The first explosion occurred when I was 16 and in the final year of secondary school. I had been going to speech therapy throughout my childhood in the hope I would get rid of my stammer. I had unwavering faith in this. I had to get rid of my stammer so I could cope with being an adult, or so I thought. I constantly asked myself, "How could anyone function as a grown up with a severe stammer?" Also, I heard that it was easier for a child to get rid of their stammer and much harder for an adult. Therefore, I had to catch the last boat to Fluent-ville and I was already running late.
I attended speech therapy as usual one day when my speech therapist handed me an emotional hand grenade with the pin pulled out. She told me "I am going to pass you on to a therapist who deals with adults who stammer".
I thought, "Sorry, what did you just say?" I said, "Sssssssssssssss..." and stammered, both verbally and emotionally.
And that's when the hand grenade went off. I was dragged into adulthood before my time and in the process lost hope and lost my perceived fluent future. I simply wasn't ready to be called an adult nor was I ready for the realization that I would have to live the rest of my life with a stammer. I felt I had failed myself in the worst possible way. I had failed to give myself the means to be myself.
I saw myself as horribly disfigured from that explosion and the ringing in my ears deafened me to my voice for years. It took 12 years of emotional turmoil to come to terms with being an “adult who stammers”.
The second hand grenade I had to deal with was my depression and nervous breakdown. The explosion blow away my flesh so I was just a skeleton; it drove away everything except my bare bones. I had to layer each muscle back onto my skeleton and repair each nerve fibre and tendon. I had to rebuild my emotional wellbeing one cell at a time. It took two years.
The third hand grenade that was handed to me was Parkinson’s disease, “You might have Parkinson’s disease”, my disease said and dangled the pin from the hand grenade in front of me. The wait was agonising to find out whether the hand grenade would explode or not. It eventually did and separated my mind from my body and catapulted me into the clutches of a prognosis which tries to dictate to me, “you will be severely disabled”. I’ve been trying to glue my mind and my body back together ever since.
Ultimately, the three explosions have enabled me to know how determined and resilient I can be in my life. The aftermath has helped me to refine how I see myself and become a lot more realistic about who I am. I’ve learnt to be alongside the problems I have. Each explosion taught me something new and gave me the opportunity to learn and challenge my perception of who I am. I’ve slowly emerged from the marble…