* This post is written by one of our volunteer content creators. *
* TRIGGER WARNING: Medical Anniversaries. *
We all have anniversaries in our calendar that mark an annual occasion, some of which are celebrated, and others commiserated. A medical anniversary marks the year or years following a significant medical-based event such as an accident, medical procedure, hospital admission, traumatic medical experience, or diagnosis.
As someone with a chronic illness, you become pretty numb to the associated unpredictable rollercoaster ride. Your brain almost forms its own coping mechanisms to make it easier to navigate difficult appointments, setbacks etc. However, medical anniversaries are more significant dates or periods which can often be incredibly difficult to deal with. That is why when it comes to my Tourette’s anniversary, I chose to call it ‘Trish’s Birthday’ and mark it as a day to celebrate all the positive things having Tourette’s has bought to my life. Sometimes the most difficult things end up being the things that change us for the better.
Before I continue with the post, I thought it would make sense to answer one of the most frequent questions I get asked about my Tourette’s - why do I refer to it as Patricia or Trish? I know full well it's not another person, however, it became very clear that my tics had a different voice to my own. So, it made life easier to differentiate the two, particularly in the earlier days both for me and those around me, as I could simply say ‘that wasn’t me, that was Patricia’. I later found out lots of people in the Tourettic community also name their tics! Anyway, on with the post!
I can easily fall into a negative mindset, so I like to have things to look forward to and be surrounded with positivity where possible. Obviously, I allow myself to have bad days now and then but always make a conscious effort to pick myself back up. That being said, medical anniversaries are particularly difficult to overcome, and in all honestly are days I’d like to completely fast forward. But in reality, that isn’t possible, hence why I have turned my Tourette’s anniversary into something positive.
After all, my tics can be a little bit humorous, so it’s easy to reflect on all the funny tics I’ve had, and all the good things Patricia had bought me. Yes, it’s annoying and painful. I hate having Tourette’s, and it’s not all toxic positivity. But I’m so much more confident and have laughter in every day. Therefore, it’s not a ‘sad anniversary’, it’s almost a celebration of a new me, Trish’s birthday. I might have a cry and that’s okay, but we can still celebrate Trish and all the amazing opportunities she has bought me.
If you’d asked me 3 years ago if I was grateful, I had Tourette’s, I would have probably cried. I’m proud to say I’m now at a point, where I can see the change in my confidence levels so dramatically that I don’t know who I’d be without my tics. Trish is now such a huge part of me that on non-ticcy days, it feels strange when she’s not around.
The point of my Tourette’s birthday vs an anniversary is for me to celebrate all the love and light Trish has bought me and so many other people. It might sound silly to some but being disabled is really hard sometimes and it would be so easy for me to sit here and reel off a long list of everything I hate about having Tourette’s, but I’d rather have a list of all the positives.
For those of you at the start of your Tourette’s journey here are a few things I’ve learnt to love about having it:
• I didn’t quite realise how resilient I was until I had Tourette’s.
• I always have a ‘friend’ in the room to keep me company and make me laugh.
• If someone’s upset or having a hard time, I’m the best person to cheer them up and I love that.
• I can laugh at myself, which is such an important quality and ensures life isn’t too serious.
• Even on poorly days, there is always something to laugh about.
• In situations where everything goes wrong, Trish will pipe up and say what we are all thinking.
• Nothing is ever ‘too much information’ because chances are Trish will say it sooner or later. This means all my relationships with friends and family are so open and I love that.
• It’s okay to tic in public and no one is looking. I hated people looking at me, but I had to get used to it overnight. I still don’t like it but I’ve learnt that it’s okay.