Back to antidepressants

It is not that I am weak. I know I said I did not want to take drugs but things were getting out of hand. I wasn't able to be calm and was too anxious. It was interfering my life to a point which just was tormenting me.

I am know on Lexapro (escitalopram) which is supposed to be a leap from Prozac (fluexetine). Has it worked? Umm, I think a bit. I still get anxious but not on a daily basis. I was expecting that it would reduce my stuttering and well, it has only because it has reduced my anxiety although I have to admit it is a very minor improvement.

I am forgetting things, misplaceing words in my sentences and cannot manage to get the correct message. I almost miss the good times when I just stuttered. However I am not going to start bitching about it. I have learned that I have to be more positive you know. Life is going well and my marriage is just outstanding. I have to focus on the bright sude of life and while stuttering brings me down at times, I have decided to not let it defeat me. At least for now.


The power position

Stuttering is not the same to every individual. What would work for some would not work for others because of its complexity. This is why, at times, I feel so lonely and vulnerable. However we stutterers, share common struggles that in some way unite one same feeling of complete frustration.

As you may know by know, I am a teacher. Also I stutter more in Spanish than in English. I have tried to find the reasons to why this happens and have my own conclusions. What troubles me is how, in my case, stuttering or stammering seems to be morphing or changing. This means that I stutter differently now that I did before. For example, I used to not stutter with my bosses but now I am starting to. I also did not stutter with some people but the more I opened up the more I stuttered. So I am now seeing some patterns and have come to a discovery of the Power Position.

My best example is that when I teach I am in control, thus in a power position. This sensation of control relaxes me (I suppose) or creates in me a sense of confidence. I have realized that after my classes when students come to me to talk about other things not related to the course then I start stuttering more. I also teach Spanish and I always expect the worse but when I am in class I stutter less. It seems that this Power Position gives me an extra backup or just more room to relax. Of course I have my days but stuttering is usually worsen when I fall out of this position.

For instance, I used to be very fluent with my bosses and used to talk very relaxed. Then I started intimating more and opening up and suddenly I was in a position where I started to talk to them more friendly wise. I fell out of position and now I avoid talking to them because I just can't find the words and I just doubt about myself. It is hard to tell you about the Power Position because I do not understand it completely.

What I know for sure is that if I would not have this Power Position I would not be able to be a teacher don't you guys think? And believe me I do stutter. In my class I am the main guy, the one who controls the environment, who puts order. This gives me this position. However when my wife tells me about a social gathering with her friends I fall completely out of position. Everyone will look at me and will want to meet me and I will have to talk naturally and well, no Power Position. If I could only know how to manage this state and repeat it throughout all my interactions I bet I could improve a lot.

At any rate, I do feel that my stuttering is changing and is getting stronger. I hope that I don't lose this Power Position effect because I am good at what I do. Stuttering is too complex!


Birthday Revelation

Last Tuesday was my Birthday. You know, that day of the year when people are forced to call you and to say something nice. I always disliked this day because I hate the extra attention. However, even though I try to avoid the spotlight, deep inside I wanted it to be a special day.

This year I realized how my stuttering has affected my social connections. I got around 5 to 8 calls. Even if I wanted, there was nothing I could've done to organize a reunion. It was just so lame and pathetic that I missed the attention. My parents are in the USA and my friends are... FORGOTTEN! I have created such isolation that I have lost contact with them. I have rejected so many invitations because of my stuttering. I used to get calls from aunts and cousins but I have missed those family reunions. My family thinks I just don't want to be with them or that I have changed. Most do not know I stutter. The only ones that have called were my grandparents and even they sounded "weird". Of course, I am just so concentrated in avoiding anything that involves exposing myself talking that I haven't visited them for ages.

I do not want this. I wish I could be stronger to tolerate all the pain and shame that stuttering brings. At least I have realized that I have to change. I can't keep on doing this. I need to confront my fears although it won't be fun. Finally I got what I always thought I wanted: A birthday in which no one would notice,but man it is not pretty!


Scanman II - The Journey Continues

I remember a couple of years ago stumbling upon the name Scanman and I fit perfectly for its sequel.

What amazes me most about being a stutter is my ability to foresee the future regarding my speech. According to innumerable sites and books, the problem in stuttering relies in the muscle tension that is produced when speaking. here is one quote from Wikibooks.org regarding this issue:

Core Stuttering behaviors:

  • Disordered breathing, including antagonism between abdominal (belly) and thoracic (upper chest) respiratory muscles; complete cessation of breathing, and interrupting exhalation with inhalation.
  • Disordered vocal folds, including high levels of muscle activity or muscle tension; poor laryngeal too late or holding tension too long; and poor coordination of laryngeal muscles, e.g., incompatible contractions of opposing muscles.
  • Disordered articulation, including dysfunctions of the lips, jaw, and tongue in stuttering.

I just describe it as a pressure in my chest that won´t let me say what I want to say at the right time. It is just frustrating because you cannot go on. Now, this of course not happens when you have the correct "air flow" going in and out. For example when we sing we never stutter. But what about when we speck to ourselves? We don´t either because there is no muscle tension going on. Hmmm... for these reasons many call it a social disorder because of external factors involved. It may seem simple then to try to point put the solution. CALM DOWN AND TALK SLOWLY! How many times have I tried and it does helpo but also you sound like a retard at times. However in social spotlights it does not work. It is like there are bricks on top of you.

This is where I noticed "my" powers. I started scanning what I was going to say and choose the stutterless words. If the stuttering words were completely necessary I would choose for a synonym. If not I would simply shut up, change the subject of the conversation, say I don't know or just simply... ummm.. SssSSS--TtttttTT-eeeeRR. Wow I said. And I was good at it. I then knew it! I WAS SCANMAN!!!

This happens so fast. It is just at most 3 seconds (with practice). Our brains don´t even want to say what we think or feel but what we can say at that right moment. Say you wanted a cookie but you scanned the sentence before and detected cookie sending a rush of fear that there is a 75.8% chance of stuttering on it. Then you see the table. Ok, what else can I ask for. Time is running up damn it! Shit, there is also a slice of chocolate cake but the "k" sound is in cake and today I feel really stuttery with the "k" sound. Then you see it. Oh yeah. Scanman has done it again. "May I have just plain water?" "Oh", they reply. "Don't you want something to eat?" " No, sir (I scanned thanks and replaced it with sir in 0.876 seconds and gee it sounded too formal but what the hell) "I am on a diet". A diet, I thought to myself. I haven't been on a diet for like... oh ... NEVER. But Scanman pulled it out one more time. He is not always versatile with word selections but he gets the work done.

This is interesting though. I mean think about it. We scan to catch stuttery words but there is no rigid pattern. I mean of course, sounds n, p, k, s, b, and a are among my top feared ones but there are days when the n sound cleared by the scanning process. What I am getting to is that if I am tensed I should stutter in the same sounds. Also, when I am relaxed I should stutter less. The truth is sometimes I am really relaxed and stutter like crazy.

Fortunately, I am Scanman. Many people wish to see him defeated though. "Just stutter". Maybe they are right but when you are a superhero with these super powers that you can use to not be the ridicule of a social gathering, one just can't contain such power. Many times I have thrown off the costume but I am Scanman and I need myself. So you might not know who I am, or what I am up to because my labor is in silence but where stuttering and stammering hides, where muscle tensions happen, or where social gatherings occur, Scanman is there to save the day.