Bronwen talks about regaining her confidence and sharing her story to help others

Bronwen’s story: ‘It is okay to look different’

My name is Bronwen and I have a bilateral cleft lip and palate and amniotic band syndrome which affects my left hand and my right foot.

I was finally able to meet people who understood me, and I realised I was not alone. I was part of an amazing community of people who are all unique and special in their own way.

I was born eight weeks prematurely with a slight heart murmur. After spending almost the first month of my life in hospital, I was finally allowed home just in time for my first Christmas.

Unfortunately, that wouldn’t be my last stay in hospital. When I was just four months old, I had my first operation on my cleft. This was just one of the eight surgeries I’ve had over the years.

My conditions have caused me quite a bit of pain over the years, but not as much pain as the torment. When I first started school, I didn’t feel any different and I don’t remember being bullied much.

However, when I got to secondary school, things changed. I have been called many hurtful things and the laughing and the staring never gets easier. People at school would joke about me with their friends and make sarcastic comments. This really caused my confidence levels to drop, and I constantly worried what people were thinking about me.

I am lucky enough to have an amazing group of friends and a really supportive family to help me through all of these hard times though. I received a lot of support from my school too and I’ve also had a few sessions with a psychologist to talk through how I feel about all of this. I found these sessions really helpful and I’m so grateful for all the help I’ve had from everyone.

As I got older and learned more about my conditions, I came across a few charities who support people with visible differences. I went to some events organised by CLAPA and a Changing Faces event, and I found it really beneficial to meet people who were facing similar struggles to myself. I was finally able to meet people who understood me, and I realised I was not alone. I was part of an amazing community of people who are all unique and special in their own way. It helped me to regain some of the confidence I had lost.

This was when I decided to start my own YouTube channel to raise awareness of my conditions and show the world that it is okay to look different or feel like you don’t ‘fit in’. I now make videos to help people with visible differences, so they have someone to relate to and know that they are not alone in their struggles.

I also wanted to give back to the charities that helped me, so I held a couple of fundraisers which raised money for the charities and gave everyone who attended an insight into what they do.

Last year, I even found the courage to spread awareness at school by making a presentation and sharing it with one of my classes. I have overcome so much in these last few years, and I am very proud of myself. I still have bad days, just like everyone else, but I always manage to come out of these tough times with a smile! In the future, I hope to continue using my passion for helping others to inspire people and spread positivity.

If you or your child needs support with the experiences and challenges of living with a visible difference, our Wellbeing services are here for you. We can offer online 1-1 emotional support via online video call, as well as support by telephone or email. Contact our Support and Information Line on 0300 012 0275 to find out more about how we can help.