What OCD Is Like (for Me)

  • Published on Jul 25, 2017
  • 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

Comments • 2 281

  • Morgan Rondinelli
    Morgan Rondinelli 2 years ago +2437

    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.

    • KtRosemary
      KtRosemary 3 months ago

      Yes! Years ago, ERP definitely helped me with both my anxiety and mild OCD. I was against it at first (for obvious reasons), but I’m SO glad I went through with it. +

    • Jake Schaafsma
      Jake Schaafsma Year ago

      I'm currently going through that at a outpatient treatment facility (just finished the PHP program and I'm not in outpatient). It is not fun.

    • Jake Morty
      Jake Morty Year ago


    • Catherine McNamara
      Catherine McNamara Year ago

      Morgan Rondinelli I’m doing it right now and it’s not fun, but it’s healing me for sure!

  • CloverGaming 12
    CloverGaming 12 23 hours ago

    I always have to turn my fan on and off two times before I go to bed.

  • Lauren Campbell
    Lauren Campbell 2 days ago

    Who is your favorite literary character you have created in your novels?

  • Only1Laughing
    Only1Laughing 9 days 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 14 days ago

    Thanks. You always do great videos. I deeply regret this guy stopped writing.

  • Amina King Brown
    Amina King Brown 16 days 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 18 days ago

    "Am I actually the captain of this ship I call myself?"- A feeling I am very familiar with.

  • Megan
    Megan 25 days 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
    LimegreenSnowstorm 26 days 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
    gacekky1 Month 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 Month ago +1

    2:48 mood

  • Study with Moi
    Study with Moi Month ago +1

    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.

  • Christopher Kline
    Christopher Kline Month ago

    This is EXACTLY how I am! I've had anxiety, ocd, and depression for years.

  • Amy Stair
    Amy Stair Month ago +1

    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 Month 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
    Sarah Savage Bassett 2 months ago +1

    "formless insensate horrors of psychic pain" - he put it so well

  • brittney zastrow
    brittney zastrow 2 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 2 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 2 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 2 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 Gh
    Mariam Gh 2 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
    JessVision 3 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 3 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
    DAV 3 months ago

    As you sow so you shall seed. It does not apply to mental illness.

  • Darryl Calder
    Darryl Calder 3 months ago

    The core dump of John Green. Incredible deep data transfer.

  • AQ Maddox
    AQ Maddox 3 months ago +1

    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 3 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 3 months ago

    The next time instead of saying" I like to keep things clean, im so OCD" say " I'm capricious" Thank you

  • hoosierhiver
    hoosierhiver 3 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
    Karthik 3 months ago

    John, try the app called Headspace

  • Alejandro Basaldúa
    Alejandro Basaldúa 3 months ago +1

    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 3 months ago +2

    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 4 months ago

    Thank you!!

  • Tatiana Somoza
    Tatiana Somoza 4 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 4 months ago

    Thank you John.

  • Carol Fantastic
    Carol Fantastic 4 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 4 months ago

    You're giving me a disorder by bopin' around the screen so much

  • Ivan’s OCD
    Ivan’s OCD 4 months ago +1

    I love how open you talked about your OCD! It is very admirable.

  • Santiago Valdez
    Santiago Valdez 4 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
    Yasmin 4 months ago

    glad about the amount of times john blinked here

  • Anthony Harmon
    Anthony Harmon 5 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 5 months ago

    I don’t have OCD but it is still so relatable. Thank you.

  • J.C. Taylor
    J.C. Taylor 6 months ago

    I’ve watched this video so many times since 2017. And each time, for 3:50 minutes, I don’t breathe. Woopity oof, you gotta love (well, no you don’t) ocd

  • Apolinar Howell
    Apolinar Howell 6 months ago

    I think I needed this

  • Lance del Remedios
    Lance del Remedios 6 months ago

    symptoms of my “possible” OCD can’t be any more obvious. my parents don’t believe me. they say psychiatrists are a waste of money. help meee...

  • Victoria Tucker
    Victoria Tucker 7 months ago

    Been there. Next time say “ moldy bread, come and get me! Go ahead! Anyway that helped me with my anxiety. It’s exhausting. I was so over myself already. Now I just tell any fears to “Bring. It. On!” And meds


    So, this is like those people whose "long term memory" is so "good" that they can't forget anything and so they suffer. BUT in this case, this is not a MEMORY cognitive evolutionary "random" mutation but an ATTENTION cognitive mutation that fixates your brain on one single (or more than one) issue for far longer than others do.

  • Momera
    Momera 7 months ago

    I have ADHD and the romanticization of it is so real and I feel like sometimes the biggest proponents of these ideas are people with ADHD themselves. ADHD is nothing but a hindrance to my life (and as a medical student who has spoken to lots of other ADHD patients, most people too). I'm not this amazing free-spirited creative thinker, I just can't focus on important tasks, am super slow at things and forget all the important things I need to do.

  • Daniel Fellows
    Daniel Fellows 7 months ago

    Here at 666k views

  • Stacia Spaulding
    Stacia Spaulding 7 months ago

    I've had obsessive compulsive disorder since I was 8. John green you are a role model for me. I'm 21 and still fight OCD daily and you give me hope that I'm not alone and that I can still live a great life. I hope someday to be an author and when I doubt myself you are one of the people I look up to and remind myself that someday I can do it. Thank you for sharing your journey and you are an inspiration for me and many others who have OCD!

  • Sofía Vélez
    Sofía Vélez 8 months ago +4

    John’s voice is so powerful in Turtles All The Way Down

  • Terrence Foster
    Terrence Foster 8 months ago +1

    Thank you for sharing this. I was recently diagnosed with OCD and your explanation was phenomenal.

  • Joe Bubenz
    Joe Bubenz 8 months ago

    After seeing this video, i think i may have OCD. Ive never addressed the "thought loop", but the more i think about it the more i think about it

  • Camrie Boehlke
    Camrie Boehlke 8 months ago


  • Joseph Zuccarello
    Joseph Zuccarello 8 months ago

    Thanks you for this video. I've tried to come up with these words for a long time, and somehow you gave them to me, perfectly.

  • lillynut 04034
    lillynut 04034 9 months ago

    I’ve been reading“Turtles all The Way Down” and I don’t deal with OCD as severely as you or Aza do but I have had awful thought spirals and invasive thoughts and Aza helped with I guess normalizing it all. When ever people write characters with disorders they always seem to be stoic sheets of cardboard,like there disorder is what defines them, but when I started reading “Turtles all the Way Down” I saw that making cardboard cutout a horrible way to write characters with disorders. In my opinion,Aza is probably one of the BEST characters you’veever written. Keep up the good work.☺️

  • Miss Harp
    Miss Harp 9 months ago

    I'm like this. I'm not good at taking medication, pills, suppliments anything pill formed, because my mind will body scan for any inconsistency and if any twinge occurs then i feel im either dying or will have irreversable damage to my body and mind. This is when i take things like turmeric tablets, kalms, magnesuim. Literally anything in pill form,and i will JUST think of the side effects, will have an anxiety attack, then refuse to take pills ever again.

  • kpopcaptions
    kpopcaptions 9 months ago

    I am going to get help, again. This is the final push I'm gonna do it. I hope I become mentally stable 🙏🏻 (had not so great experiences)

  • Tara Pede
    Tara Pede 9 months ago +1

    I just finished reading Turtles All The Way Down, and it’s my favorite John Green book to date. Thank you John for being so open and honest about your mental health struggles and for writing a story that will stay with me forever.

  • Justin Nichols
    Justin Nichols 9 months ago

    Hey brother, I really appreciate what you’re doing for public awareness of true ocd. Unfortunately it is often publicly portrayed inadequately and even devalued, which leads to further lack of awareness and therefore continued suffering for many. You do a good job of attesting to its debilitating nature from what I’ve seen in your Nightline special and this video, and I am eager to read your book now. Your decision to write an honest story that taps into the darkest crevices of the disorder, directed to a young audience who needs it most, is incredibly wise, brave and a public health intervention in an otherwise untapped sector. If only I knew about your book when I was in middle school, I would’ve saved myself years of misery! Thank you man, and keep up the stellar work.

  • vjoel94
    vjoel94 9 months ago

    I admire your transparency.