Thursday, June 30, 2011

My journey until now

Though Most of you know me by name but I havent really told everything about my stuttering from childhood,to adolescence to adulthood.So here I present my journey as a PERSON WHO STAMMERS.

As far as I remember when I was little(around5-6 years old) I never knew that i stuttered.It never was a big issue for me because I never stuttered when reading in class,or reciting a poem or giving answers to the teacher.What I vaguely remember is that my stutter was bouncing in that phase of life because I remember a kid making fun of me in a bouncing manner.But in my first school where i studied uptil standard 4,I had a great life.I used to stand first in class,used to participate in every extra-curricular activity and was active in sports as well.I remember in standard 4 I was the one in the entire school who took part in maximum number of events(I think around 6 events).So I was very successful and stammering never posed as a hindrance whatsoever.I changed my school in standard 5th.On my first day in school In was the first one raising my hand to give the answer and I remember blocking a lot but I gave the answer nonetheless.There also I was good in studies,sports and curricular activities and within 6 months was elected the head boy of the junior wing.Throughout this phase I was very popular and had a lot of friends.As a head boy I had to give speech in front of the entire school,I was tensed not bcoz of stammering but was nervous of forgetting my lines.So you see at that time i firmly believed that I could never block when giving a speech or when in a competition.And yeah,before I forget in standard 4th my parents took me to a speech therapist(Dyal Chhabra),I had no idea in the beginning that what was going on neither my parents ever told me,but going there everyday i took a wild guess that it might be because of me repeating words sometimes.I was instructed by my parents not to tell anyone about this and I guess from here the attachment of shame and guilt towards stammering started.In the middle of class 6 my parents shifted to Chandigarh(I was in Parwanoo before) and it was a much bigger city and a much bigger school compared to my earlier ones.Here the competition was also sky high(The topper in boards from the whole state was from our school only,so you can guess)I remember that when I first came to my class i handed my admission slip to the teacher which I had my name written on it,she asked my name and i said"Mam it is written on the slip"So I guess i had developed avoidance tactics at that time.The pressure was more but still I was always in the top 3 an within a few weeks made a lot of friends.i was comfortable in performing in class like reading ,giving answers,etc.But my extra curricular activities took a backseat.In standard 9 and 10 I didnt took part in any activity that required speaking whatsoever.During my 5 year stay in this school,I took part in such activities exactly 3 times.
1)In standard 7,I was a part of English Quiz team,I actively took part in the contest without once thinking about stuttering.But I do remember a team mate saying that I should tell him the answer and he will say on the mike as i was stuttering though I didnt pay heed to him.
2)In standard 8th i was forced by my teacher to take part in an English Recital competition.It was strange as I never thought stammering as an issue and in fact didnt stammer at all while reciting in front of the entire school.I actually came 3rd in that competition.
3)In standard 8th I again took part in the English Quiz but it was a disaster this time.We had to introduce ourselves and I tried to pass on the mike without saying m name but obviously I couldnt and then I blocked a lot when saying my name.I was silent in the whole quiz(partly because I didnt know any answer).
So this was the last time I spoke in front of the whole school.
I took up football as a sport and the rest was studying which I was still very good at.But i had a lot of friends and enjoyed thoroughly in my school life.I also remember the whole class sometimes laughing on my stammer.I remember the laugh not the exact situation.Then I remember stammering severely during a viva and a girl(which i was good friends with)asking me that what happened and I just completely ignoring her and changing the topic.I also think puberty played a big role in severing my stammering..The avoidance tactics were at an all time high.
In standard 11 and 12 I opted for non-medical and those two years were the toughest in my life.the pressure was immense,the syllabus was huge and i was competing with the whole country to get admission in the best enginnering college of the country.i also believe that buying a cell phone in 11th was a big mistake.Earlier I never used to have any problem on the phone.Having a landline ensured that i had to introduce myself,tell my friends name to his parents and all that and for every little thing I had to talk on the phone.There was no other option.So I was very comfortable on the phone.But when I got a cell,I found the easy way out of messaging instead of calling.This increased my fear of phone a lot.I no longer had to family members as every one of us had their cell phones.Also no need to introduce myself as my friend already had my number stored.As a result I just couldnt talk on the phone.I remember I used to unplug the landline when i was alone at home so that I didnt have to answer it.
2 months before starting college I went to the same speech therapist,Dr Dyal Chhabra,and took therapy for 2 months.I did get some benefits so i had a little problem of introducing myself during the start of college but still avoidance and substitutions were very high and within a week relapse was visible.I didnt join any club in my college as I just couldnt go to the GDs and the interviews.Though here also I had a good friend circle I kept to my circle not caring about others.So I kept strictly to my comfort zone.In 2nd year ,my friend circle expanded i was a little more known in my college.Today after completing my 3rd year I talk to almost the entire class and have no shortage of friends.But I never talked about my stammering with anyone.It was like a forbidden topic,kind of like an unspoken truth in my friend circle. 
i attended my first SHG meeting when I was in 3rd year organized by Jasbir Sir.It was an O.K. kind of an experience,but still i continued attending the workshops.I also met J.P. in one such workshop but didnt interact that much with him.i also occasionally started browsing the TISA blog and other stammering sites but my outside world was strictly the same.Avoidance,hiding,shame,guilt,etc etc.
Then started my 4 months training in L&T(January 2011 to april 2011).I havent blocked so severely in my life as I did during the first one week there.When asked to introduce myself,I just couldnt utter a word.Once I had to write my name down as I just couldnt utter it from my mouth.But as the time progressed ,the fear subsided.It was that time I thought that enough was enough.I joined Toastmasters to remove my fear of speaking.But it was very painful experience as others were very good speakers and i couldnt even finish a sentence.I was very uncomfortable so after 4 meets I stopped going there because no matter how much I practiced I blocked there a lot.
Then I attended an SHG meeting organized by J.P. and it really helped change my thinking a bit.He encouraged me to be more active on the TISA blog and slowly I was writing the SHG reports and was commenting on various posts under my own name.Another significant step was starting my own blog about stuttering.Slowly slowly it helped me to be more open about my stuttering.I even got emails from various pws which encouraged me further.Hence slowly slowly(very slowly actually)I was coming out.i was getting actively involved in SHG activities and in the online world.But in the outside world i never told anyone about these activities.
I also attended the one day workshop in Chandigarh but it didnt really make any difference.But I was eager to move forward.My training finished and I came home.I ordered Brahmavidya as you had told me about its benifits and started practicing it religiously.It has been little over a month but it has changed my thinking a lot.My attitude,response to external stimulus and my faith in self has greatly increased.Then came the Chandigarh Workshop which was a big push for me for getting out of the stammering mindset.In this workshop I was once again the 5th class headboy very eager to do things,to meet challenges,very excited to talk in front of a group and very eager to meet new people.Brahmavidya changed my perception  little bit to make me the child I once was and the 3 day workshop helped to put that child in full action.There was no fear ,no shame ,no guilt,just a want to do all the tasks given to me and not just do them but perform like a pro.
I now plan to again go to the Toastmasters but with a different attitude altogether.I now talk and talk and try to avoid substitutions and avoidance.Also am bouncing a lot.i am also being open with my parents especially my mom about stammering -a thing I have never done my entire life and feel is the hardest for me.My mom is still paranoid that i am stuttering more now but the truth is I have lessened substitutions and I am sometimes bouncing on purpose.I will also tell my friends about this workshop the next time I meet them.Also after the workshop i have put the link to my stammering blog mystammer.blogspot.com on my Facebook account,a thing I would be scared to even think about before.
About 6 months back I had quit the idea of doing MBA because of my speech as I thought I would never be able to make it but now i will do my MBA from one of the best colleges in the world come what may.i am also planning to post videos on my blog.Most of all I am in a very happy state of my life.I dont feel sad even when I stammer severely as long as I said what I wanted to say.
So to sum up my journey,I started from the highest point,reached an all time low but today I am going to that high point again.:-):-)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Suchit,The Rockstar

I am writing this article after watching the finale of Roadies 8,a youth based reality show broadcasted on MTV in India.Suchit was a contestant on this show who went on in the Finale.And yes,he stammers.I saw him stammering when he was being auditioned.The judges grilled him mercilessly on purpose to test him and seeing his character chose him on the show.Now Suchit had all the qualities of a general pws-he could easily be bullied,had low self confidence and had  few friends in the outside world.But as the show progressed,he turned out to be the best performer in any task given to him without fail.Whenever a challenge came his way he did it like he owned the arena.Now when you are that successful,people tend to find your weak point.In his case,finding one wasn't that difficult-some contestants began targeting his speech.Two other roadies who had been voted out of the show(also voted two biggest losers by popular demand),on their return began making fun of him by calling him "Chuchit" and imitating him. But the guy took it like a gentleman and didn't say much at that time.But on the task that followed,he beat both them so brutally that they lost the tiny little self respect they had left on the show.Throughout the show,he maintained his dignity and went on to the Finale.Though he didn't win the title,,all the contestants and the crew agreed that he was the only one who had earned respect on the show.On Facebook,he was voted as the people's choice Roadie.And when he didn't win the title with no fault of his own,8 of the other 10 contestants were in tears as they wanted him to win.The guy who had earlier made fun of him,hugged him,apologized to him and said "You are my brother".
Suchit also won a Hero Honda Karizma bike as an appreciation of his conduct and his efforts throughout the journey.So,all in all,he came out to be the most successful and dignified person of the show winning respect of his competitors,the show producer and all the viewers around the globe.
We give a lot of examples of famous people who stuttered like Winston Churchill,King George,etc but I believe that there is a lot to learn from this ordinary lad from a small town who rose above all inspite of his stammer

Monday, June 13, 2011

I Have Stopped Taking Nonsense

This is regarding an incident that happened when I was at my training a month back.I was talking to a senior (not a senior really,he has done a two year diploma and hence started working 2 years before me,he is like 6 months older than me) about how I had to give a presentation at college after my training is complete.The senior jokingly replied-"You would be like this !!!!" and then started to imitate  my stammer.Now earlier if ever such incident happened ,I used to be silent and bear with it at that moment and then keep thinking about it for the rest of the day drenched in an amalgam of self pity and self loathing !!!!!But now I just replied-"Atleast I know how to give a presentation in English(he doesnt know a word of English) and better still atleast I know how to make a power point presentation !!!! Now for the record,I would never say such thing to him ordinarily but this situation was different.My senior went blank for like 5 seconds and another guy sitting next to me gave me a look that said-"Well done dude !!!"
The best thing I liked about the incident was dat I didnt allow myself to become a victim but instead took control of the situation.And it felt good,really really good !!! And the good thing was we started normally again after a while like nothing had happened.No self pity for me today,just a feeling that I can take care of myself.
Now a lot of people would say that it was a wrong thing on my part to reply back in such a manner but my motto from that day is-"Never make fun of anyone's problems or shortcomings but dont allow anyone to do the same to you as well !!!Face up to the few jerks you encounter !!!!"
One thing more that I desire to adopt in my life is that after facing a situation bravely I forget all about it and live in the present(just like our very own desi Eckhart Tolle J.P. Sir says)I am trying to work on that.

Well,I am open to criticism on my behavior whether positive or negative.So please feel free to leave any comments and better still leave suggestions on what you might have done in a similar situation !!!!! See Ya !!!

PS-Sorry guys I was out of action for such a long time,there were lots of reasons like my training,my hard drive crashing and my utter laziness !!!! But I am out of my hibernation now and will post more frequently.As always feel free to contact me at kathuria.dhruva@gmail.com