A tale of resilience

Story by Akshay Singh Chauhan

I was born with my legs attached to my forehead. They were not glued to my forehead but were elastic in nature. They used to stick to my forehead unless someone held them. My family used to give me massages to make my muscles stronger. Both my hands are twisted down to 90 degrees. My legs have multiple surgeries to help me walk. I've had more than a total of 40 stitches on both of my legs. These surgeries happened when I was young, so I learned to balance myself. I climbed stairs one step at a time and progressed slowly.

I have a slightly awkward walk because of my foot drop. My hands can do almost everything but appear different. I take the help of gravity & support of my other hand to eat & drink. My elbow doesn't have strong muscles to lift so my shoulders help me here. Due to this, climbing & trekking takes all of my body's strength & balance, unlike other people who have reliable muscles. Still, my recent trek to Himachal made me realize that strength lies within the mind. In spite of the pain, I trekked for hours and hours in search of a perfect view of the mountains.

My grandparents brought me up and when it was time for college, I moved to another state. I went to the University of Pune for engineering. However, I wasn’t satisfied with my life. I don’t think I was made for engineering. Things didn’t work out as expected so I left and moved back home for a few months. But I refused to give up.

Acceptance has been a great asset. The disability is mine so acceptance is also mine. People weren't always nice but then as I grew older, I became more confident & most importantly belonged & created a safe place for myself. Once I was done accepting myself, other things became less important

After dropping out of engineering college, I went to Jaipur to learn 3D art and worked as a freelancer. After a year, I decided to pursue a BA in English through distant learning. Living in Jaipur was an amazing experience as I met many tourists and showed them around. I also started polishing my photography skills. As time passed, I decided to get an MBA in marketing.

Doctors said I wouldn't be alive for more than 3 days but here I am today, a 26 years old boy, an aspiring 3d artist, a photographer, a writer, and a mental health activist. I’ve dreamt of working in a big 3D company but now I really want my own art studio where I can tell stories through different kinds of art. I would also love to write a book or work for a magazine. In addition to this, I’m interested in mental health and have plans to expand my support group.

I'm fortunate enough to have a beautiful family & friends with whom I can have endless conversations. I also have an online community gained by writing about my experiences & stories to let people know that we aren’t alone. In the end, people were happy to see someone like me thriving & enjoying life to the fullest. We only die once and we must live every day!

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