JoJo’s story

A Red Balloon student

I have been badly bullied since I was in Primary School, the older kids would call me such horrible and disgusting names and try and get the kids my age to join in with them too.

When I was younger it was just name calling, but some boys would follow me home and throw eggs at my house. As I got older, the more aggressive it got. They would start by throwing pencil sharpeners at my head, they would threaten to break glass and slit my throat. They would try to push me downstairs and tell me how fat and ugly I was so I took that on board and started to starve myself.

I would run home and cry myself to sleep every night. At the age of 11 I was thinking about suicide and I have scars from self-harming.

I felt really upset, like no one cared about me. I was sad, lonely and angry and I hated myself. I would say to myself ‘if the kids from school don’t like you then no one will’. I was violent with my younger sister, by jumping on her, punching her and threatening to kill her. She was the release of my anger and that’s when my mum couldn’t handle my aggressive behaviour. Every time someone said a nasty thing I got close to suicide. I started to see a rope and imagined hanging myself.

After years of being bullied, I got hospitalised for depression and post traumatic stress disorder. I was in hospital for six weeks and it didn’t help me because when I got out I took an overdose of my medication for depression. I couldn’t face even stepping outside my house without breaking down in tears within seconds which was why I was not able to go to school for five months. So, I stayed at home and did nothing. I can’t really remember that part of my life.

Someone told me about Red Balloon, and it has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. I would not have wanted to go anywhere else.

Red Balloon has helped me regain my confidence and feel so much better about myself. I am now able to trust people and be more sociable and I have begun to develop long-lasting friendships that I have not had for such a long time. I can concentrate on lessons better, and I am in charge of my learning. I make decisions about when, where and what I learn and as a result of this I am getting higher grades. When I get stuck on something there is someone there to help you. The teachers really care about you.

I finally even have a plan for the future.

When I leave school, I want to be a famous singer, I would like to achieve a degree in performing arts. I am doing a performing arts course in mainstream school on two occasions during the week. I never thought I would ever be able to step outside again let alone going into a mainstream school. But now I can thanks to the help and support given to me by Red Balloon. They have really given me my life back. I can’t thank them enough.