Some people say that bullying is a normal part of school life. It isn’t and it shouldn’t be. Also, the old saying, ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’, is untrue. The mental cruelty of bullying is often a lot worse than physical bullying.

I was bullied at primary school, although things got a lot worse at secondary school. I was always a shy, quiet child, not at home, but in unfamiliar places.

At primary school, apart from a bit of pushing and shoving, the bullying was mainly verbal. I was made to feel as if there was something wrong with me. As a result, I missed a lot of time at school. My mother used to give in to my pleas and keep me off school. I used to bring in so many sick notes after being absent you would have thought I was falling to pieces!

I used to feel physically sick at the thought of going to school. I used to have stomach pains regularly, especially on Sunday evenings at the thought of school the following day.

When I started secondary school at the age of 11, I recognised a couple of tormentors from primary school, who were unfortunately in my class.

The girls who made my life hell were as bad as the boys. Because I was quiet, studious (and terrified), they singled me out for all kinds of nasty, cruel remarks. I remember one girl who wouldn’t let me get to my desk. I was always called by my surname — ‘Look at stupid so-and-so’ etc. The fact is, I wasn’t stupid — far from it! But they made me feel as if I was. I was called names like ‘spastic’, ‘thicko’, ‘ugly’, etc.

I had a lot of time off at secondary school and missed loads of lessons. I was informed in my reports that, if I had been at school more often, I’d have been top of the class in some subjects. My favourite subjects were English, history and art. I was also pretty good at French and during my first year the school arranged a trip to France — but I didn’t go.

Apart from the fact my parents couldn’t afford it, it would have been my idea of hell — spending a week with people who hated me and who I hated for making my life a misery.

Related: Anti-Bullying Week 2013