Content warning – this post discusses suicidal feelings.
Elaraby shared his story on Instagram as a way to encourage others suffering from depression to seek help.
“Blindness isn’t only loss in your eyesight, your heart can be blinded too,” wrote Elaraby, who swam the anchor leg on the 200 free relay team that took home the Cardinal’s first-ever NCAA relay title last year.
“I lost vision in my heart that night. I couldn’t see through all that darkness and loss of hope anymore. But I am here telling my story because part of my heart regained vision while the rest of it was unfortunately beating its last beats that night. If you are reading this and suffering in silence, I see you and I hear you. Please reach out for help because we love you!”
Less than two weeks before the NCAA Championships in March – where Elaraby scratched from the 50 free as the eighth seed as well as the reigning champion 200 free relay team – Louisville’s top sprinter and relay anchor fell into a coma after being rushed to the hospital. Luckily, he made a life-saving call before slipping out of consciousness.
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“On March 12th night I lost hope in living anymore, I texted my roommates I love them and decided to go to sleep forever,” Elaraby wrote.
“An hour later when I finally started feeling it happen a small part of me finally woke up and reminded me of the people I love and love me and if tomorrow started without me and I wasn’t there to see their eyes will be filled with tears for me and I immediately panicked but it was too late because I had already started losing the feelings and control in my hands and legs, my vision was already blurry, I had started hallucinating, and as soon as I stood up I collapsed on the ground. I picked up the phone and called my best friend and trainer who rushed back to the room but I thought it was too late already. Last thing I saw or heard was him calling 911 and describing my condition and that was the most helpless I ever felt being trapped in my body listening and seeing anything but not being able to move or say a single word and soon after that I stopped breathing.
“Two days later I woke up from the coma in the hospital with a ventilator in my mouth (after finding out I had stopped breathing and my heart had stopped beating in the ambulance) with my coaches and team of doctors thanking me for calling someone [in] the last minutes of my consciousness,” he added. “I am telling my story because I don’t want you to think you’re alone or you’re not love, I thought the same and I was wrong.”
A native of Cairo, Egypt, El Araby swam for the Egyptian National Team in addition to the Taifikia Club. He earned a bronze medal in the 50 free at the 2018 Junior Olympic Games and was the 2018 Egypt national champion in the 50 fly. Elaraby also captured a silver medal in the 50 fly at the 2018 Mediterranean Games.
At least five college athletes have ended their lives since March. If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or worried about a friend or loved one, help is available.
Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 [TALK] for free, confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you or someone you know needs help, the NAMI HelpLine is another option open from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. ET Monday to Friday at 1-800-950-NAMI  or [email protected]. You can also text HOME to 741741 to reach a volunteer Crisis Counselor or visit crisistextline.org.