Hello and Welcome to Sweeney’s Blogs!
Today’s blog is the fourth in my Looking Into Male Mental Health series and is going to look into my experience with mental health. I have mentioned a few times in my previous posts that I have gone through a lot of mental health problems in the past. I am going to be going over briefly what caused these, how I learned to resolve and manage them and how I try and balance things out in life so that I do not get overcrowded.
This is the first time that I am doing a blog this personal so I am going to be extra careful in how I phrase things and how much detail I go into. This blog is going to talk in detail about how the bullying I went through when I was younger affected me and grew without many people noticing. I am going to do more blogs like this in the future where I talk about how I struggled and how I managed to fix myself but I thought I would start here.
The mental health issues that I have been diagnosed with and have worked through have been Severe Anxiety, Depression and PTSD. I had the bad luck of encountering all of these at the same time due to a build-up of several factors which I will be talking about in a little bit. It took me a while to admit to myself that I actually had problems that I needed to solve but I quickly learned that it only got worse with time when trying to beat it by myself.
There was a range of factors that led me to have mental health problems, one of the largest was bullying. Bullying has been a large portion of my life and is a topic that I feel very strongly about. I have been bullied in the past, some cases it was only short term bullying but others lasted several years and really damaged my self-confidence and the image I had of myself.
The worse bullying that I faced was by one person for around ten to ten and a half years. Looking back at it now I realise how smart the person was actually bullying me. They started out by making comments about my hair colour, my freckles and other general comments then progressed into more offensive, deeper hitting topics. After realising that bullying me with comments about my appearance didn’t really bother me they began to bully me about my stutter.
My stutter has been a condition that is very personal to me and something I have tried to control over a number of years. I get very defensive about my stutter and I try really hard not to stutter much but sometimes I just cannot help it. The way that my stutter works is that it tends to flare up when I am feeling extreme emotions. This can mean that it flares up when I’m really happy, angry, sad, excited, nervous and in many other cases.
When this bully started to bully me simply for having a stutter it slowly began to erode at the defences that I had been putting up. After this went on for a while and they saw that I wasn’t reacting to it they decided to up the level and start isolating me from my friends. This particular bully would speak to people when I wasn’t there saying that I was talking about them behind their back, a thing that I would never do.
At first, when I got told that this was going on I didn’t think it would make a difference to my friends or my social life however it all changed in a few weeks. I stopped getting invited out with my mates and I began spending more time by myself in my house. This rise in the level of bullying was when I started to realise that I was struggling. I had been bullied due to my appearance, my stutter and now my social life had started to break.
The bullying stayed at this level for a few years and then it began to increase again. Before the level of bullying increased I counted that the bully had turned around 37 people against me. I had done nothing wrong and I couldn’t understand why people weren’t speaking to me and why they were actively ignoring me. My trust in people took a huge fall at this point and I only really trusted friends that lived close to me that I had known for years.
The next level of bullying started when I was walking home from school. I began to walk home by myself after school. This was because the bully lived near me and they would walk back the same way home that I did. It was at this time that some of my older friends began walking back with me. They would talk to me as they would usually and for the first few weeks I started to think that things were going back to the way they used to be.
After a few weeks, I started to realise that everything I was saying to my friends was being told to the bully. I found out after school that after I went home my friends would tell the bully everything I said to them and it would be used against me as ammunition. This strange reality that was happening hit me hard. I started to notice that I was becoming more and more isolated and that the people I trusted were in with the bully.
The bullying did rise another level one final time before I put my foot down. I went off school for a while in Year 11 to have life-threatening surgery where I lost 3 foot of my small intestine (I might do a blog on my medical condition in the future). I came back to school 2 months early when I could barely walk with a six-inch scar going down my stomach. It was at this point where the bully decided to throw his comment at me. They just looked at me in front of all of the mates and said: “Can I store my change in your stomach James as you’ve lost some intestine?”. This one line broke something inside me.
Everyone around me started to laugh and I thought that I was completely alone. This was one of the main factors that completely broke me. After writing this I have decided that I will do more blogs in the future like this as it is quite long now as it is, that is without me adding in more points. I do not want to make the blogs too long that the main point of them dissolves.
Thank you for reading this weeks blog in the Male Mental Health series! If you are wondering what this blog has to do with mental health then it is meant to show how factors can build if not acted upon and how they can lead to you struggling unless you know when enough is enough. I didn’t put my foot down soon enough which is why I still struggle with the drawback effects now.
What do you all think of this week’s blog? Has bullying affected you in the past? How did you get past it? Do we as a society need to learn to identify secret bullies? What can be done about bullying that we don’t even see? Let me know any answers you have to these questions and your thoughts on today’s blog! There will be a few more blogs like this that talk about how I learned to overcome my problems in the upcoming weeks so stay tuned if you’re interested!
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