I first realised something was wrong when I started school. I
noticed all the other children were loud and outgoing and seemed
happy. I was withdrawn and felt unhappy and scared.
I have a social anxiety disorder called selective mutism. At
home I’m cheerful, confident and speak normally, but when I
get to school everything’s different. It is really difficult
for me to speak to or socialise with people at school.
Having selective mutism is really hard. Unsympathetic teachers
and classmates can make it unbearable. Some teachers have thought
I’m just being difficult and told me I wouldn’t be able
to pass my exams unless I start talking normally. Some girls used
to point at me and laugh and made me feel even more uncomfortable
and isolated. At first it upset me, then it made me angry. After a
while I stopped caring so much. I knew I was stronger than some of
the girls who could not have coped if they had this problem. When I
see them now in their gangs, wearing their unofficial uniform I
just laugh to myself.
In some ways I’m glad I have had selective mutism. It is
part of who I am. I am an observer rather than a participator. It
helps me to understand people around me and know not to treat
people badly if they are different. I treat people how I would want
to be treated myself. I know that when I do speak it’s
because I have something useful to say. I never waste my words
being nasty about other people.
I am now 15. The girls at my current school are really nice and
have never said a bad word against me. They try to make me feel
included even though I know it must be difficult for them. I
sometimes feel upset about not being able to join in but I hope
that one day I will and they will get to know the real me.
I take my GCSEs soon and am aiming high. I hope to study art and
design at college. I am determined and optimistic about the future.
I won’t let anything stand in the way of my happiness, not
even selective mutism.