On Monday, January 19th, I found myself unable to speak, even when I wanted to and tried. It lasted for 10 days.
I was given an unofficial diagnosis of Conversion Disorder - a usually temporary neurological symptom disorder. Today, I was able to speak again. Now that my voice is back, I almost don't want to shut up.
During those 10 days, I communicated with notecards and a pen if I had to go somewhere. I texted my parents during dinner, even if they were sitting right there. To call my dog in from the yard, I had to repeatedly open and shut the creaky front door to get her attention. I found out how important my voice is, especially since I have always been terrible at charades.
There were some - weirdly - good moments, too.
But I will never again take my voice for granted.
And so, without further ado, here are some of the consequences of being unable to use your voice.
Being unable to speak is a conversation starter.
I'm ordinarily awkward when trying to start a conversation. So, it was neat to have a built in topic of conversation. Except...
People are naturally curious.
A ringing phone causes panic.
Because my voice was not working, I couldn't answer my phone when it rang. My best friend called at one point, and I texted my mom to ask if she could call her back and explain.
Luckily, the only other calls I received were telemarketers that I ignored.
It is a built in excuse to not talk to strangers.
This is a good one. I could sit in a cafe or at the library, set a brightly-colored notecard saying "I lost my voice" on the table in front of me, pop in my headphones, and just work.
Not speaking can be seen as rude.
Walking into the library, I held the door for a lady who was exiting. She smiled, thanked me, and said, "How are you?" I opened my mouth to respond... and just stood there, frozen with embarrassment. My handy notepad was buried in my bag at that moment.
I'm ordinarily extremely friendly and will at least return a "Hello" from a stranger, so I felt weird and guilty trying to respond to friendly locals with only nods or hand gestures.
The inability to speak provides a lot of time for thoughtfulness.
This was both good and bad. I began thinking about people I needed to call and catch up with, and then remembered I couldn't. I wound up emailing and messaging a bunch of people, though!
I also spent a lot of time regretting not taking American Sign Language for my foreign language requirement in high school.
Thinking of the future without a voice is scary.
I had no idea how long my inability to speak would last. That was one of the scariest things, especially as I'm at a point in my life where I'm looking into what I'll be doing for the rest of my life.
I'd created this BuzzFeed Community account with the intention of applying as a staff writer, and thinking of a possible interview once I applied threw me into a panic.
You guys can contact me to set up an interview now! ;)
There is so much to say!
All of that thinking time made me wish I could discuss everything.
Now that my voice is back, it's going to be hard to shut me up. I called my grandmother, who I hadn't spoken with in a few weeks, and she had trouble finding an opening to update me on her life.
My newly returned voice is confusing.
Mainly because I spent 10 days not hearing my voice at all, and now I can't believe that I'm speaking.
Did I always sounds like this???