WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?
With an estimated, 50,000 hours of my life spent on checking stoves & completing tasks in 3’s while spinning in circles and going ‘arghhh’ and ‘eeeehhh’, involuntarily. I, Damon Smith, along with my very anxious cohort, Adam Coad, will take our audience on a journey through an obsessive and compulsive mind with hilarious onstage buffoonery & songs pertaining to anxiety and depression.
Along with 1.9% of the Australian adult population, I suffer from 'Obsessive Compulsive Disorder', which has been classified by the World Health Organisation as one of the top 10, most disabling diseases, with respect to loss of income and quality of life.
A person with OCD is troubled by recurring unwanted thoughts, images, or impulses, as well as obsessions and repetitive rituals, and as much as they are usually aware that their symptoms are irrational and excessive, they find the obsessions uncontrollable and the compulsions impossible to resist.
Some of the compulsive actions I have experienced and acted on in the past have been:
Avoiding walking on my lawn and therefore having to cut through garden beds and a chicken coop to get to my studio/office.
Touching cats noses with the middle of my hand 3 times.
Placing my forehead on trees and more than usual, door jams. (I have seriously hurt myself on many an occasion with this particular OCD move)
Driving around and around and around my block until it felt right to pull into my driveway.
Carrying a banana in my top pocket all day and not eating it until I get home...or something bad will happen.
Putting food, cat food, spoons and leaves from plants (and once, unbelievably, a snail) between my fingers multiple times. .....Oh, and I have to do MOST these and most day to day things 3, 7 or 12 times. This means putting socks and shoes on 3 times, and on a bad day, pants and tops need to be put on and taken off 3 times. If I do something 4 times accidentally, instead of the desired 3 times, I then have to do it 7 times and if I goof that up, I do it 12 times and so on and so forth... Erghh, confusing and exhausting, eh? YES!
So they're some more unusual examples, (to name but a few) that I do to suppress the intrusive thoughts.
Widely misunderstood and easily a key driving factor in my pursuit to create awareness regarding it's debilitating effects, OCD has become a phrase, bandied about by people everywhere to explain their organisational habits. "I'm so OCD when it comes to my cutlery drawer" or "My Sister definitely has OCD, all her books and DVD's are lined up in alphabetical order." My response, with respect to such a remark is, "No, it sounds like you are just really organised and that's a great thing, all things considered". As a suffer of OCD, if you're arranging the cutlery drawer a certain way, you'll be doing so because of the intrusive thoughts. Perhaps the thought is that your Sister may have a car crash if you don't arrange the drawer!? And while most OCD suffers don't really believe that their sister will have a car crash unless they arrange some spoons and forks a certain way, they act on the compulsion anyhow because when, or if, they are able to suppress a compulsion as described, another one pops up in it’s place within seconds and the more we deny the compulsions the harder they come back and the more vivid the repercussion (intrusive thoughts) of not acting on the compulsion is...It's exhausting! Does that make sense!?
So in a nutshell, a great deal of people are uninformed when it comes to OCD and what it actually is!
My incessant compulsion to perform rituals in order to tame the thoughts, takes it's toll on my personal life, my relationships and my work...not to mention the time and energy wasted as a consequence of this behaviour.
I experience it during every waking moment and as far as the compulsions go, there are mild days, some full on days and some where I hardly notice it. Most days are about 3 and a half out of 5, 5 being the most extreme.
My days, weeks and years have been, and will probably continue to be, full of tapping things, touching, counting, physically spinning in circles, erratic head and hand movements and low and high pitch moans and groans, to mention but a few and I should note that the last two examples are closer to symptoms of another misunderstood disorder, 'Tourettes Syndrome' (the jerking movements and vocals outbursts are called motor and vocal tics).
OK, SO WHAT THE HELL DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH A CABARET SHOW?
I have always been open about my experience with the anxiety spectrum and while this transparency may not be everyones approach, (and) or resinate with everyone I talk to, are you still reading? I am serious about creating awareness when it comes to misunderstood disorders, such as 'OCD' and 'Tourettes Syndrome', and having experienced symptoms from both on a daily basis for as long as I remember AND, being a writer/performer, It felt like creating a show that encompasses everything I've experienced was the next obvious step to help create awareness.
So, with the creation and writing of MENTAL AS EVERYTHING, along with writing contributions from my very talented cohort, Adam Coad, we hope we have successfully employed the right balance of comedy, respect and nuttiness that will leave it's audience moved, entertained and most importantly, informed.