What OCD Is Like (for Me)

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In the video, I talk about my life with obsessive-compulsive disorder and a bit about how I came to write my forthcoming book, Turtles All the Way Down.
If you need mental health services in the U.S., you can find help through SAMHSA: findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ And regardless of where you live, if you are concerned about your mental health, please ask your doctor or someone you trust to help you find treatment options. There is hope.

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Preorder John's new book, Turtles All the Way Down, out October 10th 2017! You can find links to both the signed and unsigned editions here: bit.ly/turtlespreorder and information on how to (probably) get a signed copy here: howtoprobablygetasignedcopyofturtlesallthewaydown.com

Published on


Jul 25, 2017




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Comments 2 303
Morgan Rondinelli
Morgan Rondinelli 2 years ago
I love that John talks so openly about OCD and mental healh, but I wish he mentioned ERP (exposure and response prevention therapy)! It's the gold standard treatment for OCD, but unfortunately a lot of people with OCD and professionals don't know about it. Another great resource is the International OCD Foundation. iocdf.org
Mulinaster a “thought spiral you cannot get out of” (being StUCK) Is EXACTLY what OCD is, when you don’t give into your compulsions or aren’t getting relief from them. Read his novel before you place judgments.
Mulinaster you actually attacked John green and claimed he doesn’t have ocd bc his hands aren’t bleeding and said that “a thought spiral is not OCD”. Why don’t you read a book and learn about Pure O. Also he and his main character in the novel actually dohave compulsions which include, multiple forms of repetitive checking (physical symptoms, researching), mental reassurance, drinking Purell, avoidance (social situations, intimacy, food), constant checking a cut on hand to see if contaminated and replacing band-aide multiple times a day,) avoidance of taking meds out of fear it’s changing her identity.
Mulinaster have you read his novel? He talks about compulsions and rituals to reduce the anxiety. The thought spiral with no compulsions would be considered Pure O. I understand and totally sympathize with how annoying it is when people confuse OCD with other anxiety disorders but I feel like your post is hostile.
vlogbrothers maybe a sequel where she gets a better psychiatrist????
Morgan Rondinelli agreed
Culpable Injustice
We need Communism you are rich I ain't OCD ain't even considered a problem for me and neither do I consider it. I am really sad and depressed and I don't look cool either. I feel Isolated
Yashodhara Ranjan
Yashodhara Ranjan 11 days ago
It is so disgusting that people just keep throwing around that they have some kind of mental illness just for people to pity them or gain attention... Even if they don't have it It actually turns out to be hurtful to people who actually have it.. I think that I have anxiety but if I share about it with someone, I am treated like a exaggerating person.
R Muhammad
R Muhammad 12 days ago
Your voice is a trigger.... I can't watch
Jacksoni 13 days ago
Same lol
GlennNancy Moloney
GlennNancy Moloney 14 days ago
You already have super powers!!
Xczer Max
Xczer Max 15 days ago
Hmm i have been experiencing ocd since 8 years and now its a monster that has almost made me a body without a soul.. As always people says visit a professional pshycologist but havent found anyone here around me with a legitimate degree nor i have junk of money to fill up their pockets.. I feel like my society is making this incurable for me. I am done with this and i need help if anyone would like plz just suggest me how can i cure it without doctors. Not bcoz i am afraid to go to them but bcoz they are not eligible and i cant find an legitimate one
sydney schmidt
sydney schmidt 18 days ago
THE👏🏼MOLDY👏🏼BREAD👏🏼GOOGLE👏🏼 if bad a quarter for every time
Janelle Foogala
Janelle Foogala 20 days ago
lately my obsessive thought has changed to a fear of losing my mind which in my mind is developing schizophrenia. every single sound i hear i think i’m hallucinating and ill have a severe panic attack, i’ve almost began tricking myself into it accidentally. it’s destroying my life
Kyle 19 days ago
I'm sorry you're going through this. If it's any consolation, I was there, too. I hear voices and have visions, and the thought of "am I crazy," was all consuming. I was under enough stress that I finally told my parents and we found a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist said I didn't have schizophrenia, but said there was medication that would make the voice go away, or medication that would ease my worry, or therapy. I chose therapy and found that I was deeply insecure about being "normal" and "good enough" and that my strange experiences were not my true concern. I don't know if any of this rings true to you, but in any case, there's always hope, and you can find help.
Cat Fein
Cat Fein Month ago
Hey thanks for being awesome.
Turtles all the way down is the best book I’ve ever read. I am an English teacher and stumbled across your book bc I liked the cover and I found it on another teacher’s shelf and I just said what the hell- I’ll give this a go. I liked Looking for Alaska so maybe this will be good too... I was blown away! Ava’s OCD voice is almost identical to mine. The purell scene resonated deep with me. I know that level of suffering-you’ll do anything it takes. The narrative voice is spot on. Ava’s inner dialogue is SO accurately representative of OCD intrusive thoughts .. it’s scary. I knew right Away you must have OCD to know how to capture the voice so well. I was hooked immediately... finally a character in a novel clearly capturing the voice of my OCD fighting with my real self, desperately to take over. I don’t know if this is an accurate quote but I just Remember Ava questioning her intrusive thoughts and yelling at them to quiet down. “stop! Just shut up- be normal” “no come on you don’t know where his mouth has been there could be millions of microbes that will enter your body...!” “Must check the wound.” This novel has inspired me so much. Thank you John. 🧡
Allie Conzola
Allie Conzola Month ago
"There is hope, even if your brain tells you there isn't." This video is old and I doubt you'll see this comment, but I want to express just how much you've impacted me by speaking about your mental illness. I have generalized anxiety disorder and misophonia, and when I'm at my lowest, it truly feels like there is no hope. But seeing people that I greatly admire, like you, living with mental illness, sometimes struggling, sometimes thriving, but always persisting, is incredibly motivating to me. Thank you.
Hermione Granger 14
Okay, this is completely unrelated, but John, you are oddly good at writing from the perspective of a teenage girl. Also, I love your books and your videos and how they show two different sides of you. Keep up the great work!
Brendan Hoffmann
Great insight. I was diagnosed with OCD about 4 years ago. I still am unable to work, the most recent attempt left me with a thought spiral that someone was going to come and hurt me. I ended up at the hospital for a while after that. I have pure-o OCD which leaves a lot of people puzzled because of what you said, there is nothing you can see externally. High doses of anti-depressants have done wonders for me as well as intensive therapy over the past few years. There definitely is hope for anyone newly diagnosed. It gets better.
Jared Frick
Jared Frick Month ago
Hooah, good vid. I've never been diagnosed with anything. I may have been high-functioning autistic as a kid, but now I am mostly boring. Maybe I've got an OCD, and maybe not. I have a tenacity to want to solve things or fix things or figure things out. That tenacity does not always mean things get solved, fixed, or figured, I simply really want to. I too have incessant, impulsive, intrusive thouhgts that bubble up from my subconscious and then occupy my consciousness like protesters. Sometimes they are peaceful sit-in protesters and sometimes they rampage like an angry mob. The handy thing being fifty is that I've learned to let them just occupy some space and time while I focus my efforts elsewhere. The crazy stuff that pops up knows it will get its turn and so it idles, maybe impatiently, until I can get to it. I've also learned how to function and complete tasks even in environments full of chaos, disorder, and distraction that usually shut other folks down.
Sati Rick
Sati Rick 2 months ago
I kind of do that too but not in that bad kind
Kylie S
Kylie S 2 months ago
I REALLY love the way you describe things. It's like you're taking what's spiraling in my head and giving it vocabulary. I'm so grateful.
bingbongboop 2 months ago
I just finished turtles all way down, like, 8 seconds ago. And damn.
cj hepburn
cj hepburn 3 months ago
Isn't penicillin mould?
cj hepburn
cj hepburn 3 months ago
Has he never watched The Cell? J-Lo goes in the mind all the time. J-Lo and Vincent Vaughn.
CloverGaming 12
CloverGaming 12 3 months ago
I always have to turn my fan on and off two times before I go to bed.
Lauren Campbell
Lauren Campbell 3 months ago
Who is your favorite literary character you have created in your novels?
Only1Laughing 3 months ago
This video is 2 years old but it came to me at exactly the right time. I’ve been dealing with this for what feels like forever and never thought I had OCD because I didn’t do the ritual type stuff that is always portrayed in movies. What you said about thought spirals hit so close to home it’s unreal. Especially when you said you get so wrapped up in the thought spirals that you can’t read a book or follow a movie. I get wrapped up in spirals that last for weeks at a time and my anxiety gets so bad that I have constant chest pain which only makes it worse. The obsessiveness of the thoughts makes me question my sanity and why I can’t just stop thinking this way. If you find this comment on this old video thank you so much. You just led me to take my mental health in a whole new direction.
Kiki Lang
Kiki Lang 3 months ago
Thanks. You always do great videos. I deeply regret this guy stopped writing.
Amina King Brown
Amina King Brown 3 months ago
Im ADHD and I wonder how it would be like having ADHD and OCD at the same time. My brain hurts.
Chris Boucher
Chris Boucher 4 months ago
"Am I actually the captain of this ship I call myself?"- A feeling I am very familiar with.
Megan 4 months ago
I'm really enjoying the audiobook version of Turtles All the Way Down! It's my first John Green book, and you have me hooked, even though I'm 40, and it's a young adult novel. :)
LimegreenSnowstorm 4 months ago
Huh. I have anxiety and this makes a lot of sense. This is why I don’t like getting off the freeway on that one exit, because I thought spiral the whole way leading up to it.
gacekky1 4 months ago
I remember having rituals as a kid, two in particular come to mind. The first one, I would say to myself every morning "if I dont put my clothes on in this order, I will die in a year"... almost as a bargain with God, and if I did it right, the anxiety would go away. And also the same thing about walking up the stairs in a certain way. I was also always obsessed with cross contamination of food. I never noticed until I got older and it mostly subsided, but now you mention constantly googling food lol... 🤷‍♂️
Gracie Campbell
Gracie Campbell 4 months ago
2:48 mood
Study with Moi
Study with Moi 4 months ago
I very highly appreciate how wise John Green is. Throughout his books, crash course, and videos he creates such thoughts that in a way are very relatable all though presented in fashions that we may have not perceived them to be. There’s a difference between educated and wise, and Green displays his knowledge through connecting perspectives. Perhaps, this is caused by the mental outcomes of how he (not copes) but utilizes his OCD, or just by some other coincidence. Either way, thank you so very much with sharing your insights in a very relatable and engaging way.
Spankydeluxe 4 months ago
This is EXACTLY how I am! I've had anxiety, ocd, and depression for years.
Amy Stair
Amy Stair 5 months ago
I am so thankful that John Green spoke so openly about OCD. My brother has severe OCD, and, growing up with him, I couldn't grasp why he struggled with things that seemed so trivial to me. I wish discussions like this were more common then, because I so wish I had just understood and been more empathetic to these thought spirals and continual self doubting he so regularly faced. I was ignorant. Oh so ignorant. And I'm sure I still am, but being conscious of one's ignorance at least gives one the opportunity to peek through the veil of another's life and grasp that their struggle is real. Getting the proper medical help and now a family that has an inkling of understanding of his thought patterns has allowed my brother to make small, yet measured, improvements. So thank you, John, for encouraging this conversation. We all need more enlightening, and I can't wait to read the book to better connect and support others with internal battles.
Usman Ahmad
Usman Ahmad 5 months ago
As he said, there is always hope. For me personally, anxietycentre.com was a great resource to learn so much about mental health conditions and Solutions. By the way, this is not an ad, just an advise.
Sarah Savage Bassett
"formless insensate horrors of psychic pain" - he put it so well
brittney zastrow
brittney zastrow 5 months ago
I LOVE that you brought up how you question whether or not you’re in control. I CONSTANTLY have a problem deciphering where my disorder stops and where I begin and I feel like I don’t hear people with mental illnesses discuss that side of it very often.
Angel 123
Angel 123 5 months ago
Do people with OCD hate being off their routine? 2 woman I worked with say they hate having too much time off from work because it throws them off their routine. It is hard for a person like me to understand why anyone wouldn't jump up and down for a few days off of work. I am just trying to understand these woman that want to be at work...I want to retire and never have to leave my house.
miranda f
miranda f 5 months ago
That doesn't necessarily mean that they have OCD though. Like, some people just like to be doing things all the time and they like routines.
Lillian Early
Lillian Early 5 months ago
I have anxiety and deppresion and have always lived with my intrusive thoughts. Hearing you talk about this was spectacular. Thank you.
Mariam Ghazwan
Mariam Ghazwan 5 months ago
I thought that I know what is OCD until I read Turtles all the way down and I recognized that I know nothing. Thanks john for this amazing novel, Wish you the best
JessVision 6 months ago
Thank you so much for this John. OCD is a mental illness many still don't understand, like people now do with anxiety or depression. I've suffered with it from around age 13 and it's gotten better and worse at times, depending on my stress levels. Mostly it's manageable now, but thank you for helping to educate people about this, because it is so often misunderstood.
Ellie Larson
Ellie Larson 6 months ago
John I've been having trouble lately and I really needed to heart that today: "There IS hope, even if your brain tells you there isn't." Thank you.
DAV 6 months ago
As you sow so you shall seed. It does not apply to mental illness.
Darryl Calder
Darryl Calder 6 months ago
The core dump of John Green. Incredible deep data transfer.
I have bipolar type 1 w/a psychotic feature, ADHD, high functioning autism, PTSD, and as a result of all this, chronic muscle tension and some insomnia as well. Here's what it feels like to be in my brain: Your thoughts never stop, you're always fidgeting, you're nervous a lot, you have low self-esteem, it's exponentially harder for you to achieve things at work, school, home, etc., and on top of all that, I have trouble following up with what I want to do with my life because everything is so chaotic and my brain runs on a moment-to-mpment basis. Oh, and when I'm not medicated my mood LITERALLY, ACTUALLY swings from "I'm gonna shoot up a police car, viva la revolucion! Life is great and i'm on top of everything!" To "i'm too depressed to even recycle or wash dishes today"
AM Meenagh
AM Meenagh 6 months ago
Hi, I haven't watched a vlogbrothers video in a while and I'm so emotional to know someone who I think of as a role model is living with the same shit as me. My thoughts cause me serious distress and hearing you feel it too is v reassuring bc you're a father and an excellent human. I feel hopeful. I've been getting treatment for 2 years now and I'm getting a grasp on it. Thanks for making me feel less alone. Will read turtles asap
Shruta Kirti
Shruta Kirti 6 months ago
The next time instead of saying" I like to keep things clean, im so OCD" say " I'm capricious" Thank you
hoosierhiver 6 months ago
I used to have intrusive thoughts, it seemed to help me to confront them instead of trying to block them out, like I'd say to myself, "OK, can't stop thinking of that, let's explore it for a minute and accept it", then I seemed to be able to let it go more easily.
Karthik 7 months ago
John, try the app called Headspace
Alejandro Basaldúa
Alejandro Basaldúa 7 months ago
I don't have obsessive thoughts. But I perform mental compulsive checking when i leave my house (keys, phone, money, keys, phone, money, and so on and so on), and I also count numbers. Does anyone else here have the same symptoms?
Solar Coffee
Solar Coffee 7 months ago
After an extended period of stress I had developed harm OCD which stuck with me for months. I'd get vivid thoughts and impulses about slashing my wrists whenever I saw a knife or scissor in the household and after a while I had the same type of thoughts about hurting someone close to me. Whenever someone would leave the house to get groceries I'd have intense fear they might die in a car accident. As I had no idea what it was, I started to panic, couldn't sleep and its gotten worse. Luckily I went to a good therapist who was able to explain what was going on and also taking out the uncertainty and fear that came with this. Since then I started changing my habits and my diet and I am happy to say that those thoughts are nearly gone completely. Now all I get is a sinister feeling whenever I see a particularly dangerous thing or a large knife, no full blown thought spirals. So it really can get better, don't despair.
Amanda Hallock
Amanda Hallock 7 months ago
Thank you!!
Tatiana Somoza
Tatiana Somoza 7 months ago
I also have OCD and this is one of the best and simplest explanations I have heard in a long time. Thank you for this, I wish more people understood what real OCD really is.
Dorothy Mitchell
Dorothy Mitchell 7 months ago
Thank you John.
Carol Fantastic
Carol Fantastic 7 months ago
I ate moldy bread many times as there wasn’t else available at the time -sometimes toasted and scrapped it off I’m still alive and perfectly healthy! Wow!
Metal Dog
Metal Dog 7 months ago
You're giving me a disorder by bopin' around the screen so much
Obsessive Delusion
Obsessive Delusion 7 months ago
I love how open you talked about your OCD! It is very admirable.
Santiago Valdez
Santiago Valdez 7 months ago
Thank you. Ive recently been diagnosed with GAD, OCD, Panic Disorder and depression and it is cool to see this stuff. Medicine has helped me so far and going to the psychiatrist.
Yasmin 7 months ago
glad about the amount of times john blinked here
Anthony Harmon
Anthony Harmon 8 months ago
I've watched several of you and hanks videos at this point. Several have brought me to the brink. This is the first to get me to tears. I have had a couple good psychologists and several "not so good" ones. Personally, thought spirals direct me toward shame. It isn't fun. But there is hope. You are an awesome person and vlogger. And you have given a voice to these things that many of us were never able to articulate. Your words have helped.
Imogen Oliver
Imogen Oliver 8 months ago
I don’t have OCD but it is still so relatable. Thank you.
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