Neuro Community Care is proud to introduce our client Julie as we highlight another mask from our Unmasking Brain Injury Project. This is both her own story and the story behind her mask:
“Hard to articulate the complexities of a brain injury with blank spaces in my head, trying to remember how to spell certain words & remember details yet foggy-strange because I’m a writer with mismatched brain waves, words read backwards & where I know how to pronounce the words, what starts @ beginning & end but what’s in-between? Kinda like life.. sometimes jumbled, stumbling with words, can’t’ get them out fast enough before I forget them & they fall to the ground. Days like this- art helps me process through and find meaning in the moment. I began sketching dress designs & ceramics in this & this is my 1st attempt at mask art. Struggle(d) with words & numbers, couldn’t deal with forms & logic, but I could deal with tones & color, lines & spaces & it be fun to change my perspective. My injury happened 2 weeks before my 24th birthday. Stroke Viral Encephalitis. Heart imbalance. Nerve damage. Trouble with eyes, hearing, so many things happened, spiraled out of control, legs & all- led to autoimmune disease (Lyme, some say MS). So chaotic and dark at first, like a snowstorm coming down. While I was @ the top of my game rain, sleep, snow muddled in this earthen vessel. This turmoil attacking me, whole memories from my mind, yes, moments, events, time & conversations as if they never happened. Empty space represents this & gray tone, cliff with levels, snow storm coming down, down, down. Trying to survive & press through moments; hard to mend when doctors shuffling me round like paper & my case still sitting in DC (16 years now). Waiting for change- gain endurance. Hitting rock bottom with bruises blurred in, flashbacks of abuse circulating the air, pressing in, adding weight to it all, smudged my vision, but a jewel is still there…can you see it?
God’s not through with me yet! Doctors thought I’d be a vegetable but I’m still here between the rock & concrete, between the pain & suffering, yes the loss, scattered, set aside, but out of the darkness & depth of it all came light and a new perspective – sitting low in a wheelchair (12.5 years now), I see a different view, eyes widened, (yes bifocals now) but also depth & width adding to my vision, more compassion & wisdom softening the tone. You see now between a rock & hard place, a rose and morning glory vine grew- so winter coming down but spring coming up with something new filling out the scene.
Brain injury, it’s an invisible disease, so don’t judge book by it’s cover. We all have different fingerprints & come out of this a bit differently than others with many colors, forms, shapes & hues. So pause a moment- look a little deeper (within). P.s. – Hope you enjoy what you see!“