I Guest-Starred in a New Podcast

On Saturday 31st October, I was asked to be a special guest on a brand new podcast, called “26 minutes with”, which has been created by Respect Mental Health and the amazing Benjamin Seal. It was an honour to be asked to e the first guest for the show and we are going to be taking a bit of a closer look at the podcast in today’s blog!

Hello and Welcome to Sweeney’s Blogs!

Read more

Sweeney’s Peutz-Jeghers Story – My Dance with Death

6 years ago yesterday I got rushed into hospital and was diagnosed with Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome. I was only 15 years of age when it happened and I am eternally grateful for all of the work that the surgeons, doctors, nurses and more did to save my life when I was but 3 hours away from what would have been my unfortunate death.

I am James Sweeney and this is my Peutz-Jeghers Story, My Dance with Death:

Hello and Welcome to Sweeney’s Blogs,

Read more

World Mental Health Day 2020

Mental Health is something that affects each and every one of us as people. Our Mental Health makes up who we are, who we want to be, and so much more. It is a phenomenally large field, that continues to grow each and every day. Over the last couple of years the spotlight and mainstream media have started to focus in more on the Mental Health and Wellbeing of people and international events, such as World Mental Health Day, which is happening today on the 10th October and so important for our future.

So let’s take a closer look into Mental Health and World Mental Health Day 2020!

Hello and Welcome to Sweeney’s Blogs!

Read more

Sweeney’s Stuttering Story – The Call

Today’s blog is going to be a little bit different to the usual kind of blog that I write. The blog is going to be focused around a story which happened to me around 4-5 weeks ago, which played a really large role in the increase of the amount that I stutter over the last couple of weeks.

I mentioned in last weeks blog that I was going to talk about it this and, even though it is quite a personal story, I still feel like the messages that we can take from it are very important. It may seem like a very sad story when you read through the first few paragraphs, but there’s always a lesson and a moment of reflection that we can take from moments like this.

So without further ado, this is Sweeney’s Stuttering Story – The Call.

Read more

My Stuttering Episode on the “It Starts with Action” Podcast!

Being a part of a podcast has been something that I have always wanted to do in life, however, due to my Stutter, I always thought that this dream was out of my reach, but now I have proved myself wrong! This week I starred in an episode of the “It Starts with Action” podcast, where I talk about a large array of different things, and is going to be what today’s blog is about!

So without further ado,

Hello and Welcome to Sweeney’s Blogs!

Read more

What do we mean by Success? – Blog 7: Your Family?

The family that we are a part of play a major role in our lives, from the start right through to the end, but can we use our relationship with our family as a determiner of whether or not we are successful in life? It’s a question that quite a lot of people think about at one point or another in life and is what today’s blog in the “What do we mean by Success?” is going to be about!

Read more

Stuttering in Mainstream Media – Blog 11: Series Summary

Hello and Welcome to Sweeney’s Blogs!

Today’s blog is going to be the twelfth blog in the Stuttering in Mainstream Media series and is going to be a summary of the series. I have spent a lot of time over the past few weeks thinking and planning about where I wanted this series to go. At the minute I feel like I have covered everything that I want to for know so today’s blog will be the last blog in this series for a while. In today’s blog, I will be recapping some of the key points I have made over the course of the series and bringing up some important points to remember.

  • There’s more than one kind of Stutter/Stammer!

When talking about stuttering it is crucial to remember that there is more than one type of stutter. Each type of stuttering can be managed differently and each type does have a different effect on the stutterer. If you are familiar with the different types then it will make talking to someone with a stutter so much easier. You will be able to recognise when someone is stuttering and then hopefully will know how to work around it.

If you cannot remember the different types of stutter or want an update you can find them all on our Blogapedia here: https://sweeneysblog.com/blogapedia/. We talk about the main three types of stutter in the First blog in the series!

First Blog: https://sweeneysblog.com/2019/07/01/stuttering-in-mainstream-media-blog-1-an-introduction/

  • A Stutter doesn’t stop you doing anything

When we are thinking about a stutter, one of the most important things to remember is that a stutter doesn’t stop you doing anything. A Stutter may change the way you approach something compared to if you didn’t have a stutter but it doesn’t stop you doing it. Don’t see a stutter as a roadblock, see it as an obstacle that you will feel so good about when you’ve overcome it.

  •  Your surrounding environment can have a large effect on a stutter

When I talk to people who say that their stutter has had a large impact on their life the first thing that we talk about is our surrounding environments. It is something that a lot of people do not really think of when it is a really important variable to consider. A good social group does have a lot of positives to it but one that people don’t think of very often is the effect on a persons stutter. When you are around people who you are comfortable with and who you can be yourself around then you will start to stutter less. The opposite obviously happens if you are in a bad environment. Going through life in a good working environment with a good social group is key to reducing the amount you stutter.

  • Patience is key for talking with/ talking to someone with a stutter

One of the points that I cannot stress enough is about having patience with stutters. When you’re talking to someone with a stutter it is crucial to remember that they are trying to speak. They aren’t messing you around, they are genuinely trying to talk to you. Please don’t finish their sentences for them. People think that finishing a stutterers sentence for them helps, but it just makes them feel so much worse.

If a person stuttering annoys you, I can guarantee that the stutterer themself is more annoyed. Patience is key. Don’t rush someone or bombard them with questions and comments. Relax and let then conversation flow is what I say.

  • You’re not alone

Stuttering doesn’t just affect you. 68 million people in the world have a stutter. It is nothing to be ashamed of. There are a lot of resources out there to help you manage/ get over a stutter. Most of these, unfortunately, will not work but you will eventually find something that helps you control your stutter. I use Rhythmical thinking to manage my stutter which is a technique I found myself. There are a lot of organisations that can help with your stutter too. In last weeks blog, we mentioned the AIS when talking about Bruce Willis’s story. If you haven’t checked them out I highly recommend you do so. They have worked closely with stutterers like Bruce Willis and Samuel .L. Jackson in the past.

If you want to learn more about Rhtymical Thinking click on the following link: https://sweeneysblog.com/2019/02/07/rhythmical-thinking-a-stuttering-solution/.

  • I’m always available

If you have any questions about stuttering or have any stories/ experiences you want to share please get in touch. I always love learning about other peoples stories! Be your own Stutterspiration!

That is all I want to talk about in today’s blog. Thank you all for all the support you have given this series and I hope you’ve enjoyed it. What do you think of the series? Would you like it to come back in the future? Have you learned something new from the series? What do you think about the effects stuttering brings, be it positive or negative? Let me know what you think in the comments or on our Facebook page!

Sweeney’s Blogs

Any money donated here will be put back into the business. This can be through marketing campaigns, upgrades to plans or for setting up future events!

£5.00

James

Stuttering in Mainstream Media – Blog 8: Musharaf Asghar’s Story

Musharaf’s Story is a really interesting story that was brought to life through the Bristish Documentary series, Educating Yorkshire. In this blog, we are going to be looking at what his story is and then we are going to look at the reactions that people had to his story on the TV show Gogglebox.

Hello and Welcome to Sweeney’s Blogs!

Today’s blog is going to be the 9th blog in the Stuttering in Mainstream Media and is going to be about Musharaf Asghar’s story. Musharaf, like most teenagers with a stutter, got bullied a lot through school. This bullying dramatically lowered his self-confidence and worsened his stutter. The story that the show focuses on is how Musharaf is preparing to do his GCSE English Oral exam.

Here is the video of Musharaf’s Story:

Close to the start of the video Musharaf tells us that when he stutters he feels like someone is keeping his mouth closed. I found this quite interesting at first because it is not similar to most of the other definitions that I have heard and made. I think that his form of stuttering is a mix of the effects of bullying on his confidence and the type of stuttering where you just cannot get your words out. I feel like this what Musharaf meant by someone is keeping his mouth shut.

The effects of bullying on someone who stutters do go a lot deeper than most people think. Coming from a background where I have experienced this I feel like I can give a fair view on the matter. If we take it at face value the bullying does obviously have an effect on your self-confidence. This damage to your self-confidence can make you stutter more which makes you feel more nervous about speaking. This creates a mental cycle of being scared to speak in case you stutter and get bullied for it.

The people who are around you when you are being bullied also carry a huge effect on the person stuttering. As more people find out that you have been/ are being bullied for your stuttering then it just makes the anxiety even worse. It gets to a point where even if you are with people you trust you just do not want to talk anymore in fear of being bullied for stuttering. It is a really bad cycle that can be really hard to break.

Close to the start of the video we can also see a coping technique that Musharaf uses to help manage his stutter. When he is answering the question in class he taps out each word that he speaks. I like to think of this as a simplified Rhythmical Thinking approach. Sounding out the words helps you to break down each sentence word by word it can help reduce the number of times you stutter. It is not a permanent fix but it can be very helpful for situations like answering a question in class.

The video also shows us how Mr.Burton tries to help Musharaf with his stutter. He uses a technique that he saw in the King’s Speech which involves speaking when listening to music. This style of stutter solution is a mix of distraction and Rhythmical Thinking. If you want to see more about Rhythmical Thinking you can view the blog here, https://sweeneysblog.com/2019/02/07/rhythmical-thinking-a-stuttering-solution/, but the basic of it is is you think of a beat in your head, speak to it then slowly increase the speed until you get back to speaking at a normal pace.

The Distraction solution is where you distract yourself from thinking about speaking. If we look at this case Musharaf is listening to music. While he is listening to music and reading the poem he hasn’t got time to think about/ worry about stuttering. Although this style of reducing the number of times you stutter may seem basic it does work very well if executed under the right circumstances.

Musharaf does go on to do his presentation very well and he does achieve the grade that he needs to get into college. The story itself is quite a positive one that does make you think of the effect a stutter does have on people. At the end of the video, when Musharaf is doing his speech to the other students, we can see how emotional all of his fellow students are getting. In my opinion, they can see the courage that he has and the determination he has to still speak even with his stutter. It just adds to a comment that I made on a blog a few weeks back, a stutter doesn’t stop you doing anything, the only thing that stops you is yourself.

We’ll now take a brief look at what the Gogglebox reactors thought of Musharaf’s story.

If you watched the video the whole way through you can see how their reactions change. At the start of the video, we can see a few of the reactors getting annoyed at Musharaf when he is struggling to get the words out. Phrases like “spit it out” are thrown about and they are not called for. People do need to start appreciating the effort that some people go to just to say a few words. It would be easy for Musharaf to just not say anything because of his stutter but he still tries, which shows a real judge of character.

Patience is one of the skills that most people do need to work on. I am not trying to have a go at the reactors in this video but I think that it goes to show the cultural “norms” that do need to change. As soon as they find out that Musharaf has a severe stutter they are more than happy to wait for him to speak but if they weren’t told they would continue to be angry at him stuttering. It does give us a look into how people do address people who stutter and how we do need to try and change it for the better.

Closer to the end of the video we do see them appreciate the confidence and determination that Musharaf has. We see them get emotional over him doing his speech and see them really appreciate what he has gone through. The main point of this part of the blog is to say, be patient. You never know of the struggles going on in someone’s mind when they are speaking so take some time to understand.

That’s all I want to talk about in today’s blog! Thank you all for reading! What do you all think? Have you heard Musharaf’s Story? What do you think of speaking while listening to music as a stuttering solution? What techniques do you use/ have you seen to help manage a stutter?

A quick few messages just before finishing today’s blog. Musharaf is now doing talks on his story and about his stutter. Although I haven’t been to one of his talks I have heard that they are very good and very insightful. I highly recommend seeing one if you are interested.

There is also a poll up now on the Facebook group regarding the future of this series. I am not sure whether to keep the series going or whether to put it on pause for a while. Vote in the Facebook poll on what you think should happen to the series!

Thanks again for reading!

Sweeney’s Blogs

Any money donated here will be put back into the business. This can be through marketing campaigns, upgrades to plans or for setting up future events!

£5.00

James

Stuttering in Mainstream Media – Blog 7: Stuttering as a Lifeguard and Swimming Teacher

Growing up people always said to me that I could never be a teacher because of my stutter. I never understood this and I always questioned them saying why would my stutter hold me back? They never had a valid point to make in their answers and it led me to challenge their assumptions. Roll on to now and I have been a Lifeguard and Swimming Teacher for nearly 3 years.

Hello and Welcome to Sweeney’s Blogs!

Today’s blog is going to be the eighth blog in the Stuttering in Mainstream Media and is going to focus on how my stutter has affected me in my jobs as a Lifeguard and a Swimming Teacher. I am the type of person who likes to surpass people expectations. As mentioned above when I was younger people always told me that I couldn’t be a teacher due to my stutter when in reality the only thing holding me back from teaching was myself. Of course, my stutter can make the job harder in some cases but that doesn’t affect my ability as a teacher. That is one of the main points of this blog, don’t let a stutter hold you back in life. A stutter doesn’t stop you from doing things, however, it does alter your journey.

I completed my first lifeguarding course back in June 2016 and got a job as a Lifeguard in my local Swimming Pool around three months after. My position in work is exactly the same as any of the other lifeguards there, my stutter doesn’t change my job, however, it does change the way that I go about some things. In a job such as lifeguarding, there are obviously going to be some minor changes in how each lifeguard does things.

photo of red and white Vodafone inflatable floater

It can be quite hard to explain how stuttering has changed my job as most of the changes that I have discovered are all usually quite small.  The major changes that I find are when it comes to talking to members of the public or other members of staff. I’ve been in my job for around three years now and I love learning new roles like how to work reception and how to teach in different ways. I started to notice the first major changes in my job when I was covering behind reception for a few minutes when I was still new at the pool.

Most of the customers in the pool recognised that I had a stutter if I started stuttering when serving them and they were really patient and polite about it, however, there were some customers who didn’t have the same attitude towards my stutter. It was very rare that a customer was ever rude to me behind the desk however like you have in any job there were one or two. There was one person who came to the desk and because I got stuck stuttering on a few words she started saying phrases like “spit it out” or “hurry up and get on with it”. After they said those phrases I didn’t really know how to react. As I was in work I had to stay professional but I just couldn’t comprehend why this customer was being so rude. Like I said previously nearly all of the customers coming to the pool were great but one or two of them really make you think.

The second major change is when it comes to communicating with members of the public on poolside. As you would expect in our jobs as lifeguards we do have to enforce the pool rules if members of the public are not abiding by them. In some cases when I would talk to them I would start stuttering. Most of the customers again were more than patient with me but it started to make me feel nervous to speak at times.

To my knowledge see there are few if any policies in workplaces when it comes to stuttering. how I see it is that as there is such a massive focus being aimed at mental health and stress management nowadays that we should try and bring some other subjects like stuttering back into focus as well. Stuttering and stress/ mental health do go hand in hand in some cases. Stuttering can lead to massive self-esteem and self-confidence issues in the world of work. The question that I like to ask is why hasn’t anything really been done to help people with a stutter in the world of work?

Being a Swimming teacher can be one of the most rewarding jobs going in my eyes. I love my job as a Swimming Teacher as I get to see swimmers progress from being scared to go into the water to doing 100 meter swims without stopping. Watching people progress through the different levels/stages of swimming is truly a great thing to watch and it is the reason why I used to love teaching so much.

In my experience of teaching, my stutter has never limited my ability to do my job. As you can expect I do sometimes get stuck on the odd word or I may repeat myself a few times but it doesn’t affect my ability as a teacher. When teaching younger children you automatically think that they will notice you stuttering and try and mimic it but out of the few hundred that I taught, I can only remember one or two doing it. Even those one or two kids weren’t even mimicking it maliciously, they just didn’t understand what a stutter was at that point.

One of the only changes that I noticed as a teacher with a stutter was how some of the parents would act to my teaching. There have been a few cases over the past three years where a parent has asked me if I should be allowed to teach as I have a stutter. This is where the main problems with stuttering come into play. Like I mentioned in a previous blog the only thing that stops you when you have a stutter is yourself and to a degree the people surrounding you. There is such an ingrown stigma in modern society about mental health and topics like stuttering that at times it feels like you are fighting a losing battle.

The fact that I stutter does not change my ability to teach. It may alter the way that I do some things but overall the outcome is the same. When I started to plan this blog I was thinking of all the problems that I have faced in my job and the realisation hit me. The problems that I have faced in my job are down to a lack of understanding of what a stutter is from a third party. I could list all of the issues that I have faced teaching and lifeguarding with a stutter but they all come down to this same link.

Most people do not think about the effect a stutter has on people because it is so rarely brought up in the media and in conversations. Stuttering, in my opinion, doesn’t get the credit it deserves as living with a stutter can be really tough. If you spend just 5-10 minutes talking to a person who has a stutter about their stutter it would start to make more sense. The stigma around a stutter can be linked in some way to the stigma in mental health. They both stem from a lack of understanding and just as mental health is changing now the focus has been put on it, stuttering could do with the same focus.

That’s all I want to talk about in today’s blog. I hope you all enjoy the blog and have a great day! Let me know what you think of it in the comments or on our Facebook page!

Thanks for reading,

Sweeney’s Blogs

Any money donated here will be put back into the business. This can be through marketing campaigns, upgrades to plans or for setting up future events!

£5.00

James

There’s always someone you can talk to!

Loneliness and isolation are two of the most dangerous aspects of Mental Health. When people suffer from Mental Health issues they often feel like they are weak and that no one would understand or even listen to them. However, this is not the case in reality. There are of course a lot of bad people in the world but it is crucial to remember that there is always someone around who you can talk too. That is what we are going to be talking about in today’s blog!

Hello and Welcome to Sweeney’s Blogs!

Today’s blog is going to be about how there is always someone around who you can talk to. As mentioned above loneliness and isolation can be two of the most dangerous sides of Mental Health if not handled properly, which they are often not, and it is something that we need to take a closer look at. We as a community and society, in general, need to come to accept that there is someone who will listen to you out there, sometimes you may just have to wait a little bit to find that person/ those people.

Before I get into who I talk to about my problems it is important to understand the scale of people who can help us. If you want to talk about something you can always go to family and friends but also other role models who you might not usually think of, like teachers in school. The bottom line is that it doesn’t really matter who you actually talk to, it is the talking that is the important part.

It is very common in life that people will change and friends do sometimes part ways. It is just the way things go sometimes but it is important to still talk about your problems with someone. We often tend to focus on the more negative side saying how there are so many negative people in the world these days but there are still good people around, you just need to look for them.

I am going to do a blog in the near future about building a positive network of friends and colleagues but it still very important to this blog. If you surround yourself with people that you don’t trust and people that always bring negativity to your life then how are you going to be able to talk through your problems? The social network that we build is in our hands, surround yourself with good people, not bad people.

Personally, I tell all of my friends that if they ever need to talk to just chuck me a message but that’s down to the sort of person I am. People seem to forget how easy it is to ask someone how they’re doing, it literally takes 2 minutes and can make someone’s day. I’m not saying that you have to have a fully-fledged conversation which each person you pass in the streets but saying hello is really easy.

At the minute for me, there are two people that I talk about my problems with. One of them is my mate Aodan who I have known for around five years and the other is a mate of mine who I met at Reading University this year. An important thing here is that I haven’t known these two mates all of my life but I do still trust them with my problems. Time is not really a problem when it comes down to friends unless you make it one. If you trust someone enough to be friends with them then should you trust them enough to talk things through with? Personally, I say yes but I would like to know what you think!

As mentioned earlier in the blog surrounding yourself with a good group of friends is a great way to help you when it comes to speaking about your problems with mates. An important thing to talk about here is even though I don’t speak to Aodan or my mate from uni every day, I know that they are there if I ever need to talk something through, which is the important part.

Diving in a bit further here, we’ll take a closer look at my mate from university. I met him once in Freshers and barely spoke to him again until the end of the year. But what I know is that if I have a problem then I can message him and vice versa. The amount of times you speak to a person is only really an issue if you make it one. Like I have said a few times in this blog, surround yourself with good people and you are giving yourself the best headstart possible. You should be happy with the friends you have, not embarrassed or ashamed, that is what people need to remember.

That is all I want to talk about in today’s blog! Talking your problems through with people you trust is a valuable asset in life. Be them friends or family talking problems through makes them easier to solve. Having people yuo can trust in life like two of the people I mentioned above, is a massive aid to you. Remeber you cannot expect someone to be there for you if you are not there for them too, it’s a two way street.

One quick thing that I wanted to mention before finishing this blog is how I work when it comes to using names and personal experiences in my blogs. If I ever use a friends name then I will always ask permission first. If they don’t agree to me using their names then their names will not appear in the blog. I always ask first.

What do you all think of today’s blog? Do you think a good friendship group helps you out in life? What else can a good group of friends do for you? LEt me know what you think about these questions or any other questions or thoughts you have about my blogs dwon below or on our Facebook page!

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a great weekend!

Sweeney’s Blogs

Any money donated here will be put back into the business. This can be through marketing campaigns, upgrades to plans or for setting up future events!

£5.00

James

Stuttering in Mainstream Media – Blog 4: Being Picked on by a Teacher

Stuttering affects lots of different people in lots of different ways. One of the main factors to think of when it comes to stuttering is how people react to you. Teachers in school are there to support and mentor you so how do you react when one of them makes fun of your stutter? This is something that I have gone through and I will discuss it further in this blog.

Hello and Welcome to Sweeney’s Blogs!

Today’s blog is going to be the fourth blog in my Stuttering in Mainstream Media series and is going to focus on when I was picked on by a teacher in school for stuttering. I loved school and learning when I was younger and even though I encourage everyone to look at the positives all the time there are times when you need to look at the negatives to learn and develop from them. This blog is going to look at how a teacher picked on my stutter, how I reacted at the time and what we can learn from it.

The incident itself happened when I was in year 8 back in Secondary School. Me and my classmates in 8f were in a History lesson at the time. F was one of the top sets in the year. The class was close to the start of the year and our teacher asked us what we think we should learn about this year. Most of the class asked if we would learn about World War 2 or about Slavery and I would just sit and listen. I used to feel quite scared about speaking up in class due to my stutter but I finally thought I would give speaking a go.

I had been a big fan of reading encyclopaedias and history books at the time and had starting learning a lot about Oliver Cromwell. I had read all the books I had on him and didn’t understand the formal articles that were published online. I was really interested in his story however so decided to try and ask our teacher if we would be learning about him. Before I go further into the story I am not going to be mentioning the teachers name in theis blog as that is not the point of the blog, the point of the blog is to learn from my experience and how it affected me, it is not meant as an attack to the teacher in question.

I raised my hand and the teacher said my name. I started off asking the question, “Miss, do we get the chance to learn” when I just couldn’t get anymore words out. When I finally  got the confidence to carry on every word I said was full of stutters, “abbbooout Oliver Cccrrrom Cromwell this year?” The question itself was easy to understand even though I stuttered a number of times. Instead of answering the question though the teacher decided to stop, make everyone quiet and then turned to speak to me.

She looked at me and said ” Jjjjames ssspeak prop-er-ly.” I just sat there staring at her in pure shock. I didn’t know how to react or what to do at the time. School was a place where I felt safe growing up and it is somewhere that I really enjoyed to be in. I couldn’t understand why someone in her position would make fun of me in front of the whole class. The rest of the class went completely silent too, no one knowing what to say or how to react.

This lesson was the very first lesson of the day. I didn’t speak again until lunchtime that day, around 4 hours after the lesson happened. No one really noticed that I wasn’t speaking until we all went out to get lunch. I was with my mates on the yard when a boy from my class comes over and starts telling everyone about what happened in History. I didn’t say a word when he was telling the story, I just listened and stared in the distance. When he finished the story everyone just turned and looked at me.

I did not know what to do when the boy was telling the story. I did not know how I should have felt, what I should have done, who I should have spoken to, etc. it is why I just stared into the distance, I was lost. After the boy finished telling the story all of my friends looked the same. Some spoke to me like they felt sorry for me, one or two seemed like they had genuine empathy for me and then the rest just didn’t react, they just stood there thinking.

It was when two of my good friends, Zac and Dylan, found out that action was taken. Zac and Dylan had been my friends all the way through Primary and Secondary school. They understood the affect that my stutter had on me and that making fun of it or joking about it was not okay. As soon as they found out what happened they came over to see if I was alright and if there was anything they could do.

Aftr speaking to me they went to see our Head of Year to make a complaint against the teacher, something I didn’t know they were going to do at the time. If Zac and Dylan take action there and then then I do not think that anything would have been done about it and I feel like I wouldn’t have gotten over this incident. In their own rights they can be classed as stutterspirations as they took action to help me, a person with a stutter out, when no one asked them too, they simply did it off their own backs. Even though they may not know it but they did a great thing that went a long way to helping me control my stutter.

See the source image

As lunchtime break ended on that day everyone went back inside ready for afternoon registration. As I was walking back towards my class my Head of Year called me into her office. She informed me that Zac and Dylan came to her with a complaint against my history teacher and they told her what happened. She sat me down and asked me to go through my side of the story.

I took a set in her office and slowly explained everything that happened from the start of the day up to now and how it made me feel. She sat there listening making notes on a notepad. I stopped a few times when telling the story due to stuttering or when I would get a bit emotional going through it. It was at this point that the reality of what actually happened dawned on me.

After we finished discussing what happened she asked if I wanted to go home or if I wanted to stay in school. I said that I want to stay in school as there is only one lesson left in the day and  do not want to fall behind on work. She then asked me if I want to make a complaint against the teacher or if I want to swap classes to be taught by a different history. I thanked her for both offers but refused them both. I would stay in the class, to prove to myself that I was strong enough and that I couldn’t be broken by one person.

It took me a while to get back to normal after that day. It took me around two to three days to start answering questions in class again and then around a week or so to start asking questions again. I was lucky that I was a fast learner at the time and that I understood the topics we were studying as I am the type of person that usually has a lot of questions about the work we are doing.

I decided against telling my parents what happened at first. I cannot remember exactly why i decided not to tell them but I think that I thought that if no one spoke about it then it would be forgotten about and then I could move on in some way. They eventually found out through a friend of mines mum at a football game on the following Saturday and then I filled them in on everything that had happened.

soccer ball

My mother decided to write a letter to the school voicing her concerns over the matter and then went in to have a meeting with the headmaster. During the following tutorial session on Monday morning I was called out of my class to go to the headmasters office. When I got there he asked me to sit down and tell him what happened from start to finish so I did. As I was talking through what happened he was just sitting there listening, nodding, trying to understand what happened and how to handle it.

After I had told him everything he got a fellow student to go and get the teacher from her class. When she came into his office, I started shaking, dreading what was going to happen next. He then asked me to repeat everything that I had just told him in front of the teacher. I started telling the story again, looking at her reaction every so often to she how she would react. As soon as I finished the story I closed my eyes for a few seconds to stop myself from breaking down and then turned to see what was going to happen.

Our headteacher made the teacher apologise to me and then he asked her to go back to her class. After she left the room he asked me if I was alright and if I wanted to go home. i said that I would stay in school thank you but I just need a few minutes to pick myself back up and then I would be find to go back to lessons. He nodded and agreed and told me that if I felt like I needed to leave any class for a few minutes then it would be more than fine and he would inform my other teachers on what had happened.

That is the story of how a teacher picked on me in front of the whole class back in Secondary school. I have never told the story to anyone since leaving school so it was quite nice to finally air it out and explain what actually happened. We can learn quite a lot from the story, even though it seems very negative and bleak there are a few interesting lessons we can take from it.

Firstly speaking out is very important. I was too scared to speak out about what happned at first but was very lucky that my good friends Zac and Dylan were there to do it for me. Speaking out takes a lot of courage but it is the only way that change will ever happen. We can’t just sit around and wait for change to happen, if we think something is wrong we have t speak up and try and make a change for the better. Speaking out seems like a very basic and easy thing but it can be one of the hardest things you can do. People usually don’t understand things unless you explain it to them.

Taking action is very important. Always try and take action yourself and if you see someone in trouble then try to help them out. Be the person that Zac and Dylan were for me. They saw that I was struggling and they stepped in. Always try your best to help people out, you never know they might return the favour in the future.

Secondly you can always pick yourself back up. After the teacher made fun of me I thought that I would never be able to speak in front of people again. It shook me to my core that someone in a position such as a teacher would pick on me in front of my whole class. It took me a while to understand that if I didn’t speak in class again then the only person it would impact on would be myself and I couldn’t let myself down because of someone else’s mistake.

That is all I want to talk about in today’s blog! I know today’s blog was a bit longer than what I usually do but I think it is important to go through the story and talk about how it affected me and how you can pick yourself back up again after someone knocks you down. What do you all think? Did you enjoy reading today’s blog? Have you got any stuttering stories you want to share? What do you think of what the teacher did? How would you react if it happened to you? Let me know your answers to the questions and any other thoughts you had on the blog in the comments or get in touch with me through the Sweeney’s Blogs Facebook page.

Thanks for reading and I hope you all enjoyed! Remember keep Highlighting the I in Difference!

Sweeney’s Blogs

Any money donated here will be put back into the business. This can be through marketing campaigns, upgrades to plans or for setting up future events!

£5.00

James

Looking into Male Mental Health – Blog 11: Getting back up again

Hello and Welcome to Sweeney’s Blogs!

Today’s blog is the 11th blog in the Looking into Male Mental Health series and is going to be about getting back up again. This is going to be the last blog in the series for a short while as I am putting the series on hold for a while to work on a series about Stuttering in Mainstream Media. I think that if I put the series on hold for a few weeks then when I bring it back it will seem fresher and I will have more time to plan the ideas out and give the blogs the attention and focus that they deserve.

Getting back up again is a short phrase that seems really easy to do, however, it is not always easy. I find that the two hardest parts about getting over a mental health problem are firstly accepting you have it and then discovering how you can pick yourself back up again. It can be easier than it seems, we can make an impossible task seem easy to solve simply by thinking about it in a different way.

I have touched on the prospect of putting yourself back together in a few blogs in this series, especially in my Rebuilding the Jigsaw blog. In this blog, https://sweeneysblog.com/2019/05/21/looking-into-male-mental-health-blog-6-rebuilding-the-jigsaw/, I go into depth about how there is always a way to put yourself back together but I feel like I can expand on it a little better in this blog.

Picking yourself back up is a task that I struggled a lot with when I went through a poor Mental Health phase. When I was in the mindset everything seemed so pointless and I couldn’t really see a way out. This mindset is a very dangerous one to be in as I was constantly thinking negatively, hence everything else that happened in my life was perceived in a more negative light to how it would usually be.

I can remember the days when I thought that I would never break through my problems and I used to think that they would consume me. What makes the matter worse is that in my head I was ashamed at myself for not having the strength or willpower to fix the mess that I had put myself in. This all ties back to what I was talking about when I mentioned your mindset earlier on.

My mindset at this time was very negative. The way that I approached life was all doom and gloom and in doing that I simply created more problems for myself. I eventually learnt to understand the fact that if I did not change my mindset then I would eventually break. After finally learning that I needed to change how I thought about things a new thought came to me, how does someone change their mindset?

This question had me stumped for a good number of weeks until I finally worked out what I was going to do. I first started to reduce my hours in work so that I had more time to do university work and time to relax. After this, I created a basic timetable, nothing too specific but a basic guide to what I should be doing every day.

From this point then I began to prioritise the work that I had to do off the volume and the due date. As I started to do this I could see that I had enough time to complete all of my work as long as I keep a cool head and relax. Even simply getting my university work back on track started to make me feel so much better about myself. After I had finished all the work then I used to schedule in extra time to fix any other problems that I was facing. This gave me the opportunity to simply think about university work when I was doing work and then think of how to solve my other problems when I had spare time.

Cutting down on unnecessary work hours and scheduling my time better made the world of difference when it came to changing my mindset. they allowed me to relax and to get myself out of the cycle of panic that I was constantly living in. This was one way that I found to get back up again, to keep on going.

There are a million different ways to get back up again, usually, it comes down to the person. As I say in the majority of these blogs and especially in the Jigsaw one mentioned above, all of these blogs come down to interpretation. If you use a different way to get yourself through a rough time and get back up again then that is just as valid as my way. Out of curiosity if you do use a different way to pick yourself back up then let me know in the comments below. The phrases getting back up and picking up the pieces/picking yourself up all mean the same thing. They are simply the words for when you rebuild yourself/ when you find a way to piece yourself back together again.

That is all I want to talk about in today’s blog, thank you all so much for reading! What do you all think of today’s blog? How do you pick yourself up? Do you always use the same way or does it depend on the situation? Leave your answers in the comments!

As mentioned at the start of this blog, the series will be going on hold for a little while. Even though I do still really enjoy writing the blogs for the series I feel like I need some more time to properly plan out where the series is going and how I am going to write the blogs for it. A new series called Stuttering in Mainstream Media will be replacing the usual spot where this series is until i can bring the series back again. I hope you all enjoy the series and keep reading the blogs!

Thanks again for reading. Let me know what you think – I appreciate all feedbcak be it positive or negative!

Sweeney’s Blogs

Any money donated here will be put back into the business. This can be through marketing campaigns, upgrades to plans or for setting up future events!

£5.00

James

Looking into Male Mental Health – Blog 10: The Brave Face

Hello and Welcome to Sweeney’s Blogs!

Today’s blog is going to be the tenth blog in the Looking into Male Mental Health series and is going to be about The Brave Face. Putting on a brave face is a phrase that is commonly used in day to day life. In this blog, we are going to be taking a deeper look into this phrase and then taking a look at the real world implications that it can have.

The term “Put on a brave face” can have several different meanings. The Free Dictionary, https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/put+on+a+brave+face, defines it as “to appear or make oneself seem more courageous, resolute or dauntless than one really feels”. I quite like this definition as it is easy to interpret and I believe that it defines the phrase quite well. I do have my own definition for the phrase which I think puts it in a more relatable light h however.

I like to define “put on a brave face” as a mask that we use to hide our real feelings. Even though this definition may seem very similar to the one written by The Free Dictionary, I feel like my definition encompasses a larger demographic. Like most pieces of work, however, it is all down to your personal preference. A lot of the blogs that I write do come down to personal interpretation. If you prefer a different definition to the two that I have written here that is completely fine, the points remain the same throughout the definitions, it is just the wording that changes.

When relating this to the world in general there are lots of different avenues you can take. You can apply this term to current world problems, politics, relationships or simply too personal life. The most common adaption of this phrase is when it is used in a personal way. It is very common that people put on a brave face when dealing with Mental Health problems.

It is very common for people or even society, in general, to turn a blind eye to problems like Mental Health simply due to lack of understanding or situational awareness. People often hide their problems and hope that they will go away with time. This style of coping does simply lead to an increase in the number of problems with no solution being found as your head is buried in the sand.

Unfortunately, people nowadays do actively try to avoid solving their problems. This can be caused by a number of different causes. Some of the problems that cause people to avoid solving their problems include lack of time available, fear of not being able to solve the problem, lack of resources available to fix the problem and many more. When people do put on a brave phrase it can often lead to an increase in the number of problems they face. This then triggers the Rollercoaster Effect that I mentioned in the fifth blog of this series, https://sweeneysblog.com/2019/05/14/looking-into-male-mental-health-blog-5-the-rollercoaster-theory/.

We are now going to take a brief look into how this phrase can directly link back to Male Mental health specifically.  Put on a brave face can easily be linked to Male Mental Health. Although I do bring it up a lot in this series I think that a large proportion of that can be linked back to male stereotypes that have been created by society. Men are painted as people who do not need to share their problems, they are meant to be people who solve everyone else’s problems including their own. These stereotypes do much more harm than good.

It is very easy to think to yourself that if you leave a problem for long enough then it will fix itself, this, however, is not the case. It takes a lot of courage to admit that you have a problem or to admit that you need help but when you do it can make life so much better. Trying to find help for your problems is an entity that is undervalued in modern day society. Sourcing help for your problems is almost like you are breaking the mask that you put on when you put on a brave face. Breaking the cycle is paramount to breaking the cycle and is the start of solving Mental Health problems.

That is all I want to talk about in today’s blog! What do you all think? Do you put on a brave face? Does it have a positive or negative effect on your life? How can we break the cycle of putting on a brave face? How do you think putting on a brave face relates to mental health? Let me know what you think in the comments!

Thank you all for reading! Let me know what you think! All feedback is appreciated – be it positive or negative! If you have a minute or two spare please leave a rating and review on our Facebook Page! I am thinking of launching a new advertising campaign soon, let me know what you think I should do!

Sweeney’s Blogs

Any money donated here will be put back into the business. This can be through marketing campaigns, upgrades to plans or for setting up future events!

£5.00

James

Looking into Male Mental Health – Blog 9: Personal Experience 2

Hello and Welcome to Sweeney’s Blogs!

Today’s blog is going to be about one of my personal experiences when it comes to Male Mental Health. The aim of these personal experience blogs is to show that even when you are at rock bottom there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. I myself have gone through a number of problems when it comes to mental health and I believe that by mixing facts and personal experience help present a balanced picture on what mental health really is and how it affects us all.

The self-hate/doubt mechanism is a coping technique that I first started using when I used to get bullied a lot in school. The technique itself is a very poor one that only went on to make me feel worse about myself as you will see when I go into how the technique itself works. It is a coping technique that I used when I was desperate and it is a very bad way to go about life. If anyone reading this blog does do this to themselves then I would urge them to seek help. Even talking through your problems with a person you trust is a much better form of release rather than getting trapped in a cycle of self-hatred.

The main principle for the self-hate cycle that I created was simple. I would constantly put myself down and degrade myself before others had the chance too. Even though it didn’t make me feel better in my head at the time I was just thinking that it would be easier if I put myself down, instead of someone doing it for me. This cycle was my way of not letting others hurt me, I would break myself instead of giving someone else the chance too.

Once you put yourself in this cycle it is very hard to break after you start using it. The cycle tends to get more and more aggressive to the point where you cross-examine and doubt every action you take. It is an extremely dangerous cycle which is why I wanted to talk about it. If you know anyone who is currently, unfortunately, using this coping technique or if you use it yourself then it is key that you break the cycle. I fully comprehend that this is easy to say and to actually break the chain requires a lot more work but if the cycle isn’t broken or at least reduced then you will sadly end up in a very dark place mentally.

As I mentioned in a lot of my previous blogs Mental Health is a very complicated topic. It is very very rare that the problems people face stem from one source, it is often a mixture of several sources/problems all at once. This is where the self-hate cycle becomes even more dangerous. If you adopt this technique as a form of coping when you are already experiencing problems then it starts to become too much to handle.

The phrase that I quite like to talk about is balancing the books, and it becomes ever the more paramount here. Learning to find a way of releasing can be vital when it comes to breaking the cycle of self-hate. I can’t say one way that works for everyone as there is no one way. You need to find your release and only then will you be able to even attempt to break the cycle.

I have been experiencing the self-hate cycle for a number of years. It took me a long while to recognise what it actually is and then even longer to figure out how to manage it. To put it simply it is very very hard to completely break the cycle, however, it is manageable. Learning the manage to technique to a point where you almost never feel it is vital when it comes to beating it.

That is all I want to talk about in today’s blog! Thank you all for reading! What do you all think? Have you ever experienced the self-hate cycle? How did you overcome it? What do you think leads a person to pick up the cycle? Do we need to learn how to identify when someone is suffering from this management technique?

Thank you all for reading! Let me know what you think via the comments or on the Facebook page! We are nearly at 2,000 total views, great work everyone!

Sweeney’s Blogs

Any money donated here will be put back into the business. This can be through marketing campaigns, upgrades to plans or for setting up future events!

£5.00

James

Valleys, Mountains and the Land in between

Hello and Welcome to Sweeney’s Blogs!

Today’s blog is going to be about an old phrase that I read in a Welsh book when I was younger. The phrase translates into English as The Valleys, The Mountains and The Land in between. I cannot remember the name of the book that the phrase was used in but I want to take a deeper look into how the phrase can relate to life in general.

I believe that this phrase has a lot of connections to life in general and think that if we can truly understand it then it can help us find peace in our daily lives. My take on the phrase is simple, I think that the phrase relates to how we live our lives. When we are having a good day then it can feel like we’re on top of the world (or a mountain?) and then when we have bad days it can feel like our mood has slumped, like we’ve gone down a valley.

river near mountains

The phrase helps portray life in a very positive way, which is crucial in modern day society. The way that I understand the phrase is that as the world has it’s mountains and valleys, we can have good and bad days. It makes the whole prospect of having different moods seem like it is part of nature, not a thing for us to worry about, a thing for us to accept.

I really like this phrase as when you are having a bad day, or at the bottom of a valley in this phrase, you know that your mood can become lighter and increase until you feel good about yourself and about life in general.

Now the one part of this phrase that I haven’t talked about yet is the land in between part. I interpret this as when you are feeling calm and relaxed, you’re not exactly super positive or happy but you are content. I think it is when you are feeling neutral and ok with life like you are the land in between a mountain and a valley.

That is all I want to talk about in today’s blog! I do have some smaller things to say before the post is finished however but these act more like announcements rather than part of the blog. Firstly I would like to apologise for the blog being later today than it usually is. This week has been my last week of exams at university and I had two really big exams to prepare for. Due to the time needed to prepare for my exams, I have not had the time to write a post as long as I usually do.

Also, I think it’s a good time to update everyone on how the blogs doing. If you are following the Facebook page for the blogs then you will be familiar with the fact that we are smashing through the milestones I set for the age initially. I am very pleased to announce that we are nearly at 2,000 total views. This is a massive milestone for the page as we have only been going for around 4/5 months! After we pass this milestone I’m aiming to hit as close to 5,000 total views by the end of the year as I can!

thanks! paper and black pen on wood surface

The last point that I want to bring up in this post is about promoting the page. I am aiming to launch another set of Facebook ads soon to try and get more people to the page. I am wondering if everyone who is reading this can possibly share the page on Facebook?

Sharing the page helps the page find new viewers who might really relate to the content. There are a few ways you can share the page. You can either do it via the page on Facebook or you can hit the share button at the end of this or any other of my blogs posts.

Thanks for reading today’s blog and I hope you all enjoyed! If you have a minute or two spare please leave a rating and a recommendation on the page! Hope you all have a great weekend!

Sweeney’s Blogs

Any money donated here will be put back into the business. This can be through marketing campaigns, upgrades to plans or for setting up future events!

£5.00

James Sweeney