Huafrid Billimoria shows the power of changing your mindset

Photo Credit: Huafrid Billimoria and Yoocan
Photo Credit: Huafrid Billimoria and Yoocan /

Huafrid Billimoria is using a positive mindset to accomplish incredible things, smashing physical challenges and advocating for mental health and people with his disability.

Huafrid Billimoria originally shared his story with Yoocan, a global collaborative community where people with disabilities share experiences and knowledge — so that no one feels alone. Yoocan and Why We Play are a natural match and overlap in the most important thing for our community INSPIRATION. FanSided is excited to partner with Yoocan and share some of their stories on our website — exciting and fantastic sports stories from people with disabilities. Come check out more of our joint material, and keep following for collaborations!

If you believe and keep at it regardless of the result you just can’t fail. I also believe that in spite of achieving what you do, you just got to put your head down, be humble, and hungry for much more as that’s the only way you will grow. In fact, lockdown made it really difficult to handle mental health challenges with additional disabilities. How do you keep going?

Let me start off by just addressing what I successfully completed this year. I was the first Indian with Dystonia (a debilitating neurological disorder with no cure) to complete a five-kilometer open water swim (the famous Sunk rock to the gateway of India open water swim). I wanted to push my body to the limits where I could strike a balance between mental toughness and prove to myself that I deserve this more than anyone.

I love calling myself crazy, so that’s why I decided to swim for 10 kilometers off the shore of Juhu Beach making me the first Indian to do so. It was an event organized by Mumbai sea swimmers, only four of 12 Swimmers finished the distance and I was one of them, they were my able-bodied friends who I respect and look up to from the bottom of my heart. I draw this comparison to tell you’ll how difficult the swim was.

At a point, I just wanted to stop swimming and felt like giving it all up. Then bam these flashbacks start — getting beaten up for no fault of my own, getting verbally abused by teachers and my so-called friends, “What a loser/wannabe/pile on! A bad influence on society.” The list goes on.
At this point, I was like it’s “do or die”. There is no quitting! This is why I forgive but never forget, I use it as fuel to prove to myself that I deserve this more than anyone. To be the misfit in these flawed norms of society, which were pushed on me.

The first five kilometers were as smooth as applying butter on bread, except for my OCD turning up with weird negative repetitive thoughts. All of a sudden, the sea started getting choppier with crazy tides. However much I swam, I felt stuck in one place, the same way many do in their marriage. I got cut by a boat anchor on the eighth kilometer, on my foot, but I wasn’t going to stop swimming. My Dystonia was acting up and getting really bad at this point due to exhaustion. I was hungry, I was hungry for much more!

From the eighth to the 10th kilometer I felt that it was going to be impossible. After the 10th kilometer, I ran to the beach and I realized that I have done the impossible for someone like me! I wasn’t only the first Indian with my condition to do what I did. I also realized I am one of the very few in the world to do what I did. I felt like jumping up and down, like a small kid getting his favorite toy, but I was too exhausted. I also entered the India book of records for this endeavor.

Was this enough of a “bad Influence” for you, I felt like shouting out? After the swim came the dreadful lockdown and the first month of it was absolute hell. But I eventually went back to my crazy ways of living and completed a half marathon in the passage of my house. Once lockdown started to ease, I started to push myself by completing two more half marathons, now making it a total of three for the year (one of the half marathons was to honor our soldiers). I also started completing brick sessions which involve a run right after cycling 40 to 50 kilometers, the runs after it are for 10 kilometers usually. Do you think I will stop after this?

Those words are not in my dictionary. This is how we come to World Dystonia Awareness month this September. While you’ll be reading this I will be running 10 kilometers every day for an entire month to raise awareness and funds for Dystonia. A whopping 300 kilometers in a month for me. So, a friend of mine along with me started a campaign called #thedystonia600.

We would be running in tandem 10 kilometers every day for 30 days making it 600 kilometers in total (she also has Dystonia). The human mind and body are capable of doing things that are unimaginable if we just believe and keep at it. I am talking about personal experience as a while back it was difficult to even walk straight due to my foot constantly turning inwards. Do you all have an excuse to call 2020 a bad year? Well, I look at it like having three more months of doing something crazy and impossible for an individual like me! CHANGE YOUR MINDSET!

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