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Turtles All the Way Down
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Archive 2018 > My anxiety and books

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Ashlee (LadyofSlytherin2010) | 23 comments I apologize if this is in the wrong folder. I figured i'd put it here because it has to do with who I am and how certain books affect my GAD.

Okay now onto what I want to discuss.

I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder and for those who don't understand what that is here is a link


I recently picked up Turtles All The Way Down by John Greene. I'm not a fan of JG however, when I heard this book was centered around a girl (Aza) who has an anxiety disorder, I no longer cared that I don't care for JG books nor did I care what this book was about, I just wanted to get my hands on it because finally someone wrote a book with a main character who is legit struggling with anxiety. Then I heard JG has OCD/Anxiety and I thought you know what this guy probably made a very realistic character with very realistic triggers/settings in this book. My was I right.

I cannot read past the first chapter though.


It's triggering my own anxiety to spike.

The cafeteria scene made me feel like my chest was closing up while reading it because, I was imagining that I was there with Aza in that very crowded, very loud cafeteria. I wanted to hug her and tell her I know what she's feeling because I feel it too. I often zone out into my loop of thoughts (literally a loop because my thoughts repeat, and repeat, and repeat the same.darn.thing. all.day.long.) this causes me to not pay attention to what people are talking to me about yet I'm paying too much attention to my surroundings, how loud it is, and how many people are around and if they're looking at me because, if they're looking at me then they must be talking about me.

Do you see why this book is already triggering my own anxiety?? How do I read this book and actually get through it when I can't even make it through chapter 1? Did anyone else have this issue? Please tell me I'm not the only one.

message 2: by Patricia (last edited Jun 10, 2018 04:33PM) (new)

Patricia | 971 comments Mod
Ashlee I have no answers for you. I can't understand what that level of anxiety feels like. I believe every person in the world has times when they feel anxious including me but I know it doesn't even compare.

Reading should be an escape from the problems of life. I've posted about having an autoimmune disease in this group. What I haven't said about my experience would fill a book. It's been almost 30 years and I still have no diagnosis other than it's autoimmune. It was triggered when I fell at work and shattered my kneecap. It's affected my health in so many ways but mostly neurologically. I have had blackouts since it began and have had close to 20 surgeries to repair broken bones, have gone blind in my right eye, have constant vertigo, etc You get the picture.

I basically received no treatment until seven years ago when I went blind in my eye. I was told I had fibromyalgia. I knew it wasn't fibromyalgia. Because of lack of treatment for all those years there's nothing they can do for me now and the best diagnosis is autoimmune.

I told you all of this because I avoid reading ANYTHING that includes health issues related to mine. I live it and don't want to read about it. No one will ever understand my issues and no one will ever understand yours. Everyone is different, diseases affect everyone differently. I've learned a diagnosis is more of a guideline not an answer. Most importantly NO DOCTOR WILL EVER COMPLETELY understand what you are going through because they never have had it themselves. There is a reason it's called "practicing" medicine.

My advice is to read books that allow you to escape your issues. I believe books are there to help us forget our troubles. They should allow you to inhabit another world far away from this one. There were times in the last 30 years I would have completely lost it if I couldn't escape in a book. Or maybe become homicidal because my doctors were useless and I honestly could have killed a couple of them.

Books like the one you tried to read are a way for other people to try and understand anxiety disorders. You don't need someone else to explain it to you because you live it.

message 3: by Samantha (new)

Samantha (sammycataspires) | 15 comments I haven't had a chance to read this book. But I also suffer from the same gad and also severe depression. So I totally understand. And I have gotten anxiety from reading before but I am still able to absorb into the book it's not my anxiety I feel it's the characters anxiety I feel but I think that helps me get into the characters mind better. And yes sometimes it makes my regular anxiety excel. everyone is different tho. if it's a book you feel you should read then try one more chapter if it's too much then try a book you can enjoy fully. But if it doesn't seem worth finishing then that's okay too. I say to all my friends all we can do is try.
some books that give me anxiety and it's a little hard to get through I end up taking a bit longer to read but when I'm done with it I feel great. the anxiety lifts I feel proud and I just love that feeling.
But like I said we're all different and what works for me may not for you. But I find knowing people that know what I go thru helps. So maybe this book can do the same. But as I haven't read it I couldn't be sure.
just thought I'd input to reassure you that it's normal to have these responses to a book. And even with these reactions you may still be able to enjoy it like I have other books just may take awhile to push thru the hard parts.

Ashlee (LadyofSlytherin2010) | 23 comments that is horrible 😔 I'm sorry you have to go through all of that. I find it heart wrenching that your Drs basically did nothing for you.

I was mislead by a lot of people saying this book has helped people with an anxiety disorder relate to the character and helps them feel like they aren't the only ones but with me all it's doing is making me want to put it down. I intend on reading it but it's just going to take a while to finish.

I hope more people read it though as there is such a bad stigma on anxiety with people saying it's all in our heads or we're just over reacting.. no it's not and no we arent. I don't think people realize how hard it is to live inside your own head when you have chronic anxiety. We know perfectly well that we are being irrational and half the time don't even know why we are anxious we just are. It's real to us though and it's important that books like this that are so real get around and bring awareness to mental illness because, it can help family and friends recognize signs and even triggers and maybe have some insight to what it's really like to live with this.

message 5: by Patricia (new)

Patricia | 971 comments Mod
Ashlee I had doctors tell me it was all in my head when I was falling and breaking bones. I had to compile my medical records at one point and saw one had said I was hurting myself intentionally so I didn't have to go back to work. WHO WOULD DO THAT? And if it was true he should have sent me to a psych hospital. My own mother said "everybody has aches and pains get over it." The funny thing is a lot of it is in my head but not the way they meant. My brain malfunctions.

At this point I end up hurting myself more because I never got support from anyone and always feel like a hypochondriac. Two years ago I blacked out, fell four feet on to concrete, knew I was in pain, blew it off and went grocery shopping. Two days later I finally went to an urgent care and my foot was broken in three places. I have major lower back pain from that fall and still haven't had that checked

Don't be like me. Don't let the idiots get into your head and make you feel like crap. I can tell you from experience it's the worst thing you can do to yourself. YOU know the truth.

Unfortunately it seems like people still think it's okay to judge the disabled. Especially if they can't see the disability.

If you'd like to read that book as a buddy read I'll read it with you a chapter at a time. You can explain to me how it relates to you. Maybe that would help.

But honestly don't get to the point I have where you ignore issues because it's easier than dealing with bullcr*p feedback from people who have no idea what they are talking about.

Ashlee (LadyofSlytherin2010) | 23 comments Patricia I am so sorry 😔 you don't deserve any of that. Nobody does. you seem like a very strong woman who has her wits about her.

I thought about buddy reading but I'm not sure how long it will take me to finish the book if I even do. I appreciate the offer though

i generally try not to let anyone get to me. I try to remind myself that they're uneducated and don't know any better.

message 7: by Aly, Book Monster and group creator (new)

Aly | 1267 comments Mod
In my experience, there are many people in this world who are uneducated and/or just don't understand. I believe some want to understand and others just don't. I work in the healthcare field full time and see so many different diagnosis for many different things (my job is all about diagnosis really), but I still full I don't fully understand many of them.

You talking about this here in this group, where you feel safe, is a way to educate those of us that would like to understand. Thank you for having the courage to speak up !

Ashlee (LadyofSlytherin2010) | 23 comments Aly wrote: "In my experience, there are many people in this world who are uneducated and/or just don't understand. I believe some want to understand and others just don't. I work in the healthcare field full t..."

That must be a really hard job. I feel like not even those of us with diagnosis fully understand ourselves. I respect John Greene for writing this book and now that I am getting through a few more chapters (I'm on page 60 now) I find myself really connecting with Aza and if it gets to be too much I just put it down and take a break. At the same time though I find myself being just like Aza because in the book she talks about how she's worried her callus is infected but she knows it's not and that it's fine but her mind keeps saying "but what if" over and over again until she's driven mad and has to go check it and "disinfect" a wound that isn't even infected. I get this 100% even though I'm not obsessed with infections and disease like Aza seems to be, I am obsessed with how I might die. I was scared to drive home last night because I kept thinking about how I could get in a car accident even though I knew I have full control over that and my fear was irrational. My constant thought of getting in a car accident made me drive super carefully even though I knew I'd be fine, my mind was making me believe if I didn't take extra caution that I would get in an accident. While I had those thoughts I also had thoughts of how my friend must be mad at me or have his feelings hurt because I left and that i'm a bad friend. Even though we went to the movies, spent all afternoon together, and it was almost 10:00pm so there was no reason for him to be mad or be hurt that i left but I still kept thinking he was even though I knew this was irrational. Aza goes through a lot of these same thought processes just about different things so I really see a lot of me in her. For that, I want to keep reading and stay by her side.

Ashlee (LadyofSlytherin2010) | 23 comments Samantha wrote: "I haven't had a chance to read this book. But I also suffer from the same gad and also severe depression. So I totally understand. And I have gotten anxiety from reading before but I am still able ..."

I am on page 60 now and it's gotten a little easier but, at times I do have to put it down. I totally get everything your saying :( I would recommend this book. Depending on your own anxiety and what triggers you it may have the same effect as it does me or you may be able to read it in a breeze. I typically try to stay in fantasy books because as you stated, it is a great way to escape the reality that is my thoughts and it's my safe haven as I'm sure it is yours and many others.

Lydia You are all so strong and so brave. A few years ago when my OCD was severe I would have found it really hard to read Turtles All the Way Down. It would have made my compulsions so much worse, because I would think about it so much more. Buy now that I am better it wasn’t so hard. It was difficult but not painful. I felt so sorry for Aza. I could understand her, and I think that was what I liked about the book the most. I was reminded that I’m not alone in this fight. Always keep fighting guys. You’re amazing! So strong! And so brave! God bless you.

Lydia I am writing a novel about a girl who suffers from OCD. I have been trying to write it anyway. For years now. It has been hard because i have to think about the compulsions, the obsessive thoughts, the rituals that she goes through, which is what I used to go through. It makes my mind just spiral out of control sometimes. But as I said before I’m better now so hopefully I can finish it, do it justice and make you proud. My hope is to give my family and friends and everyone else out there who doesn’t understand a profound glimpse of what it’s like to be in my head (hopefully they’ll understand a little better), and to show everyone out there with a mental illness that they’re not alone.

message 12: by Alana (new)

Alana | 20 comments Ashlee, I am glad you have received support from this group. I offer mine also. However, I would recommend that you abandon this book immediately and turn to another book or project that refocuses your attention on more pleasureable thoughts and takes you away from dwelling. I am no psychiatrist but I have had several bouts with extreme anxiety and depression and my daughter has suffered from selective mutism and in each case the “cure” came not from focusing on the problem but from actively “forgetting about it” and not allowing ourselves the time or “luxury” of thinking about it or allowing ourselves to “wallow.” This may sound as if I don’t understand the depth of the issue but for us, mentally and physically turning to something healthier (i.e. more fun to think about/do) got the job done much better than any prescriptions or therapy tricks or tips
that kept us thinking about the problem. Good luck!

Megan i have read turtles all the way down and I have anxiety. I agree with what everyone is saying, just take your time. But stop if it gets too much. i didn't have bad health anxiety when I read at least not vocally but i did find myself reasearching bacteria etc and TOTALLY FREAKED the F out! I started to think I may have something wrong with me etc, so it did kind of trigger me but I think it was worth it and I'm so glad that John Green has brought light to the horrible world of anxiety

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