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I Want Target to Know Why My Son Wasn't Home for Christmas

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When I first heard Target was selling an “ugly sweater” with the words “OCD – Obsessive Christmas Disorder,” I was truly baffled.

Then, after letting it sit in my gut for a bit, I realized I felt deeply sad and retraumatized.

It took a while, but after processing anger, quickly followed by frustration, I realized why a sweater — a silly sweater — was enough to derail me.

Target, your sweater reminded me of my holiday season last year, beginning around this time, just before Thanksgiving.

In November of last year, my son’s obsessive compulsive disorder became so horrifying he was suicidal. He couldn’t leave the house or do the most basic tasks without OCD controlling him. I’m certain if he saw one of your “Obsessive Christmas Disorder” products at a time when managing to even go to Target might be a huge task, it would have fueled his feeling of hopelessness and despair.

As other families were preparing for Thanksgiving and making their Christmas plans, my son was on a plane to a residential treatment program more than 1,000 miles away. This was devastating for our family, and we missed him terribly. Personally, I’ve never felt so lost and grief-stricken.

My middle child was not home for Thanksgiving or Christmas because he made a decision to fight his intrusive thoughts, compulsions and his urge to end it all. He chose to try — to try to find recovery. And he has. Missing Christmas that year saved his life. After eight months of intensive treatment, his OCD is quieter and doesn’t control him as intensely as it once did.

What I want you to know, Target, is that OCD, the true disorder, takes lives. I want you to know your “Obsessive Christmas Disorder” products will most likely cause grief for another family, or another individual, who is touched by how rough this illness can really be.

I hope you and your loved ones don’t have to feel what it’s like to have a family member too sick to be home for Christmas. I hope after the holiday your warehouses are full of “Obsessive Christmas Disorder” products that haven’t been sold. I hope this year’s experience will shed light on the importance of being mindful when making choices about what kind of products you’ll sell. Even better, heal a mother’s heart and take the products off the racks now. Make a gesture to show support and solidarity for people living with mental illness and their families.

That would bring this mom’s heart closer to healing in time for the holiday season.

Originally published: November 13, 2015
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