Barry's story: Tourette's and true love
I have Tourette's Syndrome. It's an illness that causes me a lot of stress and tension in my life.
This involves involuntary noises, which I have managed to disguise in the past to some degree with coughing, twitching, shrugging, "huffing", blinking, tapping and sometimes makes me bite things. It makes me fiddly, fidgety and restless. It causes me back pain, tiredness as my body is always on the move, a dry throat which causes me to cough a lot, tension and other physical aches and pains.
My tics are often accelerated by excitement and anxiety. Tourette's is like an itch. You can't control it. You try your best not to 'tic' but the more you suppress it, the more it'll 'come out'. I have also suffered from depression, which stemmed from bullying when I was younger and from my father's death when I was 14 and, at times, severe anxiety.
While it seems like fate has handed me a bad hand as far as mental illness goes, it has also handed me an ace. I met my fiancee Kerrie at college in Hull three years ago. I had been studying my final year of my degree in musical theatre and she was doing her first Diploma in performing arts. It hadn't been the best year of my life. It was my first time living away from home and I'd began suffering from anxiety and had several short bouts of depression which had affected my college work at times. When Kerrie and I met, as cheesy as this sounds, it was a magical unleashing. I was able to do things that I'd never been able to do. I'd always thought of myself as "unlovable" but there was this girl and she's head over heels for me and it blew my mind, and still does to this day.
We had to live apart for quite some time as she was still doing her education in Hull and we'd only see each other every two weeks or for half term and holidays. About four months into our relationship, I proposed. She said yes. I never ever thought I'd ever be a position to say I was getting married but now I was. And on October 4th last year, we finally got married. You see, Kerrie also suffers from mental illness - OCD and PTSD. She knows how difficult it can be at times. She has been with me through my two CBTs already and my sessions with a psychiatrist, through my diagnosis after many years of suffering with "an unknown disorder" of Tourette's, she's been with me through my grief counselling with CRUSE and soon through what I confident will be my final sessions of CBT.
Love is a powerful force. It guides you through the storms in our heads and bodies that is commonly known as mental illness and it will see you safely to shore. I know there are many people out there who aren't so lucky to find "the one" who will never judge you and especially when going through trying times, it's love that's needed - not just by others but to ourselves. Slowly and surely, thanks to love, I am accepting myself. I think of myself as an extremely lucky one to be in love and to be loved. So hold out hope. If it can happen to me, there is hope for everyone out there.