Wednesday, July 2, 2014

And Baby Makes Three: Breaking The Stigma of Tourettes and other Mental Disabilities

By Kristopher Karcher


     And Baby Makes Three, a play by Rick Charles Mueller, deals with a brilliant young boy with a lot holding him back. Zachary has Tourettes. And although he’s a 16 year old student at Columbia University, his disorder has certainly been a setback. Zachary has trouble with social interaction and especially with relating to people his own age. Mueller, in his brilliant new play, tries to break the stigma of Tourettes and other mental disabilities, but has also identified why there is such a stigma. People like Zachary are different. And kids don’t like people who are different. They either feel uncomfortable around them or worse, exploit them. This doesn’t make social interaction or making friends easy for anyone.

     As a writer, I find it is important to be honest with my readers, so to put it shortly: I was also a “different kid.” Around age seven I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, an anxiety disorder that eschews messages in the brain and, on the most basic level, makes you worry. These “worries” can usually only be conquered through “rituals.” Normal rituals include counting to certain numbers, walking a certain way, or excessive cleanliness. OCD affects about 1% of the population, but some cases are more severe than others. Unfortunately, mine was pretty severe, which made me stick out like a sore thumb. Whether I was holding in saliva (I thought it was poisonous), not eating my lunch (also poisonous), or wearing the same outfit everyday (you guessed it, I thought most of myclothes were contaminated), I wasn’t normal.
Rick Charles Mueller

      Though our mental disorders are quite different, I relate heavily with Zachary. We both had to go through it alone on the friendship front because no one seemed to want to hang around us. Luckily, for both of us, we had incredibly supportive parents, and they helped us get through the tough times and we both came out as highly functional human beings. (Well Zachary is highly functional; most of my life at college is binge watching Netflix.) Zachary’s tale is a tale of overcoming his disorder while being constantly reminded how different he is. And that kind of stuff takes its toll. Luckily, he, as did I, overcame both obstacles and became mature adults because of it.

     Listen to Kristopher's interview with Rick Charles Mueller, playwright of AND BABY MAKES THREE, which will be performed in the Riant's Theatre's Strawberry One-Act Festival on Saturday, August 23, 2014 at 3pm at the Theatre at St. Clement's, 423 West 46th Street, NYC.  For tickets go to
#StrawberryOneActFestival  #RiantTheatre  #AndBabyMakesThree  #Tourettes  #OvercomingTourettesStigma

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