On the first day of high school I was so excited to make new friends, learn new things and become a teenager. I didn’t think on this day I would come home crying because the older kids bullied me.
I had an underbite, that mean that my bottom jaw was more prominent than usual. Until I went to high school I had never seen it as a problem and I didn’t really care much about my jaw or how it looked.
I told my parents what had happened and they just said they were teasing me because I was new to the school and that they’d stop.
Even my ‘friends’ made a page on Bebo (that’s how long ago it was) bullying me, trying to get people to vote on what photo of me was the ugliest and who had a bigger chin.
I won’t name and shame them but they’ll know who they are if they read this.
I soon became very self conscious, I didn’t want to go to school, I’d make every excuse I could to try and get sent home from school. At one point I even swore at a teacher just to get excluded from school for a few days .
This led to my parents taking me to an orthodontist to try and get something sorted – braces, retainers, anything at this point would be a saving grace.
After months of assessments and appointments my orthodontist gave me the daunting sentence ‘I can’t do anything until you’re aroundt 15/16 and have stopped growing’
I was devastated. Every day from year 7-11 I would be having horrible names thrown my way.
I refused to take pictures with my friends unless I covered my chin with my hand.
In November 2012 I had a letter to say I could finally have my braces which would eventually lead to me having double jaw surgery.
I remember being at the post-surgery assessment with a bunch of student doctors and my parents.
I was so happy I was finally being fixed that I started crying (which made a few of the student nurses cry!) because it meant much to me.
I thought that if I had the surgery, I’d finally be accepted.
I had braces for around 2 years and then the date came for my jaw surgery. 7 years of waiting, years of upset and bullying all led up to this moment.
As I was being pushed in my hospital bed down for the surgery I found myself feeling incredibly overwhelmed and thinking ‘do I REALLY want this? Am I doing this to try and please others?’
But I went forward with the surgery nonetheless.
The healing process was long, painful and draining. I had a swollen face and no energy for a solid two months. It was awful, the entire time I was wondering whether the surgery had been worth it. Had I changed my face to suit other people? Did I really do it for me?
I worried that I’d still be bullied even after everything I’d put myself through.
But it has now been two, almost three years since I’ve had my double jaw surgery, and oddly enough most of the people who bullied me have tried to be my friend. Some have even denied bullying me. Of course, I politely declined any attempts at friendship.
The names I had thrown my way every single day still haunt me to this day, and they probably will for the rest of my life now. It’s something I don’t think I’ll ever fully recover from.
But I am happy now, and I am so glad I had the surgery. It’s given me confidence and changed the way I view myself, and I can finally allow my picture to me taken a great big smile on my face.
Words by Deborah Bow