I've had a hard time thinking of topics to write about lately. I've written about many stuttering-related issues from my experiences. I'm sure friends who read this aren't exactly waiting with bated breath for every new blog I write (because seriously, how interested can a non-stutterer be?), but I enjoy this as a way to get things off my chest and help explain to people what happens to me when I talk and why I feel the way that I feel about it sometimes. I have always felt like a misunderstood person, and this is the best way for me to express my feelings. Lately, though, I haven't felt very good. I started writing this as a first step to promote stuttering awareness and eventually become a voice in the stuttering community. At first I felt really positive, but my outlook has been different.
I haven't been able to get a word out in a few weeks. I am in the middle of a stretch where my fluency is very bad and I've stopped wanting to talk because of how tiring it is and how much it hurts. I can't seem to control my breathing, I can't start anything smoothly, and when I do get words out, they are very fast and out of control. My SpeechEasy hasn't helped lately because of how severe my intial blocks are, though when I am around people I still wear it. The two weeks home for Christmas were nice at first, but again I became very bored and depressed, and I feel like my fluency went the way of my mood. I am currently dogsitting, which will be a few bucks for the week, but I'm spending it with a minature schnauzer named Watson, a Grishom novel, and omelettes seemingly at every meal. My energy levels and motivation to work on my speech are much lower than they were for the first few months of the school year, and I attribute this to the isolation. Who knows, maybe this is just downtime and I will pick myself up and get back in gear once school starts, but sometimes I worry that I will always be a tortured soul, no matter how much I say I want to change.
My landlord slipped a newspaper article under my door the other day about an experimental medication for stuttering. I called the number to see if I qualified, but the closest research site is in New York City. The medication is a failed psychiatric drug for panic attacks called Pagaclone, but the experimenters noted that several of the subjects who stuttered had drastic improvements when they were on the medication, but once taken off, went back to their pre-study stuttering severity. Obviously, I am intrigued by this. Actually, "intrigued by" doesn't really cut it here. Considering how badly I've stuttered lately and how bad I've felt, the correct phrase would be "desperate for." If this medicine gets approved by the FDA, I will be popping pills like I was...Lindsay Lohan! As much as I want to think I have improved my opinions about my own stuttering, the fact that I am praying to get this pill as another potential cure shows that I'm not where I need to be. There is a difference between working on stuttering and improving it and being free of it. I've written about this a lot, but so much time needs to be spent on maintaining fluency that a lot of the enjoyment of speaking is lost. Going for a drive is fun, but you lose some enjoyment if you don't take your eyes of the speedometer and white-knuckle the steering wheel while keeping your hands on 10 and 2 the whole time. You just want to let loose, and let loose without the bumper falling of the back if you step on the gas too hard. I imagine there is a certain freedom in just being able to speak your mind, raise your hand, tell a timely joke, interject, interupt, introduce yourself, give a speech, talk to a girl, or anything that fluent people take for granted. I know I'm lying to myself, and in my heart I am getting my hopes up, thinking that this Pagaclone pill will some day cure me and others, and that if I am in fact cured of my stuttering that I will be happy. Because of course, the only people in the world who feel depressed are those who stutter...that's completely rational thinking...
All of that being said, it still comes down to my choice of whether or not to let my stuttering hold my back. Earlier in the year, I chose not to let it, and I had some improvements. Nothing life-changing, but I was making progress. Right now, I've been an excuse machine. "I need my old practice tape!" turned into "I need my SpeechEasy!" which has now turned into "I need these pills!" Bill Parcells once said, "if you give your players an excuse to lose, they will." That's why football coaches don't talk about injuries and off-the-field distractions, because once you admit that something other than preparation and effort will have an effect on the outcome, the team will most likely lose the game. It's just what happens. That's why Belichick doesn't talk about how the team is crippled, he responds with, "Every team has injuries. Injuries are a part of football." The Patriots have had major players injured in the past and they've won three Superbowls in the last four years. If ever there was a better example of why not to give excuses for poor performance, I'd like to hear it.
I know the right path to take to accept both my stuttering and myself as a stutterer, and it isn't a quick fix. But when deep down all you want is to talk normal just like everyone else, you can't help but keep looking for the magic device or pill. Sometimes I don't think I'm strong enough to do it the right way, but if I don't I'll be a bad example and a fraud.
Why do I always feel like I'm sitting on the fence?