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How writing helped me survive bullying and Aspergers

November 8, 2017 • Khali Raymond • Male • 18 • Newark, New Jersey

Living with Asperger’s is not an easy feat. It never is. Imagine yourself in a room full of people. All of those people are laughing and mingling. Meanwhile, you aren’t. You’re just sitting in a corner all alone, watching everyone make nice with each other. Nobody even acknowledges that you’re there. You just sit there, feeling crushed from the inside. You have trouble expressing yourself because you don’t know how to. Your fear of being rejected eats you up. Your fear or feeling inadequate to others eats you up. As you’re the one living with this disorder, people you’re surrounded by, can’t understand your pain. You’re constantly feeling glum and angry. You feel as if this condition drags you into an abyss, an abyss that leads you to a point of no return.


This is how I feel all the time.


Growing up, I could never fit in with others. As a kid, I couldn’t look an adult in the eye. I never had the capacity to. There was just something about looking at another person that made me feel very uncomfortable. In social situations, my heart would pound very fast. I would get nervous. I would always get left out because I couldn’t relate to the other kids. Being bullied didn’t help either, it only worsened my condition. Every day, I would walk around and get laughed at. I would be humiliated every day. Kids made fun of me because of the way I talked, walked, and looked. Imagine trying to answer a question in class and all the kids mock you. Every time you said anything, they’d make fun of your expression, and take the words out of your mouth.


Even my family wasn’t able to relate to my condition. I constantly sent them cries for help but they just rejected me. Nobody listened. This made me feel even more depressed. At the age of eleven, the bullying in school got so bad that I nearly tried to kill myself. I was going to jump out from my bedroom window, but my mom intervened. I could only use writing as my means to communicate. I loved to write. Whenever I was in class, I would be the first person to get up and share what I’d written with the class. I impressed my teachers with my impeccable writing abilities and my creativity was amplified. There was nothing limiting it.


But, that didn’t mean that my issues with low self-esteem and my inability to become proactive in social situations waned. Kids called me all sorts of demeaning names, such as retarded, stupid, and many more. I had lost my father when I was just a year old, and his loss alone has had a grave impact on how I grew up. As a black man, growing up without a father is not easy.


People tell me my father was a very outgoing guy; everyone loved him. You would never be able to tell if he was sad… he was so resilient. People tell me I look a lot like him, but I’m his complete opposite. I’m not as outgoing as he was. I’m reclusive and shy. I don’t open up too much. These issues with bullying and my bout with Asperger’s did not cease. At the age of fourteen, I was admitted into a mental hospital. The doctors had put me on medications for a while and I stopped taking them in 2013. None of that helped.


Once I got to high school, I began to give up hope. I felt like there was no haven for a guy like me. I carried all this baggage and all these wounds with me. Nobody could understand what I had to go through. But, I didn’t stop writing. I let my talent weather the storm. I let the arts influence me. Writing was my only escape. It was the only place I could go where I wasn’t judged or harassed. Little did I know that this escape would push me to write my first book at the age of fifteen. On October 26th 2014, I published The Ballad of Sidney Hill. That book marked my coming of age and how much I’ve matured.


That was living proof that I wasn’t going to let a mental disorder define me. They told me that I wouldn’t be able to function once I got to high school. All these specialists who remained doubtful of my growth, because of my condition—I proved them wrong. Fast forward to now, I have written forty books and I am now attending Berkeley College in Newark, New Jersey. I have a message for you all. Never let your circumstances define who you are. You can be anything!

TAGS #art #AspergerSyndrome #bullying #depression #family #mentalhealth #suicide #writing