Written by Hanna
When I was younger my stuttering made me silent. I only spoke when I felt I wouldn’t stutter. Despite switching out words and planning ahead what I was gonna say, I still got long blocks in my speech. The shame I felt in those moments was excruciating. The anxiety afterwards lasted for days or weeks. In my head my stuttering was a weakness, a weird disability, and I had no one but myself to blame for it. Being older I started to wonder where those feelings of shame really came from. Why do I, and so many other of us who stutter, get these feelings of shame?
People would (and still sometimes will) get extremely uncomfortable when I stuttered. When I got a block and couldn’t get any sound out, they would panic. They started to look beside me, upon the ceiling, down on the floor – basically anywhere except at me. Other times people didn’t understand what I was saying, so they’d asked me to repeat. When I repeated it a second time and they still didn’t understand they pretended to understand with a head nod and a ”mhhmm” – and then quickly started to talk to someone else. Others would try to guess the words I was trying to say, only to make the stuttering even worse.
A few people who behaved in this way when I stuttered did it because they wanted to be mean and make fun of me – but the majority of them acted out of insecurity of how to behave. Even though I understood that they didn’t have bad intentions, their reactions to my stuttering still left scars in me. Feelings of shame that I still carry with me.
Being in a safe environment at the Erasmus + camp, my feelings toward my stuttering slowly changed. When I hear you have stories just like mine I don’t feel alone. When I share my own stories, and from you get understanding and support, the scars of shame that I carry heal a little bit. Piece by piece. I understand the bigger perspective that the shame actually isn’t mine. I cannot help my stuttering – but people who have met me and those who will meet me in the future can help their reactions. On more occasions I stand up for myself and react to their reactions. This gives me a feeling of control of the situation and control of my feelings afterwards. Those old scars slowly heal and less new ones are created inside me.
The fact that this camp has had such a big positive impact on my life is truly amazing. I will forever be thankful for the people who let me be a part of it. The experiences have changed something in me that I know will stay with me forever <3