Mind – McKenzie Jemmett

About the Author: McKenzie Jemmett M.S., CCC-SLP, COMTM is an individual who stutters and currently works as a Pediatric Speech Language Pathologist and Manager in Pocatello, Idaho. Her graduate thesis focused on covert aspects of stuttering and how holistic therapy affects these aspects.  Her interests include orofacial myology, autism spectrum disorder, sign language and fluency disorders. She is also an active member of the National Stuttering Association and serves as co-chair of her local chapter. This is her third year helping with the International Stuttering Awareness Day.

Place of twists

Place of turns

Place where everything crashes and burns

Place of turmoil

Place of hate

Place where fear decides my fate

Place of chains

Place of doubt

Place where it seems there is no way out

Place of loss

Place of sorrow

Place with no hope of a better tomorrow

Place of pain

Place of hurt

Place where thoughts are dark and curt

Place of brass

Place of steel

Place of wanting something that is real

Place of desire

Place of hope

Place of hands clinging to one rope

Place of remembrance

Place of thought

Place to fight for confidence sought

Place of deliverance

Place to begin

Place to…s-s-start over again

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Mind – McKenzie Jemmett — 17 Comments

  1. Hi McKenzie! Beautiful poem. I am sure you are an inspiration to the young lives you serve. What are the biggest challenges stuttering has presented to you?

    • Thank you! Honestly, it impacts my social life/skills more than anything. A part of that is maintaining healthy emotional status. Sometimes it is hard to understand the depth to which those negative experiences affect me and how they shape my behavior. That is part of why I wrote this poem. At times I feel I can’t trust my mind because I have a skewed perception of things sometimes due to past experiences and it can be troubling.

  2. Hello McKenzie. I loved reading your poem. I am a graduate student taking a fluency class at the moment. I understand that negative feelings come about in individuals who stutter. As a clinician, what are some of the ways you approach these negative feelings and thoughts about stuttering with a client and help them move towards openness and acceptance?

    • A big thing is letting the monsters out of the closet. We all have negative experiences but we allow those things to control us when we ‘give them the power’ or don’t openly talk about them. As a clinician, it is vital to create a open space with trust with your client so that they feel comfortable sharing things with you. At times that means you yourself may have to share things that scare you or cause you anxiety to create that common ground. A good way to summarize is “normalize” stuttering meaning its not this scary thing we don’t talk about… It’s a part of who we(they) are and is something not to be afraid of.

  3. Hi McKenzie! Your poem really spoke to me. It’s really amazing how a few words can give a glimpse into a journey of feelings. You spoke a bit on this in a question above asking about what clinicians can do to help move clients towards openness and acceptance. I was just wondering was there a certain experience that helped you move toward the accepting and normalizing your stutter? Or was it a million leading things that led to that?

    • It was a few things but the journey was started when I saw examples of people who stuttering living their life without limitation. And not meaning celebrities but every day people that I could relate too. Once I saw that example, that started the conversation of “well if they can do, why can’t I” which lead to me having those open conversations with my family and friends about stuttering. It is still difficult to open about that part of my self because it is not all flowers and roses… but through repeated examples, I am reminded that a open vulnerable life is better than a closed off one.

  4. Thank you for the poem, McKenzie. I appreciate the verse “Place of hands clinging to one rope.” It’an accurate visual. It reminds me of the ropes course at the NWCFD-IISC and holding on to dear life!

    • So true of life in general yes? That line always reminds me that my losing my mental health is as simple as me letting go of the rope. To stay well I have to continually hold on and do those things that maintain my grasp. Thanks for reading!

  5. Hi McKenzie,
    I really enjoyed reading your poem, it’s amazing how few words can capture so many feelings and emotions. I am a second year SLP graduate student at the University of Minnesota Duluth and am currently in an advanced fluency disorders course. It seems you would have a unique perspective as a PWS and a practicing SLP. What is the best advice you could give someone starting out in the field of speech language pathology in general and when working with PWS? I have heard from other PWS but am curious to hear about your perspective.
    Thanks so much!

    • Oh that’s my favorite question 🙂 Main thing is to be transparent with your experiences. Stuttering is a hard thing to live with (just as a stroke, dysarthria, etc.) and it can be difficult for a client to trust you. Being open about what you know or don’t know and expressing that you want to understand them as a person and understand their unique experiences not only opens them up to sharing those hard things with you but also helping them trust you. It creates a ‘team’ approach to therapy (i.e. we are both here in the hard things together) and helps the client feel involved in what’s going on and gives them a ‘voice’ in more than one way 🙂 Honestly, there are a lot of things I could tell you but bottom line, show them you care and that you want to help and support them in being their best self, fluent or not. Our goal is to help individuals speak their mind, at whatever level of fluency they desire.

  6. Your poem is beautifully written, McKenzie. Thank you for sharing! I am a speech-language pathology graduate student currently taking a course on fluency. As an SLP yourself who stutters, how has your history of stuttering shaped the way you provide therapy to individuals who stutter? Do you think your approach to therapy would be any different if you didn’t stutter and didn’t have the first-hand knowledge/experiences?

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