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 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.