Bullying is real in the autistic community.
I knew I needed to write something tonight, but I wasn’t quite sure what to write about. I have couple posts already started, but neither seemed to really float my boat, so I went about doing some site updates and turned on some loud music while I tried to gain clarity on what to write about, the first video, below, Bully by Shinedown, resonated with me from the moment I hit shuffle. As I listened to the words for the hundredth time, I started thinking of incidents where I was bullied as a child and even recently. Yeah. Bullying. That’s a good topic.
The words resonated with me and suddenly I had my topic. Bullying and the depression and other crud that drags along with it for years and years. And I’m speaking about bullies both on the spectrum and off, though mostly off.
There is such a thing as an autistic bully. Take the character of Sheldon Cooper from the TV show The Big Bang Theory. Though never officially said, Sheldon is the poster boy for the arrogant autistic bully that doesn’t realize a bully, because he’s autistic. Today I’m discussing more the neurotypical bully, as that’s what I’m most experienced with, I’m simply acknowledging that we have our bullies as well. It’s not just you neurotypicals. Be cool.
Keep in mind that the word autism wasn’t formally being used until almost ten years after I graduated high school and the term Asperger’s, my time of high-functioning autism, wasn’t spoken of until a few years after that. My bullying was because I was weird, different, odd or whatever they were calling me that day. There’s an interesting side to the bullying that I just now thought of.
I went to public school through fourth grade and then Christian schools from five-twelve. While I remember a little bullying from the losers in my neighborhood Webelos troop/pack/whatever it is, I don’t really remember any bullying from kids at public school. I sure as hell remember the bullying and the crappy remarks from kids and teachers at the private schools. And being set up by a couple kids in eighth grade to get me in serious trouble with the principal that I would eventually prove wasn’t me.
But no memories of public school. Weird, huh? It’s almost as of there were students and teachers eviler at private than at public school.
The bullying, mental and physical in middle school and mostly mental in high school, still hurts. I do my best to push it away so I don’t think about it, but every once in a while, it pops back up for a bit. The faster I can push it away, the better I feel.
I’ve heard this song, Bully by Shinedown, hundreds of times. It’s on my Creatin’ Music playlist along with a lot of other loud songs. Tonight, I guess since I was thinking of topics to write about. I guess I listened a little closer.
Let me be perfectly clear. I don’t in any way suggest we confront our bullies. All that will do is create more problems. We’d love to make ’em pay, but they will. Life will get them.
Bullying, whether as a child or an adult leads to several issues in the brain that need to be dealt with. Quite simply, they’re anxiety, depression, and self-esteem. These are like the Three Amigos for the autistic person as all three tend to come riding into town together, much like the Three Amigos on your left, only not nearly as funny
We get anxious because we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop. We know something’s going to happen and when it does, we want to be ready. Spoiler alert: We never are ready!
We get depressed because we got pushed around or called names or made fun of, or were belittled by our math teacher for not showing the work the way it was taught. We get depressed for all sorts of reasons, but it all boils down to the fact that it’s embarrassing, degrading, painful, and yes, for some it leaves scars.
Ah, self-esteem! I can’t remember the last time I felt really good about myself for an extended period of time. That doesn’t completely mean that life sucks, but it certainly has its pauses from the good feelings and reminds me just how good the good feels. Things have certainly gotten better in the self-esteem department, but like everyone, I have my days.
Bullying leaves invisible scars for years to come.
It’s true. The scars can sometimes be seen on our faces as pained looks, but no one really knows what’s going on in our head. We’re fighting back those moments where we were bullied. Back to the boss that called me Forrest Gump for four years, back to the math teachers telling me, yet again, that they don’t care that the answer is right, the work wasn’t as shown. F.
There’s more to bullying than just what happened at that moment. We wish that’s all it was, but it’s really just the beginning for us. And as we fall down that rabbit hole remember ing what was said or what was done to us, we get depressed and lose our self-esteem a few more notches.
Practicing neurodiversity and neurodivergence will help us all in the long run. Most bullying is done out of ignorance. If we all work together to educate our part of the world, bullying will slow down to an all-time low, because people will respect one another for who they are. And that’s the way it should be.
Before I go, I belong to a closed Facebook group, Aspergers Life Support, run by some terrific people. There’s a link on the right or you can click on the words in blue. If you have Aspergers or are a loving NT of an Aspie, I definitely suggest asking to join the group. They’re great people and have helped me on many occasions.
An Asperger’s Guide to Dating Neurotypicals is out on Amazon, Kindle and autographed copies are available for the same price on the J.R. Reed Author website. If you’re of dating age and are on the spectrum or love someone who is, I recommend this book for you. It’s written in a simple, easy to understand way and talks about the importance of communication as well as other time-tested principles.