To the Man at Walmart Who Laughed at the Woman Stuttering

To the man at Walmart,

Last night, as you stood there staring and laughing, you saw a woman struggling to speak, stuttering and stammering her way through sentences. For some reason, you found this comical and continued to laugh as you walked by.

If you had looked more closely, you would have seen my loving fiancé, who has stuck with me through all of my diagnoses, medical procedures and struggles. A man who understands my stuttering sentences and always knows exactly how to make me feel beautiful and special every single day, regardless of my illness.

couple standing next to each other. the man's arm is around the woman's shoulders.

You would have seen my glasses, which I acquired after losing 50 percent of my vision from the scarring of my optic nerves from filling up with spinal fluid. And you would have seen me. Someone who suffers from a neurological condition called intercranial hypertension, which leaves me with excruciating headaches on a regular basis, but still puts a smile on her face every day.

And while you were looking at me, laughing, what you couldn’t see was this: the three bags of prescriptions I had just filled at the pharmacy to complete the 18 pills I take daily (more on the bad days) in order to function, just to walk, talk, work and live a less-than-normal life. You couldn’t see the three inches of hair I had grown underneath my wig since shaving my head last April to have brain surgery. You couldn’t see the tube that goes from my skull, underneath my skin, into my neck and down into my abdomen to drain the excess fluid off my brain. You don’t see the seizures that often leave me in paralyzing pain for hours. You don’t see the thousands of dollars in medical debt I’ve accumulated in a short amount of time.

So as much as your laughter hurt, I have endured much worse pain. You never know what someone is battling in their lives. Next time you see someone struggling, take a moment to look closely. You might just see things with a fresh set of eyes and realize that everyone has their own burden to bear — most of which are no laughing matter.

woman in the hospital

The Mighty is asking the following: Write a letter to anyone you wish had a better understanding of your experience with disability, disease or mental illness. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Stuttering

Woman With Stutter Fighting Back After 'Traumatizing' Incident at Atlanta Airport

One young woman feels she was discriminated against because of her disability at an airport in Atlanta. On Thursday Jan. 21, Kylah Simmons, who goes by Kylie, was making her way home from Costa Rica, where she’d been studying abroad, when she was stopped at customs in the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. When speaking to [...]

8 Truths People Who Stutter Wish Everyone Understood

Although stuttering might make you think of that nervous kid in the back of class, stuttering actually has little to do with nervousness at all. While people who don’t typically stutter might stutter when they’re nervous, for the more than 3 million people in the United States who have the communicative disorder, the precise cause of stuttering is not [...]
woman speaking into microphone

5 Tips for Interacting With People Who Stutter

As a person who stutters, I have encountered countless people who are unsure of how to respond to my speech. I have been hung up on because they think my phone has lost its signal and I’ve been told “It’s okay, just take a breath and take your time,” or “Oh, did you forget your [...]

I Asked if I Failed Her by Spending More Time With My Son With Autism

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a manual with the exact instructions on how to be an awesome parent? Better yet, I wish there were a parenting college major, and when you earned your degree, you had all the answers. Instead, you run on gut instinct, do the best you can and hope that [...]