Nine Musicians Discuss Chronic Illnesses

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These nine musicians who were open enough to talk to Paste about their experiences with chronic illness prove that the musical life isn’t always as glamorous as it seems. Listen to their stories about the realities of playing music while struggling with chronic illnesses ranging from kidney failure to multiple sclerosis.

Leo Maymind
Spanish Prisoners

Chronic Illness:

How long have you had a Stutter?
I’ve been stuttering with varying degrees of severity my whole life. There have been times when it has had minimal impact on my day-to-day routine, and there have been times, especially growing up, that it caused me so much stress and anxiety that I’d have regular migraine headaches. 

How does it affect your professional life?
Being the lead singer for a band doesn’t seem like the first thing someone who stutters would gravitate towards, but it hasn’t stopped me in the slightest. Writing songs and lyrics has been a huge release of stress for me. Even though stuttering is a speech disorder, singing is completely unaffected (which many people have a hard time believing). I’ve found that being able to express myself through song is even more gratifying due to the difficulty I sometimes have expressing myself through normal speech. 

How does it impact your personal life?
Of course, stuttering effects my personal life to a certain extent, but luckily I’m surrounded by loving and understanding friends and family, with whom I feel comfortable speaking at all times. It was much harder as a child, especially speaking to strangers.

Outside of your professional and personal dealings with stuttering, what else would you like others to know about it?
I think there’s still a lot of weird stigmas associated with stuttering, even though its a fairly common disorder. It’s also a fairly mysterious disorder—doctors and speech pathologists still don’t really know exactly what causes it and there’s many different (sometimes conflicting) schools of thought on how to provide therapy for someone that stutters. I think the best thing a listener can do is just react normally and be patient. It’s really that simple.

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