She was popular. She was beautiful, or so people used to say. Everyone praised her and some even wanted to be her. They glorified everything she did and the jealous envied her. She seemed to have it all and the whole school fell at her feet. She walked every day through the school gates with a big smile and her head held high. Little did everyone know the truth behind that smile. The pain she faced the minute she walked out of school. I know, because that girl was me.

At home I was miserable, but at school I was a celebrity. The kind of celeb who seemed perfect in the eyes of everyone. Not a day went by without my parents fighting, eating porridge for supper and sleeping on the floor, but I still managed to play poster girl. I don’t know how I did it and somehow no one caught on that I was pretending.

During school holidays and weekends, I would use pain killers and sleeping pills to help me get by. This continued for quite some time before someone realised what I was going through. By then, I had told myself that I had nothing to lose. Meanwhile the pretence seemed to be eating me from the inside. Suddenly the pain killers and sleeping pills seemed to stop working. That’s when I turned to what seemed like the best solution – hurting myself. I had heard about it; that blood and the pain made you feel better, so I took it upon myself to try it out. It did work for a while but then I started getting so used to the pain that I wanted more. I needed a new solution and that’s when the suicide plans started.

I was living a double life; a life of pain and a life of pretence. Juggling the two came to be impossible and I couldn’t take it anymore. I guess the most painful part was that I was so good no one knew about it. I felt alone and I seemed to be drifting away to my own planet every day. The pain was unbearable. It was like the pain you feel after placing your hand on a stove and the few seconds it takes to realise that your hand has just been burned.

Even the slightest stupid thing would make me cry; the blue sky, a dog barking or even people laughing. Somehow these little things ticked me off and made me cry until I couldn’t cry anymore.

After spending time Googling the fastest method to kill myself, I planned it all. I was going to do it the following Friday, which was just enough time to settle a few things. Before I could finish off my dreadful deed, a remarkable thing happened. Someone who understood me came into my life, someone I’d always wished for. She helped me through my struggles, held my hand when everybody rejected me and, most importantly, didn’t judge me.

When I look back at my life, I realise that maybe I wouldn’t have suffered so much if I wasn’t pretty. Maybe I would have gotten help sooner if people weren’t judging me for my looks. I’ve heard about models suffering from severe depression and I always thought how could they possibly be depressed when they had it all? I mean, good looking people are showered with compliments and have some sort of power, but I ended up experiencing it first-hand. Looks don’t buy happiness.

We grow up being told not to judge books by their covers, but somehow we end up doing it. There are quotes, even Bible verses, that teach us this, yet we still don’t realise the effect we have on the people we judge. It took me years and almost cost me my life, but if I had the chance to change anything in my past, I wouldn’t change a thing. Physiognomy gave me perspective. It helped me see people in a different light and for that I am grateful.