Like many others, I’ve had a stammer from when I could talk. It was detected early by play-school teachers and I received phenomenal support from my family, schools, speech therapists and my Drama teacher.
I was fortunate that I was never bullied for my stammer, and I became quite a confident child as a result of compensating for my stammer and always encouraged to talk at home, something which my siblings hated claiming that they could never get a word in!
However even though no one else gave me grief for my stammer, I did that enough. I became a pro at throwing myself pity parties, every time I blocked or stammered I would be overwhelmed with guilt, shame, anxiety and embarrassment.
I unconsciously began to try to hide my stammer by avoiding eye contact, blinking through every word, covering my mouth and constantly pretending to forget the word so people would finish my sentence. I was always imagining situations where I wouldn’t have a stammer, always thinking I would have gotten a better mark in a presentation, I would have gotten that job, I would have added to group discussions, I would have said that interesting fact if only I didn’t have a stammer…
I had heard of the McGuire Programme ages ago when I was a lot younger, and my parents for many years would drop it into conversation. To be honest I was hesitant, and TV coverage which I had seen of the course where people would speak slowly voluntarily stammer sounded like my worst nightmare.
I eventually joined the programme in November 2012 in Galway, my third attempt after I chickened out twice before. I had finally had enough of my stammer dictating my decisions and how I felt about myself.
After my first course, I felt a change immediately. My world suddenly had endless possibilities to it. The most important thing that the programme has given me is a changed perspective on my stammer. I’m no longer controlled by it, but proud of it. It is now just another trait I have that makes up who I am.
The fantastic thing about the McGuire Programme is joining a great community of people who have all had similar experiences to you, something that I never had before and realised that I had never opened up honestly about my stammer.
The McGuire programme challenges your thinking and helps you physically and mentally control your stammer. I have recently became a coach on the programme, and look forward to listening and helping support others in their journey, just like so many inspirational people on the course have helped me.
Over everything McGuire has given me a sense of fearlessness and hope for future opportunities.