We are humbled to have had the chance of speaking to Omar Hegazy, the first one-legged man to swim across the Gulf of Aqaba from Egypt to Jordan.
Hegazy is also known to be the man who completed the journey from Taba to the Pyramids of Giza, covering 700 kilometers over a 10-day period – after experiencing a traumatic event that would go onto changing his life for good.
Losing a leg did not break the strong-willed champion. Instead, he turned what many would have thought to be a disastrous event into a life-changing transformation.
(We highly recommend checking out Omar’s Tedx Talk “This is What I Am Not”)
If our call with Omar Hegazy proved anything to us; it only showed how far our mental health could really affect us after a traumatic experience. Hegazy opened up with full expression over what his PTSD diagnosis really felt like.
“Ally, I don’t know where to start. There are so many phases I went through after my accident. I’ve experienced a total loss of willingness for life, as well as, total euphoria when I broke my own personal records. I really don’t know where to start. So let’s try it out!” said Omar Hegazy, on a Facebook Messenger call to Ally Salama, founder of Empower Mag.
A Traumatic Experience
Our 40-minute conversation on his incredibly inspirational experience with trauma touched us deeply.
“Most of us humans can’t surpass acceptance unless we’re faced by a huge trauma or an eye-opening experience or even an extreme commitment to any form of spiritual practices,” he expressed. One thing we mutually agreed upon was the fact that we both had experienced severe mental health disorders, which altered the courses of both of our lives. “Sometimes these experiences really do happen for a reason – one that we only make sense of much later on in our lives.”
“One thing I’ll never forget – that really hit me hard during the healing process is how we take simple things for granted, like walking, going up the stairs, picking up our phones when they slip under a couch or bed… I never thought of these things until I felt immense pain in doing them alone,” explains Hegazy.
Diving deeper into our talk, Omar spoke about how the crash deteriorated his self-confidence as well as his perception of what people thought of him – due to his prosthetic leg. He expressed how that took a toll on his personal relationships and how he overcame it – as well as the lessons that experience taught him.
“In the beginning, I definitely did not digest it all. Feeling like I wasn’t myself, not being able to walk at the same pace as groups when we traveled; that was one thing. Another thing off the top of my head was my constant fear of being physically attacked and not being able to have my full power as a result of my physical disadvantage. At that point, my mind was going down a never-ending downward spiral – hitting solid rock bottom mentally. The thought went as far as haunting me in my dreams…”
As we continued talking about how Omar managed to steer his life around, things started to eventually change when he reached out for help.
Ironically, it was not the help he got from the therapist that helped him recover exponentially; it was his estimated recovery time – that of which he did not digest very well after walking of a therapy session.
“The experience of being at this all-time low was making every second being awake extremely painful. Anyways, when he told me it was going to take around 6 months, that’s when I refused to digest it in my mind. I took that challenge extremely personal and started analyzing my life only to realize that a big part of why I couldn’t break out was that I had nothing to look forward to.” said Omar.
“I started setting baby-step goals. That changed my life. I started building my confidence one step at a time. I realized, then and there, that the only limitation I ever had and will have will be myself – that no one could ever tell me how long I could take to be okay.”
Listening to Omar’s story, was more or less, like listening to my own voice through another human being. “The moment I put on my prosthetic leg, I went through an identity crisis. That will be a moment I will always remember for the rest of my life. I took me a total breakdown before I remember experiencing an awakening sometime afterward – that’s when everything changed for the better,” Hegazy emphasized, putting much stress on how different he became as a person after experiencing trauma.
“There was a huge charge deep within me and I needed to put it into something bigger,” Hegazy mentioned, as he remains committed now on empowering as many people as he can through his personal story.
We must also note that one of Hegazy’s main inspirations comes from “The Map of Consciousness” – a framework developed by David Hawkins.