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The ADHD Maverick: An Interview with Jennifer Koretsky

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Jennifer Koretsky is the managing partner and chief executive officer of ADD Management Group, LLC. She is the author of Odd One Out: The Maverick's Guide to Adult ADD, and is the director of the Virtual AD/HD Conference®. She is also a Senior Certified AD/HD Coach. Her website is here.

Tell me more about the concept of the "maverick" and how it relates to ADHD. What are some of the maverick's beliefs?

A "maverick" is someone who does things their own way, and on their own terms. They don't waste too much time worrying about what others might think of them. They do what works for them, and they embrace who they are -- strengths, talents, skills, flaws, weaknesses, and all. The maverick ADHDer doesn't let their challenges stop them from pursuing their goals. They understand that they are often going to have to do things differently from other people and they are okay with that.

In Chapter 1, "Break the Cycle of Overwhelm," you write about the importance of having a well-balanced diet. What foods should an adult with ADHD be cautious about, and why?

Adults with ADHD often find their energy and focus levels dipping throughout the day, and as a result tend to "self-medicate" with foods and drinks -- namely, caffeine and sugar. These things can give us a quick energy and focus boost, but it's short-lived and followed by an intense drop. And how does one "fix" that drop? Another soda/coffee/candy bar/bagel, etc... This is a dangerous cycle that has your energy lifting and dropping all day long. It wears you down, and it's not food for your health or your mood. It's much better to eat protein with every meal and snack, keep hydrated, and consider medication. These things can help keep your energy consistent throughout the day.

In Chapter 2, "Work with Your ADHD, Not Against It," you write how adults with ADHD can be really tough on themselves -- holding themselves to unrealistic expectations and being judgmental towards themselves. What suggestions would you give someone who is trying to break out of that cycle?

One great suggestion is to treat yourself like you would treat a friend. Ask yourself, "Would I be this hard on a friend who had this problem? Would I hold him/her to the same standards that I'm holding myself to?" I can almost guarantee that the answer will be no. This is a powerful exercise that can help you build awareness of these judgments and unrealistic expectations.

You mention that it is especially important for adults with ADHD to surround themselves with positive people. How should a person respond when someone that is close to him or her makes negative comments about ADHD?

This is where the maverick attitude can really help. First, recognize that even if you love this person, their opinion of your ADHD is irrelevant. Second, you can plan to have a canned, neutral response to shut down those comments, like a simple "I'm sorry you feel that way." Then end it. Try not to engage. Realize that those negative comments are coming from a person who either A) is unhappy in his or her own life and feels the need to spread the misery or B) doesn't have the skills to communicate in a way that is respectful or C) a little bit of both. Remember that those comments are more about the person making them than they are about you.

From your experiences as a coach and as a person living with ADHD, what are three things you've learned that you would like other adults with ADHD to know?

1. You can learn to manage your ADHD. It won't happen overnight. But with time, patience, persistence, and dedication, it will happen.

2. Adult ADHD doesn't have to be a bad thing. When you manage it properly, you can use it to your advantage.

3. You absolutely, positively can live happily and successfully with ADHD.


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