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Best-selling author John Green talks about his real-life struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder fairly regularly.

In general, he's a pretty honest dude, which is why it's not surprising that he got real during a recent speech at the NerdCon: Stories convention in Minneapolis.

During the speech, the "Fault in Our Stars" writer (and popular vlogger) detailed three specific mental breakdowns he's experienced in his life. He later shared the speech on Medium, too.


Green (left) at the Nashville red carpet and fan event for "The Fault in Our Stars." Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Allied.

The whole thing is pretty powerful. But in the most moving moment, he admits to going off his medication. By choice. As recently as last year.

He described the visceral experience of going off his meds:

"For a couple months, I am a passenger in my consciousness. It’s terrifying, in a horror movie kind of way, to be unable to control your thoughts . ... I feel that I am the demon, clinging to a self that is at its core no longer mine."

He also explained the reason for his self-imposed psychiatric vacation:

"I went off my medication to try to write a novel, because I bought into the dangerous romantic lie. I’m embarrassed to tell you that, but yeah. I hadn’t written a book in years, and I felt desperate to write something. I blamed my medication, so I decided that to write, I would go off of it. ... Here is what I wrote during the collapse of last year: Nothing that made sense."

That's right: Green ignored his recommended mental health treatment because he wanted more creative energy.

Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images for Allied-THA.

He's hardly the first creative person to give in to the dangerous notion that mental angst makes your work better.

But the fact that this doubt happened so much later in his career, after years of success, shows just how pervasive that myth can be. Green isn't an up-and-coming author looking for a shortcut to success — he's written five New York Times best-selling novels, two of which were made into hit films. Time magazine named him as one of the most influential peoplein the world.

Despite all this, he still decided that letting his mental illness run rampant was the best thing for his career. That's not an indictment of Green's decision-making skills. It's proof of the irresistible allure of the dangerous myth of artist as a "mad man."

John with his wife, Sarah, at the Time 100 Gala. Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Time.

It's the same story we've heard before, from Vincent van Gogh to Sylvia Plath to Robin Williams and beyond.

To this day, Ernest Hemingway's famed alcoholic revelry tends to distract us from the fact that he took his own life. Maybe The Beatles did reap some benefits from LSD — but that same drug contributed to Philip K. Dick's psychotic break and obsession with schizophrenia. And how many famous musicians have died directly from addiction?

There have been a lot of studies done on the relationship between mental health and creativity, and they all support the same conclusion: Creative types tend to be at risk. And yet, this idea that mental suffering contributes to artistic success persists.

Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Allied.

"Romanticizing mental illness is dangerous and destructive just as stigmatizing it is," Green said.

"You can be sane and be an artist, and also that if you are sick, getting help  —  although it is hard and exhausting and inexcusably difficult to access  —  will not make you less of an artist." he added.

"I have written my best work not when flirting with the brink, but when treating my chronic health problem with consistency and care."

Mental health is still all-too-often stigmatized, which is why it's so important when highly visible figures speak up about their own struggles. Green's confession was a powerful reminder that success alone can't solve these problems — and that even people who look like they're on top of the world are still receptive to that treacherous temptation.

I'm just glad he figured this out before it was too late.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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