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Scene from Up In Smoke

Recently, I read an account where the author witnessed a man walking down the street, seemingly on drugs. When I challenged the author as to whether or not it was clear that the man was on drugs and not just mentally ill, the response was that the man was heading straight for the building where addicts are given free methadone. Okay, in this case, the man was more than likely on drugs.

While I freely admit that I was wrong in the above setting, this doesn’t effect my frustration at an accusation that is hurled with great speed at people who suffer from metal illnesses. That they must ‘obviously’ be on drugs. I know this to be true because I often had this accusation thrown at me, though it didn’t help that back in the intolerant times of 80s Regan America, I committed such fashion crimes like having long hair and wearing Native American moccasin boots. So in the eyes of most people, that, with my supposedly weird behaviour, I must have been on drugs.

I loved these boots and wore them most of the time

Nowadays, the “that person must be on drugs” label is used to describe anyone who appears to be acting out of the normal. Conditions such as Asperger’s Syndrome, Autism, DAMP and other metal health related ones simply don’t enter into it. The conclusion is that person is simply on drugs and it is used as an excuse to ward off any arguments to the contrary.

Let me tell you people that all of the above conditions are real! Many people have them and it has been estimated that one quarter of the population have some sort of mental illness and many of them aren’t on drugs, at least illegal ones anyway. The ones they are on are prescribed by their doctor to try to counteract said illness or at least lessen the symptoms. So next time you are in a public place and see someone who is acting in a non-normal way, give that person the benefit of the doubt. Sure, they may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol but there is more of a chance that they are suffering from a mental illness. Show them some compassion and be less quicker to judge.

Shameless link to He Was Weird alert. Mark was aged ten to thirteen in the story and going from my own experiences, I wasn’t considered to be on drugs then, just weird. Therefore, the issue doesn’t feature in it. However, this doesn’t excuse those who tormented him or me on account of said weirdness.

To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1531213271&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird