Bullies don’t know what it’s like to be you

I wore a body and neck brace for most of my school years to correct a spinal condition. As if that wasn’t bad enough I had to wear a bulky plastic mouthguard covering my top and bottom teeth and palate day and night to stop the pressure from the neck brace crushing my jaw and teeth. I was called names every day and couldn’t answer back as the mouthguard made speech nearly impossible. I was also pushed over a number of times and struggled to get up due to the body brace, and was often punched and kicked for no reason. I put up with this for years and just felt like a freak! I always had pain though I learned to live with it, and my mouth was locked shut with my tongue pushed back and up against a thick plastic palate that made me nauseous, and became very smelly and foul tasting after years of full time wear. To cut a long story short my bullying only got better when I finally reported it and a teacher suggested that I do a presentation to the class about my condition and how it felt to be unable to play sports or even to run because of the brace, and what it felt like to wear the mouthguard all the time. I told them how I longed to be able to run and play football and to have a mouth free of plastic, and there was some recognition on the other kids faces that day and things did get better over time, and it definitely helped that they got a glimpse of what it was like to me!

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