For the purpose of this, I will use the word stutter instead of stammer. And they mean the same.
I am a stutterer, and I can’t help it.
Yes, for those of you who know me well enough, you will hear me stutter(stammer) frequently. I can’t explain it but when I get too comfortable with speaking to someone, the frequency of my stuttering increases. Whereas the normal case should be the other way round.
I have seen and experienced it myself, that some people just like to make fun of stutterers and while I can tolerate the jokes, I believe many others feel hurt because it is not something we want. I know it could be annoying, and it is annoying for us too! We have no control over it, just like how sufferers of seizures can’t. It attacks more often than not, in the least expected situations like a casual talk with friends. On the contrary, although I worry about stuttering during presentations, it has yet to occur. Now, even doctors find it hard to explain.
My dad is a stutterer, and a heavy one at that, so naturally I believed my condition to be a genetic one. When I was a child, I used to stutter more than I do now. I am glad that the condition improved. While there is no exclusive explanation for the causes and mechanism of stuttering, let me share what is going on inside my brain when I stutter. I would probably describe my condition as both a speech block and repetition of words/syllable.
As I talk, usually images and words appear in my mind before they come out of my mouth so I could articulate my ideas and content. If I am too comfortable talking, my brain tend to relax and go into a half asleep mode. I could get stuck somehow because the part of my brain that controls speech just refuses to process the word! Or it could be me talking too fast for my brain to process the words and images (so my mouth has nothing to say). For example I could be wanting to say the sentence, “So he told me that he has to create another folder because it is too messy.”
I could get stuck at the word, “create”, so I could be saying, “cre-cre-cre-create”. As I am very conscious of this situation and want to avoid it, I would restrain myself from repeating and forcing the word out. Thus it will result in this awkward pause, “creeeee…(take a long breath) create”.
Also, in order to avoid the repetition of syllable, I would sometimes use substitutes. In this example, I may say, “So he told me that he has to cr… make another folder because it is too messy.” Well it certainly trained my brain to think fast because most of the time the word that is blocked won’t even get time on stage before being masked. It may thus appear like this, “So he told me that he has to … make another folder because it is too messy.”
Sometimes the substitute word can be damn weird. “So he told me that he has to … form another folder because it is too messy.” And although the sentence is understandable, it doesn’t make proper sense. Other times, I may just change them to Mandarin words.
And sometimes I could even get stuck on the first word! Like, “Theeeee (fuck me) Theeeee (fuck la) That day blah blah”. I do curse myself for being unable to speak properly, but we need your patience.
If friends who know me didn’t know of my condition, I would say that it’s probably me masking it well or that I may not feel comfortable enough around them (which means my brain is working hard).
I regard myself as having above average self-confidence, and getting laughed at for stuttering is not something to be concerned about. However, I still feel injustice for stutterers who are being made fun of. It could potentially destroy someone’s self-esteem and worsen his condition. Please stop it if you’re guilty of making fun of stutterers. And with that, I would like to help heavy stutterers to improve their conditions.
And if you’re thinking of what to say to stutterers, these are not what we want to hear.
I don’t know how much of this makes sense to fellow stutterers, but if you want to share how your brain is wired differently, or have unforgettable interactions with people, I would like to know.