Better late than never

The article's author, Emma Bound

12th August 2020

Key worker Emma Bound has been stammering more in the Covid-19 pandemic, making work more difficult. However, learning to accept it in her late twenties has helped her stay upbeat and resilient. She just wishes she realised it sooner.

As a key worker throughout the coronavirus pandemic I have noticed that my speech has suffered a great deal. I'm guessing it could be a number of things; the uncertainty of not knowing what is going to happen, nerves and anxiety brought on by it all, or not being able to socialise the same as I did. This has been made more apparent at work.

I work for the Lancashire Constabulary as an administrator and I love my job. Graduating from University, I never would have imagined I'd be where I am today, as I always thought that my stammer would hold me back in life. It was only in my late twenties that I realised that I just had to accept it; no one is going to speak for me and this is me! 

Trying to hide it

I've spent years of my life staying silent and trying to hide my stammer, which can be exhausting, but life cannot be put on hold. You have to live it. Some people who know me never even realised I had a stammer and still don't know as I hide it so well. But behind the scenes it has caused great stress, frustration, anger, upset and a feeling of not being good enough or able to do the simple everyday things that other people can. 

I struggle saying certain words, letters and numbers. It's like I have a mental block and my mouth just can't seem to push out the words that I want to say, so I have to pause and try to force them out or replace a word with something else — that's if I don't just give up beforehand.

Being in a large quiet office can feel like all eyes and ears are on me when I open my mouth to speak and it is this which can cause me to over-think.

But it isn't like that all the time. I have good days and bad days depending on the circumstances, the people I'm with or what I'm doing. If I am nervous or tired then that's when my speech will suffer and it can be a very frustrating and exhausting day. 

A man sitting in a bar looking at the camera with the text 'Share your story'

There are everyday challenges, such as ordering what I want from a menu. It sounds ridiculous but I sometimes have to order the things I don't want just because I know I can say them. Giving my details to someone when asked can be a nightmare and very embarrassing as it looks like I don't even know my own name and I have to think about it. 

At work

Making a simple phone call can take a lot of preparation and build up. I absolutely dread phone calls, especially for my job as I feel that I don't sound as reassuring to people as I should when talking on the phone, even sometimes a little stupid, like I don't know what I'm talking about. Recently this has got me down and from time to time it has made me feel that I'm just not good enough for the role. 

The more I talk, the more questions I ask and the more phone calls I take, the better I feel about it and the more confident I get.

Even talking to other colleagues and my team leaders has proved to be a task in itself, as sometimes I can't even string a sentence together. Being in a large quiet office can feel like all eyes and ears are on me when I open my mouth to speak and it is this which can cause me to over-think, hesitate and stumble on my words. 

Luckily for me though I work with an amazing team. I have wonderful colleagues who are understanding, caring and accepting and there is help and support on offer whenever needed. They have pushed me to do more and build up my confidence and it's made me realise that I can do the job like everyone else. The more I talk, the more questions I ask and the more phone calls I take, the better I feel about it and the more confident I get. I have also learnt to laugh and joke about my stammer as well, which helps to lighten the mood and puts others at ease as well as myself. 

I just wish I had this outlook a lot sooner in life, but it's better late than never.

See our Stammering at Work page for tips on making things easier in the workplace. If you'd like to write an article for our website, click here.

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