I am 26 years old. I have ptosis of the left eyelid, so my left eyelid is lower than my right eye. I also have scarring on my right hand after corrective surgery to straighten my middle finger.
During my primary school years, I had a small group of close friends, but at secondary school I struggled. I was picked on because of my visible difference. I also had acne as a teenager, and the treatment I received for this left me with scarring on my cheeks.
Whilst I was a teenager, I got involved with Changing Faces, attending a workshop day, and later as part of a Young People’s Council. I made friends with other children and young people with visible differences and I learnt different ways of dealing with other people’s reactions and how to answer their questions in a simple way. I felt confident to be able to explain my visible difference to people of all ages.
When I saw the online Peer Group Chat advertised, I decided to join because I wanted to talk to people who have had similar experiences to me, and challenges that I have not lived through. I thought it would be interesting to learn about how they dealt with their experiences and how I could implement some of their strategies in my life.
Being a participant in the group was really good because we got to know each other and learn techniques that each other has used. We also shared ideas of how to make different situations better next time.
At the start of the group sessions we were in lockdown and people were nervous about what it was going to be like when we came out of that period. It was helpful to be able to share those concerns.
I loved the ice breaker questions in our first week to help us get to know each other. From taking part in the group I have gained techniques and advice on different experiences, but I’ve also made new friends. I really enjoyed the programme and hope to keep in contact with all the people on the chat.
One challenge that I have learnt a technique for is when on holiday abroad, to have a card written in their language or use Google translate to explain your visible difference.
I would recommend the online Peer Group Chat to anyone with a visible difference.