Alli, 18, US

12246667_506423902865471_3752812568753711333_n“Looking at me, you probably wouldn’t notice anything wrong, but I have something that most people don’t even know exists. At age eight, I was diagnosed with Selective Mutism. Selective Mutism is a social anxiety disorder that affects around 7 in 1,000 people.

People who have it get vocal cord paralysis in certain situations, making it physically impossible to speak. These people are perfectly able to speak in situations where they feel completely comfortable.
I can’t tell you that having Selective Mutism is easy. There’s not a mental illness, disability, or condition that is easy to live with. Sometimes my body freezes and I can’t move. I am just stuck, frozen with the only thing I can feel in my soul at that moment, fear. It’s like there’s a brick lodged in my throat, forcing me to be silent. Sometimes, I can’t say what’s in my head. Sometimes, I can barely breathe.

Despite all of this, I can not begin to fathom how much I have learned while traveling this long, bumpy, and windy road. I’ve learned that having an illness doesn’t define who you are as a person, but your strength does. I’m glad I’ve gone through what I’ve gone through because I know that all of this is for a purpose.
I can help others who are going through something similar or something even completely different. I can help those who lost their voices due to Selective Mutism, and for that, everything I’m going through is completely worth it.

There’s nothing I would rather do than make a change in the world. My whole life, I have struggled to have my voice heard and to just have a voice like everyone else. For so many years, I wanted to say everything that came to my mind, but a lot of times, nothing came out. Staying silent isn’t fun and being brave and speaking up is one of the scariest things I could ever do.

Dealing with Selective Mutism has forced me to remain silent when all I really wanted to do was scream. But I have learned who I am through my suffering. I have learned that although there is the pain, there is also the beauty of conquering that pain.
Throughout my life and journey with Selective Mutism, I have faced many challenges. There have been plenty of times when I wasn’t able to say the words that were in my head, screaming to be let out, and it’s not over yet. However, I believe that having this disorder upon me might actually be helping me change into the person I am meant to be.

The road I have been traveling my whole life has made me a more understanding, empathetic, and compassionate human being.
Sometimes, finding the light means we have to pass through the deepest darkness first. We power through more than we think.”






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