When the Words Wouldn’t Come Out

One struggle in school has always been being unable to ask for help when I needed it. I remember one specific moment though where I tried to ask for help. A few years ago in college I tried to speak with my teacher about an assignment that I wasn’t exactly understanding. I had spoken a little with this teacher before, but I was not at the stage where I would initiate much conversation with her. I wasn’t able to let my teacher know that I needed to speak to her, so I just waited a bit until she understood that I wanted to speak with her. When she saw that I wanted to speak to her, I went up to her, and tried to let her know what I wanted to say. But I froze and the words wouldn’t come out.

I tried to speak, but I couldn’t do it. I stood there and waited a few seconds, and I remember thinking and wondering why I couldn’t just speak and say something. It felt like the words were stuck, and my mind went blank. My teacher was understanding and she guessed what I wanted to say, and I was then able to nod in response. I will probably always remember this moment and what it felt like to not be able to speak.

I have had many moments like this where I have tried to speak, but haven’t been able to. It can be very discouraging and even frustrating to not be able to speak when you really want to. Selective Mutism is not shyness, a choice or a refusal to speak. It is a physical inability to speak.

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