Finding your voice

Do you ever find yourself in a situation where you know what you want to say, but can’t seem to get the words out?

In a world of constant communication, from a young age we’re taught to “speak up” for ourselves.

Our words and our voice are our ways of expressing who we are and what we feel.

So, imagine living in a world where you can’t get your voice heard. Where your words are trapped inside but just won’t come out, no matter how hard you try.

An existence where saying your own name becomes impossible and stressful.

Imagine how incredibly lonely and isolating that world would be.

How frustrating and anxious it would make you feel.

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Cheryl King has lived in that world nearly all of her life. Because from the age of 3, she’s had a stammer.

She’s endured the times where people have made fun of her speech impediment without being able to answer back, hurt and humiliated.

She’s felt the overwhelming anxiety when a teacher has singled her out in front of class to answer a question and then angrily challenged her when she couldn’t.

She’s realised with sadness that many of her peers probably thought, incorrectly, she was aloof or standoffish for not speaking to them.

After years and years of just existing, keeping herself to herself, last year, Cheryl made a life-altering choice.

“I’d finally had enough,” she explained.

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She completed a course with Starfish Project working with other people with stammers to help her.

“Accepting my stammer and going on the course, meeting others who were like me, made a big difference.

“It made me realise my stammer is only part of what makes me who I am and the techniques they taught help me focus on slowing down and on my breath.

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“When I gained confidence, I realised more had to be done to raise awareness. And I wanted to send a message to other people struggling.”

So, she did just that. And then some.

As well as joining the Scottish Stammering Network she decided to set up her own monthly Fife Support group.

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Then…she set up an open day to raise awareness.

Then…she addressed a room of 80 people, an amazing feat even to someone who doesn’t have a stammer.

Then…she started contributing to a podcast.

An amazing transformation from the person who kept her head down for fear of being asked to speak.

“If I could go back in time and talk to the girl I was, I would tell her there’s going to be tough times ahead. You’ll go to dark places.

“But I’d also tell her, you’ll get through them and those hard times will absolutely prepare you for where you are now and drive you on.

“I always thought I was weak but I’m not.

“I’m strong. And I want to show others like me they’re strong too.”

Cheryl has finally found her voice. Wouldn’t you agree?

To find out more about the Scottish Stammering Network go to their Facebook page.

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