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Courage- You Are Not Alone

Everyone’s hands are different ─ some are soft, some are large, while others are small, some are damaged, cracked and calloused; some are tough, prosthetic, tanned, disfigured or impaired. Some are accompanied with long painted nails that are manicured regularly, while others are dirt and diesel-covered. Some hands can capture moments by utilizing technology, drawing, coloring, painting, writing, or by playing a sport and even an instrument. Some hands are coordinated, while others might not be. 

Hands have multiple purposes. We use our hands for cooking, fishing, bathing, driving, holding items, people or pets; also for accommodating, serving and assisting. We hold hands to show affection. We use our hands to speak, dance, cheer, to pray and worship. Hands can also literally and figuratively help lift up others.  

This sketch of my opened left hand represents much more than those descriptions. For me, hands signify healing, peacefulness and feeling safe. Christmas was a very difficult time for me, my family members, friends and especially my parents. I was extremely ill, experiencing excruciating pain, discouraged and uneasy. I fainted on a few occasions due to the pain and medicine. I remember my father’s hands wrapped in mine, he and my brother-in-law lifting me off the ground and safely guiding me back to my bed. I also recall through the darkness of my saddened, closed-eyes, my parents gently tapping on my shaking legs. Feeling their soft pats reminded me of their presence while I lay heaving and screaming from the stabbing in my left temple.    

Opening my father’s secret Santa gift of an antique trunk filled with numerous, meaningful items,I discovered this pebble (represented in my chalk sketch below) with the word COURAGE on one side and YOU ARE NOT ALONE on the other. I remember reading each side and clutching onto it ever so tightly because, within that moment, I knew in my mind I was not alone ─ but could now feel this concept in my heart. I continue to pack this pebble everywhere. Even in my journeys I keep it with me because it signifies such a unique connection between my father and me. 

My mother’s hands have always signified nurturing. Whether it was rubbing my back during an asthma attack or my sore legs after basketball and/or track practices, and recently during my Ketamine treatments. In the beginning stage of my infusion, I am able to ask for her hand, which brings a calming awareness of my actual surroundings while her touch helps ground me. However, finding it difficult to speak as the treatment continues, I simply wiggle my fingers and she knows I need her hand. She gives me these light squeezes to remind me I’m NOT ALONE and I am safe. I feel an unbreakable bond during these moments, and my healing journey flashes back to the pebble in the palm of my left hand reading COURAGE-YOU ARE NOT ALONE. 

To read more information from Jenae Zharko and how she climbed out of a dark hole with Ketamine therapy, check out her blog HERE.

Jenae Zaharko is a photographer and patient at Ketamine Wellness Centers. Learn more about her photography at

Courage- You Are Not Alone