On this page, I am going to describe how the stammer impacted on my life, including the type of stammer that I had, how it started, and how it developed. Now, I could quite simply go on forever here. I’ll try and keep it relatively brief, as I don’t want you to get bored!
I have an older brother, an older sister, a mom and dad; all of these people were fluent, never having had a stammer. My grandparents on both sides never had a stammer. When I was born, and when I started to stammer at the age of four, you can probably imagine how much of a shock it was for the family, especially my parents.
Why was I stammering? What happened? Was there any event that occured? There wasn’t. Why I started stammering, I still do not know to this day. Growing up, I always felt that I was quite a nervous child, very much a worrier. Even to this day, I’m now aged forty-six, I still do tend to worry about nothing really, at times, it just seems to be my nature, to be a bit of a stress head.
But again, going back to when I was aged four, there was no single event that triggered the stammer. My parents were quite taken aback and shocked. I’ve spoken with them about this period in my life, and they’ve said that they weren’t really sure what to do. They did seek a little bit of guidance and decided to wait as they hoped that I would grow out of it, but that did not happen.
At the age of five, they took me to see a speech and language therapist, and I continued to attend different types of speech and language therapy throughout the next fourteen years, all the way up therefore to the age of nineteen.
Fourteen years of speech therapy and still stammering. In fact, at the age of nineteen, stammering more than ever. I don’t think I need to say a lot more about how successful it was or wasn’t, yeah, very frustrating.
I remember many different days, horrible, horrendous stammering days and again, I could talk to you all day describing some of these. I’ll just maybe mention one or two. One of the days which sticks in my mind was the first day of senior school, aged 11. Moving to a different school, a much bigger school, having to meet a lot of new people, it was never going to be easy.
On that first day, the teacher asked everybody in my class to stand up and to introduce themselves, in turn, and to tell the rest of their new classmates which school they had previously attended. This was just horrific; I knew this was something I was not going to be able to do. The demons in my head were having a field day, and that wait of waiting for my turn was unbearable. I wanted the earth to open up and swallow me whole, and I tried to think of a way of getting out of that situation, but there was no escape.
You can probably predict what happened. Yes, an awful, awful, terrible stammering experience. People in the class laughing; which as 11-year-old boys, you’d expect them to do, I suppose. That was the first day of the worst five years of my whole life, five years of attending senior school, as we call it in England.
I left school at 16, not because I wasn’t intelligent enough to do A-levels, but because I just wanted this period of my life to end. I believed going to work and working with adults would be a lot better, a lot easier for me, but it didn’t quite prove out that way. Trying to obtain a job was difficult, as well. Attending interviews, the pressure of interviews, the reaction to the stammer, nobody seemed interested in wanting to employ me.
I eventually managed to obtain a job, a poor quality job at that, but again, I was only 16, so what could I expect? The majority of people in my class and my year at school had stayed on to do A-levels, but I started a career, it was a career in insurance. It was tough mixing with these people at the company where I was now working and trying to get on with the tasks of the role, such as answering the telephone. I struggled to answer that telephone whether it was at work or home.
Going away from a career, looking at my social life, and trying to meet a girlfriend. What girl is ever going to want to date a person that has a stammer, I asked myself? Socialising with friends, ordering drinks at the bar, ordering food in a restaurant; just talking, in general, was very hard work.
My life was made so much harder because of the stammer, and I was jealous, massively, massively jealous of other people. I often said, “Why me? Why have I got this stammer? What have I done to deserve having this stammer?” I did feel very sorry for myself and annoyed with the card hand I’d been dealt.
Now, some would say, “There are lots of other people in the world who are a lot worse off than you.” I know that. But again, at this age, trying to start a career, trying to meet a girlfriend, trying to socialise; other people weren’t really on my mind, maybe they should’ve been. Perhaps I should’ve appreciated all of the positive parts of my life and the fact that I was born in England, that itself is very lucky. I’m aware of that now. But at the time, I was not exactly the happiest person in the world, and at times, I was very depressed.
This is why, at the age of twenty-two, I decided that enough was enough. I’m getting nowhere with this stammer, not just career-wise, but happiness-wise. I didn’t want to continue for the next eighteen years like I had the previous, because that was no life and to those speech therapists that told me to accept having a stammer, there was no way I was ever going to do that. As soon as they said that, they’d lost my interest. Yes, lovely as people as you are, I’m not going to accept that, and if you had a stammer, Mr and Mrs Speech Therapist, you would not accept it either. So at the age of twenty-two, this was when I decided to at least try to find a way to stop stammering. I thought that if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, but I’m going to give it a real go.