By Melissa C. Water
There are laws against discrimination of disabilities, including conditions such as Tourette Syndrome. We might tend to stand at our figurative picket lines and fight for our rights. There’s nothing wrong with this. In fact, we need the fighters in each of us to make a difference in this world and in our own lives as individuals.
Gumption and courage, and a voice for awareness are all things we should strive for, or tomorrow will never be what we dream for it to be today.
When someone laughs at my tics or puts me down for them, I sometimes, in a sense, allow myself to be put down as I feel the negativity and adopt it to my feelings towards myself as a person. I might later use those feelings as a motivator to stand taller and speak for myself as well as those like me. I stand at my personal picket line making whatever difference I can in the world.
I wonder though, as to how important it is for me to always seize the opportunity to stand for the slights and misunderstandings of those around me. There will forever be some degree of ignorance for me to speak my piece toward, but what if I didn’t?
What if, sometimes, I make my noises, my twitches, and cuss the way my tics decide, but that when I hear a snicker or a passing negative comment, I just leave it be and continue on my path? Maybe what matters is not the attitudes around me that I pick up, but about my journey, about myself, and who I believe I am.
What I’m saying is, it may not have to matter if they laugh because they don’t know any better, but I do. I know for a fact that Tourette is a gift to me because, without it, my path would be one I wouldn’t recognize myself on. Tourette has shaped me, moulded me, and I’ve come out the other side as the kind of person who doesn’t hide her Tourette, but walks alongside it.
Despite the ignorance, I tic, I smile, and I say hi, because maybe, in the end, the curious looks can be cured, not with constant fights for awareness, but with my own attitude towards my conditions unpredictability. Perhaps it’s not the world I need to cure, or my Tourette, but rather my perspective. Go ahead and give my Tourette a once over. I’ve struggled with my Tourette, but overall, it has served me well, so perhaps I have served me well.
At some point, it stops being about getting others to accept us, and it starts being about accepting ourselves.
Melissa C. Water is the Virtual Support Coordinator with Tourette Canada. She can be reached at email@example.com.