Public speaking: Every stutterer’s dream and nightmare.

Speaking in public was not as scary as I imagined. + My short speech video “before” and “today”.

Me aged 18. I learned to put on a brave face even thought I physically shook before and during every trivial social interaction, be it buying a ticket, asking for directions, making or receiving phone calls, speaking in class, saying my name etc.

Since adolescence, speaking in public (or in fact, in any situation where I could be overheard) was nerve-wracking and often humiliating experience. Suffering from silent blocks meant I was simply unable to utter any sound, when, for example, I was asked to read out loud in class. Even today, although a fully accomplished adult, I still shiver recalling past “speaking incidents” and the avalanche of cortisol-fuelled emotions overwhelming me, my mind going completely blank every time my name had been called out to present. It felt like a public execution!

And, of course, those tormenting “aftermaths” as I re-played and re-lived the situations in my head many times over.

Every person who has ever stuttered is too familiar with such moments. We all know how it feels. There were moments I wanted to scream, but felt gagged by unexplainable speaking difficulties, my sudden muteness and anxiety that held me captive from around the age of 13.

My failing confidence endured countless destructive blows during the adolescence forcing me to play an unfortunate role of a detached, tongue-tied, not very bright and socially clumsy young person. The person I never really was. This was my way to escape, my safety mechanism. It was easy at the time to just resign, blame the whole world and people from their callousness and lack of understanding as to what I, as a person with situational stutter, have been going through. It was easy to just withdraw, turn meek and invisible.

Invisible to the whole big wide world out there and simply watch life passing me by.

Some say keeping quite is the best option for stutterers as at least you avoid being humiliated and ridiculed. Even speech therapist sometime advice – “stay away from conflict situations at all costs, keep you head down, do what you are told, be nice and pleasant towards people” (read Ivan’s story HERE)….

All this just to avoid “being found out“??

London, 2005. At Madame’s Tussaud Museum. Me taking the central stage, kind of trying in on :). I was nervous and very tense even as I posed for this photo amongst the mannequins of the world’s leaders. Could I be one of them one day? Could I speak my mind without fear? It was hard to envisage…

So, yes! Shutting myself down, turning away from life seemed like the only “safe” option, and it was easy. Easy to just give up, and then envy others enjoying their lives.

“Bastards! Fluent bastards! They don’t know nothing of my stifled, muffled suffering. How dare they ???”

But what to do if you have so much to say, what do to do with all the feelings that you want to express so much you can hardly contain yourself? I reached the pivotal point at 26, finally resolving to do anything to overcome my fears and claim back the control over my life. By hook or by crook.

Somehow I sensed there would be countless occasions for me to deliver speeches on various topics so MY VOICE was the instrument I absolutely must restore to be heard. And, soon it followed: university presentations, Speakers’ Club talks, Toastmasters, work presentations, job interviews, promotional talks, facilitations of workshops for fluent speakers etc.

One cannot live by avoiding life. Communication is the major part of our interaction with the external world, and if speaking was unavoidable, I decided, I might as well learn to do it well. This was the attitude with which I started my “zero to hero” journey from someone who could hardly say her own name, to the person who was no longer afraid of being in the sport light, speaking, enjoying herself, having fun speaking.

Speaking in public is not scary, our attitudes to it make it so.

Since I resolved to eliminate my stuttering and stepped on the journey of self-development, I have been a member of two speaking club for 7 years in total and run my own workshops for (!) fluent speakers. The experience of delivering speeches as well as watching other speakers, seasoned and not so much, delivering theirs taught me a great deal. It wasn’t all just about poise and eloquence…..it was about facing my biggest monster, irrational fears and insecurities, and watching others facing and conquering theirs.

At the Toastmasters Warrington. Making an idiot of myself and admitting “publicly” I had a stutter felt so liberating. And, you know what? They didn’t laugh, they were mesmerised.

My vast empirical experience speaks louder than any theorising or speculations. Here is the summary of the quite surprising things I learned whilst on my journey.

Being fluent doesn’t automatically equate to possessing confidence nor warrants absence of anxiety/fear. Fluent speakers can be, and often are just as nervous, tongue-tied and self-conscious as PWS’s.

I was a regular member of the two speaking clubs (Liverpool Speakers Club and Warrington Toastmasters) and led workshops on public speaking for fluent, very anxious speakers. I have seen it all when it comes to public speaking done by fluent speakers: awkwardness, timidity, lack of confidence, quietness, hesitation, loosing thoughts halfway thru a speech, speech errors, filler words, even occasional disfluencies, although they simply call it “bobulations” [i.e. state of confusion].

Here are the couple of my most memorable real-live examples.

I met this experienced speaker, a professional man in his 50’s. He was about to compete in a speaking competition and anxiously awaited for his turn. So, he went to the bar for “only one drink” to ease his nerves. He was visibly trembling. One drink, then another, third…slowly he got tipsy, then drunk. He admitted he was too nervous to speak, even though he was an experienced (a very experience, I presume) speaker. Sadly, he was sent home and didn’t complete. What a Faux pas!

Here is another one, are you ready?

A youth at this army recruitment event was asked to introduce himself in front of the group of other recruits. Watching him was simply, well, hilarious as he performed rather bizarre arm movements whilst trying to tell his story. He wasn’t recruited, of course!. Oops!

Both fluent speakers, and both freaked out and were too unable to talk.

Now a question? Does being fluent warrant never being embarrassed whilst speaking, interacting with others? NO! NO! NO!

Perfection is a myth. Nobody is always 100% confident, eloquent, quick-witted etc. It is merely impossible to maintain that high energy, that bravado for too long!

In fact, disfluencies happens with us all fluent or not. The important thing is how we react to it – you either punish and bully yourself for days for using filler words, pausing, stumbling, looking away etc….obsessive about it, or see a situation as “no big deal” and just forget, forgive and move on.

This makes huge difference in how you will eventually perceive yourself and speaking situations in future. You see, fluent speakers are more forgiving of themselves whereas stutters “lash” themselves over any minor imperfection. Fluent speakers just laugh it off – “oh, well. I will do better next time”. Stutters catastrophe their disfluencies.

I urge you to remember this!

Receiving my trophy for the best Speech of the evening @ Speakers Club, Liverpool. Year 2016

We are all PEOPLE with our feelings, fears, phobias, insecurities, something we wish to hide or improve on. Just because some of us don’t stutter, doesn’t mean there is total unshakable 100% confidence every time and in every situation.

Now try this! Turn your attention away from the inner dialog and feelings over to what goes on in the external world, and believe me, you will soon notice how flustered and nervous people around you can be, just observe and you are no different from others.

Here is the video I wanted to show you. It shows me struggling to speak back in 2010, and my speaking today. See it for yourself.

This video shows the progress I made with my stutter over the years. My speech in 2010 and today, 5 years as I abandoned all types of control tool. I highlight the benefits of joining speaking platforms in your city.

What do I think of public or any type of speaking today? To be honest, I no longer think about it, speaking just happens, as naturally as it was always measnt to. Speech is a river, speech is like breathing to me.

I wish I could say, that now when my speech preoccupations are over, I have no problems to worry about, but that would be a lie. Sometime I ask myself why do I create so much unnecessary, purely imaginary worries for myself, why do I create them in my mind?

Guys, I often worry when there is nothing to worry about, do I have a new problem now? 🙂

Hope you enjoyed the article and I am grateful for you support,

Much love, light and effortless fluency,



Ivan’s story. Fluency was the Mountain I craved to scale…

PWS’s stories from across the Globe. We talk of experience, fears, challenges, triumphs and dreams that do come true.

I would like you to meet Ivan, originally from Russia, he now lives in China where he is employed as an English language teacher by one of the local Primary schools.

Ivan’s story commemorates what is going to be the collection of very personal, almost intimate insights into daily living with stuttering, that as PWS’s, we can all relate to. Stories of living, fighting, surviving and, finally conquering our overwhelming fear of speaking.

Over the course of last 8 years, I have heard, read and analysed many personal accounts from people who stutter from around the world. There were accounts from India, Russia, England, Romania, Ukraine, Estonia, US, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Singapore and many other countries.

One thing that has become crystal clear to me is that categorising stuttering into groups and subtypes is a pointless exercise. Stuttering is stuttering, regardless of how it shows, its severity, tricks you employ to avoid blocks, tonal, intonational, speed of your speech etc. All this doesn’t matter. Yes, I agree, we are all different : circumstances surrounding the onset of stuttering differ, our backgrounds, nationalities, severity of stuttering, our age and genders are all different.

But the problem we all face IS THE SAME!

Approximately 2% of the World population stammer [or stutter], that means 60 million distinctly different cases of stuttering. This means 60 millions of different types of therapies and methods would “potentially” need to be devised and employed in order to help those people. Sounds like a mammoth task to shift.

Too scary to even think about, don’t you think? We might as well quit right now, admit our total defeat and agree on being disabled. The good news is – Stuttering IS NOT that diversified, believe me…!

*The narration is presented in its original Russian language. Please use “translate” function in your Browser to read it in your language.

I do hope that Ivan’s story and advice will inspire and intill hope that everything is achievable, but only if YOU allow it to happen!

Ivan story begins from here:

“Мои воспоминания состоят из обрывков, из картинок, врезавшихся мне в память. Как flashbacks, как кадры на фотопленке. Помню, как я начал постепенно заикаться, классе в восьмом. На каких-то простых фразах. И я с ужасом подумал: “Опять это! Опять заикание возвращается!” Помню, как на уроке математики я едва отвечал. И при этом чувствовал стыд, ступор, краснел. Одноклассники смеялись: “Ты что, говорить разучился?” Помню, как на уроке истории вызывали пересказывать текст к доске. Это был нескончаемый стыд, щеки горели, знакомое всем ощущение — хотелось провалиться под землю.

Мне нравилось обществознание, социальные проблемы. Но отвечал ли я на уроках? Конечно нет! Это предмет, где тебе нужно говорить. И у мня по нему никогда не было пятерки. Не потому что это сложно, а потому что я боялся показаться смешным.

Ужасное ощущение, когда ты не можешь раскрыть свой потенциал. Когда учитель задаёт вопрос, все молчат. Но ты знаешь ответ. Но не можешь сказать. И шепчешь его тихо товарищу по парте. Он то, конечно, ответит. Он окажется самым умным, а не ты.

Это то, кем тебя делает заикание. Оно играет на всех твоих слабых сторонах. На стеснении, нерешительности. Ты боишься оказаться на виду, начать говорить и начать заикаться. Так формируется страх речи. Замкнутый круг. Чтобы тебя услышали, надо сказать громко. Но, если ты скажешь громко, то ты привлечешь к себе внимание. И захочешь поскорее обратно “залезть в свою раковину” – зону комфорта. Скажешь всё быстро и сумбурно, лишь бы опять замолчать.

Философский вопрос. Важно то, что ты говоришь? Или важно то, как ты говоришь?

Если ты заика, то ты боишься говорить, говоришь неуверенно. С такой речью сложно отстоять свою позицию, выразить свое мнение. Зачем пытаться, если ты не можешь связать слова в предложении?

Ведь сейчас век скоростей. Всё должно быть чётко и быстро! От тебя просто отмахнутся. Да и мне не нужны эти одолжения. Эти сочувствующие выражения лиц.

Итак, твоя речь формирует твоё поведение. Ты становишься нерешительным. Помните же те моменты, когда надо познакомиться с новой большой группой людей? При поступлении в институт, или устройстве на работу. И вот ты стоишь у двери, и боишься зайти. Как вы думаете, слова слишком переоценивают? Я думаю нет, речь это социальное взаимодействие. Твоя речь – это твои мысли, твой облик. Каким будешь ты – уверенным и спокойным? Или дёрганым, потеющим? Если ты сам себя не любишь и не уважаешь, ты даёшь сигнал другим относиться к тебе также. Такие мысли и останавливают нас. Мы не хотим “спалиться” и играем в скрытых заик. Со стороны это выглядит, будто нам нечего сказать, или же мы не умеем общаться. Поэтому я часто слышу, когда люди читают мои статьи: “А мы и не знали, что ты такой умный, такой глубокий человек! ” Классика!..

В моём случае, я имею “лёгкую степень” заикания. Т.е. говорить всё же могу, но испытываю всё те же чувства, сжигающие изнутри, что и все заики. Более или менее я могу говорить со знакомыми мне людьми. Т.е. когда наиболее “пиковый” момент интереса к тебе пройден. С мамой я практически не заикаюсь. У мня есть старшая сестра. Отношения с ней “не очень”. И моё заикание не способствует более продуктивному общению. Даже с ней я стесняюсь говорить, начинаю задыхаться, хватать воздух перед каждым словом.

Раньше мне было важно произнести без запинок первые слова. После этого, я как бы “давал себе разрешение”. И мог нормально закончить фразу. Сейчас же, я всё чаще заикаюсь сразу, с первых слов. Перед речью я заранее жутко волнуюсь, потею, представляю как я, начну говорить. И часто…это так и остаётся непроизнесенным.

Все эти быстрые ответы на парах, когда одним словом можно заработать баллы на оценку автоматом. Всё это не для нас. Надо принять, что лёгкого пути не будет. И не сравнивать себя с другими.

Я вообще всё принимаю близко к сердцу. Считаю, что у меня сверхчувствительная нервная система. Знакомое выражение? Это когда слова не успевают за мыслями. Я помню каждый момент, когда я был на виду и мне приходилось говорить. Возможно, потому что в стрессовой ситуации ты запоминаешь всё лучше.

Я искал способы лечения. Что могло бы мне помочь. Но это не так просто в маленьком городе. Гипнологи? Что? Тут о таком и не слышали. Помню, как я признался маме, что я заикаюсь. Но она лишь беспомощно развела руками. – “Ну а что поделаешь? Попробуй обратиться к логопеду”.

Все эти занятия с логопедом, тренировка дикции дома, не приносят улучшений. Потому что проблема – у тебя в голове. Проблема не механическая, она психологическая. Дома я могу рассказывать скороговорки, так что “от зубов отскакивает”. Но, выходя на улицу, как будто этого и не бывало.

Все эти методы действуют лишь первую неделю, пока есть “эффект новизны “. И тогда, ты реально можешь говорить более сильным голосом, контролируешь темп речи. Это в новинку для мозга. Но потом он подстраивается, и ты опять возвращаешься к прежним реакциям. “Влазишь” в них, накидываешь на себя, как привычную повседневную одежду.

Единственное, что я помню от занятий с логопедом, это совет. “Старайся меньше нервничать, меньше попадай в конфликтные ситуации. Старайся быть более дружелюбным”. Что?! Совет прятаться от жизни, потому что заикаюсь?! Нет, это не для меня. Я не собираюсь лицемерить, поступаться своими взглядами лишь от того, что я заикаюсь. Во мне всегда был некий дух бунтарства, стремления к собственной цели. И я не собирался меняться.

Возможно, и вам стоит поменьше слушать чужое мнение. В какой-то мере я согласен, что проблема не в том, как вы говорите. А проблема в том, кто воспринимает вашу речь смешной. Проблема в восприятии. Нормальный человек не будет прикалываться, договаривать за вас слова. Нормальному человеку хватит чувства такта, чтобы понять, что вам вообще нелегко разговаривать. Если у человека проблемы, он постарается субъективно “подняться в своих глазах”, высмеяв вас.

Вообще, я заметил, что когда обсуждаешь своё заикание. Говоришь об этом друзьям. Или отрабатываешь упражнения для речи дома. То ты, как бы принимаешь это, что ты заикаешься. В эти моменты я начинаю заикаться ещё больше. Т.е. ты там, где твоё внимание. Так же, как “твоё сокровище, там где твоё сердце”. Чем меньше паришься об этом, тем меньше и заикаешься.

Но в этом есть свой момент. Когда ты “признаёшься” друзьям, что ты заикаешься, и как тебе нелегко с этим жить. Тебе говорят: “Мы знаем, что ты заика. Ты ведь постоянно заикаешься!” А ты то думал, что тебе удаётся скрывать это, что ты “скрытый заика”. Но не тут-то было! Иногда полезно об этом поговорить. Ты понимаешь, что люди воспринимают тебя совершенно нормально. Это не так страшно, как ты “накрутил” у себя в голове. Ты не какой-то урод. Хватит уже терзать себя.

Некоторые говорят, что это можно даже использовать в своих целях. Я понимаю, что они имеют в виду, но в какой ситуации это применить я не знаю. Я слышал, что знаменитый любовник Казанова в реальности обладал совершенно неказистой внешностью. Но он создал себе репутацию опытного ловеласа. И переспать с ним считалось престижным. Так работает реклама. Выставляя что-то ненужное в выгодном свете.

Так и ты можешь сделать свои слабые стороны сильными. Например, попробовать себя в роли тамады. Заикающийся тамада, эксклюзив! Только для VIP-персон!

Наверное, это они имеют в виду. Люди, без дефекта речи. Но заика пошлёт эту идею куда подальше.

Некоторые девушки говорят, что твоё заикание – это так мило! Так мило, когда ты хочешь что-то сказать, и не можешь. Знали бы они, какие ты испытываешь чувства при этом! Стыд, страх… Ты не можешь сказать прямо, то что хотел. Твой мозг постоянно работает на стрессовой частоте в поисках синонимов. И опять же, я воспринимаю это как способ “подняться в своих глазах”. Таким людям комфортно с тобой, потому что они считают тебя более слабым. Но это лишь моё мнение.

Если продолжать разговор о противоположном поле… У мня никогда не было девушки. В смысле, серьёзных отношений. Так, чтобы жить вместе. Нет, я знакомился на улице. Но это ни к чему не вело. Номер телефона, пара свиданий и всё. Я не встретил ещё свою половину.

Не знаю, насколько тут влияет моё заикание. Но я думаю, дело не в нём. Конечно, много шансов я упустил. Вообще сложно подойти к незнакомому человеку на улице, тем более когда ты заикаешься. Ты чувствуешь адреналин внутри. Твоя нервная система опять резко реагирует на всё: на движения, на звуки, ты дергаешься. Но мы всю жизнь что-то нарабатываем. Либо начать говорить в таком возбужденном состоянии, либо дальше молчать. Хотя вот-вот ты был готов сказать… Но опять что-то помешало. И ты будешь думать об этом, катать эту мысль у себя в голове. (Если вам есть что сказать – говорите сейчас! Или замолчите навечно!)

Некоторые люди спрашивают меня: “Почему ты заикаешься? Ты разве не можешь говорить нормально?!” Ну вот как им объяснить. Что это не подвластно моему умственному усилию. Каждый раз, когда я еду на экзамен, или на собеседование, я говорю себе: “Не волнуйся! Этим ты никак себе не помогаешь. Не надо бояться, что ты начнёшь заикаться. Потому что ты будешь заикаться! Это не что-то внезапное, что может произойти, а может нет, это постоянное”. Но страху речи на все эти доводы побоку.

Потому что проблема в подсознании. Эмоциональный интеллект, нелогический. В 4 года меня напугала собака. Я замер. Тело запомнили этот ступор, эту реакцию. Реакцию замереть, молчать. И вот, в любой волнительной ситуации, подсознание применяет эту модель поведения, чтобы “спасти мне жизнь” перед лицом опасности. Я уже взрослый человек, я могу позаботиться о себе сам. Но в подсознании я до сих пор маленький мальчик, который замирает при любом волнении, чтобы стать как можно незаметнее.

Откуда я всё это знаю? Да потому что это стандартная история, которую вам расскажет психолог. Вспоминай, следи за своими ощущениями в теле… И я не знаю, так ли это было на самом деле, или я всё это придумал. Я искал когнитивного психолога. Так это кажется называется. Когда психолог может устранить во время сеанса твою проблему. На уровне ощущения тела. Наложив руки в нужное место. Но сейчас все психологи – это онлайн психологи. Они общаются с тобой, мотивируют. Объясняют суть проблемы… Но знание, почему я заикаюсь, не особо помогает устранить этот дефект.
Что мне действительно помогло, так это, что в детстве меня отвели к бабке-шептунье. Помню, она катала яйцо мне по лбу. Что-то шептала. И потом я не заикался! Я не знаю как, но это сработало! Магия! Наверное чем-то похоже на прикосновение в когнитивной психологии.

И потом я мог нормально говорить… До 8 класса. Именно поэтому я написал в начале статьи (если вы помните), что заикание опять вернулось. Можно было бы подумать, что это было счастливое время. Но, если честно, я его не помню. Просто говорил, учился, отвечал на уроках. Самое главное, мог проявить свой ум, свои знания.

Почему заикание вернулось? Я не знаю. Есть версия, что в этот период, 13-14 лет (восьмой класс), вырабатывается много гормонов. И что-то нарушилось. Моя же версия – что эта бабка умерла, и её заговор потерял силу. Магия!

Мешает ли это в жизни? Конечно, да!

Хотя бы, возьмём банальную вещь. Автобусы, которые должны останавливаться на установленных остановках. Но они проезжают, не останавливаясь, потому что надо заранее вслух сообщать о своей остановке. Часто вы были заложником своего заикания и проезжали мимо? Потому что не могли совладать со своим речевым аппаратом, и чётко сообщить остановку в толпе пассажиров.

На работе. Часто вас считали молчуном? Потому что наедине с вами создавалось “неловкое молчание”. А на работе важно уметь вести “small talk”(разговор ни о чем). Так ты будешь любимчиком у начальника. Ведь он будет чувствовать себя комфортно в твоём окружении.

На молодёжных слетах. Часто ли вы хотели взять микрофон и произнести мотивирующую речь… Но… Понимали, что сейчас начнёте просто дико заикаться. И просто не верили в свои силы. Хотели… Но страх речи…

В компании друзей. Когда вы наконец решаетесь рассказать шутку. Но слова не идут. Шутка уже не получается смешной. Какое удовольствие от общения, если тебе просто сложно говорить. Челюсть напрягается. Проще молчать… Ты становишься хорошим слушателем. Но тебе это надо? Каждый эгоист, каждый хочет только говорить. Именно поэтому, у заик такая тяга выступать на сцене, быть оратором, актёром. Чтобы наконец высказать всё, что хотел. Стоять одному на сцене, чтобы никто тебя не перебивал. Это наша “гора”, на которую мы хотим залезть.

Единственный человек, который тебя слушает – это ты сам. Ты заикаешься, привыкаешь к такой речи. Когда говоришь – это быстрая речь. Как будто ты пытаешься всё сказать побыстрее. Потому что страх начать заикаться подгоняет тебя.

И у мня постоянно в голове мысли о заикании. Я постоянно волнуюсь. Я уже привык к этому. Это отнимает много энергии. И мне интересно, о чём бы я мог подумать ещё? Если бы для этого освободилось место…

Как с этим жить? Что помогает лично мне?

Во-первых, нужно изменить своё отношение к происходящему. Сдвиг парадигмы. Я начал об этом задумываться, когда увидел одного парня. Он заикался, но при этом не старался спрятаться, уйти от разговора. Он был весёлым, улыбался, у него были друзья. И, вообще, он чувствовал себя хорошо. Почему?

Тогда мне это показалось новым взглядом на вещи. Совсем не обязательно стыдиться этого. Ты ведь не знаешь, как к этому отнесутся окружающие. Не надо самому “сливать” себя.

Когда меня зовут посидеть в компании, я часто не хочу идти. Потому что… Вы понимаете. Я не хочу там заикаться, и опять не мочь сказать то, что хотел. Всё это превращается в прослушивание чужих историй, это скучно. Но потом я думаю: “Я ведь хочу там быть. Мне нравится общаться. Поэтому меня и зовут, что я имею свой оригинальный взгляд на вещи”.

Ты не можешь выбирать: заикаться тебе или нет. Но ты можешь выбрать, каким заикой ты хочешь быть. Нелюдимым и купаться в жалости к себе. Или общительным, смотрящим в будущее. Ядро остаётся прежним, но ты можешь выбрать в каких декорациях жить. Смести фокус своего внимания на свои сильные стороны, таланты. Они даны тебе свыше. Кто ты такой, чтобы бездарно их упускать?! Из-за своих страхов, неверия, желания спрятаться от всего Мира.

Вообще, на форумах люди часто пишут. Что, если бы не заикание, они исполнили бы свою мечту, сделали бы то, что давно хотели. Но часто это превращается в “отмазку”, в способ оправдаться перед собой за бездействие. Ну вот, представь, не заикаешься ты. И что дальше? Сразу начнёшь менять свою жизнь. Или предпочтёшь остаться в зоне комфорта? И найдешь ещё кучу других причин.

Некоторые люди просто не умеют быть счастливыми. Поэтому они и не спешат избавиться от заикания. Иначе кого они будут винить за бесцельно прожитые годы?

На работе я всё время ощущаю себя молчуном. Это ощущение тяготит. Вообще, я люблю общаться, смеяться, создавать атмосферу. Есть во мне такая энергия. И люди это чувствуют. Они говорят мне. “Ты какой-то молчаливый сегодня”. А я не “молчаливый”. Временами заикание усиливается, и я просто понимаю, что не могу ничего сказать. Приходится создавать себе имидж необщительного человека. Который не рассказывает, как у него прошли выходные и т.д.

Вообще, людям сложно молчать. Им нужно, чтобы их постоянно развлекали болтовнёй. Времяпровождение. И я постоянно чувствую, что я что-то должен говорить. Возможно, это слишком “заморочено”. Но я же говорю, когда ты заикаешься, у тебя в голове мысли только об этом.

Когда тебе сложно говорить. Главное начать. По-одному слову, за ними подтянутся остальные слова. Начал говорить – у тебя уже нет выхода. Надо продолжать. Главное не прятаться “в свою раковину”. Потому что, что мы нарабатываем, то у нас и получается.

Ты не стеклянный. Не надо бояться, что стыд и все эти чувства тебя сломают. Это всё забудется. Потонет в море других проблем, жизнь идёт дальше. А окружающие об этом, и подавно, не вспомнят.

Я иногда думаю, насколько мимолетна жизнь. И все эти переживания – это такая мелочь. Представляю, что меня больше нет. И волновало бы тогда меня то, что я заикаюсь? Иногда сама жизнь не стоит тех переживаний, что мы затрачиваем на неё.

Считайте, что у вас больше мотивации. Ведь мы уже герои. С какими трудностями нам приходится сталкиваться каждый день, чтобы говорить!

Что происходит в моей жизни сейчас?

Я работаю учителем английского языка в Китае. Когда я устраивался, мой самый большой страх был, что я буду сильно заикаться, и меня уволят с первых же дней. Но я хотел попробовать. Я не хотел, чтобы мои страхи определяли всю мою жизнь. Пусть я имею дефект речи, пусть мой речевой аппарат меня постоянно подводит. Но внутри, я человек, который хочет жить свою жизнь.

Хотел бы я не заикаться? – Да.
Хотел бы я прожить другую жизнь? – Нет.

I thank Ivan for sharing his very personal story.

Should you wish to get in touch with Ivan, here is his contact: https://vk.com/vincenuar

**If you wish to contribute and share your story with the readers of my blog, please get in touch.


Stuttering Safety: A Guide for parents.

The correct parental response is the key to freedom.

**The article is based on true parental accounts. Some details were altered to preserve the anonymity of informants.

Since I began speaking publicly about my experience of stuttering, I received many letters from PWS’s and parents of children who stutter.

Being a parent myself, I get very worried when I read some of the letters in which parents vividly describe the “prescribed” methods they employ in their pursuit to «cure» their children’s stuttering. Some accounts are truly disturbing, they literally knock me out of balance for days.

I came up with this short guide to help you help your children better.

Dear parents of children who stutter,

This message is for you. I ask your forgiveness in advance for I intend to be very direct.

Dads never write. Mums always do. They write asking me to make their kids fluent. It took me a while to come to this unfortunate conclusion but now it is clear that Mums require just as much treatment, or even more than they children do. The utter misunderstanding of the problem coupled with incorrect behavioural responses create the perfect setting for development and subsequent etching of stuttering on a child’s psyche.

As a result of your well-meaning but maladaptive behavioural responses, chances of eliminating stuttering are often nullified regardless of what mega-professionals, uber-accredited SLT’s you might seek help from.

 You are the main perpetrator, or rather your incorrect behavioural response. After this follow home atmosphere, patenting style, degree of closeness to a child, emotional warmth etc.

I am a Mum to a trilingual child, a daughter, 4 y.o. Emotional, temperamental, she is eager to say all and at once.  At times she speaks so fast, she begins to jabber when words merge together and become unintelligible. Children such as my daughter are at higher risk of developing stuttering. Add to the mix the fact that myself, her Mum, is a former stutterer (i.e. direct hereditary link).  Knowing how to respond is like knowing Fire Safety – critically important! One misstep and it might all go up in flames! Have you ever seen how rapidly fire spreads across a field of dry grass? Stuttering is no different.

Now, I invite you to closely examine a typical reaction of a typical parent, typically a Mum, when she spots first signs of developmental or temporary stuttering.

In despair, she drags her child from one doctor’s office to another– neurologist, psychologist, cardiologist, immunologist, psychopathologist. The doctors, I suppose, for lack of a better solution chose to “authoritatively” prescribe psychotropic medication i.e. Phenibut and beta-blockers?

Read more about side-effects of Phenibut by clicking here.

Some of you, reduced to extremity, turn to the alternative medicine, namely healers that “prescribeurine therapy. When all else fails, this Mum self-prescribes psychotropic medication, namely, Phenibut.

But who am I to blame you?

After all, that is your decision entirely. In your attempt to restore your child’s fluency, parents often overlook the very serious consequences that might transpire after taking psychotropic medications at an early age.

Your child’s speech improves (temporarily), and that is all that matters to you.

Soon after it becomes obvious that all your attempts have been in vain and speech of your child deteriorates. Other comorbid conditions might also come in at this stage and exacerbate the situating i.e. stranger anxiety, bruxism, toilet anxiety, depression, skin picking etc.

At this point, you are about to lose your composure, you jump out of your skin shouting:

Stop fooling around. Speak properly!”

Your hyper-motivation to help joins forces with the group of well-wishing relatives and friends who might offer “helpful” advice, sympathize, or/and allude to a possible mental delay.

The situation reaches the boiling point. You cannot take it any longer. Emotional pressure unavoidably impacts on your child’s mental wellbeing. As a parent, I wholeheartedly share your concerns and appreciate you motivation to help. There is nothing we, as parents, want more than to see our children healthy, happy and enjoying life.

But please understand the frenzied running about from one doctor’s office to another won’t solve the problem, it won’t cure stuttering, but on the contrary, will only intensify the problem and warrant it’s further progression.

And all because, you place too much unnecessary emphasis on speaking. Children are very good at reading parental reactions, especially those of displeasure and anger. Afraid of provoking you or/and being punished your child does he/her best to speak well… Their attention becomes anxiously fixated on speaking. They attempt to control breathing, tense up and rehearse before speaking as if trying to avoid an imminent punishment. Consequently, they will experience anxiety and hesitation before speaking – “what, if I say won’t be able to say that word, what if I stumble, my Mum might be cross with me, get upset. I don’t want to upset my Mummy.”

Energy flows, where attention goes. What you focus on expands. Your fearful thoughts charged by feelings manifest in your reality in the form of a stuttered speech.

Stuttering, as I have said in my previous articles, is an acquired reaction propelled by learned pattern behaviours. And, to untie this knot one needs to look within a person’s psyche, within the mind.

You could do a lot for your child if you would just simply stop emphasising their speech errors, mispronunciations, rushing them into speaking when they hesitate, demanding confidence when they are naturally timid.

Simply let them be who they are, and be patient. This equally applies to your facial expression. Children are brilliant face readers. They can easily discern emotional nuances of facial expressions and body language.

You might not be aware, but children take everything they see, hear and experience at face value, hence the environment they grow up in impacts them so strongly. Intricate logical deductions are beyond them. Emotions that rule children’s’ brain at this stage directly influence their emotional state, the intensity of emotional response/feedback, as well as how they interpret external events,relate to themselves and others. This sheds some light on to parental questioning – “why does my son\daughter react so angrily to my remarks on her speaking, or in fact, any questioning that might feel uncomfortable to them.

This is how children think:

Mum is upset with me again – I must be a bad boy/girl., there was something I wanted to say, but my Mum stopped me, she shouted – I’d better be quiet next time”. We frequently visit doctors – “Am I sick? Specialist school – “I am not like other “normal” kids, I must be very unwell”.

Stuttering is NOT a disease. Stuttering 90% originates in your psychology, namely in your mind and only 10% physiology that is manifested as a tangible, observable phenomenon i.e. stuttered speech.

Remember the iceberg analogy of stuttering? That is exactly what it depicts : 90% psychology, 10% physiology.

The great news of the matter is that every child has a perfect chance of “exiting” the problem before they enter puberty.

Yes-yes, I can hear you say it…..SLT’s try to convince you that the opposite is true, that there is no way out. Stuttering is a bug one cannot recover from, ever.

And you cannot blame them after all this is how they were trained to view it, blindly following even though accredited but obsolete order of things. Doesn’t mind if it’s ineffective.

Ignorance is the main «bug» of society. We unquestionably believe something just because the authority tells us it is true. As if hypnotised, we obediently follow the crowd. I believe there is no safety or reassurance in following the crowd.

Ignorance is the major “bug” of society, not stuttering.

I suggest we look around, open your mind and try to form our own independent opinion. Be prepared to the element of surprise and Soon enough you will notice that things are not as they seem…

Stuttering is not a speech problem per se. Even though it looks and sounds like one. Taking stuttering for a mere speech problem is mass foolery created by our brain as the mind only believes/accepts as the truth what it can observe.

There is neither brain malfunction, nor a mutated gene. Otherwise, how would you explain sudden glimpses of fluency when PWS’s talk to children, animals, to themselves or they sing. If there was a tangible cause to stuttering or a defected gene, we would be stuttering non-stop regardless of the situation we are in. Our thoughts would, probably, be stuttered too.

Please don’t liken stuttering to epilepsy, ticks and other “legitimately” serious conditions as they have no relation to stuttering!

Stuttering is alike deep inner disharmony which is fuelled by an obsessive fixation and desire not to stutter breaks fluency and fluidity of your speech.

Take care of your children without worrying, without panicking. Loosen your grasp! Let go of incessant control!

Frequent visits to SLT’s, controlled breathing, emphasis on speech, vocal gymnastics, exercises on slow onset…. All these actions only exacerbate the problem.

How to react when your child begins to show the first sight of disfluency?

Here is what you need to know if you don’t want your child’s developmental or temporary stuttering to take root and turn into permanent stuttering.

The correct parental response is the key to ensuring stuttering won’t become ingrained. Of course, you cannot control over everything that happens to a child outside of home i.e. school. But you and your home as a parent must embody/provide a source of unconditional support and protection for your child. Children must be certain, that you won’t judge or pull a grimace of displeasure but will listen and show your unconditional support.

Parental influence is very powerful. Children see the world through the eyes of their parents. Become «comfortable» to your child, be available and emotionally responsive to her/his needs.

IMPORTANT: I repeat. Don’t emphasise, don’t draw attention to speech, don’t finish sentences, don’t speak for your child, don’t criticise, don’t laugh but listen patiently what your child tries to communicate to you.

And, please do it Calmly!

And, God forbid, don’t punish or admonish your child for his/her speech imperfection, errors, disfluency or hesitation.

Their stuttering is not deliberate. Your child isn’t “lazy” to speak, they just genuinely cannot.

Just as Important! Raise awareness about your new “safety rules” amongst those closest to your child. Provide them with the same “Safety Rules” I have just shared with you. This will help ensure that all comments about “vocal inadequacy”/incompetence cease.

Few words about genetical propensity/heredity in stuttering.

Nobody is born with stuttering. Stuttering as a fixated reaction with a set of associated safety behaviours develops later in life i.e. in childhood, adolescence.

This is all down to your inherited temperament. Here genes play the key role and impact you directly. If your parents are highly sensitive, prone to excessive unfounded worrying, impatient, take everything to heart, then there is a high probability that as a child of your parents you have inherited the same set of traits that now define your temperament.

Temperament is the given, you cannot alter it.

For example, being a natural worrier (or a warrior 😊), I will always be a worrier. I can learn copying strategies to mitigate my anxious predisposition, learn to live with it but, in essence, I will always remain extra sensitive. This is the way I am.

Heightened sensitivity only predisposes a child to the development of stuttering but doesn’t guarantee they will suffer. This will depend upon external environmental factors, such as parental attitudes and reactions, parenting style, degree of closeness with a child and many other contributing factors.

Added to this is the excessive fixation on speaking and Voila! It won’t be long until you notice the first signs of hesitation and stuttering.

If stuttering in your family, like a tradition, travels from generation to generation, pay close attention to how did you parents react to your stuttering, or their stuttering, how do they relate to it in daily life. Do they discuss it as an imperfection? An infliction? The curse of your family? Do you they prematurely fear of stuttering being passed on down to generations i.e. children, grandchildren?

You might be surprised to find out that it is not stuttering itself, but rather an incorrect response and reactions to it that are passed down from your forefathers, your parents, and then to children and grandchildren.

Break the “tradition”, replace stereotypical reactions and behaviours.

Parents! Start with yourselves! Change the pattern of your behaviour. Take care of your kids without excessive worrying, without panic. By doing this you will make the life of your child significantly easier, and as a result, stuttering will leave as unexpectedly as it appeared.

Still not convinced? Here is the official statistics:

“Between 75-80% of all children who begin stuttering will stop within 12 to 24 months without speech therapy. If your child has been stuttering longer than 6 months, they may be less likely to outgrow it on their own.”

Think carefully about everything you learned in this article. Don’t jump to hasty conclusions. Just consider it. Don’t go reciting accredited SLT’s and research. Try to detach from the situation and get a wider “birds-eye view” on stuttering. Make your own observations and you will see surely improvements for yourself.

I wish you and your children good health and unconditional happiness.

Much love and light,


Establishing the consensus: What is stuttering?

This article gives consice explaination as to what is stuttering.

What is stuttering?

When people write to me asking about stuttering, and the precise steps I took to reach freedom, it becomes clear that they have no idea what stuttering is.

And, how can you find a solution if you don’t know what the problem is? How can you reach a destination if you have no idea where you are heading?

You expect to be given “the ultimate recovery guide”, yet another quick fix that will magically free you from stuttering. I have no such guide, no set of exercises, and even if I gave it to you, lacking a deeper understanding of the problem and its mechanisms, any instructions would seem pointless to you, and wouldn’t work anyway.

You don’t need yet another guide, another technique. What PWS’s do need, however, is to firstly, understand what stuttering is and, secondly, adopt an entirely new approach to dealing with it. By doing this you will be able to gradually dissolve stuttering as opposed to being fighting against, “curing” it or trying to control it.

Let’s see if official institutions provide any answers or clarity.

The NHS’s leaflet «Stammering advice for families» reads: “Stammering or stuttering is an overall label for an interruption in the flow of someone’s speech”.

American National Institute of Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) states: “Stuttering is a speech disorder characterized by the repetition of sounds, syllables, or words; prolongation of sounds; and interruptions in speech known as blocks.”

Worryingly, the authorities too don’t know what stuttering is and only present the list of its observable manifestations. Moreover, they admit that “the precise mechanisms that cause stuttering are not understood. No commons cause is established.

Researchers that have taken the heavy responsibility of explaining everything from a «scientific» point of view, don’t have the answers either.

They explain thatA lot of what appears to be a research on stammering is not research on stammering. Instead, it’s more general research on the speech-motor system, genetics, language and so on, and people who stammer are just one of the groups tested.”

Aimless drifting. Beating around the bush on the global scale. And today it must stop. Let’s establish the common ground, the consensus NOW.

What is stuttering?

The great many faces of stuttering. The way I see it.

Until now stuttering succeeded in stringing us all along. Ha-ha!  A great many disguises of stuttering. It presented itself as autism, asymmetry of brain hemispheres, underdeveloped articulators, and even schizophrenia.

Contrary to “scientific” beliefs stuttering is not a physical [or tangible problem] but is deeply rooted in your psychology.

If there was a “tangible” physical impairment to your brain or articulators, you would not be able to speak fluently on your own, sing, talk effortlessly with children and animals. You wouldn’t experience those glimpses of “unexplained fluency” when you forget yourself for a moment, and begin to speak without a shadow of disfluency.

Having a physical malfunction means you would stutter non-stop, regardless of a situation or setting.

Stuttering originates in your Belief system [or unique set of principles which you unconsciously refer to interpret your everyday reality i.e. good or bad].

One day you came to believe and associate the simple act of speaking with something very unpleasant, distressing, dangerous or even punishable. It doesn’t matter what had precisely happened to you, but since then the prospect of speaking began to cause nervousness, anxiety and/or even fear. More on the subject of beliefs, please click HERE.

Propelled by anxiety\fear, every time you must speak you react anxiously, feel panicky, your palms become clammy, you fidget and feel pressured for time, speak too fast, the heart begins to race. In other words, you are frightened.

Fear is activated as a safety reaction to prevent you from engaging with the activity that “last time” caused a highly emotional and painful reaction. Your reptilian brain that activates fear, doesn’t know if the situation was genuinely dangerous to your life or not. All its registers is the fact that last time you felt very distressed. It knows it because you felt bad, overreacted, felt scared, your heart raced, you were emotionally hurt, frightened.

Fear protects you. If you are afraid of something, you won’t do it. When you do feel scared or nervous, your attention turns inward, onto your inner experience. Feelings self-conscious, you worry about what others might think, find it difficult to concentrate, you feel inferior, become painfully aware of what you say and how you say it.

Added to the equation is your “unconscious” fixation on speech as you obsessively and compulsively try to control it.You madly monitor your every breath, every sound, anticipate, rehearse every word in your mind, what if it gets stuck, what filler words, what crutch shall I employ etc. You virtually orchestrate every finest detail.

Consciously controlling speech, you interfere with the very complex process. In fluent speakers, this task is fully delegated to the unconscious mind. You do yourself great disfavour by attempting to micro-manage speaking. As a result, your speech flow is disrupted. Disruptions manifest in what you experience as “repetition of sounds, syllables, or words; prolongation of sounds; and interruptions in speech known as blocks”. In other words, you stutter!

What you focus on expands. You get more of what you so desperately try to avoid.

You believe system sets you up for stuttering even before you open your mouth.

To break the vicious cycle and cease stuttering blocks, you will need to abandon the old Belief system and replace it with a new and effective one. The one that will not interfere with your speech disrupting its nature given flow, pace, rhythm, timbre etc.

Now, that is NOT easy as you have been holding on to your erroneous beliefs for 10, 15, maybe 20 years. Over the years “the programme” has become so ingrained and unconscious you don’t even realise you act and live your life according to it; hence you cannot control your stuttering.

Your stuttering reaction will cease once you alter “your programming” – your Belief system.

In summary:

Stuttering is learned reaction to speaking encounters and is rooted in your psychology rather than being a physical impairment to the brain.

It is unconscious hence you cannot control stuttering and cannot stop stuttering at will. Stuttering is something YOU DO habitually based on your Belief system.

Your stuttering reaction will gradually dissolve once you alter the programming – your Belief system.

P.S. Have you ever considered your stuttering could be caused by your thinking,perceptions and habitual behaviour?

**Please note: Cases where stuttering came out as a result of a traumatic head injury and/or stroke were excluded from my study.

All text is copyrighted. Please include the link to my blog if refer to it elsewhere.

Art work by Tomasz Alen Kopera


My story: from hopelessness and isolation to the unconditional freedom (Part 2).

Beneath the debris of complexity lays the answer. Are you ready to leave the prison?

My ascend began at 26.

Out of despair and not knowing where to turn, I went to the local speaker’s club (see Liverpool Speakers Club). The most unlikely place a person who stutters would go to, and yet I was there. Here, I met people from a well-known speech therapy course, and they advised I try it. Having never been on speech therapy, I signed up.

My life was divided into “before” and “after”.

The course pulled me out of depression. I felt like I left the prison. But the novelty effect and initial euphoria wore off. Now my “freedom” was conditional upon following all the instructions and using control tools. I soon realised that I did not want any forms of control.

And, how would you prefer to speak? Constantly controlling and thinking about your speech or effortlessly and without thinking about it?

Unconditional, uncontrolled freedom was what I wanted. Full stop.

But how? This I didn’t yet know.

All I knew was that the less control I used, the better my speech got. Despite being warned that my fluency wouldn’t hold up for long without control, it was getting stronger every day.

I stayed on the speech therapy. I liked the social element of it, and I think this experience was essential for me to gain greater insight into the problem.

Watching, hearing and discussing experiences of others, I was getting intrigued to find out how does stammering work.

  • Why people still stutter whilst presenting in front of a familiar audience?
  • Why fluency fluctuates?
  • Why people don’t stutter when talking to children or animals?
  • Why stammering sometimes appears in adults (after the age of 20)?
  • Why we stutter whilst speaking to people in authority?
  • Why people stutter less or more when drunk?
  • Why people don’t stutter when on their own?
  • What genetics have to do with stammering?
  • Why feeling confidence makes us more fluent?

I noticed that my stammering followed a certain pattern. At times, I used techniques and still struggled. Other times, I did not and yet spoke fluently. I was intrigued and began making observations. Who would have thought that what started as a personal experiment, went on to become full-scale independent investigation involving over 200 people?

Research into stuttering.

Over last 7 years, I reviewed countless academic journals, experimented, made and recorded hundreds of observations, read multiple books (incl. John Harrison), conducted and participated in over 70 conversations, and analysed personal accounts of PWS’s all over the world with the main contributors being Russia and the UK.

What was eventually uncovered surpassed all my expectations. I wasn’t ready for that. It was a revelation. The new paradigm with the potential to change the way stammering is perceived and addressed.

From all the data collected it transpired that stammering follows and is driven by one single algorithm in 98% of cases [***there were some exclusions]. Circumstances surrounding the onset of stammering greatly vary. The mechanism that triggers and maintains stammering remains the same across all cases. 

All earlier theories, perceptions and speculations seemed to have been magically reduced to one common denominator.

I intend to speak for us all. Be the voice of all of you that were directly or indirectly involved in making this reality.

I am not a Speech therapist but am an extremely inquisitive independent researcher. I believe, this circumstance allowed me to look at the speech impediment from an unconventional angle. Bypassing all the complexity, I simplified the problem and arrived at the solution.

Of course, it will not work for all as nobody can change you unless you are willing and ready to be changed.

Who is my blog for?

My knowledge will benefit:

  • Open-minded people that know there is more to stammering than what is already known.
  • Certain that stammering is not a disease.
  • Believe unconditional freedom from stammering is achievable.
  • Ready to take responsibility for their speech and life.
  • Ready to leave earlier theories behind and built the new foundation.
  • Unhappy with their current situation and are genuinely motivated to change.

Don’t waste your time reading my blog if you:

  • Adhere to «conventional» views on the problem.
  • Believe in “the magic pill”
  • Believe that stammering cannot be overcome.
  • Quick to blame external circumstances (i.e. the society, parents etc) for their “misfortune” and capriciously demand acceptance.
  • Comfortable with your current position and don’t want to change a thing.

I strongly believe that the conceptually new outlook is what urgently needed if we are to ever solve the puzzle and eliminate stammering for good. FOR ALL!

Enough theorising, it is time to show you what you can achieve!

P.S. If you can relate to my story and would like to learn more about my findings, please leave a comment and follow my blog so as not to miss future posts.

**Please note I don’t endorse any courses or therapies.

***Psychogenic cases of stammering were excluded from the study.


From hopelessness and isolation to unconditional freedom. My story [part 1].

Many theories, much research. Will we ever find the cure to stuttering?

What is stammering? What causes it? Can stuttering be overcome?

Over the last 30 years, the myriad of theories and speculations formed the enormous body of information about stammering. Pick and choose your own, depends on whatever you have heard before.

According to some of them, stammering is Tourette syndrome (TS), the form of palsy, a dysfunctional speaking apparatus, temporomandibular joint syndrome (TJS),disarray between the hemispheres of the brain, the physical fault in the brain, birth trauma, dog fright, form of schizophrenia (Gosh!) etc.

All these years. All this research. All this pompous theorizing. Yet, they are just as stuck. Nowhere near the solution. There isn’t even the common definition of what stammering is.

And, the bottom line is always the same – STAMMERING CANNOT BE OVERCOME! The advice is hardly reassuring – embrace it, fight it, control it and learn to live with it.

Blindfolded with the impenetrable veil of [useless] theories we become restricted to seeing stammering from only one [popularised] perspective – as an incurable disease. It is inconceivable to envisage even the remote possibility of ever achieving freedom [where no devices, no magic pills and no control are used].

Do as the doctors say.

After all, these are the authoritative figures, neuroscientists, professors, who formulate and propagate those “despairing” theories. How can we, hapless PWS’s, dare to doubt? Our role is to passively hope and wait for yet another idea (i.e. a clever app, a magic pill or device etc.) to come along and save us. Or better still, do our speaking for us so we don’t have to.

Believe what doctors tell you to believe. And, don’t forget to stutter.


My experience, as well as the experience of those who have shown significant improvement [or recovered], proves that stammering CAN be eliminated.
Dissolved. Permanently. No magic pills required.

I don’t mean to undervalue your scientific credentials. Own them, they are yours. But, let’s admit theorizing creates more complexity than clarity leading us further and further away from the ultimate solution.

And, the solution? Well, the solution lays beyond the complexity constructed by your mind. It is right here, only you are too blind to notice. You are too busy complicating and pontificating.

I intend to establish a common ground and provide clarity by sharing my compelling story of recovery.  From fluency to stammering. From stammering to freedom of speech, thought and life.

I never stuttered in my childhood. Having learned to speak at the age of 3, I was beautifully fluent. There was no history of speech impediments in our family.

It all changed when I entered puberty.

I can still recall my first “stammering seizure“. My girlfriends asked me to call from a public phonebooth (there were no mobile phones back then). As my friends watched and listened in, I anxiously dialled the number.

My heart pounded as I awaited the response – «Yes?» – the person on the other end responded. I froze. Words stuck in my throat. My mind blank. Somehow I regained my senses and uttered – “Hello, I am calling to enquire about…”. The conversation was over in less than a minute.

The thoughts of embarrassment and confusion haunted me for days. 

What the hell came over me?”.

I hoped it wouldn’t happen again. But stammering seizures repeated. My academic performance took a nosedive. Speaking and reading our loud in class was suddenly beyond my abilities.

Refusing to speak in class, I soon earned the reputation of being dumb.

My timid attempts to explain the situation were met with sarcasm and brushed off. My educators were adamant as they thought “I was faking it to get a good mark without doing any work”.

The fact that my stutter was situational worked against me. Nobody believed me.

Not even the speech therapist. In her office, with my Mum by my side my speech flowed like a River (see Ruth Mead’s book «Speech is a River”).

Now, I was also a liar.

This was my only visit to the doctors. No further attempts at “fixing” my speech were made.

My stammer was simply disregarded as the teenage thing and never discussed since. Me and my parents silently hoped that the problem would pass on its own just as it came.

But it never did. The school ended. I entered adulthood, hardly knowing who I was. My stutter matured, took root and flourished. It declared total control over my life.

At the age of 20, I moved to the UK. Alone.

Here, with no family close by and zero financial support, I aimlessly drifted from one dead-end job onto another to fulfil my most immediate physiological needs (see Maslow’s hierarchy of needs).

I was always too embarrassed to talk about my stammer. I did not even admit to myself I had it. I thought I was “crazily shy”. “Who wants to know, anyway?” – I thought.

So, I made every attempt to hide it which made me look and act awkwardly.  Some people even thought I was aggressive. It was the anxiety of course. That sense of agitation and urgency we all experience.

Too quiet, I did not fit in with work teams. This made me an easy target for predatory behaviour. A “stupid foreigner weirdo” I was given no slack. Being pushed around, bullied and victimized was my “normality”. I was even refused the employment contract once to which I was legally entitled but was too scared to demand.

Yes, I too was dismissed once. And deservedly so. My “communication skills were inadequate” – they said.

I sunk into depression digging myself deeper into the hole.

My life became intolerable. I wanted to scream but could hardly speak. The painful, meaningless existence. I felt as though I lived the life of someone else.

I knew I had to do something. Anything, or else my life would be over.

Part 2 coming soon…

Image by Tomasz Alen Kopera