By now you’ve all heard about the controversy that is the Target Christmas Sweater debacle of 2015. People have been up in arms about the offensive sweater that ostensibly makes light of a serious mental illness, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD. And, it is a serious illness. I would know. I have it. I’ve had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) for as long as I can remember, and although my memories in the womb are a little foggy, I’m pretty sure I had it back then, too. It’s brought me to crippling lows. There were many times in the past where I questioned whether I could really survive. I struggled for years just to get out of bed to make it to work. At one of my worst points (there were many) I feared I would lose my job. I feared the OCD would destroy my marriage. And it would have had I not gotten help. At that time every ordinary, common task – brushing my teeth, showering, getting dressed, walking down the street – was excruciatingly difficult. Everyday was mired in a haze of obsessions and rituals. There was not one moment in all those years that was not influenced by my obsessions and compulsions. Just to live an ordinary existence was a struggle.
I’ve never discussed my OCD on this blog and very few people in my life actually know I suffer from it. I kept silent for many years out of fear and shame. It’s not something one is proud of. I still don’t like admitting I have a mental illness. It makes you sound crazy. Still, I’m not offended by the sweater. Because while I may be crazy, I’m not that crazy. It’s a shirt. It used the same initials to make a silly sweater that says Obsessive Christmas Disorder, which I might add may be an affliction worse than OCD itself.
Obsessive Christmas Disorder is real. And, it is horrible. Christmas creep has been on the rise for years, and I give Target credit for calling it out. Identifying the problem is the first step toward recovery. We need to halt the progression of this illness before it destroys even more innocent lives. When decorations go up before Thanksgiving and retail Christmas displays pop up the millisecond Halloween is over and otherwise normal radio stations become 24-hour, Christmas sap-spewing propaganda machines, it’s time to admit we have a problem. Our country is in the throws of a serious epidemic, and much like OCD, Obsessive Christmas Disorder is spiraling out of control.
This shirt acknowledges that problem, and I think we need more big businesses to step up and shine a light on this rapacious epidemic. The good people proudly wearing these sweaters out in public are also helping to raise awareness. Available in red, white or green, the garment offers an array of fashionable options, but, sadly, I can’t buy any of those colors because of my OCD.
I jest. My OCD isn’t concerned with that although there are many shades of the illness, and I know someone who was. Mine is focused on germs. I couldn’t wear the sweater because who knows where it came from and who touched it and what invisible germs may be lurking on its surface. Also, it’s ugly.
My point is having a mental illness doesn’t preclude you from having a little common sense. Or a sense of humor. My humor may not have helped me in battling my illness exactly, but it does help me through life. We all have struggles. It helps if we can laugh at them a little. Although those memories of my darkest days are still painful for me, and I recognize the difficultly of the struggle, I think you can poke fun at things without making some broader statement about it. I don’t think one silly sweater can trivialize an illness.
I’d be more concerned about the statement wearing a sweater like that makes about your fashion sense.
If you like this, you may like my book, I STILL JUST WANT TO PEE ALONE, the third installment in The New York Times best-selling series from some of the funniest women on the web. It doesn’t have anything to do with OCD, but I’m working on that. Get it on Amazon, Kindle, iTunes and Barnes and Noble. I will love you forever.
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