The Masks

Arizona

In partnership with

Name: Gabriel A.                        

City: Phoenix, AZ

Brain Injury: Strokes, Periventicular Leukomalacia (PVL) I caught an infection in the hospital after I was born. I was on life support For three months, suffered two strokes, lack of oxygen, brain bleeds, and many more complications from RSV- Respiratory Syncytial Virus.

Explanation of mask: Most of my injury is on the right side of my brain. I was never expected to walk, talk, or fee myself. With help from my family, friends, specialists, and countless hours of therapy, I can do all of the above. Today I am nine years old and live with Cerebral Palsy and epilepsy. I have cognitive delays, but, none of that stops me. I love to sing and perform for people. I focus on the POSITIVES, not the things I can’t do.

.

Name: Kayla R.                        

City: Phoenix, AZ

Brain Injury: A.B.I MEDJULLO BRAIN TUMOR/STAGE 4 CANCER Out o the blue at age 12 I was depressed, frail, throwing up, not eating, pale, losing my balance and rapidly losing weight.

Explanation of mask: I want people to know that it is not easy going thru a brain injury. It might not be visible as opposed to being physically apparent. Just because it is INVISIBLE does not mean we do not suffer.  It pretty much STINKS unless someone is willing to take the time TO LISTEN AND NOT JUDGE.  I used pink for my grandmother, orange for my grandfather, and  yellow for my boyfriend who has Spina-Bifida.

.

Name: Marcus S.                       

City: Phoenix, AZ

Brain Injury: TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY (TBI) I was skateboarding on the street when I was hit by a truck.

Explanation of mask: Grey symbolizes the life I have always had. The three gold dots symbolize my appreciation for the stars, clouds, and sun and they are placed where my SCARS on my face from the accident are.

.

Name: Brad K.                      

City: Phoenix, AZ

Brain Injury: TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY (TBI) I woke up in the hospital with an IV in my arm.  I had been in a motorcycle accident, but I have absolutely NO MEMORY of it. I had a concussion and damage to my hand.

Explanation of mask: The line on my forehead is the scar from my accident.

.

 DISABILITIES ARE JUST ABILITIES IN DISGUISE!

DISABILITIES ARE JUST ABILITIES IN DISGUISE!

Name: William M.                     

City: Phoenix, AZ

Brain Injury: When I was born my skull was broken by my mom’s pelvic bone and I as born with HYDROCEPHALUS (excess fluid around the brain).

Explanation of mask: I want people to know that brain injuries are just a wall that CAN be climbed & overcome.

 

.

Name: Rick A.                     

City: Sun City West, AZ

Brain Injury: HEMORRHAGIC STROKE I went to get ready for work and collapsed on the floor. After I did not show for work for two days, someone came to check on me and found me on the floor.

Explanation of mask: GREEN is CONFUSION YELLOW is FRUSTRATION RED is DETERMINATION BLUE is ACCEPTANCE

.

Name: Jordan C.                    

City: Phoenix, AZ

Brain Injury: Asperger’s Syndrome

Explanation of mask: In my childhood I felt like I was alone in the world.  I only had one friend my age. My mother and I fought all the time.  I was going through an extremely rough patch in my life.  It wasn’t until I was 16 that I realized I wasn’t alone.  By the time I was 17, I had worked through a few of my issues and was ready to assimilate myself somewhat back into society.  However, it wasn’t to be as easy as going home. I was put into a group home and had problems almost immediately.  However, after working through those as well I was ready for new placement. I’ve been doing fairly well ever since. My mother & I have been mending our relationship. I have however, lost touch with my friend. Even though I’ve lost touch with one friend, I’ve gained more friends in the process.

.

Name: Amy B.                   

City: Phoenix, AZ

Brain Injury: NEUROCYTOMA and MENINGIOMA

Explanation of mask: I get severe headaches, have memory loss, and a result of my illness I lost my job where I had worked for 9 years. I have had 5 surgeries and this has all been devastating and my life has taken a detour.  But, I feel blessed because God has brought me through it.

.

Name: Erik M.                    

City: Phoenix, AZ

Brain Injury: TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY (TBI), POINT 3 INJURY My friend and I were driving home from a party, I was in the passenger seat and a semi-truck driver struck our vehicle, hitting the passenger side where I was.  The driver of the semi was drunk.

Explanation of mask: The green symbolizes my CRASH. The blue symbolizes my PAIN at the moment. The white symbolizes the COMA I was in for 12 months. The gray symbolizes my RECOVERY. The light blue symbolizes the LIGHT OF MY LIFE. The stickers symbolize GETTING BETTER!

.

Name: Leah M.                   

City: Tucson, AZ

Brain Injury: TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY (TBI) I was on the back of my boyfriends motorcycle, wishing I could drive. When I looked up there was an 18 wheeler coming towards us. It hit us from the side. The semi killed my boyfriend.

Explanation of mask: The purple represents my favorite color. The color on my lips & eyebrows represents going out on the town on the weekends.

.

 Never Give Up

Never Give Up

Name: Jessie R.                  

City: Phoenix, AZ

Brain Injury: TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY (TBI) Bicycle accident when I was 10 years old and at 19 while working in construction.

Explanation of mask: I WAS A HARD WORKER IN LIFE WHEN I WORKED IN CONSTRUCTION AND HAD TBI. I WAS STRONG AND I NEVER GAVE UP. NEVER, EVER GIVE UP!

.

Name: Jordan B.                 

City: Phoenix, AZ

Brain Injury: I was riding an ATV and hit a tree going about 50 mph. I wasn’t wearing a helmet resulting in damage to the front right side of my brain. It was bad enough that it was necessary for the doctors to remove it as well as put metal on that entire side of my head.

Explanation of mask: The silver represents the metal in my face. The part that is cut out represents the missing part of my brain.

.

Name: Alexander T.                

City: Mesa, AZ

Brain Injury: POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD)

Explanation of mask: My mask is about losing someone whom I loved very much. The colors represent my feelings:  ANGER, SADNESS, DISAPPOINTMENT, ANXIETY, FRUSTRATION, HURT, PAIN, AFRAID, LOVE and BRAVERY. My mask represents a WARRIOR. I am a brave person who survived a very tragic loss.

.

 HOPE

HOPE

Name: Susan N.               

City: Flagstaff, AZ

Brain Injury: WIFE/CAREGIVER OF BILL NEWLIN TBI SURVIVOR My husband fell while ice skating and had 5 hospital stays in 2 months.They drilled holes in his head to relieve blood and he later needed a craniotomy.  One year later he was hospitalized with trigeminal neurology. Bill has constant daily headaches and anxiety.

Explanation of mask: Life dealing with TBI is a stormy sea sometimes, but with the light from the sun breaking thru there is HOPE. I am grateful that it is not worse. Bill lives with daily pain and what he describes as a “crazy spinning feeling.” It is sadly overwhelming sometimes.

.

 1or2

1or2

Name: Bill N.              

City: Flagstaff, AZ

Brain Injury: TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY (TBI) I was ice skating and fell on my chin.  I have no of the day until a week later. I was in the I.C.U. 5 times for burr holes and finally a craniotomy.  I also have a tear on I also have trigeminal neuralgia which feels like lightning bolts shooting throughout my head.

Explanation of mask: My mask shows the drill holes from the craniotomy.  When I closed my eyes I would see orange dots. The “1 or 2” represents figuring out problems which were easy before. The whirl-wind is the crazy spinning feeling that NEVER goes away. The lightning bolts represent the PAIN in my head and face. The carotid artery shows the tear that has not healed.

.

Name: CJ             

City: Florence, AZ

Brain Injury: SHAKEN BABY SYNDROME AT 3 MONTHS OLD CAUSED A TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY(TBI)

Explanation of mask: At three-months of age CJ was shaken violently by his caregiver, causing a traumatic injury to his brain.  His abuser was held responsible for his actions and served jail time.  Since then, CJ and his family began the lifelong journey of navigating a pediatric brain injury. CJ is QUICK TO ANGER and sometimes can not control his emotions.

.

Name: Destiny             

City: Florence, AZ

Brain Injury: CAREGIVER TO HER 4 SIBLINGS. POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD) from abuse as a child by her stepfather

Explanation of mask: I witnessed my brother CJ being abused when he was 3 months old when Shaken Baby Syndrome led to a pediatric Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). I work had everyday to help my mother with my 4 siblings. My mask represents how my brother feels as a TBI survivor. The black represents my DEPRESSION from witnessing the horrific abuse done to CJ and also from the abuse and assault I have gone through personally.

.

Name: Rexanne H.            

City: Mesa, AZ

Brain Injury: CAREGIVER/MOTHER to Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Survivor

Explanation of mask: Each spot represents a feeling of what I experience as a CAREGIVER to my son who experienced his TBI at the age of 30 years old. The feeling of HOPELESSNESS, UP’S and DOWNS, ANGER and GUILT, but then HAPPINESS, LOVE, AND EMPOWERMENT of wanting to help my son succeed! While the color green represents the forever TBI that taught me how to LIVE AND GROW with my son Jeramy.

Name: Jeramy H.            

City: Mesa, AZ

Brain Injury: TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY (TBI) TBI resulting from an institution riot

Explanation of mask: The green side represents my TBI and how everything is questionable. I am learning about myself all over again.The orange side represents the place the injury took place and showing I will always be a prisoner of my own mind. The number represents my AZ prison number. The red and black represents the love and pain of life and how the struggle will never end. The bat symbol and the 100% tells all that I am sure of, everything that happened and that I will strive for 100% excellence.

 CRACKED

CRACKED

Name: Elana D.           

City: Phoenix, AZ

Brain Injury: CAREGIVER My wife had a work-related TBI when a 170-pound keg of beer fell on her head as she was working as a brewer.

Explanation of mask: This is the mask I wear as a CAREGIVER. I’m constantly trying to hold it all together, but I too have been INJURED and CRACKED in their journey. My wife’s journey has brought some of the darkest thoughts and feelings, but also moments of profound triumphs, growth,and light.

 SMILE

SMILE

Name: Haylee R.           

City: Florence, AZ

Brain Injury: My brother CJ, sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) at 3 months old, as a result of SHAKEN BABY SYNDROME.

Explanation of mask: My brother can be mean as a result of his TBI. He gets very angry and has emotional outbursts. But I did not want the mask to be sad, as it is a very sad thing that happened to my brother. Instead, did the opposite with my mask and made it HAPPY. CJ’s favorite colors are pink, red, and blue. These colors make him happy so I used those to make him SMILE.

 Gemini Sign

Gemini Sign

Name: Jim L.           

City: Phoenix, AZ

Brain Injury: January 27th, 2006 while walking out of a sports bar to get some air, I was struck below the left temple with a 9mm bullet. The bullet is still inside my head where it is causing tremendous pain.  The shockwave from the bullet damaged my optic nerve and caused me to go blind in my left eye. The nerve damage caused, left me paralyzed on the left side of my face.

Explanation of mask:  My mask is figurative and literal expression of my injury. The inverse profile is of the Gemini Twins. I am a Gemini and this represents the two sides since the TBI.  The two colors and their intensity relate to my feelings and how they have changed (intensified) since my TBI. I show the bullet hole in the location of where it actually struck my face. I have used glow-in-the-dark paint to represent where the bullet fragments are located in my face/head. This is also where all of the pain that I endure is located.  At the top of the forehead of the mask in glow-in-the-dark paint is the Gemini Sign.

Name: Ron L.          

City: Phoenix, AZ

Brain Injury: TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY (TBI) and CONCUSSION I have had many injuries to my head over the years, the first one when I was 4 years old. My 6th injury was when I was riding a ATV 9 years ago, without wearing a helmet, and fell off an embankment about 20 feet and slammed my head into a giant boulder.

Explanation of mask:  The mask is simple but represents what my brain feels like sometimes now. Sometimes when I wake and get out of bed it seems like I’m heading into a dust storm on a road and can’t turn around, so I just keep going. The rest of the day I am stumbling around because even though I can see, it all seems fuzzy and blurry in my head, like walking around in a dust storm. MY BRAIN GETS CONFUSED and this gets me very FRUSTRATED and SOMETIMES ANGRY with things and people. I often seem to end up alone where things seem quieter and less complicated. But with daily progress I am thankful that my “FUZZY DAYS” don’t happen very often so I can enjoy life, be productive and have fun.

 US

US

Name: Tona & Mateo          

City: Phoenix, AZ

Brain Injury: TONA AND MATEO are Hunkpapa Lakota Tribal members of the Standing Rock Lakota Nation from Ft. Yates, North Dakota.  They have lived in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community near Scottsdale, Arizona for 17 years.  Mateo sustained a TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY (TBI) at 5 months old, caused by SHAKEN BABY SYNDROME.  They decided to participate in the Unmasking Brain Injury Project to explain how cultural teachings and practices have created the support needed to manage a life with TBI.

Explanation of mask: 

TONA’S EXPLAINATION OF HER MASK AS A CAREGIVER.  Turquoise is her favorite color and stone.  Her mask has the other half of the heart shape to represent her love for Mateo.  The HEART SHAPE is surrounded by buffalo tracks to represent the protection provided to buffalo calves by their mothers.  Tona has mastered the skill of utilizing her INNER WARRIOR STRENGTH (which every parent of a child with a disability has, but may not realize) to effectively advocate for Mateo as she is teaching him this skill to use for himself now that he is an adult.  There have been several unfortunate incidents experienced by Tona and Mateo when “professionals” (school and medical) demonstrated disrespectful and sometimes unethical behavior.  There were separate IEP meetings where a Principal and an elementary teacher both lost their temper and yelled at Tona and Mateo.  Tona and Mateo never yelled back because they understand that their actions represent their ancestors.  From these experiences, Tona taught Mateo that adults behaving badly was a lesson for him to learn how not to act.

Tona’s mask has a BRAID OF SWEETGRASS on the side because she has witnessed the POWER OF PRAYER AND CEREMONY in the remarkable progress that Mateo has made with living each day has a TBI survivor.  Tona also frequently smudged Mateo for his own protection and well-being before he went to school each day (especially during 7th grade) and when he came home from school as well.

The half of the LAKOTA STAR DESIGN on Tona’s mask represents the same acknowledgement as the one on Mateo’s mask.  There is a SCAR AND A TEAR to represent the healed physical/emotional wounds and GRIEF/LOSS both Tona and Mateo have experienced as a result of TBI, respectively.  Even though they occurred in the past, they are still part of the journey, and it was during those dark times that the most significant GROWTH AND STRENGTH WAS DISCOVERED.

In Lakota, the word “WAWOKIYA” means “TO GIVE FREELY” and help others with out expecting anything in return.  This is the example Tona sets for Mateo with the hope that he too will continue to live his life demonstrating this fundamental teaching.  The 5 TIPS on Tona’s mask represent the work that she currently does, providing Special Education Advocacy services to Native families and students. The BEADS around the edge of the combined masks represent the COLLECTIVE POWER AND IMPORTANCE of each moment in life and are a reminder that they are a gift from Creator, NOT TO BE TAKEN FOR GRANTED.

 

MATEO’S EXPLAINATION OF HIS MASK AS A TBI SURVIVOR.  Mateo graduated from Westwood Hogh School in Mesa, Arizona in May 2015 with 10 years of perfect Attendance and on the Principal’s Honor Roll.  The colors of his high school were blue and orange, which he used as the main colors of his mask.  Mateo chose to use a HEART shape to connect the two masks to represent the BOND between caregivers and survivors, because both lives are greatly affected bu his TBI.  Within the heart are the colors of the 4 directions of the MEDICINE WHEEL and each one has a meaning and specific teachings about HOW TO LIVE LIFE in emotional, spiritual, social, and physical balance.  These cultural teachings have provided guidance to Mateo throughout his life and are a strength when new challenges emerge.

Mateo was in Special Education classes during elementary school.  About one month into 7th grade he told his mother that he did not like his classes and that the teacher left them alone and he said it felt like “someone put him in a crib ad forgot about me.” This was not the educational experience his mother wanted for him so they fought the system and he was able to attend regular classes with his non-disabled peers. Mateo’s mother told him that it would not be easy and he would have to put in extra time and effort to bridge the gap between the Special Ed classes and the regular curriculum. His hard work paid off and he was always on the Honor Roll.

Mateo chose to include a BUFFALO on his mask because animals provide valuable teachings.  The buffalo faces snow storms on the plains and walks into and through them, which gets it through the storm faster than if it stayed in place.  Mateo has used this teaching in his own life many times when learning new skills, facing racism, discrimination & bullying, and it has helped him remain focused on his goals.

The CAT PAW PRINTS represent his two fur children, they provide entertainment and are emotional support cats.

The WAVES represent the powerful element of water-water is life and nothing stops it because it always finds a way around, under, over or through any obstacle to reach its destination.  Mateo went though many years of occupational and speech therapy and NEVER GAVE UP!

Mateo is now 22 years old and a full time college student majoring in Graphic Design & Theater at Scottsdale Community College.  Mateo has become an ADVOCATE for Native youth, using his voice to help others, and is a member of the Arizona Youth Leadership Forum and has participated as a delegate, staff member and executive board member.  He is the only Native youth to be invited to Partners in Leadership disability advocacy training program.

He has the LAKOTA STAR to represent his connection to his ancestors.  He was taught that he comes from generations of STRENGTH and to live his life in a way that makes his ancestors proud and honors the sacrifices they made during their lifetime, with his generation in mind.

 New Me

New Me

Name: Tommy L.          

City: Queen Creek, AZ

Brain Injury: TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY (TBI) I was in a car accident on the freeway going 70-75 miles per hour and  was T-boned on the drivers side.

Explanation of mask: My brain is “BLUE” of CONFUSION that has created many different feeling and emotions that I am not familiar with such as being SCARED IN PUBLIC, ANXIETY, or times when I CAN’T GET OUT OF THE CAR.  The confusion brings your brain to create LIES and ANGER that you need to overcome. With appreciation for those that have tried to understand with kind words and actions as this brought HOPE and POSITIVITY that I remember once having and bringing so  many smiles to others from the hugs they are giving me.  Through this “growth” from the darkness has emerged a “NEW ME” that I am now trying to know and share with you so that you can BE AWARE AND ALIVE! Much love to you all, Tommy.

Name: Chris S.         

City: Phoenix, AZ

Brain Injury: Stroke

Explanation of mask: THE OLD…I COACHED, I TAUGHT, I LOVED. NOW…I AM CONFUSED. I HURT. I TOOK SOMEONE FOR GRANTED.

Name: Vera G.         

City: Prescott, AZ

Brain Injury: CONCUSSION/WHIPLASH I fell off the chair in the computer lab and hit my head on the metal chair and desk

Explanation of mask: I hope that I can get back to NORMAL. I am CONFUSED.  I AM WORRIED. I AM CONFLICTED ABOUT WHAT TO DO, or WHERE I want to live. I am concerned about my two children and five grandchildren.

 OLD LAURA

OLD LAURA

Name: Laura L.        

City: Mesa, AZ

Brain Injury: ANOXIC TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY (TBI) SEVERE TBI from an automobile accident.

Explanation of mask: 17+ YEARS UNINJURY   VS.  17+ YEARS WITH INJURY My mask illustrates the difference in my personality from before and after my accident.  BEFORE, I WAS AMBITIOUS AND SERIOUS. NOW I AM GOOFY, AND GENERALLY CONTENT. KEEPING HER SMILE ALWAYS, NEW LAURA RETAINS SOME OF THE OLD LAURA.

Name: Ryan B.       

City: Casa Grande, AZ

Brain Injury: TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY (TBI) from falling off a roof.

Explanation of mask: IT HURT! But, it will feel better once “I GET THIS THING PUT BACK IN (Bone Flap)!”

 We Can Be Seen

We Can Be Seen

Name: Erin D.      

City: Phoenix, AZ

Brain Injury: MILD TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY (TBI). While I was working as a beer brewer, a full keg weighing in at 170 pounds was dropped on the back of my head.

Explanation of mask: This work is a before and after depiction of my TBI and journey. I was a joyful optimist without any worries or cares. Once that keg was dropped on my head, I became angry and incredibly resentful of the people who caused me this pain.  I was confused about my brain injury and why I’m not fixed yet. The chronic pain and dizziness might not go away, but with therapy and care the resentment can almost go away and resilience takes over. Please understand that the invisibility of brain injury has made me vulnerable, but with EDUCATION and SUPPORT  WE CAN BE SEEN!!!

Name: Joshua L.     

City: Flagstaff, AZ

Brain Injury: MULTIPLE CONCUSSIONS FROM SKATEBOARDING 30+ YEARS

Explanation of mask: The mask represents my multiple concussions. The red pipe cleaners are in the exact locations where I have shed blood from falls and hits to the head. The back hand covering my face symbolizes “BLACKING OUT” and what one does when they hit their head; rub their head. The mask also symbolizes the FRUSTRATION that this has happened multiple times. I have been skating since I was five years-old and I have had too many concussions to count. I have lost years of my life to MEMORY LOSS, but I accept the risks of skateboarding because I love it.

 Phoenix Rising From the Ashes

Phoenix Rising From the Ashes

Name: James B.    

City: Phoenix, AZ

Brain Injury: Severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): I sustained my TBI on October 2012, the same month that I returned home from serving four years in the United States Navy. I was thrown from my motorcycle 35’ into a dirt field, landing on my head sustaining a severe TBI. I was on life-support for a week, followed by a month long coma.

Explanation of mask:  My TBI is the ashes in which the Phoenix that is on fire for the Lord and intends to make a significant impact within the Brain Injury Community was born. It is only because of God’s Love and grace, he allowed me to survive and excel in my recovery. He used my TBI to restore my relationship with Him and become the person he intended me to be.  Through many years of rehab addressing my many deficits, I developed the skills needed to return to school where I thrived. I was accepted to GCU (Grand Canyon University) and will be graduating in December 2018. Although having to learn life’s new “norm” has been a long road of challenges, I would still choose this norm over my pre-accident norm.  My TBI doesn’t define me, but instead I define the presence and role my TBI has within my life.

Name: Daryl J.   

City: Ahwatukee, AZ

Brain Injury: Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): Two guys followed me out of a bar and hit me several times with a baseball bat in the back of the head until I passed out. I woke up in the E.R. and was in the hospital for 6 months.

Explanation of mask: The mask shows where I was hit by the hands pointing to the back of the head. The tears represent the total SADNESS about how my life changed.

 Only Think About the Positives In Life!

Only Think About the Positives In Life!

Name: Chad A.    

City: Gilbert, AZ

Brain Injury: Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Explanation of mask: “Only Think About the Positives In Life!” Don’t let the disabilities hold you down. Although I am pretty much slow with everything, including speech and actions, I am still good with numbers and accounting! The numbers on my mask represent the POSITIVES and good.

 Disconnected Brain

Disconnected Brain

Name: Buck C.   

City: Surprise, AZ

Brain Injury: Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)- Multiple exposure to counter explosives while in the US ARMY 00-11.

Explanation of mask: My mask represents the disconnected brain. The loss of high functions (they are “turned off”). Distorted sense (sight and hearing).

 Internal & External

Internal & External

Name: Paul J.     

City: Phoenix, AZ

Brain Injury: Car Accident- A night out with my girlfriend and a few friends turned into a two-day coma, seizure, and blood clot in my left cerebral cortex. My girlfriend was the driver and poorly timed a left turn at a intersection when we were struck my an oncoming car which caused my head to strike the interior with the right side of my head, causing my brain to slam against the inside of my skull.

Explanation of mask: The white arrows represent the consequences of the injury to my brain, both internal and external. The arrows depict the conflicting emotions and actions which have resulted, separated by the red line to depict the division. The red line represents the distinction between the internal effects of the injury to my brain, and its external effects. The black arrows represent the external effects and the various ways in which my internal brain injuries manifest themselves in my external daily life. The hopes and dreams of my youth have become the challenges of my adult life.

 Faith

Faith

Name: Pamela P.   

City: Prescott, AZ

Brain Injury: Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)- I had two concussions as a teenager from car accident. I also had a concussion from hitting a tree in my 40’s. My TBI was from a horrible car accident when I was 49.

Explanation of mask: The black area is where the damage occurred (frontal lobe and left parietal lobe). It also represents the many dark time I’ve faced through my recovery. The cross represents my faith which I leaned on during the past 3 ½ years. The daisy represents the happy times I’ve managed to have.

 Bolt

Bolt

Name: Kirk T.   

City: Sun Lakes, AZ

Brain Injury: Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)- fell 15′ onto my head while snow skiing.

Explanation of mask: Life completely changed after TBI- lighting bolt represents a split in my life. But I wouldn’t have married my wife if I had not had TBI. Green heart represents how I am back in life again, married 1 year, living in Sun Lake- retirement community.

 Ups & Downs

Ups & Downs

Name: John B.    

City: Mesa, AZ

Brain Injury: Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)- night out with some friends. Had a few drinks and decided to drive my bike home. While driving I got flagged down by the police. Instead of pulling over I gassed it and lost complete control. I ended up crashing into a tree and boom blacked out!

Explanation of mask: My mask represents me. The left side is black with a cop car to represent my accident while the right side of the mask is yellow to show my recovery and my long hair flow before the injury. The tree represents growth over the years while also representing the cause of my injury. There are ups and downs, but I’ve learned to stay anchored through it all!

 Strong

Strong

Name: Cazoshay W.  

City: Peoria, AZ

Brain Injury: Concussion & Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)- I was struck by a car traveling 48mph while in a pedestrian crosswalk. I was thrown 15’ up and 100’ forward. I sustained multiple injuries, some of which I am still recovering from, including a sever concussion and TBI.

Explanation of mask: My mask depicts my life before and after the accident. Before the accident I lived an active, vibrant life as a yoga and wellness professional. The butterflies represent that I felt free and full of possibilities. Since the accident, which caused nerve damage, concussion and TBI among other injuries. I feel like I live in darkness, robbed of my former life. The words on the right side of the mask express my experience after the accident. The three overlapping parts (the cross, the word ‘strong’ and my smile) represents what has stayed consistent both before and after the injuries. My faith, strength and positive outlook have helped me cope with living with a traumatic brain injury.

 Not Letting PTSD Defeat Me

Not Letting PTSD Defeat Me

Name: Amy L.

City: Flagstaff, AZ

Brain Injury: I have post-traumatic stress disorder from childhood abuse and sexual trauma that occurred while I was in the military. I have symptoms including hyper-vigilance, flashbacks, anxiety, and depression. 

Explanation of mask: The words represent all the negativity associated with living with PTSD. The rainbow colors represent hope and not letting PTSD defeat me.

 Miracle After Miracle

Miracle After Miracle

Name: Leah B. 

City: Flagstaff, AZ

Brain Injury: On January 19, 2008 I was in a near-fatal motor vehicle accident. We rolled eight times and I was life flighted to St. Joes. I had multiple skull fractures and ended up with 45 staples in my head. I also had traumatic brachial plexus injuries (BPIs), which is an injury to the nerves in the neck and shoulder. 

Explanation of mask: Before my accident things were in order and controlled. Then, after darkness. Thru the darkness the light came back slowly. Even though my life is different and difficult, I feel that is when my life began. My healing story is full of miracle after miracle. My faith in God has brought me through and all the doctors and therapists he put in my path. The continued love of and support of my family and friends makes me grateful every day. Even through things are fuzzy, painful, and confusing, I continue to choose joy because I am alive and loved. Thank you. 

 Bright Future

Bright Future

Name: Tim P. 

City: Flagstaff, AZ

Brain Injury: Caregiver

Explanation of mask: We use to travel to Mexico before my wife had her TBI. On the right our future is unknown, but it will be beautiful once we figure it out.

 The Mask I Wear

The Mask I Wear

Name: Margarita 

City: Flagstaff, AZ

Brain Injury:  I rolled my car off a hill four times. I hit my head in the process and received a TBI. Additionally, genetic testing revealed I have a progressive neurological disorder, Ataxia.

Explanation of mask: I am no longer the person I was. I am broken. I am stuck between the person I was, who I am now, and who I will be when my disease progresses. I fear for my future and for those around me who love and care for me. What will happen when I am no longer able to be a professional, wife, or mother? But, every day I put on a mask and keep going. I will keep doing this for as long as I can. 

 Self Portrait

Self Portrait

Name: Sean K. 

City: Flagstaff, AZ

Brain Injury:  I have had several concussions from multiple activities, including car accidents, cycling, basketball, racquetball, football, and softball. I have never had a brain scan to understand the damage.

Explanation of mask: I could only think of the realities of all that has happened so I did a self-portrait. I have items to represent each injury. The red and white flag represents the glove box I dented with my head when I was at the age of two. The band-aid is something I always wanted so that people would have a visible cue to know about my disability. The injuries have made me the person I am today. I am thankful for all of the lessons throughout my life, but I would prefer to have had them without the brain damage.

 Energy

Energy

Name: Susan I.

City: Flagstaff, AZ

Brain Injury:  I most likely had an anoxic brain injury at birth.

Explanation of mask: The forehead represents connection to the source of energy and my 3rd Eye. The right cheek represents waves of energy and the left cheek is the moon, stars, and universality. We are star dust. The chin is the Tree of Life.