'I couldn't even say be forced to; Former stammerer Perla has taken control of her.
A YEAR ago, Perla Ernest could barely say her own name.
Afflicted by a stammer which developed in her teens, she began avoiding certain situations and felt her confidence plummet.
Now after undergoing a special course, the 20-year-old international business student at the University of Glamorgan says she has been given a new lease of life.
"It has helped in all sorts of ways - from controlling my speech to giving me confidence," she said.
"As stammerer, there would be so many things that I was afraid to do which seemed so normal to other people.
"I couldn't even say my name. I just couldn't get the sound out. If I was asked for my details, I would automatically stumble over my words and pause so much. So I started making up excuses, doing things like dropping my bag so I could avoid saying it or to give myself more time.
"I felt a lot of negativity and instead of moving forwards I was going backwards."
Perla, who lives in Treforest, had no problems with her speech as a child and throughout adolescence. But she became overwhelmed by the responsibilities that come with adulthood.
"I used to be very outgoing, but things started to get harder and the more responsibility and pressure I felt, the worse my speech became. It just accumulated.
"I couldn't do presentations in front of other people, or even order the food I wanted in a restaurant because I couldn't say the words and panic would set in. I was afraid of being a total failure," she said.
The more Perla worried about her speech, the worse it became, until eventually she tried to do something about it by taking part in a course run by the Radyr-based McGuire Programme.
"I was very conscious about it. I felt angry and frustrated.
CONFIDENT: Perla Ernest feels she's been set free after overcoming her stammer PICTURE: Liz Pearce Y