A woman hasn’t been able to speak above a whisper for months, and a doctor said anxiety may be the cause

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  • A TikTok user has been posting about her mysterious case of vocal loss.
  • She hasn’t been able to speak above a whisper for nearly three months.
  • It’s possible that her anxiety shut off her voice, according to a specialist.
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Isabella North has been posting a lot of lip sync videos lately. The TikToker doesn’t have much of an alternative: for almost three months, she hasn’t been able to speak above a whisper.

North posted a TikTok video in early August explaining her predicament. At the time, she said she had not been able to speak properly for five weeks.

In her speaking videos, North talks in a breathy whisper and uses captions to help get her words out. She said she has trouble projecting her voice because her “diaphragm keeps spasming” whenever she tries to talk.

North said she’s seen multiple doctors for her problem, with one ear, nose, and throat specialist prescribing antibiotics and steroids to clear any infection or swelling in the vocal cords. But the medications did nothing to help her speak, she said.

After posting her first video about her vocal loss, North said she saw another specialist who diagnosed her with functional vocal cord disorder. Using a camera inserted through the nose, the doctor could see there was nothing physically wrong in North’s throat.

“My vocal cords are working fine, but my brain, as a stress response, is telling them not to close – which is why I keep whispering,” North said in an update video.

North described the problem as “involuntary, but also voluntary.” The muscles that allow us to speak usually open and close outside of our awareness, trapping air that vibrates to create sound. Failure to trap that air properly means a voice may come out breathy or strained.

The doctor told North her vocal loss is likely a response to anxiety and can be resolved through work with a vocal therapist. Since her post-doctor’s visit video, North hasn’t posted any major updates – although she did discover her throat makes a Chewbacca noise when she hums.

North didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.