Now, I know some of you may be thinking at this point, when I am going to talk about SD in more detail. I will, don’t worry but I am not at that stage yet. There is a story before reaching the diagnosis that I need to tell.
So, it was now May 2007. I am back in London as planned. My mood was good, it was sunny and bright and I felt very happy to be back. I bought a car and drove through the English countryside. I remember it vividly, blue skies, corn fields and Bob Marley. He was singing ‘everything’s gonna be alright’. I turned the volume up. Yes, it will all be alright now.
There was a lot to do. Find a home, find a job, repatriate and become British again. Not simple. I won’t bore you with the details but the following year was tricky in that I moved a few times, had a couple of jobs that weren’t really suitable and found settling harder than expected. I didn’t regret moving back at any time I was just a little surprised that things would be tough.
I finally found the right Job and moved somewhere suitable. It had taken over a year.
I did find it difficult to re-connect with people, things had changed, people had moved on. I needed to make an effort and get out and meet people. So that is what I did.
I was still grieving the death of my mother and the family fall out. It became more apparent when I came back to the UK that my family were definitely broken for good. Trying to make amends with people, saying sorry even when I wasn’t, all fell on deaf ears. This made me feel ill, and so my voice went again.
It was now affecting my work. I could not leave phone messages as my voice would break up when I spoke. I remember speaking to someone in work one day, my voice was so bad, breaking up and sounding strangled. She looked at me like I was mad. She never once asked me was I OK when it was apparent that I was far from it. Bob Marley had said ‘everything’s gonna be alright’ but it wasn’t it was worse. I had believed him; he seemed so sincere when he had sung it to me on the radio that day.
Desperation kicked in. This is when I started to research. I knew it was more than anxiety so I looked up all my symptoms and came up with spasmodic dysphonia. What in the name of God is that? The more I read the more it made sense. It all fitted together like a jigsaw puzzle. I had everything that was listed in the symptoms.
It had been getting me down so much I was now starting to feel black. I had to do something. So, like any normal person I made an appointment to see my GP. I will tell him what I have got, he will send me to a specialist and all will be well. It was now the beginning of 2009, maybe Bob was right after all.
Off I went to the GPs, scared, dreading telling him and feeling very down. It was a dreary day, grey, overcast and depressing just like my mood.
My name was called and in I went to the consultation room. Immediately my voice started to break up when I spoke. I told the GP I was very anxious and was having difficulty speaking. I then dropped the bomb. I told him I thought I had spasmodic dysphonia.
Oh my God, what a mistake. I was actually ridiculed and told I was self diagnosing. It was obvious to me he had no idea what SD was. He put me down and almost sneered at me. I was so embarrassed my cheeks were flushed and I was lost for words. I felt like I had a hand around my neck. After a bit more sneering from the GP and references made about me being anxious I knew I was not going to get anywhere. I didn’t know what else to say other than asking him to prescribe something for my anxiety. His reply? ‘Oh so now you’re drug seeking’ Oh yes, that’s what he said.
He did however give me something for anxiety. He took the easy way out. Just fob her off with pills, get her out, move onto the next patient.
So that was that. I was now out of his hands. He had done his duty or so he thought. I wanted to report him but I didn’t have the energy or the voice.
I left the surgery and drove home feeling worse than I had ever felt before.
Eight years passed and I never once said those two words again. Spasmodic dyphonia was no longer part of my life. It was psychological, and I was slowly going mad. I will never ever say that to another GP again I thought. Who am I to diagnose myself.
Let’s just carry on. Easier said than done.
This little tiny man of a GP made me feel like this….
It was hard to see the light sometimes. I did carry on, but I knew something was terribly wrong. I started to notice a pattern. Whenever I felt uncomfortable around someone my SD worsened. When I spoke on the phone it worsened, and when I had to speak publicly it worsened.
So, what next?
Well this is when I became the Voice Athlete.