SM Awareness

Helping raise awareness of selective mutism

October is here and that means it’s extra awareness time for Selective Mutism!

When I was at school and my SM was at its worst, everyone would call me quiet. They’d all say “Oh, you’re so quiet“, as if it was something I hadn’t realised before. Why everyone had to tell me I don’t know, but after a few years of these daily comments I started to believe that ‘quiet’ was all I was. It really effected me, I just held back even more and hardly expressed myself to anyone. In school I had nothing to say, I felt nothing, I had no interests. How do you even start to show people who you really are when you feel like you’ve forgotten yourself?

Everyone with SM is unique and we all have our own little quirks. We’ve all got our different interests, hobbies, talents, likes and dislikes. So this October let’s show the world that there is more to us than just being quiet. Yes, we might be a little quiet at times, but we need to remember that we are so much more than that.

So this October I’m going to try to be brave and will be posting on here, on Facebook and on Twitter with all the silly little things about who I am behind the SM (and maybe sharing some embarrassing old photos too). Feel free to join in posting about yourself and be as creative as you like!

#MoreThanQuiet #SelectiveMutism

  1. To me, SM is: Part of who I am, but it doesn’t define me.
  2. I was diagnosed with it: At the end of primary school/beginning of secondary. Self-diagnosed, but we didn’t need a professional to tell me what was happening in my own head. When I first found out about SM and read about it, it felt like it had been written about me personally – I finally had a reason for what I was going through.
  3. But I had symptoms of it since: Before I started school – I had always been ‘shy’ and ‘quiet’ around some people
  4. Most people (wrongly) assume: That I’m just a quiet person and don’t talk much. Or that I’m rude and don’t want to talk to them
  5. But actually the truth is: That I struggle to get the words out sometimes. Or I take so long to work myself up to saying something that the moment has passed
  6. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: Getting used to the constant chatter of people, when I’m generally an introvert preferring quieter spaces
  7. The hardest part about mornings are: Getting back into the routine. Some days I feel like I’m pretending to be someone else, someone braver than I actually am.
  8. Something I couldn’t live without is: Humour. It makes everything seem alright again.
  9. The hardest part about nights are: De-stressing after work or whatever I’ve done during the day
  10. Each day I take: One day at a time. I used to take Seroxat medication for my anxiety, and it helped, but it was so horrible coming off it that I’d never do it again
  11. Regarding alternative treatments: Regarding alternative treatments: I listen to music a lot. I take time out by myself to recuperate. I eat popcorn and chocolate (a lot. Maybe too much).
  12. Regarding working and career: Regarding working and career: I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve got a job where my ‘quietness’ isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes it’s perfect, sometimes it’s too much. But it’s good to try and push myself outside of my comfort zone.
  13. People would be surprised to know: That even though sometimes I’m too scared to talk, jumping out of a plane was easy. Anxiety is strange.
  14. The hardest thing to accept is: That I missed out on a lot of the social parts of my childhood. I didn’t have a lot of close friends, and even fewer than I could actually talk to.
  15. If I could have one day of feeling normal I would:
  16. Want to know a secret? Sometimes I’m not okay. But that’s okay (and totally normal)
  17. It’s difficult when people: Dismiss me because I don’t talk much, or don’t include me because they’ve forgotten I’m even there
  18. Something that has surprised me about living with SM is: That I feel privileged it’s brought me to find a lot of amazing people who I wouldn’t know if it wasn’t for having SM.
  19. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: To just be there for me. To give me a hug and to tell me it’s going to be alright (chocolate also helps)
  20. One of the hardest things I’ve done was: To stand up in class at school and read my essay out loud. I was around 15 years old, and although I was only talking for roughly a minute, it was the most anyone in that classroom had heard me talk. I was shaking and could feel my face burning bright red, but when I finished I looked up and everyone suddenly started clapping. It was one of the proudest moments of my life, I’m so glad I pushed myself to do it.
  21. The thing that’s helped me the most is: Knowing I’m not alone. That means a lot
  22. The person who has inspired me the most is: Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess). She’s made me realise that having anxiety isn’t a life sentence, and that’s perfectly normal to be slightly crazy (in a good way). Also cats. Lots of cats.
  23. When someone is diagnosed with SM I’d like to tell them: That it doesn’t mean you’ll always be that way. Things can change, you can get better. And you’ll never be alone.
  24. A positive that’s come out of my SM is: The amazing people I’ve met. The things I’ve learnt (about myself, and others, and life in general). It’s given me perspective, and allowed me to have the patience not to judge others
  25. SM has taught me: That it’s alright to be different. It’s alright to struggle with something that most people can do without even thinking about it. Everyone has something that doesn’t come naturally to them and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
  26. My favourite song/book/poem/film symbolizing my SM is: Read All About It – Emeli Sandé:
    You’ve got the words to change a nation
    But you’re biting your tongue
    You’ve spent a lifetime stuck in silence
    Afraid that you’ll say something wrong
    If no one ever hears it
    How we gonna learn your song

    Yes, we’re all wonderful, wonderful people
    So when did we all get so fearful?
    And now we’re finally finding our voices
  27. My favourite motto/quote that gets me through tough times is:
  28. I love it when people:
  29. Something I never thought I could do was:
  30. One day I will:
  31. I’m getting involved with SM awareness month because:

Head over to the Finding Our Voices Facebook event page for updates throughout October:

Awareness ideas

As you may have experienced, there are many people who have never heard of selective mutism. They might think we are being rude, stubborn or just don’t want to talk to them.

Recently there has been increased awareness of SM with articles in national newspapers and TV programmes about the disorder. Media coverage is good but we, as people who have had first hand knowledge of the disorder, can help a great deal in getting the word out about selctive mutism; what it is, the mis-conceptions and how to help.

Here’s a few ideas you could try out.

  • Join in with the Finding Our Voices #MoreThanQuiet campaign and tweet or post about who you are behind the SM. It can be silly or serious, about your hobbies or interests, what your favourite band/colour/food is or what you’re thinking or feeling. Show everyone that having selective mutism is about more than ‘being quiet’
  • Print off some information about SM (have a look at the SM Links for ideas) and post them into schools, doctors surgeries or hand them out at school and clubs
  • Write an article on SM and send it to your local newspaper or school/work newsletter
  • Share posts about selective mutism on social media
  • Change your personal email signature (or your work’s email if you can get permission) to include a brief description of selective mutism

October Awareness Month 2014

In the USA October was selective mutism awareness month and a lot of you joined in to help spread the word. There’s been SM awareness quotes posted each day on Facebook groups, messages, tweets, and blogs about it. Here’s what some of you have been doing.

The SM Space Cafe Facebook group made this cover photo for all to use to help raise awareness.

If you’re doing anything to raise awareness please let us know!

Your amazing feedback!

"I find the magazine extremely informative. Great stories and great referencing. It really makes you feel 'not alone'!"

Your amazing feedback!

"Your magazine really impressed me. After I read it I didn't feel so alone anymore."

Your amazing feedback!

"Really interesting and helpful articles. Well done Elizabeth and Donna too! I loved your pieces. Looking forward to the next issue already."

Your amazing feedback!

"I have really enjoyed writing pieces for this and I hope even more people will join in next time"

Your amazing feedback!

"What a brilliant magazine, so much hard work, creativity and love has gone into this - it will be an inspiration for so many people. Wishing you good luck and huge amounts of energy to produce many more issues!"

Your amazing feedback!

"It looks amazing! The first thing I went straight to was the article Lizzie wrote about our meet up... Definitely brought a tear to my eye reading how much it helped her!"

Your amazing feedback!

"It is so professionally done, really informative"

Your amazing feedback!

"Wonderful! Awesome! Fantastic! I wish I could have read something like this when we first encountered SM! You've helped so many with this magazine. What are you doing is so very important!"

Your amazing feedback!

"This is amazing!"

Your amazing feedback!

"I got your magazine today, it's awesome! Thank you so much"

Your amazing feedback!

"I recommend you for your hard work in 'spreading the word' about SM. I am encouraged by the rise of interest in the condition over the 21 years of SMIRA's existence, which, I am sure, is due, in no small part, to the efforts of the organisation in raising the profile of this disorder. The more ways that people can learn about it, the better."