29th January 2021
Gurpreet Singh expresses how hard it can be to tell people he stammers and to get them to understand what it's like to stammer.
Hi. I'm Gurpreet and I’m from New Delhi. I have been stammering my whole life, as far as I can remember.
Like every other person who stammers, I too have to face challenges with my speech every day, or rather should I say every moment I want to utter something from my mouth. Some people may not find it very problematic, while for others it can be a nightmare every time they have to speak or talk to someone.
Stammering has been such a deep-rooted part of my life, and still no one else knows about it.
Since childhood I have been trying to hide my stammer from others. I choose to not speak rather than stammer. I am 32 and still struggling to find a stable financial life. All my friends settled in their lives long back but I still don't have a job. My own family doesn't know about my stammer or how deep my feelings about it are — I never talk about it to them because I can't bear to see them crying for me. For them I am fluent because I have learnt to substitute words which I can say, or I stay silent for most of the time. I stayed silent in school even when I knew the answer to a question and I often got punished for that. I often skipped saying a simple "Yes" when the register was called and was marked as absent.
People don't understand
Stammering has been such a deep-rooted part of my life, and still no one else knows about it. They really don't know what my problem is. And the ruthless thing about stammering is you can't even explain your stammering without stammering while explaining. And you know in your mind when looking in peoples' eyes that they don't have a clue what I'm talking about. And because I can't explain it to anyone, they just simply don't get it. They start advising me to speak slowly, take pauses, be confident, don't worry about what others would think, you can do it, etc.
Everyone thinks it's just a lack of confidence, that it's nothing. Even if you try to explain your condition to someone, they often say, "Everyone has issues in their life, so what?"
There have been times when I stammer and the other person has asked if I am thirsty or if I'm feeling unwell. And I can’t even explain that inner broken helpless feeling I have, and I control my tears and expression and just say, "Yes, I am thirsty. I'd rather them think that than think I stammer. That is the most difficult thing to face, which only a person who stammers can understand. When someone does find out that I stammer they just start nodding out of pity.
Because stammering is the one disability people laugh at or make fun of, they don't take you seriously and can think you are making excuses. Everyone thinks it's just a lack of confidence, that it's nothing. Even if you try to explain your condition to someone, they often say, "Everyone has issues in their life, so what?" They think stammering is just a normal problem or a bad phase of life. They are just not ready to accept it is a disability, it is just a joke to them.
But no matter if nobody can understand even a bit of what I have been feeling all my life. I am strong enough and I am never going to give up.
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