Annnd I’m back! Thank you for all your patience in my absence. I’ve recently been dealing with a lot of stress and comorbidities that have zapped not only my positive energy, but my desire to be engaged with anything and anyone. I had to dial back and focus on fewer things and build my resilience back up to the other parts of my life I’ve been neglecting. I stepped back from the blog schedule not because Tourette’s awareness isn’t just as important to me as it was a month ago, but because I refuse to half heartedly speak on the matter just to stay on schedule. I wanted to instead wait until not only my heart, but mind were in it.
Without further ado…lets get into this entry’s main focus: Building resilience with Tourette’s Syndrome!
I recently caught up with the latest webinar held by the Tourette’s Association of America that was given by Dr Kenneth Phelps Ph.D. In this blog, I’d like to summarize some points I found most impactful.
One of the first things discussed was the difference in recovery, resistance, and reconfiguration. He used an example of a tree in the wind. It might recover by returning to it’s sill and upright position, resist by upbringing of roots in a sort of defiance, or even reconfigure the way it grows and moves to better suit it’s surrounding of high winds.
Re-configuring is a form of building resilience. It not only causes you to acknowledge that something negative or counter-productive is happening, but to also take control of what you can to adapt when those things arise to the point of mastery. As someone with TS, you can’t control the way others might react when you tic, or even when you try and explain what Tourette’s is. What you can control, is how you respond in those situations. When you do something as simple as prepare a default response to hecklers, you are re-configuring yourself to the unpredictability of society.
Another note that I felt was deeply important was that resilience is about experiencing suffering alongside strength. You don’t build resilience without something to react against. The recognition of this is a step to building resilient behaviors such as focusing on something positive or easy to control in times of angst and understanding that the angst is what gives you the opportunity to do those things. Dealing with a general lack of control of my body with Tourette’s has forced me focus on the way I communicate with others, and myself. If it weren’t for that lack of control, I may not place as much importance on these things that are a critical part of success in many facets. That recognition is a building block of resilience. Taking the bad and figuring out what I can do that is good to counteract it.
Lastly, he touched on how mindfulness is a key factor in being resilient. Being mindful allows you to not react to situations, but instead respond. When a situation such as an increase in tics arises, instead of reacting in a way that might include withdrawing from activities, or self-depreciation, be mindful that these fluxes usually aren’t forever, or that overtime you will find ways to adapt by just remaining in the moment and living with it. Resilient individuals are often able to identify anxious or negative thoughts that are strictly reactionary; Step back for a moment; Then respond in a controlled matter instead, knowing that those reactions are only temporary.
Resilience isn’t something you are born with. It is somewhat forged by fire and the striking of ax on stone. It doesn’t happen overnight, and if it is something you struggle with, it can be achieved with determination. In fact, if you’re struggling to find resilience, yet still trying, you’re already halfway there.
You can watch the full webinar HERE. I highly recommend it!