There used to be a time when I could only dream about being a strong speaker. To dream about being able to say what I want when I want. Thanks to the McGuire Programme, those dreams have very much become a reality.
My mother always said to me “Simon, I’ll keep looking until we find something to help your speech.” In 2009 she came across the McGuire Programme. I was 14 years of age at the time and had already given up. I accepted the fact that I was going to stammer out of control for the rest of my life. I remember coming home from school and she told me that she rang Joe and there was a course coming up in Cork and that if I wanted to, I could do it. In my head I was saying “I’ve tried everything else, why is this different, why should this work”? But I was willing to give it a go. This was it. My last hope.
Off we went to Cork for the course and I couldn’t believe it. I was surrounded by people who had the same problem as me. I wasn’t alone. In 3 days I had transformed into a confident speaker. It was a dream come true. Fast forward 2 years and I’m doing really well. I’m confident. I have no fear. I am that person that I so desperately wanted to be.
Then one day I decided to stop working and very quickly my speech went downhill. Back in the swamp. My speech was now worse than it ever was. Long story short for roughly 7 years I stayed in the swamp. I was fine with other McGuire people but in the real world, my speech had fallen apart. I was embarrassed to pick up the phone and reach out for help from the coaches.
I was ashamed of myself that I had given up and failed. I was now 21 and was working as an apprentice plasterer and one Friday I quit my job because I couldn’t speak to my boss. Every time I’d open my mouth, nothing would come out. I had given up on life. I went home that evening and I broke down in tears and I said to my mam that I needed to go back on the McGuire Programme. I’m sick of this stammer controlling me.
A year and a half ago I built up the courage to come back. It hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows but every day since I have challenged and pushed myself and faced my fears head-on and have slowly grown into a strong, confident speaker. No more holding back. No more running away. Practice, practice, practice. Time and effort has transformed me.