Hasitha- I was diagnosed with Friedreich’s Ataxia when I was ten years old.

‘It all started when I was nine. That day I abruptly started to limp, which left my parents worried. I started dropping plates due to imbalance. My childhood, which was supposed to be filled with parks and games, was packed with hospital visits. The one sport which I was passionate for, football, had to be discontinued due to my sudden physical transformations. I stopped my favorite activity, swimming, because I was constantly feeling breathless.

I was diagnosed with Friedreich’s Ataxia when I was ten years old. It is a rare, neurological and progressive disease that affects 1 in 50,000 people. This disorder results in a delay of sending neuro signals from brain to other parts of the body. This, in turn, causes difficulty walking, loss of sensation and an impaired speech. This also causes cardiomyopathy. Unfortunately, there is no cure, thus, people depend on wheelchairs for mobility.

As I was young, I did not take this to heart but when people started bullying me for the way I moved around and treated me differently is when I got self-conscious. I would isolate myself during the day and cry myself to sleep at night. The ‘Hasi’ in Hasitha was absent. Truly, I wanted to die than to continue a life living like this.

When my mom suddenly decided to shift to India, I was scared of the change but I got more love than hate and by the end of 12th, I made friends for a lifetime.

However, as each birthday passed, my disease was progressing along with it. The thought of me being in a wheelchair crushed me. One day, my mom suggested me to join meditation. I was skeptical at first, but I joined for the sake of my mother. Within a span of six months, I felt the difference. It made me cherish the positives in life and mainly, I started to accept who I really was. By the time I started my degree, I became wheelchair-bound. However, this did not stop me from doing anything. This gave me the courage to participate in the Miss Wheelchair India pageant, where people proudly showcase their disability.

Today, I am making the most of my life. I wake up everyday thanking god for giving me a wonderful life. Life does get better and I’m a living proof that you can recover.’ @ Chennai, India

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