Of Course there were few things that differentiated me from the average child, when I was a kid. I used to be fickle-minded, not being able to decide what to do in an exciting situation. I used to be very simple and down-to-earth. I used to trust every person too easily. I was afraid of darkness, height and strict family members like my dad and uncle. Because I didn’t have too many friends, I spent most of my time with toys. I was always interested in the mechanical functioning of every toy that I got. I used to open them up and look what’s inside, and learn what’s that thing that’s creating the lights and sounds and motion. My dad was an inspiration to me and tried to build up that analytical bent of mind in me. Experiments with toys and other appliances had made me fundamentally strong in the concepts of nature and physics. In school I enjoyed studying Science, because I had experienced almost all the concepts in reality through experiments.
The stuttering started when I was in class VI, and was around 10 years old. It started at around around mid of 2000 and I had become a severe stutterer by the beginning of class VII, in 2001. I can’t still recall the reason.
I didn’t take any treatments for it until class 10th, except those traditional methods that grown-up people suggested like keeping stones under the tongue, filling the mouth with water and speaking, reading the newspaper aloud. I wasn’t interested in those exercises because I knew it wasn’t something in my speech organs that was stopping me, it was in my brain. I was helpless about it, because only another stammerer would understand how it feels to stammer.
I took the first professional help in 2005, because I was going to matriculate from school and enter college. It was from a Speech Language Pathologist from a government institute for the hearing disabled. He asked me to practice slow reading, utter words with repeated syllables. He recorded my voice and played it to me, to show me how I stammer.
I practiced those exercises and I got outstanding results within the first week. I was completely fluent for 4-5 days. But the stammering returned again with greater severity in the following days. I was confused why it happened. I was helpless again. My parents didn’t trust me and blamed me that I wasn’t taking the speech exercises seriously. Eventually I quit speech therapy, and went through +2 isolated.
Those two years were the most frustrating years of my life, when I used to feel humiliated when I stammered. I thought I was weak, and that I could never feel like a normal person. I was frustrated, didn’t take studies seriously, didn’t want to try for a good future. I used to speak very less. But I realized that by then, the extent of stuttering had taken a cyclic trend. I used to become pretty fluent for a couple of days, and then used to stutter again severely. I lived with it for the 2 years.
After passing out if school in class 12th, I again consulted a SLP at a medical college here. He taught me the slow speaking style. He asked me to speak that way everywhere, in all situations and gradually increase the speed. I tried but always failed. I could follow his style in front of him, and with myself, but not with other people around me. He used to pressurize me not to stammer, and used to get irritated if I stammered on a single word. Still I tried a lot. In the next phase of his course, he took me as a ‘subject’ to his students, and told them to interview me. I was quite OK with them, because I was following the style, but the moment I came out of the place, I wasn’t able to follow the style and stuttered again.
I joined College of Engineering Bhubaneswar, and in the first year I became very carefree. Made many friends, bunked classes, talked and laughed with them. I could suddenly feel a drastic improvement of fluency for a few weeks. I went out with girls, even was the life of the party for a few days. I was very happy that at last I was ‘cured’ of the disease. But no one could be happy for the four years. Exams arrived and my stammering relapsed again. This time even stronger. Through college, I went through variations in the level of stuttering, but the cyclic trend had disappeared now. It was random now. I could never figure out when I would stammer and when I would not. In 3rd year, I attended Stammering Cure Center in Bangalore after getting fooled by their advertisement that promised ‘cure’ in two weeks.
Although the two weeks at Bangalore helped me learn a lot from other stutterers. It was a relief for me to find I wasn’t alone and that there were many stammerers who were leading a good life, and were actually successful. It was through a PWS I met there, that I came to know about TISA. After coming back from Bangalore, though I didn’t have any noticeable improvement, still I was much relieved that I can survive, and that I was not alone. I decided to do good to my life, and try.
And here I am after the final year of engineering and securing a job in Infosys, waiting to join in a few months. I still stutter the same way, but I have gathered hope through my journey. And now I show off that I stammer ! I am happy that I have something that just 1% of the population has.
Is it a weakness? No. Not at all. I don’t stop anywhere. I no more stay hungry, because I can not place an order. I’m no more afraid of public speaking, because I entertain my audience with the dis-fluency. I finally found a girl-friend who finds my stammer ‘cute’.
The only thing that a stammerer needs is to stop feeling guilty and shameful and accept it.