STEPHEN O’Sullivan is my name. These two words I battled most of my life struggling to say, as I live with a stammer.
Until February 2014, I spent everyday battling with my stammer and more often than not, it used to get the better of me. Before any speaking situation my whole body would build up with fear, anxiety and guilt which, in turn, would lead to facial features which would make it impossible to get the words out.
I used to dread being asked a question in class and college presentations were a recipe for disaster. I tried a lot of different techniques to overcome my stammer. In reality they worked for a short period of time but the fear of speaking always remained.
In February 2014, I joined the McGuire programme. This is a programme set up by people who have overcome their stammer to help others do the same.
When I first attended the information evening I felt apprehensive and isolated and I thought nobody would understand my circumstances. I soon found out I was not alone, as 40,000 people in Ireland stammer. Along with showing me techniques to speak eloquently, it also changed my perception of what people might think of me when I speak.
Through a three-day intensive course, I was part of a group of fourteen people who were in the same situation as me, trying to overcome a life of fear around a simple thing like speaking.
I will never be free of stammering, but I have a lot of work done through fortnightly support meetings in Cork.
The programme has changed my life because my anxiety and fear is controlled and my confidence about speaking has rapidly increased. In the last twelve months, I have encountered college presentations and job interviews which I was able to deal with confidently. My greatest achievement is being able to say my own name and being able to walk into a shop and ask for what I want. There’s no better feeling.
The programme is hosting a free information evening in the River Lee Hotel in Cork on Wednesday May 13th at 7pm. For more information, call Joe at 086 342 9602.