My Stutter, Feeling Freedom at University and Coping with COVID-19
Padraig's journey to overcome his stutter and the freedom he felt at university, how COVID-19 affected him and how he turned it around with the support of all McGuire Programme members.
“I remember after my first McGuire Programme course and feeling that sense of freedom that I’ve heard so many members say I would feel. I went back into college and was able to actively participate in class. This was a brilliant sensation and one that I had wanted for a long time.
During my first week, I asked thousands of different questions, ones that I had always wanted to ask but never could or would. I was able to voice my opinion on different topics with friends and disclosed to people that I was working on my speech. Something I never would have dreamed about telling before. This feeling was electric!
On top of this, I put myself forward to present in front of authority figures within the Maynooth University where I study and the Department of Social Sciences. Weeks prior, I would never have thought about doing something like that. Although I was nervous before getting up to speak, I realized that those nerves were normal and not speech-related, as one of my colleagues was nervous too and he didn’t stutter. As mad as it may sound, it was great to have this sense of fear and that the fear wasn’t centered or focused around stuttering. Again, having this newfound freedom in the first few weeks after my first course was absolutely incredible and it felt like it would never end.
But come mid-March and the start of COVID-19, most if not all of us were confined to the four walls of our homes. I was no different. This came as a major shock to me as I had lost most if not all of my speaking situations; in college, at work, with friends, and with making contacts to practice my speech techniques.
The first few weeks of lockdown were challenging as I had lost my initial feel-good factor. I tried to figure out what I could do to work on my speech and how I would cope with living at home confined for the unforeseeable future. I saw my speech take a nosedive and speaking situations started to become scary again.
I was able to start moving forward again after a few challenging weeks. This is when I lost my confidence or I wasn’t in control of my speech. With the advice and support of McGuire Programme coaches, I found new ways of making contacts and to challenge myself. Once I started to do this, I saw a huge resurgence with my speech and my self confidence. My fear level on the phone dropped significantly and I was back to being able to talk during online lectures at college. As the weeks went by there was more and more happening online with various McGuire Programme Support Groups which really was of great benefit to me.
With businesses starting to reopen and our lives getting back to some form of normality, I will take this as a great opportunity to push forward and continue to build on my foundation that I believe I have built-up. I want to challenge myself even more and work towards a level that I can manage and truly enjoy speaking in all situations.
And the good news is in a few week’s time I will start work as an Outdoor Instructor at a Summer Camp. I'm really looking forward to this as I am very passionate about the outdoors and outdoor activities. This will also be a great opportunity to challenge myself speech-wise and build my confidence.
Before joining the McGuire Programme, I never would’ve had this feeling of excitement that I now have in relation to starting a new job. It just goes to show that when I put my mind to something, by putting in the required time and effort and utilising the amazing support that the McGuire Programme offers its members including myself.
I can truly do so much more than before joining and now I can enjoy my life to its fullest.