It had caused him a great deal of anxiety (Image: / @heywoodand)

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A man spent more than £10,000 covering himself in tattoos to distract from his facial birthmark which had left him with crippling anxiety.

Photographer and videographer Heywood Taylor, 36, was born with a birthmark on his left cheek, under his eye.

As a child, he was often asked what was wrong with his face, while other children mistook his birthmark for a bruise or a burn.

Despite remembering being told on one occasion that his birthmark was 'ugly' and that he should get it removed, Heywood doesn’t remember feeling any misery as a result of his birthmark in his youth.

But by the time he reached his late teens, he began to struggle with looking different from his peers and in public he felt paranoid about what people thought.

He said joining the gym helped him
(Image: / @heywoodand)

Noticing people staring he developed social anxiety and agoraphobia – a disorder in which a person develops anxiety when in unfamiliar situations or surroundings.

Heywood went on to discover the gym and by getting into shape his confidence grew as did his desire to cover his body in art.

Although Heywood, from Newcastle, still receives stares from strangers, he says that by covering such visible parts of his body in artwork, he has managed to ‘take back control.'

He hopes that sharing his story will help normalise facial differences and make them less taboo.

He said: “I remember people staring and often asking me if I was ok. A couple of times I was told it was ugly and that I should get it removed, but at the time I didn’t pay it much notice.

He said he hated people staring and looking away
(Image: / @heywoodand)

“I don’t remember too much anguish regarding having my birthmark though.

“It wasn’t until my late teens and early twenties that I really began to struggle with having a birthmark.

“I remember getting very paranoid when in public and uncomfortable, not because people would or had ever said anything, but simply because of people staring.

“I felt awkward as a teenager as many people do, so the added stares of the birthmark enhanced this awkward anxiety.

“By my twenties, I developed agoraphobia – particularly of public busy places. I would never be in public alone and if for example I had to travel, I would often feel very vulnerable within myself.

He is no lo longer anxious about this birthmark
(Image: / @heywoodand)

“I could not stand people looking at me and then looking away awkwardly. It made me feel horrendous and I suffered from cold sweats."

He said he struggled with years of anxiety, alcohol and ADHD before losing his mum at 25, which made him 'tip over the edge.'

He added: “I found myself overweight and miserable, contemplating the end so I joined a gym and it saved me at that time.

“I would gradually regain my self confidence and after a few years, I had learned to believe in myself again, and with a good boost of ego I grew in confidence.

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“It was at this point that I started really getting tattooed.

“I had had a few tattoos before, but once I was getting in better shape and my confidence grew, I actually felt more comfortable to start getting tattooed more.

“As the skin got gradually covered in permanent ink, I found my confidence grew even further."

He said that with his face covered in tattoos he has 'never felt more comfortable' with how he looks.

He added: “To those who are self-conscious about their birthmark, it can really suck and the mental health implications are real.

“The only thing that has changed for me with my relationship with my birthmark is that I am no longer anxious about it and that’s because I worked on myself.

“I love the little red thing, and I’m grateful for it because it has shaped me in far more positive ways than negative.

“As people, we are all much much more than just a face – just some of our faces are a little less boring than the norm.”