– I would say that I had a very nice childhood. The most dangerous thing about children who have a similar head to mine is that you can quickly feel that you cannot get things done. And then I think that it affects your self-confidence in the end, says Herman Flesvig (30) to Good Morning Norway.
Together with author Erlend Loe (53), he is current with the children’s book Herman – stories from an undiagnosed upbringing.
– I wanted to have a real heart project, and then I thought of a children’s book. And who is the best in the country to write children’s books? It is Erlend Loe, explains Flesvig and continues:
– So then I actually scratched his door.
Erlend Loe says that the inquiry from the popular comedian and actor came as a surprise.
– I knew who he was, but not what I could expect.
The experienced author describes the collaboration with Flesvig as trust-based and honest from the start.
– It was not an attempt to be tough or milk the success that I realized he had. I quickly got a picture of someone who has had some tough rounds, been a bit outside and had a battle with his unruly head, says Loe.
Paying tribute to his teacher
Herman Flesvig describes growing up as social and with many friends. Not many people knew that things were chaotic in his head. But there was one teacher in particular who saw what he needed.
– I had a teacher at primary school called Jorid. She stayed with me every day and did homework without pay. If it hadn’t been for her, I wouldn’t have been able to read or write, says Flesvig and continues:
– So it’s a pat on the back for the teachers and the work they do. Everyone who works with children, you do an absolutely insanely important job.
– Good at cheating
Despite good homework help from the teacher, Flesvig reveals that he also used less conservative methods to get through school.
– There is something called “fake it till you make it”. I was pretty good at cheating in school. So I managed to surf about halfway through, but you were seen through, because there are a lot of things I didn’t get.
It was not until he was 18 that the comedian was diagnosed with ADHD.
– I think the worst thing is the chaos in the head that makes you feel bad. So I think it’s important for children in particular to get some form of mastery, whether it’s sports or Lego. Just find something that interests you.
Made the family cry
There is one story in particular from Flesvig’s life that has made an impression on co-author Erlend Loe, and it is about when the comedian entered the Westerdals college in Oslo.
– There it was no longer grades that mattered, but performance and the entrance exam, so when you entered there the whole family was in tears, says Loe.
– It was the same atmosphere as in “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”, where they move that bus and the whole family starts crying. I’ll never forget that, it was a lot of fun, explains Flesvig.
Known for obsessive thoughts
In addition to the undiagnosed ADHD, Herman Flesvig struggled with obsessive thoughts as a child.
– I felt so bad that I had to count to 13. I didn’t have to have my fingerprint on things. I have realized now in adulthood that it is a form of control. If you don’t have control in your head, then you need to do something to feel like you do.
Even as an adult, the comedian can feel the same feelings.
– If I feel that: “Oi, now it is very important that I put on the left sock first”, small things like that, then I know that I have to take a break. That now I have a lot of chaos in my head.
Another compulsion could be that he had to wash his hands after touching the doorknob, something his mother worked hard to get rid of.
– I was told by my mother to touch the door handle before I went to bed, and then I wasn’t supposed to dry off. And then at night I tried to go down and dry off so that I could sleep. But she was adamant, so she sat there and said you can just forget about it. I finally fell asleep, but I wiped it off the next morning, Flesvig recalls.
– Do you still feel that way?
– No, not so bad. I feel like it can come in different forms, but it’s a form of stress and a form of trying to cope with something you don’t have complete control over.
Avoiding the medications
The 30-year-old is open about the fact that he is currently trying to avoid ADHD medication.
– On some it works great, but on me it didn’t work so well, at least not for a long time.
The comedian constantly receives messages and emails from parents wondering whether or not their children should be taking ADHD medication.
– I feel it is something you have to find out together with your child. I don’t think there is a right and wrong. For some it works, for others it doesn’t. And then I think it is important for the parents to put their pride aside and accept the help they can get.
For Flesvig, structure in everyday life has become an important contributor to a good life.
– It is important for me to exercise, eat eel, such “basic” things that you can do, then I actually function very well.