“Is there a cure for stuttering? Will I ever be “normal”? Is there someone like me out there? For almost 30 years, I was convinced the answer to these questions is “NO!” My name is Ales. I’m 32 and I live in the Czech Republic. I finally found answers and a ways to stop stuttering, but it’s a long story.
Like most PWS, I started having speech issues as a child. Kids laughed at me and made fun of my speech, and since I am a very sensitive person, it only started getting worse. I was saving more and more bad incidents to my speech memory. I started visiting speech therapists, but we gave up after about one year of trying and seeing no improvement at all.
In high school, I fell in love with a girl, who did not even want to talk to me back afterwards. Obviously, I blamed my stuttering for it. So I completely closed myself out of outside world and all people. I could not talk to any strangers, the fear would completely overwhelm me. My parents were unfortunately too busy to notice anything and since I was completely closed of, they did not notice I am mentally on the rock bottom and need professional help. I don’t blame them, it’s my fault I never opened up.
I was drowning in self-pity, had suicidal tendencies, suffered deep depressions, lost all friends – never wanting to see anyone, and each day I spoke only about 10 words like “Yes/No/Maybe/I don’t know”. That was my entire vocabulary for about one year. I simply did not want to live anymore, the stuttering anxiety completely took over my mind.
After about one year, I was no longer in love and things started to get a bit better. I started talking to my former friends and it went okay, but I felt quite different. I used to be a quite outgoing person with a mild stutter, but this one year period changed me. I became extremely introverted and basically could not find new friends, because I would never talk to strangers. I had a huge block in my brain that would tell me to shut up whenever I met someone new, even friends of my friends. So I never made new friends.
Then I managed to graduate somehow and I have to say my speech during oral exams was not bad since I knew the teachers, but talking to strangers was a totally different league. This proved to be a huge challenge in finding a job, but I finally managed to land one after 10 months. As an introvert, I barely spoke with anyone there. People there even made fun of me, eg. I was supposed to take a ride with one guy and pick something up, and when he learned I was his co-driver, he told me: “Ah, so I better get a radio with me, otherwise I would die of silence”. He had a valid point though, as I would most likely not say a word, due to the fear of stuttering, and I also had zero confidence. This does not mean I was completely silent, but when I spoke, it was usually just a one-way conversation. I would answer in short sentences, but almost never ask any questions, make jokes, and basically have fun talking and trying to get to know others.
Years passed, I changed my job and eventually made a few new friends. I even had a few dates, but thanks to my low confidence, introvertism, poor social skills, hatred and self-pity issues, nothing good came up from it. Throughout these years (about 10 years), I would also still avoid pretty much every social gathering, including my family, as I was still kinda stuck in my own world.
I had extreme fear of phones, and would stutter on my name regularly and keep having bad incidents with strangers. I have developed some means (crutches) to avoid stuttering as much as possible, and it sometimes worked, but it was basically just diminishing damage done to my memory banks (as Iater learned from Lee’s book). Sometimes people would not really understand what I wanted to say since I had to substitute too many words, or change the word order completely.
When I think about it nowadays, I think it was mainly thanks to my extreme sensitivity and tension. I would get excited the same way as kids do (and when they do, they too stutter). Luckily, as I grew older, these feelings would slowly disappear and I would not have such hard times talking, especially to my family, although part of it is due to my father’s death, which rendered me a bit emotionless for several years.
As far as my mental state goes, I still suffered with self-pity, negativity, hatred, and blaming my stuttering for my crappy life. I had almost no joy in life, very few friends and envied people with fluent speech and their lives. At that time, I was 100% sure I would spend the rest of my life alone in front of a computer, and did nothing to prevent it. I had no motivation. On the contrary, all I did in all my free time was to play videogames, not to care about anyone but my pitiful life and basically lived a virtual live only.
Three years ago, I have decided to quit my job, because I felt completely burnt, saw no potential progress and just hated it. A month later, I was hired as IT support for a mid-size factory. I was alone there for 300 people and 2 facilities. I think my boss never liked me as she knew I have stutter problem, but there was no one else for hire, so I got the job by luck 🙂 Imagine my situation – a guy with at that time severe stutter, social anxieties, poor social skills and a fear of phones had to communicate mostly via phone with my colleagues, external companies and complete strangers. I had no other choice if I didn’t want to lose my job.
It is often said that the only way to overcome your fear is to face it. I can testify to that. I faced my fears many times and I just managed to overcome them. I was starting to see my great fear of phones is nearly gone, and as I was forced to talk to people on a daily basis, I started noticing my social skills getting better and better. I finally started talking a lot more than before, and I was actually enjoying it in times when my speech was good. Of course I had many days when my speech was bad and I would have a bad mood, but I saw improvement! I still had some doubts about my life and had to battle social anxieties, though.
About 2 years ago, I got together with my first girlfriend, to whom I started phone calling every day for 1-2 hours. We broke up 10 months later, but she helped me massively with my mental state, without really trying. Thanks to her, I realized there is future for me, and I no longer felt below everyone. She showed my how life can be beautiful, happy, and that people are actually mostly good 🙂 All the social anxieties were just in my head and I managed to kill them all one by one. Thanks to her, I also got a huge motivation to work on myself, especially my speech.
Inspired by her, I searched internet and found “New speech” therapy, which is basically the same as “Smooth speech”. It is the usual robotic-sounding system accompanied with finger movements to trick our minds. Unfortunately I had to wait almost an entire year to get accepted, but I was very excited about it. At that time, I was already an optimistic guy, had no issues calling someone over a phone (even though I would still stutter and had bad incidents), found many new friends, reached out to my former friends whom I haven’t seen for many years, got new hobbies, and people at work liked me. I no longer had issues with social gatherings, even with my family, but my stuttering was still evident in many situations.
As stuttering was still a problem, I went to “New speech” on November 2019 with high expectations, but I have to admit I was a bit skeptical when I heard that super-slow prolonged way of talking accompanied with finger movements. After a week of learning the system, we started using it in everyday life. It worked in a good many situations, but it sounded so weird and boring, my subconscious started to reject it. I could not use the system for more than just a few minutes, because it would totally drain my energy. I no longer felt joy talking, which I previously had in my good speech days. On the contrary, I actually started avoiding talking with this system, then I realized “Oh wait, I have been there before!” No, just NO. This is NOT the way.
There must be another way to cure stuttering. In “New Speech”, the only thing they told us was about stuttering was that it cannot be cured and we have to learn a different way to talk, because our “old canal” is damaged beyond repair. I was very skeptical about this information from the very first moment I heard it, especially since I knew from my very own experience throughout many years, that my “old canal” can improve, so why can’t we heal it completely? It made no sense. I realized just a few weeks later when I have noticed that I can now speak certain phrases completely fluent using the “old canal”. I was like, wait a minute, so if I keep successfully repeating certain words to people, the fear will eventually die, right? The phrase I’m talking about is “Good day”. I told this phrase to so many strangers using New Speech method that it nearly completely healed. I presented this discovery to my teachers, but they just denied it and told me I must continue using New Speech, otherwise I will never be able to speak fluently. This only brought more wood to the fire since as a very curious and perceptive person that tries to see a problem from as many different angles as possible, I saw flaws in this system and I simply KNEW someone surely came up with a better system.
So I hopped on internet and started searching again. After a while I found Lee’s book: Stuttering & Anxiety Self-Cures: What 1000+ Stutterers Taught Me
The over 100 reviews were absolutely overwhelming. 4.9 stars out of 5 is something you cannot ignore. I knew this must be good. I bought the book the next day and started reading. From the very first page to the last, I was like: “Oh my god, it makes so much sense now! Why didn’t I think of this before? It is so logical!” Lee’s book answered pretty much every question I had regarding stuttering and when I thought about it, it all makes sense now. What makes you stutter, how it mentally affects the PWS, why PWS behaves like they do, even my discovery about “Good day” phrase got 100% confirmed – you will heal your memory banks if you repeatedly and successfully say words to other people. I was totally excited by this information. Finally I don’t have to follow some crap system I hate, I don’t have to listen to teachers telling me to repeat a certain phrase in order to say it 100% correctly while standing in front of a few people, which was obviously a stressful experience, and I got the answers I was looking for.
The very first method that Lee’s book tells you to do is to read aloud alone. I have never really done that before, so it felt strange at the beginning, but I quickly understood the methodology about it. Even though I was one of those rare PWS, who stutter even when reading aloud alone, I keep doing it everyday, gradually increasing my percentage of fluency, which is now at 99%.
For the remaining 1%, I have to use another weapon in Lee’s arsenal – crutches. As I mentioned earlier, I have developed some of my own (most PWS do) – #2 #4 #5 #6 and #8, but I did not know about the rest and I never had a working system that I told myself to follow. So even though I was using crutches even before reading Lee’s book, I still kept having really bad incidents and I wasn’t a “Speech cop”. I did not follow the methodology of stopping before a FW and grabbing a crutch. I forced FWs, so my speech was stuck in 2nd gear 🙂 Thanks to Lee’s book, I have discovered many new crutches and quickly learned to use them. I have to admit I do not use all of them, but I definitely use those that help me most – #2 #4 #5 #6 #8 #9 #10 #11 #12 and of course #13. But most importantly I have become a “Speech cop”, and I also apply other methods in Lee’s book, like for example talking in short sentences. I used to try to talk in long sentences, and as a mid-sentence blocker, I had many issues doing that. That is no longer a problem 😉 There are of course many other methods and things to learn and follow in his incredible book. I would highly recommend to every stutterer to buy and read this book. You will NOT regret it.
Third weapon in Lee’s arsenal are auto-suggestions or positive affirmations. I have created my own version of auto-suggestions based off of Lee’s book, adding one extra for computer games, as I knew I had issues getting too excited while playing them and that would cause a huge stuttering issues, almost like a child that learns to speak.
Obviously these helped a lot. One good example is that I used to be afraid of talking to waiters when ordering my meal. I would purposely order only meals that were safe to say for me, something many PWS do. After about 2 months of practicing Lee’s method, I went to a restaurant and ordered a meal with my girlfriend. I was shocked. I felt very relaxed and ordered exactly what I wanted. Hell yeah! That felt awesome! There was also improvement in my work, where I was in a small office with 4 other colleagues, so every time I said something, I basically did a presentation as all 4 would hear me. At the beginning in January 2020 (before I knew about Lee’s book), I would stutter a lot and would not talk too much with strangers, but I gradually kept noticing I stutter less and less as my fear of talking in front of several people and to strangers was slowly decreasing. I also started talking more to strangers. Previously, I wouldn’t participate too much in small talk, now I do!
I started with Lee’s book in February 2020 and I can confidently say that I have become PWSS after 6 months. Strangers can no longer identify me as a person with speech issue. Of course I still occasionally stutter and have to be careful with feared words, but I am slowly destroying them. But most importantly, I got back to enjoy talking again, which I did not feel with the “New speech”.
This obviously would not happen without Lee’s book and free Skype coaching sessions (or maybe watching a bunch of videos of him coaching others). I had the advantage of working directly with him on Skype, when we would train together some of the crutches that he recommended me to use. I did maybe six of these sessions. So much help.
Thank you, Lee, you are the god of getting rid of stuttering.
Lee recently upped his game by licensing his methods to World Stop Stuttering Association (https://worldstopstuttering.org/) which has developed a program that makes his methods much easier to understand and it has video lectures by Lee and a ton of coaching videos to study, and it’s cheap compared to most therapies.
Whatever you’ve been told, the TRUTH is that you CAN stop stuttering. Lee’s/SAA’s methods. I hope that you’ll join the fluent and find a much happier life as I have.
ALES, Czech Republic, August 2020