About the presenter: Diane Seidel, I am 46 years old. I live in Kalispell, Montana, USA with my husband of 18 years, Ron. We have 3 children---2 sons, Seth (22) and Jacob (14) and 1 daughter, Katie (17). We also have 4 dogs, 4 cats, 2 toads and 1 rabbit! For the most part I am a stay at home Mom, except that I always seem to be in the car!! I do clean some houses during school hours, but try to be home when the kids are. I enjoy reading, writing, music, hiking, photography, crafting and scrapbooking. My favorite things are babies, my least favorite things are teen-agers (at least at the moment!). We are very active in our church also. We love living in "Big Sky Country", near Flathead Lake and Glacier National Park.

You can post Questions/comments about the following paper to the author before October 22, 2005.

This ain't no Fairy Tale!

by Diane Seidel, Montana, USA

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived a woman named Diane---whoa, wait a minute, this ain't no fairy tale, there's no fairy god-mother to wave her magic wand and, so far, there is no happily ever after!

What there is---is me. I'm Diane, 46 years old and for I love to talk! For 43 years, almost, that's what I did best, I talked---and talked and talked until somebody told me to shut up.

While I've not stuttered my whole life, I have fought depression most of it. In December of 2000, I began a long, slow slide into the pit of depression. By August of 2001, I was deeper in the pit than I had ever been before, to the point of barely functioning. I spent hours in front of a computer screen, playing solitaire while my kids did whatever they wanted.

Someone finally said "Diane, go see your doctor NOW!" I did and started taking an anti-depressant, the first of several until we found (just recently) the right one. It helped somewhat, at least I could take care of my family. At that time, my kids were old enough to take care of themselves, but they still needed their Mom. Both of my sons, then 18 and 10, have always taken a lot of time and energy to deal with. During this time, the oldest one presented added challenges. He was a senior in high school, had 2 accidents in 2 months, which affected his school work so much that we weren't sure if he would graduate. He also challenged us in other ways ---- hmmmmm, where's Rumplestilskin when you need him?!? At that point, I would have traded my firstborn for that roomful of straw spun into gold and not even bothered to try to guess his name

In addition to all that, in November 2001, I started long overdue counseling, which forced me to start dealing with incidents and feelings I had been stuffing away for 30 some years, rather than facing them. By January 2002, I was carrying a load of stress that was large enough, if it had been bricks, to build houses for all 3 Little Pigs! And me with no fairy god-mother to wave her magic wand to make it all go away.

This brings me to February 2002 and the straw that broke the camel's back. Two weeks into February, we were at a church dinner. Ron was already sitting with a neighbor of ours when I got through the line and sat down. I had barely taken 2 bites of soup when the neighbor looked at Ron and asked where he was going to look for another job. As I looked at Ron, stunned, he explained that his boss had told him that day that he would be unemployed as of March 1st. Considering that Ron had worked for them for 16 years, this was a pretty big shock for us. Not to mention all those bills waiting to be paid and the kids had this thing about eating regularly---did I mention I hate anything that means change? I was very, very scared.

As the next 2 weeks went by, we kind of functioned in a fog, but I began to notice that I occasionally would stumble on a word or have a slight repetition, but it was rare and only at home. As it got closer to the 1st of March, it was alot more noticeable at home and had started to creep into my speech in public also. One day, in the first week of Ron's unemployment, in a joint counseling session with Ron, I had to leave early for a doctors appointment. On my way out, I commented to my counselor that I seemed to be stuttering. He replied that he had noticed and that I should mention it to my doctor. I did, we discussed it and decided that stress overload was the culprit.

But now I stuttered----big time! Where was my fairy god-mother then, or fairy god-father or ANYONE with a magic wand, who could wave it and make everything all right again! I would even have settled for a genie with 1 wish! No such luck.

Can you imagine how frustrating this was? Completely fluent all my life and now I couldn't get 2 words out without major repetitions and/or blocks. Me, who was never at a loss for words, ever! When you add to the mix the fact that I had lived in the same town for 30 some years and knew lots of people, well you can guess how many times in the next 2 years I heard, "Diane, what happened to you?" Trying to answer a direct question always makes my stutter worse, so I spent alot of time spinning my wheels, trying to explain what had happened and only succeeding in making myself less fluent and even more frustrated.

There were varied reactions from my family. My husband was concerned about my health, in addition to being afraid of what his unemployment would bring for us as a family. He was very patient and tried not to finish my sentences.

My children all reacted differently. My oldest son laughed because he thought it was cute. He also figured out that when I was truly mad, the stutter got less, so he always knew whether I was angry or just pretending to be! My daughter, then 13, just laughed every time I opened my mouth. But it was my youngest son's reaction that 'bout broke my heart. Every time I opened my mouth and stuttered, he would cry and beg me to stop. I tried to explain that I couldn't, but he would just cry harder.

My parents were also concerned and my mom talked to the SLP who worked at the same school she did. The SLP specialized in stuttering and she said I could come talk to her. I did go and see her and she gave me some breathing exercises to do. They do help when I am blocking severely---if I remember to use them! I was also blessed to have a counselor who stuttered for awhile as a child. He knew how it felt and so was patient when I struggled to talk, but was also firm enough to not allow me to stay silent or take an easy way out.

I vary between totally mute to almost fluent, but the stutter is always with me. When I go shopping, I do not speak much, if at all. I am alot more fluent at home, but that varies also. My kids have adjusted to it, every once in awhile they do finish my sentences or laugh when I have a severe block but I tend to laugh then too!

I have been laughed at, assumed to be mentally challenged, pitied, and even been mistaken for a deaf mute! The hardest thing for me to say is my name, which has gotten me teased about forgetting what it is. I did take some literature on how to treat a person with a speech impediment down to a store in our mall after one of their clerks had laughed and teased me about that. I just wanted to make sure that something similar would not happen to someone else.

This has been one of the biggest challenges of my life. I alternate between being angry, discouraged, frustrated and being accepting of it. I have noticed that when I can accept it, I don't stutter as much.

So that's my story! The one part of this that is like a fairy tale is that I do have a Prince Charming! My husband, Ron, has been a wonderful, supportive, loving Prince and is the main reason I have survived thus far. I still would like that fairy god-mother to show up and wave that magic wand! It may be that this ain't no fairy tale, but I figure there will be a happy ending yet!

You can post Questions/comments about the above paper to the author before October 22, 2005.

September 28, 2005
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