I recently graduated from medical school. I am 26, a resident of Nashville, and my name is Micah. I began stuttering at age 5 and stuttered about half my words under pressure. Growing up, of course, I struggled with stuttering in school, doing presentations in class, talking to strangers and authority figures and when on the phone. It was very painful.
I had a lot of therapies, weekly in fact, from age 5 to 18, but it wasn’t of significant help. I then accepted stuttering as a life sentence.
As a young adult, while in medical school, the heat to speak grew much more intense. Interviews were the biggest problem, and I still tended to stutter with authority figures (such as doctors). I could have one or more bad speech incidents a day (appearing to have a speech disability) every day. I was forcing words and contorting my face. At my worst, I stuttered about 70% of my words. I was growing terrified about stuttering when working in the hospital, as was required. Could I finish med school? Could I really practice medicine? My career and life was threatened. Panic set in.
Then, the breakthrough came. Since traditional speech therapies had not worked, I began searching the Internet for alternatives. I found Coach Lee’s book, Stuttering & Anxiety Self-Cures, on Amazon. Lights went on all over the place. I loved it. It made so much sense. I began reading aloud an hour or more a day, doing a couple auto-suggestion treatments daily and using some of his methods and my speech improved significantly. In his book, he invites readers to email him. So, I did. I was stunned when he replied. This led to coaching. He coached me a number of times and had me coached by Tasneem, an attorney from Johannesburg, S.A., and she was a great help. After three months or so, by March 2020, I had cut my stutters from 70% to 35%. It was working.
We worked a lot on linking words together. This reduced the stutters dramatically. When I got lazy and didn’t use the Crutches, I had bad incidents. We added thinking extreme pronunciation as I spoke. Even adding smiling helped quite a bit. By late April 2020, I was down to about one bad incident a month. In May, I told Tasneem that I felt that I knew the Crutches well enough to avoid any stutter any time! By June 2020, I hadn’t had a bad incident in over a month.
I still want to teach myself to love to speak. I’m doing that by pushing myself to talk more when under pressure and to talk to groups, both at Toastmasters and at WSSA’s SpeechMasters Club, which is tailored to those with speech anxiety. Once I truly love to speak, I still want to keep doing my daily auto-suggestions, in an effort to “dictate my thoughts”, as the psychiatrist said, and, by doing so, elevate my life.
What did I learn from all this? I learned that stuttering is simply a bad habit that can be unlearned. I was wrong to think that stuttering is a life sentence. Coach Lee’s book and methods work and they have been made easier to follow and apply by World Stop Stuttering Association’/WSSA’s programs (https://worldstopstuttering.org/), which include all Lee’s speech related books and video courses on each. Also, I want to thank Tasneem and Lee for the great coaching! So, my point is this: if I can beat it, so can you. I hope you will.
Micah, NASHVILLE, TN., June 2020