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‘It’s just another fight I’m going to have to learn how to win, that’s all. I’m just going to have to keep smiling.’
-Serena Williams

Professional tennis player, Serena, has been ranked World No. 1 in singles on six separate occasions. What makes her success so remarkable, is not so much her victories, but her drive to win. She has become the definition of effort; a constant, undeniable determination. Her name has become synonymous with excellence. No obstacles, nor haters have stopped her. She plays to win.

Recently, I have been hospitalized for a week. I was experiencing a severe panic attack and my mind resorted to suicidal thoughts. Battling anxiety isn’t easy, and after a fifteen-minute, painful battle, I picked up the phone and reached out for help. I called my doctor and a close family member. I am lucky enough to have a great support system and I was taken to the hospital where I stayed for a while to be monitored and have my medications adjusted.

I spent some lonely hours in the emergency unit of the hospital in a room with nothing but a bed and bare walls. It gave me a lot of quiet time to calmly reflect and think about life, my choices and decisions; past, present and future. As I was thinking, the nurse handed me a big bottle of orange Gatorade to keep me hydrated. I was slowly sipping from the bottle when I saw Serena, in all of her glory, on the Gatorade label. Suddenly, Serena was my only connection to the outside world, as no cellphones or visitors are allowed on the unit. I thought about her image. I thought about her love of sports and her determination to go all the way. I thought about her willpower and her strength; how she never gives up. I thought of the battles she’s been through, her injuries, her haters; and yet she still fiercely plays and goes for the goal. She is not only an image in the sports’ world, but as a woman I admire her immensely. Her attitude and determination is what earned her a total of 22 Grand Slams. And when she says that it’s her hard work that made her a champion, I believe her. It’s not luck that has brought her this far.

We, Serena and I, play different games. I battle my own mind and strive to conquer my anxiety and negative thoughts. I aim for the championship. I want those 22 Grand Slams. And suddenly, right there on my hospital bed, I realized that it takes hard work, determination, and a willpower made of unbreakable steel. If I’m going to wait for my good luck to kick in, I will spend every other week in the hospital for another anxiety episode or panic attack. I stared at that black and white image and engraved it in my head. I engraved Serena’s message. Victories don’t come easy, but they are worth it. Serena is an inspiration to so many, and maybe one day, if I’m lucky enough my battles will inspire someone also. 

I embraced all the love and support I received and let my doctors help me, because this was the first step in my journey to stardom. And from here and on, I play to win. 

Thank you, Serena Williams. And thank you, Gatorade. (You know, just for keeping me hydrated.) 

The Bad Guys Strike Again…

I fight because I want to be a better person. I fight because I deserve better. I fight for my future generations. I fight because I deserve happy and healthy. And I fight because life is worth living.
And it’s tough. Very very tough. The battlefield in my head is bloody and harsh. I fight demons. Demons that want to kill me and tear me apart. Demons that are my own. And still, I fight. I fight for life. For dear life.
Do people know? No. Do they care? Not really. People get tired quickly of hearing other people’s stories. People ask how are you because they need to be polite not because they care to know if I’m having a good day or bad day. And still I fight. A secret war. A silent fight. Nobody knowing. But I do it for myself; for my life. So who cares, right?
But maybe just maybe if people would know how tough it is they would say something nice. Chocolate maybe. A hug maybe. Something to tell me that my fight matters and I’m not alone. Cuz right now I feel like the loneliest human being alive. 
I am not disabled. I am human. Like you and you and you. We just fight different battles. It’s not that I’m giving up. But maybe I need a break. A break sounds ideal. But isn’t my life one big break? Spending my days at a coffee shop, idling in bed, walking the streets… That’s a break. Only, it’s a break that causes more trouble. 
I don’t know what I need right now. Lots of practical and technical assistance. But maybe I just need to hear that people care and they want me here and my fight matters to them.