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  • Projekt Prata

Chris from Canada


Mine is a story of "dold stamning" that kind of re-surfaced when I came to Sweden. I get stuck on the hard letters like 'c', 'k', 'p' and 't' so you can imagine what a nightmare it is to be Chris from Canada. I have various ways of getting around saying these words but people get the first impression that I am a bit strange. But once people get to know me things are fine. They get used to my little games but no one understands that what I am actually doing is hiding a stutter. And when I do get 'my tongue tied' I just joke it off. I was actually working at a university teaching classes and there I would just point to some words or write them on the board. The students thought I had a great teaching method because I took the time to point out key words. Honestly, I just couldn't say them.

I understand Swedish almost perfectly but speaking is a bit of a double disaster. In the early days I spoke but the combination of my accent and stuttering seemed to be so entertaining for people who had no problem laughing in my face. After awhile I just gave up. But this is leading to new problems when it comes to finding a job. After being downsized from the university job and taking another job where I was basically laughed at for over a year I was eager to find something better. But every job interview was the same. I gave a bad first impression because I was avoiding so many words (the nerves made it worse) and I couldn't get a job. So instead of persisting I once again tried to avoid the problem and I decided to go back to school and do another degree.

School wasn't the best way to hide my stuttering because teachers have their famous 'presentationsrundan' which is pure torture. Last year I finally flipped out. One teacher was basically forcing my name out of me and I got it out eventually. But I was so humiliated that I couldn't face anyone in my class the rest of the day. So I wrote a long post on Facebook and confessed to my hidden stuttering. I thought it would finally make me feel better. Those I am closest to in my class were really nice about it. But at the same time, older friends distanced themselves and I couldn't understand why.

Now, 1 year later, I am not sure things are any better. I don't see the friends in my class much and obviously I am single. My 'quirky' first impression doesn't work in dating. But I can't sit home alone so I try to get out. I started taking lindy hop lessons because that is superfun! But it is very social and I get stuck once again with having to introduce myself. So I have tried other dances and finally arrived at ballet, of all things, because those classes are social enough to fit the anxiety over my stuttering. I get to dance but the conversation is manageable.

So I guess the overall point of my story is that I get out and can function in society but I can never do this to the same extent as others. And this affects basically everything in my life. My stutter is constantly hidden and waiting to emerge and I put so much energy into avoiding it. Years and years of time and energy, in fact. Since it is getting harder, especially to find jobs, I have even thought of just leaving Sweden and going back to Canada and starting over again.

I am not really sure what to do because I wouldn't say I am doing anything to face the issue or try and get help. I assume this is the wrong way to go about it. But maybe through Projekt Prata I can get in touch with others or help out in some way. I am sure that others are living in the same way.

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