With a post like this comes the fear of being judged, fear of being vulnerable, and fear of not being heard. But if I can impact even just one person by sharing my story, then these fears are worth it.
This four-letter word is like a rusty dagger thrust deep into my stomach. There are still some days it doesn’t feel real; It was late at night when I was approached by a stranger who claimed to be an Uber driver. At this time Uber cars were not marked yet and I trusted the service- I had no reason not to. Unfortunately, this person was not an Uber driver; I was assaulted, raped, violated and to be honest I thought I was going to be killed.
I am extremely grateful to be alive.
Throughout my journey, I have experienced shock, panic attacks, and depression. I’ve spent time grieving and feeling embarrassed, lost and hopeless. I didn’t know when I would be ready to share my story; I kept telling myself I’ll wait until I am fully healed and then I can help others. However, the toughest lesson I have learned is there is no finish line.
With this story I bring you my mission; this summer I am embarking on a powerful journey to raise awareness of Mental Health. I will be participating in multiple running races, including a Toronto half marathon. However, there is an added challenge; I will be running blindfolded so I am completely in the dark. For me, this blindfolded experience symbolizes what it can feel like battling with trauma and Mental Health; alone, consumed by your own thoughts and surrounded by darkness.
With this mission, I hope I can raise awareness of Mental Health, and inspire and empower others to keep fighting to find their light.
If you would like to help there are a few ways you can! First, I welcome you to share this story so you can help others be more aware and stay safe. Uber and Lyft now have important safety measures in place because of stories like mine.
Second, you can share your own Mental Health story with me (successes, struggles or helpful healing tips). Your experiences and tips will help others know they are not alone and show there are many ways to heal. You can also view my training progress, personal story, and mission. If you would like to support my running initiative, any help is greatly appreciated. I know I am just one person, but sometimes that is all it takes to make a difference.
Finally, to all my incredible family and friends who have supported me throughout my journey, from the bottom of my heart THANK YOU. Your love and support have inspired me to help others who may be facing their battles alone.
A special shout-out to my beautiful friend and guide runner Sam Chefero who has embarked on this challenging journey with me. Thank you to all the para-athletes and guide runners who provided their knowledge and support for my initiative!