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Here's why Sarah Silverman's take on being a 'teenage bedwetter' will resonate with many

‘I grew up feeling like a glitch.’

SARAH SILVERMAN’S ABILITY to articulate how it felt to navigate childhood and adolescence as ‘a bedwetter’ has earned her considerable praise in recent years.

2018 Film Independent Spirit Awards - California Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

The stand-up comedian has reflected on this period of her life many times on stage, in interviews and, indeed, in her 2010 memoir The Bedwetter.

For anyone who feared sleepovers or overnight trips as a child, Sarah’s description for The Guardian will have resonated deeply.

The word “sleepover” to a six-year-old bedwetter has roughly the same impact of, say, “liver cancer” to a 40-year-old alcoholic. The moment the word is spoken, gruesome images of your near future flood your mind.

“The anxiety of the impending night took over. I felt like a zombie, going through the motions of a child at play,” she added.

I understood this because between the ages of 10 and 14, I did everything in my power to avoid slumber parties and overnight trips with my school.

I went home early, I feigned illness, I ‘encouraged’ my mother to ‘forbid’ me from attending, and I even spent weekends laying low at home after telling hosts that I’d be ‘away’ on the night of their event.

And no, I wasn’t a bedwetter.

I just became exceptionally anxious near the end of primary school and simply couldn’t relax enough to leave my family home for the night.

Recently, Sarah Silverman told RTÉ that she grew up ‘feeling like a glitch’.

UPI 20180128 Source: UPI/PA Images

Discussing her role as glitch girl racer Vanellope Von Schweetz in new Disney sequel Ralph Breaks the Internet, the 47-year-old said:

I grew up feeling like a glitch. I was a chronic bedwetter well into my teens and I thought it would be my greatest shame and my biggest secret.

I wholeheartedly understood that; realising that you’re ‘homesick’ to the point of nausea on a sleepover in your best friend’s house at the age of 13 is also a fairly hefty source of shame.

As for secrets? I told no one but my mother, and even then I didn’t always disclose the full extent of the issue.

Spending years actively avoiding an event you dread – but which your friends all delight in -  is a surefire way to make you feel like an outsider.

And yet, it had its upsides. If sleepovers were my Kryptonite, most other things felt like a walk in the park.

Sure, there were four years where the idea of bunking down in someone else’s house paralysed me, but it also meant that I had already identified my biggest obstacle and I used it as a bench mark to put other adolescent trials and tribulations into perspective.

Looked like Meg from Family Guy? No problem.

Accidentally called myself a ‘lovely young boy’ in Irish class? Sure, look, what can you do?

Trailed toilet roll through the school on the back of my shoe? Show me someone who hasn’t.

Sarah has the suss on this perspective as well, telling RTÉ:

And in a way, like Vanellope’s glitch, it did become my superpower because the idea of doing stand-up at 17 was not at all daunting because the worst thing that could happen is that you bomb and everyone hates you, and that doesn’t even come close to eight weeks of sleepover camp when you’re a bedwetter.

Same goes for having to wake your friend’s mam so you can ring your dad to collect you at midnight while your friends wave you off from the front door, kindly pretending to believe your latest excuse.

You mightn’t have been a bedwetter, or suffered from homesickness five minutes from your own house, but you definitely endured some period of adolescence which made the things to come seem all the more bearable.

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About the author:

Niamh McClelland

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