I was desperate


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As a person of mixed ethnicity, growing up in a town that was almost completely white and going to a primary school where there was only one other person who wasn’t white wasn’t a pleasant experience.

I was bullied for not being white and beaten by some of my teachers. When I wasn’t being beaten by those teachers, I was being forced fed food. When I wasn’t being forced fed food, I was having to contend with my “friends” talking and racially abusing me behind my back.

I had a lot of run-ins with the dinner ladies and other staff trying to force feed me due to being a picky eater. I would often be made to sit at the table with a member of staff until I ate my free school meals, and I’d be there the entire dinner time. However, the staff members would get frustrated and would resort to trying to force feed me.

There was nothing I could do about the colour of my skin.

Even in the Cub Scouts, I was force fed. On a camping trip with the Cubs I was trying to trade the breakfast items from the ones I didn’t like for ones I did. The adult chaperones decided they didn’t like this and proceeded to stuff items (bacon and baked beans) I didn’t like down my throat. They thought it was better to force feed a child, unnecessarily, rather than swap the food for a sausage, egg, or toast. I’ve never eaten baked beans again because of it: I struggle eating any bean due to their shared texture.

One kid would often bully me with a group of their friends. They use to chase me from school on their bikes almost every day. I would also often get groups of the older kids harassing me. One time they were mocking my skin but invoking the wrong ethnic group, so I corrected them telling them I’m West Indian. They didn’t know what that was proceeded to make the kind of Native American noises you’d see in the old Cowboy and Indian shows.

Although this incident about my ethnic identity was funny, the rest of the relentless abuse I’d suffer at their hands was not. Never-ending verbal abuse when surrounded by a group of much bigger kids wasn’t fun. Nor was the pushing and violence that would often follow.

I was desperate to be white

There was nothing I could do about the colour of my skin, no matter how much I wanted to, and I did try. One of the common lines of abuse I’d get was that I wasn’t black, just dirty.

This eventually caused me to try to scrub the colour off my skin: I was desperate to be white.

I had to show that the racism/bullying didn’t bother me, shake it off, or pretend to join in to show it didn’t faze me. All because I was desperate to be accepted. But it did bother me. Throughout my childhood I wished I was white because all my problems came from being black. This led to an identity crisis that has never gone away and is another aspect of my borderline personality disorder. I was disconnected from myself and from everyone around me.

One of my teachers also abused me. I was constantly being hit by this teacher for the smallest things, being singled out for all their abuse. One time I was picked up by my hair, and as I dangled in the air they beat me.

I could no longer stop it from seeping out.

It was agreed that I should go home at lunch time to eat. The problem was that my mum wouldn’t be there. Sometimes she’d eventually make it back in time to feed me, but often she wouldn’t. I was regularly late getting back to school because of this. It was these times alone at home on my lunch break where I would have repeated breakdowns. I’d struggled with a lot of dark thoughts and imagery for years, but this was when I could no longer stop it from seeping out.

When the breakdowns happened, I’d cry my eyes out and go to the cutlery drawer and take out the meat cleaver to chop off my left hand. I’d stand there at the kitchen sink, cleaver raised ready to bring it down just above my wrist, but I’d never go through with it. I was like this every time I was alone at lunchtime. I was completely lost to despair. I just wanted everything to end so the pain would stop. I felt so alone because no one seemed to want me to exist, no matter how much I tried to fit in or be a people pleaser. I just wanted it to be over.

Experiences like these are why children’s mental health need to be taken seriously.


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