Me and my stutter
I’ve had a stutter my whole life. My earliest memory of it affecting me was when I was about four years old, and I had to introduce myself to the class. When I stood up, a feeling of dread and fear came over me, and I struggled to say anything.
Throughout my life, I’ve never let my stutter hold me back. My friends, family and colleagues have always been incredibly supportive and have always encouraged me. But that doesn’t mean living with a stutter has always been easy.
The first major impact my stutter had on my life was back in 2014. I was just starting my career, and my job involved a lot of phone calls and attending meetings. On one occasion whilst on the phone, the office went unusually quiet. The same feelings of dread and fear came back to me, and I was petrified someone would overhear me struggling to speak.
By this time, I’d already been on a few speech courses, but nothing really worked or clicked for me. Eventually, I came across the McGuire programme, where they explained that my stutter doesn’t have to negatively impact my life.
I’ve always felt really supported by my team
The Co-op values help us all to feel included and empowered. I’ve always felt really supported by my team at the Co-op. My manager really made an effort to understand my situation and asked how she can support me. She encouraged me to share my story with our team, sharing the techniques I’ve learnt and how they can all help and support me.
Just recently, on one of the McGuire courses, I was challenged to speak to over 200 members of the public and deliver a public speech, using words and sounds that I personally find difficult to say. I’m proud that I was finally able to do this in Newcastle city centre last month.
Over the past five years, I’ve continuously pushed myself to gain greater control over my stutter. I’m open and honest with everyone I meet, and often it opens the door for conversation. If you know anyone with a stutter, I’d say allow them to take the time to say what they need. Encourage open work environments where people can be themselves and ask questions to see if there is any way you can help them.
My journey with my stutter is a lifelong one with no real finish line. But I’m incredibly proud of how far I have come, and I am no longer afraid of letting my voice be heard.