Story Update: I still haven’t finished my May story. I have a sinus infection and since my TBI sinus infections give me absolutely horrifying headaches and this one has lasted for over 2 weeks. So I haven’t been writing much. But I plan to. (And since I have a perfect track record when it comes to stories for this blog, you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll keep my word.)
Last month my Mom and I went to a Traumatic Brain Injury support group meeting that had an event where they had you paint on masks to illustrate what it feels like to you to have a brain injury or how brain injury has affected you (if you were a caregiver like my Mom). This has been a successful campaign called Unmasking Brain Injury that the Brain Injury Alliance has created on a global level and been doing for a few years.
When I first came up to hospitals in this area after I was able to be transferred near home (my accident happened when I was driving out of state) we saw some of these masks hanging in the hospitals where I was being treated. Since I knew about the project I had thought a little about what I was going to do. Unfortunately I’m not an artist and had difficulties with the paint brushes so it didn’t quite turn out like I wanted. And I forgot to take a picture of my completed mask.
The picture I have is one I took from the group Facebook page and just zoomed in on my mask and my Mom’s mask (my mask is on the left, my Mom’s is on the right). So since this picture (of the masks) isn’t the best and I’m not that happy with the actual results, I did a little computer mock-up of what I wanted my mask to look like (which truthfully doesn’t look that great either because I’m not a graphic designer).
The idea behind my mask was to draw/paint a typewriter with a blank sheet of paper where the brain would be. This illustrates that I have been inspired to write and have kind of found my voice more since the accident. Then where the ears would be to paint padlocks 🔒 to depict that my hearing is greatly compromised or “locked”. Those were the ideas I had before I got to the support group. Once there I did those ideas but added a few things otherwise the mask was boring. I put music notes 🎶 where the irises would be just to show that while I can’t hear music, the few notes I have heard (read about that here) have caused me to envision hearing music in my future (therefore I can see 🎶). I also added a heart ❤️ in the mouth because after my accident I really feel like I can’t handle speaking or hearing negativity and really only want to speak love. Since my painting of the typewriter was not great I added the words “Write Your Story” around the typewriter to make it clear what I meant. That ended up being a happy accident because I’ve now turned “Write Your Story” into my own personal mantra. My Mom’s mask related to being at our lake cabin when they found out about my accident. So her mask kind of relates to the colors of the sunset (it was evening when they found out) but then also involves black when they didn’t know if I’d survive and grays when they didn’t know a lot about my condition. The experience of making the mask with her was great. I got to see her experience when I think a lot of times my healing process has been so intense that it almost makes me selfish (or at least insular).
Speaking of selfish, let’s go back to my mantra. 😂 Write Your Story is definitely a little underlying current to this blog. While I’m writing fiction short stories that aren’t about me or my experience, if I were to go through each story I could tell you either which character was like me or plot point was similar to something I am familiar with. The writing process is also making me more confident and just have a stronger voice overall as a writer. And since I’m taking this month to concentrate on my memoir where I write about my brain injury, confidence in my voice is key.
The mantra “Write Your Story” is something I will say to myself always. I was saying in my brain injury support group that after the accident the TBI really took away all the insecurities and layers of self doubt that I had built up since adolescence. That self doubt was stopping me from pursuing my dreams of becoming a published author. But now that self doubt is gone so I don’t have any more reasons not to pursue it (hence, pushing myself to write more through this blog).
Also, in that same vein, when my TBI happened I felt like my brain was rebooted like a computer and a blank Word document opened up, ready and waiting for me to write my story.
Unmasking Brain Injury logo and mask taken from: