Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy new year to all of you!

I wish all of you a very happy and successful 2010. I hope all of you had a very good decade and may the next decade be as good if not better than the last one.

A lot of things happened in my life over the last months and I'll be giving you updates over the next days and weeks. Again have a wonderful and exciting new year all of you!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I had a test today in one of my Accounting classes

That’s right. It’s that time of the year again for those of us who still go to school. Over all I’m very happy how it went. It’s mainly because for the past week or so I studied really hard in hopes of getting a good grade like an A or a B. I usually don’t do this since I don’t like studying but with the support and encouragement from my family I did it and I believe it brought good results. I’ll find out for sure at the end of this week or early next week.

Not only I had a test today but my college also had a fire drill. Some people might like them and some people might hate them since they take away time from classes. But today at least for my class it was very different because this particular fire drill couldn’t have happened at a more inconvenient moment. Like in the middle of our test. You read it right! I’m sure everyone hates it when it happens to them. Luckily it didn’t have any impact on me since I get extra time on exams. I just took that time to relax and to focus on getting a good grade on my test. I hope it didn’t have any negative impact on my classmate’s performance on the same test though…

Did anything similar happen to you?

Friday, October 9, 2009

There is no such thing as normal

That’s right. There is no such thing as normal in our world. That’s because the standards for normalcy shift or evolve as time passes. For example, not too long ago American society was a lot more conservative and moral than it is today. Immoral acts like premarital sex and adultery weren’t accepted by the mainstream society. This was normal in those days. But now the standard has changed and American society is much more liberal and accepting. As a result, average people are no longer shocked when they hear about other people cheating on their partners or having sex before marriage. In fact premarital sex is accepted so much right now that more than 90% of Americans engage or are going to engage in sexual relations before marriage. As you can see this is the new normal today unlike in the old days.

Another reason why there is no such thing as normal is because the standards for normalcy differ from one culture to the next. For example, most Americans frown upon an idea of eating insects and find it disgusting even though insects are an excellent source of protein and eating them has many advantages over eating other kinds of food. On the other hand this practice is widely accepted in other cultures and many people love eating insects outside America. Because of all this, eating insects is not normal in America but perfectly normal in many other cultures.

There are plenty of other reasons I can think of to prove that there is no such thing as normal. I think you probably can too if you think long enough. That’s why try not to judge other things or people that are different from you and seem “not normal”.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Speaking to new people is still hard for me…

Like for most people who stutter, it was always almost impossible for me to speak with new people. In fact it was so difficult when I was a lot younger that whenever I would talk to a new person my mind would literally go blank and freeze. Because of this the only way I would talk to a new person is if I absolutely had to and couldn’t really avoid it. That’s why for majority of my life I have done everything in my power to avoid talking to new people for as long as possible.

I did it and continue to do that to a large degree for many reasons. One major reason why I presently tend to avoid contact with new people is because I feel completely out of control in speaking situations most of the time. Because of this, I feel that in some way a wall exists between me and the whole world that needs to be broken down if I ever going to be free from my stuttering. Now that I’m older I’m beginning to try to change my life for the better by breaking this imaginary wall that only exists in my mind.

The most recent example of me trying to change my behavior is when I went to the financial aid office at my college. Of course I was feeling very nervous, anxious and not being in control as usual. But this time I actually tried to modify my thought pattern inside my head by telling myself that that an average person doesn’t really care that I stutter because I know that surveys consistently show that most people don’t care whether a person stutters or not. At the end this new self talk seemed to help and afterwards even though speaking to a new person was still hard I felt very good about myself. I guess it’s because I was able to do it and didn’t avoid it like I usually do. It also helped that a person I talked to was friendly. This small progress gave me hope that with enough time it would get a lot easier speaking with new people and making new friends.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

To my fellow Jewish readers: Happy Yom Kippur! :)

All of us know that the Day of Atonement is the holiest day of the year for all of us. It is a day of atonement, repentance and forgiveness. I hope all of you will spend it asking for forgiveness from those people who you wronged, asking for forgiveness from G-d and attend a synagogue. That is what I'll be doing. May all of you be written in the book of life!

For people who are curious to learn more about Yom Kippur, you can go here. ;)

Friday, September 25, 2009

I received $1,337 in financial aid assistance for the current fall semester!

Right now I’m taking a few extra classes at Brooklyn College, one of the best public colleges in NYC. Like most college students, I have applied for financial aid by filling out a FAFSA. Yesterday I finally went to the financial aid office to find out if any financial aid was awarded to me. It turned out that I still received it even though I filled out a FAFSA not too long ago. This news made me very excited and my family happy because we were a little worried that I might not get financial aid this year. :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Time is the most precious commodity we all have...

Because it's limited and once it's gone we can never get it back. I sometimes remind myself of this when I have free time. One occasion I thought about it is when I and my family went to Brighton Beach on Labor Day. I had a great time that day and all of us had a lot of fun. When walking on the beach, I thought about how I already lost a lot of valuable time in my life because I still continue to let my stuttering to control my life by stopping me from fully enjoying it and trying to make my dreams and ambitions a reality. Practically all my life I submitted to my stuttering and made a lot of sacrifices like missing on a lot of things that normal people experience. Basically I'm letting life to completely pass me by and not really participating in it like all of you. In other words I'm just like an observer that just observes what other people do with their lives and not doing anything with mine. I admit this kind of life is boring, not exciting and most of all meaningless. I live with this reality as I continue to lose more precious time as I get older by distracting myself with things I enjoy to do like the Internet. Clearly this is not normal and has to stop because I don't really want this kind of worthless life for me, especially when I know that I can completely change my life if I really wanted to and worked very hard.

I know that for me there's a way out if I'll have very strong hope, desire, determination and work very hard every day. That's why at present time I'm trying to change my life and get free from my stuttering once and for all. That means not letting my stuttering to hold me back from living and really enjoying life. At the same time I know that even if I'll be successful at getting free and winning my life back, I already lost a lot of very valuable time that I can never get back no matter what I do in addition on missing out on a lot of things life offers. This is a very important lesson to learn for all of us. I really hope that all of you will learn it too after reading about my experience, won't repeat my mistake and will use time you have left wisely and not just waste it away.

Monday, August 31, 2009

What exactly is stuttering???

I hope all of you had a wonderful weekend! Since many of my readers might not know what stuttering actually is or may have many misconceptions about it, I decided to explain exactly what it is in this post and to make many things about stuttering crystal clear to all of you. I hope this information will be useful and that you will use it to spread awareness of stuttering to the entire world.

1. First of all stuttering is a neurological brain based disorder. This means something is wrong with the speech centers in the brains of people who stutter like problems in neural wiring in a brain. This causes errors in speech production. In other words speech of people who stutter is no longer 100% automatic and easy like it’s for people who don’t stutter. As a result, when people who stutter try to speak or produce sounds/words, their muscles that are involved in speech production get abnormally tense or tight and stop working. When that happens, repetitions and prolongations of sounds, syllables, words or phrases, and involuntary silent pauses or blocks in which the stutterer is unable to produce sounds occur and speech is abnormally interrupted. This leads to an inability to continue speaking until an interruption in speech resolves itself. This can take anywhere from 1 second to several or more minutes in cases of severe/very severe stuttering.

2. There are a little more than 6 billion people on our planet. And out of them only about 15 million stutter. In the United States it’s estimated that around 3 million people stutter.

3. It’s estimated that around 4% of all children develop stuttering. But most outgrow it before they become teenagers or adults. That means that out of this 4% of children, only about 1% continue to stutter in adulthood for the rest of their lives. It should be mentioned that in rare cases, adults acquire stuttering too like after a stroke or some other brain trauma. They usually overcome it with the help from speech therapy and a lot of practice every day.

4. Did you know that stuttering is more common in boys than in girls? For every 4/3 boys who stutter, only 1 girl stutters.

5. Stuttering seems to run in families about 60% of the time. In 40% of cases, stuttering is completely random. That means a person who stutters is the only one in his or her family with this disorder and none of his or her relatives stutter. Despite evidence that stuttering is sometimes passed on in 60% of families, there’s no conclusive evidence that stuttering is passed on genetically. Scientists so far didn’t find any “stuttering genes”.

6. Many people who don’t stutter (including many stutterers) continue to mistakenly believe that stuttering is completely psychological. They think that negative feelings such as low self esteem, low confidence, stress, nervousness, anxiety, etc cause stuttering. This has been proven wrong by scientists studying the brains of people who stutter. Instead of being the cause of stuttering, negative feelings only make stuttering worse. That’s why we see stutterers stuttering a lot more in stressful situations and stuttering a lot less in easy and comfortable situations.

7. Scientific studies of the human brain show that our brains are very flexible. They have great ability to adapt. That’s why we often see many people recovering after a bad stroke and relearning everything that they have forgotten. The same is with human speech. Because our brains are flexible and adaptable, human speech is very modifiable. That’s why it’s possible for a person with a lot of practice and hard work to reduce their accent or to get his or her stuttering under control using speech therapy.

8. Many diseases and disorders remain stable in their severity as time passes. For example, a person with diabetes will still have it to the same degree of severity 5 years from now. That means over these 5 years, that person’s diabetes didn’t get better and didn’t get worse. Believe it or not this general rule doesn’t apply to stuttering. Over the years stuttering becomes better and worse as time passes. That means stuttering never stays the same in terms of its severity and moves in cycles. In other words on one day or during a week it might be better than usual and then the next day or week it might be worse than usual. After that the cycle may repeat itself. This leads many people to mistakenly believe that stuttering might be psychological and it also confuses a lot of people. This interesting characteristic of stuttering makes it an unusual disorder.

9. Did you know that most stutterers don’t stutter when they are alone or when speaking or reading in unison with other people? This fact makes stuttering disorder unusual. Scientists tried to take advantage of this characteristic and created many anti-stuttering devices that fit into a human ear. All of them use delayed auditory feedback (DAF). In other words they enable a user to speak into a tiny microphone and then to hear his or her own voice a fraction of a second later. It has been proven that in the short term these devices reduce stuttering significantly for many people who stutter. Unfortunately in the long term these devices often lose their effect and for most people who stutter their stuttering returns. Interestingly, DAF has a completely opposite effect on normal people who don't stutter. In other words, DAF makes normal people stutter.

10. For an uninformed person, it’s very easy to assume that a person who stutters might have low intelligence just by seeing how he or she speaks. But this assumption/stereo type is wrong most of the time because scientific studies have proven that people who stutter have at least an average intelligence. That means people who stutter are smart just like everybody else is. In other words stuttering is not indicative of intelligence level and may range from below average to above average just like for everyone else.

11. Stuttering officially is classified as a disorder. But many people consider it as a disability (including many people who stutter). I think stuttering can be both. Let me explain what I mean. If stuttering doesn't stop a person from enjoying and living his or her life to the fullest just like everyone around him or her then it’s not a disability. It’s just a disorder. But if stuttering stops that person from living his or her life and significantly interferes in his or her life, then in that case stuttering is a disability in addition to being a disorder until that person overcomes it with a lot of hard work and enough time using speech therapy every day.

12. Many famous people have or had stuttering. Some of them are Moses, Marilyn Monroe, James Earl Jones, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Winston Churchill, King George VI, Tiger Woods and our very own current vice president Joe Biden. It’s great to know that stuttering didn’t stop them from becoming very successful. If they could do it, we can too!

Despite everything we already know about stuttering, it’s still one of the oldest mysteries to us (we know stuttering is one of the oldest mysteries because Moses stuttered and ancient Egyptians knew about it). That’s because scientists don’t yet know exactly what is happening in the brains of people who stutter or what wiring problems may exist and how to fix them (I hope this will change in the near future). This is partially because human brains are very complex and scientists still didn’t figure out completely how they work. That’s why it’s very important to support stuttering research and the effort to find a cure. Hopefully scientific efforts to find a cure will be successful very soon!

To my fellow bloggers (especially who have blogs related to stuttering): If you want this post to appear on your blog just email me about it! :)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I’m back! Hopefully for a while this time… :)

I sincerely apologize for not posting for a very long time. I was busy with life and at the same time was feeling more hopeless than usual. This resulted in me being a lot less motivated to do anything like continuing posting on this blog.

I hope in the coming months my situation will change for the better and new confidence that I will succeed at the end no matter what and a renewed desire to work very hard will return to me once again. This will of course bring many new interesting posts for all of you to enjoy. I’ll also have a lot of fun writing them and once again share my life and talk about things that interest me. Who knows? Maybe all of us will learn something from all of it at the end.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I'm at very important crossroads right now

While celebrating a new year and my birthday recently, I couldn’t help but notice that right now I’m at very important crossroads at this point in my life. Some reasons for this are that we’re already in 2009 and I just turned 28 several days ago. Many people if not most at this point of their lives would have accomplished a lot more than I did so far in my own life. For example, many people are married and have children at this age. Other people have successful businesses or jobs that pay well. In addition to these accomplishments, most people at my age have an active social life that they enjoy and many friends that they have fun with. I so far don’t have any of these accomplishments unfortunately.

In the past for a very long time I blamed my severe stuttering for my current situation. I very firmly believed that if I could just completely control my stuttering in all situations once again like I could many years ago then everything would magically change in my life. That means that in my mind everything depended on the breakage of my stuttering and without this my life couldn’t be made better. That’s why I waited for many years for my stuttering to break before finally starting to move on with my life and start to finally living it. The major problem with this plan was that I gave up and was willing to sacrifice far too much in order to wait until my stuttering was under my complete control again. In other words I put my entire life on hold and let my stuttering to hold me back instead of living it or at least attempting to live it. My situation was made worse because for some reason my stuttering remained outside my control to this very day.

For many years until very recently I failed to realize that my plan to wait until my stuttering was under my control again was very wrong and didn’t work. I finally began to see how wrong my plan was when my sister challenged me in one of our many conversations to think about everything and to analyze everything in my life. I saw that my severe stuttering could only stop me from living my life like everyone else if I only let it. I saw that if I really tried very hard, I probably would have at least some success at living my life. That’s because over the years I’ve been having limited progress in getting my stuttering under control. That’s why my stuttering was getting slowly better in some ways over the years. One sign of this is that most people seem to understand me at the end when I talk with them in person. In the past this certainly wasn’t like this at all. I also finally realize that I have waited for far too long and don’t really have an option of continuing to wait and do almost nothing to free myself from my stuttering anymore. After a lot of deep thinking I for the first time see that my current situation is not entirely due to my severe stuttering. My attitude and passiveness toward everything also played a major part. I finally see that if I will let this continue, then I will not accomplish anything in life and life will just continue to pass me by. In other words I’m in a very important struggle right now for my life. If I will fail then it will simply mean that my entire life would pass me by and be totally wasted. That means that I’m right now somewhere between life and death. That’s how serious my current situation is. In order to prevent the worst case scenario, succeed and revolutionize my life I finally realize that I not only have to work at getting my stuttering under control. I also must make major improvement in all areas of my life. That’s the only way I’ll be entirely free at the end. I’ll keep you informed on my progress and the steps I’m planning to take or already taking in order to completely change my life for the better.

By the way I hope that all of you had a very good holiday season despite of the terrible economy we are in right now!