me more than any drug, treatment or intervention.
The third shock was that I was able to find a voice enriched by tics but not interrupted by them. I realised Blogging offered me something unique, a way of sharing my perspective without all the “Biscuits.” I suddenly regained control over what I wanted to say. Having Tourettes means I say lots of words, only a small percentage of which are communicating what I’m thinking. When I write I’m 100% in control of what I want to say. My tics only get a look in if I let them.
Today my blog’s become a book, with a fantastic foreword by Stephen Fry. It’s not a book I set out to write, but one that grew over time and I’m very proud of what it’s become. I hope that by reading it people will get a better understanding of Tourettes and an insight into the funny, unusual, sad, surprising and uplifting experiences that having it can bring. Above all I hope it makes people laugh.
If you want to learn more about Tourettes or you’re just in need of a laugh, this site is a good place to be. You can browse over 4000 of my vocal tics and vote for your favourites, check out the gallery of tic-inspired art, or learn more about Tourettes on the FAQ page.
Most importantly please go and buy your copy of Welcome To Biscuit Land – A Year in the Life of Touretteshero and help us ‘Change the world one tic at a time.’
Welcome to Biscuit Land – A Year in the Life of Touretteshero is published by Souvenir Press and costs £12.00. It might not fit neatly in to a stocking but it makes an excellent Christmas present.