This was a clever piece of marketing merchandise from the play WEIRD I saw the other day at the Edinburgh Fringe.
At school, anyone that was slightly different to others was labelled weird, or a freak. Certainly I had those insults levelled at me quite a few times. Unaware of any form of mental illness at the time, though my life was made a bit miserable at times, I had to get on with life. I wasn’t that good at sports or practical subjects (same still true today), and though I was good at academic subjects like Maths and English, that lack of practicality rendered me different.
And I wasn’t a great mixer either. I kept myself to myself. Partially true these days too. The childhood can colour your adult life. But I blissfully carried on with the insults still ringing in my ears.
Those insults have more or less stopped now and like most others with a mental illness of some form, my difference or weirdness is now more accepted, if not celebrated. Autism wasn’t heard of back in 1983, but it is now. There is a spectrum and people are on it, whether they like it or not.
And the same can be said of OCD. Again, nobody had heard of OCD back in 1983. But through the hearts and minds of people who suffer this very debilitating illness, we are all much more aware. And it’s striking that some people still link OCD to cleanliness. Not so. It’s an illness where rigid routine is adhered to to give the sufferer relief. It’s like an electrical circuit. The thought process goes round and round until something breaks the circuit and some kind of normality returns.
I’ve had to stand there and explain what OCD is to groups of schoolchildren at some of the presentations I do. They have great knowledge, but that link of tidiness and cleanliness is still with them. So I have to explain to them what I’ve written in the last few paragraphs.
OCD is a part of all that all encompassing weirdness. But it’s ok to be weird. It’s ok to be autistic. It’s ok to have OCD. It’s ok to have bipolar or schizophrenia. There was a correlation years ago between mental illness and being thought of as mad. All mental illness sufferers can go and live decent and productive lives. That doesn’t mean that sufferers are stupid or retarded. The quicker we get away from mental illness equals stupidity or madness the better.
Celebrate and embrace weirdness. It’s fine to be different, not to conform to certain patterns of behaviour. So go on, enjoy being WEIRD!!