In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, The Fault In Our Stars writer, John Green, opened up about what it's like for him to live with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and why he felt the need to write about the disorder in his new novel, Turtles All The Way Down.
"I didn’t start out thinking I was even writing a book," Green told EW of Turtles All The Way Down. "I started by thinking, I need to try and find expression for this way-down terror that controls so much of my daily life."
The main character of the novel, a 16-year-old girl named Aza who "pursues the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett," also has OCD and experiences the disorder in the same way as Green. Although OCD is often depicted in movies and television as someone who has to do some sort of repetitive pattern — whether it be obsessively washing their hands or walking in and out of a door a certain number of times before they can enter — Green said in a video shared with his fans in July that for him, much of the disorder lies in his thoughts.
"For me at least, there's a reason the obsessive comes before the compulsive in the name," he said in the video. "I experience these obsessive thought spirals in which intrusive thoughts — that is thoughts that I don't want to have that seem to come from outside of me — sort of hijack my consciousness."
Green told EW that in 2015, he "had a pretty bad…somewhat bad…let’s say, medium-bad-level mental-health crisis," and couldn't enjoy writing anymore. "Coming out of the months of long misery, I felt like if I looked more directly at it that I could find some comfort in writing again," he said. "I started with an email and I thought, 'Oh, this is fun. This is great.'"
Turtles All The Way Down was one way for him to get the fun of writing back, and also to help those who don't have OCD understand the disorder a little better and to help those who do, feel less alone — even if it was difficult to put such personal experiences down on paper.
"This was a hard book to write," Green said. "But as much as it was painful and I cried a lot, I loved feeling like I was with these kids."
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