My name is Sree. I am 35 years old. I was born in India, and I currently live in California, USA. I am a software engineer by profession. I have a Ph.D. in Computer Science. I remember stuttering since I was 5 or 6 years old. My father tells me that I was once imitating a movie comedian who was stuttering in a movie when I was 5 or 6 years old. I continued it for fun for few more days along with my cousin. We both caught stutter and I have been stuttering since then. Sometimes I used to be fluent and other times I had lot of trouble.
I vividly remember when I was 7 or 8 years old, I had great fear to speak, when my teacher called us to speak on the stage before everyone in school. I did not know what this fear was, and I could not speak at all. Lot of people laughed, and some left the room disgusted with me. Though my parents were highly educated, there were little awareness back then to try any therapy to help me. I once performed very well in a competitive exam in my entire province during my high school. There was media and press asking for my interviews. I remember, I could not speak much. I did not have many events to speak in public after that. In my college, I had to introduce a guest speaker in front of big audience. I avoided the introductory speech in fear and gave the chance to someone else. During my final year in undergraduate college, I tried to present before my professors, classmates, and seniors. I stammered very badly. However, I was never let down in confidence or in my ability even though I stammered. I was headstrong.
During my graduate school in USA, I overcame fear. I stuttered a lot less but had lot of fear. I won even two best paper awards in conferences in front of 100’s of people and one of the awards was in best presentation category. People who were in the audience told me that I looked very nervous. I joined Tech industry towards end of 2012 after my PhD. There were always fears of speech and I struggled with my daily updates in front of my teams. I also struggled with presentations at work, and I rarely gave any.
My worries in stuttering began increasing in 2018 when I had to start giving presentations at work or give daily updates on my progress. I often struggled with presentations. I could not speak well but I managed. My peak nervousness and suffering started in 2020 when I joined a new company and I was called upon several times a week to speak, give presentations to leadership, and lead meetings. My stuttering grew from blocks to long blocks and making nasty sounds. I had many embarrassing presentations in 2021 and particularly in late 2021. I was ashamed. I would block even for a minute and sometimes up to several minutes. I will make bad stuttering sounds. I was losing confidence and having panic attacks. I dreaded going to work. I started therapy in early 2021 for the first time ever in my life and I was doing one coaching class a week. The therapy was not at all helping. In fact, the therapist sort of reinforced my stuttering memories and asked me to accept it. Looking back now, I will call the therapy suicidal.
Like many, I found Lee’s book on Stuttering and Speech Anxiety cures on Amazon. I purchased it in mid 2021 and I did not read it. I hardly read 10 pages in the book. The book had many pages. Helpless and shattered, I wrote email to Lee towards the end of December 2021. He asked me to read his book, hear his videos, and start coaching in January 2022. As my enthusiasm was very low, I did not completely read the book. I read half of the book and I was very depressed during my vacation in December 2021. I felt helpless and hopeless.
Fortunately, my coach Prathusha, started skyping with me towards the end of January. I started taking more interest in Lee’s techniques. I have read his book completely and started practicing crutches in crutch practice sessions. My coach words “Sree, you do not have stuttering”, made the biggest difference and I use it as one of my hypnosis/AST regimens. She provided tailored coaching to my specific situations. Things have started getting better a lot. I stopped stuttering and often speaking very well with all my peers in 1:1 meeting. I started getting lot better in my meetings with authority figures and managers. I am currently working on improving my speech before groups of authority figures at work and making presentations before them. I am on my path to fluency ladder. There are still struggles there due to many bad memories recently. I used to focus on AST daily before sleep. I used to relax myself. Doing exercise also helped with stress and speech anxiety. Coaching sessions with Prathusha helped the most. I also benefited a lot from SAM Meetings, which is speech and social club sponsored by World Stop Stuttering Association. Prathusha and Lee coach for WSSA.
In the next few years, I would like to be fluent across WSSA’s entire Fluency Ladder and being able to give presentations before large groups at work. I would like to get to be a public speaker giving presentations with ease at public forums such as TEDx.
I genuinely think WSSA is a world leader in matters of stuttering, speech anxiety, and is deeply concerned with helping PWS and PWSS. It is much better to spend few months here than years of traditional speech therapy, which, as I said earlier, were suicidally bad for me. WSSA’s Coaches and members are empathetic, and my coach Prathusha is simply the best. I would like to thank Coach Lee for his wonderful book on stuttering and WSSA for licensing the Lovett’s method which truly works. Also, I would like to be applaud the crutch practice sessions at WSSA and do my part in getting better and helping others in my capacity. Last but not my least, my family and my wife supported me immensely in the last 1 year of my struggles. Have loved ones to support you and it can come a long way. Anyway, if you stutter, go to WSSA, it is truly “the world’s only community of EX-stutterers”. What better place could a stutterer be?
Sree, California, April 2022