I’m Rajgauri Sadanand Vedpathak from Kolhapur, Maharashtra. I am currently in final year of Mechanical Engineering and I stammer since childhood. I could speak somewhat fluently with family and close friends but couldn’t talk fluently with strangers. Since I couldn’t answer questions in class, speak in oral exams, participate in elocution competitions and introduce myself so back then, I used to misinterpret my stammering as anxiety. Though I loved to talk, I started turning into an introvert. I started to avoid social gatherings and spent more time alone. My parents didn’t come to know about my stammering.
After joining engineering college, my stammering increased. I could neither give attendance on time, nor my introduction well. In communication classes, my teacher used to rebuke me badly while all fellow batch mates would laugh. Such incidences directly attacked my self-confidence. For me, each and every day was hard, each day came up with new challenges. I started feeling that nobody understood me and I was being ignored. Gradually, I started hating engineering. In the second year, I realized I have depression. That was a very bad phase of my life. I wanted to quit my course. My parents took me to a psychiatrist to solve the problem. He too claimed that I have serious anxiety issues and prescribed few medicines. But, that didn’t help much. All my attempts to express myself and my speech problem were failing. Everyone urged me to re-join college but I wasn’t mentally ready. I wasn’t ready to face the same situation again. I lost all the hope for my better future. One day, while my family members were convincing me to re-join college , my father couldn’t control himself and cried badly. In that moment, I realized that all these instances had affected my father deeply. I was really numb. At that time, I decided to continue engineering as I couldn’t see him in that condition. However, after re-joining college, I built a shield around myself and would live in my comfort zone only. Like this, third year went in fear, guilt and shame. I searched the ways to control anxiety, overcome stammering etc. on internet , yet nothing helped. Instead of accepting the fact that ‘I stammer’, I really hated myself and thought “Why me?”
One fine day, in my quest to search more and more about stammering on internet, I came across stammer.in. I read almost everything that was there. Some things were new for me like SHG. I also read about IWWS and decided to drop them an email. To my utter surprise, quick actions were taken and I was added by Aashima mam in IWWS WhatsApp group. My actual journey of self-recovery started there. There were many women who shared their stories and I felt like I can share everything here. Then, I started sharing my experiences. Honestly, all WWS (Women Who Stammer) are awesome. One day, Shilpa mam shared a message about National Conference 2018. I felt, I should go. But I also thought that how hard it will be for me to convince my parents for it and I dropped the idea there itself. After some days, Mansi mam got added to the same group. She is the one who encouraged me to convince my parents. She informed me about scholarship and asked me to contact Dinesh sir. I called him and he listened to me very patiently. He agreed to cover all my expenses for NC. I got so much relieved and decided to tell my parents about NC. I called them and initially they were in shock. They said, “Why are you going there?”. After so much efforts, finally they got convinced! My father decided to come along with me. All this happened on 28th September in the morning.
On 29th September i.e. 1st day of NC, we reached the venue. In the beginning, I was very nervous, but every body was so cheerful that I too started getting positive vibes and that’s how my journey began. There were many sessions – TISA introduction, Mini SHG, Voice training, Story telling, SLP, Motivation by Joshua sir, Yoga, Zumba, FAQ’s on marriage, Vipassana, Mock interview, Strangers’ talk, Entrepreneurship, Pooja Vijay’s online session, Emotional and psychological aspects of stammering, IWWS, MOOC, best practices for self-improvement, stammering awareness by Pamela, and last but not the least, PARTY!!!!!!!
It was astonishing to see that all the speakers of sessions were stammerers. This gave us immense hope. In addition, I made many friends who had amazing life journeys. I met many engineers too! There were people from various fields e.g. research, finance, technology, business, education, medicine, etc. I also met many helpful souls in these 3 days! Thanks to my father for understanding me and allowing me to come for NC. Thanks Mansi for helping me to take the first step. Thanks to Dinesh sir for constantly guiding me and helping me throughout. Thanks to Abhinav sir for those motivational words, it means a lot to me. Thanks to Harish sir for admiring my artistic skills through Samwad Magazine. Thanks to Sweta mam and Shilpa mam for guiding me, Thanks to Joshua sir for inspiring me. Thanks to Manimaran sir, Ankit sir, Nishil sir, Shobhit sir, Anupam sir, Chandan sir, Naman sir, Animesh sir, Aashima mam and Anuprita. Thanks to my fellow participants Shardaree, Pratibha, Pooja, Ravi, Naresh, Somnath, Anjan sir, Mohammad, Suvodip, Rahul, Satyam, Santosh, Dilip Kumar, Rajesh, Vikrant sir, Annasaheb, Harsh, Sudhanshu and Satyendra. I am sorry if I missed out a few names. Thanks to everyone who made these days memorable.