A Hartlepool woman who was subjected to cruel bullying for a facial condition is supporting national efforts to help increase public awareness.
Chelsea Burger, 23, was born with facial palsy which is the weakness of muscles in the face.
She suffered taunting at school and even in the workplace for her ‘droopy face’ but overcame the bullying and now helps other people to deal with the condition.
Chelsea is supporting National Facial Palsy Week which takes place from March 1 to 7.
Its central message is to let people with facial palsy know there is support out there.
Chelsea’s palsy affects her smile and her left eye does not shut properly.
Unfortunately this did cause bullying in my case and many more people. This shouldn’t happen we didn’t ask to look differentChelsea Burger
She said: “It was never spoken about when I was young and no-one knows the real reason it happens.
“Unfortunately this did cause bullying in my case and many more people. This shouldn’t happen we didn’t ask to look different.
“I got through the hard time at school and went on to work which I did get bullied in one job, the woman called me an offensive name.
“I did later go on to move job but the company did nothing about the bullying.”
Chelsea, of Seaton Carew, is a volunteer for the charity Facial Palsy UK and uses her experience to help others.
She added: “I am happily married now and life is good.
“I try and help others the best I can by going to family facial palsy days where I can talk to kids as young as two years old with the condition and also speak to their parents so they know how their child feels and what they can do to help them.
“The message of the week is ‘it’s OK to be different’ and there is help out there.”
The awareness week encourages people with the condition to use social media to share their personal stories and one positive thing that has come about from having facial palsy using the hashtag #ShareMyHappy.
Facial Palsy UK is also launching first children’s book during the week.
For more information see www.facialpalsy.org.uk