My name is Greg. I’m 25, a sports reporter, residing in New Jersey. My job is doing interviews in person and by phone and writing about sports events and athletes. If I can’t speak, I simply can’t perform my job. Until recently, I have been a situational stutterer with shut-down stutters or complete blocks at times. I particularly felt high anxiety with the phone, as well as approaching people and introducing myself before an interview. I also frequently blocked socially when asked to repeat myself or provide specific information. Those issues are essentially gone now.
I began stuttering at age 10. In those days, my stuttering was the worst in school. Almost any time that I had to read aloud, I couldn’t do it. The more that this happened, the more that I stuttered in other situations. After a while, it became a vicious cycle that made me more reclusive and shy. Only a stutterer can understand the relentless pain and agonizing that it imposes. By the time that I got to high school, I basically went silent. I was anti-social besides around my few closest friends. I didn’t want to be that way and knew I had a lot to express, especially being a gifted writer. But I felt that I had no choice. The problem didn’t go away; if anything, it got worse. I had many subconscious fears and struggled to make eye contact with people. I thought about my speech constantly, and I felt anxious all the time. I felt trapped.
I managed the issue more in college as I focused on positive developments with my education and career and made new friends, but sporadic problems persisted. Two years ago, I finally went to a speech therapist for about a year. This wasn’t inexpensive, and all that she offered was relaxing methods, easy onset, and breathing methods that sounded odd and didn’t work consistently. Later, she suggested that my posture was the cause of the problem. She had never stuttered, and I came to realize that a non-stutterer will never truly understand a stutterer’s problem. Academic training is no substitute for personal suffering.
I read Lee’s book in the fall of 2017, and viewing stuttering as a mental problem made so much sense. While stuttering is a physical act, we trigger it mentally. Otherwise the problem wouldn’t be so inconsistent. So, I emailed him, and we began to Skype. I began to see mild improvement, but, admittedly, it took me months to really embrace his methods. I was suspicious of his crutches working practically, and I was a bit lazy in applying his other methods consistently. I didn’t do enough daily, passionate reading. I didn’t do the auto suggestion treatments faithfully, and I didn’t practice the crutches enough in situations when I didn’t need them in order to master them. So, while I was improving, it was a slow process with slight relapses, and my frustrations continued.
Due to cancellations, we Skyped about twice a month, but each Skype helped me more and more. I began to really apply the methods: reading EVERYthing aloud, doing my AST’s with conviction every day and learning self-hypnosis, even giving myself “idle time AST’s”, as Lee calls them, while driving in the car or jogging or whatever: “I love to speak; I love to speak…” I began to improve on a steadier path. It’s July 2018 as I write, and it has been over three months since I had a “bad incident” (defined as appearing to have speech disability). My stutters now are minor and not noticeable; Lee says that he hears none. (Watch my video and judge for yourself. The link is at the bottom of this story.)
At this point, as I see myself, I have stopped stuttering, and I know that I know the crutches well enough to avoid ANY stutter-threat. As a result, while occasional fears of stuttering attack me, I do not fear speaking as I once did. The fears are becoming less and less. I have also learned to accept minor speech hiccups and keep right on talking. As Lee says, “No one notices, and, if they do, they don’t care, and, if they care, they soon forget it.” The bottom line is that we-stutterers are ridiculously concerned about other people’s opinions; as we learn not to be concerned about that, speech-pressures dissipate. Focusing strictly on our ideas and passion when talking rather than specific words also helps immensely.
If I had followed Lee’s methods sooner and been more diligent about it, I probably could have stopped stuttering noticeably sooner. In any event, I did apply them eventually, and they worked. I didn’t quit and my persistence paid off. I hope to help Lee and his other PWSS (people who stopped stuttering), whose stories are also on Speech Anxiety’s Anonymous’ website. The key is to develop a consistent habit with the methods and maintain a positive attitude and never quit.
Something very important about this process is that, in addition to stopping stuttering, my attitude about life has done a 180 turn. My anxieties and other negative thoughts are down, because other personal issues I may deal with can also be conquered with mind control.
In closing, I want to thank Lee for an illuminating book and for 15 or more Skype sessions, and for showing “tough love” to me and many other PWS. It’s easy to wallow in self-pity about our speech, but you must change your attitude. We CAN stop stuttering with proper discipline. I did it, as have many others, some of whom have posted Success Stories like this one on SAA. I also thank SAA and the other PWSS who help Lee offer their free services to help PWS beat Satan Stuttering. Now, if you want to hear and see me talk, go here: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/280050350. I hope to coach for SAA someday; so, maybe I’ll see you there.
GREG, New Jersey, July 2018