Looking into Male Mental Health – Blog 4: Personal Experience 1

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!

Sweeney’s Blogs

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James

Being Different: Blog 5 – Summary of the Series

Hello and Welcome to Sweeney’s Blogs!

This week’s blog is going to be the final blog in the Being Different series. This blog is going to be a recap of the series and is going to highlight why being different is a good thing and how a diverse set of friends and colleagues can be a great asset for you in life. I did originally plan to make this series longer, however, after careful consideration and planning, I have decided to finish it for now.

The Being Different series has focused on the positives of being different. I first started off by talking about what the word different means. I used the Oxford dictionary definition and then provided my own for comparison. My definition focuses on how being different is simply being yourself. How each person is different and that in itself is a good thing, not a bad thing.

I have talked about how having a diverse group of friends can lead to a person becoming: more multicultural, more open and more accepting of other people. The ability to understand different cultures is a great way to broaden your horizons and change the way in which you see the world. Learning about different holidays and traditions is an excellent way to see how people in different parts of the world with different religions and beliefs to you live.

The fourth blog in the series, The Changing Mirror, focuses on how a person’s mindset and view of things can change over time and how as we learn more things, the way we think of things changes. As we progress through life and encounter more of life’s obstacles, we grow as people and the way in which we think of certain things matures.

The size of the obstacles that we encounter can vary dramatically, the effect of the obstacles changes dependent on the person affected. The way in which a person deals with a problem or an obstacle is the leading factor in how a persons mindset and view of things can change.

Thank you for reading the Being Different series! As mentioned at the beginning of this blog, I was originally planning to take the series a little bit further. As I was planning on how to extend the series and write more blogs, I found that the ideas I had can be series in their own merit or ideas that touched on more sensitive issues that I want to discuss in later blogs. The good thing about this series is that it can be brought back at a later date however, for now, it is coming to an end.

Than you for reading this week’s blog! What do you all think? Has everyone enjoyed the series? Are there any comments you want to make, positive or negative? Do you think being different is a good thing? Let me know what you all think either by contacting me through the contact page on this website or via our Facebook page Sweeney’s Blogs.

James

Being Different: Blog 3 – The Positive Approach

Hello and Welcome to Sweeney’s Blogs!

This week’s blog is going to be taken a more positive view to the Being Different series. I am hoping to lighten the mood of my blogs in the next few weeks as they have been quite emotional as of late. This blog is going to talk about how being different is good and how it be a fun thing.

Being a part of a group full of different people can be a very good asset to have. Mixing with people who come from different countries, backgrounds and social groups can be a great way to broaden your horizons of life. Having the chance to experience a new way of life is a luxury that is often overlooked. We get the chance to learn about so many different cultures and beliefs, make the most of it!

The difference between one person and another is what makes friendships fun and interesting, if everyone were the same then things would get boring very quickly. Having other different people in your social group can help you think of ways to do things you otherwise wouldn’t have thought of. This can be adapted into a decision about what to do on a specific day to how to solve a complicated problem.

When I meet new people, I am always very interested in where they have come from. That does not specifically mean what country they have come from; it means where they have been brought up, the experiences with life they have, the qualifications they have, etc. I always try and learn as much about a person as I can without being intrusive. The way that I have been brought up is that to fully understand someone you have to understand the way they think, the way they do things.

I have been brought up in a community where everyone is valued based on their own assets. People are judged but in a positive way. The way that I have been raised is to say hello to people when I walk past them on the streets, to help people when they need help, to listen to people when they need someone. These skills are what can sometimes make me different. Different but in a good way.

It’s the differences that we all have that make us who we are. They are the stories that we tell, the experiences that we experience. The life that we live should be dictated by no one else but yourself. If we communicate and interact with people who we like, then day to day life can never get boring or dull. If you are with the right group, then any problems you have can be resolved somehow.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this week’s blog! I’m currently looking for other people’s views on some questions. Do you think having friends from different backgrounds is a good thing? Do you think being multicultural is a good thing? What skills do you have that make you, you?

As always, all feedback is appreciated, if anyone has any questions or queries please message me. If you want to answer any of the questions above, then please send me an email using the contact me form on the next page.

James Sweeney

Being Different: Blog 2 – What does being different really mean?

Hello and Welcome to the 2nd blog in the Being Different Series!

This week’s blog is going to talk about what it means to be different and how you can perceive what being different really means. The Oxford Dictionary defines different as being ” not the same as another or each other; unlike in nature, form or quality”. This definition and in general the term different can often be perceived as a negative asset to have however it is all based off perception.

I have a long experience in being called different and odd throughout my life. When I first got called it I took it as an insult but after hearing it over and over again I began to take a new twist on it. There’s an old line that states “If everyone in the world was the same then the World would be a very boring place”. This phrase is very very true. We are all different but it is what makes life interesting. Meeting people from different backgrounds, religions, countries, it is something that I have always loved doing and is something that we should all try and do.

Being different does not define as “being wrong”. Simply being different from another person does not make you less interesting or less valuable as a person. That is the point that matters. At the start of this blogI gave the Oxford Dictionary’s definition of different/difference but now I want to do something a little different, I want to give my own definition to what I see as the meaning of being different.

Being different is being you. It is not simply complying to societies version of normality, it is being an individual, being yourself. If you spend all of your time trying to fit on and blend in with others then you will eventually lose yourself and is it really worth it? Is it worth losing your morals and beliefs simply to avoid confrontation or isolation? That is a point that I want everyone to think about. When walking in life do you walk your own path or do you simply follow the same old path that everyone follows?

The vision that I always used to have about difference was the old Shepherd or Sheep analogy. While this analogy can be good at face value, looking into it there are so many factors. The question that I hear people ask, especially to younger people is are you a follower or are you a leader? In essence this is the same question as the Shepherd and Sheep question and is one that we really need to think of before asking.

Simply categorizing people under two categories does not fit for everyone. Some people may like to lead some things but take advice and follow guidance for others. Does this mean that the are half sheep and half shepherd? As funny as that may look it simply does not work in the grand scheme of things. There are over 7.53 billion people in the world and everyone is different.

Granted some people may have similar traits and interests but that does not make them the same person. We each do different things, feel different, think different, act different, we are different. The real question is do you see difference as a bad thing or an opportunity to broaden your horizons? It is an interesting question which poses a lot of food for thought.

Remember Being Different does not mean “Being Wrong” it means “Being You”.

Thanks for reading this weeks blog in the Being Different series. I hope you all enjoyed this week’s blog. If anyone has any feedback, comments, questions or queries about this blog or indeed any of my blogs then please send a message through the contact form on the next page or on our Facebook page.

James Sweeney

Being Different: Blog 1 – An Introduction

Hello and Welcome to Sweeney’s Blogs!

This is the first blog in the new Being Different series! This series is going to be taking a look at what Being Different really means, the impact that it can have on your life and the general importance of being different in life. Throughout the series we are going to try and change peoples views to show that being different is what makes us who we are, if we were all the same then life would get boring very quickly!

The Being Different series is going to focus on the more positive approach of being different. When I was younger and first heard words such as odd and weird I used to think about them as insults and I use to take offence by them but now, under a more positive mindset and thought process, I appreciate the words as they mean that I am me, I am different and I am doing justice to myself.

The old adage of is it better to be a Leader or a Follower is a question that I always here getting asked to people. It is one of the questions we are going to look at in the second blog in the series when we take a look at what being different really means and how the definition we may have had before may be an old fashioned view which just needs a modern update to it.

That’s all I want to talk about in today’s blog! I hope you all are looking forward to reading all of the blogs in this new Being Different series! As always feedback is always appreciated. Let me know what you think of this series or any other that I have done. If you do have any questions or queries, then please message me and I will do my best to answer them.

Thanks,

James