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Turtles All the Way Down
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Monthly Group Reads > Turtles All the Way Down (May 2018)

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Mariah Roze (mariahroze) | 1432 comments Mod
May is Abilities/Disabilities.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) Not a very active thread! I suppose it's because, hello, Spring! Or work...

Oh well. I am beginning this today.


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) This is a terrific book in describing obsessive anxieties. I know, because I live with someone like this. Trust me, these people are really extremely high maintainance and exhausting. This book hints at how hard it is. Over time, it is not just the patient who has to live with “turtles all the way down”!

But the novel is also too - idk, young? PG Safe? I would totally recommend it to 13-year-olds who have this disorder. But for myself, this plot was like a soup which needed some salt.


Mariah Roze (mariahroze) | 1432 comments Mod
I am currently reading the Little Fires book, but after that this is my next read :)


message 6: by Kat (last edited May 16, 2018 04:08PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kat (katwiththehat) | 48 comments I really enjoyed this book for the most part.

As to whether or not I would recommend this to teens with severe OCD/anxiety disorder... I have reservations, I guess? I'll put this into spoiler tags for anyone who hasn't read it yet, but (view spoiler)


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) I understand what you are saying, katwiththehat. However, the person I know with this disorder, although he was a fantastic manager of small stores, was an absolutely crap father and husband. He gave up custody of his kid, mostly because a kid's natural ebullience and short-term interest in anything drove him out of his mind. There wasn't physical abuse, just a demand for the kid to 'be quiet, stop playing, etc.' plus kids are messy and careless and noisy....they drive him out of any kids-live-here house today. A lot. He wanted things 'put here', 'not touched', or 'done exactly like this'.

It wasn't great for the kids, the kid's mother (referee and amateur psychiatrist) or him. Marriage over after nine years of trying to make his issues work with more mess, individual preferences and sloppiness than he could handle.

We have to live in a house with two bathrooms. I do not cook for him. He is happy this way. He had to do his own laundry for thirty of our forty years together, until a stroke, which has apparently relaxed some of his need for rituals and anxieties.

I still remember the astonishment I felt when he said, "Why don't you throw my clothes in with yours, and do them at the same time?" He doesn't redo my cleaning of his bathroom anymore or vacuum the floor over when I do it, or police how I put the clothes into the dryer anymore. I hardly ever cleaned or did the laundry for decades because he could not stop himself "from doing it right". But after a stroke 15 years ago, he not only stopped doing his cleaning (and mine, over again), he let it go! When I finally cleaned, he stopped redoing it! I almost felt the hospital returned a stranger.

I still have to be non-specific about verbally speaking about body secretions and he still can't stand many normal natural things because the imagery brought to mind grosses him out A LOT.


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) Plus, holy cow, if he gets a pimple! The only way to stop him from digging into his flesh until he has infected Grand Canyon of a wound is to insist he put a bandaid on it, and oversee his daily bandaging and putting an antibiotic lotion on it.


message 9: by Kat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kat (katwiththehat) | 48 comments I hear what you're saying. But I think there are other possible outcomes, too, besides the very dark one John Green decided to write. Not that any road is going to be easy when you have a serious medical condition. But especially when recommending a book for a teen who actually has that condition, I think you have to be more careful... and I would just feel uncomfortable giving them something with SUCH a hopeless, downer ending. Especially to a teen who already has an anxiety disorder.


Mariah Roze (mariahroze) | 1432 comments Mod
I just started this book :)


message 11: by Joy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joy (audioaddict1234) | 53 comments I finished this morning. It was a quick read. I can only imagine that people with mental disorders experience them in very different ways. However my daughter, who has an anxiety disorder and PTSD, really related to this book and liked it a lot. It’s possible she was biased by her love of John Green in general, but she had nothing but good things to say. (She is 22 BTW.)

I liked the book. I think Green has a talent for getting inside the minds of teens experiencing all sorts of difficulties. And I find his writing generally entertaining.


message 12: by Joy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joy (audioaddict1234) | 53 comments Incidentally I didn’t find the ending hopeless. I guess I can see how it could be taken that way, and maybe it depends on where you are in your journey? We’re on the “every 4 weeks” cycle in our house, which is good.

I forgot to say, I found the part about the psychiatrist quite different from our own experience. This may vary by state or your insurance situation but where we live, you see a licensed counselor for therapy. You see a psychiatrist for drugs (or more likely a PA). And if you want an actual diagnosis you go to a clinical psychologist, if you can find one that takes your insurance. It’s all very disjointed and the psychiatrists have felt very much like pill pushers rather than someone who wanted to help solve a problem long term. I would be interested in knowing if anyone in the US had therapy and meds from a single provider as Aza did. From that standpoint I would be interested in a story that “tells it like it is” a little better, but perhaps that wasn’t the point in a YA novel.


message 13: by Summer (last edited Jun 04, 2018 09:17AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Summer (paradisecity) | 18 comments aPriL does feral sometimes wrote: "This is a terrific book in describing obsessive anxieties. I know, because I live with someone like this. Trust me, these people are really extremely high maintainance and exhausting. This book hin..."

Seconded. It can be hard to be the friend/loved one of someone who's mentally ill and I'm glad this book illustrated that. It's healthy for everyone to have appropriate boundaries, even if that means not everyone is going to be happy with them.

I do have a bit of an issue with how all the main characters in a JG book can (view spoiler).

I would be interested in knowing if anyone in the US had therapy and meds from a single provider as Aza did.

That's pretty rare, since most psychologists don't have prescribing privileges and most psychiatrists aren't trained in counseling. I've really only ever seen this done on the east coast, and usually with folks who have a fair bit of money. In more rural states there's been a push to allow psychologists prescribing privileges if they essentially get another master's degree in pharmacology, due to the lack of prescribers in those areas, but that hasn't really taken off. It'll be interesting to see where that goes in the future, especially if any kind of mental healthcare overhaul takes place.


Mariah Roze (mariahroze) | 1432 comments Mod
Finally finished this book today! I was a little behind. Here is my review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 15: by NancyJ (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 143 comments katwiththehat wrote: "I hear what you're saying. But I think there are other possible outcomes, too, besides the very dark one John Green decided to write. Not that any road is going to be easy when you have a serious m..."

I can understand that. The depressing future view can instill a sense of hopelessness. It's the opposite of the "it gets better" message people often try to give to teenagers. You don't want it to become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

I remember reading The Bell Jar when I was a depressed teenager, and it made me wonder if I'd end up like Sylvia Plath. Fortunately it it didn't last long, but seeing what could happen made me vow to get help if I felt that way again.

April's examples suggest that forewarned is forearmed, but that might be too much for some kids. So I think it was smart to read it first before giving it to someone with strong anxiety.

Or make sure there is someone for the teenager to talk to after reading it.


message 16: by NancyJ (last edited Jun 17, 2018 11:06PM) (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 143 comments aPriL does feral sometimes wrote: "I understand what you are saying, katwiththehat. However, the person I know with this disorder, although he was a fantastic manager of small stores, was an absolutely crap father and husband. He ga..."

Wow April, I never knew you were going through all this. You really are one of the toughest and most resilient people I know.

Let's hope that he never needs a trach tube because the secretions would gross him out. (My mom has pneumonia now, so it's even worse.) It took a while for me to stop gagging every time I watched a nurse suction the tube, and I was afraid I couldn't do it myself. But I did and I got used to it. (I figured it really doesn't compare to the poopy diapers that she had to deal with.)


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) I am sorry your mother is so ill NancyJ.

I do have some experience with a trached person, but nurses did everything. However, it led to learning things about how different the brain's wiring is in an individual with an anxiety disorder. There really IS nothing to be done to 'cure' it. People should be forewarned, and being politically correct is stupid in these circumstances.

My husband was trached, actually, and on a ventilator, while in an induced coma for double pneumonia. I sat there listening to his alarm go off for weeks because these sensors monitoring his oxygen/carbon dioxide levels in his blood thought he wasn't getting enough air transferred into his bloodstream. After he was stabilized (three weeks), he was moved to an urgent care facility (five weeks) where they eventually removed everything and allowed him to wake up. He was not exactly fully tracking things mentally for months later. He went to a nursing home for three months.

The doctors were very confused by my husband's anxiety behavior, btw. To induce a coma, they use powerful drugs similar to morphine. Because of pneumonia, they had to make his body quiescent as possible to reduce the need for oxygen. The morphine-like drugs used to induce comas is supposed to knock out the patient to be utterly still. In fact, half of such patients' recovery is weaning such patients off of the 'planned' drug addiction patients get in order to save their lives.

While completely under the influence of powerful coma-inducing drugs, which make normal people seem as if dead, my husband tried to yank the various tubes out of his body, and failing that, tried many times to get out of the bed. They were monitoring everything - they KNEW he was completely under, completely unconscious - yet they had to tie his hands down.

After a few days, the nurses tied down his foot because he kept moving it against the bed to the point he got a bedsore and an infection. He kept trying to get out of the bed. He hated, even while unconscious, the sensation of all of the tubes in his skin and body, and all of the sound of weird noises from the equipment. He had dreams of being kidnapped and being forced into a tiny box, being tied up. He has claustrophobia and he remembers being very claustrophobic (the trach and the lack of air). He dreamed of people touching him and holding him down which he cannot tolerate (no one can sit next to him in restaurant booths). He remembers that he kept fighting these cloaked kidnappers and fighting to get free out of the box, to get space around him.

Interesting times. I thought he was going to die, or I thought he'd have brain damage, which he did (short-term memory). But my parents had died decades earlier (stroke, cancer), and my mother-in-law (heart disease), and some friends (cancer, heartattack)...you do discover your personal limitations and strengths, and you do get used to stuff.

I think we are too hard on ourselves, though, if we can't deal with something horrible. I haven't always been able to handle things, and neither have nurses and doctors in my experience. We are not gods. I have been known to just leave, sit this one out, quit. You do the best you can. ; )


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