"I don't think fluent speakers could ever really understand what the life of a stammerer can be like. I started to stammer when I was 3 years old. I went through a couple of speech therapies and what I gained - or rather learnt by myself - is how to hide my stammer. I avoided certain words, sounds, used word substitutions, filling words, pretended to have forgotten what I meant to say just so I wasn’t seen as someone who had a stammer. These practises often led into awkward, even bizarre situations, I was seen as someone foolish or clumsy but I didn't really care as long as I could get through the situations.
On the other hand, I had situations which triggered my very very bad stammer. Back then it seemed to be the better I got in hiding my stammer in social situations, the worse my speech got when I couldn't control myself.
For example having to call up anyone unknown on the phone, going to the GP, having university exams then going to job interviews, speaking with my manager, introducing
myself on a company meeting, asking for something in store, talking with my not so often seen relatives, or just a simple bad day.
Before those situations I had sleepless nights being anxious, stressed, being afraid of stammering, which eventually led into stammering. Many times my stammer was so severe I had to write down what I wanted to say. I was completely unable to say a word or my name, not to mention complete sentences. Other times I just skipped introducing myself, or just
did not make a call and I sent an email instead. Or I begged my friends to make a call for me and pretend it was me who was on the phone.
No one really understood, not even myself how could I speak so fluently in social situations and comfort zones and absolutely not being able to communicate in other situations. I felt ashamed, isolated, distant and frustrated.
As I got older i realized I would always be dependent on other people's goodwill and help and would never be able to lead a life I’d wanted, as at a majority of my everyday activities I completely failed to communicate appropriately. My stammer defined my life.
As my last hope I made a research and found the Mcguire programme. What
really appalled me in the programme that it was ran by stutterers! I watched some videos and read a couple of stories and I was convinced to join to this programme as for the first time in my life I didn't feel myself so alone with my problem.
It was liberating to see so many people went through the same, and they could achieve so much!
I joined to the programme in 2016 March, and it was definitely the best decision in my life.
I remember right after 24 hours of joining I could stand up at front of more than 50 people and say out my name loud for the very first time of my life.
On the last day during my farewell speech my friend and brother could see me (again for the first time in my life) standing up at front of an audience and speaking out loud from my heart. It was really a life changing experience for me and I didn't look back since then.
I cannot express how much I could achieve in such a little period of time - I got interviews, got a new job, I got new friends, I went to Toastmasters, I had client facing meetings, went to social events where I didn’t know anyone... and enjoyed all of them!
I've not only became a better speaker but a better person as well, I gained confidence to realize I am be able to do and achieve whatever I want to, if I put in the effort. I do not let my stammer define me anymore. I’m no longer afraid of speaking situations, but looking for them. I’m no longer running away from my fears but face them. I’m very grateful for this programme and each and every person involved - graduates, coaches, instructors, directors and Dave McGuire. You gave me a chance to be the best possible myself I could have never been without you.
I’m very happy and proud to say I’ve became a coach recently to help other people to overcome their stammer and live their life to the fullest. I’m looking forward to be a part of their journey and give something back to this amazing programme."