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When People Ask If I Would Take a 'Magic Pill' to Take My Stutter Away

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“If you could take a ‘magic pill’ to get rid of your stutter, would you take it?”

Some form of this question inevitably comes up when I talk to a group of people about stuttering.

Over the years, my response has changed. I was never asked this question until I was in college, but if I had been asked at the age of 8, my answer would have been a resounding, “Yes!” Why would younger me not want to take it? I would be just like all the other kids I went to school with and would not have to worry about what sounds would, or would not, come out of my mouth; or if I would be made fun of. I would not have to be called out three time a week to go to speech therapy (although younger me did enjoy missing class a few times a week). The biggest difference between me and the other kids would not have been called out for all to hear and see.

When my stutter returned my senior year of high school, 18-year-old me would have answered the magic pill question the same as 8-year-old me. I knew what life was like as a non-stutterer and I enjoyed it. I enjoyed not having to worry about what the person on the opposite end of the conversation was thinking about while I talked. I enjoyed my mind being free of any and all self-doubt and questions I had about stuttering. I also did not want to think about how my life would be “affected” if my stutter did not go away. I continued to hold this view, until I started going back to speech therapy.

The first time I was ever asked this question was in the fall of 2013, a couple of months into my speech therapy. In order to improve and become more comfortable with public speaking, my clinician (a student herself) had me tell my story to her class of aspiring speech pathologists. Following my talk, I opened the floor for questions and one student asked me the “magic pill” question. My initial response was, “I don’t know and that is not a cop-out answer.” The majority of me still wanted to go back to the years when I did not stutter, but a small part of me was starting to come around to the idea that stuttering was not the worst thing in life. That remained my standard answer for the next year and a half.

My answer changed again in the spring of 2015. My answer to the question is, “I would decline the magic pill 80 percent of the time.” I was still in the process of accepting my stutter, but not quite there.  The majority of me was cool with the fact I stuttered, but there was still a small part of me that wanted to go back to the fluent days.

Over the past couple of months, I have thought more about this question. Currently, my 80 percent is almost at 100 percent. Even though I have accepted my stutter and would not get rid of it, I still have rough days when I briefly wish I did not stutter. However, those days are few and far between. I have come to learn that stuttering is not some terrible thing that defines me as a person, but just one of the many aspects that make me, me. Without my stutter, I do not know where I would be in life or what kind of person I would be. My stutter has made me a better listener, more emphatic towards others, taught me to see people for who they are and not how they look or talk, among numerous other things. For me to completely wish my stutter away, I would be wishing a big part of me away. In that sense, I would be saying I am not comfortable with a big part of who I am. I am comfortable with all of me and would not change any part of me.

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Thinkstock image by AlenaHarupich

Originally published: May 15, 2017
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