I am a person who stutters. I’ve stuttered my entire life. I’ve been in speech therapy. I’ve taken medication to help reduce my stutter. I’ve lied to myself, saying that I don’t have a stutter.
My stutter hasn’t gone away. I’m now 25 and I still stutter. Some people grow out of their stutter. I’m not one of those people. Stuttering isn’t curable. I don’t stutter because I’m anticipating a word. I’m focused on what I’m saying, not how I say it. Repeating words in my mind three times before I say it out loud is unrealistic. There are too many conversations in a day to repeat everything I say in my head three times before speaking. I avoided eye contact for years because I was scared of seeing how people may react to my stutter. That fear is real but taking back the power allows me to determine how I feel about myself and not anyone else.
For those of you who don’t know, I’m referring to the advice Steve Harvey gave a woman who stutters on his show a couple of weeks ago. I find this video from an article posted by the American Institute for Stuttering that highlights the dangers of Mr. Harvey’s advice. While a lot of the speech therapy I had as a kid wasn’t helpful, this was partly because I wasn’t willing to acknowledge my stutter. As an adult, I have begun to accept my stutter and with the help of AIS, I see my stutter in a new light.
Everyone who stutters has a different relationship to their stutter because no two people stutter the same. Many of the people who stutter as a kid grows out of it by the time they reach adulthood. It’s not uncommon for a person to stutter as a kid and not as an adult. I know that for me, my stutter can shift within a moment. Heightened emotions and situations certainly play a part in how I stutter. I know that my story is a little bit different because I took medication as a teenager to have my stutter “go away.” I spent the majority of my high school and early college years not worrying about my speech. At one point, I even thought I had grown out of it. But when I went off the medication, my stutter came back within a couple of months.
There’s no cure for stuttering. Techniques such as repeating the word in your head before you say it can easily fail. Talking to yourself in a mirror is like talking to yourself any time of the day, you don’t stutter because there’s no stress. It’s not all in your head because stuttering can be caused by much more than just anticipation and sometimes anticipation causes the stutter to go away. It’s not about how much confidence you do or don’t have. It’s not about what you do or don’t tell yourself to get through the day.
Again, this is only from my perspective. There’s no one size fits all for stuttering because everyone who stutters, stutters differently than the person next to them who stutters. Applying a one size fits all method, especially from someone who’s stutter went away, is dangerous because many people stutter their entire lives. And that’s okay.
I’ve been blogging for a few years now. And if I’m being honest, some weeks I don’t know what I should write about. I used to plan out what I would say but now I just wing it the day of. I know I should be better at planning things and get back into the habit of knowing what I want to say before I say it.
This isn’t a post about a struggle of blogging or writer’s block. It’s about feeling exhausted and tired after a long day and you choose not to write or post anything on the designated day. It’s about realizing that planning to do something doesn’t always work in your favor. Sometimes, life has a funny way of changing your plans with unexpected detours.
Two weeks ago, I woke up experiencing double vision. Tuesday I was feeling fine. Wednesday morning, I was seeing double and having eye pain. For the last two weeks, I’ve either had eye double or strain in one or both of my eyes. I’ve gone to multiple doctors, had an MRI, and been poked more times than I prefer. And I still don’t have a definite answer.
I think the most frustrating part about it is being told different things by different doctors. The neurologist ophthalmologist says one thing, the endocrinologist says another. It’s a lot of back and forth. Right now, the thinking is this could be caused by my thyroid. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s back in February. The neurologist ophthalmologist is pretty certain that my eye problem is caused by Graves’. I got a blood test to see if this is the case. It’s strange because the blood test I got last month and last week for my Hashimoto’s didn’t show any signs of Graves’.
Right now, I don’t know what’s causing this. The endocrinologist says Hashimoto’s can cause eye problems while the neurologist ophthalmologist says it’s very rare for Hashimoto’s to cause eye problems. Until I get the results of my blood test results, I have no way of knowing one way or the other. On Monday, I was at the neurologist ophthalmologist for a good three hours, which pretty much exhausted me for the day, hence why I didn’t post on Monday.
Writing is therapy for me. It allows me to write the thoughts that have been circling in my head for the last two weeks. I’ve been reading a lot more, both books and articles. I’ve been leaning on what makes me happy. Playing with my cat, watching Friends and This Is Us. I know I will be okay. If this is indeed thyroid related, it can take six months or longer for this to go away. That’s a long time but I’ve learned that time moves faster the older I get.
One year ago, I was in a hotel room in New York City, about to leave and take the N train from 42nd street to 23rd street to see the Flatiron building, when I got a notification on my phone from CNN. There was a breaking story on Harvey Weinstein in the New Yorker. The story was by Ronan Farrow and it broke down many tricks and avenues he would take to manipulate and take advantage of women. I showed my mom the headline and she shrugged, continuing to get ready for the day. I sat down on the bed and scrolled through the story, getting chills on my arm from every account I read.
One year ago, I didn’t know the magnitude this story would have on our society. No one did. After so many years in power of Hollywood, no one knew the significant impact the fall of Harvey Weinstein would have our society. No one had seen a man fall from grace this hard and this fast. No one realized that he was the first of many who would follow in his footsteps. I was too preoccupied with seeing the Flatiron building before the remnants of Hurricane Nate rolling through New York to focus on our society breaking into two. A few hours after receiving the notification, I became overly preoccupied with trying to get home through the shitty weather.
It wasn’t until the next day when I was sitting in the hallway, waiting to go into my last class of the day that I understood how this Weinstein story hit a spark in the universe, creating an explosion of women sharing their stories. I was seeing people using the #MeToo on Twitter and Facebook. The more stories I read, the more I felt less alone while at the same time becoming angry by the fact of how common this is and how it took a hashtag for so many women to share their stories public. I was hesitant about sharing my story and after lots of trepidation, I wrote two poems about how the actions of careless boys have impacted my life.
One year has passed since #MeToo spoke to the zeitgeist in a way no one could have ever predicted. We have opened a door we can never close again. One year later, we’re listening to women’s stories and believing what they share, yet we don’t believe them enough to change the old patterns of human history.
I won’t be posting a review today. Instead, I have some very exciting news. One of my essays is published!! I wrote this essay for a class in the spring of 2017. It’s about my journey to beginning to acknowledge my stutter and how that coincided with finding my passion for writing.
For almost a year, I had submitted this piece to different publications and received one rejection after another. I had gotten a DM from Z Publishing on Twitter in late April, asking if I was interested in submitting a piece for their upcoming emerging writers from Colorado anthology. I decided that this was going to be the last piece I would submit this piece to before completely rewriting it. I had submitted my essay in early May and forgot about it for about a month.
In the middle of June, I thought I didn’t get it because I hadn’t heard from them. But, by the end of the month, I got an email congratulating me on having my essay being accepted for publication. I’m still on cloud nine and can’t believe this is happening. This is only the beginning!
If you want to read my entire essay, “Finding My Voice,” you can purchase Colorado’s Emerging Writers: An Anthology of Nonfiction on Amazon or Z Publishing.