Author John Green is a master of connecting with young people. His YA novels, and the popular YouTube channel he runs with his younger brother Hank, have created massive communities of teenage fans all over the world. But when he was growing up in Orlando, John himself often felt isolated from his peers. Anxiety and obsessive thoughts plagued him, starting when he was a kid. "The feeling of not being able to choose thoughts, [...] of not being able to reassure myself, and not being able to be reassured by people who loved me was really scary," he told me. "It meant that my self was built on a foundation of sand on some level."
In his twenties, after a period of severe crisis after college, John received a diagnosis of obsessive compulsive disorder. He began taking medication to help manage it, and when he started his family and moved to Indianapolis, it felt like things were settling down. Then, in 2012, he published his bestselling novel The Fault in Our Stars. A movie deal followed, and soon, John found himself at the center of a multi-million dollar empire. "It felt like there was a lot of attention on that story and, by proxy, on me," he told me. "And I had always wanted that, I always sought that out, but when it happened it was overwhelming at first." In fact, it was so overwhelming that it sent John into the second serious mental health crisis of his life—one that felt all the more debilitating because he was now a dad and husband. This week, he tells me about getting healthy again after that period, and why he's learned that so many things about adulthood—including having comfortable shoes—are really great.
John and his brother Hank host three of their own podcasts, all of which are now part of the WNYC Studios family. Listen to Dear Hank and John, The Anthropocene Reviewed, and SciShow Tangents wherever you get your podcasts.
And if you find yourself in a moment of crisis like John did, and need to talk with someone, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255). They're open 24/7—please ask for help.