This post is by Khali Raymond who lives in Newark, New Jersey. Khali is an author, a poet, and an artist. As a child, he was diagnosed with Asperger's. He's sharing his story with others to give them inspiration and to shed light on their darkness that they experience in life.
Living with Asperger's is not an easy feat. Imagine yourself in a room full of people. All of those people are laughing and mingling, but you aren’t. You’re sitting there in the corner all alone, watching everyone engage with one another. Nobody acknowledges that you’re there. You have trouble expressing yourself because you don’t know how to. Your fear of being rejected and feeling inadequate consumes you. As you’re living with this disorder, those around you 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.
I have experienced this feeling. Growing up, I could never fit in with others. As a kid, I couldn’t look an adult in the eye. There was just something about looking at another person that made me feel very uncomfortable. In social situations, my heart would pound very fast and I would get very nervous. I was the one that got left out because I couldn’t relate to the other children. I was also frequently bullied. Children would make fun of me for the way I talked, walked, and looked. When I answered questions in class, the children would belittle me.
My family did not understand my Asperger's either. I tried to send them cries for help but they did not listen. This only made me feel even more depressed. The bullying in school got so bad that I nearly tried to kill myself at the age of eleven. I was going to leap from out of my bedroom window, but my mom stopped me in the process. After this, writing became my outlet and means of communication. I loved to write. Whenever I was in class, I would be the first person to get up and share what I’ve written. My teachers were impressed with how creative my writing became. But, that didn’t mean my issues with my low self-esteem and my inability to become proactive in social situations diminished. The kids would call me all sorts of demeaning names, such as retarded, stupid, and many more.
I 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 was not easy. My father was a very outgoing guy that everyone loved. He was so resilient, that even when he was sad you probably couldn’t tell. Everyone tells me I look like him so much, but I’m his complete opposite. I’m not as outgoing as he was. I’m reclusive and shy and I don’t open up too much.
The bullying continued through my teenage years. At the age of fourteen, I was admitted to a mental hospital. They had me on medications for a while, but I stopped taking them in 2013. 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. I bared all these wounds. 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 and not be judged or harassed. Little did I know, this escape would lead 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 proof that I wasn’t going to let my Asperger's 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 were proved wrong. Fast forward to now, I have written forty books. 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 you want to!