Can Be Done
was filled with both anticipation and trepidation as I em'barked'
for this year's TSFC conference in Victoria. At last I was
to visit the province of my dreams! But would the experience be
anti-climatic? After all, last year's conference in Waterloo
represented a "coming-out" for me - my first official introduction
to the TS world, in all its richness. That convention was and
continues to be a definitive point in my life - proof that I was
OK, that I did have something to contribute, and that I could
make a difference in the lives of my fellow Touretters. Can an experience
like that be repeated? DOES lightening ever strike twice?
I am fast learning to cherish these functions as an annual "battery-recharge",
an opportunity to shed all inhibitions and become fully, completely
ME again. This year I spent more time watching others absorb the
experience, and learned that it is truly beautiful to see people evolve
over a mere weekend. One teenager I met stands out particularly
well in my memory, as she seemed to me to embody everything that the
Foundation is meant to accomplish. Initially wary and guarded,
she literally transformed over those two days. What began as hesitant
disclosures of tics led to less and less restraint, as she realized
that she was surrounded by friends. By Saturday night her body
almost crackled with energy as she spun, cartwheeled, and pranced about
the dance-floor, elated over the peace that she had found. She
returned to her school the following week with newfound assurance that
she is fine the way she is, and for the first time ever arranged a presentation
to her school on TS. I hope that she is reading this article,
as I want to tell her that she is an inspiration.
Life is a joyous thing for me now, a journey in which I cannot wait
to see what lies around each new bend. This to me is nothing short
of a miracle. I had planned to say here that the Foundation has
given me a new life, but that isn't quite accurate. It's
more like they helped me to FIND my life. Here's what I mean:
perhaps one way of defining "normal" is to be born into a
world that you "fit". Those of us who are "abnormal"
are only mismatched with the world in which we are born, like a locomotive
built in a city without any tracks. We are unhappy, not because
we are wrong, bad, or stupid, but because we haven't yet found a
place that lets us feel capable, liked, and wanted. The upside
to that is once we DO find the world that fits us, living there is infinitely
more wondrous than it could ever have been if we didn't have to
strive for it.
Right now my TS is invaluable to me; it is my greatest asset.
A few years ago, it was my greatest nemesis. What has changed?
Certainly not the disorder itself - if anything, I've become MORE
symptomatic. Then what? I've changed my world - I've
immersed myself in areas in which my TS is the very reason WHY I'm
strong and special. And this move has afforded me many gifts.
Acceptance of myself, for one thing. Old beliefs that the way that I
am is somehow wrong, and should be resisted, have given way to comfort
and self-confidence. I've grown less concerned about others'
perceptions of me, and become more focused on my own. I recognize
now that my TS is simply a quality of myself; much like being unusually
short or tall, it is an aspect of oneself that can be made to be either
a positive or a drawback depending on how that feature is interpreted,
and what environment you place yourself in. A person cannot constantly
dwell on the fact that they are too tall or short, for then they miss
seeing opportunities, and the good that they do just the way they are.
Likewise, I no longer allow my TS to overwhelm me - I acknowledge and
accommodate it, I take responsibility for it, and take advantage of
the unique and positive advantages it affords me, but it does not rule
It sounds deceptively simple to merely say, "you find what you
look for"; perhaps that is why so many overlook this truth.
Changing my attitude changed so much more than my views of TS - it changed
how I thought, what I saw in my world, and how I regarded myself.
It changed what kind of environments I sought out, and how people in
those environments treated, and responded to, me. It gave me new
opportunities, and opened my eyes to possibilities that had always been
there but I had previously been too self-consumed to see.
year I received the Todd Axelson Sr. Role Model Award. I would
like to thank both the Foundation, and those who nominated me.
Although I had no relatives with me at the conference, I truly felt
surrounded by family. The real miracle to me isn't that I
won this award. It's that I'm proud and happy with myself
for it. I want anyone out there struggling with themselves right
now to know that things are only hopeless if you decide they are.
There was a time not that long ago when I wasn't fit to be anyone's
role model, but here I am now. And you have the power to be someday
too. I'm not anything special - if I can do it, so can you.
It takes time, faith, and a lot of tears, but I believe in each of you.
It Can Be Done.