Hello everyone. My name is Christina and this is my first ever blog. I’ve always liked writing so I thought I would give this a try. I’m 21 years old and I suffer from Selective Mutism and Atypical Autism. I will be talking about Selective Mutism quite a bit as it is something that impacts my life very significantly.
Selective Mutism (SM for short) is a communication disorder caused by high levels of anxiety. People who suffer from SM find it extremely difficult to speak to others in social situations such as schools, colleges, work places, parties, etc. For many, the only place we feel comfortable and safe is at home with close family. Although in some cases it can be hard for some of us to even feel able to speak then.
Imagine you were in a crowded room. There was lots of noise, people laughing and chatting to each other. You are stood in a corner of the room, watching and listening to everyone, trying to take it all in. You feel extremely anxious, even though you are only standing there and watching. You want to stay invisible and you hope no one approaches you. Someone walks over to you. Your anxiety levels get even higher. You feel frozen. You are thinking ‘oh no, not again’. The person approaches you and tries to talk to you.
“Hi. What is your name?” they ask you.
You have the word in your head. Just one word. Your name. You try to open your mouth but nothing comes out. It feels like something is keeping your voice trapped. You can’t make the word come out. You want it to come so desperately, but it just won’t. Your hands are shaking. You are sweating, and your heartbeat is racing. You are struggling to catch your breath. You are fighting this battle inside you. No one else can see it.
The person looks at you, waiting expectantly. When nothing comes, the atmosphere feels awkward. They eventually give up and move away. They think you’re rude, or just really shy. They don’t attempt to come back and try to talk to you. You are alone in a crowd again.
You feel sad. You failed again. You ask yourself ‘why do I have to be like this?’ You need to get out of that room. You need to escape. You don’t want to be there. You quietly slip out the door.
This is what it’s like to live with Selective Mutism.