Make Room For The Stuttering

Stuttering and Depression

Posted on: November 13, 2009

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.

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12 Responses to "Stuttering and Depression"

This is what I call telling the truth. Telling the truth about living with stuttering. Telling the truth so that stuttering becomes better understood by all.

I have felt shame and guilt for having depression related to living with stuttering.

I can only change by fully expressing what I live with and the help I receive will only be appropriate as much as living with stuttering is understood by those attempting to help me.

This post reminded me that this summer my mom asked me if I was depressed. I think she asked because I refused to go out of the house. This was right after I had moved back home after college this past May. Frankly, I just didn’t want to have to deal with the real word. In college I was able to hide from the real world for a couple of years. I don’t think I was truly depressed, I think I was just in a bad (rarely had to talk to people I didn’t know) place for most of the summer.

Guys I can totally relate, unfortunately for me, depression hit me from other angles as well, I have a medical condition that depression is a side effect of and also had to battle infertility for over a decade, and ofcourse the depression cause by stuttering. Here go I but for the grace of God as I could have taken my life because I was so overwhelmed at times.

I think anything in life that leads to low self esteem can lead to depression. I know many people who stutter who have a positive outlook on life and others who don’t. I think some of it stems from our upbringing and life in general.

Lots of different attitudes – very good sharing. I think that’s the key. Being able to share our deep stuff, and have others respond in kind, free of judgment, makes us feel someone “gets” us.

And I think that’s all any of us really wants. To be able share our secrets and still feel accepted and loved.

I toyed with actually posting this one. Wasn’t sure I had the guts. Worried that people’s perceptions of me could change. Normal worries and fears, I know. Reminds me of the book from many years ago, “I’m OK, You’re OK”.

wow …how is it that it all comes together … i too have always suffered from low self esteem and deppression .the tablets i take help but would love to be at that stage where i just dont need them … i’ve never quite felt good enough …as i was covert for so many years in a hope to be normal …then i married a person who thrived off low self esteem ..big mistake ..but finally i found that i could be me and the world wouldnt end ..it is a struggle as i’m being more and more myself …
some people find it difficult to accept and others true friends ,just take me as it comes ….again Pam ,thanks for just helping me to accept things !!! xxxx

WOW!!! Hot topic of the month! Thanks Pam for linking to the Stutter Talk episode.

First of all, let’s look at the facts. The research shows that stuttering is physiological in nature as is depression therefore neither one is our fault. Now society just happens to totally misunderstand each of these conditions and they reflect their ignorance in the advice they so readily give re: both stuttering and depression such as “slow down” and “snap out of it”. Now being the person with with both these challenges, it becomes more of a struggle. Here we are, hurting, frustrated, and feeling misunderstood not to mention the social stigmas we now carry. I believe that if we need to help people understand these conditions, we need to educate. We are all trying to move forward with advertising our stuttering and talking about it. We need to desensitize ourselves about are depression as well.

When people asked why I was in the hospital, I could have easily lied but I didn’t. Told everyone I was fine, it was only the psych ward. I was attempting to make a joke and tell the truth at the same time. Now more questions will come and the education begins.

I am only human but present my self as an open book. Nothing to hide here. What you see and hear is what you get. Now, there won’t
be any surprises along the path of our relationship; whatever that relationship might be.

So, take your meds, see your shrink, and stutter away. It will only make you stronger.

stuttering is in my opinion the worst thing that could ever happen to a person I wish I was dead rather than living with this humiliation everyday of my life i hate talking to people ,my parents are ashamed of me, i have become bipolar because of it and moreover ive lost hope of it ever stopping. so if you guys have any ideas please let me know i feel like the most upset person in the world right now

Hi Manjit, thanks for stopping by, reading and commenting. Stuttering, in my opinion, is not the worst thing that could happen to a person. I think a terminal illness or loss of limbs or deafness would be worse. Those things we can’t control. Stuttering we can manage. We may have no choice that we stutter, but we do have choices how we manage it and how we react to it.
As I’ve written, I’ve struggled for years with depression, and I think for a long time, it was because I hid my stuttering and did not manage it well. Now that its become part of my life, and I don’t hide it anymore, it’s not so scary and I don’t fear it as much.
I still struggle with depression but because of other things and the fact that I’m predisposed to it, not because of the stuttering.
I think your bi-polar disorder also may be a predispostion, not a result of your stuttering. I hope you are seeing a doctor, as there is treatment for bi-polar and depression and it can make a world of difference, so that you then can successfully manage your stuttering. There’s no cure, so we HAVE to manage it, so we are comfortable and confident in our own skin.

Hi, I’m a 17 year old boy and I’ve stuttered for about as long as I can remember, right now I’m going through some slight depression, I feel fine about my stammer but I just wish new people I meet would be more understanding and not think I ”forgot my name” just because I stumbled over my words, but it does get me down slightly and I never have the courage to explain my situation to them, is there any advice you can give me on way to explain the situation to them please, thanks!

I have stuttered ever since i can remember…sometimes it’s worse. sometimes its better..carbs and sugary foods tend to improve it by 80%…thats something that we can look at…if i eat rice or starchy foods and slow down my rate of speech, 90% of the stuttering is gone. These days i wear a ear plug in one ear and hum to myself with focus on my vocal words..it gives temporary fluency..So you could try : 1. Eating small amounts of starchy foods at regular intervals, i eat, at different times, rice, bananas, oranges. It does something to the serotonin levels in the brain , the fluency undoubtedly improves. 2. Slow down..talk to yourself very very very slowly..it’s hard work, but it reduces stuttering 80% 3. Wear a ear plug in 1 ear and hum to yourself, let you vocal cords keep vibrating, let your cranium vibrate. 4. Talk expressively, smile a lot, have pauses like you are thinking, talk slowly, move your hands around, turn the weakness into a strength. 5. DO NOT EXPECT 100% .IMPOSSIBLE, ASK ME. 31 AND STILL AT IT. BUT 80% IS VERY VERY POSSIBLE. EVEN 90% ON A GOOD DAY. AND OH YEAH..SLEEP 9 HOURS A DAY and workout for 20 minutes a day. ABSOLUTE MUST.Does wonders to your sense of well being.

Regards,
Dr.Rajesh

My stutter have come and go, but in the past two years it has been coming back only during the winter months. I also have OCD, and have been thinking that there is seasonal affective disorder(SAD) in the mix too. When I stutter, it seems not just as simple as not been able to enunciate, but I would be in a state of anxiety attack and can not even form sensical sentences in my head; my judgement would be clouded too, leading to what’s finally say at times would be not right, deviate from what really should have been conveyed..

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