C J, Virginia-KY
My name is “C J” , I’m 28 years old, and I live in Kentucky. I graduated college in 2011 and have a Bachelors in Psychology. My first memories of stuttering are from age 5, when I was pulled out of kindergarten class for speech therapy. I didn’t really know what was happening, I just knew I talked differently than other kids. Secretly, it plagued me and was an internal struggle all through school. I continued with therapy throughout school up until I graduated high school. I created ways to make jokes of my stuttering; I became a jokester and made my friends laugh. Luckily, I wasn’t teased much. I figured if I could make people laugh, they’d focus on the positive aspects about my personality and not my stutter. This worked out for the most part, but I still suffered a little teasing.
I loved to talk a lot growing up. I withdrew a little, but it never kept me quiet for very long. I even became President of Student Government in college. My stuttering had become less severe, not enough to shut down my speech, but I was a very covert stutterer. I avoided situations and people when I could sense trouble approaching. My sense of humor seemed to make it tolerable for others, and I learned to live with it.
However, after graduating college, at age 22 I hit the job market and started my first “adult job” and my stuttering became noticeably worse. I was in a job where I had to talk constantly; giving presentations, talking on the phone, and selling. I would wake up in a cold sweat at night thinking about the next morning at work and rehearsing speaking scenarios in my head. After dealing with this for a few months, my stuttering was at its peak and because of the pressure I decided to do something about it. I went online and joined support groups for stuttering and made some friends who understood my feelings and struggles around stuttering. This helped me feel less “alone” about my speech but it didn’t help me reach the level of fluency I wanted.
I went online and Google searched for “stuttering and anxiety” and found Lee’s book, “Stuttering & Anxiety Self-Cures”. I read the 1st Edition and the 2nd Edition, and his methods really resonated with me. I applied what he wrote and I wanted to know more about his methods. Lee’s email address is in his book, so I messaged him and we began Skyping. I began reading aloud – my aim was an hour each day, but I began to read everything that I could out loud: internet articles, nutrition labels, magazines… you name it. I practiced reading and speaking in front of a mirror, and I did auto suggestions daily; I even recorded my auto suggestions and played them in bed until I went to sleep. I practiced using the crutches as well. Some of these I had stumbled on myself, like substituting words, but Lee had many more and his methods provided numerous options to avoid stuttering.
After eight or so Skypes, I was no longer detectable as a stutterer. I felt like Lee needed to spend his time more with severe cases than with me. So, for the past month, I have also gone to a speech therapist too, and she has helped as well. Some of her methods paralleled Lee’s. I am still Skyping with Lee once or twice a month to “check in”, and my speech continues to improve. I used to think about my speech 90% of the time; now it’s down to 25% or so, and Lee wants to keep working on it until it’s under 5%, which shouldn’t be long; a bit more mastery of the crutches should do it. Lee says that we consent to stutter (at least subconsciously), and he is urging me to practice the crutches more and to actively “refuse to stutter” every day and enforce it by using the crutches.
It has been several months now since I had a stutter incident that might have been viewed as a stutter, but I intend to keep doing my auto suggestions because they’ve allowed me motivate myself and think positively. I am beginning to feel that stuttering is a blessing and being able to help others however remains my goal. I’m learning to take control of my thoughts and to dictate them. This is doing much more for me than just helping my speech anxieties.
Finally, I have to say that I love the idea of Speech Anxiety Anonymous. I think it’s great that Lee has dedicated his time and energy to helping others. The fact that other self-cured PWS are helping stutterers is a great idea – who better to understand stutterers and help them than other stutterers? If you’re a PWS, I hope that you will consider SAA – it’s been a great resource for many.
C J from Kentucky, November 2017