I’ve been reading a few articles floating around in the TS community. There are slightly varying stances, but they come down to the same idea, expressed different ways. Tourette Syndrome is NOT a label, it is a diagnosis and necessary for treatment, and realizing we are not alone in the struggles of TS.
I have a few thoughts of my own on this. I do think that calling it a diagnosis is still giving it a label, just not the one we think we are giving. The term diagnosis implies that we have something wrong with us that needs to be fixed and still has a very negative connotation. There are still a lot of stigmas, especially in regards to mental illness. “Diagnosis” has a more positive connotation than “mental illness” so I can see the rush to claim this term.
I want to address this really quickly first. There is nothing “wrong” with me. I am NOT “broken” and I don’t need to be fixed. I am different.I have different struggles and I have different opportunities and benefits. So basically, I’m not a fan of the diagnosis term. Tourette Syndrome is just as much a part of me as anything else. In fact, it makes me whole. I would not be who I am today without it. I am a ticcer just as much as I am a writer.
This IS a label that defines me. I have gained so much by having TS. I have gained more relationships, gained deeper relationships. I was already a people watcher, but I learned so much more by watching different experiences I might not have been able to see. I have had some hilarious moments. I have had hard moments that have taught me empathy. I would not be who I have become with it, and as such, it does define me. I love this label for all the good it has brought into my life.
What I see is simply a difference in which label we are using, but here’s the thing, labels are also a GOOD thing if we know how to use them right. There will be labels on anything and everything because that is just what we do as human beings. In order to make sense of life, there has to be a level of understanding. Understanding typically comes through organizing. Unfortunately, I think it has been taken to an extreme.
The current use of labels has people put in boxes and everything has to be “just so.” I grew up very much thinking, “I have to do this because it’s what I should do and I want to be good.” I had these thoughts as a child in elementary school. I still do that from time to time. “I have to do this at work in order to keep my job.” Funny thing is, it’s just a job. There are thousands of others, and some that will be better suited to me, without having to try to fit into a box I don’t fit in.
Boxes come from stereotyping the labels we give ourselves. I would much rather prefer the sue of labels to stereotypes. I would also prefer to find out what labels you give yourself. Not only that, I want to find out what it means to you.
I’m not asking for much… just a complete mental shift in the entire culture we have around us. No big, right?
So maybe it’s a tall order. But just as Lao Tzu once said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” If I can focus on learning about the labels people give themselves and not be concerned with a diagnosis or stereotype even just once today, it is a step. If I can improve and start to do this once a day, then multiple times per day, think of how many that could impact.
If others decide to do the same, step by step we can make that journey together. We can create a revolution in our cultural mindset. What would it be like to be part of something so huge?