Stuttering and Depression
Posted November 13, 2009on:
Wow! I started this blog post about a week ago, after reflecting on some things going on in my life and talking with several people who stutter (and one who doesn’t) about whether people who stutter are more prone to depression. I talked to good friend Jamie yesterday, and in asking how she has been doing, she told me to check out the latest episode of Stutter Talk.
I couldn’t believe it when the episode had the exact same title,” Stuttering and Depression” as this blog post. I toyed with the idea of changing my title, but then figured, “Nah, I don’t have to.” I will link the Stutter Talk guys and episode over here. There’s more than enough to go around when we confront and acknowledge our fears about depression.
Several people I know who stutter have also struggled with depression at various times. We have talked about it. Low self-esteem, constant fear of judgment, anxiety and stress related to the stuttering experience can definitely contribute to, or exasperate depression. Feeling isolated can also be depressing. And trying to keep stuttering hidden can heighten depression.
I have grappled with depression over the years, and finally feel comfortable enough to talk about it. The social punishment that greeted my stuttering, especially the negative feedback from my father, really got to me. I always felt shame about my stuttering. For a long time I didn’t realize what an effect that was having on me. The more I explore my stuttering, especially my deeply ingrained covert behaviors, the more I realize how my depression and stuttering were tied together. I didn’t like to acknowledge I stuttered. And I never wanted to acknowledge my depression either. That seemed shameful as well. Made me even more imperfect.
What a relief it has to been to realize that I am not the only one who stutters and has dealt with depression. Both have long had negative stigma. Anything that makes me feel more prone to judgment by others has always been difficult to surface and talk about. But the more we talk about things, the less awful they become and the more we are just reminded of our humanity. And our need to share our lives with each other.
I am in awe of how honest and courageous Jamie is in this episode of Stutter Talk. Listen and learn. I certainly have. I consider myself so very lucky to have friends who are willing to walk with me as I explore more and more of my tough stuff, and are OK as I let it out. I am reminded that is one of the greatest gifts – sharing and listening and taking time for each other.
Also, today is Friday the 13th. Good friend Daniele Rossi, of StutteringIsCool, has declared today as Stuttering Appreciation Day. So, if you stutter, appreciate yourself for the gifts that you have and bring to the world. And if you know someone who stutters, tell them how special they are, especially a kid.