South African Martin Pistorius was trapped inside his own body for almost a decade.
When Pistorius was 12 years old, he fell into a coma after coming home sick from school one day. He had a neuro-degenerative disease, reports Little Things.
Medical experts assumed Pistorius was unaware of the world around him, but they were mistaken, notes NBC News. Although Pistorius could not communicate or control his body, he could see and hear everything.
On one painful occasion, Pistorius' mother was at his bedside and in a moment of hopelessness, she said, "I hope you die." She assumed he couldn't hear or understand her but, in reality, Pistorius was completely aware, he told NBC News.
He was also reportedly 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 now talks by typing into a computer that speaks his words.
He says most of his caregivers were decent people, like the therapist who noticed a twinkle in his eye. Tests later showed that he was cognizant and could communicate.
At that point, hospital staff began to train his mind and body to recover. Pistorius says 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 its Facebook page, there was a public torrent 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" has been on The New York Times Bestseller list.