12/10/2015 8:56 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:50 PM AEST

That Which Doesn't Kill You Really Does Make You Stronger

After a 'life changing' event happens, I believe there are two ways it can go. You can give in to it, and let it define you. Or you can use it, and move forward.

Daniel Grill via Getty Images
Studio shot of pencil erasing the word fear from piece of paper

They say that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, but such maxims were a little hard to believe at the time.

There I was, 21-year-old Sammy, model and aspiring actress, in hospital with third degree burns to both my legs and second degree burns to my hands and face.

Propped up by three pillows in a white-sheeted bed, in a white walled room, looking out into a white hallway. No warmth, no emotion, no real feeling of what I was about to go through...

Sterile it was. Sterile I felt.

My family surrounding me, feeding me, cleaning me, telling me that everything was going to be okay. Four skin graft operations, watching my heartbeat on a monitor, skin cut from my back and put on my legs, staring at rows and rows of flowers up on the mantle piece, a tube through my nose, a morphine drip through my neck, teaching myself to walk again.

These are the memories I have of being in hospital after that 21st birthday party. I thank my mind for letting the tougher memories slip through and disappear. It's amazing how just three weeks of sitting in the same spot, looking at the same white room can make you appreciate living things.

I remember leaving the hospital for the first time in a wheelchair and getting pushed across the road into Fawkner Park in Melbourne. I felt like a newborn baby staring at everything -- wide eyed, amazed at how the wind moved through the leaves in the trees as though it was dancing.

In that moment I understood the meaning of energy. I could see it. And it took those three weeks to realise it. We are all energy. And if I am all energy, then I am not my body. I am something more than that, something far greater than what people can actually see and touch.

Upon leaving the hospital and facing the bloody jigsaw puzzle that had become my legs, I was pretty much lost. I hated my new body. But my experience in Fawkner Park kept me going and kept me believing that everything was going to be okay.

Once I found yoga I learnt the real meaning of energy and happiness, and how they work together. I knew that yoga would become my life after my first class. It gave me a sense of belonging and made me feel alive again.

After a 'life changing' event happens, I believe there are two ways it can go. You can give in to it, and let it define you. Or you can use it, and move forward.

I never wanted to be defined as someone who 'got burnt'. And although it was tough, I have moved forward and and the accident is just an afterthought.

I will always remember and almost be thankful for my time in hospital and what it taught me, but to move forward in such a strong manner has definitely been the proudest moment in my life.

With time and hindsight, what did not manage to kill me has actually made me stronger. My journey is ongoing, but I have definitely made a start and will continue to move forward.


Sammy Veall is an ambassador for the I Am Fearless campaign.