Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

The King’s Speech: A Story of Courage

I am reprinting this post from this time last year.

In the 2010 Oscar-winning historical film “The King’s Speech,” King George VI (Colin Firth) reluctantly assumes the throne and must overcome his stammer in order to speak with the authority and eloquence expected of a king. He hires Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), an Australian speech therapist, and together the two are able to smooth out the rough edges of King George’s pitch and intonation in order to deliver a lucid and effective speech to the nation the day that Britain goes to war with Germany at the beginning of World War II.


I laughed and cried through the entire film because I felt so many of the same emotions as “Bertie,” second son of King George V, while preparing to give the commencement address this last pay May to Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana. I have never been so nervous about anything in my entire life.

I don’t stammer, thank God. But I am on Lithium, which causes me to tremor and feels much like a stammer. When I’m nervous, the Lithium makes me shake even more. In fact, on my first day at the consulting job – where I was somewhat concerned about someone finding out that I was a religion major and didn’t know what change-management was — I was shaking so much that the guy in back of me asked if I was a diabetic in need of insulin and handed me a cup of orange juice. I chugged it and told him I felt much better, thanks so much.


Like many things, public speaking and media appearances never bothered me before my colossal breakdown of 2005 and 2006. Even duking it out with Bill Maher on the ABC show “Politically Incorrect” didn’t interrupt my sleep or appetite. However, my self-confidence—both publically and privately–crumbled to microscopic pieces the months before my hospitalizations. When I emerged, I was a mere shell of my former self.

I had to learn how to do everything all over.

Somewhat like the ice-skater Alexis (Lynn-Holly Johnson) in the 1978 American romantic drama, “Ice Castles.” Because of her extraordinary skill and aptitude (so that part’s different), the young talent becomes a star practically overnight. One night she escapes from a party and skates in her dress clothes. Coming down from a dangerous jump combination, she trips on a set of tables and chairs, hits her head, and is blinded.


She has to learn to skate all over again.

I watched that movie when I was seven years old, and it must have made a strong impact me because I can still recall the last scene. A nervous Alexis enters a beginner’s competition and does well, despite her blindness. When her fans throw roses unto the ice-rink, she begins to trip over them and smiles with an unmistakable expression of victory.

Those two plots—the prince who learned how to fill the role of a king and overcome his speech impediment, and a blind skater who continues to compete despite her considerable disability–tell the story of all of us who have battled the demons of severe depression or anxiety. The self-doubt and emotional stammering have us frozen at the podium or ice-rink, or office desk. Countless times we have to ignore or drown out the voice within that whispers, “I can’t do this, I can’t do this.” We forge on, pretending as though we weren’t handicapped, either mentally or physically.


In this way, each and every one of us embody courage in the way Mary Anne Radmacher defines it: “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’” And eventually, like King George VI, there comes that moment when we will walk away from the microphone proud of what we have accomplished by applying courage to our life everyday, and by rejecting the impulse to retreat in fear. By inching forward, despite our stammering or blindness, we stumble upon peace and self-confidence.

Photo courtesy of The Weinstein Company.

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  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Mary Anne


    I rented this movie from Netflix recently. I watched it with both Connie and my new friend Andrea. Connie REALLY related to the character too, being hearing impaired and having gone through speech therapy as a child, growing up.
    I agree it was a GREAT movie. My son had told me when it first came out in the theater that it was awesome and one I should see.
    Anyway, I am SO proud of you speaking at your Alma Mater. You being asked to be there was such a pivotal event in your life I know. One of those things that will be remembered the rest of your life.
    I want to validate you again for being so well spoken, so knowledgeable. Having read so many books, done so much research, not to mention walking the long road you have in your own recovery. Not only in depression, bipolar disorder but also the 12 step programs and overcoming drinking. Being an adult child of an alcoholic parent, my Father I have an appreciation of how it is to live in a home with the ELEPHANT in the middle of the room that no one talks about. The good news is I also had the experience of going with my Father to AA mtgs as a small child and his staying sober from the time I was 5 yrs old until I was 16. He started going by the VFW Hall to have a beer or 2 with other veterans from WWII. His disease was so progressive that it took over where he stopped and within a cpl of yrs my Father died. Not from the alcohol, he was living in a rest home, he has emphasemia (?) as well as heart disease and other ailments. His death certificate and cause of death was heart attack. Anyway, I have walked a few miles in your shoes. I think that while all of our stories have differences they also have alot of similarities which is why we all understand each other so well 😉

    Thanks for sharing this post with us today. Today is the Summer Solstice, 1st day of Summer, also the longest day of the year. I want to wish everyone a Happy Summer and joyous season. Be safe, take care of yourselves and each other and Blessed Be!

    luv, M.A.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Michael

    I have a genetic tremor in my hands and it gets worse when I’m stressed. I panic every time I’m asked to fill out a form. People ask what’s wrong, and I tell them I’ve had this as a kid. My daughter (16) has it now. Her strong will and enthusiasm for life allows her to deal with it.

    Strangely, it doesn’t make me nervous to speak to groups, even large groups, but I keep my hands planted on the podium to steady them.

    Thanks for sharing. I followed you through a really rough time a few years ago. I just lost my job, so I’ve come back for more inspiration.

    I love your work. You are a blessing.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Your Name

    Will you help me to tell your cohorts a story as to how two elderly people have been punished for over 20 years that has aided in disabling man and wife. This is a story where two two individuals have turned the other cheek to no avail.


  • Paula

    What a great movie, and an even better story if you check out the real life version… A lesson for each of us to overcome our fears and setbacks.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment coco

    First time visitor – My aunt/godmother just sent me her St Anthonys Messenger with your article on Bipolar illness. I found the article to be quite unique but best of all it led me to this wonderful web site . So much to learn so much to share -Thank you Therese.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Paul Moore

    Wow–wonderfully-related truth of how depression, anxiety or whatever combination of the two we possess can cripple–but not conquer, with God’s grace.

    Thank you and God bless your courage, Therese

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Christina W

    This the others..could not have come into my “inbox” at a more appropriate time. My husband and I are finding ourseleves in the toughest financial situation we have even been in in our short marriage (due to cuts at his job)..this has caused me to be unable to continue to seek medical assistance (can’t afford the copays) while having to ramp up the hit or miss work I was doing and look for something FT. At this point, I’ve landed 2 part time jobs that require significant driving as well as all the other components that throw my anxiety, negative self talk etc. into high gear. I have to face the fear, do it anyway unless I want to move him, myself and or pets under a bridge..and I feel certain at least one of our cats would not be on board with that! “Normal” people think it’s easy to go for an interview, hop into a car, drive to work, balance…life…for us not so normal people..going to the grocery store and having to speak to the bagger can be difficult. Thank you for your blog, for allow people to respond and once again, for giving me hope and assurance I am not the only one on a planet I feel most uncomfortable on 90% of the time.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Serena

    Courage is something that all of us need for daily life especially with Bipolar illness.We all drum up our courage differently and I say whatever works for you is good then. It comes from inside not outside and we each have our own.
    I just recently saw the Kings Speech and I loved it. It has alot of messages for all of us. Thank you once again for your wisdom and your voice.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Terri

    Everyone talks about the courage needed and I can surely agree with that. Sometimes I panic in the grocery store and am tempted to just leave my cart there and go home. I wake each morning in a panic attack with severe physical symptoms and the Klonopin doesn’t touch it. I am so frustrated. I am waiting for ECT treatments to begin but the doctor who does them is on vacation till July 12th. If I had broken a leg I would be treated right away but because it’s “all in my head” I have to wait for help that I desperately need as I am often suicidal. I am holding on by the skin of my teeth. Please keep me in your prayers.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment MC Mullen

    All of the antipsychotics have given me Parkisnsonism. Cupped hands, tremors, stumbles and stuttering(this from the way past). There is only one med I can use but it requires blood tests for life. Or maybe I will be able to stop some time in the future. I read my writing or did because the shaking was so badly. My writings friends are kinder to me than myself. I need to learn to love myself with the trembling which is mostly gone but still rears its head when I am at open mic.
    Also typing is still an issue. Lots of mistakes and my writing is not as sharp or flows then when I am in the zone without heavy duty meds.
    I love the movie but he was rich and was able to search for anythng and anyone that would work. Glad to know
    I am not the only one with this issue! Thanks!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Josh

    This is definitely one of the most inspiring movies I have watched. It just goes to show that anyone with a diability can still thrive as long as there is motvation. When I took the bipolar disorder test assessment and found out I had it, my life fell apart at first. Later on, I picked up the courage to move on and could not be in a better place now.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment habiba

    Thanxs for the inspiration on how to start over and achieve your self confidence. pleasse share more on how to over come stage fright and speach challenges. many people will benefit form this

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Frank

    Some of the best moments in my life have come from those moments immediately after I faced one of my demons and triumphed. Once in a while, the demon was procrastination or inertia – making myself move. Action overcomes inaction. It’s almost my mantra today. And making oneself face any demon is probably worthy of being called a triumph. I’m not sure fear or anxiety or worry are typically called demons but they do seem to be those pests that wrap me in thread that is almost invisible but eventually immobilizes. Thank you for the reminder to act, to try.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Marc

    And since I was there to hear the speech that Therese gave at Saint Mary’s I want everyone to know that it, and she, were brilliant. The best commencement speech I have heard in 17 years of graduation ceremonies. In retrospect, I can see in my mind’s eye, that she was nervous, but she made a wonderful choice: she spoke slowly and let the power of her words do the rest. Brilliant, Therese.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Me

    Hang on, Terri. Will most definitely keep you in prayers. I’m not doing so good myself right now (job worries), but I hate to hear that someone is suffering. Keep reading Therese’s Beyond Blue and know that someone cares.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Cindy

    It’s been a tough day (made some mistakes at work) and I was dreading going into the office tomorrow. Felt the ghosts of my breakdown haunting me. I knew I could turn to you for, as they say in Al-Anon, “support and straightening out my thinking.” It happened. I will try again tomorrow. Thanks for being the voice of God for me tonight, Therese.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Susan

    Dear Therese: Tahnk you for this post. I was very much in need of a boost to my own courage today, and the Great Creator sent me your post. There is a Buddhist concept that says, more or less, that while You cannot hold hands with someone on a rough trail, lest you both fall if you stumble, you can walk the same trail together. Thank you for walking with me — and so many others — today.

  • HAIM

    My personal fear is negotiable in a moment, facing him or ignore him I really liked your article.

  • LIOR

    HELLO !
    There is no doubt that confidence is something that can be improved in the case of Prince he stuttered and lived with anxiety so you have to know that we can handle the matter of stuttering and improve our confidence.

  • Bertharina Rina


    From going through A to Z of local and universal journalism’s publication with problems on various levels of statistics, there seems something amiss here. Don Ervine attempts to make comparison from country to country. The genius of this individual in driving home the point is clearly the final straw.

    Are there too many journalists amassing readers galore, with less profits through public circulation; or are these perpetual public subscribers supportive of news print keeping any news industry afloat with inflation gnawing away at the very roots of global journalism. Naturally, reorganizing with cut backs and sleezy readers with useless reporting is the outstanding cause on bringing anxiety amongst any publication within global news industries.

    It’s a shame for some reporters having a heart to practice editorial professionalism being shuffled into the Public Relations Dept, and then the unemployment line, because of a corporation’s driving attrition comes into play. But the under lying truth now comes into focus. Journalism is a field where special individuals acquire responsibility to give facts to subscribers.

    Actually, these unique individuals have chosen a field that is somewhat allied with personality inclinations to deal with past situations, in life that have been surppressed/repressed consciously, or inhibited in an arbitrarily manner. Literally, thousands of honest journalists the world over of all cultures and religions suffer what is known as, ” The Personality Suppression Complex syndrome.”

    Further, we must consider the run-of-the mill journalists of whom make the day, clock watchers, in acquiring daily bread to survive. This classical hoard of individuals are aloft as to truth, most harbor masochistic inclinations of personal self-hatred reaching back to earlier child hood. This class thrives on feeding news-hungry mobs searching for their feel a likes, sitting behind a type writer pounding away on any topic geared to demoralizing humanistic mobs with dishes of mental depravity. In other words, this classical assortment of local and international alphatbetical jugglers are in them selves dangerous menaces to the public of whom survive on pure dribbleness.

    These home-made sycophants were cowards at birth. This is the mommy type that will have a willful bowel movement in causing a mother alarm that her lovely child needs a psychiatrist. There are little surpressions,repressions,or inhibitions, insolvent within the subconscious stored absently. These dirt baggers are only psycho-sickos hanging around in gassing their inner thoughts in harmony with demented pathological intentions. Here we have the classical creature, humanoid, suffering from what is termed, ” THE PERSONALITY SUPPRESSION GRAVITATIONAL COMPLEX SYNDROME”. This is the critical stage. Here the personality is at a very questionable existence.

    It was a moment of personal grandeur, in reading Mr. Don Irvine’s truly classical journalistic exploration respective of too many journalists with little ease, most psychologists comprehend that the main concern of any publication is to watch over honest reporters on the first stage of weeding out non-productive elements. They are the very foundation of any and all reputable publications. Any well established public organ of news print should worry about the little chicks that the hen must care for daily.

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