Tuesday, 29 November 2011

CBT for stuttering: A Powerful Tool

OK....i'v tried it all,,read it all,,know it all,,basically i know everything there is to know about stuttering,its causes ,'treatments' available in the market,,,etc,,and i want to categorically state here that i'v found the most effective,powerful and life changing 'therapy' for adult stuttering.
It's what the psychologist call as Cognitive behavioral therapy.In fact ,the name gives it away,this psychotherapy technique can be effectively used in attacking the stuttering monster ,that is inside us, where it the most,,yes you guessed it right,,the damn ICEBERG..!!!
All these years i was looking for escape technique which target only the tip of the iceberg i.e the overt or observable signs of stuttering,,which means the speech defect itself..
But these 'techniques' do nothing to target the feelings,attitudes and false beliefs (THE ICEBERG) associated with stuttering that have made a comfortable home in our hearts..

CBT for stuttering is only meant for those individuals whose goal is not perfection,,but whose goals are to improve their quality of life(QOL),to be confident in daily life situations,to stop the avoidance practices and to live life in the moment..

CBT helps the stutterer question how he can be so sure that it is a terrible thing if others here him stutter..and helps to reframe or restructure the beliefs..
It is best to approach a qualified psychologist ,,but the option of online CBT is also avalaible....
Trust me ,,,i have noticed much improvement in my speech,mood and self esteem since i'v taken CBT,,but there are still 'miles to go before i sleep'....

Here is a useful link i came across for stutterers suffering form social anxiety...
http://www.stammering.org/research_asrc.html

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Disabled and depressed..:((

Dear reader,,the following is the reality of my life,,which i hate to admit and hesitatingly accept.
i'm a grown 20 yr old,,who cannot do the basic things in life like speaking my name,,my college's name,,interact ,,or to start or hold a conversation,,,i'm a guy who stutters....that's why im lonely and depressed....
Living with stuttering and social phobia is not easy and i wud'nt wish this life for anybody....
But one things for sure,,it is only me who has the power to turn things around,,to be more confident around people,,to accept my stuttering,,,and to be what i want to be...

But it is getting increasingly difficult to stay motivated becuz every stuttering episode destroys my confidence and my self esteem...its like a bullet wound that really hurts but doesnt really kill you.......every time i stutter ..negative thoughts and self doubt enter my mind...and i begin to question if i'm even capable of liveing and coping with the daily stresses of life....

With that being said ,,i'v finally started exercising,,,,just a little aerobics,,,,and i plan to practice progressive muscle relaxation technique in the park in the morning soon....becuz its a moderate panic provoking situation for me.....
Hope the progress made recently is no undone by stuttering....and i continue to gain confidence and raise my self esteem.....so wish me luck dear reader and GOD....:)))))).....:D

"The only thing standing between you and who you want to be is you."

Thursday, 6 October 2011

STEVE JOBS R.I.P

You revolutionized the world of technology and business...symbolized knowledge in motion...captured the imagination of the world....and taught us to follow our dreams and work hard to transform them into reality.....and that nothing is impossible....
You will be missed and remembered for a long time.....

Sunday, 2 October 2011

my favourite tv show of all time..!!

I have a lot of favourites when it comes to tv shows,,like friends,bold and the beautiful,two n a half men,how i met ur mother etc,,,,but according to me ,,the bestest series of all time is none other than DEXTER.I am so fascinated by the its theme,characters and storyline and i just love it.
I find that,except for the serial killing business,i'm similar to dexter,since i'm a stutterer,and a social phobic,i too have no clue as to how i should behave in certain situations or what the hell to say to people,,in order to effectively hide my embarrassing and humiliating defects.

I find it absolutely amazing how he can cope easily in all the social situations in his life and fake feelings of sympathy,calmness,relaxation and being at ease,when clearly he is not.I wish i can somehow learn to hide my stutter and social phobia,and be extremely relaxed around people ,,just like him.

But i really dont have the necessary social skills,,to fake the relaxed behaviour.I'm mostly nervous and short of words around people becuz of the stutter,,and have no idea how to behave in most situations i'm in.I know that if i have the confidence and courage to accept my stutter,i can realize my full potential and achieve all the things that i dream about like,,regular stuff that normal people take for granted..

I know its hard to fake confidence but with practice it can be certainly achieved,,not just in any tv show but in real life as well.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Lambi judai..!!

I was listening to a hindi song 'lambi judai'(long separation) from the movie ' jannat' recently,,and although i'v heard it many times before , a sad realisation came to my mind this time...it resembled much of my story,,in the sense that i'v been separated from my fluency for a long time.....

In fact in the second verse of the song ,,,every line has a hidden meaning for the things going on in my life,and tells perfectly the life story of the stutterer.Its a really sad story if u think about it,,,i'vv been separated from my fluency and without it i'm hopeless....i know im being a little too dramatic but every time i hear the song it sends shivers down my spine,,,all those bad memories of stuttering come to my mind,,,,and i begin to wonder what my life could have been if i had my fluency,,my ability to speak my own name,college's name,the place where i live,,,etc....

It seems like a fairy tale to me and when i come out of it ,,i realize that there's very little chance of all those things happening,,and i turn back to my real life,,,full of fear,,worry,,and sadness,,,

I wish god would show mercy.....

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Let the truth be told...

Another thing that i despise about stuttering is the social awkwardness that results from it.Let me share with you my case,i'm in college,a good looking strong looking young man,slightly geeky and shy.This is what people wud think of me when they first see me from a distance.but as soon as they have a slight talk with me ,they get to know that something is not right with this guy,they sense the awkwardness in my voice even if i manage to speak without stuttering.
This awkwardness that is in the air i think,is because of the lack of proper social kills that develop naturally in a normal person but stuttering severely impacts the self esteem and these may not be so developed in a stutterer.

Yesterday,a girl in my class (who i have a slight crush on but obviously i dont talk to her) asked me in a very cute manner "are you coming to the fresher's party on sunday?".I ,as usual responded with a little bit of a panic and stuttering and said i had to go somewhere on sunday so i could'nt make it any way.
God,i hate those times when i have to lie because of my stuttering,,i wonder sometimes how it would feel to just tell the truth.....i cant come to the party cuz i'm afraid people will talk to me and get to know i'm a stutterer (they already do) and judge me,,i dont talk to people(classmates, collegemates, nieghbours , relatives etc) not because i'm shy but i'm extremely nervous around them and cant speak the names of many of them,,i spend all my time indoors not cuz i'm studying,,but i dreaming of a normal life free from fear,,,,i dont go out to movies not cuz i dont like them but becuz i cant stand in the ticket counter line and i dont get much pocket money,,,i can go on and on and on and on about this ****.
i hate what this stuttering is doing to me and that i or nobody can do anything to help me to improve my life..i wish i could just tell people the truth and accept myself for who i am and not what society wants me to be,,i wish i could talk to the girl i like and make more friends ,,i wish i cud do so many things that the normal people take granted for....but i guess all this is just wishful thinking on my part,,,,the TRUTH is that i'm never going to be able to speak normally without blocking,,i'm going to find it extremely difficult to get a job even though i'm a good student,,i'm going to be in debt,,,and may never be able to come out of this vicious circle of stuttering,depression,social anxiety and what not....i'm stuck and always will be....
that ladies and gentlemen is the real truth,,,,i know its very pessimistic but these things that i'v said here,,i cant say to anybody anywhere,,its a releif to vent out my doubts and troubles....There is bhagvead gita quote about doubting i'd like to share..."Neither in this world nor in the world beyond,is happiness instore for him who doubts". Please lord give me some strength.......

Friday, 2 September 2011

That DAMNED hypersensitivity....!!!

There ,,i admit it,,,i said it...i'm a highly sensitive person and i absolutely hate that about me,,perhaps equal to or greater than this stuttering and social phobia.I hate that i'm a wuss and small little things disturb me ,,,my thought process is like a li'l girl and that ladies n gentlemen is the root cause of stuttering,,,,atleast my stuttering.....I dont get why my 'feelings' are hurt so easily ,,even when people have not said anything to me...my head's spinning with disturbing thoughts like 'wat r they thinking of me?' or 'are they talking about me?'

So ,,,ladies and gentlemen i'v admitted that i'm as sensitive as a li'l girl ,,,but i guess it takes a REAL man to admit his weaknesses,but if i really was a REAL man i wud say this upfront to people instead of saying it on the internet anonymously.To be honest ,,my case is paradoxical in a way,cuz many boys who are sensitive (not many boys are) do not stutter,,and most girls are over sensitive,but they too do not stutter...so i guess i'm just the lucky one of the lot...thank you lady luck for such kindness u'v bestowed upon me.So hypersensitivity may have something to do with why i stutter or maybe i'm completely wrong and i'm wasting my time and yours.

Hypersensitivity has taken away my piece of mind and installed in it thoughts of low self esteem,self hatred,weirdness etc ,,,the list is endless.It is also the primary reason why i cannot open up,cuz if i stutter infront of others and they say something,,,,there i go,,,i would be sad and depressed for the whole week and my mind wud be freaked out and pre occupied with wasteful and negative thoughts....Hypersensitivity is a disability worse than stuttering ,,,but its consequences maybe less obvious than those of stuttering...

I wud say this to all who stutter and most of all to MYSELF,,that accept that you have a speech problem and to hell with what everybody says or thinks,,surrender all attachement to results(according to lord krishna),,,and be a MAN and face your fears,press past the depression,anxiety ,worry and those DARNED speech blocks( i just hate them,,if they were a person i wud strangle them with both my hands).......As Rocky balboa once said "It aint about how hard you hit,,its about how hard you can get ht and keep moving forward,,,how much you can take and keep moving forward ,,THATS HOW WINNING IS DONE...!!!"

Friday, 27 May 2011

Prepare for a block

God,i'm having a terrible time dealing with those wicked speech blocks of mine.I cannot seem to apply the right techniques the right time,but having said that i must admit i'v been lax in practicing the techniques at home and somehow i seem to think that my brain will magically apply them in the stressful situations.I'm sure this is the case with many stutterers around the world,and even with non stutterers with respect to any therapy,fitness or other programs .Humans are naturally lazy and they need a lot of motivation and commitment to strictly follow a set of guidelines.

I dont know where to look for such motivation.A spiritual answer would be to look for it within you.But all i can find in me is self doubt and fear and mainly emptiness when it comes to my life and my future.I believe that the motivation can come through results,meeting up with some ex stutterers who overcame the blocks using the very same techniques.This will surely encourage the stutterer to keep on going and continue with the efforts.

When it comes to my stutter,i find preparatory sets or pre block corrections the most useful alongwith abdominal breathing.It really has improved my stutter but there's still a long way to go.But all that work will be undone if i dont work hard and keep preparing for the worst.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Surrounded by people,still ALONE

Loneliness has always been with me,along with my stuttering,ever since i can remember,even though i may not have been aware of its presence.It's sort of a side effect of stuttering,and a result of self imposed isolation caused by the social awkwardness.
Because of my speech difficulty ,i had distanced myself from others right from my childhood,and therefore could not develop the necessary social skills required to survive in this cut throat world.Once you lag behind other kids,it is more than likely that you will be left behind in the social scene.
Even if you try to be sociable,it would be difficult to battle the social awkwardness,and also,it would be too late as everybody around you already has friends and may not need or want to hangout with a 'loner'.

Today,i feel as if i'm being constantly reminded that i'm different,and nobody around me really gets me.Stuttering may just leave me for a few moments ,but that strange lonely feeling is always there.The thoughts in my head keep spiraling and recurring,reminding me that something's not right.

The self imposed isolation is an example of approach avoidance conflict,whereby the stutterer wants to do two things at a time.He wants to socialize and make friends and talk to people,but does'nt want them to know about his stutter,and feels afraid of what they might think of him when they find out.

Out of all the disastrous consequences of stuttering in our lives,i believe that loneliness is the worst,as it deprives us of our basic needs of proper social interaction,which is vital to a human being's functioning,just like food and water.Long term loneliness causes various other medical problems.Lonely people also flock to the internet for comfort and superficial social contact.
So,one must atleast try to gain some confidence around people,and prevent social and occupational impairment,to lead a healthy life.

Eye of the tiger

Ever since i became aware that my speech is abnormal,that i'm a stutterer,i'v had this recurrent dream that one day eventually, my stuttering would magically disappear and i would live a rich and fulfilling life and that all my troubles would vanish just like that.But now as i'm about to step out into the real world,i realize more everyday that all those thoughts were nothing but wishful thinking,and that i'd have to live with this handicap for the rest of my life.I would consider myself lucky if i even manage to get a job.

These thoughts are all i think about and i'v had plenty of time too ,during these summer vacations.I bought some legitimate dvd's to take my mind off the thoughts.
The other day as i was watching the movie series 'rocky 1-6' on my laptop,a really strange but true realization came to my mind.I was in a boxing match with my stuttering handicap in the ring of life,with no rules,and i was being constantly beaten and defeated round after round.I knew it sounded ridiculous but it was true.Stuttering is a very harsh,ruthless and strong opponent that will pumble me if i dont fight back and put up resistance,its gonna break my confidince,my self esteem and even my spirit.
So just like rocky balboa,i'v got to persevere this constant beating, endure the pain,be ready for more pain, and fight back for my own survival.I gotta stand up on my feet every time it knocks me down and not lose heart.LOL,,easier said than done,for a guy like me atleast.

This was a strong realization that reminded me that if i dont fight back and do some some damage control ,i may have to live like this for the rest of my life, and i certainly cannot do that.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Stand your ground during a block

Yesterday,one of my college professors called me on my mobile phone regarding some information that needed to be clarified.I,as expected,panicked as soon as i saw that it was a phonecall from my teacher,and did not know what to do.I never answer the phone at home for fear of stuttering and blocking severely,especially official phonecalls.I was so anxious and scared that i could not pick up the phone the first four times it rang.My heart was racing and i felt guilty that i could'nt even pick up the phone and ask the purpose of the call,something that even a little child can do.

After battling with my unrealistic thoughts and worries for about 2 hours,i gathered the courage to call her back.My heart was again pounding rapidly,and my throat went dry as i heard the ring.She picked up the phone and asked 'who is it?',and i must've taken about 3-4 seconds to say my name,and then i told her why i called.She then discussed the official matter and then hung up.I was so proud of myself cuz of the fact that i called her back ,and that i persevered through the blocks that i suffered,more instinctually than intentionally,and that i was able to fully say what i wanted to say.It really felt amazing and fulfilling.
I will definitely work on my speech blocks by using pre block corrections ,smooth speech and costal breathing,so i can get over this 'telephone phobia' of mine and perform normally atleast on the phone.

This experience taught me to hold myself together and stand my ground during severe speech blockage,and not lose sight of what i want to say.
The most important thing for a stutterer is not to worry about other people's opinion,because what others think is not our business and what others say is not in our control....

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Indian society's view of stuttering

Stuttering,as an ailment,has been a source of amusement and confusion for people for centuries.The indian society is no different.
Indians in general are lack the sensitivity towards disabilities and disabled people,atleast that is what i have experienced,living in the capital city of india,for 20 years.I have met with tremendous amount of discrimination and prejudice from people because of my stuttering,which has left a sense of alienation and separation in me towards my own society.I remember being ridiculed by people of every age,though not directly,because i would rarely step out.Childhood was a horrible time and i'm thankful that its passed.

On the other hand,i'v also met people who are extremely kind and tolerant towards me and my disability,though they are few in number.I 'v also made a few really good friends who are really helpful and understanding.

I wish that society would be more tolerant and understanding of our difficulty and not treat us like dirt..

Possible treatments or control measures

Now ,i'm no expert,but i certainly know a lot about stuttering through my own experiences and talking with other stutterers from different walks of life.These methods to control stuttering may not work for evrybody but they certainly work for me..in some situations atleast.Over the past few months ,i have found that i can control my speech in certain situations using these techniques ,but not in every situation.the techniques i found most useful are PMR(progressive muscle relaxation),slow speech,easy onset,voluntary stuttering(though i don't use it as much) and abdominal or costal breathing.

PMR is a great technique for reducing anxiety in feared situations.It comprises of repeatedly tensing and relaxing a particular muscle group consecutively.This helped me to reduce my anxiety symptoms when in public.
Other methods like smooth speech,voluntary stuttering etc are also really helpful.

For those stutterers who are willing to experiment with medications can try prescription drugs for anxiety or herbs like kava kava,passion flower,valerian,st. john's wort etc.However,as a stutterer,i would never personally use or recommend any medication that offers 'cure' for stuttering.

These were some methods that really work for me and helped me get through my semester viva-voce effectively,,i was really happy with my performance as i was able to give most of the answers to the university examiner,inspite of the fact that i stuttered.Well,hope this helps other stutterers too...

Suicide and stuttering

Those familiar with the experience of being a stutterer know how distressing,disabling and frustrating it can be.Infact ,it can even drive some people to take their own life because they simply cannot take the embarrassment and functional impairment any more.
There have been many reports of people attempting suicide out of helplessness.They are depressed and beleive that nothing or nobody can make their situation better.

I think that any adult stutterer would be lying if they said that the atleast the thought of dying did'nt cross their minds at some point in their lives.I would have to be honest and say that the thought did cross my mind a few times,but it was only a thought ,i would never hurt me because i love me ,,however hard my life is,or because i'm too much of a coward..lol..

Well ,personally i really feel bad for people who stutter,people like me,who are suffering like hell each day of their lives,however,i get inspired too when i see a stutterer who has a high degree of self acceptance,who is just as much a part of the community as anybody else.I feel awe and shock when i see such a person(i'v seen a lot of them).

There was a childhood friend of mine who stuttered,obviously later i broke all contacts with him and my other friends for the fear of exposing my stutter,i met him a few weeks back and was amazed to see what a wonderful personality he had,he had friends,a supportive family,a girlfriend,and you could not tell that he was stutterer if you just met him.
Later that day,i wondered how it is possible that he grew up to be the exact opposite of me,even though we had the same problems.Maybe he did not see his stutter as a problem or impediment,so he did'nt let it stop him from living a good life.

Today i wish i could've become like him,and this experience taught me to value wahtever i have,and to definitely keep suicidal thoughts out of my head....Because 'No matter how bad, life is always worth living'...

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Farewell..!!

Yesterday was the first time in my life that i attended any real party.It was an awesome feeling to be among such beautiful,confident people,and it made me think about where i stand socially,and what my stutter has taken from me.Although i was'nt willing to attend the party for fear of making a fool of myself,i was persuaded by my classmates,so i reluctantly attended it.

At the beginning i was really nervous about any speaking situation that i might encounter or problems i might face.I thought that everybody there would be watching me and judging my every move and listening to my every word,waiting for me to stutter.But contrary to my thoughts,i was surprised at how everybody smiled at me and said 'hi' to me.That made me less nervous.

I thoroughly enjoyed the farewell party,but at the later stage,i became depressed at seeing all the happy and cheerful people,who were of my age or even younger.Thoughts like "i could've been as happy as them if i didnt stutter",and many others,kept spiralling in my mind and i think that made me enjoy the party lesser and think about the problems in my life.
Overall ,it was a good day, i did something i was scared of doing,and i came out unhurt.And i think that is what a stutterer needs,a high dose of self confidence and self belief,to realize that being a stutterer is no shame and as the famous quotes say "No man is hurt but by himself" and "no one can make you feel inferior without your consent".Both these lines give the same message,that the stutterer must not give importance to the lies that his brain is feeding him,and the torment or ridicule he will face at the hands of his fellows,he should believe in himself and be helpful and kind to himself,cuz god helps those who helps themselves.Anybody can be whatever they want to be,they just have to try,even if it means standing alone.

This experience gave me a hell of a booster ,which i hope i'm gonna ride for the next few days,,until i return back to my old ways...
hope someday i can bid farewell to my stutter....!!

Monday, 21 March 2011

Why me???

All these years that i've lived,i have struggled with my speech and faced immense humiliation,and experienced unending mental anguish when i saw that others could speak really effortlessly and easily what i could not speak effortfully.

A question that came into my mind all the time was 'why me god,why me?'.Why is god putting me through all this ,what did i do to deserve this and what can i do to fix it.These are questions that will never be answered and i just pray to god that he show a little mercy on us.

Now ,i'm a 20 year old adult stutterer,in college and only i know how i endure or go through a day in college.Life is very lonely there and i cannot concentrate on anything and constantly worry about my future,whether i'll get a job or not,becuz,no matter what anybody says,speaking is an essential part of any job,and no employer would want to hire a person who stutters,when he has other qualified candidates who speak very fluently.

Stuttering has destroyed every aspect of my life,and now i get anxious in social situations and cannot speak fluently even in front of the few the few friends that i have.Stuttering has significantly depreciated my quality of life and caused untold misery and mental anguish in my life.My heart starts beating rapidly and i start shivering when there is a demanding situation,sometimes i even have a panic attack,that i cannot control.I avoid most of the speaking situations that i'm presented with,and avoid any social contacts,in fact i rarely step out of the house when i'm not going to college.

so this is how my life has been ruined by stuttering,and this is why i'm worried sick about what i will do in the future,i hate my life and i would do anything if i could change it.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Stuttering Student: iPhone App: DAF Assistant

Stuttering Student: iPhone App: DAF Assistant

Stuttering Student: Pagoclone...When will it be available? Ever?

Stuttering Student: Pagoclone...When will it be available? Ever?

mmmmy topic i...is g..g..glaucoma.....!!!!!!

"g..goodafternoon,,mmmmy topic for today's presentation is g...g...glaucoma....".That was how i started off my pathology presentation yesterday in class.Only i know how i felt before and after the nightmare ,,but i'll try to put it in words for my own satisfaction.

So ,,everybody's in class,,including my teacher.I'm standing on the podium ready to start,my heart beating at a 100 mph,,and god knows how much i was sweating and trembling as i waited for my turn to present. The amphitheatre styled classroom makes the gaze of other people more promiment and makes you feel like your being scrutinized vigorously,and thus you cannot help but look into the eyes of your audience.The unwanted  eye contact made me even more nervous.

I stuttered on the very first line and a voice in my head says to me 'what ru doing a******?'.I continue the presentation explaining each and every point clearly no matter how much i blocked.I had vowed to myself that i would'nt avoid a single word even if i suffer a 10 second block,,,but thankfully i did'nt.(THANK GOD!!!).As i continued ,i noticed a sharp increase in my fluency and my heart was pounding at a lesser rate,,and guess what ...i was making proper eye contact with my classmates(who were getting bored cuz of the length of my presentation),,,,,and somewhere around that point i realized no one is judging me,,observing me,,or making fun of my speech.This realization helped me  a lot in my fluency .Thus,,except some minor stutters,short blocks,and one major block,,i felt i did really well to complete it and i think it was at par with any non stutterer in my class.

So , this was how i  was done  and over with another nightmare,,and now i must get ready for other challenges of professional and personal life...
I know it was tough for me but its  Just another day in the life of a stutterer.......
God help us.......

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Become a follower...:)

hey,,,become a follower of my blog if you like it,,and wanna support me in any way,,by clicking on the 'follow ' button on the right bottom side....:)

Ladies man

No matter how many times i stumbled while speaking in class,no matter how much humiliation i faced,in front of my teachers,i was never really deprived of attention from the opposite sex.It's true that i was shy around girls and that i dont have a girlfriend but unlike many stutterers i knew back then,i was surprised to see that girls would wanna talk to me and be friends with me. Of course i could not reciprocate the same thing because of my own feelings of inadequacy.God,how i wish i wasnt shy back then and could openly talk and socialize with girls (and guys alike),and so i wouldnt be in such a place in my life where i have very little confidence,and express my feelings on a blog rather than to a stranger.
   
I think that my passivity back then is responsible for my lack of social skills,leaving stuttering aside.I'v seen many stutterers who are working in leading positions in organisations,running their own businesses and leading a life of confidence and pride.Thus ,stuttering really doesnt matter either in the professional as well as personal space.

Coming back to the topic,i'm really surprised that girls would wanna talk to me  and get to know me ,even though they know about my speech difficulty.I think its because of my sensitivity and innocence ,that appeals to them.I know many non-stutterers that dont get much attention no matter how hard they try.I'm one of the fortunate stutterers that wasnt picked on and bullied in school,and with whom everybody was friendly with .

However,it was i who created a wall around me and was too scared to socialize,i was a victim of self-imposed isolation.I was never socially rejected or ostrasized by anybody.I was too scared about what others would think when they discover my stutter,completely oblivious to the fact that they already know about it for a long time.
 
So its my advice to fellow stutterers,and to the parents of young stutterers,dont let fear and embarrassment deprive you of a lifetime of happiness and a happy social life.

Stuttering Student: Stuttering Advice

Stuttering Student: Stuttering Advice

My first public speech..........!!!!!!

My very  first public speech was last year when i was in 3rd semester of college,,where i had to give a 15 minute detailed presentation on my term paper topic 'herbs as anti cancer agents',in front of my whole class and three faculty members.I still remember the fear and anticipation i had about the presentation,weeks before the assigned date.I would go over what i would say and the words that i would use and not use.The anticipation was nerve wracking.I was afraid that i would completely block in front of my classmates and faculty and lose whatever little dignity or respect they had for me.This was the first time that i was gonna speak in front of an audience,,(i lived a pretty protected life as a child and a teen,without much social exposure and i had only a few friends),,so you can imagine my anxiety and nervousness about the situation...

Finally the day of the presentation came,and i was hoping that i would'nt be called on first to present,and that the faculty would be lenient and considerate.I was'nt the first one to present but the faculty that came to view our term paper was a very strict one who was asking too many questions and analyzing every aspect of the presentation.This set my already bursting heart racing ,and i was pushed into a frenzy.As i sat in my chair in the classroom,i became ever more nervous and anxious about my turn to present.I was worried that the lecturer would mock my presentational skills or even fail me,and i was shaking tremendously.

After about 45 minutes of trembling and panicking,it was my turn to present.I stood up from my chair,visibly nervous,gave the hard copy of the paper to the teacher(my hands shaking ),and put my powerpoint presentation on the projector for everybody to see.I began by introducing myself and my topic,and i remember slightly blocking on the word 'goodmorning'.Fortunately for me the strict faculty had to go and was replaced by another friendlier teacher. From there i began reading from the slides without making any eye contact with any body whatsoever,i hardly looked away from the laptop screen.I was horrible for the first few slides,and was blocking frequently but my fluency improved from then on until the end of the presentation,the reasons for which i believe are avoidance of eye contact and the absence of that tough faculty..:)  But the replacement faculty asked many questions too ,some of which i cudnt answer ,and i just stood there and i stared at her(she was pretty..:))...  

Thus came to an end what i perceived was nightmarish experience,but it wasnt so bad after it was finished,but the next time i do a presentation ,i am gonna make sure i do not panic much,be confident and steady in my flow ,make eye contact and most of all prepare well......

This experience taught me  a great deal on how worrying about the opinion or reaction of others to your speech can worsen your speech blocks and make you even more nervous than you are.It is rightly said that stuttering is what we do when we're trying hard not to do it.....

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Voluntary stuttering is cool..

When you think about all the various techniques which are out there to control stuttering,i feel there is one that stands out and is highly effective.Voluntary stuttering means stuttering on purpose,some call it 'easy stuttering' or 'fun stuttering'.Now whats so fun about intentionally doing something that we've been trying to avoid doing for so many years.The mere idea of something like that is enough to freak out a lot of stutterers,but voluntary or intentional stuttering is the best form of practical therapy that can be used to maximum efficiency as it attacks the core beliefs of fear,shame,doubt,being anxious about the opinion of others and if used effectively can completely dismantle these false beliefs which are at the center of the stuttering behaviour.Intentional stuttering leads to desensitization and can instill confidence in a stutterer,something that is lacking in most persons who stutter (pws).

Voluntary stuttering calls for the stutterer to voluntary repeat ,elongate or pause for a moment on a non-feared word.This gradually helps the stutterer to overcome his fear of stuttering in public and become desensitized.

My own experience with voluntary stuttering has been one with mixed results.While in some situations i was amazed at my increase in my fluent speech production ,while on the other hand,there are situations where it didnt really make a difference.I would intentionally stutter on the first syllable of my first name,and i would then hope to come in some sort of rhythm and complete my sentences fluently.It surely did help me a lot,even though it didnt correct my speech,it helped me to look beyond the stutter and focus on other good qualities or aspects of my personality.

There are many methods to control the stuttering behaviour and they must be practiced over and over again with unrelenting determination and promise.However,one should beware of any 'cures ' out there which offer to cure stuttering in a week or 10 days or whatever.


 

Stuttering and shyness

There is a strong correlation between stuttering and innate or natural shyness.Most of the people who stutter (pws) are reported to be extremely shy in social situations,or were socially withdrawn in their childhood.This innate shyness and sensitivity is believed to be a significant factor in their stuttering.However,as with all the theories on stuttering ,this is not able to explain why many highly sensitive persons(HSP) do not stutter or why some of the most severe stutterers are very open in social settings.This fact just signifies the mystery of this complex speech disorder.

My story is similar to any regular stutterer.I was a very shy boy,who rarely opened his mouth,and was socially withdrawn.I can hardly recall a social situation in which i was at ease with myself,always worrying about the opinion of others,fearful of my teachers,parents and peers,i was an extremely reserved kid,even though i was not aware of my speech abnormality back then.This fact has been the cause of tremendous frustration and confusion in my mind,for many years.The same stupid question kept playing in my head  "Am i too shy because i stutter,or do i stutter because i'm too shy?" Nobody knows the correct answer to this question,but according to me,it is a complex combination of both,that manifests itself as a stuttering behaviour, and whenever a stutterer encounters or anticipates a threat or a demanding situation ,the combination of these complex responses are set into motion.These learned responses have to be the center of attention in any therapy program for an adult stutterer.

My stuttering or shy behaviour generally manifests itself in various avoidance practices,which may seem funny to some people but its not very funny.The stutterer goes to shameful lengths to hide his abnormality and speech blocks from other people.This practice can be a very draining and frustrating exercise,as it drains oneself mentally and physically.However ,such avoidance practices only provide temporary relief from distress and only worsen the condition.It is rightly put that 'Avoidance is the pump in the reservoir of fear'.As long as one keeps avoiding distressing situations ,the fear and social anxiety are reinforced and this may lead to a negative outlook and self concept.If the stutterer wishes to control his speech and come out of this swamp of stuttering,he must eliminate avoidance practices and face the situations with courage ,no matter how much he stutters, and no matter how embarrassing it must be.The embarrassment  and humiliation help the stutterer to get desensitized and reduce the shyness or self doubt.

Thus to control this menace of stuttering, one must control and overcome whatever shyness,sensitivity or reservations one has,and must not hide his stuttering,as this frees him up and takes a massive weight off his shoulders.This requires extraordinary determination and perseverance but the price is worth the freedom from a life of fear and embarrassment.




Monday, 7 March 2011

consequences of a stutter

Many stutterers will agree that stuttering is not so much of a problem ,but it is the various fallouts of the difficulty that cause unbearable frustration ,pain and embarrassment which are a major cause of distress in their lives.
Stuttering instills a fear in the minds of the stutterer,a fear which is uncontrollable and which significantly impairs the ability to function socially,academically,occupationally and in every other way.It is'nt hard to imagine the frustration of a person for whom simple tasks like giving his own introduction to somebody,answering the phone,buying stuff from the store etc are the most dreaded activities of his life.

Stuttering,if it is unchecked or neglected, leads to various other chronic mental disorders like social anxiety disorder, avoidant personality disorder ,major depressive disorder,negative self esteem,lack of self confidence,cognitive distortions etc....the list is endless.However,it is clearly stated in the DSM -IV that persons with stuttering cannot be diagnosed with social anxiety (with comorbid conditions like depression etc),if their social anxiety is related to their speech disorder.
It is hard to imagine that a tiny and unimportant ailment that occurs in most children ,can lead to such chronic mental abnormalities.But stuttering in adults is a very complex disorder,which deeply angraves itself in the brain and manifests itself in the speech mechanism of the person.

In adults,this speech difficulty can prevent almost all social interactions and can seriously hamper their ability to function normally.
The psychological aspects of stuttering need to be addressed in a therapy program and should be the main focus of recovery.One must not strive for fluency as 100% fluency is not possible,and even the best anchors on the biggest news channels have the occasional dysfluencies.
Partial recovery is possible for adults,with perseverance, motivation and proper support,however ,there is high chance of relapse in a disease like stuttering,which has puzzled many a scientist,with regard to its original cause,pathophysiology,and treatment.
Many trials are going on for pharmacological treatment of stuttering.Lets hope that soon we will have a reliable treatment for this puzzling disorder.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

what is a block?

It is very difficult for a non-stutterer to understand the shadow of uncertainty which is cast over the lives of people who stutter.I remember telling ,reluctantly and after much persuasion,to a close friend of mine about this problem that i had for many years,and to my disbelief,he just laughed it off as if it was nothing,and as if trying to imply that i'm making a mountain out of a molehill and that i'm a fool to think that this is such a big problem.He pointed out to me that i rarely stuttered on only a few words and it happens to everybody.

I was disappointed at his reaction but the incident made me think about how society feels about this speech difficulty.Non stutterers just do not understand the shadow of uncertainty and doubt that is cast over our lives,and they cannot see the level of frustration,anger,self pity and guilt that is in us.It is rightly said in the famous analogy that stammering is like an iceberg ,with the observable dysfluencies above the waterline,and the covert aspects like shame,guilt ,doubt etc under the waterline ,hidden from view. This means that people around us are just not aware of the level of avoidance and social or functional impairment that dictates our daily lives.

Coming to the topic of speech blocks,speech blocks are an inappropriate and involuntary disruption of sound and air,in the throat of the stutterer and occur in early adolescent age.This just proves the fact that this behaviour called stuttering is just a learned response to stimuli,that the brain has become accustomed to ,as a result of living with a highly stigmatized disability, and based on this premise is the theory  many speech pathologists profess,that these responses can be unlearned in due time,with the right psychological support and physical techniques.But this method requires a lot of of hard work and perseverance , and the stutterer will have to endure temporary discomfort for a lifelong of freedom from his tangled tongue.

Many stutterers will agree that the speech block is'nt as much of a problem as anticipation of stuttering or being caught stuttering in public.Thus,more than 50% of the problem is psychological,and this part is definitely controllable.A lot of good books are available for people who cant afford or to whom treatment is not available,but the best resource according to me,is 'self therapy for the stutterer ' by malcolm fraser.
It has been specially designed keeping the adult stutterers in mind,and contains step by step processes to control those godforsaken speech blocks.
There are also many good speech pathologists and programmes like starfish and mcguire ,but none of these gaurantee a recovery from stuttering as there is no cure for it yet.



growing up

For most people ,growing up is a fun experience,their childhood is the best and happiest time of their lives,but there are some kids(including me),who struggle throughout their childhood and whole of their adult lives,simply because they have a speech disorder,which has a tremendous negative effect on their functioning and growing up process.
 As a little boy , the one question that was always in my mind was 'why?'. Why cud'nt i speak my own name in front of people when i could say it when i was alone,why did god do this to me..etc..
It became increasingly clear to me when i reached about 8 years of age,that i was not 'normal' and i could'nt live like others.These thoughts solidified into adolescence and crystallised in my adulthood.Life was a struggle and every moment was a pain.
Although i stuttered , i had a pretty sheltered life,without much bullying,partly because i was good in academics and sports, and i did'nt talk much.But the frustration,embarassment and fear were too much to handle.
But i must admit life was tough.