"Changing Faces has been a real inspiration to me and has made me see things differently."

Linzie's Story

linzieI was born with numerous visual differences, which include a bilateral cleft lip and palate; no left big toe, three missing middle fingers on my left hand from my first joint and also hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain), which means I’ve had to have shunts inserted into my head to help disperse the build-up of fluid around my brain.

Additionally, I have undergone numerous corrective surgeries, which have been second to none. I was unaware of my differences until I started school. However, from then on, I was very aware of them because that is when the bullying towards me started. Thankfully, it did stop for a while when I began working at a medical practice in England.

My family and I returned to Scotland when I was 26 years old. I had a few jobs when I didn’t experience any kind of bullying. After that, I started work within the medical sector again and: “Oh boy…I really experienced what bullying was all about!” This resulted in me having a breakdown and since then, I have been unable to carry out paid employment, due to the emotional scars this has left me with. 

So I haven’t had an easy journey. When I have met people, many have perceived me to be a ‘freak’ or ‘weird’, and some have called me even worse names. I have had to constantly prove to other people that I am a human being with feelings!

Additionally, I have been subjected to many years of bullying and name-calling, mainly due to those people who do not understand how it feels to look ‘visually different’. It took me a lot of years to actually realise this was why most of these people treated me like this.

I started to ask them how they would feel if it had happened to them, their child or a sibling, etc.. It made a few people think when I asked this question and actually a few people apologised for treating me in this way.

Many people would possibly have just given up after being treated like this. I’m so lucky because I’ve got great family and friends who accept me as I am – warts and all! On hearing my story, a lot of people I’ve met over the years say: “You’re an inspiration!” I hate this because I don’t think that I am. I’m just me, who has happened to have gone through a lot medically.

I am also a Media Volunteer for Changing Faces and really enjoy this work, even if at times, it’s terrifying! I found out about Changing Faces many years ago after watching a documentary about the charity. I knew straight away that I wanted to get involved with the organisation.

However, I’ve only really been involved as a media volunteer over the past five years. Changing Faces has been a real inspiration to me and has made me see things differently. Through Changing Faces, I’ve met some incredible people.

I feel there are two types of people – the ones who shout: “Poor me” and want everyone to feel sorry for them, and the ones, like myself, who maybe need time to “deal with the next thing”, “dust themselves off” and “get on with it”, with the support of family and friends. I’ve lost count of the amount of operations I’ve actually had but if I hadn’t had them, I wouldn’t be here and I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

Earlier, I touched upon what I’ve done since leaving paid employment but I didn’t mention that I was also a ‘Lay Assessor’ for what used to be named the ‘Care Commission’. I was also a befriender for the charity ‘Link Living’ that supports people with Mental Health issues. I went to college and studied for a PDA (Classroom Assistant Personal Development Award). After that, I studied for four years and achieved an HNC in Counseling.

The day I graduated was totally surreal but absolutely brilliant! I never, in my wildest dreams, pictured myself EVER graduating. It was a day of mixed emotions, due to my Dad being terminally ill at the time. However, Dad was able to see this, which meant a lot to me, and still does. I am now attending college again, studying for an NC in Photography. I am loving it so far, even if I am the ‘Granny’ of the group!

In conclusion, I would like to say that I may look different but that doesn’t mean I can’t live a full and happy life. Whitney Houston once sang: “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all”. In my case, this has been difficult but at this stage in my life, I feel that I am almost there.

Photo by Michael Kirk ©