Stammering….An Emotional Drama :-)

Arjun – Present Mam
Chetan – Present Mam
Meher – Present Mam
Naman  – Ppppppresent Mam….. I am sure we all PWS understand the confusion and dilemma we as a child go through when we stammer in front of a class for the first time. We all know that the stammer the world sees is just the tip of the iceberg and the real feelings are filled with complexities. Hence today as I look back, let me take you all through the variety of emotions i have felt w.r.t my stammering 
1. Shame – On a deeper level, shame comes from doing something unacceptable or to be put correctly something our mind feel is unacceptable. Who defines what is acceptable or not. Is stammering a crime? Is stammering a virus ? Well stammering just causes slight more effort on the speaker & listener’s side to speak / understand. Then why are is the speaker feeling shame ? In my case, I feel my mom had told me when I was too small (maybe 3-4 years )that ” Aaram se bolna stage par ja kar ” ( “Speak at ease on the stage”). I don’t remember the exact words she said, but I feel that’s when I became cautious about my speech for the first time . One interesting thing to note is that  there was no shame w.r.t stammering during then.
2. Anxiety – Medically speaking,  anxiety is a feeling of fear, dread, and uneasiness. It might cause you to sweat, feel restless and tense, and have a rapid heartbeat. Most of us stammerers feel anxious anticipating stammering in advance. But why ? For me I became anxious about my stammering after I stammered during the attendance for the first time at the age of 12-14 years. Reason was I feared that the next day if i stammer then the teacher will not be able to hear me. Hence mark me absent. Also since attendance roll call happens every day , hence this fear goes on loop forever and hence the anxiety gets associated w.r.t stammering. Again let’s note that there was some shame that had started developing w.r.t stammering during then.
3. Diversity – From the day I started to become aware about stammering, i felt different from others. Am I diverse ? Am I unique ? Am i disabled or just differently abled ? I remember as a child writing on a piece of paper once ” Mummy pls mera haklan theek kar do ” ( Mom pls rectify my stammering). I was too ashamed to even show that paper to mom or anyone else.  I remember that during an activity at the national conference of TISA,  we assumed that we  all live in a World full of Stammerers as majority 99% while 1% are non stammerers. What happens then ? . Just take a few seconds, close your eyes and imagine …….Do we stammerers still feel different from others or the remaining 1% non-stammerers are now perceived as diverse or different… Interesting food for thought to ponder for all of us.
Now as a look back,  what started as a logical anxiety fearing that ill be marked absent due to stammering has now spilled over to other places with not much logic. Why do i now feel anxious while saying my name and why did it become a feared word. If i stammer  a bit on my name and the listener can understand it then why do i feel guilt , shame and anxiety.  Also i don’t have to speak my name daily hence there is no logical loop like attendance . Then why the anxiety … I guess by now, shame is associated w.r.t stammering.
Well the psychological feelings we have w.r.t stammering are complex and i am sure common for all of us. But keeping emotions aside, there are so many positives that I have felt due to my stammering. For example, being a part of TISA or Toastmasters has exposed me to a diverse variety of friends which have been of great help emotionally and professionally. My CA, my financial advisor, my contacts and some of my best friends I have found through these platforms. Recently i got a  positive feedback during a job interview that unlike most people, i am able to answer in a structured way anticipating in advance the information required. As i look back i realize that due to stammering, i worked extra hard for the interviews.
 I just quoted the two positives that have struck me while i write this blog, i am sure we all can find some positives w.r.t our stammering .. Right. ..

Post Author: Naman Mirchandani

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