When I first "discovered" that I would be dancing with Spasmodic Dysphonia for the rest of my life (even though I originally thought it would only be a short dance - the lifetime commitment was realized a bit later in the process!) I was filled with anxiety.
Anxiety about my job. Anxiety about my social life. Anxiety about my marriage. Anxiety about my identity without a voice. Anxiety about speech therapy. Anxiety about Botox injections. Anxiety about the future.
As I slowly learned the steps to this new dance (and how to avoid stepping on SD's toes causing it to get angry!), my anxieties began to lessen somewhat. The first to go was the anxiety about speech therapy. My therapist is wonderful and we soon had developed a good working relationship which helped my voice.
Next to slink into the background was my anxiety about Botox shots. They weren't too bad. Thankfully!
Then the marriage anxiety dissolved as Hubby proved that, once he got over the "shock" of my SD, he was a wonderful support and a loving partner. Hubby doesn't always understand everything that I am going through but he tries.
The job anxiety and the future anxiety receded into manageable issues which are still floating along with the music in the background as SD and I dance along. Every once in a while they poke their heads into my immediate thoughts and cause some stress in my life but, when they do that, I try to just take deep breaths and to "let go and let God."
As my voice improved, thanks to speech therapy and LOTS of voice exercises, my anxiety about my social life vanished. I not only found that my friends understood and still accepted me but also that people I just met could also handle the information about my vocal disorder. I became very direct about my SD and told everyone way more than they ever wanted to know about it whenever I could.
Joining NSDA and starting a SD support group really helped me banish the social anxiety caused by SD. Meeting other people who experienced the same thing I was experiencing really helped me to understand that I wasn't alone and I also wasn't a "Freak!"
The anxiety about my identity remains the one which torments me more than any of the others still lingering about. However, as the days go by and I stay in step with SD to perform a smooth dance, things get a bit brighter.
Until it is time for a NSDA symposium and leadership training.
Don't get me wrong. The NSDA symposium is a wonderful thing. So is the leadership training. There are wonderful people there who have dedicated themselves to helping others learn to dance smoothly with SD. Being with these people is inspiring and comfortable. Never is it needed to explain about bad voices or to apologize for not being heard. In a lot of ways, the symposium and the leadership training is like "coming home" to a place where you are accepted unconditionally.
However . . . .
My voice is doing really well. So well, in fact, that people I meet for the first time don't even notice that there is anything wrong with it. People I know, and who have known me for a while, can occasionally hear slight breaks but, for the most part, they never think about my voice as anything but "normal." This is wonderful. Right?
Well, here is the ironic thing. People at the NSDA symposium and training day tend to think that I don't really have SD. They insist that my problem must have been MTD (Muscle Tension Dysphonia) which is easily cured. I have to "defend" myself and my reason for being involved in the NSDA. There are times I feel like these people see me as an "intruder" because my voice is so good at the moment.
I have worked so long and so hard to get my voice into the shape that it is in and I continue to work on it daily to maintain my progress. God has really touched my voice to allow such amazing progress. Why do these people shake my confidence so much? Why do I dread having to face these people? Why do I continue to feel the need to validate my SD?
Why do I feel such anxiety? Why do I feel like I should just keep my mouth closed so that people won't feel compelled to challenge me?
I DO have Spasmodic Dysphonia.
I DO have a good voice because of a lot of hard work and a lot of grace.
I DO belong in the NSDA.
Why do I feel like I am between both worlds - the "normal" world and the NSDA world?
Voice Update: Doing really well. I was having some issues with the word "hello" yesterday but I really worked on some exercises and that got better. I am now reading in the book of Judges and the reading is doing wonders for my voice. I think that the anxiety about the upcoming symposium is doing a little "work" on my voice but, I refuse to get out of step with the dance, darn it!