Seize the Day

21st October 2022

Mike Miller tells us how he has grown in confidence over the years, as he shares the TikTok video he made to encourage people this International Stammering Awareness Day (22nd October).

My first recollection of stammering was when playing a shepherd in a nativity play in middle school. I couldn't say the word 'message' when saying the line "The message of an Angel". Ironic that the word I remember stumbling over-represented the whole purpose of speech — to convey a message. It may have come to nothing if I had not been teased about it at break time. Hence it was 'cemented in'.
I felt very isolated growing up — there was no internet or mobile phones then! The prospect of the future seemed threatening and almost hopeless. When someone put me in touch with the BSA as it then was (now STAMMA) it was an enormous relief to me at the time. I didn't feel so isolated anymore and realised I wasn't alone.

Building confidence

I am now 58, married to a wonderful wife (who also happens to be a speech and language therapist) and have two beautiful children. 

My stammer has all but disappeared and many people would be surprised to know I still have a stammer. But I still have 'bamboo trap' words and situations. I guess I'm what you would call a covert stammerer, which sounds very James Bond! 

It was reading bedtime stories to my children growing up that really helped me — actually speaking out loud gradually built my confidence over time.

I still get stuck on my name, date of birth, etc — I still can't say 'seven' or 'city' — but my stammer is no longer the dominant issue in my life. It was reading bedtime stories to my children growing up that really helped me — actually speaking out loud gradually built my confidence over time. I changed words in the stories I couldn't pronounce for different words that I could say as I didn't want my children to hear me stammer. My experience has been that a stammer may not entirely disappear but it evolves with you as you mature and gain more confidence in life generally. 

I have always remembered and treasured a quotation by the philosopher Michel De Montaigne I once read in a BSA publication back in the 80s. It goes as follows: 
"I care not so much what I am to others as what I am to myself. I will be rich by myself, and not by borrowing."
I have always tried to live with that in mind. I don't need the approval of others to validate my own self-worth. That comes from within. 


I have always dabbled in writing poetry; I think having a creative outlet is good for you. I had a poem published in a book by the BSA called 'When the words won't come' about my experience getting a train home from work. 
With the encouragement of my family, I recently delved into the world of Tik Tok — I challenged myself! It's always good to push the boundaries to build confidence. After several attempts I posted the TikTok video of me reading my poem 'Seize the Day' which seems to have been fairly well received. It's for anyone who's struggling at the moment, who feels they can't make a difference or worried about the future. Its message is to seize the day. We are not bound by yesterday's experiences nor should we be afraid of tomorrow's challenges. For International Stammering Awareness Day I hope that fellow stammerers will embrace the truth that a stammer should not define who we are. Find relief — get self-belief!

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

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