ADHD in HD – Brains Gone Wild is a wild ride for a wild brain – or, as 28 year-old author Jonathan Chesner would call it, a “special brain.” Like mine. And maybe yours.
Chesner (who was diagnosed at age 9) claims ADHD in HD is the ADHD book to slay all other ADHD books. It just might be when it comes to a book for teens who’d rather walk the family dog and pick up after it than read.
With wacky illustrations and bite-sized stories, Chesner’s book includes everything from distraction to dating; school to snacks.
Chesner lives in Los Angeles, California. He’s an actor, surfer, artist, and entrepreneur (no surprise there on any count).
I was so blown away (or, as he would say, “stoked”) by Chesner’s positive-yet-realistic take on ADHD that I called him up to see if I could find out how he got so savvy about ADHD.
Join me for a chat with the brain behind the book, ADHD in HD – Brains Gone Wild. Ladies and Gentlemen, Please Secure Your Seatbelts!
Zoë: Why do you think humor is such an important part of your life?
Jonathan: It’s because so many times I would struggle in school, so many times I would say something inappropriate or hurtful without thinking, and I would get a negative reaction.
I became very good at learning how to make people laugh or cheer people up to kind of be able to skirt past some of my deficiencies.
Zoë: There are a lot of books out there about ADHD. Why write a separate book for teens?
Jonathan: I felt like all those books out there just paint a sob story.
I mean, yes, you’re more prone to struggle in school, and in certain relationships, and in certain arenas, but, it’s not all doom and gloom, you know? It’s kinda rad.
When I was younger that was the side of the story that I needed to hear. You know, that kept it real, that acknowledged yes, you’re struggling in these areas; yes, you’ll probably have to struggle through a few more years of this stuff; no, it’s not fair, but here’s all the awesome and amazing things of being like this.
Zoë: Like what?
Jonathan: Being distracted and having your mind think all these thoughts. It sucks when you’re taking a test, it’s amazing when you’re brainstorming for a product, or for an idea.
Being talkative and super-outgoing sucks when you’re in the classroom, or when you’re in a formal business meeting, but it’s awesome when you’re at a party and no one wants to cross that line and start saying hi to other people, you know? It’s way easier for us to break the ice than for anyone else.
Zoë: How was your ADHD treated as a child?
Jonathan: When I was younger I got put on medication.
I was a little bit slow with math and English and a couple other subjects, so I got help with that as well.
A lot of the stuff that I talk about in ADHD in HD I was just learning the hard way. That’s a lot of why I wanted to write this book, because there’s all of these things that I’ve learned the hard way, that I learned myself. And I wished that I didn’t have to learn them myself.
Zoë: How do you think your ADHD changed from childhood ‘til now?
Jonathan: When I was like 9 or 10 years old and I said something mean or I just spoke my mind, or I couldn’t sit still and I was maybe super loud, I didn’t notice anyone else. And as a result, I used to kind of continue that way and life just seemed overwhelmingly hard but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
Then as I got older, and especially now, if I have a report due and I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t sit still, that doesn’t work; and if I say something inappropriate to someone and their face gets sour I notice it.
Zoë: So how do you cope with it now as opposed to when you were little?
Jonathan: Just being aware of, “Okay, hey, you may be bored out of your mind but if you look bored, and you’re squirming, you’re going to piss these people off.” It’s learning how to get a better poker face.
Zoë: One of the things that you said in your book is, “I’m notorious for saying the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time.” Have you lost friends because of that?
Jonathan: Oh yeah, I definitely have.
Zoë: How did that make you feel?
Jonathan: It just sucked because it was equal parts, you know, “I feel I’m worthless; life’s never going to get easier; I just offend people and no one’s going to want to be my friend.” It’s also like, “Don’t pull away, I didn’t mean it like that.”
Zoë: So what did you do about it when that happened?
Jonathan: I don’t blame it on ADHD. I just say, this is how I am. But I really struggle with backhanded compliments.
Zoë: What do you mean?
Jonathan: You know, like, “Hey, I didn’t think you looked very athletic but you’re really fast!”
Zoë: [laughing] I see. So your friends are used to that?
Jonathan: Yeah, [we’re both laughing now] I try not to say stuff like that all the time because I know I’m notorious for stuff like that.
STAY TUNED FOR PART II when we’ll pry into Jonathan’s love life, find out what his favorite and least fav ADHD symptoms are, and get his #1 tip for people with ADHD!
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Last reviewed: 13 Jul 2012