To the Teacher Who Said the Character ‘Seems a Little OCD'

“She seems a little OCD.”

Laughter. Again.

Dear English Teacher,

I am incredibly disappointed that while knowing I am living with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), you would mock it while in your class, comparing it to a personality quirk. First of all, it’s not even grammatically correct to say someone seems a little obsessive compulsive disorder. Make sure before you talk, you remember what it stands for. OCD is a noun.

The character in the book we were reading was a different from most, maybe living with OCD or maybe not. If she was, then it is far from a simple quirk. It is a serious mental disorder. OCD has taken a lot from me and others who deal with it. I would have hoped my success in your class might have changed your views on mental illnesses, at least a little. Now, I can only hope you just forgot.

You are far from the only one to do this though. I’ve heard it often, but I’m not quite used to it yet. I hope I never will be. OCD has changed my life, making it much more difficult. My struggles should not be minimized, even though I’m kicking OCD’s butt daily. Neither should anyone else’s, not even a character in a book. When you make a joke like that you miss the true meaning. You always talk about the human condition and how it relates to English. OCD and all mental illnesses are a big part of that human condition too. The likelihood that I have classmates with other mental illnesses is high and can’t be ignored.

I know I didn’t say anything to you. It’s hard to tell someone a joke is offensive, especially a teacher. I wish I had the guts, but now it’s too late. I hope somewhere down the line you realize you have a lot of power over every student you see. If you are perpetuating the stereotype, then people will think its OK, even if it’s an unconscious thought. The classroom has to be a place of education, even outside of the curriculum. My classmates and I are picking colleges and soon stepping out into adulthood. If you stop the stigma now, you will create students who do the same and who don’t put up with mental illness jokes.

You have the chance to do a lot of good. I hope you take it next time.


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