I don’t get to watch much TV so I missed seeing Megan Washington on ABC’s Australian Story program this week. She was talking about how she had a stutter from the age of 5 .
Megan did a TED talk where she publicly spoke about her stuttering and how she had spent years trying to hide and minimize her stutter. Megan said she had been “living in mental dread of public speaking” and that if she had to public speaking, present awards or be interviewed she felt “like (there was) a piano sitting on ( my) chest. The Australian Story program was made after she gave her TED talk.
Megan Washington has said that publicly outing herself re her stuttering has been very liberating for her. “I used to try and be all the things I want to be while suppressing it or trying to disguise it. But now I’d like to be whatever I am despite it”.
I often tell people who fear blushing, sweating or shaking not to hide their physical symptoms of anxiety. If you blush do not wear high necked tops, wear your hair around your face, try to conceal the blushing with foundation etc. People who worry about sweating should not wear jumpers to hide sweat patches under their arms, or clothes they believe will not show sweat.
I find that social anxiety sufferers are often reluctant to abandon their avoidance behaviours as they have such an intense fear of being negatively judged or evaluated. Therefore, Megan Washington is a great role model for socially anxious people as she has publicly stated that she stutters and that she is now going to be herself, a person who stutters sometimes instead of trying to hide her speech impediment.
Megan has found the public has been very supportive since she disclosed that she stutters, and many people with social anxiety have told me when they divulged to others that they hated public speaking or other social scenarios, they have received positive and supportive responses.