From Here to There
By Adam Helbling
In my life I’ve lost both my mind and my body. I know what it’s like to hit rock bottom. To really hit rock bottom. I also know how to climb back out of that hole and I know how it feels to be on top of the world. Success at various points in my life has led to euphoria where I felt that I could do nothing wrong and made the biggest mistakes of my life.
I came to Ohio State in 2005 on a full ride scholarship. My involvement and success at Ohio State led me to be accepted into the Sphinx Senior Class Honorary in the spring of 2008. This is the highest honor that can be accorded a student at the Ohio State University. Only 24 seniors are chosen each year that best represent the university based on academic success and contributions to the university. When I applied to Sphinx I was asked to write my own epitaph. I wrote, “Here lies a man who truly found happiness. He tried what he thought he’d like and pursued only what he knew he loved.”
What I pursued was the greatest physical passion of my life, which was waterskiing. I was a national champion show skier, a state champion slalom skier, and I helped lead the Ohio State Waterski Team to the 2010 Division II National Title. Now imagine telling someone like that that they can no longer waterski again. It was my life and it was all that I knew. But passions can be replaced, but I will say that it was incredibly hard to say goodbye.
After a drug binge, a spending spree, and six days without sleep I went into a psychotic state. I ended up in the psych ward for 2 1/2 half weeks believing that I was the second coming of Jesus Christ. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was put on a heavy dose of medications.
I religiously took my medications until January 2011 when I went off of them for five days. On the fifth day the signs came back and I once again believed that I was Jesus Christ. I took off on a drive on January 22, 2011. I felt invincible and at one point I was traveling at speeds over 120 mph and I lost control of my car flipping it five times front over front and landing upside down in a field in the snow leaving me paralyzed from the chest down.
The manic episode continued over the next month and I still believed that I was Jesus and had no doubt in my mind that I would not heal. When I returned home after 3 1/2 months in the hospital I would have to say goodbye to all of my greatest physical passions. I contemplated suicide and thought that all of my hopes and dreams were crushed.
Later that year I started writing and shared my story on Facebook. People were telling me that I completely changed their perspective on life and that they no longer would take the little things in life for granted. I finally realized my purpose in life and that purpose was to share my story to help others in a positive way.
After about a year I finally accepted my injury and decided that I would be happy whether or not I would walk again. I started to focus on what I could do and not what I cannot do and to focus on what I have and not on what I do not have. I realized that I still had my mind which I believe is much more powerful than the body.
I finished my civil engineering degree at Ohio State. I started a blog at www.AdamHelbling.com, which has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I have given over 40 motivational speeches since I graduated and that thrill is greater than waterskiing ever was. I even wrote a book titled ‘Well… I Guess I’m Not Jesus’ that is currently getting edited.
No matter what your physical limitations are you are still capable of achieving great things in this world. If you are able bodied try to live each day as I would if I was given just one more day to be back on my feet.
I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason. I mean it when I say that I am happier now than ever before. People push to find a higher paying job to buy that fast car or that bigger house, but in the end the material things are not what will make you happy. It is the impact that you will have on another life that will truly put a smile on your face.