I’m back with my second blog post, I’m hoping to upload a blog post around once a week, or less or more, it all depends on what ideas pop into my mind and how much time I have.
I have called this blog post “Awkward” because having selective Mutism causes many difficulties and has often forced me into various awkward situations. I hate feeling awkward and I so wish it could be avoided. I guess it could certainly be decreased if more people understood about my anxiety and Selective Mutism. That would be lovely wouldn’t it; if people were as aware about SM as Autism Spectrum Disorder my life and many other’s lives would be far easier to cope with. That’s one of the reasons I’m spending so much time raising awareness and understanding of SM. I think it’s going to take quite a lot more time though, but I’m okay with that as long as eventually I/ we (all of us who spread awareness) succeed.
Sometimes the little things effect me the most, the little socially awkward moments. For example, I remember once in school we had been asked to complete a piece of creative writing homework. I spent a lot of time on mine over the weekend and was fairly happy with the end result, but unfortunately I had forgotten to put my name on it. BIG MISTAKE. Our teacher started handing back our homework and gave each person some feedback. I was so excited but nervous about my turn. I waited and waited. Eventually the last piece of homework she held up was mine. my teacher announced “lastly, I have this wonderful piece of work that quite clearly someone has put a lot of effort into, but they haven’t put their name on it, whose is this lovely homework please?” the room went silent, I couldn’t speak to simply say “mine”. Our teacher became a little impatient and asked “come on class, it’s got to belong to one of you, raise you hand please and make yourself known”. I couldn’t physically raise my hand; I was too frightened to move and to bring attention towards myself. Eventually our teacher gave up and said “what a shame, I had hoped to give out a credit for this, I will have to put it back in my desk”. I was so disappointed, but relieved at the same time as no attention had been brought to me. Well that was until 5 minutes later when my teacher called me and 3 others, who had failed to do the homework, up to her desk. She was so cross. She said to me “Natasha I am so disappointed in you, you usually complete your homework and to a good standard, I cannot bend the rules for you, you will attend a 15 minute detention at lunch time please”. All of this because I couldn’t say “mine” or simply raise my hand. Instead of my deserved credit I received an undeserved detention.
Awkward moments like this happened to me daily and still do continue to happen to me even now. Thankfully they’re not daily anymore, more like weekly, but they’re still difficult to deal with. A very common socially awkward moment I have found myself in lots and lots, as have many others who have SM, is the fact that to some people we appear to be rude and bad mannered. I’m not rude. I do not have a lack of manners. Please, Thank you, excuse me and addressing people by their name are all things that we with Selective Mutism find impossible to say/do a lot of the time. I have to say though, I am much better at saying these socially expected words now, but I do still struggle. I used to really dread my birthday and Christmas, I hated when relatives would come round with my cards and gifts because I couldn’t say “Thank you” to them. I did appreciate their thoughtfulness and generosity, of course I did, but I just couldn’t physically express it through my words or through my facial expressions. I am much better at being able to do this now, celebrations such as birthdays don’t cause me anywhere near as much stress and anxiety as they used to. Something I do still really struggle with is addressing people by their names. I have a hard time gaining someones attention when I need them as often I can’t use their name and I speak very quietly. Some people have picked up on how I never addressing them by their name, and sometimes I’ve been seen as rude for just coming out with a question or demand with out saying their name first or saying please. I’ve felt so awful about this in the past and often still feel like I’m such a rude person, but I’m far from it and I know that deep down. As i’m so far into recovery now, I actually find that when I’m comfortable I say please, sorry and thank you way too much!
I really hope that soon Selective Mutism will be well known about and people will accept and understand us. I think this would actually aid our recovery and decrease our anxiety significantly! I also definitely think that it’d prevent so many awkward moments from happening. One day we will get there; one day there will be far more understanding of SM.