My Stutter is My Ally – Mounah Bizri

About the Author: 

My name is Mounah Bizri. I am French Lebanese. I have stuttered since I started to talk. My stutter was very severe when I entered university, I could barely say 2 words in a row. As many of us, I was subject to bullying and many people did not believe in my abilities. Those experiences developed my fighting spirit. I managed to reach my goals and I want to continue to show that with a stutter, we can do anything we want.

Through the years, I learned that stuttering is part of me and without it, I would not be who I am.  I believe that despite all the struggle, my stuttering brought me a lot of positive. Now, I am acting in France to help people who stutter to live their stutter positively with the Association Parole Bégaiement. Indeed, we created in 2019, the eloquence of stuttering, a 6-week speaking competition for people who stutter.

My relationship with my stutter is quite complicated, a bit like a teenage couple (sorry for the teenagers reading). A lot of passion, with ups and downs, some tears, but in the end, true love appears. I first considered stuttering like it was the “WTTEHTM” (worst thing that ever happened to me). When I was 18, saying two words without blocking was a great victory. Every time I talked, I felt tired, with some pressure on my throat as I was pushing every time I talked and blocked. I will skip the part about all the bullying; we know it all too well.

 My lack of social life had an advantage, I focused on my studying and entered into a great college in France. I forgot one detail, however. I had 3 oral exams per week. The first one went so poorly that the teacher asked me to stop after 6 minutes (vs. 20 minutes), because she could not understand.

I was facing a wall. Will I let that awful stuttering of mine ruin my life. Hell, no!! I REFUSE to allow stuttering to determine my own life, I will fight to reach my dream. Here started the long journey of acceptance or what I like to call “Mounah vs comfort zone”. I passed my two years of college (in France we have two years of prep school then business school) and went to business school. I started to try all the challenges linked to my speech (speech contest, event organizer of the Erasmus committee, on campus sales for Bloomberg, president of the finance association).

Thanks to those experiences, and my two speech therapists (Dominique and Ourdia), I stuttered less. I also realized where my focus was. I was fighting my stutter, I was fighting myself, whereas I just needed to accept my stutter and the way that I am. This a journey that I am still on today. Now, I am more at peace with myself, even if sometimes I stutter more than usual. I want to be happy as I am and live my dream.

Two years ago, I started the craziest project of my life: a public speaking training and contest for people who stutter. My role, beyond the administrative aspects,  was to allow people who stutter to show who they really are,  lead them towards acceptance and encourage them to pursue their dreams. The most beautiful thing about that adventure is that it allowed me to accept myself more and more.

Today, I believe that my stuttering has allowed me to be a hard-working, courageous, passionate and persevering  young man. Now, I want to live my life as I am, with my stutter, which I call my little “stutty.”

There is one more thing. I would not be there if I gave up. Most of my life people did not believe in me because I stutter and I was a weirdo. At every stage of my life, I have heard the same thing : “Mounah, you are too ambitious for a guy who stutters”. What makes me alive everyday is that I look at the sky, and tell myself I go there. I take every failure as the next step to success. I am obsessed with personal development and feedback. My resilience is my ally. My resilience was made by my stutter.

MY STUTTER IS MY ALLY.

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Comments

My Stutter is My Ally – Mounah Bizri — 32 Comments

  1. Love this and the part about, “I take every failure as the next step to success”. That is so important to realize that it is so important to understand how to skillfully respond in the face of adversary.

    Can you share more about the public speaking contest for people who stutter?

  2. Hi Mounah

    Thank you for sharing this….powerful! And I just love your final line “My resilience is my ally. My resilience was made by my stutter.”

    This is what people who don’t stutter need to understand a lot more….it turns a lot of assumptions that I think people have on their head. 🙂

    Best, Helen

    • Yes, and that’s our common challenge! I hope that in a near future, more and more people will realise that stuttering can have some positive sides as well

  3. Hi Mounah,

    Thanks for this great contribution. I love that you call your stuttering your “little stutty.” Could you ever imagine 3 or 5 years ago that you would be at a place in your life that you would be talking about stuttering on the internet, on a global stage? And that you would be right in the middle of organizing “eloquence” challenges for people who stutter?

    You are changing the world.

    What would you say is one of the greatest lessons you have learned about being open about your stuttering?

    Pam

    • Hi Pam

      Even 2 years ago I would have never thought of that. The first time I really talked openly about my stutter was at the french national conference in 2018. Then we started the eloquence of stuttering. I would have never thought that we would manage to create that and have so much impact on people who stutter.

      We are changing the world, because without all the people who invest their time in those projects, we would have never managed to do anything

      I will say that being open about my stutter allows me to love myself, and to focus on what really matters for me. Will always stutter. It is how I am I can’t change it, but I can change the way I live it

  4. Hi Mounah,

    Thank you for sharing your story! I love your positivity and how you are using what you have learned on your journey to build up others. As a current speech pathology student, I am wondering what your experience was like with speech therapy? Also, is there any advice you would give to someone who wants to work with people who stutter?

    • I have done 14 years of speech therapy. 10 years without results, 4 years which changed my life.

      a. You should know what you are talking about. Stuttering is beyond stuttering, it involves many things. It is very important to ahve the relevant technical knowledge that was lacking when I was a kid
      b. Empathy is as important as teaching fluency technics. The biggest challenge is not fluency, it is stuttering acceptation, and this should be a focus in therapy
      c. Practice makes it perfect. If a Person who stutters never speak outside therapy, the improvement would not be as great as for somebody who does try.

  5. Hi Mounah! Thank you so much for sharing your amazing story! You are so inspiring and I love how you are using your wonderful positive energy and the knowledge you have gained throughout your journey to help others. I am currently a SLP student and have a couple questions. First, what are the biggest challenges stuttering has presented to you? Lastly, based on your experiences, what advice would you give specifically to children who stutter?

  6. Hello Mounah
    My name is Carson Wolfe and I am studying speech pathology at the University of Akron. I really like how you embraced your stuttering and are using it to make a massive difference. Your perseverance is incredible and I really admire the work that you are doing. You wrote about how you have turned stuttering into a positive in your life, was there a specific moment that led you to that acceptance?

    • It is a continuity.

      I did not want my stutter to be a limit, and living this way allowed to accept it. I made it part of me, my strenght my added value.
      I can talk of the day where I came from somebody who failed in math to a guy who got 25/20 (my friends got their grade minus 5 because I had to get 19.5)
      I went to a guy afraid to do a presentation in school to a guy who coaches PWS to speak in front of a minister and 400 people.
      This a whole process and that’s just the start haha

  7. Hello Mounah! Thank you so much for sharing! I love your writing style. It was raw and vivid which allowed me to paint a picture in my mind that resulted in further understanding on the way people that stutter feel. You are truly a fighter and I hope that you continue to make your mark on the world and guide those after you toward that same goal.

  8. Hi, Mounah

    I really enjoyed your article. I am sorry you had to go through all of that with getting picked on and teased. I just want to know how is your progression in your stutter now at this point? and can you share more about your experience in the public speaking training and contest?

    Thankyou, Destiny Shavers

  9. Hi Mounah,

    Thanks for sharing your story. I love that you call your stutter your “stutty.” Sometimes humor lightens the mood. Your story is very inspiring and all the events you’ve overcome. I also appreciate the advice you’ve given to other comments, as I am going into the SLP profession. I will make note of what you mentioned that truly learning what stuttering is beyond the actual stuttering moments, focusing on acceptance in therapy, and extending therapy outside the therapy room. Thanks again for sharing!

    (* Mounah, this post is actually from janaadams96 – she had placed it in the wrong spot and I was only able to post this to you from my account login, Pam)

  10. Hi Mounah, I really appreciate you sharing your story and advice. I admire your determination. I am a graduate student studying to become a speech-language pathologist. I will make sure to remember your perspective and thoughts when I am an SLP. Thank you so much for sharing your advice. Many of us go into this field because we want to help people; your story will help me do that!

  11. Hey Mounah,
    Your story was amazing. I liked how you took us through a journey of your life as someone who stutters. I am sorry that you had bullies, but we all know they just didn’t know any better. I am currently a graduate student pursing speech-langauge pathology. I took a lot of notes on the emotions that you faced and also how to encourage my future clients.

  12. Hi Mounah!
    Thank you for sharing your inspiring story. My friend Pam and I are students in the SLP program at the University of South Carolina and are currently taking our course on stuttering. We appreciate your bravery in posting your story to help us further our understanding and hear from someone who experiences stuttering in their everyday life.
    We think that you have an incredible outlook and admire your determination. Was there a certain moment or turning point that made you refocused your view to challenge your stutter? I’m sure it was difficult to build up the courage to sign up for those extracurriculars.
    Thank you again,
    Eileen

  13. Hello! I’m a sophomore undergrad studying SLP at the University of Akron. I just wanted to say that I find it so inspiring that you owned your stutter in such a way that it simply became your “stutty”. There are young people in my life who stutter that I would love to share this story with. I also think it’s so cool that you started a public speaking competition. What a perfect way to show people that there really is no limit as to how far you can go!

  14. Hi!
    My name is Anna and I’m currently a freshman studying Speech-Language Pathology.
    Thank you for sharing your story! I love how you turned your stuttering not only into a positive thing, but made social events for those who stutter so they can feel included in other ways. I also had a few questions for you: First, do you still stay connected with your SLPs? Second, what was it like the first time you noticed your stutter? Lastly, when is this stuttering-competition event held? Thank you for your time! – A

    • a. Yes, they are like my scond mothers
      b. I was too young to remember
      b. It was last week. Please look at my othere reply on this apge, I gave some details

  15. I absolutely loved reading this paper, it truly put a big smile on my face because it was so inspiring. It is so inspiring to hear your story and how you never gave up even in times where it seems like many people in your situation would have. Your paper definitely stood out to me the most, and I love your comparison to your relationship with your stutter to a teenage couple. Not only did you push through all of the hardships that came with your stutter, but you looked at it in a more positive aspect and will not let it affect your life, that is great. I would love to learn more about the public speaking training and contest for people who stutter, that sounds super interesting to me, and a really cool project.

  16. It was great to read about your accomplishments and successful projects, Mounah. You forgot to mention being on French TV! 😉

    • Haha! Yeah, because what matters is to help others! TV is great but do not add any value in the long term haha

  17. Hello, Monunah! I really enjoyed reading your article and how you have used your stutter to overcome obstacles. I can relate on some level with what you have gone through with being bullied about your stutter. I have a bilateral mild-moderate hearing loss and I have been teased about for having a hearing loss.

  18. Your story is so inspiring and I really enjoyed reading about your journey. I am a current undergrad SLP major and hearing about your success has made me so excited to immerse myself in the field. I was wondering if there was anything that happened during your public speaking training that was inspiring to you or others? Thank you for sharing your story!!

  19. I really enjoyed reading about your journey and your story is so inspiring.I am a current graduate SLP student and it has made me so excited to immerse myself in the field to learn about your accomplishments. I questioned if there was something that was motivating to you or others that happened during your public speaking training? Thanks for sharing your story with everyone!!

  20. I recognize so much in your story, Mounah. As an adult I went back to school, not to learn (well, that was the bonus that came with it 🙂 ) to fight my demons from the past. And realized I had to present, in front of the class, for ALL my subjects, all from math and IT to psychology and leadership. But this time the people around me made all the difference. And offered me a job as a teacher. And having done some presentation technique courses, these came very handy. I now host speaking circles for PWS. Because we can talk. We can communicate. We just have to believe we do. Thanks for sharing this wonderful paper.

    Stay safe and keep talking

    Anita