Alyssa Patmos is a consultant on communication strategy for healthcare companies. She was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder as a teenager.
“I would have to flick the light switch on and off a certain amount of times every time I walked into and out of a room because I thought our house would catch fire or something else terrible would happen if I didn’t,” Alyssa shared. “I started researching online and figured out it may be OCD. The first time I told my mom she told me, ‘It’s the devil.’ We laugh about it now, but it was stressful for the whole family at the beginning. A few months later, she took me to a psychologist.”
Attempting to fix her OCD symptoms only led to more stress for Alyssa. She spent time with both psychiatrists and psychologists, counselors, and she tried a support group, which she says was the worst experience of all of the help she was offered. Doctors prescribed medicine that didn’t affect her OCD and continued switching the doses or the medicines until she felt like a zombie and she called it quits.
During college she went to the campus counselor for help and her counselor was so impressed with her ability to understand what was happening and find humor in it that she asked her to run the support group on campus.
After college she met the man who is now her fiance. Although she tried her best not to allow too much of her weirdness to show, she eventually had to open up and let him see.
“When I started dating Patrick, I was already feeling somewhat better. However, there were still OCD tendencies I couldn’t drop. One of them being my fear of wearing blue panties.” Alyssa shared. “I had done a fairly good job of not exposing my new boyfriend to my weirdness, but he would always see me step into panties a certain way and be extremely selective about which ones I would wear. One day I finally told him that I couldn’t wear blue panties or something bad would happen. Well, he’s a programmer and this logic didn’t make sense to him at all. So not only did I have to explain the tendency, I was having to explain OCD all together. The hardest part about it was that I fundamentally knew in my bones that what I was doing wasn’t rational. It isn’t logical. It isn’t necessary. And yet, I couldn’t stop doing it.”
To help her confront the problem behavior he suggested she get rid of all the panties that weren’t blue, but she didn’t want to give the OCD that much power. Eventually he tricked her by telling her that blue panties were his favorite and she said her desire to please him was greater than her compulsive needs.
She is now able to contain her OCD by managing her stress and denying the compulsion when she is in the moment. She has successfully created and grown her own business and although she still has to try to hide her compulsions from time to time, she feels successful, professional and she is proud of the woman she has become in life.
Hear More of Alyssa’s story on the Mental Illness Mental Brilliance podcast: