South African man Martin Pistorius lived trapped inside his own body for nearly a decade.
When Pistorius was 12 years old, he came home sick from school one day with a neuro-degenerative disease, according to an NBC News story on the website Little Things. Pistorius stopped communicating and fell into a coma.
Doctors assumed Pistorius was unaware of the world around him, but they were wrong. He could see and hear everything, he simply couldn't control his body or communicate.
In one heartbreaking instance, Pistorius' mother was at his bedside and in a moment of despair, she said, "I hope you die." She assumed he couldn't hear or understand her but, in reality, he could.
Pistorius was also subjected to verbal, physical, and sexual abuse from caregivers.
"There was never a care holder that I was in where there wasn't some degree of abuse," says Pistorius. He communicates now by typing into a computer that speaks his words.
But most of his caregivers were good people, like the therapist who noticed a glimmer in his eye. Tests later revealed that he was aware and could communicate.
At that point, hospital staff began to train his mind and body to recuperate. According to Pistorius, after much "blood, sweat, and tears," he slowly got better.
He has since graduated college, learned to drive, and even fallen in love and gotten married.
After Little Things posted Pistorius' story to their Facebook page, there was a public outpouring of support for Pistorius.
"So glad his heart and head always understood what those around him couldn't," one poster wrote. "Peace to him and his family."
"Heartbreaking circumstance that turned into a lovely story!!!" another added.
Pistorius' message to the world is simple: "Treat everyone with kindness, respect, dignity, whether or not you think they understand or not. And to never underestimate the power of the mind."
Pistorius' book "Ghost Boy" is available and is currently on The New York Times Bestseller list.