Time to Talk Day 2021

Today, February 4th, is Time to Talk Day 2021!! This is one of the most important days of the year in the Mental Health calendar, and is an event which lies very closely to my heart. Time to Talk Day is a social movement which continues to work to change the way in which we think and act surrounding our Mental Health & Wellbeing.

Let’s take a bit of a deeper look into Time to Talk Day and my hopes for it in today’s blog!

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Sweeney’s Stuttering Series?

I have written quite a lot of blog series here on Sweeney’s Blogs, and as I haven’t done one for a couple of weeks now, I was thinking, should they make a return? I have been considering bringing blog series back to the page for some time, so what I thought I would do over the next couple of blogs is to talk through some of my ideas for potential series, and see if anybody is interested in them!

Today’s blog is going to be about my potentially new Stuttering Series.

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Happy 22nd Birthday to Me!

On Thursday 14th January 2021, I turned 22 years old! I was simply amazed at how many kind messages and birthday wishes that got sent through to me on Thursday, so I thought I’d write a blog to say a massive thank you to each and every one of you! We are living in very uncertain times at the moment, and it’s things like this that fill me with hope for what’s to come in the future!

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My Stuttering Journey through 2020

2020 was a massive year for me, and yet, despite all of the highs and lows experienced in those 12 months, one of my key takeaways from the year would be the lessons that I learned throughout my 2020 Stuttering Journey. My Stutter has played a very large role in all of my life, I wouldn’t ever say that wasn’t the case, but 2020 seemed to be a year in which everything that happened, seemed to link back to that topic, my Speech and my Self-Confidence.

This is what we’ll be looking at in today’s blog!

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2020, What a Year for Sweeney’s Blogs!

2020 has finally come to a close, words that some people thought they would never hear. The year has been beyond anyone’s predictions, with numerous highs and lows dotted throughout the past 12 months. Over the course of 2020, Sweeney’s Blogs grew at a rate faster than I could ever have imagined, more than doubling our views from 2019. That’s what we are going to be looking at in this blog, how Sweeney’s Blogs did this year!

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My Hopes for “My Beautiful Stutter”

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed during my lunch hour earlier on this week and a trailer for a film called “My Beautiful Stutter” showed up on my suggested posts. Up to know, I hadn’t heard of many films that were made to address the issue of Stuttering, apart from the odd exception such as The King’s Speech, or The Waterboy, so it is safe to safe that I was very intrigued on how they were going to go about doing it.

I have not been able to actually watch the film itself yet, but in today’s blog we are going to look at some of my hopes and aspirations as to what this film can do for the Stuttering Community and for the stigma that surrounds Stuttering as a whole.

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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!

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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:

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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!

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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.

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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,

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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!

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Stuttering in Mainstream Media – Blog 11: Series Summary

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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