"You are who you are... and don't let anyone take that away from you"
For a long time having a stammer felt like a burden, something I wished I did not have, something I couldn’t be bothered dealing with. I did not enjoy speech therapy and stopped it from an early age, and I’ve never gone on any speaking courses. Before I found SSN, I certainly was not a poster boy for stammering. I ignored it and kept going, through good times and the times my speech became more disfluent.
The usual culprits gave me bother such as, saying my name, age or ordering food at restaurants. Most of my school life revolved around saying little in class, getting noticed for being good and working hard, as opposed to anything else. I was very lucky to have very supportive friends and to have avoided the kind of bullying which I know so many PWS (People Who Stammer) face.
It was my last years of school when I began to change. I began to feel more confident, I started to become much more outgoing. For the first time, I was happy to talk out loud in class. I no longer had the dreaded fear of saying my name, I began to live without the restraints I had placed on myself. From simple interactions to going on dates, I had a new appreciation for what I could do. I had a new acceptance for my speech, it felt like a cure, not for the speech impediment but for all the baggage that came with it.
When I reflect on this, it feels a lot like the old chicken and the egg analogy, I often ask myself which came first, my increased confidence which led to newfound acceptance, or growing acceptance of my stammer which gave me confidence? To this, I have no answer – but even now, I am forever grateful.
This new mindset continued when I started studying History at Glasgow University. During freshers I was the first to ask questions, to talk and I tried so many clubs and activities. It was around this time I discovered the Scottish Stammering Network (SSN) and attended my first meeting. Since then, Stammering hasn’t been something I’ve avoided talking about. I’m a proud PWS, and taking part in the SSN has allowed me to meet so many others like myself. There are still difficult days, and times where my thinking is still negative but growing up and joining the SSN has allowed me to live happily with a stammer. To anyone reading this who still feels negative towards their stammer, or wishes they could have a cure I would say, you can’t change the fact you have a stammer, you can’t suddenly decide to speak fluently, you are who you are … and don’t let anyone take that away from you.