Worth Living Ambassador Rachel Burridge
Hello, I’m Rachel from the United Kingdom and I am 22 years of age. I have been on a journey with mental health for seven years now and facing the stigmas and hush hush around it. I will recover from my illness while helping others to recover as we all go on the journey together.
At Primary School, I was always the energetic, bubbly, nothing can get in my way and stop me kind of girl. I would literally put myself up for anything no matter who laughed or put me down, I wanted to be known and heard. Any camera that was pulled out in front of me, I wanted to be doing funny dances or taking pictures with it. That was who I was.
When I was moved up to high school, I was so excited for the new possibilities it would bring and the new friends I would meet on the way. I could not wait! I believed high school would change my life for the better, how wrong I was.
Everyone got the odd snigger or comment, you can’t avoid that with a bunch of new people. I was prepared for that but I was not prepared for how far some people were willing to go to put me down. It started as they bullied me for my lazy eye, that I wore glasses. “Specky four eyes” they would shout and “are you looking at me?” It hurt deeply. I had never really given my eye condition a thought before or that my glasses made me different. Then I decided to find myself a bit and experiment with my looks in year 9, 2 years into school. I dyed my hair black from mousey brown, but in return I was presumed a goth or ‘emo’ was the most used name. I was never known by my name only by my “flaws”. Within a couple of years of trying to get on with school and concentrate on work it finally got too much, I wasn’t eating, sleeping, talking to anyone, laughing, smiling…I wasn’t me anymore I was lost!
The bullies picked up on this and saw me as weaker than ever. They decided I no longer deserved to be alive, that I wasn’t worthy of being here. I was told this daily. One day in class a student unscrewed a blade and passed me it and told me I deserved to feel pain…that was the beginning of a long road to recovery. Schools don’t know how to deal with bullying. They pass the victim around to different classes as I was to avoid ‘disturbing the lessons’ for them. They never worry about what the long term damage to the victim will be or punishing the bullies for what has been done, which in turn makes the victim feel like they are the problem.
Seven years on, these people who ruined my life and stole my identity from me live happy fulfilled lives forgetting any knowledge of what they did. For anyone out there reading this don’t suffer in silence like I did, call the bullies out and seek help. Bullying destroys lives.
I feel almost like I have lived two lives as two different people now all because someone found it funny to look cool in front of their friends and be popular.