Jonathan Mooney, a dyslexic writer and activist who did not learn to read until he was 12 years old, recently captivated an audience of students from Hannibal High School with his successful life story.
Mooney, a graduate of Brown University with a degree English Literature, has authored several published books and memoirs, and has been featured or quoted in several popular news outlets, including The New York Times, The Providence Journal and USA Today.
Mooney has also lectured at several prestigious institutions throughout country, including Harvard University Graduate School of Education, Brown University and New York University Medical School’s Grand Rounds.
However, during several presentations at Hannibal High School, Mooney discussed how his life wasn’t also so easy.
Growing up, Mooney struggled with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia, which caused people to deem him as “different.”
In grade school, Jonathan would often be bullied, which caused depression.
“Depression is something I struggled with at the beginning of the late elementary school years and into the early-20s,” said Mooney. “I say that to emphasize that depression is something that you sometimes don’t overcome, but something that you wrestle with every day. And that takes a lot of resiliency and a lot of courage.”
Mooney discussed ways for students to handle feelings of depression, encouraging them to discuss their feelings with others.
“It’s OK to say that you’re struggling with something or that it’s hard to get out of bed. It takes more courage to do that than it does to keep it inside,” Mooney said. “So be open about it and talk about it.”
Students were also afforded the opportunity to ask Mooney questions related to his struggles during his childhood, including several questions related to bullying. Similar to handling depression, Mooney said students shouldn’t be embarrassed to tell others about their struggle with bullying.
“If you’re being bullied, don’t keep it inside. Share it with adults, and maybe most importantly, share it with your friends,” said Mooney. “And stand up to it as a community. I’m sure we all see it happen to others on a daily basis, and we have to stand up for that person. That’s how you create a culture of shaming that behavior.”