Kimberley Gail "Kym" Lomas (née Marsh; formerly Ryder, is an English actress and former singer. She currently stars as Michelle Connor in the long-running soap opera Coronation Street, and has enjoyed chart success as both a member of Hear'Say and a solo artist.
Kym has travelled a long way from the insecure teenager who was picked on by bullies while growing up in Wigan.
'Even now my stomach churns when I pull up outside a school,' she says. 'And my worst fear is that my children will suffer from bullying too.'
She sighs, 'I don't know why I was picked on. Maybe it was because I was bit different, I wanted to be in shows rather than chase after boys. But whatever the reason, some of the other girls at school would use any excuse they could to call me names. Like the fact I didn't develop as quickly as everyone else, or that my dad had lost his business and we didn't have much money – they'd call me a scrubber because of the old car he drove. It was hideous. I'm still haunted by the memory of those school bullies punching me in the face and pulling my skirt up in the middle of the playground. I used to blame myself and think there was something wrong with me,' she says, close to tears. 'But the main thing to remember is that the problem lies with the bully, not the victim. Working through the whole experience has made me a stronger person.
Panic attacks are irrational but it's a real illness and not simply a case of pulling yourself together
'There should be more severe punishments for children who bully. If there were, then maybe there wouldn't be children taking their own lives as a result. School years are a very sensitive, and often difficult, time in a child's life so the last thing they need is to be bullied too. There's nothing wrong with being different. The funniest thing is when I hear that those same bullies have told people they used to be friends with me,' she laughs. 'It's pretty ironic.'
Thirty-two-year-old Kym has put her own experiences to good use by supporting the charity BeatBullying. 'I felt very isolated from other children growing up so it's nice to be able to share my experience and show you can come out the other side of a traumatic situation and be better for it,' she says.
Kym still suffers from panic attacks, which may be connected with the low self-esteem that resulted from being bullied at school.
'People find panic attacks difficult to understand,' she says. 'The attacks are irrational but it's a real illness and it's not simply a case of pulling yourself together. When I have a panic attack I can't breathe – it's as if someone's sitting on my chest, and everything feels really strange. I had one when I was driving and I thought I was dying. It was terrifying. But they're a lot more common than people realise
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