Resilience Can Be Taught

Emotional resilience is about ‘bouncing back’ from what life throws at you. It’s about being strong inside and able to adapt well to changes and difficulties that may happen to you.

When I was told that my son, Sam, had various disabilities including Tourette’s syndrome we were given the appropriate medications and integrated into services such as a special school, visually impaired services, and so on. However I noticed that Sam was never really supported when it came to his emotional resilience. It’s an easy mistake to make if you think having your medical needs met means your emotional needs will also be met, as this is not always the case. I think that’s when it dawned on me that I had to take on a much bigger role in supporting Sam with his emotional resilience and mental well-being.

Sam is now 14 and one of the challenges I have faced bringing him up was trying to make sure he understood he had a role to play in his own emotional resilience, and giving him the tools to do this. Nobody is born confident with good emotional resilience but it can be learned and that is why I have written the book: “Second Chances: a young person’s guide to emotional resilience” The book is designed to give young people some tools to help them stay strong when things might seem tough. Not only that, but the book has also been co-written by young people that have faces their own challenges.

I want to remind young people that no matter how you are feeling or where you are in your life, right now you can start to make better choices and decisions that will help you achieve more and reach your goals and dreams.
For example, you make a better choice today to:

 Distract yourself instead of giving in to your temper.
 Take one second longer to think before you say something that might hurt someone.
 Do something nice for a friend or family member.
 Learn a new skill.

Just doing one of these things can have a dramatically positive effect on your day and the way you feel about yourself, which can only be a good thing, right?
I know sometimes it can be hard not to feel angry about the things that might be happening to you or how some people treat you, but the problem with giving into angry thoughts and actions is that it keeps you stuck in the same head-space, and nothing really gets better.

This book is not written by someone who has all the answers, I don’t! Nor is it about constantly having to be positive. Rather it is about how to live with yourself and take care of your mental health and emotional resilience. You may be at the start of your young life or somewhere in the middle, but no matter how you are feeling you can give yourself a second chance, a chance to choose to do things differently.

My Emotional Resilience

Hi my name is Sam and I am 14 and I have Tourette’s Syndrome and some other disabilities. My mum is the author of “Second Chances: a young person’s guide to emotional resilience” book and she asked me if I would write a few things in the book that might help other young people, so I have.

I have had to face a few difficulties in my life so far, like living with Tourette’s Syndrome and injecting myself every day and being responsible for taking other medication and I admit I wish sometimes I didn’t have to go through this but I am determined not to let my disabilities define who I am because there’s lots more to me than just that.

When I was first diagnosed with having Tourette’s I didn’t think about it at all – I didn’t really understand it because I was only young. Then as I got older I became more aware of other people’s reactions to my tics, and I began to feel more self-conscious and anxious about talking to people or going to school.

For a while this made me sad and angry but then my mum helped me realise that if I could just manage to “shift my focus” away from my Tourette’s for just a short while and focus on something that made me feel a little better and more confident then I could achieve more and be less anxious.

I have been using some of the techniques in the book like “shifting my focus” to help me stay mentally strong and happy and even though it’s not always easy I would rather do that than stay angry and frustrated with my life.
My message to young people is never give up even when you think things are bad.

A Story of Tourettes: A Parent, a School and Sam

Sam gets diagnosed

Sam (our son) was six when he was first diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome (he is 14 now). It was not easy to get Sam diagnosed, I had to be extremely proactive which is difficult when you are sobbing, worried and not sleeping most of the time. What I found difficult was trying to explain about my son’s tics when he wasn’t ticking at the time (which always seemed to be the way when talking to professionals!). There was always a worry at the back of my mind that I would not be believed and would pick up a label from the “professionals” as a “neurotic, over protective parent”

The challenges for our family

Sam began to attend our local primary school, it didn’t take long before the school were constantly contacting me complaining that Sam was behaving in a “strange manner” and that he was making noises and movements that was disruptive to the rest of the classroom. The school would often punish Sam for not fitting in and keep him in at play time for “his own safety” because he upset other kids. This had a terrible effect on Sam and he started to get really angry at school and worse at home. He was not learning as he should have been because the school was such a hostile environment for him. His self-esteem and confidence took a heavy blow. The last straw came when the school planned a trip but didn’t tell me. All his class mates got to go on the trip and Sam had to stay behind (just in case he did an “embarrassing tic”). I then received a letter from the school saying that they could not meet his needs and that Sam should leave the school.

The shock

I was in a state of shock at the way Sam had been treated by the school. It was like the rug had been pulled out from underneath us.  I guess from that point the worry set in, the doubt set in, the self-criticism (of my parenting skills) set in. Then I was imagining 20 years ahead – he’s not going to have a job, he’ll never get married, no one will love him…and this was morning, noon and night. I was sobbing constantly and thinking about suicide because I thought that maybe if I were not here Sam’s dad would be able to get more help (remember I was ill and not thinking straight as suicide is never the answer).

I knew what the school had done to my Son  was wrong but at the time I had no idea what the Equality Act was all about and what the school was doing was disability discrimination (Tourette’s syndrome is considered a disability under the Equality Act 2010) so I decided to get some legal advice. I was told I did have a case and so I took the school to tribunal. I work harder than I ever have in my life on Sam’s legal case and we won!

I was emotionally and physically ill going into Sam’s tribunal case and after 9 months of trying to put a tribunal case together, and trying to pretend I was okay, keeping the house going, cooking, being happy for Sam…I just stopped caring about myself and finally I just broke down.

Who cares?

Who cares for the carer? You are the ones that strive each day to bring about change, you are the ones that give so much love and energy to all that you do for others. However you must care for yourself because I never even thought about caring for myself until I was hurting so much I knew I had to do something or risk becoming completely invisible and broken.  I forgot about myself. I forgot to live, to feel part of something other than constantly worrying about Sam’s Tourettes.

It took me a long time to climb back up out of the mire but all the while I kept trying to do something a little different each day. One day I would try to eat a little more, next day wash my face or leave the house and so it went on. After a while I began to think about all the things I did to try and feel alive again and I thought I would have a go at writing them down until I found I had written a book called Second Chance Day.
I have written this book for you. It is meant to give you some strength and to remind you, you are stronger than you think. Please don’t give up as I nearly did. I allowed Tourettes to become a monster in my head but really it isn’t, it’s just part of who my son is and when you love someone you have to love all of them and embrace their differences.

If you would like support specifically with Tourette’s, you can contact Tourette’s Action for advice support and to find out if there is a local support group you.

Emotional resilience. Give yourself a second chance day

Whilst I was coming to terms with my son’s disabilities, it took me a long time to climb back up out of the mire but all the while I kept trying to do something a little different each day. One day I would try to eat a little more, next day wash my face or leave the house and so it went on. After a while, I began to think about all the things I did to try and feel alive again and I thought I would have a go at writing them down until I found I had written a book called Second Chance Day…if you are struggling to support a child with disabilities, then your emotional resilience has to come first otherwise you may find you’re not able to look after them as you did or you might go off your head like I did!!
You can take a look at Second Chance Day here:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Second-Chance-Day-2nd…/…/ref=sr_1_1…