I don’t know where to start, so I think it’s befitting my story should commence from there… Born in the early eighties in Multan, Pakistan, my old memories carry faces of people with whom I thought there was something wrong. Because whenever I spoke or tried to, some would have uneasy expressions, others would laugh outright, and then some’d ask me to ‘stop trying’. When I was a bit mature, I was told it was called ‘stuttering’. As what’s the norm with stuttering, I was bullied at school both verbally and physically. Well, the days crept on.
In 1987, a new chapter in my life commenced: Insulin-dependent type 1 diabetes. Apart from giving me mental and physical stability with the use of insulin, it also endowed me with a comparative perspective. People started showing me empathy over infliction by a major disorder like diabetes. But as a teenager, I many times disclosed to my understanding mother that it had not been diabetes that was causing me issues, stuttering was the actual villain in my life.
As was the norm, I was made to consult with a number of psychiatrists and psychologists but to no avail as I was bombarded with antidepressants and sleep aids. I remember once prescribed with something that just won’t let me on my two feet. I was in a continuous slumber state. And then I’ve had it. I didn’t know what was the remedy for stuttering, but I had realised that medications didn’t have any link to it. I wrote an article in Urdu and sent it to BBC Urdu website editor. I didn’t give it a title, but when they published it, it read “Antidepressants to cure stuttering: a misconception”. It was appropriate and I liked it.
Days past by and I got married to a loving and caring wife. She totally understood my anguish and suffering, but couldn’t do anything about it. In those days I was searching the internet for the cure of stuttering, and got to know about a bunch of people calling themselves The McGuire Programme. The reviews were good, but travelling to the nearest region wasn’t easy. The UK was long-distance away. But I got hold of their book. I couldn’t read it but it sure meant some serious business. Because it represented some war against the stuttering. Something new, eh… It was 2007.
I think I should also mention that I was a member of an international stuttering association who used to send quarterly publications. I was so hopeless that I wouldn’t even read them. My better half after religiously going through them for a few times conclusively commented: “It’s a bunch of people just telling each other stories and weeping together”!Well, cutting the story short, in a moment of rock bottom which I don’t have the courage to elaborate, I decided to travel to Scotland for a McGuire course.
It was in October 2015. Dundee course was a wave of fresh air. As soon as I entered The Queen’s Hotel, Dundee, there was something different. Everyone had had a stutter, but astonishingly they seemed in control. The course organiser (I won’t mention her name) was the first person I met from the McGuire world and boy what a wonderful convincing introduction to the programme that was… Later I got to know, that their controlled stuttering was “deliberate disfluency”, a wonderful missile if you call it in our arsenal.
Days converted into months and months into years. I became a coach at the programme, the second one from Pakistan. With conviction in my mind about the programme’s power, I became Regional Director and now I’m working to make my country a successful region of the programme.
Is the McGuire Programme the magic pill that we stutterers have wanted all our life? Yes, it is, but only if you put the required, as Dave McGuire puts it, “Time and Effort”. And believe me, its not a hefty price for our target of articulate eloquence!! Being better at speech than normal people.
This programme has changed my life, to say the least. And I would say that the effects of this wonderful programme not only improved my speech, it also gave me an assertive outlook on the world. A new technique to live. Live the life that you’d have, if not better if you didn’t have had a stutter. Support offered by it is unparalleled. You want empathy, you have it here. Need to discuss what’s bugging your speech, you find it ready.
A lot more to say, but that’s that, should put my pen down now…