He was electrocuted while surfing on the tube and left horrific scars – but that didn’t stop a man from appearing on ‘Swedish Idol’ and becoming a role model for other burn victims.
“It was the hardest time of my life, having to come to terms with all of this,” said Axel Schylstrom – who suffered third-degree burns to 70% of his body, including half of his face – on the British TV show “Shake My Beauty” in an episode airing Sunday.
“It took a while, but in the end I learned to love myself again.”
Schylstrom recalled how he was 19 when he “did something stupid” that changed his life forever.
He climbed on top of a train in Sweden and came into contact with power lines that sent 16,000 volts of electricity through his body, leaving him badly burned and fighting for his life.
“Before the accident I was very confident. I thought I was the coolest guy ever, and I thought I looked amazing – I felt like I owned the world ,” Schylstrom told the show, which features inspiring people who look different from the “norm.”
After the accident, “It was weird being this cool guy, the popular guy with confidence and looks and just over one night everything changed.
“The first month I got burns was just to survive,” he recalls. “But once I realized I was never going to be the same again…it was the hardest blow for me.
“Once I was able to take the bandages off and see my face for the first time, that’s when the journey began. I had to go out for the first time, I had to experience people’s critical gaze on me.
“Especially on the upper body, there’s not a lot of skin that’s not burned, like, that’s it,” Schylstrom said of himself. “It’s basically a big scar.”
He said he felt “like having a shirt that isn’t big enough. It’s like someone pulling your skin.
Schylstrom said he listened to a lot of music while recovering in hospital – and it was what inspired him to play the Swedish version of “American Idol” in 2015, where he sang songs such as “Hang With Me”.
“One time I was so ashamed of myself that I just didn’t want to go out. I just wanted to sit inside and hide, and I didn’t want to see my face in the mirror,” he said.
“And suddenly I’m on stage and millions of people are watching me. And it’s just that if I can do that, I can do anything.
The special competitor came in fourth.
He said these days he is a motivational speaker hoping to inspire others in similar situations not to give up on achieving their dreams.
“These scars make me look like no one else in the world,” said Schylstrom, who has had more than 50 surgeries.
“I don’t hate myself, I forgave myself for what happened.”
Still, “some people think I look weird, some people think I look scary.” he said.
But “beauty for me is to love yourself. I don’t think your appearance really matters. It’s about how you look at yourself. It’s OK to be different. It’s good to love each other, even if you don’t look like everyone else.