Thursday, 28 August 2008

Soo.... The weather!

Well.. I've been really quiet over the past month and that's mainly due to one reason; I've not given my stutter much thought. Not any thought really... It's so weird how my mindset towards stuttering changes so drastically from when I'm at university to when I'm home. Overall I'm currently in a "good" period with regards to my stutter (this will definately jinx it now) and have been pretty fluent. Obviously I still stutter but I get the feeling that I don't confuse people when I talk.. You know when you stutter so much in a sentence you don't even know what you're saying anymore? Ya.. So that's all been good.

I'm even more fluent in German, my second language which I'm fluent (well obviously I don't mean that type of fluency.. I stutter.. but you know what I mean!) in. Now, what I've noticed is that I absolutely suck at controlling my stutter in foreign languages, maybe it's the stress? The unfamiliarity? Who knows... All I know is that I can't control it half as well as I can in English. Thus, I don't like speaking German or learning new languages, which is a shame because I have a knack of picking languages up. -Funny how a linguistic person has a stutter no?-

I'm not really sure why the sudden fluency came about... I pen it on the girlfriend post I spoke about earlier. The magics of relationships blaaadeeh bla bla. Anyway! My point... I recently had to go to a "refresher course" so I wouldn't have my driving license taken away. It's basically the automotive version of A.A. Naturally talkings required... and first day I was nervous, heart was in my throat and I was using all the "tricks" I knew to come off as someone who didn't stutter. Eventually I stopped caring and would stutter through the sentences in German. Albeit, "fluently"... And as I did this I noticed the stutter less.

Which brings me to my closing point, perhaps what we stutterers need to do is not to fight stuttering, not to use our minds against it, but rather accept it. Go with the flow of the stutter. If the stutter doesn't want you to finish a sentence then so be it. I think that the only reason people will make a deal out of your stutter is if you do. Perhaps this is why it was seldom an issue in primary/middle/high-school.... I didn't make an issue out of it (lets exclude 1-2 years) and so nobody else did. And perhaps the only reason the stutter will overcome you is if you let it to. Something which I have definately done in my opening year of university. I go to university tomorrow, and this time... I'm going to try my best to not worry about the stutter.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

The Future! Aaaargh!!!

I often find myself pondering, "how on earth are you going to overcome that with your stutter!?" If any of you have been in some of these situations it would be interesting to hear, even if they've been horrid.

Right, so the future situations I fret about... Notice how most concern marriage!

  • Proposing to a woman, I assume that given how I don't stutter as much around girlfriends that this shouldn't be too much of an issue.. But then again I can only imagine how nervous it would make one feel.
  • Saying "I do" at the Altar... (see above). I guess I could always nod?
  • Saying your vows at the wedding... aaah... now you include a room full of people. Perhaps, if I were to get married I could do some sort of interpretive dance.
  • I would imagine that if my brother were to marry I would be best man.. and the best man has to give a speech.. so ya.. Same as last one, interpretive dance anyone!?
  • Getting pulled over by a cop. This may seem weird.. But, I would assume that if a cop pulled you over it was due to your driving. Add the stuttering to the equation and his first thought might be that you're drunk on drugs? Then you include the nerves of the situation and, and and!
  • Job interview. I've not had a job interview yet perse, I've had jobs.. but no job interview. This is probably the least of my worries out of the list at the moment as it would be one-on-one and either you get the job or you don't.
  • Doing a presentation for your work... It's inevitable isn't it? Public speaking... aaaah, I'll touch on that whole farce on a later date.

That's all the ones I can think of off the top of my head at the moment...

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Quiet time

Hey guys, wanted to apologize for the lack of frequency on posts. I find that this is mainly down to the fact that back home I'm in a more comfortable environment surrounded by friends I've known for at least a couple of years and have no reason to try to hide the stutter (thus think about it less). Whereas over at university in U.K this is all different. I find myself constantly trying to prevent any slight stutter whereas here I bulldoze through it. I guess I should be doing what I'm doing at home at university but that's easier said than done right? University after all is a place where first impressions count and I suck enough as it is with good first impressions, stuttering aside. So I guess in that sense the pressure is always on when I talk to people at university whereas at home I couldn't really care less.

I also find that some of my friends at university don't really have the patience for my stutter and will often just stop listening to me when I'm talking. Although the latter is particulary only one person but to say it isn't frustrating is an understatement. Infuriating really...

Well, check this space in the next couple days and I'll have another post up by then.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Fix your stutter, get a girlfriend!

Something I've always noticed since I started dating a while back is that I stutter rarely when with my girlfriend. I remember that with my long-term girlfriend who I was dating last year I would very rarely stutter and when I did I would get a block and would be able to overcome it fairly quickly. Also, when I am around women who I am affectionate with I still stutter but to a lesser degree than with my female or male friends. So in short:
  • Long-term girlfriend = minimal stuttering
  • Affectionate female friend = less than average amount of stuttering.

Am I the only one who thinks this is bizarre? It seems as if the people we are around have an affect on the amount we stutter. From the above we can deduce that the more comfortable I am with the person the less I stutter. Makes sense no? Well it would, except I stutter more around my parents than with people I've just met. Logic would define that I'm more comfortable around my parents than with the people I've just met so I should stutter less around my parents. Wrong.

Furthermore, I stutter the same around good friends and normal friends, both male and female. It just seems to change when I'm with my girlfriend. Maybe it's because I'm generally more at ease, relaxed, happy with her? Who knows? Any of you out there got any ideas as to why? Is it the same with you?

If so... then hey! Get yourself a girlfriend/boyfriend!

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Fluent periods?

I, fortunately, am one of those stutterers who manages to get somewhat fluent periods. During group therapy sessions I have met fellow stutterers who have a much more difficult time expressing their thoughts than I do. I, even as a stutterer, cannot quite imagine how bad that would be to go one sentence without stuttering on every syllable.

However, that's not the reason for my post. 10 days ago or so I went back to my home in Germany from university (which is in England). And let's just say I've noticed something quite interesting. Back in England I would think about my stutter, its constraints, its possible effects on the people surrounding me, the role it plays etc. I would also stutter quite often, at least once every two sentences, usually once a sentence. Which is originally why I decided to create this blog, partially as it was a good place for me to vent. Now! I'm back home and I'm noticing that I stutter maybe once every six sentences or so. Now this is most surprising to me because:

  1. I usually stutter more at home with my parents than with my friends.
  2. I'm stuttering less with my parents than with my friends back in England.
  3. This is the most fluent I've been in easily over a year.

I can't quite understand why, but this all kind of struck me last night when I was meeting some old friends and I had a block. The first one in hours. Hours! And I got over that block in no time! Shortly after the block my stutter came to my attention and I stammered the next sentence out but after that it was fine. Possible reasons?

  • Was in a comfortable situation.
  • I was smoking shisha (hookah) at the time which relaxes me so maybe that? I wasn't drinking alcohol though.
  • Not thinking about my stutter as much.
  • For you spiritualists out there, it was a full mooon! oooOOOooo

Would love to hear any of your thoughts as to why I'm so fluent all of a sudden or if you've had similar encouters.

P.S. This isn't like a period where I stutter less than usual, this is quite a drastic improvement - or least I like to think so.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Oh telephone, telephone... How I hate you

A common thing among stutterers, a situation which those who don't stutter can't empathise with. Oh yes, the infamous telephone conversation! I know you all hate it just as much as I do...

I remember when I was young I would love to answer the phone, back in the days where my stutter didn't really concern me as a "disability". Nowadays, I dread it. For those of you who don't know; I'm just about nearing the end of my first year of a Bachelors degree at university. So, I live in university halls.

Anyway! A couple months ago I couldn't be bothered to make food and was craving a bit of oriental food. Simple no? Just get someone else to order with you and you have the telephone situation avoided. I went upstairs to some of my friends and sure enough convinced them to get some. So after about 30 minutes of choosing which one and what to get... came the moment. The telephone conversation! I instantly scream "SHOTGUN NOT IT!" (thank god I didn't stutter there :D) This is followed by the two out of three remaining people shouting it. Eventually, the last one said she wasn't calling them. Why? I don't really know why and I don't even think she knew why. I said I didn't want to, thinking it was pretty clear why... This was followed by another guy who didn't want to because he's scared of getting the order wrong... fair enough, least that's a reason. And the last person usually did the calling but was fed up.

So here we are:

1 Stutterer
1 Person who doesn't know why she doesn't want to call
1 Person who is scared of getting the order wrong
1 Person who always calls and is fed up of calling.

Well seems pretty clear doesn't it? The first person definitely won't be asked on. Wrong.

They seemed to keep telling me to call them as it was my idea for us to get takeout. Duuh! Because I don't want to call them! So I straight up told them I don't want to call them because I stutter.


I was actually speechless.. not because I had a block but because I couldn't imagine someone would lack so much empathy. And they weren't the only ones. There were other people in the kitchen at the time who had said similar remarks when I told them I didn't want to phone, because I stuttered. In short, an hour later, nobody had called, and I ended up eating some snacks for dinner.

What struck me most about that situation was that they were surprised that my stutter would be an issue... "Let's get the guy who stutters rather than the guy who is scared of getting an order wrong to order!". I mean, for crying out loud, people sometimes mistake what I say when I order stuff because I don't enunciate (so to prevent the stutter), but apparently I'll be flawless in a phone conversation?

In the whole year, I've probably been asked to call every single time we've ordered out. I guess I should be glad they see my situation as equal, but it isn't though is it? I have ordered on a couple occasions and they generally went ok but why put someone outside their comfort zone when they don't want to? It's one of the things, regarding my stutter and how people react to it, that has bothered me in the past year.

On a brighter note, I had to talk to a French gentleman to get a booking altered and I actually managed to say my details! Including my name! Card numbers! And dates! In some fluent matter...

Damn telephones...

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Bus Stop Madness!

Ever have those moments where you just think to yourself; "please God... just this once!" I seem to be having them a lot regularly nowadays... One of those moments is when I step on the bus and have to ask for a return ticket. Now picture this scenario:

The bus rolls up, there's a queue of people behind you all racing to get on the bus. The majority of those waiting already have bus passes, they just stroll pass... you're up next. You know what you're going to say!

"City return ticket. City return ticket. City return ticket. City return ticket."

You go up, feel the block.. and there it is again. Pressure builds up! Unsure of what the people behind are thinking of you as you convince yourself that you're holding everyone up, when in fact you're not really... So what happens?

"City please."

That's right, no return bit... This may seem kind of minimal but two single tickets cost 4 pounds, (that's about eight dollars, crazy.. I know) whereas a return costs 3 pounds (six dollars). So I end up spending that extra pound more merely because I can't (don't want to) say the flipping return part!

Now I'm sure many of you are wondering why I don't just word substitute? I tried that once... Got two single tickets, and naturally my friends found that amusing.


Seems really quite silly that I do this often; pay that extra pound more just to avoid the pressure that I, myself, build. I've probably lost quite a bit in the long run, and sadly this isn't the only scenario.

Next year... I'm getting myself a bus pass!

Monday, 26 May 2008

One's stuttering evolution?

Maybe I'm just overthinking things or my memorys hazy; even if I'm far from the age of dellusion, but am I the only one whose stuttering behaviour seems to alter over time? What I mean is that when I look back ten years, or even five, I remember myself trying to control my stutter in a different manner.

For example, when I was a child I began to develop the head tilts and ticks which are common among fellow stutterers. I eventually stopped doing this after my father shouted at me to stop doing so. Although it was pretty brutal for me back then, it certainly did make me stop the ticks - obviously not the stutter.

From then on, in my early teens, I would stutter and just keep trying to force the word out until I ran out of air and keep going. If I can recall correctly my stutter wasn't as bad as it can be nowadays, but maybe that's just wishful thinking? Anyway, now two things happen:

  1. I try to speak past the block, it fails, and I stutter and stutter till after a few seconds of stuttering I stop. I then try to relax and say what I want to.
  2. I notice the block, stop, try to relax and say what I want to.
Sounds pretty decent no? Well, not really. What basically happens is that the blocks still there and I just end up repeating the prior few words a lot until I can manage to get past the block. So basically what this means is that on a bad day I end up saying a sentence which is highly fragmented. And I can only imagine how difficult it might be for those who are trying to listen and grasp what I'm saying. Admittedly, the latter approach does work occasionally.

So I'm starting to wonder to myself is it better to try and stammer past the block or to take a break and try to relax? Not for me, but for those listening.

As for the head tilts, I'm pretty sure I don't do those anymore but I'm fairly sure the facial ticks have crept back.

As krass as it may sound, is there a better way to stutter? Has anybody else noticed how their stutter has evolved over their lifetime?

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Introductory kind of thing?

How does someone start one of these things off anyhow? Well anyway, I have been stuttering for as long as I remember. There was no significant event that started it, it just started. I don't really know when exactly it started. I know I've asked my parents but they gave me a wishy washy answer and it, surprisingly, didn't really concern me too much. I mean, afterall, I stutter - how will knowing when exactly it started help?

Since I can remember I have participated in numerous therapies, some with scientific logic behind them, others with spiritual faith behind them. From the logical to the lunical. What I can categorically say about all of them is I pretty much hated all of them, most probably because of the tediousness of them. However, there was one that actually showed a noteable improvement (Del Ferro Method), I'll probably talk about that experience later on...

I have been in over a dozen of different schools due to my family relocating, have had to introduce myself countless times. And it is this that amazes me, WHY is it so damn hard to say your own fricking name!? Something I have experienced more and more in my first year of University...

*class begins*
Teacher: Alright, so how about we go around the room and all introduce ourselves?
Me: *panics*
*students introduce themselves in a calm, boring fashion*
Me: *thinks to himself* AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
*student before me finishes his introduction, all eyes on me*
Me: M-m-m *pauses* My name's M-mike and I................
*finish introduction and let my heart rate fall to a normal amount*

This is one of my most terrifying experiences at university so far. When I'm talking to people in person it's not as bad. Seeing as I've introduced myself to a stupid amount of people since I've been here, mainly because I've had to, I sometimes even manage to say my name without a stutter!

So why the blog? Well, I never really paid much attention to my stutter, mostly thanks to my family, until my teenage years where it began to frustrate and bother me. Or at least that's when I can really remember it troubling me. However, since it started troubling me it's just grown and grown and I've recently started browsing the internet and stumbled upon numerous interesting blogs of people who stutter and figured why not tell people of all my tales? Even if this makes me a bit of a hypocrite as I swore a while back I would never have a blog, but I feel this blog has more of a point than just being a diary... Time will tell I guess! Sooo! This is basically a blog to show the mindset and emotional insights of someone who stutters...

Oh, apologies for the run-ons, fragments etc... I'm not perfect.