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I belong to a blogging group on Facebook where bloggers can ask each other questions about traffic, fonts, product endorsements, etc. One blogger, a medical student, posted that she received an e-mail from someone on the Internet saying that her blog name was offensive. The blog name was a play on the diagnosis of OCD.

I am not going to reveal the name of the blog here, because I don’t need to cause myself any problems, but she asked the members of the group if they thought the name of her blog is offensive (she even said the psychiatry students thought it was “cute”). There were nearly 200 comments on this thread and some people tried to explain that, yes, the name is offensive, because it makes a very serious issue something light, fun, and playful. Most people (probably 99%) wrote that they thought people needed to stop being so sensitive, and to stop being so easily offended and basically to lighten up.

This was one clear example of trying to keep the status quo, and trying to keep a marginalized and voiceless community in their place. I don’t think anyone would dare tell a person of color that something they considered to be racism wasn’t really racism and they just needed to lighten up, stop being so sensitive and quit being offended by “every little thing.” The very act of telling a person of color those things is racism.

People don’t get to define what life is like for those of us with a mental illness. They don’t get to define what language we find offensive, hurtful or cruel. Many times in my life a person who is gay or a person of color has asked me not to use a certain word. I have always apologized, and discontinued the use of the word. I don’t try to defend myself by saying, “lighten up” or “stop being so sensitive.” I have believed those people’s experience of the world and of language. It is time to start believing people who have a mental illness.

After the medical student with the blog, asked her question about the name of her blog, she wrote, “Do you think I am just being paranoid?” I think this proves she has bigger problems than just an offensive blog name. I think she needs to go to sensitivity training before becoming a doctor. She proudly wrote to everyone in the group that she had already gone through her “psych rotation” All I can say is those poor patients.  Honestly.