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Fighting for my voice

6th June 2023

Izzy Stephenson tells us what helps her with her stammer, and finding the strength to go for the career she wants.

Hi, my name is Izzy. I'm 22, I live in Cambridge and I've had a stammer half my life. My journey started in the last year of primary school and ever since I've felt invisible. But that has never stopped me from finding my voice. 

I guess the only glitter in my family skin that made me fight was the way that my grandparents were courageous and tough enough to adopt me and my sister. That was when the situation at home with my dad and my late mum wasn't too great. But that's in the past. Here in the present it's clearer and brighter. 

What helps

Living with a stammer is like having a broken clock or a yo-yo stuck in my voice box. My teachers and friends don't exactly give me the right amount of time to talk so I can be nervous and fidgety, and they always rudely interrupt me.

If I can show people that you can run a kitchen and stammer too, then it would have turned into something huge at the end.

However, that doesn't mean that my stammer hasn't changed over the years. Listening to music helps as I find it softens my speaking range a lot more. It opens my mind a lot and helps me to be in a spa-like trance. When I come out of the trance, I feel more relaxed and hardly stammer, and I feel better. However, when I try and do ten things at once, I feel more tense and my voice sounds all drunk and disorientated.

Reading helps too. There's an inspirational young adult fiction book I like called 'Lucy Locket: Online Disaster: Girls Can Vlog'. Its main character Lucy is an American teenager who moves to the UK and, like me, has a stammer. She instantly makes a few friends who appreciate the way she talks. They support her when she has a tough time at school and encourage her to start vlogging. Even though I have friends, I don't have proper friends who can appreciate and support me with my stammer, so hopefully the book can inspire me.

Future

I've applied for jobs but I never got them, I think because of the way that I speak. I can always see the negative body language in the interviewers. So, I've decided on my own future. I'm now at college and I want to become a cook. But I also want to help other young people who are dysfluent. If I can show people that you can run a kitchen and stammer too, then it would have turned into something huge at the end.

Although stammering affects my everyday life, including at college, somehow I have developed a strength in my body that I've never seen before and I haven't held my stammer back since. I'm not afraid of what I've got and I fight for my voice. Thank you for reading my story and hopefully it can inspire other young adults who stammer to fight for theirs too.

Read more Your Voice articles from people who stammer and their allies. Would you like to write something? See Share Your Story or email editor@stamma.org for details.

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Two women in running outfits holding flags and looking at the camera
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Tayo & Bhupinder
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A speaker on stage at STAMMAFest 2023

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