September 13, 2011

Monster inside My Head!!

My name is Rajesh Bhandari. I am 20 years old and was born in Dehradun, India. My stuttering began when I was ten years old. As far as I remember, my speech was fluent until I came in the fifth grade. I didn’t receive early therapy as a kid. I cannot recall any major difficulties because of my speech until I entered the 10th grade when I was around 15 years. I had a lot of friends and enjoyed thoroughly in my school life. But still as, I reflect on my early years, I do have many regrets.

One is that there was not a single person who could help me out of this terrible situation. I do remember everyone laughing at me on some occasions and all I wanted to do at that time was hide or run away.I was extremely embarrassed at times. In a few of the classes, the new Teacher would ask us all to introduce our self and I remember the fear I had whilst waiting for my turn. The other students would say their name without thinking twice while I used to be become more and more nervous as my turn came closer. When finally my turn came, I couldn't get the words out.

As a typical 10th grader, I really cared about what my peers thought of me which further aggravated my stutter, especially on the telephone. . I do, however, wish that someone would have recognized my fear and helped me to overcome it at that time and by doing so, maybe I would not have this much problem today. This was the beginning of "my real problem." I started avoiding every speaking situation. You can imagine how this felt. I hadn’t received any kind of therapy at that time. The type of stuttering I had at that time is called "stoppage". But still, I never let my stuttering keep me from having fun in school.

My ambitions were high. As I progressed through school, the situation worsened and I came to accept that I could never speak in front of a group. I felt that I would always have difficulty expressing myself to strangers. After school, I decided to pursue career in Engineering . I have vivid memories of struggling to give my name and address at the initial registration or when answering roll call and in the presence of teachers and pupils that I had not previously encountered. I developed strategies to protect myself from shame and embarrassment.

Fear assumed the role of guardian, shielding me from experiencing the negative emotions that I felt when I stuttered .At that time , I hadn’t met any other stutterer. So naturally, at times a feeling of loneliness engulfed me. At the end of 2nd year of graduation, I decided to take speech therapy. I learned some techniques to become more fluent, but I still stuttered. It wasn't as bad as when I was in high school. But still, I was not totally satisfied as avoidance and substitutions were very high. Within a month, relapse was visible. I had a good friend circle in university and I kept to my circle not caring about others.

So I kept strictly to my comfort zone .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 at the end of 2nd year organized by Sachin Sir. It was an wonderful experience for me. For the 1st time in my life, I met other people having the same problem as mine. After that, I started browsing the TISA blog and other stammering sites but my outside world was still the same. Avoidance, hiding, shame, guilt, etc.

Another significant step was disclosing my stammer through social networking websites( a thing I would be scared to even think about before) I have almost 200+ awesome friends who stammer from across the globe on my Facebook page. I feel really lucky to be surrounded by such friends who genuinely like me and would go well beyond their capabilities to help me .I interact with them regularly. That’s clearly the positive side of my stammering. Slowly and slowly it is helping me to be more open about my stuttering. I get emails from various PWS which encourages me further. Hence slowly and slowly I’m coming out.

I’m getting actively involved in SHG activities and in the online world. All my life, I have been fighting “My stuttering” – a thing that burdened me from the childhood .It was one of my characteristics, a part of my self-image, my scary monster .The most important thing is that I have stopped getting frustrated over my failures. I have stopped being afraid. In fact, I have become so fascinated with my monster that I have decided to befriend it. I have some good days and some bad ones too. I’m learning to live with it, it will always be there. If it wasn’t for my stuttering I would still be that person today. I wouldn’t have even bothered to improve myself and become a better person…and this is true not only for stuttering but for any emotional pain and challenge you experience in life. For us (PWS), Everyday is like a big Challenge.

We should accept our stammer from heart. It needs a great deal of concentration, hard work and commitment. I know it’s easier said than done. I would like to end this post with one of my favourite quotes: "Anything in life which gives you pain is a source of happiness and strength… you just need to learn how to use it for your advantage”

(Sachin: Yes, I too know this guy very well :-)


Vinay said...

Nice !!
One advice , Please break your post into paragraph... it becomes more readable.


lalit said...

nice post rajesh...congrates that ur in recovery path and first mile stone in this path is acceptance so feel of less pain..and by reading ur post i had done quick revision of my past..and really it helps me,it motivated me specially ur quote ..keep walking in right path,keep writing...:-)

Satyendra said...

You are writing in a transparent and "light" style..honest too.
Keep it up..

Harish Usgaonker said...

Great post Rajesh !

"For us (PWS), Everyday is like a big Challenge". -- I also used to feel the same... But with acceptance the challenge turns into fun ! You have certainly started to walk that path..

Priya said...

I can totally see myself here....
almost in every next line that you mentioned.
The school that you mentioned seemed to be my own....the engineering college too was surprisingly same.
And the fillers well they too were placed like i had and still do have them in my life.
I want to thank you for being brave enough and sharing this.
I too m a doonite, and would like to know if have you been a part of the SHG here itself, i m keen to join but don't have the necessary details for the same?