Written by Edward.
My name is Edward Hayek. I am 14 years old, I have three brothers and I am the first in my family to be impacted by NF1.
Mum noticed my first birth mark when I was six months old and by eight months I had ten of them of various sizes scattered all over my body. I reached all the infant milestones expected in the first years of my life, but there were things that mum noticed that did not seem right.
I hated swings and slippery dips, I didn’t like to climb trees and I ran like an old man. My younger brother was always able to beat me at sport and could ride a bike when I couldn’t.
As I reached primary school, I struggled to keep up during sport, so making friends with boys my age was difficult. I couldn’t catch a ball and it always seemed to hit me in the face. One day when I was about ten, I held Mum’s hand tight as we crossed the road, but my little brother didn’t. I could not tell how fast the car was coming towards me, so I didn’t feel safe.
Primary school was an incredibly lonely experience, particularly from Grade 2 to 5. I didn’t have friends and I was bullied. No one liked me.
I couldn’t play sport at lunchtime, so I wasn’t welcome. I felt like I didn’t seem to fit in anywhere. I guess I was a bit quirky and rumours were spread about me just to be mean. I was the new kid and never really found a group of friends.
I started to believe that this was my life, that I would never have friend. When I thought I did make a ‘friend’ they stabbed me in the back, spread more rumours and talked behind my back in an attempt to be more popular themselves.
The same group of kids continued to bully me all the way through school to Year 6, before (unbelievably) things got even worse. It started with comments about my skinny body structure, suggesting that no one would ever find me attractive and that I would die alone. Worst of all, they taunted me with the notion that I should go kill myself. I rarely spoke to teachers or my parents about how I was feeling as the threats scared me so much.
During those years I began to feel anxious, depressed and developed trust issues. There were times when I hated my life and wondered quite seriously about whether I did want to die. I felt worthless, thought that nobody would ever like me and wondered who would even care if I did die. I could not see that my family loved me. In my mind, I believed that they only said those words because they had to, not because they really meant it.
SOMETIMES ONE SINGLE ACT OF KINDNESS AND A SINGLE FRIEND IS ALL IT TAKES TO STEM THE TIDE OF HATE.