Lad With Rare Brain Disorder Uses Extreme Fitness To Inspire Thousands To Achieve Their Goals

James Sutliff was just an ordinary lad who enjoyed a nice gin and tonic on a night out with his mates. That was until everything changed seven years ago, when his life took a sudden, unexpected turn.

After a normal outing on the town with his friends, James returned home, went to bed, and slept without interruptions.

When he awoke the next day, he started to feel a little unwell.

"I put this down to a hangover," James told TheLADbible. "I took a small nap, to wake up to something that changed my life in an instant."

James had found that his speech was badly distorted and slurred - but thinking it'd pass, he carried on as he normally would, focusing on his job as a plumber.

But a couple of days later, the problem worsened, and he was rushed to the hospital, where he was admitted straight away.

"I underwent test after test - to the doctor's confusion. On paper, I was a healthy 24-year-old man. Doctors were baffled by what had happened to me and could not finger-point the cause or diagnosis."

James later discharged himself and was put under the care of a neurological specialist, who he saw once every six months. But a year passed, and James' speech was still a problem. But, describing himself as 'not one to feel mope around', James carried on.

Until another problem arose, and it got so bad he ended up having to give up his job.

"I noticed that my thumb on my left hand was starting to become painful and tight and I found it increasingly hard to use, to the point where it eventually closed fully," James said.

Over time, the fingers on his left and right began to do the same - and James no longer had use of his hands.

Finally, in 2012, James was diagnosed with a neurological dysfunction disorder called Dystonia - an abornal muscle tone disorder which results in muscular spasm and abnormal posture.

Though James can barely speak or use his hands, he says he only has a mild form of the disorder.

He said: "Finally, I had a name to this thing that had been ruling my life for so long. It is a debilitating disorder than can affect your life completely - no matter how minor."

However, though James is no nearer to recovery, at 31-years-old, he's inspiringly using fitness to keep himself strong and motivated - and it's quickly paying off, with him becoming a model for Models of Diversity.

He said: "Going through this challenge has been very difficult at times. One minute I was a normal confident lad, with a promising rugby career, no cares, a great paying job, to then have to deal with this massive change.

"It felt like my life had been taken away from me and I felt resentful at times and I went through some dark periods to say the least. Trying to get around coping with what had happened to me, I struggled a lot with confidence and my self esteem was at an all time low.

"One thing I did know is that I wasn't going to allow what had happened take over my life. I knew if I continued on the road of self pity I would end up a lot worse off than I am today. This is when I turned my focus to fitness."

Having always been keen on the gym, James decided to make it his hobby, before he then took it to the next level and proved that his goals and dreams were still achievable, even though he has a disability.

He has started up a Facebook page which documents his fitness journey, which he hopes will encourage others to follow in his footsteps to achieve despite their disability - and he already has over 3,000 likes on it.

But this large number aren't the only support James has - he's been married for three years to a stunning woman who's with James no matter what.

Though he admits that they've had their 'ups and downs' due to his Dystonia, he describes them as being a 'strong couple'.

What has been most moving about James' journey, however, is his open approach to his disability - which saw him most recently share a video to the world, in which he struggles to talk, to show how the disability has affected his speech. It's definitely a watch that'll bring a tear to your eye.

Hopefully one day James will recover 100% - but there's no doubt he's an incredible role model to all those feeling like giving up because of something out of their control.

And that's pretty awesome.

Words by Hattie Jones

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