Mental Health Awareness #3

One of the most common phrases I often hear people telling me or others, whenever we show our anxiety or talk about it, is: “It’s all in your head. Get over it!”

or…

“You just have to stop thinking so much!”

“It can go away if you fight it!”

“You’re just have to be positive!”

So in this series of blogs, and as someone who does suffer from anxiety disorder (though not in the extreme), I’ll be going over some of the anxiety symptoms I’ve experienced and still experience on several occasions.

Welcome to Episode 3. If you haven’t read Episode 1 and/or 2 yet, I recommend you do so first, by clicking here. I am not doing this to attract any form of sympathy or pity. I am doing it for two main very important reasons:

  • As stated above, to shed light on the ignorance out there who believe anxiety is nothing to take seriously.
  • Even more so to those who, like me in some way or another, have experienced these – or other symptoms. You’re understood. You’re not alone.””

> Episode Three: Tourette Syndrome

Tourettes are common. Very common. They come in levels, of course. Some have them more severe than others, but they’re still tourettes. The official description goes something on the lines of:

Tourette (too-RET) syndrome is a disorder that involves repetitive movements or unwanted sounds (tics) that can’t be easily controlled. For instance, you might repeatedly blink your eyes, shrug your shoulders or blurt out unusual sounds or offensive words” (Source: Mayoclinic.org)

I’m sure you can think of some people you know. Well, I’m one of them. I’ve had them since childhood. While they’re not half as terrifying as what I talked about in the previous two episodes, they can have quite an effect, socially speaking.

When I was younger, my too-often blinking used to attract the attention of my classmates, of course. Later, in secondary school, I used to jerk my head a lot. Needless to say, it attracted the attention of my classmates. Was I bullied because of it? Luckily, no. Did it effect my self-confidence back then? Unfortunately, yes. Does it still do?

No.

What changed?

That’s what I want to talk to you about, in this episode. See, some of us have tourettes syndrome, some of us have other mental, or physical condition/s. Some others have no physical or mental condition but have had a terrible life story. We all have our own different crosses to bear. But the question is one and the same: how will you carry it? And here is where one of my favourite quotes falls right into place:

(that’s Tyrion of house Lannister, A Song of Ice and Fire (or more popularly known as Game of Thrones)

Let’s cut it into pieces.

  • Never Forget What You Are

You are you. With all your strengths and weaknesses, luck and bad luck, joys and crosses, ups and downs. Don’t forget, it also means don’t try to hide it or deny it to anyone around you. You don’t have to necessarily love it completely (though that helps!), but do not shy away from it, for it is part of who you are.

  • The Rest of the World Will Not

Yes, it will not. Because the world can be an ugly place. People can also be cruel, and most of them might not even understand wherever you’re coming from. Don’t expect them to. That is why, it is you who have to accept what you are, and not expect others to do that. So, less expecting, more accepting.

  • Wear it Like Armour and it can never be used to hurt you.

Whether you manage to actually love your cross/weakness/situation or not, is not so important. The most important thing is to accept it. This is what ‘wearing it like armour means’. Let me give an example with personal experience.
I was once in the office, at the previous job. A colleague must’ve seen my jerking my head (one of my tourette symptoms) because he commented (quite lightly, but a comment nonetheless). I could’ve easily said: “excuse me, what?” or “who do you think you’re talking to?” or “how dare you make fun of me like that?” or remained quiet like the sacrificial lamb that I am not. Instead of any of these, what I actually did say was: “Yes, I happen to jerk my head a lot. I cannot control it”.
(Back then, I didn’t know it was called Tourette, because I would’ve definitely mentioned it).

So, back to my point. In the example above, the person wasn’t trying to be funny. But you will find people with crueler intentions, unfortunately (like we said in point no. 2). So it is important that you accept what you are (point no. 1) and also make sure to show such acceptance. This will portray your confidence, and people know confidence when they see it. It will make you comfortable with yourself, and in turn it will also make them feel comfortable with you.

That’s my advice, and the best I can give. Hope that helps!

See you on the next episode 🙂

John

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