added with permission March 10, 1999
Update - email received from Christopher July 28, 2008, added with permission
I was interested in searching for my name on the internet this morning, and I came across your Stuttering Homepage. I had written a letter to your site almost 10 years ago, and it was like opening up a time capsule.
I am now 26 years old. I want teens and anyone else who is struggling with stuttering to realize that things will get better, and there is ALWAYS HOPE! I went though ups and downs with my fluency, and still do to this day. I am happy to report that my fluency is better than ever. I realized that my main problem was not my stuttering; it was my FEAR of stuttering. A few years ago, I was experiencing the same struggle as I did when I was 16. I was unable to make an order at the drive-thru, and had much trouble making phone calls of importance. Now, I can speak fluently because I just don't care. I don't care what people think of me, and I don't care if I stutter here or there because it is a part of who I am. I went through a period where I was defining myself as a "stutterer", and that stuttering was going to define me. Stuttering is indeed a part of who I am, but it is not WHAT I am.
I ended up going to college, meeting the woman of my dreams, got married, moved to the ocean and live a happy life. At the age of 18, I weighed 345 lbs - I've lost 100 lbs since then. Music ended up being a major activity in my life, as it was one of the things I did that was unaffected by stuttering. Being on stage actually helped my fluency as well. I've been in newspapers, having to talk to reporters, speak in front of city councils to make arguments, etc.
For those who are looking for any means to reduce their stuttering, this is my recommendation: don't let it control you. It is truly mind over matter. It takes practice and persistence, but things will get better if you try. FDR was correct when he said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself". Stop caring about what others will think about you, because what is most important is what YOU think about YOU. YOU are not any lesser of a person for having a stutter. When you have a block, do what works best for you. I was trained by my speech pathologist as a kid to use the pull-out, but it was always embarrassing and I hated doing it. For me, I just STOP (which is the first step in the pullout), and take a deep breath (second step of pullout). Then, I am able to continue without having to make some long drawn-out sound. So, get out there, face your fears, and live your life! Once you do that, you will stutter less and less!
Judy, thank you for being there for people who stutter, and thank you for keeping that little time capsule for me.
Christopher Kessler, age 26
added March 26, 2000
Update - email received by Christopher Aoril 6, 2019, 20 years since he first published his 16-year-old article, now he us a successful state legislator in Maine, added with permission
I had to write you again because I thought of this letter this morning (from when I wrote to you at the age of 16). I wrote to you 10 years ago. Now it has been 20!
I wanted to let you know that I am now speaking before the public more than ever, and serve in my state's Legislature. I still stutter (even on camera sometimes), but by no means will it ever stop me.
I hope you are well and still helping kids. I can't believe I can still access something I wrote 20 years ago on the Internet.
added April 11, 2019