I was a child with Aspergers Syndrome. I was diagnosed at the age of 7. My childhood was like any other childhood for a typical suburban young boy going to a mainstream public school. Things changed when my family was forced to move by our former landlord to a different town. I had to change schools and ended up away from all of my close friends. The school I moved to is when my life literally changed forever. I was scared, vulnerable and because I had a learning disability, all of the teachers and staff there verbally abused me and even told my parents that because I don’t fit the status quo, I will never go to college and function in the real world. So the minute there was an opening in my original town that winter, we moved to a new apartment and I was back at my old school with my friends. But because of all the emotional turmoil I experienced the previous year, I was not the same person anymore. I acted out and felt defensive to everyone around me. I stopped caring about my school work. I wasn’t a bully but even my old school thought I no longer fit THEIR status quo. Then the minute the Columbine school shooting happened in Colorado, all of the patents around the country freaked out and I ended up being targeted as a future school shooter. So I was forced out of the district and had to attend middle school into a series of physically abusive schools that advertised themselves as for “behavioral problems”. This was an excuse for them to gang up on me (3 to 4 people usually) whenever I had a meltdown by holding me down to floor or ground for several minutes to an hour sometimes. This would go on nearly two days every week usually and I was treated like I deserved it because I am not a good person and am a threat. I believed this for years and would mask for people to seek approval for the fear of being looked at in fear. It was until recently I was finally diagnosed with bipolar and PTSD. A decade before all of this (I am 29 now) I was in a deep, numb depression and was unable to express any emotions other than an ongoing grudge held against everyone that abandoned me because of my depression. I couldn’t feel any excitement over the things I loved doing and I no longer wanted to be with the friends I still had. I just wanted to be alone. My college years were like this. I didn’t participate in many social activities. The ones I did take part in were with the wrong people. I ended up becoming friends with some very toxic people. They treated me like I was the cause of all my problems. They complained I didn’t smile enough. They made fun of my looks. The worst part of it was that I was a theater major. I got roles in the plays on campus. But they were always the roles of the fall guy or the loser character everyone laughs at instead of with, OR the villain. It was even confirmed by the director it was because of my looks. I didn’t look like the perfect male model or moviestar so I was labeled ugly and while many people would not take that too personally. I did. My self esteem was at an all-time low. I kept feeling like I just needed to accept that I am scum to society and admitting it will save me a lot of heartache. And these same people had the nerve to complain about me not having enough self confidence.
There was one bright spot (at the time) in all of this. I became real friends with a young female that shared the same interests and unique personality as me. We ended up dating during my junior year. During the first couple of months, we both felt like we were on top of the world. We thought we would get married and live together very soon. But as time went on, especially after graduation, our patience for each other started to intensify and our own personal problems got in the way of our own romance. This bothered her more than me because while I was open and spilling my guts out just like she was about her struggles, she felt like I wasn’t there for her and was selfish. The thing was, I was so anxious and desperate for keeping a relationship with someone I thought was THE one, that I forced myself to deny any feelings of tension between us, just to avoid conflict. She also didn’t like that I couldn’t hold a job. The only jobs that would hire me were retail jobs. They are the last thing an Aspie like myself should be doing. My record for keeping these jobs without being too overwhelmed to keep working was less than two years. When I finally landed a full time job at a college bookstore, me and my girlfriend were planning on finally moving in together. This was now almost seven years in our relationship. The tasks I was given were too overwhelming from the very start and I had no time to just stop and take a breather. Customers would insult me to my face on an average of 90 times a day if I was lucky. I was so stressed out I couldn’t control my bladder anymore. One day, when I was on duty for part of my shift at the register, I literally wet myself. I had to immediately go home and try to face the humiliation the next days. I told my girlfriend who was tired of my excuses for jobs not working out that she got really upset with me and said I keep blaming other people for my problems. I finally built up the courage to break up with her a few days later. By that time I was still living with my parents in my late 20’s and all of my friends, and now my relationship and job were gone. I was alone. This took place less than two years ago.
It has been a tough journey but I am now finding my voice and courage to tell my story the way it really happened. No child deserves what I went through. If things were handled differently, I would have grown up a much happier and confident person.
I am an advocate for Mental Health Awareness and Autism Acceptance. I have been diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome as a child and Bipolar Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as an adult. I am determined to let my story and stories of many others fight off all of the stigma and make society a more accepting and compassionate place. Find Samuel on his blog and Twitter.