By Ivan Das
It all started at the age of 6. My mother thought my speech pattern was due to me mimicking my brother, who had a stutter, too.
Just like my mother, I used to think this ‘hesitation’ would go away. The toddler age went by and my adolescence swept in, only to let me know that my stutter had intensified. Halted speech, restricted social behaviour, anxiety, and most importantly, self-condemnation rocked these early adolescent ages.
By nature I am a confident, extroverted, romantic. Yet, I couldn't ask any girl out for a date. I knew the answer, but still chose to keep my mouth shut.
And after all this, there came the unforgettable movement when I chose my career path. I wanted to cure my issue and I wanted to know myself. In the process, I chose something which could help not only me, but all others around me. I wanted to become a clinical psychologist.
Today, it has been seven long years that I have been studying the subject. Every class presentation increases my heart beat, every interaction with a client is a tense affair. But I choose to fight back.
I used my knowledge of psychological therapy to decondition myself from speech anxiety, and to gain confidence. I took homoeopathic medicines, which helped to have a soothing effect on my nerves. The results were fluctuating. Then I started to try reading aloud (a classical method, but it is scientifically proven to be very effective.)
I now practice various relaxation techniques to calm my nerves down before any tense situation. I practice mindfulness to grow the mind-body connections. Also, I got into bodybuilding to bring the all-round health in me. This spirit has helped me to get where I am today.
Still today, I stutter. But I am at peace with it. I tell my audiences that I stutter beforehand. I admit my flaw because I have accepted it. I can proudly say that all of these techniques didn't totally cure me of my stuttering, but they helped me to improve a lot. I always told myself that, I may be a stutterer but I am not a quitter in life. And life did not quit on me ever since.
If you can read or talk fluently when alone in a room, please know that you can do it in other situations, too. You just need to unlock and condition this ability. Find out what is holding you back, because stuttering can’t stop you from speaking your heart out. If you aim to be completely perfect, that can be a hard thing to achieve. But if you accept and admit your problem, with the right therapies and mind set, you can talk convincingly.
A budding PhD scholar, Ivan Das resides in Kolkata, India, and holds a master's degree in clinical psychology. He is a member, writer and counselor for several stuttering associations (like TISA) and social media groups around the world. Apart from being a mental health practitioner, he is fond of bodybuilding, reading and writing, and cooking.
From the Fall 2018 Newsletter