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My experience with Selective Mutism

Hello poppets,

How the dickens are we?

Today and by popular demand I’m sharing with you my experience with something that took over a good chunk of my life. I mean, i say took over like it had a negative impact but essentially and over the years i realised that it instead played a part in saving my life.

No, really!

Last week i shared with you briefly about my experience with selective mutism. If you don’t know what selective mutism is, its essentially a anxiety disorder characterised by being unable to speak in certain settings. It’s commonly fitted under the anxiety umbrella but can fit under other disorder categories too and in my case, PTSD.

I must say before we go any further selective mutism isn’t necessarily caused by abuse and its important to say that. It can develop for a wide range of reasons and with children that live in perfectly happy homes. For me though it was due to living in a not so happy home and was actually my first real symptom of PTSD.

Oh boy!

Oh boy did it start early. I remember not being able to speak from quite young. There were certain settings and with certain people that just prevented me saying a word. All in all I spent the majority of my childhood silent.

With selective mutism i would describe it as someone else stopping you from speaking. It was like someone had put a piece of tape over my mouth to prevent me saying anything. I also felt like my thoughts would race even more in those moments but still I was unable to speak.

It was incredibly frustrating as a lot of the time it wasn’t that I essentially didn’t want to speak, it was that I couldn’t. Let me explain further. Remember when i said this thing potentially saved my life? well it did. See, there was many times during my life and growing up that people started to suss out what was happening at home. From those “is everything okay?” comments to asking directly if everything was okay at home. Those people quickly developed huge warning signs over them and i would be terrified of speaking a word to them in case i let something slip even when we weren’t on that specific topic.

As i said previously this wasn’t a case of me telling myself not to talk, i felt like it was something beyond me and my body was protecting itself. It knew that if i told the wrong person i could potentially be in danger. There was a lot of people i didn’t trust growing up but looking back i don’t think i would say i was actually in safe hands and that my feelings were wrong. Often these questions would be asked by school teachers who had repeatedly let me down and even worse asked my main abuser if everything was okay at home.

No further explanation needed!

I did eventually break my silence when I felt i was in safe and correct hands many years later but only after months of silence to confirm to myself that these were the correct people to tell. Eventually it lead to me being removed from my abuse.

After breaking that silence and during my journey of healing and recovery i felt highly guilty for those moments, especially those months of silence I had prior to finally opening up about my abuse. Though I knew I had to make sure they were the right people to talk to it didn’t stop those feelings. I also felt guilty as though i had a lot of bad eggs during my journey i also had some good ones. It wasn’t that they were bad people but that i didn’t feel they would handle the situation correctly if i told them what was happening. Looking back i realise i made the correct decision but that didn’t stop the guilt from flowing.

It took me a long time to realise that not only should i not feel guilty for being a child but i should never ever feel guilty for keeping myself safe. It was that horrible thing of feeling like i was being rude but i grew to realise that if those people knew what was happening they would have understood my reasoning.

I was so desperate and crying inside for someone to help me but I knew it wasn’t the right time for that to happen. Im glad I broke my silence eventually and will never judge or ridicule myself for keeping myself safe.

I cannot stress this enough. Never ever feel guilty for ANYTHING you did during the tough times of your life. Our bodies and brains will do what it takes to protect us and we should never feel ashamed or guilty for that.

(Trauma based mutism is sometimes called ‘traumatic mutism’ or ‘post traumatic mutism’ but most commonly fits under the selective mutism header)

Do what YOU need to keep YOU safe

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