The Masks

Ontario

In partnership with

Name: Zoran P.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: n/a

Explanation of mask:  n/a

Name: Tony M.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: Stroke

Explanation of mask:  The mask represents good and bad moods. The right side represents my bad/sad moods, with a teardrop. The left side represents my happy moods.

Name: Yohanna H.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: n/a

Explanation of mask:  My mask is a representation of how I feel about my brain injury. Blue is a calming colour and I feel calmed down about it. My brain injury has also motivated me throughout my life to become a better person.

Name: Tony M.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of mask:  When I see the Italy colours, it makes me feel great!

Name: Tim M. (2)

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: n/a

Explanation of mask:  n/a

Name: Tim M.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: n/a

Explanation of mask:  n/a

Name: Steve P.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: n/a

Explanation of mask:  n/a

Name: Shusan T.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: Cardiac Arrest

Explanation of mask:  My mask represents how I feel, which is a little bit of everything. As a result of my brain injury, I experience different emotions at once, but I look on the positive side of life.

Name: Sherrie

City: Headwaters ABI Group (HABI)

Brain Injury:  I am a caregiver to my daughter Ella who suffered a traumatic brain injury after falling from her competition horse during a riding lesson.

Explanation of mask:  The split in the forehead represents Ella’s injury. As she went through her intense journey at Sick Kids Hospital and Holland Bloorview, I continually called her a star, although it had never been a name I had used before. She shone brightly through this difficult time and was an inspiration. I have felt very protective through the entire experience, which is why I have soft clouds under and supporting the injury. The road and the flight of the bird represent our continuing journey . . . as we have learned that this injury has lasting effects that we will continue to grapple with through life.

Name: Sera

City: Headwaters ABI Group (HABI)

Brain Injury:  Fall in a downhill ski race 24 years ago on January 13, 1994 travelling at speeds of 100-120 km per hour.

Explanation of mask:  This mask displays a therapeutic and visual representation of my accident, and its effects and affects on my life.

I was struck by a “bolt of lightning” as my life was altered in one moment of impact. The green and purple lines show the external scars, yet many of the war wounds are internal. The long-term changes in the beginning and for a subsequent 8 years were virtually unknown. It took many years to piece the puzzle together to make sense of my newly altered life. The theme of the recovery process was; “Comfort zones were made to be BROKEN” and “Courage Encouraged”.

The spiralled eye tells the story of a loss of career and identity and an enormous downward spiral. An out of control fall that lead to a psychotic break and several visits to the psychotic ward.

The cross represents an encounter with God and His way of getting my attention through this brush with death. The many crossroads tell of the confusion in trying to find a new life path and being left in the dust by my peers.

The Lord Jesus brought my husband and daughter into my life as well as many new friends through this daring experience of living the invisible brain injury experience.

A blessing in disguise of sorts.

The sea creatures and smiles represent swimming and thriving in a newly encouraged life; a life of gradual transformation.

Name: Samina R. (2)

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury:  Aneurysm

Explanation of mask:  This mask represents me in public. My eyes are bright and I’m a loving, respectful person, and I don’t ever want to hurt anyone. I don’t want to put anyone down. When we hurt someone with a knife, they just bleed blood, but when you hurt them with words, their soul bleeds.

Name: Samina R.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury:  Aneurysm

Explanation of mask:  This beautiful flower represents my aneurysm. As much as I don’t want it, I accept it. The teams represent the tears that I keep inside. The rest represents me putting myself together as often as I need to. The left side represents the emptiness I feel, which is why I often hide how I feel.

Name: Ron I.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury:  ATV Accident

Explanation of mask:  My world is dark, and I am trapped in fear. Everything is dark in my world.

Name: Premanie P.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of mask:   I want everyone to have a rainbow in their life. A rainbow which symbolizes diversity.

Name: Phoebe

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: My mom & dad have brain injuries but I don’t really know what that means yet. I made this mask as a fun art project to show how much I love Mom & Dad just the way they are. The bells on my ears represent my joy of life & learning. I live my life with a sense of awe & wonder as my parents eagerly show me the world including all the wonderful people, places and things in it.

Explanation of mask:  Mom & Dad were strongly discouraged by their family and friends to bring me into this world. They were told that they would not be able to handle raising me because of their “invisible disabilities” ie. Brain injuries. I think they were brave to decide that they could do it anyway despite the many reservations. It was also a calculated choice as they spent over a year researching safer treatments that would be more compatible with pregnancy. In addition, they sough out several community supports for their future parenting.

I believe their faith in God, the Lord Jesus, has kept us a strong family unit. They daily teach me the principles and disciplines of their faith as we all grow together in love, justice and understanding.

Name: Payal G.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: Brain Tumour

Explanation of mask: The purple side shows that I am frightened. The other side shows that I am proud of my accomplishments.

Name: Nancy L.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: My son David was hit as a pedestrian the week before Mother’s Day!

Explanation of mask: My phone call from his brother; “Mom, David was hit by a car, I think he is dead!” the weekend before Mother’s Day.

Life after initial moment was dark, scary, and extremely hard, but my taking one moment at a time we made our way through and it is now 15 years since!

With ups and downs we are in a much brighter place today. Also a lot of very hard work on both to get here!

Name: Mohamed M.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: n/a

Explanation of mask: My mask represents me being happy, and that I appreciate each day.

Name: Michael O.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: n/a

Explanation of mask: My brain injury makes me sad, in pain, and it’s sometimes electrifying.

Name: Michael C.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: On October 5, 1995 I was on a bicycle not wearing a helmet and a fast moving jeep hit and bounced me out of the intersection. It shot-putted me so hard when the vehicle stopped I was 20 feet ahead.

Explanation of mask: These are a few of the stages in my recovery. A brain injury was a big problem and I was feeling small. When people gave me info it seemed like it was many things but it was only one. I couldn’t filter. My life was going in many ways when it was a straight line. I felt I was the only one in the city with a brain injury. When I understood the tragedies we had and been through in my recovery.

I found God.

Everything in my life has improved a lot and I have a stronger faith and I follow God my heavenly Father.

Name: Melanie L.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: I was in a head on car accident with a transport truck.

Explanation of mask: In the center of my world is my daughter and me…living with a brain injury.

For me living with a brain injury is like having heavy chains of pain and confusion which bind me everyday. It’s like having constant wire crosses and short circuits which leave me frustrated and angry. It’s a feeling of having to watch my emotions and every word that I say so that I don’t offend anyone and make sense when I speak.

It’s a feeling of isolation or being covered in glass. It makes me want to pull away from people and not get too close. People often don’t understand personality changes that come with a brain injury, and communication and relationships can often break down.

In my dreams I feel a leech-like jelly fish are sucking out my personality and the “essence” of what is really me. A replacement bug of emotional instability and impulsive behaviour is constantly trying to slip into my brain and fill the void.

Living with a brain injury is a daily struggle for me, a struggle that most people don’t see.

They don’t see it because I have my mask on.

Name: Marie S.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident – Pedestrian

Explanation of mask: My mask represents happiness. I am happy that I am here. My mask wants to meet another happy person.

Name: Marie S.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of mask: My mask shows how I feel, which is more independent (although I remember that I need help). I needed help making the mask, so I asked partner to help me, which made it fun and easy! This mask represents that I am unsure of things and of my feelings, this happens to me day after day. I need help in everything I can do.

Name: Marek B.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: Brain Aneurysm

Explanation of mask: Red is pain. Black is how I feel (bad mood).

Name: Lydia D.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident – Pedestrian

Explanation of mask: Sadness, because when you have a brain injury, your life changes dramatically. Things are never the same again.

Name: Lorna A.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: Aneurysm

Explanation of mask: n/a

Name: Lesley S.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: Assault

Explanation of mask: Grey shading around the top of the mask represents constant headaches and pain around the eyes (now sporadic). The red on the cheeks – face pain (slightly red skin after impact). Green dot at top of forehead shows the spot of a non-cancerous tumour discovered on the MRI testing. The yellow lightning bolt, the red oval, the purple and grey ‘X’ and the coloured arcs on the forehead represent different sounds I sometimes hear in my head – zaps; elastic band snaps; metal clanging together; fireworks. Tinnitus sounds (constant) I hear are green lines, ringing in the ears/sporadic – yellow dots = clicks/sporadic – turquoise – whirring sounds. The veil represents normal appearance when looking at me – invisible injuries. The tiara – a little “off centre” but still special!

Name: Lesley S.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: Stroke

Explanation of mask: Purple is my favourite colour! My emotions range from rage, which I keep well hidden; to extreme excitement. My mask is my representation of this.

Name: Kyle B.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident

Explanation of mask: I look at life in a positive way. I make the best of a situation.

Name: Kory M.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: n/a

Explanation of mask: n/a

Name: Kevin F.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: I was in a motor vehicle crash 25 years ago.

Explanation of mask: This mask represents my injury. After the accident, I developed aphasia so I have difficulty communicating. The left side of my face is weak and so each side looks different. The green part of my mask represents the “perfect” part of my face and the blue and orange parts of the mask represent my injury. I don’t feel sad or angry due to my injury. I consider myself lucky. I face my injury with resilience and bravery.

Name: Kevin S.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: Stroke

Explanation of mask: A brain injured person’s brain is no different from a normal brain. We all feel love, and can earn money to be independent. The colour green is painted to represent peace.

Name: Kelvin R.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: Ruptured Aneurysm & Stroke

Explanation of mask: The mask signifies split personalities: Red = anger Blue = happy Yellow = mellow Black = depression Black X = speech issues

Name: Katherine S.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: August 2009 while packing to leave for a canoe trip in Killarney, I fell down the stairs, first hitting the back of my head at the top of the stairs and then hitting the front of my head at the bottom. DONE

Explanation of mask: The tree of me… At 46 the tree was very well established. There was love and light, music and motion. There was language and laughter. There was purpose, poise and planning. There was freedom, faith and fearlessness. There was me. Then, in an instant it was all gone. It is very difficult growing back into the tree that was me. Especially with so many pieces missing. Difficult but not impossible. Try, try again – fail.              Try, try harder – fail.                       Try, Try, Try, Try. Then one-day new growth appears.

Name: Judi D.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: Car accident

Explanation of mask: Black represents invisible to so many people Lost for words. Cognitive Can’t explain so others will/can understand Overwhelmed Can’t put into works what I’m going through I see red with anger No voice Want all the pieces of me and my life put back together Victimized My brain can feel scrambled.

Name: Janice M.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: n/a

Explanation of mask: n/a

Name: Janet H.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: Brain Aneurysm July 13, 2014

Explanation of mask: After the accident, I always wore a mask of “Rainbows and Butterflies”, portraying that I’m doing well, but in reality, I’m not. Sometimes I get too much on my plate and I crash. I have to remember to do less. Only one job everyday. Listen to my body!

Name: Idil, A.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: n/a

Explanation of mask: n/a

Name: Gary W.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: Trauma (falls)

Explanation of mask: n/a

Name: Garry C.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of mask:  I feel happy that I survived to live another day.

Name: Frank C.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of mask: n/a

Name: Fay S.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of mask: This mask depicts a positive thinking person who is stronger, but softer. A person that faces challenges and looks for the solution to overcome the challenge. The world is one with many shades, but all share the same colour blood. The sparkle represents being happy with what life has to offer, and that can be seen in the eyes of it all.

Name: Everton G.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: Brain Tumour

Explanation of mask: The left side of my mask represents sadness (blue). The right side of my mask represents what makes me get through having a brain injury, what makes my life brighter and gives it meaning (love & faith).

Name: Ella A.

City: Headwaters ABI Group (HABI)

Brain Injury:  I fell of my (old) horse while schooling him (not in a competition).

Explanation of mask: The top (background) is many colours. The red splotches represent the bleeds that were throughout my brain and the pools of blood that are still around the broken neurons. The other colours are just the confusion that came with my injury. The black around the edges and throughout the mask represent the fear/terror that I felt during the first month after my accident and was in delirium and unaware of reality (seeing things, hearing voices, etc.). The hand print on the forehead represents my brain injury taking my ability to do some things. The horseshoe with the yellow in it and a teardrop represents my love of horses and the loss I’ve had with my injury. The music and heartbeat represent my love of music and how it helps me get through my injury. The “L” stands for Legacy . . . my old horse’s name. I miss him very much. It says “no” on the chin to show the things that I’ve been told I can’t do (high risk of re-injury . . . such as competing in equestrian evening). The yellow shows all the ways I have been lucky.

Name: Elizabeth S.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: Stroke

Explanation of mask: Since my stroke, I am very sad all of the time. I cannot surrender to the change of life. Life was hard to begin with, I cannot take the slings and arrows. I am hopeless for me, not my family. I am tired all the time.

Name: Delores F.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: n/a

Explanation of mask: n/a

Name: David G.

City: Headwaters ABI Group (HABI)

Brain Injury: I was hit by a car as a pedestrian on Airport Road in Mansfield, ON. While visiting my father and to go fishing.

Explanation of mask: My mask is about what I’ve been through since my accident in 2003. It shows and depicts the story of where and how it happened and the journey I have been through since. There have been wonderful people who have become friends that I have been fortunate enough because of this life changing event. These friends along with Headwaters ABI Group, Mind Forward ABI Services, and OBIA have played an important role in helping me to move forward. I’m very happy I replied to God with “Hell no, I’m going back”.

Name: David Mc

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: Anoxia

Explanation of mask: n/a

Name: Chris A.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of mask: I was injured in an accident. The colour red represents blood, green for go, purple for sleep. The cross represents my faith that gets me through each day.

Name: Carol N. (2)

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: 2 Aneurysms and 1 Stroke

Explanation of mask:  I love Christmas and large family gatherings. I love sparkly things, they are shiny and they make me happy! I chose to make a Christmas mask because I found Christmas stickers, and my favourite colour is green.

Name: Carol N.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: 2 Aneurysms and 1 Stroke

Explanation of mask:  I am all about positivity, and my kids are my life. I am a very optimistic person. Green is my favourite colour, and I absolutely love Spiderman so there is a spider web.

Name: Brian P.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: Stroke

Explanation of mask: Since having a brain injury, my feelings are mixed and contrast each other like the red and black.

Name: Ante K.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: Cardiac Arrest

Explanation of mask: Red, white and blue = Croation Flag

Name: Anna B.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: Aneurysm

Explanation of mask:  I am usually happy, bit can get frustrated about my disability and loss of my driver’s license. I try to be involved in our children’s care and future. I would like to be more independent.

Name: Anjula E.

City: Mind Forward Brain Injury Services

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of mask: My moods are consistently bright. I compartmentalize a lot in order to function better. Mask title: Compartmentalization

Name: Peter

City: New Beginnings ABI & Stroke Recovery Association – Chatham, ON

Brain Injury: n/a

Explanation of mask: n/a

Name: Catherine

City: New Beginnings ABI & Stroke Recovery Association – Chatham, ON

Brain Injury:  Brain tumour at 18 months old

Explanation of mask: n/a

Name: Martha

City: New Beginnings ABI & Stroke Recovery Association – Chatham, ON

Brain Injury:   Stroke 2 years ago.

Explanation of mask: n/a

Name: Anonymous

City: New Beginnings ABI & Stroke Recovery Association – Chatham, ON

Brain Injury:   I was 24 years old when I had my stroke while at work. I knew nothing about stroke at the time. It changed my life!

Explanation of mask: n/a

Name: Penny

City: New Beginnings ABI & Stroke Recovery Association – Chatham, ON

Brain Injury:  n/a

Explanation of mask: n/a

Name: Jeremy

City: New Beginnings ABI & Stroke Recovery Association – Chatham, ON

Brain Injury:  Concussions

Explanation of mask: n/a

Name: Janice D.

City: New Beginnings ABI & Stroke Recovery Association – Chatham, ON

Brain Injury:  n/a

Explanation of mask: Out of the dark cocoon of brain injury, I am emerging as a butterfly, discovering strengths I never knew I had and growing into a New Beginnings Butterfly.

Name: Bonnie W.

City: New Beginnings ABI & Stroke Recovery Association – Chatham, ON

Brain Injury:  Brain Bleed and Stroke

Explanation of mask:  I have a positive outlook towards life! My stroke did not bring me down; it made me look to the future. It made me stronger – therapy. It introduced me to many friendly faces – New Beginnings Club. It made me realize that I could handle anything – driving, lawn cutting, sewing, and painting. My mother always told me that if you think you have it rough, there is always someone that has it rougher than you! I have always remembered that.

Name: Anonymous

City: New Beginnings ABI & Stroke Recovery Association – Chatham, ON

Brain Injury:  Stroke

Explanation of mask:  I have a positive outlook towards life! My stroke did not bring me down; it made me look to the future. It made me stronger – therapy. It introduced me to many friendly faces – New Beginnings Club. It made me realize that I could handle anything – driving, lawn cutting, sewing, and painting. My mother always told me that if you think you have it rough, there is always someone that has it rougher than you! I have always remembered that.

Name: Lee-Ann

City: New Beginnings ABI & Stroke Recovery Association – Chatham, ON

Brain Injury:  Stroke survivor

Explanation of mask: The black side of my mask represents darkness. The white side is me. My white side has a heart to show that I have a good heart. I use abstract art to show my creativity. The multiple hearts show the layers I have.

Name: Dwayne

City: New Beginnings ABI & Stroke Recovery Association – Chatham, ON

Brain Injury:  n/a

Explanation of mask: n/a

Name: Shelby

City: New Beginnings ABI & Stroke Recovery Association – Chatham, ON

Brain Injury:  Slip and fall as well as multiple concussions

Explanation of mask: I love doing crafts, I’m positive and creative. I chose bright colours because they remind me of happiness. I put starts on my mask because they help fill the “empty space.” The butterfly represents “differences” and how everyone is unique. This mask allowed me to show others ME!

Name: Krystal

City: Brain Injury Association of Windsor-Essex

Brain Injury: Survivor of a car accident 11 years ago. Injury occurred February 23, 2007.

Explanation of mask: I used oil based pastels to blend my emotions I went through during the first couple of years after my injury. Then used acrylic paint to add texture; to add my Croatian heritage and used coloured ribbon for the TBI ribbon colour. Black describes the depression I went through during the first couple of months after my injury. Blue is the colour of hope. Red is for the anger I went through. Purple for creativity. White represents the scars I got during the accident.

I used words that best describe brain injury in one sentence.

Name: Carla

City: Brain Injury Association of Windsor-Essex

Brain Injury: Car accident

Explanation of mask: The purple area represents that I have trouble trusting. I feel challenged with everyday life. I am constantly thinking about things and I can’t seem to sort things out in my head. I become grouchy and sharp with people when they want to help and I know at one time I could do things, but I have trouble at things now. I can’t shut my brain off so I don’t sleep well, which is frustrating on my part. I procrastinate about doing things that need to be done and I don’t do them.

The green area represents how grateful I am for the help I receive from others and how lucky I am to be alive.

The blue area represents that a part of me can become cold and angry at people who try to help.

The black area represents that I feel sad about the way I feel about myself and others.

The orange area represents that I feel lonely and I can’t let people in and how insecure I feel about myself.

The yellow area shows that when I put my mind to things, I can become creative.

The red on my lips represents how critical I can become and say things to people that I may mean one thing and others take it a different way.

The white area represents how scared I am of the way I think people see me and think of me.

Name: Samantha

City: Brain Injury Association of Windsor-Essex

Brain Injury: Meningitis Encephalitis

Explanation of mask: The colours I have chosen represents me before and after my meningitis. The orange area of my mask represents my feeling different from before “why did this happen to me?” I’m irritated and tired. I am not myself.

The blue area represents just how outgoing I was. I felt wanted, needed and valuable when my friends hung around with me.

The red area represents just how cheated out of life I feel, “why did this happen to me.” My life isn’t going the way I wanted and I feel frustrated and bitter.

The white area with the hearts representing tear drops show how discouraged I felt when my relationship fell apart with my boyfriend and how overwhelmed I felt in this new body.

The green area is a reminder to myself to stay calm and try to accept what has happened. I need to stay strong for myself and show determination towards understanding the new challenges in this new life of mine.

The pink on my lips represents that I can be loved, appreciated and feel “good” about myself.

Name: Alan

City: Brain Injury Association of Windsor-Essex

Brain Injury: Work related injury at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, June 28, 1996. I was a boring mill operating and due to a co-worker’s negligence, a piece flew off of a machine and hit me in the head and caused my brain injury.

Explanation of mask: The colours I used on my mask represents who I am and how I feel after my brain injury. Red means I am angry that this happened to me and also cheated of a life that could have been orange. There are days I feel strong and there are days I feel confused, distracted and exhausted.

Purple represents love in my life and lucky to still have my family support me from day to day. Green represents frustration, grief and pissed and grouchy.

Name: Becky

City: Brain Injury Association of Windsor-Essex

Brain Injury: Chondrosarcoma – skull base (Brain Tumour) in 2001. Then in 2006, I had a stroke.

Explanation of mask: The red area represents how annoyed I became when my life quickly came to a “stop.” I became overwhelmed with the new changes and challenges in my life. I couldn’t speak so I became very quiet and withdrawn from life around me. I became very bitter towards others and myself, “why did this have to happen to me?”

The purple area represents my life before the brain injury. I had a positive outlook on life when I felt safe and able to do almost anything. I was happy all the time and was a fun person to be around.

The blue area represents just how confused and frightened I became of my new life. I worried about what others thought of me and felt different so I became nervous around people. I became helpless in my thoughts, which surprised my family because I wasn’t that type of person before.

The yellow represents how welcomed I now feel in this new life of mine. I have an uplifted and joyful outlook on life. I may not be as graceful as I once was but I am very happy and lucky to be alive.

Name: Tomas

City: Brain Injury Association of Windsor-Essex

Brain Injury: Fall off a roof in 1972. Head injury caused a blood clot in my brain. Was in a coma for about two weeks. Also fractured my neck in C5-C6.

Explanation of mask:  I am easily distracted. The red represents how I am determined and eager to go on. I have problems with forgetting but I have never been low with my accident. The blue represents that I am appreciative of the things in my life and grateful for the things I have. The green represents that I am cheerful, alive and have a sense of humour. Most of the time I am relaxed. The yellow represents that I am kind in the way that I think that other people need help. I try to be pleasant even though sometimes I am not. I love the things that are simple and think of what “God” has crated for us.

Name: Simerjeet

City: Brain Injury Association of Windsor-Essex

Brain Injury: Pedestrian hit by a moving car.

Explanation of mask: The colourful side of the mask depicts the life I had and was trained for (doctor). My brain injury robbed me of that life and left me with a black and white existence. Every day I try to colour the grey areas of my life with discipline, kindness, empathy, compassion, and courage. Everyday life humbles me and strengthens my faith in humanity.

Name: Elisabeth

City: Brain Injury Association of Windsor-Essex

Brain Injury: n/a

Explanation of mask: Prior to my acquired brain injury, I was an active member of society. I was a business owner. I was married and raising four young children. I was an auxiliary police constable. My life was full. I was happy. I never had to look at a price tag before I purchased an item.

Then the accident happened! Grief, anger, despair, recovery and divorce ensured. A decade of trials and tribulations.

NOW

I am humble and grateful for all the lessons I learned during my decade of recovery. I have a new career and passion in life. I have learned to love myself again and love another. I have learned not to look back but live in the moment and look to the future.

Name: Debbie

City: Brain Injury Association of Windsor-Essex

Brain Injury: I was going out with a friend the night I fell. I got out of her car, took a few steps and ended up face first on concrete. I later found out that my feet went into two large divots in the parking lot. That was in August 2012.

Explanation of mask: My mask represents the metamorphosis I have gone through since my brain injury. The smaller butterflies are flying away, that is my old self. The larger butterfly came back and with it brought a much more sensitive and creative self. It took many years to get where I am today. Brain Injury is a complicated journey.

Name: Kathryn

City: Brain Injury Association of Windsor-Essex

Brain Injury: In December of 2001 I was working in the UK and experienced a subarachnoid hemorrhage when an aneurysm burst. I came back home to Canada a few weeks after surgery and was able to slowly return to work. I didn’t realize that I had some cognitive deficits until I changed jobs later on that year and then continued my education a few years after that.

Explanation of mask: I remember being asked to try and pick up mercury in a high school chemistry class. It is impossible because the mercury beads endlessly form and reform. Before my bleed I was used to a mind that worked quickly and productively, creating complex designs with my thoughts. After my bleed, other characteristics of mercury – that my thoughts were difficult to hold and my ability to work with ideas was unpredictable – because a huge source of frustration.

I painted my mask silver and placed the beads to represent mercury and my altered ability to think. From being able to organize my thoughts in patterns and reshape them like kaleidoscope, it was as if beads of mercury were just rolling away on their own and I had no idea if they were coming back. Many of the changes after a brain injury are invisible, so I have made my craniotomy scar visible in white wool and added some broken pieces of Styrofoam. Just beneath my scar is a piece of fabric indicating the bleed. The dark grey fabric is imprinted with silver feathers, and represents “Hope is the Thing With Feathers,” a poem by Emily Dickinson. Gradually, as I learned to work with my changes, more colour and design returned.

Name: Lou

City: Brain Injury Association of Windsor-Essex

Brain Injury: Brain tumour

Explanation of mask: The fracture line down the middle of the mask represents dichotomy of the 2 worlds I now live in. I have the old me who was an A student in University to someone who can’t remember words or put together a coherent sentence when stressed. The new me remembers the old me. This is extremely difficult to reconcile.

The butterfly is in memory of my cousin who died from a butterfly shaped glioblastoma.

The green ribbons represent brain injury awareness.

The grey ribbons represent brain tumours, which can cause brain injury.

The blue spiral represents my journey. The crystal is the mountain I first have to climb and the spiral is the never ending ups and downs of my journey.

The red spiral is the insurmountable feeling of anger towards the tumour in my head and the time it has stolen from my life.

The yellow spiral represents hope. Hope I’ll be fortunate enough to not deal with another tumour and this bump in the road will soon be a distant memory and the future will be promising.

Name: Jeff

City: Brain Injury Association of Windsor-Essex

Brain Injury: I survived a car accident in December 2009 that left me with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and a severe seizure disorder. I have no memory of the accident.

Explanation of mask: The prominent question mark represents my inability to formulate coherent thoughts and sentences. I often struggle to understand the world around me. My information recall and processing deficiencies create barriers affecting my ability to connect with people. I paid the question mark over my eyes and mouth because it is an invisible barrier between myself and others. People tend not to see brain injury as a disability, like one that requires a mobility device; my friends and family, though they love me, don’t always understand. I spend a lot of my time confused, also represented by the Element of Um.

One of the more prevalent cognitive dysfunctions I suffer is the exhausting seizures that impact how I can spend my days, determining my quality of life and level of happiness. Being tired triggers seizures, but the energy it takes to think causes brain fatigue and this creates a vicious cycle I get trapped in: my brain works harder than it used to, which makes me tired, which triggers seizures, so my brain then works even harder to function at a level considered “normal.”

I feel lucky to be alive and that I survived the accident, even if sometimes I feel ashamed of how my injury makes me behave. I know I worry too much about how others see me and what they perceive as a personality flaw instead of part of my brain injury.

Name: Shantelle

City: Brain Injury Association of Windsor-Essex

Brain Injury: My brain injury is a result of a collision. In 2016, I was stopped at a red light and was struck from behind by a distracted driver. What I initially thought would be a five-day recovery has turned into 19 months and counting.

Explanation of mask: My mask is blue for two reasons. I have felt very blue throughout the past year and a half. There have been times when I have wanted to give up on everything. It can be very depressing for your life to change in a matter of seconds. All of a sudden, I couldn’t drive. I was no longer able to shop, read, workout, walk, watch TV, shower, or cook without feeling dizzy, dazed, disoriented and confused. I began to fall and bump into things. I couldn’t get out certain words. My multi-tasking skills went out the window. I would have a conversation and forget the topic or what I had just said. I would enter a room and forget why I was there. I couldn’t even play “catch” with my kids or cross the street on my own. This caused so much sadness, anger and frustration. The other reason for the colour blue represents water and water has played a big role in my recovery. Each day, I am striving to be more like water. Water nourishes, gives, and benefits all, yet it is strong enough to move mountains and gentle enough to caress rocks. Water flows downwards and aspires to be the lowest position, which is what I think a humble leader does. The puzzle pieces represent how broken and put together I feel. Some says, I feel like I’m falling apart, other days, I feel like a puzzle being assembled into the shape of the woman that God wants me to be. And as time passes, the blue remains, but as you can see, colour is slowly returning to my world and that is why the broken puzzle pieces are coloured in colours which are important to me. It is only through transforming the brokenness that colour has been able to return to my life. Yellow represents sunlight, purple represents being a survivors, and pink represents my feminine strength and health.

The broken glass represents the damage to my left eye and how much the injury has impacted my life and recovery. I used broken glass because I have felt like broken glass over the past 19 months. I have felt fragile, useless, shattered, and discarded, especially as I watched community events and family activities take place, without my presence or involvement. That was tough. It made me want to shout out “please don’t forget about me!” The broken glass also represents to me, the shattering of what I thought made life good before. I’ve had a lot to unlearn.

The yellow between the glass represents light because I have grown to believe that it is through our brokenness that light enters. For me today, that light is love, self-love, peace, gratitude, faith, compassion, empathy, forgiveness, humility, wisdom, service and trust. If you knew me before, you know that I struggled with many of these. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity. It was very therapeutic.

Name: Marie

City: Brain Injury Association of Windsor-Essex

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident.

Explanation of mask: I chose vibrant colours because that is the way I experience the world. The butterflies show how fragile life is, but also how beautiful. One side of the mask has a dark wash over it. This represents the time since the accident. The world is still beautiful, still colourful, but there is a veil covering its beauty, its vibrancy, making it frustratingly difficult to access. I can see the colours of the world, I just can’t touch them in the same way as before.

Name: Laura

City: Brain Injury Association of Windsor-Essex

Brain Injury: Pushed down a set of stairs.

Explanation of mask: Trying to put on a good face, to hide my depression and tears of loneliness and loss.

Name: Gerard

City: Brain Injury Association of Windsor-Essex

Brain Injury: I was in an ATV accident. A woman was texting and driving as well as speeding and she ran over me. I was left for dead. Three and a half years and the battle still goes on 🙁 With the Grace of God, life is slowly getting better 🙂

Explanation of mask: My mask represents to be all the emotions and feelings a person with a traumatic brain injury goes through. It represents my life as a survivor in the past, present and as well as the future. It signifies the hidden feelings that no one in the world can see or relate to, because for any of us, we look totally healthy and normal on the outside. Yet, on the inside we life in constant confusion. My purpose in this mask is to let as many people know that people with brain injuries have hidden issues and hope and pray that family, friends, and others will be more sympathetic and understanding to the survivors. We, as survivors, are doing the best we can. “All we need is love.”

Name: Eunice

City: Brain Injury Association of Windsor-Essex

Brain Injury:  Car accident. Some car hit my two-seater sports car three times.

Explanation of mask: When I emerged from my diffuse axonal brain injury, I was like a child learning about my world all over again. Preliminary tasks were to eat without choking and walking a straight line. Next came Dick and Jane primers and printing like a child. I had no concept of time so I have to experience waiting 5, 10, 15 minutes over and over, more people I knew experienced my short temper when I thought they were taking too long. I now have what I call sloth brain, where I sued to be quick witted. Now it takes me a day to think of a response. My emotions are flat or I lose my temper like a flash in a pan. I can smell and taste chemicals but not roses, lilacs or cinnamon. The most enjoyable change is vision, when looking at a full moon, I see three!

Name: Donna

City: Brain Injury Association of Windsor-Essex

Brain Injury:  Burst Aneurysm

Explanation of mask: The black part is the unknown. Feeling frustration, sad, confused, angry, lost, alone and filled with so many questions. The platinum coil represents the fusion of the artery. The yellow part demonstrates that I am determined, will never give up with any obstacles or challenges that get in my way. I have the support from family, friends and a support group. I lost a lot of old stuff but that’s okay, I have a lot of new stuff. It’s great to be alive!

Name: Cole

City: Brain Injury Association of Windsor-Essex

Brain Injury:  Snowboarding accident. In a coma for 6 weeks. Hospitalized for 4 months at 3 different hospitals. Follow up therapy at 2 different hospitals for 4 more months.

Explanation of mask: I chose green because it is the recognized colour for Traumatic Brain Injury in the USA. That is where I had my accident and was first hospitalized. The fireworks represent the explosion of constant crippling headaches I have every day. The thunderbolt around my left ear represents the constant ringing in my left ear and hearing loss from nerve damage. The eye patch covers my right eye because I damaged my third optic nerve. It is not repairable. I constantly see double. The black tars represent constant mood swings and depression. The scar represents the many cars from feeding tubes, tracheotomy, IVs and hospital neglect bed sores. The Band-Aids represent my inability to get my thoughts out verbally.

Name: Betty

City: Brain Injury Association of Windsor-Essex

Brain Injury:  n/a

Explanation of mask: Black and White Half:

Once I was a gifted professional with a beautiful computer mind,

Entrepreneur, IT accountant, multi-tasker, all tasks done in time,

Fashionably dressed, high heels and nice make up,

Enjoyed chatting & mingling with H20 inside my cup,

Pickle Ball, exercising, dancing gave me energy,

Florida palm trees swaying gently over our RV,

Life was black & white, I enjoyed working in IT,

My age reversed, young people inspire me,

In 2014, life changed like never before,

My head was hit, it was May 24,

The old me disappeared.

***********

Colourful/Feathers Half:

It’s a long road to see recovery,

Weekly therapies, medical help and IMEs,

No broken bones, how do I prove no functionality

The environment around hurts me,

Noise, lights & sounds, I have emotional lability,

Daily balancing with a short life battery,

I no longer hear or feel music, beauty disappeared,

It was the BIAWE support group & those who really cared,

Now I can see colours and a Phoenix slowly rising,

This new chapter is one that will be surprising,

The art mask is my 1st post 2014 creative endeavour,

A new beginning, a memory I will always treasure.

Name: Kathy

City: Brain Injury Association of Windsor-Essex

Brain Injury:  Car crash

Explanation of mask:  In my life before my brain injury I was a successful professional teacher with two BA’s in Psychology and in Education. I was recognized by the Ministry of Education as a specialist in education with an emphasis in mental and physical challenges. I was a supervisor of 7 educational assistants and my job was to work with teachers in integrating students into regular classes. I assisted in developing the life skills program in two other high schools. My life was one that resembled sunshine and after a car crash and a traumatic brain injury, my life resembles a ladybug who is always looking for a way to survive the winter. I a always looking for ways to survive; ways of accomplishing everything that was taken away from me: my memory, my ability to multi-task, my anger control, my ability to comprehend complex issues and solve them. I am finding successful ways of surviving life with a brain injury and I am like the ladybug entering a new journey each time I succeed.

Name: Jenn

City: Brain Injury Association of Windsor-Essex

Brain Injury:  Auto accident.

Explanation of mask:  Vision Loss,

memory loss,

touch death,

hope flower

no voice

Zen

feather can fly

Name: Tracy

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury:  Car accident.

Explanation of mask:   Before my accident I loved life, my job. Now I have lost it all. My before and after worlds need to coexist. I am now fitting the pieces from 5 different puzzles into a single puzzle. The ones I am not able to fit will find their own place one day.

Name: Stephanie 2

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury:  Car accident.

Explanation of mask:  The mask describes the many illusions of brain injury:

  • You look fine on the outside
  • Your brain may take time to understand what you are looking at
  • You stare at yourself and are not sure what you see
  • Self- reflection is challenging
  • Life is fragile (like the vase)
  • I thought there would only be one of me, but now there is another

Name: Stephanie 1

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury:  Car accident.

Explanation of mask: This mask represents the spectrum of emotion and ability following brain injury. It describes coming from the black, and moving more and more into the light. There are setbacks and I may temporarily move backwards but since my accident. I have “generally” moved towards the light.

Name: Sabrina

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury:  Someone pushed and tripped me in an ultimate Frisbee game.

Explanation of mask: My mask shows the battle between being positive and hopeful, and loss and despair. The black thorny roses represent sharp pain that threatens to take over my brain. The other flowers represent hope which are slowly but surely taking back my brain. My lips are painted black as sometimes I don’t recognize the words coming out of my mouth: I’m a different person. I struggle to get back to the person I was before the accident, but I have learned to accept myself.

Name: Robert

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury:  Korsakoff Syndrome

Explanation of mask: Blue is a relaxing color and makes a good background for other colors. The Joker is symbolic of the card games I play with my peers at the Opportunity Centre and the laughs and good times we have. I love to curl and belong to several leagues. I am a star. I am a very positive person.

Name: Rita

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury:  Car Accident (Concussion, 2016), & 2nd accident (Whiplash, 2018)

Explanation of mask: A brain injury to me is temporary and though it takes a while to make steps towards who and what I once felt and looked like inside-It’s never too late to be brave and try.

I was once confused but now I am getting more creative to be the person I was before the accident.

Some days are exhausting but I remain focused and less frightened and frustrated.

I have found help and am less helpless and more hopeful. I love life and helping others and get my inspiration and peace from God. Thanks God.

I was relieved to attend tonight and enjoyed everyone. What a terrific idea for masks so we can show before and after and have fun creating a future of safety and being whole.

I am alive, have faith, hope, and love and am HAPPY (a whole person again!).

I love flowers. They separate pain from my new life today!

Name: Rebekah

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury:  1st was a car accident, 2nd a bus accident, then, last year, I banged my head off the frame of a van and sustained a concussion. The last has been the hardest to deal with as it has altered so much of how my brain works.

Explanation of mask: There is a side to brain injury that is invisible and on the surface I appear fine to everyone. The right side of my mask shows this. The tear is there to show the frustration and sadness that occurs when trying to explain difficulties to others or even in asking for help and it always coming across wrong BECAUSE of how I appear on the surface.

When things happen in life that throw me off or is difficult in the moment to process or make a decision, unfortunately it often comes off as behavioural issues, anger, or attitude when really it’s mostly confusion & clutter and not being able to put my thoughts together or in the right order. Inside there is a lot of turmoil and frustration and being overwhelmed with things. That is what the murky side of my mask shows although the bird on the branch shows I have not given up.

The middle part of my mask shows the imperfections (NOT the nice smooth skin coloured surface from the right) , that there is hope with acceptance (the butterfly), there is new life, and there ARE good and positive things that have happened as a result of my brain injury. I feel like I have become a better person. I am able to put myself in other people’s shoes and be more understanding.

I have also learned to be very self-aware. Once one can truly accept who they are and let go of the past, they can begin the journey to learning new things and begin to find new hope and happiness.

Name: Rachael B.

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury:  Lack of oxygen

Explanation of mask: The colors green and purple are my favorite colors, and the purple is my birthstone color. The feathers represent freedom like a bird. I picked the word confused because I enjoy confusing people at times. Apparently, people say I’m joyful and happy and that makes me happy. Sometimes it embarrasses me when I go places and my disability makes me unique in my own way.

Name: Michael

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury:  On the cold dark night of January 11, 1999 a car crash was responsible for the traumatic brain injury that imprisoned me in a coma for the next 3 months. Reviving near Easter 1999, seemed appropriate; Easter is the coming of new life. 20 years later the effects of such a catastrophe are met, and endured daily. Every day is a challenge, but life is a series of challenges to help each of us grow. Over the time spent incarcerated by disability this life has learned to love, trust, and be totally positive; that lets me be unmasked.

Explanation of mask: Painting the mask, wearing the mask, living the mask. Head injury is so similar to choosing to hide; to shelter oneself from the chaos of comparison. To find security by being withdrawn from the society that at one time; was perhaps comfortable. In the present, a mask might show the assumed strength and security a survivor of brain injury looks to assimilate with.

However, this mentality may be flawed? A survivor need not hide their face behind a mask; their experience and trauma need to be shared and heard. If these replicas of traumatic experiences could speak, each one would simply say “please listen to me”. But we need to also remember “we cannot start living the next chapter of our lives if we continuously reread, reiterate the old one continuously.

Life is a gift. We are all meant to live the present”.

Name: Michael A

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury:  Car accident, rear ended, 2014

Explanation of mask: I’ve cried so many tears, I can’t cry anymore.

Colours represent the three shades of my headaches:

Beige: Tolerable

Red: uncomfortable

Blue: Intolerable

Colours also represent the shift in pain and the emotions that shift with the pain.

The two halves represent what we think we see versus what cannot be seen but must be felt.

Name: Michael 3

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury:  Car accident, 2014

Explanation of mask: There is always darkness before the light;

However the darkness still overwhelms

Happiness hides behind shades

And the shades dull the lights

There is still much to discover

Under the darkness

Emotions are endless and volatile

Waiting for the light to heal

Until then it is a roller coaster

Filled with forms, charts & data.

Name: Michael 2

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury:  Car accident-rear ended 2014

Explanation of mask: “My Mind”

‘twas an early autumn morn

the mist arising from the harbour

sitting on the balcony, staring out

there is a sailboat in the bay

bobbing listlessly, the wind a mere flutter

no motor, unable to move out to sea

without warning, I am that sailboat

Name: Lene

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury:  Slipped/tripped/fell (?) up the exterior stairs of my home with loads of groceries and school bags. When I lost my balance I hit the left side of my head against the metal frame of the door.

Explanation of mask: BE STILL AND KNOW…

I am White – draws a blank, empty, confused flesh. Slowly finding myself again.

Target/bullseye – pain and headache radiating to other parts of my head & body.

Eyes – not working together, dizzy, no peripheral vision, difficult to focus

3 battery packs – depleted energy, focus, needing to take time to recharge

Dribbling letters – struggling with slurred speech, word retrieval, processing communications

Words DIFFERENT, LONELY, CHALLENGED – I will never be like I was before. Grieving my losses

Words KIND, DETERMINED, GRACIOUS – Things I have learned to become grateful for

Name: Kimberly

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury:  Car accident

Explanation of mask: Through the three years now of dealing with this life altering accident, I have learned with much practice, how to help myself to look differently at this incident. I have found that a positive twist on a negative thought has been very beneficial. Being mindful and purposeful is the gift. Each day is amazing and something good will always be found. Being present minded and in my moment is starting to make sense.

Name: Kim E.

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury:  A sequelae of minor (non-catastrophic) impacts to my head and neck that occurred with 8 MVAs between 1983 and 2007 and then a workplace injury where a basketball struck me during my supervision of our grade 8 gym class in April 2016. Since 2016 I have sustained 2 more accidental impacts with open doors in December 2017 and them May 2018. My diagnosis is Post- Concussion Syndrome with Anxiety and Depression.

Explanation of mask: I have endeavoured to develop each side differently to reflect the duality of my thoughts, feelings, and experiences in my changed and changing life. The “busyness” of my mask or the clutter shows how very full my mind feels always! I move in and out of both positive and negative experiences rapidly. The gray side of the mask reflects struggles and challenges while the pink side is my experience of joy, hope and gratitude. The lace gag delicately binds my mouth as I struggle sometimes with filtering what occurs in my mind- the realm of emotions/feelings/thoughts and understanding and expressing them.

Name: Karen

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury:  Motor Vehicle Accident March 31, 2015, multiple concussions, PTSD, severe depression, anxiety, cognitive, imbalance issues

Explanation of mask: “Pre & Post Accident” Left side (colorful) Right (blue)

As a Chartered Professional Accountant, I was a very cheerful, energetic, positive, powerful individual. This is shown by the colorful, bright mask representing pre-accident. Words are not necessary to describe pre-accident as the left side is full of great expressions.

Post-accident, the blue side of the mask requires words to describe the “new” me, as I look the same as before however emotionally opposite! Blue paint explains the feeling of being sad.

Although I may look the same, I’m completely different on the inside. I am no longer the person I used to be and need to work on accepting the new “me”. Hopefully one day I will be able to regain the more pleasant attitude and emotions I once had. Best part of this brain injury I sustained is meeting friends alike and sharing stories of recovery.

Name: Julie E.

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury:  Shunt broke

Explanation of mask: Purple and pink are my favourite. Purple is dark so it’s me since my brain injury. I have become somebody I don’t like at times when I can’t remember stuff. Pink represents who I was before because I was a lot happier. Frustration is what makes me upset a lot of the time because of the memory issue.

Name: Judy

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury:  n/a

Explanation of mask: The sun shines down on everyone and gives life. The mask looks up to the sun because growth and positivity is always possible.

Name: John-Paul

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury: I fell from about 20 feet

Explanation of mask: The tears would represent depression, and the colors and shapes scattered around would represent distractions for everyone looking at it.

Name: Jodi

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury: Car accident – T-boned January 31, 2013

Explanation of mask: Portrays 3 selves: Pre-accident, accident and coping, my new identity.

  • Feeling strong, alive. Felt connected and independent. Athletic- competed in triathlons and won in my age category.
  • After the accident, very overwhelmed, clouds overshadowing, seeking “who am I?” felt very alone, cut and scar on my head a permanent reminder.
  • Triumph over fear, advocating for myself, green represents growth and creating the new me and being ok with who I am. So thankful for the ongoing support, understanding of family and friends. Feeling more connected.

Name: Joan

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury: Carbon Monoxide from chimney fire from wood stove and generator not vented properly.

Explanation of mask: “Happy to be Alive!” I have come a long way since I had my brain injury 7 years ago. I accept who I am and what I have become. I cheerfully look forward to each day. I am open to new challenges. My ‘bucket list’ is prepared for much enjoyment in the future. I am helpful when needed by other clients. I always greet people with a smile as I love to see their eyes light up and smile back at me. I like being a humorous individual as “laughter is the best medicine”. It makes for a bright future knowing that I can make someone’s day just a little happier and be glad to be alive just like myself – THE END!

Name: Jay

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury: Car accident

Explanation of mask: “Superman” “Hit the Road Jack”

Name: Irene

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury: Car accident in 2012 with a garbage truck and was hit in the head with a chunk of truck.

Explanation of mask: On the left side is all the negative and feeling of not knowing who I am anymore. I used “Alice in Wonderland” because I can relate to her feelings of not knowing who she is and feeling insane. Like her I am realizing we are all mad in our own ways and the best kind of people usually are.

On the right is expressing my journey to self-love and acceptance. The rainbow means new hope and beginnings and I’m sick of being scared of my internal storm. So I decided to become the storm. So now I say “I have traveled through madness to find me”-Danny Alexander

Name: Jacqueline

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury: Life threatening car accident on the first snow fall of the year driving a Beetle.

Explanation of mask: Having two separate personalities. On the inside your mind is a complete mess. You can’t concentrate on anything and because of the brain damage you can’t remember what happened more than 5 minutes ago. On the outside you look completely normal, as if there is nothing wrong! Brings a VERY true meaning to “There’s more than meets the eye!” NEVER judge someone by what you see! You just don’t know their story!

Name: Heidi B.

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury: Car accident.

Explanation of mask: It’s obvious. It shows my exact feelings (mirror), Purple-Jumbled up Mind, Straight Face-Revenge from the world- (Unknown Feelings)

Name: Heather K.

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury: I had a stroke three and a half years ago.

Explanation of mask: The colors on the mask are red for “love”, yellow for “happy” and “hope”, and orange is for “eager”. The red color starts at the bottom and goes to the lips because it shows that love is going up. The yellow from the nose to the top of the eyes shows the feelings that I have inside. The forehead is orange color because it represents my brain injury and that my goals and wishes are getting there, step by step.

Name: Graham 2

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident caused by a transport truck wheel running into my ex-wife and I.

Explanation of mask: My mask represents my happiness in life. Happy to have survived my car accident. It also indicates my confusion, isolation, challenges, and difficulty in my daily life. I feel eager to learn and get better every day for the rest of my life. I hope that people in the world will try to understand the difficulty brain injured people suffer every day.

Name: Graham

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury: On December 22, 1989, I was in a car which went through a really bad car accident. I got a broken skull but managed to recover. My right eye got injured and has affected my eyesight.

Explanation of mask: A cheerful mask full of creativity showing rainbows and peace amongst the human race.

Name: Ellen

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury: I was hit in the head with a rock, and left unconscious. I woke up a while later and walked home. A few months later I was in a car accident in which my head was hit very hard. I now have seizures and weakness due to the accident.

Explanation of mask: When I get sick, it causes my whole right side to go weak. At that time I cannot think or speak. That’s why the right side is painted grey. I am very sensitive to light and sound. It creates sadness because I am no longer able to function at these times. It can be very discouraging at times. The other side is painted in bright colours because there is hope even in the midst of pain. There is joy in life, even though I can’t function like everyone else. Going through difficulties makes me thankful for the good times. After a storm, comes the sun!

Name: Ellen

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury: MVA-Truck driver working for an international construction company negligently failed to secure his load. He was convicted, but I got the life sentence.

Explanation of mask: Blue/Turquoise represents my “essence” even under the black “pie shape” which represents the accident and chronic head pain. The dove represents my faith in God and the reminder of his love in my life. Yellow wool represents “hope” in my long and winding journey through life and how “knitting preemie hats” as a volunteer gave me “renewed purpose” as I’m no longer “employable”. The “buzzing” sound in my foggy brain is calmed by knitting. The butterfly represents the major change in my life. The flowers are the serendipity bits in both my “old” and new life that remind me to appreciate and be thankful for all the wonderful things God has blessed me with despite heartache and tragedy. I put together a mask that oozed more “hope” and positivity than what apparently I was “unmasking”.

Name: Donna H.

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury: Car accident.

Explanation of mask: One side is bright and full of hope and loving life, enjoying life, involved in everything I enjoy. The other side is full of stress, hopelessness, forgetfulness, pain, the unknown. The black squiggly line is the shooting lightning bolt pains that I get very often on the left side. I just want my life back

Name: Donna F.

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury: MVA March 15, 1998, Back seat passenger

Explanation of mask:  It has now been 20 years since my car accident. There have been many ups and downs. Today after many years of doctors, therapists, counselling, MRI’s etc. I can now say I feel comfortable with this new version of Donna. My mask represents the area of my head on the left side where I still experience problems; the blue drops represent the tears; and the pink heart drops represent the joy and happiness. A huge part of my recovery was to change my outlook, thinking and beliefs. The thought bubbles are the positive thinking I practice now. The hearts on the cheek represent the love and support that I have now; and the feelings of gratitude.

Name: Denise 2

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury: Head on Collision-Accident

Explanation of mask: Most days as I struggle to put the pieces of my life back together. I feel overwhelmed. I feel lost in a world where no one understands my struggle. Some days are good but sooner or later I set back. I am a mish-mash of feelings. I’m grateful to have survived but some days I feel like the “walking wounded”. Make up and fake smiles make me appear to be “normal” to those who expect or want that from me. I miss the high energy I used to have. It makes me feel sad. I too often feel overwhelmed!

Name: Denise

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury: Struck in head by “stow and go” seat in minivan. Seven months later rear ended in car.

Explanation of mask:  I feel different. I used to be vibrant, confident, energetic, colorful.  I brought magic to my family’s world. Now I do not. I am like beige, colorless. Disconnected from my soul. I am not depressed. I am just like a fairy with wet wings. Someday they will dry and I will fly again. Maybe just not as high.

Name: Daena

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury: Shopping incident-large display item fell on my head

Explanation of mask:  Black half represents daily pain I go through as well as all the physical struggles that have come since the injury. Yellow half represents some of the things that continue to being me joy post-injury.

Name: Cynthia

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury: Travelling home from London, Ontario on 401 highway after a torrential rain. My car hydroplaned into a guardrail.

Explanation of mask:  I was diagnosed having 1/3 of my brain above average for someone my age, 1/3 average, and 1/3 damaged or below normal.

  • 1/3 above represents before the accident: happy at administrative work, medical first responder, hosting international children, etc.…
  • 1/3 average represents the accident, lucky to be only me as I dropped off my student at new residence near 401 and Wellington. Sleeping a lot, lost job, no one listening because no physical injuries.
  • 1/3 below average represents someone who listened (Hamilton Health Sciences Hospital), crafts, painting, papier-mache, crochet, knitting, and word puzzles were healing.

Thank you for the opportunity to express myself. Met some lovely people. We are not alone.

Name: Brian

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury: Physically beaten up

Explanation of mask:  The aqua color that I picked was to match the tattoo on my right forearm. I chose it because it matched with the other color. The elephant picture is because they are almost extinct and elephants protect their young and stay together for life. I picked the three stooges because they are funny, they make people laugh and I’m happy also, I love to laugh. The devil and the angel came about at the day program that I go to. Staff would say I’m a little devil and I put my hands together and my halo and pretend, and it has stuck-Awesome!!

Name: Bobby / Nicole

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury: Car accident

Explanation of mask:   In the eyes through someone else:

  • Darkness leading to light and glimpses of happiness
  • Humour to guide through difficult times
  • Learning to allow yourself to be happy
  • Surrounding yourself with things that make you happy: dogs, fishing
  • The flow of the river sometimes peaceful, sometimes turbulent
  • Overload of emotions: Anger, distracted, fearful, pain, frustrated
  • Moving towards positive trusting, appreciative, capable, strong, learning to be relaxed

Name: Anonymous

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury: Operation to Remove Brain Tumour

Explanation of mask:  Frontal lobe-red represents injury. Stroke occurred during surgery. It was shocking to me as I was well, happy, successful and close to retirement. It shook my confidence and joy. I felt everyone was looking at my deficits. Struggled to improve physically and mentally. My husband was a wonderful support and my family worked together to help me heal.

Name: Annette

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury: High speed, head on car accident, did a complete roll over into a ditch. Resulted in a concussion and post-concussion syndrome.

Explanation of mask: If there is one word I would use to describe what it is like living with post-concussion syndrome on a day to day basis it is “frustration”. I look “fine”, “healthy”, “normal”. On the surface, I am no different than I was BC (before concussion). But sometimes life must go on, and what people can’t see is that behind my actions is a mild headache-I’ve learned to ignore. Mild headaches because they are pretty much a daily occurrence. People don’t notice me sitting in my car to let symptoms settle, instead of simply getting in and driving away.

The uncertainty of my future causes anxiety. If I think too far into the future I can’t plan, I get depressed thinking of my “10-year plan” on indefinite hold. I get depressed thinking I may never be “normal” again. Will I be able to return to work? Will I be able to clean an entire room in my house without a nap? Am I relying too much on my kids when I should be doing more for them?

I have to plan ahead. If it’s a therapy day, don’t plan anything big. The wonderful new LED lights are so bright they make me dizzy without sunglasses. I’ve cried at TV commercials without understanding why. But above all of this, above the surface, the world sees that I am “normal” and “healthy”.

Lucky to be alive. It’s bright and sunny and they don’t understand how difficult it can be to get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other.

Name: Adam

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury: Fell off ladder at work

Explanation of mask:  My mask represents a few of the struggles I’m dealing with. The doors (one facing in and one facing out) tries to show that what you see on the outside isn’t the same inside. I’m hoping that that over time, the caterpillar will turn into a beautiful butterfly. I am sad and angry about my current situation and I try to put up a shield to protect myself.

Name: Ashley

City: Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington

Brain Injury: Frontal lobe brain injury as a result of a car accident

Explanation of mask: The top part of my mask is my world in pieces. The bottom part represents me recovering and putting my life back together. There is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child, well, it also takes a village to recover from brain injury. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my family, friends and therapy team. I also knew God was with me every step of the way. After the accident one of my life motto became: just because I have to do it differently, doesn’t mean I can’t do it.

Name: Marcelo

City: Hamilton Brain Injury Association

Brain Injury: Car accident

Explanation of mask: Different colours, the not knowing who you are. Eyes, puddle of blackness starting to chance. Different shades, different emotions traveled through this ordeal. Blue sign of help. The coloured light. Colour, initial thought of brain injury hasn’t taken in the full scope of injury. The person KNOWS they have a brain injury. Question: How do I react? I know, the best way I can.

Name:Anonymous

City: Hamilton Health Sciences, ABI Program

Brain Injury: n/a

Explanation of mask: n/a

Name: T’seluq

City: Hamilton Brain Injury Association

Brain Injury: Fall

Explanation of mask: Inspired by Batman, my favourite superhero. Black part of my mask is the brain injury fighting again the evil (negativity).

Name: Sharon

City: Hamilton Brain Injury Association

Brain Injury: I was outside changing a light bulb on a ladder. Slipped off but don’t remember if I hit the head. I had a headache after, still went to work. At night came home and shoveled a driveway then passed out as I had an aneurysm.

Explanation of mask: Before, I had a strong loving family and was able bodied. After my injury my family became broken. My family has been pulled apart, and I feel like I am always doing everything wrong. The red lips on the mask represent anger, frustration, and being misunderstood. I felt like my family thought I couldn’t do anything but I am able. My daughters are my world but also a source of pain (teams) and happiness (heart).

Name: Loreigh

City: Hamilton Brain Injury Association

Brain Injury: I had a stroke during brain surgery to clip a brain aneurysm. Resulted in being paralyzed on the left side for a year, poor focus, poor short-term memory, unable to multitask and very fatigues (sleep a lot).

Explanation of mask: With a good positive attitude, perseverance and not willing to accept defeat, you can overcome anything. Also very important, my faith in Jesus and support from family and friends. Do not give up!

Name: Rachael

City: Hamilton Brain Injury Association

Brain Injury: Slip and fall resulting in a concussion and mini stroke.

Explanation of mask: Puzzling. It is still puzzling to deal with my daily life as no day is very the same. Puzzling due to constant changes and remembering.

Name: Doug

City: Hamilton Brain Injury Association

Brain Injury: I fell down a set of stairs and wasn’t found for hours. I didn’t remember what happened. I didn’t remember my family. I was in the hospital for a year and a half in a coma. Recovering from my injury for 9 months.

Explanation of mask: The colours on the mask represent different emotions I experience after my injury. I am usually happy, sometimes I laugh (too much) at things I shouldn’t laugh at (orange lips). Sometimes I feel sad, but not often. I get confused when I forget things, I am thinking and thinking but don’t remember. I get frustrated when people don’t believe that I am deaf. I get worried that I am not safe if I needed help, people wouldn’t help me. I have to be very careful, many people fool me.

Name: Anonymous

City: Hamilton Health Sciences, ABI Program

Brain Injury: n/a

Explanation of mask: n/a

Name: Anonymous

City: Hamilton Health Sciences, ABI Program

Brain Injury: n/a

Explanation of mask: n/a

Name: Anonymous

City: Hamilton Health Sciences, ABI Program

Brain Injury: n/a

Explanation of mask: n/a

Name: Anonymous

City: Hamilton Health Sciences, ABI Program

Brain Injury: n/a

Explanation of mask: n/a

Name: Anonymous

City: Hamilton Health Sciences, ABI Program

Brain Injury: n/a

Explanation of mask: n/a

Name: Anonymous

City: Hamilton Health Sciences, ABI Program

Brain Injury: n/a

Explanation of mask: n/a

Name: Phil

City: Hamilton Brain Injury Association

Brain Injury: I had two brain aneurysms when I was 14 years old.

Explanation of mask: I feel many emotions, primarily pain, anger, and happiness. I am happy because I am alive, and I am happy raising awareness about brain injury. I am angry that I have an ABI and have difficulty with everyday tasks. I am physically and mentally in pain. What helps me the most is getting involved and helping out.

Name: Azure-lee

City: Hamilton Brain Injury Association

Brain Injury: Car accident

Explanation of mask: I had my accident on my first day of being an elementary school teacher. After my accident, I had to put my life back together again (puzzle pieces). The words symbolize some of the emotions I feel as a result of my ABI.

Name: Anonymous

City: Hamilton Brain Injury Association

Brain Injury: I was hit by a car while crossing the street on my way to school

Explanation of mask: I can become angry and stressed (red mark above my eye) when people hurt me. I have difficulty building relationships which makes me sad. I try to always remain positive (yellow star below my eye). To help myself I attend support groups and take karate. The colours at the bottom of my mask represent the levels of karate belts. Karate has also helped me with my balance. My balance has been affected by my ABI but karate has really helped me.

Name: Cass

City: Hamilton Brain Injury Association

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of mask: I like routine and a set schedule. I find it easier to maintain order if I can keep a regular schedule. The biggest lesion following my car accident and ABI was in the left frontal lobe of my brain. It was a multi-focal injury, occurring as a result of the rebound of my brain within my skull following the impact. My brain injury wasn’t concentrated solely in one area but rather, it was comprised of lots of little injuries. My impulse control was altered significantly; my sense of inhibitions too, was dramatically altered. The brain injury certainly affected my being and my life and I now tell it like this:

I am a…  Teacher, father, husband, champion-level athlete, scholar, writer, singer, actor, brother, son, and crossing guard. I am a survivor.

Name: Dave

City: Hamilton Brain Injury Association

Brain Injury: T-boned in a motor vehicle accident, December 2000.

Explanation of mask: There is much information, trains coming into my brain station at any one time but there is ony ever one track to handle them all. As a result, responses are slower to be generated, often are too late to flow with the conversation and sometimes never come at all. This causes feelings of stress, frustration, sadness, and if too much at once, creates the need to completely withdraw.

Name: Tim

City: Hamilton Brain Injury Association

Brain Injury: Struck by a van.

Explanation of mask: Most information absorbed is usually repetitive. Without this, everything which is seen or heard but not on a constant basis is forgotten. For example. I have been fishing for 28 years before my injury and I remembered that because of repetition; but before my injury, I got married and had four children and because I only did that once, I have forgotten all the particulars.

Emotions on my mask:

  • Uncertainty- not certain if I can or should do something.
  • Confusion – lots of people unsound.
  • Perseveration – will not stop until the task at hand is completed.
  • Helpfulness – always willing to help even those unknown
  • Fearlessness – absolutely no fear in my well-being.
  • Anger – mostly anything or anyone will anger me to a point of distraction.

My mask indicated the non-repetitive information coming in just runs out “info in, info out”

Name: Andrew

City: Hamilton Brain Injury Association

Brain Injury: I was walking across the street at a crosswalk when I was hit by a car. This was the same day I graduated from College.

Explanation of mask: People have mistaken my ability of who I am for a lot of different things. They think I am broken or cracked. My body does feel damaged on the inside, like a lightning bolt through my body. However, I have a normal brain, I am smart, kind and funny. I had just graduated from film and gotten my degree the day I was hit by a car. Now I just feel screwed.

Name: Myles

City: Hamilton Brain Injury Association

Brain Injury: Was thrown from the backseat of a car accident and hit a tree. October 1989.

Explanation of mask: The Joker is a very misunderstood character and someone I can relate to because of that. He is always joking around but underneath the comedy, there is more. People miss it because they focus on the jokes. My brain injury is a joking manner now, masks what is really going on underneath. People miss that because they think it is all just in fun. My girlfriend is my shelter, my shoulder to cry one, someone I can rely on. She is my Harley Quinn because she understand and accepts the true me, brain injury, jokes and all.

Name: Joe

City: Brain Injury Association of York Region

Brain Injury: Accident at theme park ride.

Explanation of mask: All I have now if hope, faith, love and family, friends and my community. The mask identifies areas that have changed my life forever. My ear pain, hearing sensitivity, balance issues have no cure! Headaches, mental fatigue, anxiety and physical pain. Meditation Reiki, and Yin Yoga for spiritual healing.

Name: Deborah (Caregiver)

City: Brain Injury Association of York Region

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident

Explanation of mask:  I don’t feel understood, makes me feel unworthy, embarrassed to say what I need to say. When I do I feel discredited and put down, like I don’t matter. I am tired, because it is constant and exhausting to try so hard to make things work. I am optimistic and feel it is a miracle my husband is alive and highly functioning. I love him with all my heart and soul and I know he is trying too. It is a challenge I will never give up on. There are wonderful moments and then feelings of helplessness and despair.

Name: Marie

City: Brain Injury Association of York Region

Brain Injury: Stroke and aneurysm

Explanation of mask: Rage, but I like the sun and blue sky. I’m still here and living life.

Name: Pat

City: Brain Injury Association of York Region

Brain Injury: Epidermoid tumour

Explanation of mask: Shows the frustration of taking this journey.

Name: Heather

City: Brain Injury Association of York Region

Brain Injury: Stroke, February 1995

Explanation of mask: Amazing, awesome, brave, cheerful, delighted. 20 years later, I am Okay.

Name: Stuart

City: Sudbury, ON

Brain Injury: I was involve in a downhill collision. I had fallen when skiing, while getting up, another skier collided into me. His knee struck my forehead causing frontal lobe damage and injuries to right eye and nose.

Explanation of mask:  In my experience it is hard to tell people about my injury. I have been judged in the past. My mask depicts my injury from the start of my journey to present day. I used words on the mask to depict my experiences and feelings that followed.

Name: Ashleigh

City: Sudbury, ON

Brain Injury:  I had a stroke in 2002, post-surgery for a brain shunt removal.

Explanation of mask: My mask is about my favourite place on earth, Disney World. I love all of the characters, especially Minnie Mouse. I have been there a few times and have special memories. Thinking of my Disney friends helps me feel happier and I worry less. When I am having a bad day, I think of Minnie and I am reminded the importance of staying positive, to have fun and always remember I am loved. I am more than my brain injury; I am magical like Disney World and Minnie Mouse.

Name: Megan

City: Sudbury, ON

Brain Injury:  At 14 years old, I was in an accident while quadding (ATV).

Explanation of mask: My mask depicts a few of the emotions and feelings I experienced since my accident. A lot of times I feel as though I’m running through a maze and I keep hitting a dead end. My mind feels disorganized even when I have it all together. My moods are up and down and I hide my pain and anger through a false smile. I feel invisible at times and the ladder to success seems impossible. I refuse to define myself and all that I am through my injury. I am breaking free and coming to peace.

Name: Derek

City: Sudbury, ON

Brain Injury:  I was involved in a motor vehicle accident. I survived a traumatic brain injury.

Explanation of mask: A broken heart best describes my brain injury. Brain injury can happen in the blink of an eye if you are not careful. I used four symbols to reflect my favourite things: my favourite band is Metallica. I put the logo over my mouth to convey my difficulty with speech. I love movies; this is displayed with a television. I am obsessed at knowing the time which is the reason for the clock. Lastly, I LOVE the Toronto Maple Leafs – GO LEAFS! GO!

Name: Julie

City: Sudbury, ON

Brain Injury: A head on motor vehicle collision with a drunk driver on April 27, 1997 in which my husband was killed.

Explanation of mask: The yellow side is the old Julie, the brown side is the new Julie. The yellow depicts what I was like prior to sustaining a brain injury. The brown with yellow depicts what I am like since the brain injury. Some parts of me from prior to the brain brain injury is still there so that is why there is yellow on the brown side. The words on both sides demonstrate what I was like and what I was feeling before and after brain injury. The images are what was and still are near and dear to me.

Name: Charles

City: Sudbury, ON

Brain Injury:  As a child I lived with epilepsy. In 2007 at age 23, I had brain surgery with hopes to decrease seizure activity. During the surgery I had a min-stroke that caused brain injury.

Explanation of mask: I chose a rainbow of sunset colours on the left side to represent peace. On the right side, the lightening bolt signifies my challenges in life. The earth also represents my brain; we only have one earth, one brain. So take care of it responsibly. The Sun represents hope for the future.

One thing I want the community to understand or know about ABI: Brain injury does not define us.

Name: Melissa

City: Sudbury, ON

Brain Injury: I attained a brain injury due to cysts on my head and complications from surgery

Explanation of mask: I created my mask to resemble the concept of ying & yang. Before my injury, I was sharp, outgoing and the life of the party. The back and grey represent the dark things and myself in the shadows; lost, misunderstood, confused and fuzzy-eyed.

Name: Susan

City: Sudbury, ON

Brain Injury: I survived a motor vehicle accident on June 3, 1995.

Explanation of mask: I interpreted by ABI experience in two halves; the left half signifies the time just after the accident. This time was filled with tears. The golf waves represent separateness and struggle. The right half demonstrates the progression of my life after ABI. Despite the negatives, there has always been a glimmer of hope. With time, there is strengthening.

Name: Mannon

City: Sudbury, ON

Brain Injury: I survived a brain aneurysm and a mini stroke in October 2013. I was given a 10% chance of survival. I was not supposed to walk again let alone return to work. I can walk and returned to work three months later.

Explanation of mask: The blue side illustrates what people see because my injury is not visible – people don’t think I have changed. The red side represents the reality of living with ABI. I am easily distracted, impulsive, forgetful and misunderstood. I am living with the fear that this could happen again.

Name: Skye

City: Sudbury, ON

Brain Injury: I survived a collision with a pylon while tobogganing.

Explanation of mask: While creating my mask blue, yellow and green are colours I associated with ABI. I used half of the mask to demonstrate my injury site and the loss of a family member. On the other half I included images of importance including my child, dogs and gardening.

One thing I want the community to understand or know about ABI: Survivors still marry, have kids, pay taxes and work hard to have meaningful lives.

Name: Roger

City: Sudbury, ON

Brain Injury: My injury is a result of a cyst that was growing in my brain. The pressure on my brain caused seizures and ABI.

Explanation of mask: Before my injury I was working in nursing homes and providing for my family. Afterward I could not longer work. I had to relearn many things including how to navigate the city independently using city transit. I am a positive and understanding person. I chose the colours on my mask to brighten your day. I believe there is always help out there if you need it.

Name: Andre

City: Sudbury, ON

Brain Injury: I was involved in a motorcycle accident in 2014 which left me in a coma for 30 days.

Explanation of mask: The bottom of the mask represents my dark thoughts including anxiety, sadness, lack of confidence, confusion and bad moods. I tried to show a balance with my goals and dreams for myself, my wife and family. “Happy wife, Happy life”, pride, balance and vision are presented in the top section of my mask.

One thing I want the community to understand or know about ABI: People with brain injuries can still be contributing members of society.

Name: Marc

City: Sudbury, ON

Brain Injury: I sustained an ABI at 15 years old as a result of a brain tumour in my frontal lobe. I had surgery to remove the tumour in March 2000. It took six months of intensive rehabilitation to relearn everything including how to read, write, and express myself.

Explanation of mask: My mask is split in two halves. One side is happiness and success after brain injury. I live in my own apartment with support. The other side shows the pain and bad times. Every day I struggle with lack of motivation and the desire to overeat. Despite all of it, I am a happy and positive person. At the end of the day, the sun shines bright.

Name: Rachelle

City: Sudbury, ON

Brain Injury: I sustained my brain injury when a bed frame fell on top of my head.

Explanation of mask: My mask represents the physical, cognitive, emotional, psychological “tornado of emotions.” The lightening bolt of emotions signifies the physical pain I experienced. The rooted tree has waving branches that signifies growth, grounding of family, friends and supports. The fence illustrates the dead ends of attaining services.

One thing I want the community understand or know about ABI: Doctors and hospitals to refer survivors to BIASD immediately after injury.

Name: Ken

City: Sudbury, ON

Brain Injury: On August 14, 2004 I survived an ATV accident. I was wearing a helmet but it was not tied up.

Explanation of mask: Orange is my favourite colour. I used black paint to illustrate when I got my brain injury. Family, camp and music make me happy. I like to be the life of the party. I have learned that life is what you make it.

One thing I want the community to understand or know about ABI: Play safe – wear a helmet.

Name: Shelly

City: Sudbury, ON

Brain Injury: December 2016, I had a hemorrhagic stroke.

Explanation of mask: After my stroke, recovery was a long, painful and emotional journey. Now I can see the beauty in life again as I accept my injury and disabilities.

One thing I want the community understand or know about ABI: Please be more sympathetic and patient with people who use walkers an wheelchairs.

Name: Karen

City: Sudbury, ON

Brain Injury: I survived a hemorrhagic stroke due to an aneurysm.

Explanation of mask: Before my injury, I was smart, happy and outgoing. Words I associate with brain injury include sadness and stagnate. On my mask the heart with a cross inside illustrates my love for my nursing career. I miss it and hope to one day work again. I know I have to take care of myself before I can take care of others.

One thing I want the community to understand or know about ABI: Just because you have a brain injury does not make you stupid or dumb.

Name: Noel

City: Sudbury, ON

Brain Injury: My injury is the result of a work place accident. I was training colleagues when a chain exploded.

Explanation of mask: The thought of capturing my feelings about brain injury was hard at first despite being creative. I chose purple to represent my mother who has passed. Red represents me. A yellow section was used to signify the sun as a reminder things will brighten up. The tears reflect sadness and difficulty concentrating and communicating after my injury. The orange in the lips represent coping with ABI.

Name: Andre

City: Sudbury, ON

Brain Injury:  I survived being struck by a car while riding my bike.

Explanation of mask: Before my accident I was energetic and independent. Now I live in supportive housing with other adults with brain injuries. I am tired most of the time and get depressed about my life and what it should have been. My mask shows how my brain is messed up and my fear that I will not be loved. I like to fill my day with creative activities, singing oldies rock music and playing crib.

Name: Ryan

City: Sudbury, ON

Brain Injury:  I got my brain injury as a result of an assault. I have also had secondary injuries due to seizures and most recently a car accident.

Explanation of mask: The broken heart represents sadness regarding my daughter. I cannot raise her. The red background refers to my extreme frustration. The question mark with up and down arrows signifies my very confused states and difficulty making decisions. Band-Aids represent damages and pain. AAA represents fatigue. The rock refers to my strength. The smoothie refers to better choices, healthier living: I am living drug and alcohol free.

Name: Kelsey

City: Sudbury, ON

Brain Injury: I am the survivor of multiple brain injuries. In 2013, I fell down the stairs and hit the back of my head resulting in post concussion syndrome. I have also been in two car accidents resulting in additional concussions.

Explanation of mask: Although I have a brain injury, I am still the same person, just a little different. I see this as growth, not as a regression. The eyes are lightly covered to signify head pain and change. I am still a queen regardless.

One thing I want the community to understand or know about ABI: Concussions are brain injury and should not be taken lightly.

Name: Tammy

City: Sudbury, ON

Brain Injury: One week after the birth of my son I had multiple strokes that caused my brain injury.

Explanation of mask: My mask is half light and half dark. The light half is my life before the strokes: when I gardened, rode horses and operated heavy equipment. Before ABI I was independent, busy, strong and energetic. The dark side represents my life after stroke. Brain injury is exhausting and means I am dependent on others.

Name: Josh

City: Sudbury, ON

Brain Injury: I survived a brain stem malignant tumour.

Explanation of mask: Grey for the head is the colour of Brain Tumour Awareness. The colour also represents brain bog, confusion, nausea and dizziness. Yellow represents the Cancer Society and happiness I still feel. Blue represents that sadness that comes with a Brain Tumour.

One thing I want the community to understand or know about ABI: Brain Injury is often invisible; don’t judge people based on what you can’t see or understand.

Name: Dawn

City: Sudbury, ON

Brain Injury: I survived a motor vehicle accident.

Explanation of mask: I choose the colour purple as a sign of quiet dignity living with ABI an invisible disability. The puzzle piece represents my thoughts, recollections and memories scattered and challenging the piece together. The question mark on the mouth signifies communication disorder. One thing I want the community to understand or know about ABI: Be Kind

Name: Grant

City: Sudbury, ON

Brain Injury: I survived an anoxic brain injury (loss of oxygen to the brain) as a teenager.

Explanation of mask: My mask is in tribute to my favourite wrestler, Finn Bolar. His mask is different and it stands out in a crowd. I had difficulty putting my own ideas to my mask. I added the letter D to represent the 11 years I spent in Detroit during my rehabilitation. When I think about words that I associate with ABI, I think: Fatigue, depression, memory loss and being misunderstood.

Name: Jeff

City: Sudbury, ON

Brain Injury: January 11, 2011, I survived a snowmobile accident which results in a brain injury. I was 15 years old.

Explanation of mask: The black means the Dark Side: depressed, mad, angry and unhappiness. The red means happiness, love, courage. The tree represents my journey from the beginning ABI to the present. One thing I want the community to understand or know about ABI: Sometimes brain injuries are not always visible. Be patient and listen.

Name: Gina

City: Sudbury, ON

Brain Injury: Post concussive syndrome secondary to an aircraft accident pre-flight in 2010

Explanation of mask: The left side of my mask is marbled like the pain and loss hidden within the beauty of marble – an illusion of immortality. The fragmented veins are symbolic of the loss, fractures, confusion, hearing loss, pain and sadness. The red and blue flowers depict the spirit before and after breaking through. The butterfly over my mouth is symbolic of my silence in dealing with the changes for many years, not comfortable with all the little changes, not understanding the effect of others. The right side is the Japanese cherry blossom representing the fragility and beauty of life; a minder to me that life is beautiful, and although tragic, my strength and inspiration comes from the people around me: my children, my mother, family and my amazing friends who helped me during times when life wasn’t so beautiful.

Name: Anonymous

City: Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Brain Injury: n/a

Explanation of mask: n/a

Name: Anonymous

City: Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Brain Injury: n/a

Explanation of mask: n/a

Name: Anonymous

City: Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Brain Injury: n/a

Explanation of mask: n/a

Name: Andrew S.

City: Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Brain Injury: October 13, 1992, while walking my bike through a crosswalk after school, a car struck me, threw me 20 ft. in the air and I landed on the back of my head.

Explanation of mask: Emotions – I’m a “cool dude”; have a great sense of humour; I love making people laugh/I love to laugh. Black depicts my hair, or lack thereof!! Sticker: “I know who holds tomorrow” and “He is able” refers to God and my faith in Him. God gives me hope and I don’t have to fear the future. The gold colour depicts my contentment with life.

Name: Anonymous

City: Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Brain Injury: n/a

Explanation of mask: Dark side is the now and the other side is what I hope the future brings.

Name: Anonymous

City: Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Brain Injury: Frontal lobe head injury, car crashed into a transport.

Explanation of mask: Very sad right now and hope to find happiness again in the future.

Name: Wendy

City: Brain Injury Association of Sarnia-Lambton

Brain Injury: Caregiver to husband who has had a brain injury

Explanation of mask: As a caregiver, my mask represents the journey I have traveled along side my husband. The colour pink is a favourite colour of mine and it represents the positive roads we travel…happy trails. The blue is smaller in size on my mask and it represents the not so positive moments. It is only a small part of our overall journey. On each side I have included warm feelings and not so warm feelings. I am honest…it is not always easy. The dragonfly represents the beauty of life and how we can use our minds to fly anywhere. Our spirit will carry us on.

Name: Tracy

City: Brain Injury Association of Sarnia-Lambton

Brain Injury: In 1981, September, I was hit by a car in Wyoming, Ontario. I was in a coma for three months in the London hospital.

Explanation of mask: My mask shows how they shaved my head and put in a left v-p shunt in to drain fluid from my head. I was home for Christmas that year and each day I became better. I guess you could say that was my parents’ Christmas gift that year. I went to the Rotary Children’s Place following my accident and received speech therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy. All of my therapists were great and today I am a much-improved individual.

Name: Sherry

City: Brain Injury Association of Sarnia-Lambton

Brain Injury: My dad has a brain injury.

Explanation of mask: Having a parent with a brain injury is about teamwork. You need to work together in order to get things done. You also need to be careful how you word things, as it can be taken in a completely different context. Regardless of how difficult it gets, there is always unconditional love flowing in our relationship.

Name: Ron

City: Brain Injury Association of Sarnia-Lambton

Brain Injury: Workplace accident in July 2014. Diagnosed with PTSD in September 2014.

Explanation of mask: Red means the sadness the injury causes me. Blue means a calming feeling. Green symbolizes a strong tree that keeps growing. Yellow is always in the moment and the sun is all around me.

Name: Paul

City: Brain Injury Association of Sarnia-Lambton

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident in 1973

Explanation of mask: Goalie mask for Mike Palmateer, back in the early 1980’s playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs

Name: Pam

City: Brain Injury Association of Sarnia-Lambton

Brain Injury: Loving caregiver

Explanation of mask: n/a

Name: Michael

City: Brain Injury Association of Sarnia-Lambton

Brain Injury: Epidural Hematoma from an assault

Explanation of mask: Brain injuries can be a big thing that no one notices, that’s why I painted the shape of an elephant. There are so many feelings associated with life after Brain injury that explains all the emotions on my mask. There is a tree because there is growth after trauma. Brain injury can leave you exposed and your brain in open to the world. The spiral represents confusion and changes that happen after an injury. The yellow colour is both sickness and health and loving yourself through it all. It is a confrontation with the world of the mind.

Name: Martin

City: Brain Injury Association of Sarnia-Lambton

Brain Injury: Car accident…woke up four days later.

Explanation of mask: Warrior, over-achiever, under-achiever, broken paths, new paths, old paths, new beginnings, road traveled, dead ends, run out of road, see new, review old, transformation, solipsism.

Name: Marie

City: Brain Injury Association of Sarnia-Lambton

Brain Injury: Caregiver for Beverly

Explanation of mask: This has all been a new experience and we have learned a lot on our journey. Most interesting and surprising.

Name: Marg

City: Brain Injury Association of Sarnia-Lambton

Brain Injury: Brain Aneurysm and a shunt insertion about six weeks later causing short-term memory loss.

Explanation of mask: Coming from a time of anger and sadness, my mask represents a time of growth to the present day: 1) happiness, 2) being able to plan for future improvements, and 3) control of my life with on-going hopes for future goals.

Name: Linda

City: Brain Injury Association of Sarnia-Lambton

Brain Injury: Car accident, eight months in a coma, coming home from my son’s home in Toronto.

Explanation of mask: Relaxing, happiness, calming.

Name: Jessie

City: Brain Injury Association of Sarnia-Lambton

Brain Injury:  I was a caregiver to my ex-partner who has a brain injury.

Explanation of mask: My ex-partner was very abusive. The puzzle pieces represent how I was trying to determine if it was his brain injury telling him to hurt me. Half of the mask is painted in bright colours, which represent the okay days – peace at last and family was my support. The darker side of the mask reminds me of the horrible days…why me?

I wish this wasn’t happening. Look out means it’s his bad day, so look out. The zipper down the centre of the mask represents how he changed from a perfect person to the unzippered horrible person.

Name: Janet

City: Brain Injury Association of Sarnia-Lambton

Brain Injury: Automobile accident in October 1990 (Caregiver)

Explanation of mask: Pink side is our life before my son’s accident and left side is after.

Name: Jana

City: Brain Injury Association of Sarnia-Lambton

Brain Injury: A motorcycle hit me while I was walking on the sidewalk in Thailand, during my vacation.

Explanation of mask: This mask explains exactly how I feel after my accident. It is important for people to know that I am still a person with feelings, but my injury has left me with so many questions.

Name: Fred

City: Brain Injury Association of Sarnia-Lambton

Brain Injury: Car accident

Explanation of mask: I went through a lot of different phases after my accident. Darkness at the top, concussion. A mix of blue and black describes my battle. Recovery – The red brightness was when I was coming through to the more positive side of my journey.

Name: Dennis

City: Brain Injury Association of Sarnia-Lambton

Brain Injury: Small motorcycle accident, October 19, 1975. I loved riding on trails and through fields. I was 11 at the time.

Explanation of mask: My mask on the left hand side is dark in colour, which represents the weakness I have on my left side. I also have short-term memory loss. This can be very challenging. It is a journey through life. Blue represents my “good side” – happy and functional. In May 2002, I married my very understanding wife – together we found the Brain Injury Association. The butterfly and smiley faces remind me of how I felt as a child, no care in the world. Never did I believe my life would change so quickly.

Name: Carolyn

City: Brain Injury Association of Sarnia-Lambton

Brain Injury: Family members: 1) brother – child, motorcycle accident, 2) husband – died after a fall onto his head, causing a severe ABI; 3) brother-in-law – motor vehicle accident.

Explanation of mask: The numerous brain injuries in our family have been devastating, hence the lines across the mask. They represent the hurt, pain, anger and frustration over the years of being impacted by brain injury. The tears are heartbreak and sadness of losing family members and having to find a new normal for my sons and I. The threaded buttons are representing me stitching my life back together. The flowers and butterfly represent starting my life over and finding happiness.

Name: Beverly

City: Brain Injury Association of Sarnia-Lambton

Brain Injury: Brain tumour

Explanation of mask: Better days ahead.

Name: Trevor

City: Peterborough, ON

Brain Injury: As a result of 21 years of having epilepsy testing showed that brain damage had started to happen. Fortunately I was a candidate for surgery; two surgeries were performed that resulted in five pieces of my brain being removed.

Explanation of mask: I was 16 when I had my first seizure and started battling depression. The eyes represent the day-to-day difference trying to cope with these problems. While trying to keep my sanity through these challenges, the hope and support I received from family and friends has kept me pushing forward. Though life has felt very much like a roller coaster, the fight has cultivated an inner strength. That strength along with a positive attitude I hope will restore harmony to the chaos.

Name: Taylor

City: Peterborough, ON

Brain Injury: I was in a MVA in 2006 when a teenager ran a stop sign.

Explanation of mask:  I wanted to show how it is to exist in a world where everyone sees me as totally normal and has high expectations of me. Inside I always feel “less than,” confused, no filter, cognitive issues, memory issues, pain, etc. Always putting a happy face on and pushing forward; trying everyday to get back to, well, I have no idea where or what I am trying to prove actually.

Name: Tasha

City: Peterborough, ON

Brain Injury: Rugby

Explanation of mask: My mask is very dark and metal looking because ever since that rugby game, my days have been darker, as well as how heavy my head feels sometimes. I just want to smash it to put things back in place, as irrational as it sounds. The broken mirror contributes to feeling life I have a piece of glass shoved in my skull, but mainly to visualize the lost sense of self I have experienced. I am not the same person I was before that game. The black tears portray a little of how emotionally traumatizing it’s been.

The crews are to show pain but also go along with the dysfunctional metal head. The mouth is hard to explain. It goes along with not knowing who I am anymore but there’s more to it. Everything is censored and I find myself trying to explain how it is I feel or what exactly is wrong but I can’t find the words to let someone else know what it is I am gong through, and I choke.

Name: Steve

City: Peterborough, ON

Brain Injury: Assault

Explanation of mask: I installed the fishing on the orange side because I plan to get up and go out fishing this year. I feel grateful to be alive. When I work my program without getting upset, I have good days. My 12 step program is similar to the AA program but I use it as an everyday living strategy. I get frustrated quicker than I used to but I am hoping to stay in my program because it helps me get through each day.

Name: Ron

City: Peterborough, ON

Brain Injury: Surgery

Explanation of mask: When I had my brain injury, they took out a piece of my brain. After that I was very angry a lot of the time. The eyes on my mask show how tired I feel. Now I am happy and positive more than angry.

Name: Ron

City: Haliburton, ON

Brain Injury: Hit by a vehicle when I was 4 years old

Explanation of mask: This mask represents joy and happiness. I chose a calm, relaxing colour.

Name: Ray

City: Minden, ON

Brain Injury: Multiple major concussions

Explanation of mask:

  • Red = Anger
  • Purple – Confusion
  • Hole = Damage/Pain

Name: Phil

City: Peterborough, ON

Brain Injury: Car accident, sports, violence

Explanation of mask: The puzzle pieces, with missing ones, represent my brain. I have a number of lesions on my brain. I’ve had part of my hippocampus removed and I had a brain infection from one of two brain surgeries. There are missing parts in my memory, my personality, my cognition, etc. The rainbow on my face represents the hope, the joy, and the love of God that I have been given as a result of my brain injuries.

Name: Pat

City: Peterborough, ON

Brain Injury: Workplace accident in 2007. I was servicing a large machine when the hydraulic lift failed and the heavy cover landed on the back of my head forcing my skull into the inner workings of the machine. I did not comprehend the situation I was in and when I became conscious again, I manged to lift the cover off my head and realized I was injured.

A few years later, I had a car accident which set me back with my therapy as well as years in the recovery process. Another couple of years passed when I had lost my balance and had a fall down the stairs into the basement. My head and body bounced off the walls and railings and I was alone and unconscious for an extended period of time.

Explanation of mask: Since the beginning of my journey with the ABI’s, I have endured countless trials and tribulations. I still maintain that “every day is a new beginning.”

  • COLOUR (represents the brain): at one point represented by PTSD and challenges that followed. It now exemplifies change, dance, movement, courage, learning, faith, strength, creativity, patience, tenacity, resilience, peace, health, socializing, dreams, joy, laughter, family harmony, friendships, learning, growth, the past, the present, and the future.
  • TRUNK (represents the brain stem): symbolizes strength, balance, and the core of people who facilitated the Renaissance of Me. To my amazing daughters, friends/family, doctors, nurses, therapists and case workers, I humbly thank you all.
  • ROOTS denotes who I am with the determination I have to evolve and to withstand my greatest challenges in life as I know it now.

Name: Marc

City: Haliburton, ON

Brain Injury: Fell off of a swing when I was in grade 2, concussion.

Explanation of mask: My mask is a visual interpretation of the thoughts and feelings as I reflected back on the brain injury that I had when I was in second grade, and how it changed my life. It is a testament of my journey to self-healing and the conditions brought about because of it and of who I am, my mask puts into images the feelings and emotions and thoughts of what I cannot express in words.

On the right side you see the image of a jail cell door with a key lock, my years after the injury was one of having to deal with relearning everything, not having access of my past and being sort of like a stranger, I had lost all of my past memory of everything that had happened in my life before the injury. I had a clean slate, no way to remember any of what had gone on before I woke up from a concussion and had no past, just the now. I was functional be I felt from another planet, school was difficult, I could not grasp basic concepts easily, my emotions were foreign to me a sort of non-reactive clarity had come between them and me.

The left side of the mask is a shape somewhat like a person in profile. People were strangers, there was no familiarity, my family even they were strangers. I accepted that they were my family and went on from there. The top part of the mask is the way I have been able to cope with the life I lead after in injury, feeling being alone in the world I discovered my imagination and found comfort in nature. I became a visual person and I began to draw. I did have some times of depression but mostly I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak.

On the right side of the mask is an icon image of a skull. It’s not a threatening skull, it represents the death that we all have to face, the losses we have to suffer and the truth that it is all part of life, and the preciousness of life as a process, an energy that we are a part of.

Name: Linda

City: Peterborough, ON

Brain Injury: Brain Aneurysm. It just burst one night: fortunately my partner was home so ambulance, helicopter, and I was sent to St. Michael’s Hospital. three months later and 6 surgeries because of complications and infections.

Explanation of mask: The spot approximately where it burst. The worst pain of my life. The shunt that is now in place for life. The tube to the shunt and to the other part that goes down to my stomach now. But as times goes on, the further away from the aneurysm you get, the better my life is becoming. I have my licence back and will get back to riding a Harley, but with a bit of caution as the road is slippery now.

Name: Larry

City: Peterborough, ON

Brain Injury: Multiple blunt force traumas, falls, and motorcycle accident.

Explanation of mask: Protection of head – farming is a very dangerous career. People should appreciate farmers for what they do for the rest of humanity. Be more courteous to farmers because they work hard for everyone. Be more observant to motorcycles. Don’t take short cuts. Avoid putting oneself in dangerous situations. Look for escape routes. Plan for a situation to go bad. Try to avoid putting yourself in harm’s way. Injuries cost everyone lost time and financial pain.

Name: Kim

City: Lindsay, ON

Brain Injury: Dropped on my head as a baby

Explanation of mask: I chose the rainbow because I’m always searching for my pot of gold. I just want to be happy.

Name: Kerry

City: Peterborough, ON

Brain Injury: Severe Epilepsy, concussions, 3 brain surgeries, lack of oxygen and side effects of medications.

Explanation of mask: Purple for Epilepsy Awareness. Lightning bolts are seizures. The buttons and green pipe cleaners are the Deep Brain Stimulator and wires. The grey block on each side of my mask are the metal plates on my skull to protect my brain. The blue lips represent my lack of oxygen during certain seizures. The green on one cheek is a bruise I got during a seizure. The blood shot eyes are a side effect of my meds.

Name: Kayla

City: Peterborough, ON

Brain Injury: Bicycle Accident. Pot hole took the tire off. I flew over the handle bars and landed on my face. I was unconscious for 15 minutes.

Explanation of mask: The screws depict the daily headaches I have. Key pain points include my temples. My eyes are sunken in to depict what it feels like to have everything feel so big. Whether it is sounds, sights/lights or just a simple daily task, I feel so in my head and everything around me feels magnified.

The exposed brain depicts not only the main area of my injury, the pre-frontal cortex, it represents my feelings of being exposed in so many ways but specifically, emotionally. Due to the location of my injury, I feel emotionally charged and unable to hide or regulate my feelings. It has been a struggle to feel any kind of normal since my injury.

Name: Katherine

City: Peterborough, ON

Brain Injury: Shaken Baby Syndrome

Explanation of mask: Let’s start with the rainbow, that explains how generally happy I am. I work well with a schedule. On No, here’s a storm; it could be as simple as two appointments on the same day. It could be bad news, a phone call. One simple “life” task can put me right over the edge. The symbols represent how sometimes I’m just scatterbrained. The colour black represents that I need simple instruction because most stuff goes over my head. Overall it’s a hard thing to live with, my goal is life coping skills and to MASTER it.

Name: Joe

City: Peterborough, ON

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident.

Explanation of mask: This mask shows a lot of different aspects of my life. We will make this a short but sweet story. My injury saved my life. Due to my lifestyle an choices, they were leading me to a life that would have ended in a negative way. Since my injury, I have had many more positive occasions in my life for the last 24 years.

Name: John

City: Peterborough, ON

Brain Injury: I was in a truck crash when I was 17.

Explanation of mask: Confusion, loneliness, and cheerfulness are how my brain injury makes me feel. I do not remember about my past before my injury.

Name: Jeff

City: Peterborough, ON

Brain Injury:  I was attacked on the side of the road by one man who I heard did this for a pastime.

Explanation of mask: To show the steps of my recovery in which may never end.

  • ORANGE: First step of recovery – felt annoyed, hurt, and I was determined to get better.
  • GREEN: Irritated, inadequate, and was very eager to get better.
  • YELLOW: I felt passionate, tender, and hopeful.
  • WHITE: Where I am sort of now. I’m quiet, warm, and wise.

Name: Jessica

City: Haliburton, ON

Brain Injury: Cerebral AVM Removal

Explanation of mask: My mask shows the two faces/lives I feel pulling at me.

  1. The old me who is happy with a red heart, however, the darkness surrounds me.
  2. The scar from my surgery and my somber expression, with red to show the light I have found within.

Name: Jen

City: Peterborough, ON

Brain Injury: My brain injury wasn’t caused by a single event; it has in fact, likely been a part of my life since my first serious bump to the head at age 9. Here we are, almost 30 years and 18+ concussions later, (I’ve always been a bit adventurous) with causes ranging from weird, everyday incidents gone wrong to bizarre circumstances most people might not believe…everything from slip and fall accidents, cycling, snowboarding, rollerblading, white water rafting and bungee jumping to launching myself eye first int the corner of my desk in my sleep! That particular beauty was the 4th concussion of September 2017. (4 in 4 weeks!) Add a few whiplash events and a bout of Lyme disease (possibly twice), and you get a very long an drawn out roller coaster recovery. In January 2018 I was rear-ended at a stop light and suffered whiplash and another concussion. While definitely not the only cause, it appears that this incident was the proverbial last straw; until this one, I’d always been able to somehow push through and carry on as though everything was okay. For better or worse, this experience has changed me.

Explanation of mask: The mask shows how all of our experiences are woven together, how everything is connected in ways we don’t even realize. Each solid colour has a meaning: Red for anger, Orange or courage and confidence, Yellow for energy, Green for new beginnings, Blue for peace, Purple for moodiness, Pink for play and Turquoise for healing. The butterfly is a symbol of metamorphosis, becoming; does the caterpillar know what it will become? Does it simply accept that it will change and allow it to happen? Or does it decide what it wants to be and work toward it? Maybe we’ll never know. The butterfly wing represents possibility, change and growth. The small squares, which begin in an orderly manner and gradually drift into disarray, are a reminder that no matter how hard we fight, entropy happens. We can either fight or spend all our energy trying to constantly re-order everything, or we can simply embrace the beauty in disorder and find new ways to see things. This new vision is shown by the fabric behind the right eye.

Name: Jane

City: Haliburton, ON

Brain Injury: Car accident.

Explanation of mask:  Express daily life living things and positive future.

Name: Hiroko

City: Peterborough, ON

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident.

Explanation of mask:  I really like colour and being colourful. These are the people on my team who really helped me and I am very grateful, especially my Occupational Therapist. I also wanted to show my love of socializing by putting people holding hand together. Each of the four faces is different, happy, sexy, sad and crying. They represent the different emotions I have felt as I recover. I have learned so much in my recovery and I will continue to learn.

Name: Gord

City: Peterborough, ON

Brain Injury: Brain Aneurysm

Explanation of mask:  Outside is quite different from feeling inside! We’re lucky to be here today and the road behind learning to walk and talk again. Now quite a few of the routines that we perform every day have been learned for a second time.

Name: Fraser

City: Peterborough, ON

Brain Injury: Epilepsy

Explanation of mask: “My Eyes are Closed” – The colour for Epilepsy is Lavender, my eyes are closed because I can’t see when I have a seizure and with my seizures I have no sense of smell, or taste. The dates are significant to my life and the impact that it has had. The symbols are positive and negatives feelings.

Name: Elaine M.

City: Peterborough, ON

Brain Injury: various:

  1. Hit in the left eye with a hard ball at close range with considerable force
  2. Fell down my basement stairs
  3. Slipped on ice and smacked my head against the car frame
  4. Hit myself on the right side of my head with a mallet
  5. Hit on the head with my car trunk lid on a windy day
  6. Fell off a curb

Explanation of mask: The ball at the left eye signifies the hit “Check it!” The Honda symbol represents my injuries with my car. The hammer represents the mallet I used in bashing my head out of frustration. The words behind my eyes represent my feelings/emotions. my forehead has two Bento Boxes. The one at my left eye is my “old life” and it was smashed by my accidents. My “new life” Bento Box has much of my time filled with various appointments. The list of hospitals signifies where I went for concussion/brain injury support. The words on the right side lists where I was injured (locations). The stitches on the mouth show how I now feel about my injuries. I cannot discus them, it’s old news. I care but nobody else seems to. I am afraid to go our and fall again, that’s why the pale complexion.

Name: Elaine D.

City: Peterborough, ON

Brain Injury: Numerous head trauma capped off with a motor vehicle accident in July 2011.

Explanation of mask: The colouring in the mask: The dull grey at the brain level reflects the unclear focus that I can experience. The black lines that go through reflect the negative impact that the brain injury had on my sports. I played many but softball and hockey are what I was known for. The crew represents the spiking, stabbing pain that I experience sometimes. The cloudy eyes indicate the days that are unfocused as well as the times when I am unable to see a bright future. The rays that are yellow represent that this is changing and things are slowly getting better.

The gradual change in colour from grey to green represents the new me, a new life, and hope.

Name: Debbie

City: Peterborough, ON

Brain Injury: HSV Encephalitis – It damaged the right side of my brain.

Explanation of mask: The compass is me not knowing what direction I will be going from here. I am suffering from tinnitus. I have a treasure of friends, doctors, and professionals who help me. I see sunshine every day. Some days are not so smooth (a little rough). I have forgotten many things. I see beautiful things and people all around me. I take pictures with my cell phone. I am a person of strong faith. It gives me strength. I CAN walk. I have to do retraining to get my licence back. The road signs are like my life; stopping, yielding (changing directions), and go. I wear the necklace, because it is like a smile saying I am okay. I am a happy person and I am at peace.

Name: Charles

City: Peterborough, ON

Brain Injury: Broken jaw, left hemisphere (right eye popped out 2-3 inches) “Fight” skull fracture.

Explanation of mask: “Embarrassed Pain”

Equivalent exchange for everything lost there is always something gained. Balance of good and evil. That is in everything. Our lives based on the choices we make. “You chose and made your life path, no one else.”

Name: Christopher

City: Peterborough, ON

Brain Injury: Neurohaptic feedback, resulting synaptic, grey matter burn, cognitive cerebral damage to right side hemisphere.

Explanation of mask: Fallout on left and right hemispheres while holding onto balance of opening third eye. The growth and refined dragon whiskers learned from the struggle/balance forged in fire and softened from newly acquired remedies.

  • Right hemisphere: Fallout from miracle pills still reigning/raining over cerebral processes
  • Left hemisphere: tightly woven neural patters hard woven from life’s challenges and life’s pursuit of knowledge
  • Third eye: Opening to functions, organs and systems; aliffiameter radiating light on truth; exposing falsities and lies.

Name: Carolyn

City: Peterborough, ON

Brain Injury: Meningo-Encephalitis – don’t know where it came from

Explanation of mask: “The Texture of my Pain”

I was training to be a nurse when I got sick. The more experienced nurses told me that pain was the most important symptom. Every day, twice a day, the nurses came in and asked me “How’s your pain?” I was in survival mode. I couldn’t see properly. Everything was too bright. I didn’t want to be the complaining patient my words were gone. So I folded my legs, closed by eyes and tried not to cry. Ride it out.

Name: Blaine

City: Peterborough, ON

Brain Injury: MVA when I was 15

Explanation of mask: I wonder what life would have been life if the accident didn’t happen. I was in my first year of high school when I got in to the car accident with my brother-in-law and a friend who died. The black on the mask represents my blurred vision. I keep positive and always keep myself busy. Behind every cloud there is a silver lining.

Name: Ann

City: Peterborough, ON

Brain Injury: Car Accident – December 11, 2015

Explanation of mask: “Invisible and Forgotten”

Please don’t forget us! We are wives, girlfriends, significant others, sisters, grandmothers, aunts, friends, co-workers and former co-workers.

Name: Wayne

City: Brain Injury Association of Peel-Halton

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accidents, 2010 and 2015

Explanation of mask: “Fish Out of Water”

Struggles to accept new reality.

Name: Viola

City: Brain Injury Association of Peel-Halton

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident

Explanation of mask: Different emotions post-accident. Sense of loss and confusion.

Name: Tyler

City: Brain Injury Association of Peel-Halton

Brain Injury: Assault. I was assaulted by a gang, because I stood up for an individual who was assaulted over a girl. I was knocked unconscious and continuously hit after being concussed.

Explanation of mask: Hope that I can express the emotion which is behind the brave, loving faces of my cause.

  • My experiences as a son and brother (flower); as a teammate (hockey stock); as an athlete (maple Leafs); a classmate (holding hands).
  • Passionate supportive humans ♥♥♥ were all greatly impacted by my ABI.
  • Battling physical inflammation
  • Feeling humbled in class – repeated readings
  • Feeling slow and frustrated
  • Due to physical injuries, broken jaw, orbital bones, fracture, my ABI went undiagnosed for quite some time. This to be became an obstacle rather than a challenge.

Name: Tony

City: Brain Injury Association of Peel-Halton

Brain Injury: n/a

Explanation of mask: n/a

Name: Thomas

City: Brain Injury Association of Peel-Halton

Brain Injury: Anoxic Brain Injury. Near drowning – lack of oxygen for at least 30 minutes.

Explanation of mask: Represents me in my “new” life appropriately.

Name: Stephanie

City: Brain Injury Association of Peel-Halton

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident

Explanation of mask: n/a

Name: Sherry

City: Brain Injury Association of Peel-Halton

Brain Injury: Sports injury

Explanation of mask: “Lost”

  • Dark side – of the injury and the emotions I am to manage each day.
  • Lighter side – where I am headed

Name: Sherri

City: Brain Injury Association of Peel-Halton

Brain Injury: A tree fell on me during a storm.

Explanation of mask:  I walk around everyday with a vice gripped onto my brain. When what I am doing is taking too much cognitive effort, it’s like someone is tightening the vice. Sometimes it is a quick severe tightening an sometimes it is slow and steady.

I feel like the cogs in my brain are filled with glue or honey and it is often just so hard to think. It is impossible to explain to people that thinking causes me headaches.

Even with a good night’s sleep, my brain’s battery is never at full charge and every little thing I do draws more energy from the battery than it used to.

The 3D glasses represent the vision therapy exercises I do to try to be able to read without triggering a headache.

Name: Sandra

City: Brain Injury Association of Peel-Halton

Brain Injury: Multiple bumps, very few from sport or MVA

Explanation of mask:  Each day I wake with hope. Today will be the day of I can do….. Hope can quickly turn to frustration and anger. Through my faith and music, I can get to the end of one more day.

Name: Russ

City: Brain Injury Association of Peel-Halton

Brain Injury: On April 12, 2009, it was my first day off work in three months and I was invited to an Easter dinner at friends house. That’s all I know about that day. After dinner I was involved in a motor vehicle accident. I was flown to Sunnybrook Trauma Centre because the local hospital where I was taken, discovered a bleed on the brain. It was at Sunnybrook I was diagnosed with a Traumatic Brain Injury, along with injuries to my knee, entire spine, neck, shoulder, etc.

Explanation of mask:  “Disconnected”. My mask is simple, a Traumatic Brain Injury leaves you feeling disconnected from yourself, family, friends, work and every aspect of daily life. The symptoms from TBI are far too long to list. There is no cure or “magic pill” to repair injuries to your brain. Only hard work and dedication to learning new strategies can help you survive day to day.

There is a quote from the textbook “Educating Educators about ABI” that really struck home when I read it, and I would like to share it with you.

“While people may have memory problems, they do not generally forget who they wanted to be before the injury. Dealing with the redefinition of one’s goals, relationships, and orientation in learning and social environment can result in feelings of hopelessness and depression. With help and understanding, these feelings can be overcome, but it takes work and dedication.”

Name: Rena

City: Brain Injury Association of Peel-Halton

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident in 2011

Explanation of mask: n/a

Name: Ray

City: Brain Injury Association of Peel-Halton

Brain Injury: Hit by a drunk driver

Explanation of mask: My masks tells people that I love Rock & Roll.

I like Kiss and Alice Cooper.

Name: Parm

City: Brain Injury Association of Peel-Halton

Brain Injury: Work accident

Explanation of mask: Agitated, frustrated, angry, Sad and confused.

Name: Keith

City: Brain Injury Association of Peel-Halton

Brain Injury: Hit by SUV while riding my motorcycle on East Sunday, April 24, 2011.

Explanation of mask: “Hotter than Hell”. One side of the mask shows the way life was before the accident.

  • Sports, very calm and energetic, full of life.
  • The other side shows pain, trauma, anxiety and anguish.

Name: Kathy

City: Brain Injury Association of Peel-Halton

Brain Injury: n/a

Explanation of mask: My mask is all about positivity.

I want to show people that it’s OK to have a brain injury.

Name: Kat

City: Brain Injury Association of Peel-Halton

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident, 2014

Explanation of mask: When affected by a brain injury, your whole life is turned upside down. My mask represents how I feel inside emotionally, physically and mentally. It is my attempt to portray my grief of loss of my life prior to the accident and how on the outside no one can see my injuries, so they think I’m fine.

Colours in the brain area:

  • Red = Anger
  • Blue = Sadness
  • Green and Black – Disappointment/grief and depression
  • Black spots on the top left hand side+ Actual injury in my brain
  • Blue tears = Sadness and disappointment
  • Green = Nausea, feeling unwell, unlike myself
  • Peace sign = I am not at peace
  • ~ Areas being affected: memory, word finding, adjustment, constant pain, my brain and mouth working together, dizziness, headaches
  • Red on cheeks = Embarrassment when I do/say the wrong thing, forget stuff or when someone tells me “I look fine”
  • Rainbow & flower = I try to put on a happy face and stay positive.

Name: Karen

City: Brain Injury Association of Peel-Halton

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident in 2009. Suffered whiplash and concussion.

Explanation of mask: My mask represents 3 things:

  • My life prior to my car accident: My life before the accident was vibrant. Full of activity, fun, joyful and accomplished. I was able to work.
  • My life after the accident: Since the accident, I have very little social interaction and have lost several friends. I have been unable to work since 2011 due to severe headaches, poor concentration, light and noise sensitivities, memory problems and many other post-concussion symptoms.
  • How I look today: How I look today is the same, which masks the underlying issues from the brain injury. I have had to give up the hope of every having my old, high speed processing, multitasking brain back.

Name: Kaijah

City: Brain Injury Association of Peel-Halton

Brain Injury: n/a

Explanation of mask: Happiness and Beauty. No matter what happens to you, you can be beautiful and happy.

Name: Jeff P.

City: Brain Injury Association of Peel-Halton

Brain Injury: I was in a motorcycle accident in 2010 during which I was thrown over 18 ft. from my bike, landing on my front right side of my head, with such a force as to break my C2 vertebrae, (infamously known as he “Hangman’s Disc”. The same injury that paralyzed and ultimately killed actor Christopher Reeves), burst my thoracic discs four and five, mid back and sustained a catastrophic brain injury to my right frontal lobe.

Explanation of mask: My mask is intended to depict the two main sides of emotion, both the positive and the negative, experienced by a survivor in the aftermath of sustaining a Traumatic Brain Injury as we struggle daily through the many stages of the long term “Journey of Discovery” to understand and accept the new individuals we have become.

The lightning bolt defines the injury. Striking in a split second. Splitting the mind in its dichotomy forever. In my case, utterly and completely amazed, and thankful and so overwhelmingly grateful to be alive and perhaps even more so, not paralyzed for the rest of my life.

The right side of my mask highlights this positive. All that was so good in my life and all that still exists as such even now. So much remains the same in many ways. The “Blue Sky” and its birds. The typical facial depiction and expression you try and convey to the world everyday as you go forward, beginning to question everything you once were. Yet now sensing deep within your mind and your heart that everything has changed forever. Some subtly and some overwhelmingly catastrophic all at the same time. This side shows the fight to remain in all that is positive.

The left side of the mask shows the deep-set struggle through the negativity of the pain (nail to the forehead), the daily setbacks (lightning bolt impact, taking it on the chin), the never ending struggle of acceptance (the black eye) and the endless resulting sorrow (the tears) and anger (the red and black) to try and accept a life lost in an instant.

Name: James D.

City: Brain Injury Association of Peel-Halton

Brain Injury: Subarachnoid Hemorrhage at work, April 8, 2015. It felt like I was hit with a baseball bat on the back of my head. I felt like all I wanted to do was roll on the floor, but I managed to walk across to the front of the plant where I went to the washroom and threw up twice. The ambulance arrived. I must have blacked out and I do not remember anything else except waking up in hospital.

Explanation of mask: “Positive and Unknown Divide”. The mask represents that looking and feeling are two different things. The words on the mask represents the things I have experienced and still feel. It wasn’t until I went to the support group meetings that I realized other people had different injuries and have similar life experiences. I was able to express how I felt and found out others feel the same way too. It made me feel more normal because they feel similar effects. I am looking forward to more support group meetings to help me balance the positive and the unknown.

Name: Howard

City: Brain Injury Association of Peel-Halton

Brain Injury:  Motor vehicle accident

Explanation of mask: Journey to hope.

Name: Georgia

City: Brain Injury Association of Peel-Halton

Brain Injury:  n/a

Explanation of mask: The mask signifies the cold journey I have been on.

Name: Everton

City: Brain Injury Association of Peel-Halton

Brain Injury:  Brain Tumour, date of injury: May 7, 2009

Explanation of mask: “Bless”

  • The red mark and silver dot represents damages
  • The black represents the darkest time after injury
  • Focus on what you can do NOT what you can’t
  • The white. Out of the darkness and into the light
  • Don’t stop fighting.

Name: Ed R.

City: Brain Injury Association of Peel-Halton

Brain Injury:  Motor vehicle Accident 2013, T-boned at intersection by distracted driver, sustained catastrophic physical and cognitive injuries.

Explanation of mask: “Identity Crisis”

  • White – the shell of what once was
  • Black – broken mind, physically and cognitively
    • Confusions, Questions
    • Broken Speech/language
  • Gold – “Golden silence”. Can’t keep up socially, lost thoughts
  • Red – Loss of self
  • Green/Black – Frustration, profanity as an expression.

Name: Diane F.

City: Brain Injury Association of Peel-Halton

Brain Injury:  On June 26, 2007 I went to work as a normal day and was having a great day at work. I knew at the end of the day I will going on vacation. But at 4:10 in the afternoon my life changed. I got hit on the left side of my head, neck, shoulder and upper back.

Explanation of mask: From that day forward I had to change the way I life because of the pain I was dealing with. Trying to find help and explain what’s going on with me it’s hard because they don’t see the injury. I was put down many times and told to get over it. Nobody knows what you are going through until they walk in your shoes. Your brain is never the same and you try to go on living but it’s not that easy to do. The chronic pain slows you down and going out in crowds makes it even harder for a person with a brain injury. It’s just not a smack in the head, it’s your whole life that changes and you have to make adjustments to your lifestyle. More people have to understand what brain injury survivors go through because it is a rough road and you need support to get through. Short-term memories and not doing more than one thing at a time, it’s hard on a person with a brain injury and it’s very frustrating. And short-term memory, some people take advantage of it because they know you cannot remember and you cannot defend yourself sometimes because you don’t know what went on. I am very thankful I found the support meeting in Georgetown to find out information and to make my life a little easier. But I know I still have to make life changing decisions in order to move one.

Name: Diane D.

City: Brain Injury Association of Peel-Halton

Brain Injury:  March 2011 a careless driver ran the red light, t-boned my car and caused a Traumatic Brain Injury. The MVA caused a concussion, whiplash and an undiagnosed subdural bleed! Fifty-one days of a slow bleed, cranial mid line shift and a huge hematoma resulted in two brain surgeries. The craniotomy surgery caused a stroke.

Explanation of mask: My mask represents who I feel I have become with this invisible brain injury from March 2011 to the present.

The red side of my mask represents the damage and the rage I felt during: my intensive rehab sessions, the loss of independence, the loss of professional life, the loss of self image and the pressures on my family. My body could not do many functions properly. I was constantly scared and overwhelmed The separate orange pieces represent only some of the losses and challenges that I have experienced as my brain struggled to make the needed connection to heal!

The Blue side of my mask represents the now calmer me who does continue to experience many of the issues caused by the Acquired Brain Injury but I am still learning to move forward and to adjust to the New ME! The blue flowing lines represent that my brain continues to heal by making meaning connections.

The yellow centre line represents my hope and the support systems that connects my feelings of range with my calmer self now.

The invisible trauma to my brain and to my whole being continues to frustrate me! Most people do not understand the needs and the constant issues experienced by brain injury survivors and their families!

My acquired brain injury is a life-long journey!!!

Name: Tom

City: Vista Centre Brain Injury Services (in partnership with the Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley)

Brain Injury:  Stroke

Explanation of mask:

  • The red side of the mask represents me before my stroke “happy”
  • The green side of the mask is what I am feeling now “frustrated”

Name: Terry

City: Vista Centre Brain Injury Services (in partnership with the Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley)

Brain Injury:  I was working in Kingston and I fell off the ladder. I went home with a massive headache. I woke up the next day and I had a massive stroke.

Explanation of mask:  Before I had my stroke life was great.  I had a good job. I loved going to work each day. At home I had done all kinds of renovations on the house and I did all kinds of work on my truck or other vehicles.  I was always positive.  I had great self-esteem and I was very independent.

After the stroke – I lost my job, I lost my licence, I lost my independence and I lost my self-esteem.  Now I am always second guessing myself, I get confused, I feel worthless and I don’t have the courage to do things and I find myself fearful.  To me I feel useless now.

Name: Shawn

City: Vista Centre Brain Injury Services (in partnership with the Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley)

Brain Injury:  I was walking and hit by a motor vehicle.

Explanation of mask: I tried to keep it simple having the mask show the duality of my feelings.  Hurt that I was robbed of one possible future, yet resilient and helpful to others moving on.

Name: Savin

City: Vista Centre Brain Injury Services (in partnership with the Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley)

Brain Injury:  n/a

Explanation of mask: The markings on my mask reflect areas and senses (vision, scent, auditory senses) that were effected by my TBI. The markings also reflect areas that have been physically damaged. The colours I used reflect the type of chronic pain and sensation I have. The words behind my eyes and behind the skull reflect the psychological impact and changes to my identity, dispositions, my emotional state, and my outlook on my change of identity.

Name: Ross

City: Vista Centre Brain Injury Services (in partnership with the Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley)

Brain Injury:  n/a

Explanation of mask: Multi-coloured mouth – “difficulty with speech”

  • Orange eyes – “frustration with vision”
  • Dark blue and light blue forehead represents “being fucked up”
  • Red Nostrils – Redness on nose
  • Yellow right side of forehead “why not?”
  • Grey, brown black beard represents “own appearance”

Name: Peter

City: Vista Centre Brain Injury Services (in partnership with the Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley)

Brain Injury:  Fall down a metal fire escape

Explanation of mask: The up and down smile represents that I was happy before the fall and now I feel:

  • annoyed
  • different
  • nervous
  • sad.

Name: Mike

City: Vista Centre Brain Injury Services (in partnership with the Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley)

Brain Injury:  Motor Vehicle Accident when I was 7 years old.

Explanation of mask: The black lines represent the scars of the accident. I experience dizziness and get tired. On the bright side, there are days when I feel calm and content.

Name: Jamie

City: Vista Centre Brain Injury Services (in partnership with the Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley)

Brain Injury:  Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of mask:

  • Eyes closed represent anxiety
  • Mouth closed – afraid of what people would think about him
  • Feeling ignored by his peers after his accident. I had many friends before the accident.  I was one of the most popular students in the school
  • After the accident I lost contact with my friends and feel isolated

Name: Germaine

City: Vista Centre Brain Injury Services (in partnership with the Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley)

Brain Injury:  Motor Vehicle Accidents – In the first accident I was in a vehicle that was T-boned. Two months later I was in another accident in which the car I was in was rear-ended.

Explanation of mask:

Left Side:  Is representative of me before the accident;

  • I did my makeup daily
  • loved colors and
  • was very confident

Right Side:  Is me since the accident.

  • I have less color in my life
  • Emotions mostly flat
  • Lost my confidence
  • Left me embarrassed, dizzy & angry
  • I feel that I have been cheated
  • I am constantly sleepy and fatigued
  • I am overwhelmed and frightened
  • I learned to be creative

Name: Evan

City: Vista Centre Brain Injury Services (in partnership with the Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley)

Brain Injury:  I hit my head on a mailbox without a helmet on while four wheeling

Explanation of mask: I am very outgoing and a person who is willing to try pretty well anything within reason.

“DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF”

Name: Christine

City: Vista Centre Brain Injury Services (in partnership with the Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley)

Brain Injury:  Brain Tumour

Explanation of mask: Before my brain tumour I was a happy person. After living with my brain tumour I became angry.

Name: Carlos

City: Vista Centre Brain Injury Services (in partnership with the Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley)

Brain Injury:  My brain injury was caused by an infection.  The infection came as a result of long time use of anti-rejection medications for my kidney transplant.

Explanation of mask: This mask is divided into two sections:  before and after. I first chose a list of feelings/emotions and then colour-coded them appropriately.

The before section is represented by the RED COLOUR –  able, adequate, assured, brave, capable, comfortable, confident, easy going, energized, good, relaxed, safe satisfied and stable.

The after section is represented by the BLUE COLOUR – afraid, angry, challenged, confused, determined, different, distracted, exhausted, frustrated, gracious, grateful, helpful, hopeful, interested, lovable, lucky, surprised, tired, worried.

Name: Tony

City: Pathways to Independence – Ottawa/Renfrew (in partnership with the Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley)

Brain Injury: Had a stroke during surgery

Explanation of mask: The mask reflects the image of my moods with the three colours:

  • The Red my part of my life during surgery
  • The White is me excepting the changed part of my life
  • The Green is looking forward to a better life

The tears are the days that remind me of how life was, and the way it is now.

Name: Susan

City: Pathways to Independence – Ottawa/Renfrew (in partnership with the Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley)

Brain Injury:  Intracerebral hemorrhage

Explanation of mask: My mask represents before and after.  The right side represents all the things I loved and did before my stroke.   The left side represents the things I lost because of my stroke:

  • I lost my voice, it has been a challenge
  • I lost my confidence
  • I lost my ability to drive
  • I lost my attractiveness
  • I lost my career and success

I put letters over my mask because it is hard to find my words.  My AA and family has made it more successful.

Name: Sandra

City: Pathways to Independence – Ottawa/Renfrew (in partnership with the Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley)

Brain Injury:  Blow to top, right side of head. Concussion, Post Concussion Syndrome

Explanation of mask:  I have split the mask in half:

  • My pain is constant on the right side at the top point of impact where the rock is and radiates out from there. It feels like a sharp pointy object has been stabbed into my skull and into my brain
  • The pain radiating out from the point of impact is represented by pipe cleaners. It is nerve pain.  Most days I cannot touch that side of my head even to brush my hair.
  • The red squiggly lines are nerve pain as well.
  • The four diamond tears represent four years since I was injured and four years of recovering. A lessening of symptoms, thus the tears get smaller.
  • There is also a sharp line from the point of impact straight down behind my eye to the mid cheek area. This also causes pain.
  • My lips are pale and tight from the pain and constant nausea which is represented by the pukey green beside my mouth.
  • I wear sunglasses because fluorescent lights cause extreme nausea and can disorient my thoughts. I become confused, struggle to find words.  Sunglasses have become an essential part of my wardrobe.  I get strange looks being in stores at night with them on.

The other half of the mask was me before.  Before people looked at me strangely and said “what’s with the glasses”.

Four years later, it can still be a bother.  When I struggle for words and look around for someone to please read my mind!!!  It is better and does not happen so often. I am so grateful for that.

I do miss the old motorcycle riding, working having a blast ME!  But this is the NEW ME and I am OK!  Onwards and Upwards.

Name: Robert

City: Pathways to Independence – Ottawa/Renfrew (in partnership with the Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley)

Brain Injury:  I hit a 2000 lb. moose at 100 kph.  I developed epilepsy and had a seizure and fell off my 4th floor balcony landing on my back.  They were years apart but I spent 1 year in hospital for each.

Explanation of mask: The left side of the mask displays me all in order. Everything was okay in my life. Even a cop for the military. The right side of the mask explains the pain and disability that happened in my life. There are many things that I lost the power to control.

Name: Mark

City: Pathways to Independence – Ottawa/Renfrew (in partnership with the Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley)

Brain Injury:  Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of mask: I painted my mask blue because it is my favourite colour. I placed words over my mask that represent my feelings towards my TBI:

  • I used loss over my mouth because I suffer from vocal cord paralysis
  • I used repairing because I have to repair myself to become better again
  • I used limited because I am limited to do the same stuff I used to do
  • I used different because I feel different compared to everyone else
  • I used miracle because it is a miracle that I am alive because I was pronounced dead at the Civic Hospital
  • I used leap of faith because I have faith I will get better one day
  • I used challenged because it has been a challenging recovery
  • I used gratitude because I am thankful to be alive and thankful for all the help I receive
  • I used routine because I have a routine to get better and to take control of my life
  • I used forget because my biggest challenge is my short term memory loss

Name: Lisa (inside view)

City: Pathways to Independence – Ottawa/Renfrew (in partnership with the Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley)

Brain Injury:  Meningioma

Explanation of mask: “My Life Since”

My thoughts and feelings (see outside view of mask)

Name: Lisa

City: Pathways to Independence – Ottawa/Renfrew (in partnership with the Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley)

Brain Injury:  Meningioma

Explanation of mask: “My Life Since”

My thoughts and feelings (see inside view of mask)

Name: Liard

City: Pathways to Independence – Ottawa/Renfrew (in partnership with the Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley)

Brain Injury:  Meningioma

Explanation of mask:

Menin = brain lining

Gioma = tumour

I had three operations for meningioma and cranial plasti.  The meningioma was fist sized.

My motto:  What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!

Name: John

City: Pathways to Independence – Ottawa/Renfrew (in partnership with the Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley)

Brain Injury:  Brain Bleed in my cerebellum and two strokes

Explanation of mask:  I painted my mask green because I love the green grass on a golf course in the summertime. I covered my mask with things that have brought me joy since my injury:

  • My family is very important to me
  • I love sports especially hockey’
  • Movies, especially “3D”: are my favourite pastime

Name: Jarrett (inside of mask)

City: Pathways to Independence – Ottawa/Renfrew (in partnership with the Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley)

Brain Injury:  Meningococcal meningitis

Explanation of mask: All the things on the blue side make me happy

Name: Jarrett

City: Pathways to Independence – Ottawa/Renfrew (in partnership with the Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley)

Brain Injury:  Meningococcal meningitis

Explanation of mask: Sports take the worries away from me

  • Music makes me forget about my injury
  • The black part on my mask is because sometimes I get angry
  • All the things on the blue side make me happy (inside of mask)

Name: Jane

City: Pathways to Independence – Ottawa/Renfrew (in partnership with the Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley)

Brain Injury:  CVA in thalamus, temporal and occipital lobes.  Stroke to right side of brain affected left side

Explanation of mask: My mask is in two colours because I am two different people right now.

The dark side is me now because I have to learn to live in darkness.  Before it used to be lots of light.  I lost my self and cannot find me so I live with this new person now who lives with great pain all day, every day. I am blessed to be here and grateful.  I have such great friends that have been here for me. Music has helped me gain back a lot of my movement.  I don’t want to give up.  The dolls are my family.  I am a mom to many children. Eating habits have become more  healthy. Family is the greatest thing in the world.  I am very loved and cared for by many. The ME I used to be died in 2014, now my new ME comes forth.  I have gained many great things and see things different.

Name: Henry

City: Pathways to Independence – Ottawa/Renfrew (in partnership with the Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley)

Brain Injury:  Truck/car accident

Explanation of mask: The question marks on my mask represent the indecision I sometimes feel. My left ear hurts and I lost my sense of smell.

Name: Elsie

City: Pathways to Independence – Ottawa/Renfrew (in partnership with the Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley)

Brain Injury:  Lack of oxygen during septic shock incident after kidney stone removal. Also had to have my kidney removed. It took another 11 months to find out I had a brain injury.

Explanation of mask: The pink part is how I look normal to most people

  • The purple lines represent the working and full function of my brain still working
  • The red lines and dots represent the disconnection in processing and loss of cognitive skills. No or little short term memory.  Although my brain works harder, I have learned to work it smarter
  • The green is my new learned coping skills
  • The sparkles in the green is my creativity and new calmer simpler kind of life.

I am a different person but I’m compassionate, loving, caring, and kind.  I still have my sense of humour and intelligence.

I am vibrant, courageous and determined to maintain and keep my I-n-d-e-p-e-n-d-e-n-c-e

Name: Curtis

City: Pathways to Independence – Ottawa/Renfrew (in partnership with the Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley)

Brain Injury:  Brain Tumour (Ganglioglioma) discovered at the age of 10 due to migraine headaches daily.  There were 5 surgeries between age 10 – 18; March 2005 10 years old, Dec. 2005 11 years old, May 2009 15 years old, Feb. 21, 2013 18 years old and on April 4, 2013. Tumour free for 5 years as of April 4, 2018

Explanation of mask: My mask represents who I may look like today.  Each of the staples represents one surgery which I have had five of.

The lowered eyebrow represents the nerve damage caused after my fifth brain surgery.  I feel lucky to have had minimal damage during my surgeries but this also has made me feel bad for other people who have (ABI) and worse outcomes than myself.

The grey side of my mask also represents the side of my head/face that has damage.

The green side represents both my favorite color and the undamaged side of my head/face

Name: Brandon

City: Pathways to Independence – Ottawa/Renfrew (in partnership with the Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley)

Brain Injury:  I was born with a brain tumor on my pituitary gland. Little did we know it was also affecting my vision. At the age of 5 I had surgery, unfortunately, it was unsuccessful. I had another at age 7, followed by radiation. By age 11 my sight had almost fully returned. In 2010, at age 25, the tumor had returned and this time there was no saving my vision. The tumor was successfully removed entirely, but I would left permanently blind.

Explanation of mask: Upon recovering from surgery I began my journey in faith.  I prayed every morning and evening for God to give me my vision for 1 day, so I can see my family one more time.  I said this same prayer every morning and night for over 2 and half years.  One day, miraculously, spots of sunlight, then movement, shadows began to be seen.  Eight years later I have perfect eyesight, something medical professionals said was impossible.  I knew how it happened, my prayers had been heard and answered.

My faith, my family, my friends, they are my “everything”.  They stood by me and supported me through it all.

I once was blind, but now I see

God is Good

Name: Wanda

City: Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley

Brain Injury: n/a

Explanation of mask: What a beautiful day!

Snap your fingers…….

BIFF…..BOOM…..BAM…

My life has changed….this is the new me…………………HELLO!!!

…..life & experiences may come & go

…..but my face remains the same

……an accident has changed my game

…..the red circle illustrates brain fog, vertigo, short & long term memory loss….it’s the core of my daily challenge….one that I say “no” to a lot

…..nature soothes my soul, calms my heart…..therapy 🙂

…..it’s call regenerates my mind, body & soul each day

…..the sun represents the core of my support….brightness….family…friends…health….natural healing & hope

When the sky is grey, my minds eye  only sees the sun, courage,  happiness & what’s next in life…I forget that I’m challenged,  this is the new me & I like me….do you understand….I will not be held back….

Rivers represent the future, present & past…..I sit and observe…it all happens right in front of you….make it happen whatever “IT” is……

I  sit there in the ”moment” grasp the present & enjoy my new life for whatever it throws @me….

Are you ready for the new me?

Name: Tim

City: Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley

Brain Injury: Left side of mask represents the 1st 5 years after the accident, controlled by Doctors & lawyers without knowing how to mitigate the collapse of my previous abilities. This side of mask is dull and lifeless with a turbulent mixed up brain that was short-circuiting. I could see no opportunity to progress, no future and no life.

Explanation of mask: Right side – Reflects the new life of possibilities, which opened up as I learned strategies to increase my brain’s ability to function. Eventually, mainly through exploring diet, exercise strategies I learned to increase my memory, mental endurance and ability to focus my mind. Due to Omega 3’s fish oils’ importance for brain function, I have several fish swimming over a brightly coloured clearer functioning brain.

The butterfly symbolizes my life free to explore, and to learn. I know this trip through brain injury has allowed me to see and experience life with more meaning and consequence than might have otherwise been.

Name: Tanya

City: Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley

Brain Injury: Two events in my life were the apparent causes of my limits.

Explanation of Mask:  I do find swimming, forest exploring, and poetry to be exuberating and I love to bake, sew and garden.  I have sewn a bridesmaid dress, curtains, suits and more.  Although I’ve been diagnosed with spatial, memory, and other disorders, I find some hobbies help improve these challenges. Sometimes I am very challenged to do things due to my limits or fatigue from medication; still also I find challenges invigorating and I enjoy a sense of achievement when done.

Due to disappointment or lack of motivation I sometimes need to ‘kick’ myself to bother trying, but am often glad when I do try. One of my greatest challenges is reading, especially long books, yet there are some I have thoroughly enjoyed; also I feel it is an achievement that I attained a B.Com (Hon) degree.

There are special friends and family who help complete my life.  I have had some strong relationships with doctors, but facing several conditions and surgeries in life, often they seem too busy to hear the patient.  I value the few who took time to hear. Altogether life offers me an overall sense of peace upon achievement.

Name: Stephanie

City: Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley

Brain Injury:  I fell backwards into a lake, hitting my head on a submerged rock while expedition camping at Algonquin Park.  I was 6 hours out so we had to canoe and portage back, then drive 3 hours.

Explanation of Mask: (Title of Mask – Thalia and Melponene) This mask represents the dualities we experience after our head injuries.  First, there is the separation of ourselves, I became a different person after my head injury even though I still wanted to do the things I love.

It also represents the emotional lability I experienced after my MTBI; one second you’re on top of the world and the next you’re angry/irritable or crying for no reason.

Finally, I wanted to portray the duality of pain (physical and emotional) I continue to experience as I heal and the compulsion to express the opposite when people ask me “how I am doing”.  There’s a lot of pressure to be a “good survivor” and stay positive, downplaying symptoms to avoid bringing others down and keep hope alive.

Sometimes I really do feel positive and hopeful but the image I portray does not always reflect the way I feel inside.  I stay positive out of love for myself and the others around me, but it doesn’t mean “I’m back to normal” and not experiencing pain, it just means I want to get on with my life.

The unfinished stitching represents the healing in progress – It’s a journey and I may never be my old self but I will always keep getting better.

Name: Penelope

City: Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley

Brain Injury: Two and half years ago I was hit by an impatient driver.  She didn’t wait and turned left when she did not have the right of way.  Bang, I was left with PTSD and Post-Concussion syndrome.  My husband was left with a shell of a wife and my seven children without their functioning mother.

Explanation of Mask:  The colours blue and purple represent the hurt and my bruised soul. The water represents the many tears shed. The orange signifies the burning and pain in my brain. The orange ear plugs are for the sensitivity to noise. The glasses are reflective of the necessity to combat light sensitivity and blurred distorted vision. Butterflies are a symbol of the thoughts that flutter away. The words display my many emotions that have become a roller coaster in my life. The white bubble with the word useless on it represents the words that I try to say which come out all crooked and do not always make sense to me or to others. The gold lines are there to show the fractured life my family and I live.

Some individuals may be able to complete this project on their own. I struggled and required the help of many people to complete this project.

Name: Patricia

City: Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley

Brain Injury: Mild Traumatic Brain Injury, also known as a concussion, was sustained in August of 2016 when I fell from a horse. Almost two years later, I have been diagnosed with Mild Neurocognitive Disorder. This means that I continue to experience cognitive as well as other challenges as a result of the head injury.

Explanation of Mask:  The blue base coat on the mask is intended to represent all people, regardless of age, visual appearance, the ethnic group that they belong to or what they believe in.  Anyone can sustain a head injury at any point in their lives. Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries (MTBI) are also known as concussions, and can be caused by incidents including, but not limited to, a fall, vehicle-related collisions, violence, sports injuries, explosive blasts and other combat injuries.

The puzzle pieces are intended to represent the interconnected parts of the brain. If one or more pieces are damaged or missing, the brain and body may not work as they once did. It can be impossible to see the damage with machines such as a CAT scan or an MRI and modern medicine is still in the early stages of understanding how the brain changes and repairs itself.

The words on the puzzle pieces represent the feelings and symptoms I have experienced since I sustained my injury. They don’t always occur all at once and each person with an MTBI may experience these ot other symptoms, to varying degrees and time frames, over the course of their healing journey. I chose these words because they represent things that may not be visible to someone who meets me, even if they know me well. There are many positive things that can occur in the life of someone with an MTBI, but this mask is intended to expose the factors that may be invisible.

The missing puzzle piece represents loss. Everyone who sustains an MTBI experiences loss in some way, even if it is temporary. They may lose a job, a relationship or the ability to participate in activities that once meant a lot to them. During this time of loss, the support of family, friends and professionals has been instrumental in my healing journey.

The butterflies represent change; change experienced in the life of the injured person and their families, change needed in available resources and research and change that is always occurring in the brain.

Name: Natali

City: Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley

Brain Injury: In an instant… head smashes into concrete brain jolted self in pieces life forever changed.

Explanation of Mask: Everything is now different. Fragmented. Unpredictable. My injured brain makes me feel overwhelmed, vulnerable, anxious, frustrated, angry. Even if I look fine to you, even if I sound fine to you, it’s a deception. My brain works so hard to do even the smallest things that it used to do effortlessly. Things that I took for granted. This is life with a traumatic brain injury. It’s exhausting. You don’t see any of this. I live with it every moment of every day. There’s no vacation from it. I can’t leave it at the door. But hope remains. Like a butterfly breaking free of its cocoon, soaring past its limitations. Like the appearance of cherry blossoms, signalling spring and rebirth. Like kintsugi, the ancient Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer and gold, creating something to be cherished out of something that was damaged. It’s been over 6 years. Trying to put the pieces of my life back together in a meaningful way, even though the pieces no longer fit. Trying to create something whole again. Trying to see beyond the challenges. Trying to find beauty in the devastation, to find joy beyond the sadness and isolation. I’m working hard to accept this new version of myself. I hope that you can acknowledge, accept, and support me as I am now.

Name: Murray

City: Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley

Brain Injury: n/a

Explanation of Mask: Another brick on the wall…. Signifies the stubborn, unaccepting view of the label “disability”, who wants that?  Not me. Rainbows are an acceptance of the joyous part of my life with Angels by my side.  I have discovered a new love of Arts and Crafts, through support from family, friends and the Brain Injury Association. Courage and support is what they have done for me at the Brain Injury Association and now volunteering is as much a part of my life as adjusting to life each day. The bug in the core is the cause of my brain injury. Now, NEVER LOSE HOPE means never give up a lesson well learned at BIAOV.

Name: Mientje

City: Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley

Brain Injury: Backwards fall down stairs. I was happy, working, and on the go. I was overworked, stressed out, when I had to do an eye test due to working in front of a computer screen at the hospital. After the eye test, and good results, I bought fruit, and a fruit bowl in anticipation of my friend’s upcoming visit to celebrate the good news. I then went home to take my Golden Retriever (Tigger) out, when going up the steps I felt a push in my body, and fell backwards. My neighbours saw me falling, and called 911. I continued to try to get up the stairs, because my subconscious mind was still working (as per my neighbours). I had a severe hematoma, and was admitted to Toronto Western Hospital.

Explanation of Mask: When going home I had difficulties with balance impairment. I shed many tears, with a long road yet to travel. I felt imprisoned, but knew there were angels among us. The Lady bugs remind me of God’s good and loving animals. My faith in God keeps me going, giving me freedom, peace and serenity. I know I have this cross to bear, but God never gives us more than we can handle.

Name: Marc

City: Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley

Brain Injury: I was hit by a tree branch while I was walking on a sidewalk in September 2016.  So I have an acquired brain injury on the front lobe of my brain.

Explanation of Mask: This mask describes the yin-yang of brain injury rehabilitation. Like the yin-yang symbol, the mask has a dark aspect and a clearer one.

The yellow side of the mask shows the resilient aspect of my rehabilitation.  There’s a rainbow that rebounds.  I think it’s a good symbol of resilience because of the harmony of colours.  It has both light colours and darker ones.  As the rainbow, each colour goes in the same direction.  It’s a way of describing my focus on rehabilitation.  Each aspect of rehabilitation is important.  At first, I worked on the mental side of my trauma.  I went to group therapy to find the best way to deal with a trauma.  It’s a good way to find coping skills.  You also learn from what other people went through.

The second aspect of my trauma is physical.   I tend to have symptoms of fatigue because of the injury.  Also, my balance has to be improved.  Without my cane, I could easily fall when I walk.  I learned how to use one in the Rehab Centre.  Next step was to do yoga and tai-chi exercises in community health centres.  These activities are good in improving your balance.  I informed the instructors about my condition in case a posture was too difficult for me.   The treble clefs on the mask show my favourite hobby which is music.  It is a good activity to improve your coordination and stimulate your spirit. The eye lashes of the mask are in fact taken from sun pictures.  They are the sun rays.  The eyes of the mask show that I am cross-eyed as a result of my injury.

The blue side of my mask shows the darker aspect of my rehabilitation.  Since my trauma was something unexpected, I was not really prepared to deal with it.  The cheeks show the element of fear and tension I had to go through.  A close look at the picture on the chin of the mask shows bodies that look like sinking in water.  Many times I had that feeling of “sinking” into an out of control situation.  With patience, each challenge had to be dealt with one step at the time.  For example, mindfulness is a good therapy against anxiety. Breathing exercises can help you to control your heartbeat. A good analysis of your “darker side” can help you find solutions to your problems.

In conclusion, I hope my mask will inspire people to have a holistic vision of brain injury.  There are many solutions to several problems.  These solutions are found both in the physical and mental sides of human life. What works for one person doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work for you because each injury is different and everybody is unique in a way. Thank you for your attention.

Name: Magdalena

City: Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley

Brain Injury: I fell on snow covered ice delivering mail

Explanation of Mask:  My mask is expressing the way my life is right now. It is also showing how I used to be before my injury.

Name: KD

City: Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley

Brain Injury: Concussion

Explanation of Mask:  The fragility of a cracked eggshell symbolizes the vulnerability of a person affected by concussion to further harm from small everyday events such as a loud noise. The line also represents a graph of progress, with gradual progress interspersed with large and small setbacks. After a setback one is even more vulnerable to further setbacks in a downward cascade, just as an eggshell, once cracked, is easily cracked further. The brain sometimes feels hot and inflamed, liked bloodshot eyes. The facial expression is apprehensive: One never knows what might be about to happen that can make one worse.

Name: Katelyn

City: Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley

Brain Injury: n/a

Explanation of Mask:  The mask is in two parts because my injury left me paralyzed on my right side so the right side of my mask I have weights and that represents the rehab that helped me gain some strength back;

  • The blocks represent me putting my life back together
  • The tears represent the sorrow I have felt
  • The DisAble with the Dis crossed out represents that no matter what disability you have you will always be  Able
  • The question mark represent my thinking the first time when I first realized I had a disability I thought why me?
  • The Bandage, represents that “yes”, I have been damaged but I will never stop trying to put my life back together
  • The Door represents that just because a window closes I chose to open a new door for myself
  • The hearts represents all of my supporters that helped during the roughest times in my life
  • The star represents that no matter how dark any thing in life can get get there always is a bright side
  • The flower pot represents that you need to take more time to enjoy all of life beauties big or small
  • The quote “be the best you” represents the way I feel everyday you can always work to improve yourself no matter what
  • Be the change you want to see in others

Name: Jon

City: Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley

Brain Injury: Stroke

Explanation of Mask:  In the five years since my stoke, I have had to adjust to new circumstances – a new reality. After more than three years of failing to return to work, I applied for and began receiving, financial support from the Ontario Disability Support Program.

I also joined some brain injury support programs: Vista Centre Day Program and Adjustment Group and Step-Up Work Centre, Artistic Expressions and Peer Support. There I was able to connect with people who knew exactly what my challenges were. I had found my tribe!

I still get headaches when I need to concentrate for even moderate periods of time. I am often confused about my schedule and I have to put everything in my calendar. I need to take pills to sleep and use a C-PAP machine when I do. I become fatigues even when doing things I love to do: cooking and playing guitar, taking photographs and listening to music and, even playing video games.

However, with the help of my tribe – Step-Up and Vista and my family and friends – I feel like I will continue to be able to improve my life, to enjoy my hobbies and to eventually return to work.

Name: Jack

City: Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley

Brain Injury: I was walking my dog Marley in the East end of Ottawa and I was attacked for no known reason and hit on the head 4 times with a stick and left to die.

Explanation of Mask:  I have divided my mask in two to represent before and after my injury.

The telephone and Walkman are to illustrate that before my injury I was an avid caller to talk shows to voice my opinion on whatever subject being debated or discussed.

You will also see the words politics and activist.  You can see from the photos that I was very involved in the political world and was ready to take a stand whenever I felt it appropriate.  I was instrumental in getting free postage for children when they write their letters to Santa.

The other side of the mask is my journey to recovery and the program which I attend now the Step Up Program.  It is great going there because I met a lot of new friends.

The bottle with an “X” through it indicates that I no longer drink, nor do I smoke.

I still have my dog Marley but the thing I miss the most is walking him.  Due to poor balance it is difficult.

Name: Francois

City: Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley

Brain Injury: I had a tumour in the right sight side of my head when I was five years old. They said it was growing. They had to remove it and it affected the optic nerve in my right eye (optic atrophy). I only see a bit from my left eye (10%).

Explanation of Mask: The lion represents courage through all the things I had to go through after my brain injury: relearning how to walk, talk, improve my balance, and learning Braille.

The hand with the gift represents volunteering and giving back to the community. It also represents my gratitude towards the doctors without which I would not be here today and the teachers that taught me Braille. It makes me feel useful and it gets me out of the house.

The skier represents that I’m now able to do thing I was not able to before and it shows my determination.

The darkness behind the eye represents my sight – what I can’t see. The eye with the dot in it represents my tunnel vision of approx. 10%.   It no longer bothers me but it use to piss me off because I was different from other people.

The red half of the mask represents that I am now at peace with my brain injury. I put a smile on my mask to show that I keep a positive outlook on life.

The heart represents the love and support I get from other people (my family and friends).

I chose a four leaf clover because I feel lucky that they were able to find the tumor before it grew to big.

The man helping another up the mountain represents the BIAOV’S Step up Program where i am today. The program has helped me feel useful and able to participate.

Name: Carolyn

City: Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley

Brain Injury: Traumatic Brain Injury – Motor Vehicle/ Pedestrian Accident – 1998

Explanation of Mask: The road in in the middle of my mask represents, my forever recovery and the time spent on the pathway. The good and the bad, there have been many steps I’ve had to take and that it’s a never ending journey. 

The blue shows, every day is a different day whether it’s on the “Bright side or the Dark side of the Moon” (Pink Floyd). New opportunities come up daily but with many restrictions. All three colours come together and make me. 

The tears of music notes on the mask represent how I started to get my memory back after waking up from a coma.  Every song helped me relearn who I was, bringing back old memories and the head with headphones on represents how I escape from the world to concentrate and understand myself.

The lady pulling her hair and the angry lady with pigtails represents the frustration, aggravation, emotional, irritation, and pissed off feeling that I get when dealing with certain people that just refuse to not cooperate with me. Trying to take in new information and understand often results in headaches, anxiety, and frustration. It’s a hard world out there. The lady with her finger over her mouth is sign language for silence, which I need a lot of because almost everything aggravates me.

The bodies doing yoga, and stretching represent the physical recovery (physiotherapy) to gain strength back in my right leg which is a result of having a right side Hemiparesis.

The little green care bear is a tattoo that I got on my right shoulder as my little lucky bear because it is amazing how far I have come along with my recovery. The heart at the top represents the love, care, and strength from family, friends, and pets while going through this long recovery.

The maroon colour represents my strength and confidence I’ve gained through it all with my mother and step-dad.  My mother has taken me under her wing over the last 20 years and helped me find who I was, where I am going, how I am going to get there and that I have to do it, nobody else will.  Although I will have some help along the way.  “Get up, Stand up, Stand up for your Rights” (Bob Marley).

I am happy that I have joined the Step-Up Program because I am socializing with others who have had similar brain injuries, learning about new ways that I can apply myself into the work world, working on working with others and coming to the realization that I am not alone.

Name: Brittany

City: Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley

Brain Injury: Numerous surgeries for epilepsy

Explanation of Mask: My brick wall is to explain how I feel trapped inside my brain injury yet I have hope to get better. I put mom in the centre of my mask because she’s always on my mind and is my biggest help with activities of daily living. The butterflies are in memory of my Nanny who is also my guardian angel. The cracks display my brokenness, a heart for all the love my mother & uncle have and continue to show me. The tears show the hurt from all that has happened to me, the up and down smile shows how I don’t know how to feel. The bird is for my mom and for my hope to somehow break free from my injury.

Name: Ted C.

City: Brockville, ON

Brain Injury: Car Accident – 1962. I was pronounced dead.

Explanation of Mask: I mask out my aches and pains. I don’t complain. I am a rebel at times.

Name: Shannon T.

City: Brockville, ON

Brain Injury: I had epilepsy and had surgery for the seizures. It caused me to black out sometimes. My memory suffers from the epilepsy but mostly from the surgery. I have low energy levels & I forget a lot.

Explanation of Mask: The mask represents different stages of my life’s journey. The hair represents my alopecia that came from stress after my surgery. The lines on my forehead depict worry. The question marks depict my memory problems. The stitches represent the scarring from the surgery and after effects of the surgery & stress. The black behind the eyes is for depression & darkness, but I have a glimmer of hope things will get better with the pink eyes. The teardrop is for the sadness, my lips are for the smile I wear on the outside & frown on the inside. The green jewel on my lip represents all the medicines I take. The green shimmer represents the new me & the purple ribbon represents the epilepsy I had.

Name: Penny C.

City: Smiths Falls, ON

Brain Injury: The cause of my brain injury is because of a car accident when I was 2 or 3 years old and I was in a coma for 3 months, so I don’t really know what happened after I went into the hospital.

Explanation of Mask: The different things I put on my mask were church music that I like including Tell Me the Old Old Story and Amazing Grace. I also like country music songs like Friends in Low Places by Garth Brooks. Bed of Roses. I also was thinking of Koala bears and Panda bears because they’re cute and kittens and puppies. I also like when the clouds in the sky are a bright red and blue mixed together because they look like cotton candy. My last fun thing to do is going to the concert of New Kids on the Block and 98 Degrees with Victor and Victoria, my husband and friend.

Name: Max M.

City: Perth, ON

Brain Injury: Automobile Collision

Explanation of Mask: Feeling lost, battered, and bruised. But I will take the pain and rebuild myself, in spite of the difficulty. When life knocks you down, get up, dust yourself off, and respond with: You hit like a B****, then continue with your day.

Name: Michelle H.

City: Spencerville, ON

Brain Injury: Aneurysm in cerebellum. 8 months pregnant (pressure I believe from baby). 4 1/2 months in hospital – Toronto @ St Michael’s and Ottawa @ the rehab centre. While in Toronto I had 7 surgeries. At Ottawa I had to learn everything again.

Explanation of Mask: It has been 14 years but I still have very strong feelings. The different colours represent everything I feel. The red is my anger – why me. The yellow is my confusion – remembering. The blue is my frustration – not be able to do things I did before. The green is my guilt – leaving my children. The pink is my pain – my fibromyalgia keeps me from doing things. The orange is my determination – to do things with my kids. The brown is my fright – to never be able to do things that I did again. The white is my hope – that if I keep trying, I will be able to do things, and finally the purple is lucky – I’m lucky to be here and alive to watch and do with my kids.

Name: Kayla W.

City: Mallorytown, ON

Brain Injury: Right in the middle an AVM (Arterial Venous Malformation), an abnormal cluster of blood cells. Because of pregnancy caused it to burst. Had it from birth till I was 6 months along with him.

Explanation of Mask: Tired eyes because always tired. Para Transit because it was my means of transportation. Dybo sign because I am diabetic since 13. Watch because obsessed with time because my old watch from the Robin Easey Centre used to have alarms go off. Tree because of family. Cat paw because when I first was experiencing the bleed I was talking to my cat Flash who had passed away. All white with baby blue eyes. 7 stars because I love stars & 7 is my fave #.

Name: Kyle M.

City: North Augusta, ON

Brain Injury: Workplace accident. While I was loading a wood chipper, an untouched tree fell on top of me.

Explanation of Mask: The handcuffs represent my loss of control of my emotions. The globe represents everyone working together to get through a brain injury. The chalkboard shows there is a lot to learn about brain injury. Fireworks show each brain injury is different. The finger over the mouth means there is no reason to hide a brain injury, and to keep talking.

Name: Kenneth G.

City: Brockville, ON

Brain Injury: I was assaulted, fell and hit my head. This caused bleeding on my brain. I had emergency brain surgery. The post-operative swelling caused me to have 2 strokes which left me paralyzed on my left side and on life support.

Explanation of Mask: I have half of my mask painted blue, the other half white which represents a blank canvas or starting over. The green lightning bolts represent paralysis. I have a portion of my mask cut out to represent where they cut out part of my skull to allow my brain to swell. I also have a whiteboard to show my first way I was able to communicate. One of the first things I asked for in the hospital were the ingredients to make hollandaise sauce, so I have some eggs, whisks & butter. This shows that I never lost my knowledge and love for food and cooking after all I went through.

Name: Anonymous

City: Lombardy, ON

Brain Injury: Car accident x 2

Explanation of Mask: Left side: crying and unhappy. Couldn’t figure out what was going on but didn’t give up. Complained and felt stupid. Couldn’t do anything right no matter how hard I tried. Right side: Concentrated on what I could do. Looked on things positively and the sun came out. Things got a lot better with help of family and friends.

Name: Jessica T.

City: Smiths Falls, ON

Brain Injury: Auto accident at age 17. I was in CHEO 59 weeks. They said I would never walk, talk, do anything again. LOOK AT ME NOW!

Explanation of Mask: My mask has two colours. Orange represents the long journey I had to take to get where I am today. The heart means I had my mom and brothers; they’re in my corner. The star is for all the people that prayed for me. Green represents all the love and friendship that I have today. The ladybug is for all the luck that God gave me. I am so lucky for all the friends that stuck by me. My mask means NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE! BELIEVE IN YOURSELF.

Name: Jim B.

City: Lombardy, ON

Brain Injury: Car accident – hit by a transport truck and shoved into a cornfield.

Explanation of Mask: The explosion symbolizes the sudden and significant change that happened to my life when the accident happened (confusion, frustration, understanding, and patience). The mask is black because it was like being in another world with little understanding from others. It felt like being in the dark because there was not a lot known or support available. Over the last 35 years education and support has improved, but there is still a long way to go. The scrambled letters symbolize that communication was one of the after effects and trying to explain myself or interpret others is more difficult than before. This can cause me frustration. Until you go through it yourself, you don’t really understand it.

Name: Heather Q.

City: Smiths Falls, ON

Brain Injury: I was 39 years old and the aneurysm happened on my birthday, May 31, 1981. I had two strokes and 2 surgeries. I was in a coma for 2 months. I was not supposed to survive.

Explanation of Mask: The patch and incision represent my aneurysm. The black bubble represents my dark thoughts at this time and my coma. The brain was my confusion. The fear symbol was fear of the unknown. Anger was what had happened and trying to do things and trying to figure things out. The symbols of shame and doubt represent no hair and life not getting better. The hope symbol represents that my life did get better. The symbols of the white lily and white butterflies show me that my faith in God and my family and friends continue to carry me through. The other butterflies symbolize new beginnings and a continuing work in progress.

Name: Emmett R.

City: Smiths Falls, ON

Brain Injury: I was in a motorcycle accident.

Explanation of Mask: My mask is green because that is my favourite colour. The cross is my faith in the Lord who let me live. The confusion bubbles tells of my confusion at times. The cloud and rain tells of me never giving up. One of my stories is “Don’t worry be happy”. Diet Coke is my favourite drink. I am a 70’s man – Elton John, Cher, Dukes of Hazzard, and the Honey Mooners. I woke up later morning cheery and grateful that the Lord has let me live for a purpose he has not yet let me see. I love peanuts. The broom, shovel, and wrench tells the story of the handy man I have become around my home. So this ‘tis I.

Name: Dann P.

City: Brockville, ON

Brain Injury: Fall

Explanation of Mask: My mask shows a dark side and a sunny side representing the good and the bad (good days and bad days). The red symbol on the mouth is for my broken filter.

Name: Dave M.

City: Perth, ON

Brain Injury: A fall tore the aorta in my neck which caused a stroke.

Explanation of Mask: On the left of the mask are the things that I felt before the stroke. I was a very animated person and words slipped off my tongue naturally. The things that I took for granted, I am more aware of now. In my wildest dreams I never thought that this would happen to me, and even though it’s not the most severe kind of stroke (I was very lucky), it could have been very debilitating. As hard as I try to find my old self I still feel frustration with my new life. It has been three years since my stroke and even though I have come a long way, I am at an impasse. On the right of the mask are some of the feelings that I am very frustrated with. I feel embarrassed at times and fearful of what the future brings. I feel cheated yet, thankful when I compare my stroke to others. The colours on the left are bright and vibrant just as I felt my life was then. The colours on the right of the mask represent the stroke itself and the part of my brain that I am missing. Many of the feelings that I have are new to me. I have never felt challenged or confused, hopeless or horrified before. I am now very short-tempered, grouchy, and I lose control much easier now. I have constantly got to be in check for these things that I dread every day. My new life is very frustrating but now I am learning to deal with it. I am very determined to live out my life; I am hopeful as opposed to hopeless and I am focused as opposed to flowing. I’m finding peace in a daily routine that is focused on minor household chores, rest, exercise and not over-doing it. I’m more available for my immediate family but because I do not have the same energy level, I feel that I am missing out on a lot. I feel cheated and angry because of this but I do not feel sorry for myself. I am optimistic that things will get better in time. I’m only now thankful that I have a wonderful support system with my wife and I feel very lucky to have such a wonderful and loving core. In summary, I will keep on challenging myself to relearn many of the things that I took for granted.

Name: Anonymous

City: Perth, ON

Brain Injury: Brain abscess (April 1982)

Explanation of Mask: Left side – After surgery: When I first became aware of my NEW life. My heart was broken. My spirit was sad. I was lonely and confused. The odds of me living were low. My eyes felt like they were moving around. Right side – where I am today, now! Happy. Thriving. Moving forwards and living again! One door closed and a BIG window opened for me! Sunny days are here again. Flowers are growing and I see, I know what I need to do to be who I am! The third eye represents my new heart, which is full.

Name: Connie R.

City: Perth, ON

Brain Injury: Stroke (2015)

Explanation of Mask: Faith – makes me stronger. Scars – reminder of pains. Slow – get myself motivated. Home – where I’m most comfortable. Family – family means the best. Group – really like being with people like me. Friends – like me the way I am now. I am a different person now, but I like myself.

Name: Doug T.

City: Gananoque, ON

Brain Injury: Motorcycle accident on the highway. My helmet came off.

Explanation of Mask:  The 4 leaf clover is a sign of good luck that I am still alive and I can still see, although my sight is limited now. The eye patch represents the loss of sight in my left eye. That side of my mask is blue because of the sadness I feel about losing my sight. But the other side is green because I have two eyes so I still have sight on that side. That is my happy and lucky side. The DNA chromosome represents my family’s history of diabetes. I fear that I may face the same fate. The X’s are for my jaw that was broken during the accident. I put the word family on my mask because they were there for me and went through this hell with me.

Name: Christine E.

City: Smiths Falls, ON

Brain Injury: I was in an accident in ’78. A train hit the truck I was in.

Explanation of Mask:  The red, black, and purple paint represents all of my bruising and bleeds. I had a lot of broken blood vessels. The stitches are for the scar I have over my eye. I don’t remember why because I was in a coma. The lightning bolts represent what it felt like in my head. I had damage to my feet and back so I have a curvature in my spine and walk with a partial limp. The eyes represent some of the many different feelings I experienced. Dark blue – sadness, I cried a lot. Pink – thankful to be alive. Red – fear, anger, and anxiousness. Purple – confused, short memory. Yellow – laughing, positive attitude, and sense of humour. Clear – learning new things about myself. Light Blue – adjusting to change, my whole life changed.

Name: Cindy D.

City: Landsdowne, ON

Brain Injury: Initially undiagnosed aneurysm resulting six days later in a stroke that temporarily left me unable to walk.

Explanation of Mask:  There was/is a lot of pieces to the puzzle of my life since the aneurysm. Most of the symbols on my mask are self-explanatory. The paper clip is to represent the clip used to clamp off the aneurysm; the clover is to symbolize the fact that I feel lucky because things could have been far worse.

Name: Chris D.

City: Brockville, ON

Brain Injury: Cyst on the third ventricle of my brain.

Explanation of Mask:  The brain and the LED light represent where my stroke was. The red lines represent the veins that supply blood to the brain. Aphasia is an impairment of language, affecting the production and comprehension of speech and the ability to read and write. I spent 9 months without a driver’s licence. I felt stuck at home and had to rely on others. Getting my licence back has allowed me to go to the gym and get things I need when I need them (independence). I quit drinking and smoking. I am eating healthy and exercising. But the question mark represents my fear of having a second stroke.

Name: Chantal C.

City: Brockville, ON

Brain Injury: Ischemic Stroke – It was a Sunday and I felt fine. I woke up at night and something seemed wrong but I was able to ignore it until Wednesday, when I drove myself to the hospital. My dad had a stroke too, 3 months earlier.

Explanation of Mask:  The waterfalls symbolize the feeling of water rushing from one side of my head to the other. The music notes represent a huge part of my recovery, as music has always been an important part of my life, ever since I was little and it helped me get through my 10 weeks in hospital. The stitches across my mouth represent my inability to speak or sing after my surgery. The “God Answers Prayers” is important as it represents the power of prayer in times of need. The tear drops coming from my eye represent the pain and frustration I felt as I was recovering from my surgery.

Name: Connie A.

City: Perth, ON

Brain Injury: Ruptured brain aneurysm on Sunday January 29, 2012.

Explanation of Mask:  It was a typical Sunday, church, shopping and dinner with family. I took the dog out and never came back in. I was found in the driveway. I was rushed to Brockville General Hospital and then Ottawa Civic where they confirmed I had a ruptured brain aneurysm. I was put in an induced coma and placed on life support. Monday January 30, 2012 I had brain surgery. The next few days I was in ICU critical care. On February 9th they had me on my feet, not too stable. Feb 12th attempt to walk to bathroom, did not make it, and crashed to the floor. Test showed several blood clots, one formed near my heart producing a blockage to the left side of heart shutting it down. Now my major issue is not my brain but my blood. They found I was allergic to Heparin which they gave me on arrival. The next few weeks I had a huge team trying to keep me alive. I was released from the hospital March 6, 2012. I am a miracle girl!

Name: Brenda A.

City: Brockville, ON

Brain Injury :I suffered a brain aneurysm on October 8, 2003 while attending a breakfast meeting. They had to operate to stop the bleeding. During the operation they cut into my brain causing more brain injury.

Explanation of Mask:  Left Side (Old Me): The old me never left the house without her make-up perfect, her head held high and her clothes perfectly coordinated. The old me was a high heel wearing, professional mother of two with a thriving make-up business on the side. Right Side (New Me): The new me has to wear a hat because after the brain injury they put a metal plate in my head and now my head is sensitive to heat and cold. The cotton on my forehead represents the brain fog I now suffer since the brain injury. The tear on my cheek is because ever since my brain injury I cry easily out of frustration and out of the loss I feel for my former self / life. The right side of the mask that represents me now is wearing no make-up and has her eyelashes on crooked because I am no longer able to see very well, and can’t put my make-up on properly so I always feel unfinished. Ever since my brain injury I have lost a lot of the feeling sensation so now I wear earrings (I could never do that before because I hated the feeling of anything touching my neck). The old me died on October 8, 2003, the day I suffered my aneurysm, the day I suffered my brain injury. The new me is wheelchair bound most of the time. Gone are the days of high heels. I mourn the loss of the old me while working hard to make the new me the best I can be.

Name: Anne L.

City: Brockville, ON

Brain Injury: I had three hemorrhagic strokes from a brain stem arteriovenous malformation (AVM). In January 2016, I had a craniotomy to remove the AVM. 

Explanation of Mask:  The one side of the mask is how I feel inside; broken and sad for what I lost. I lost the ability to walk and I have limited use of my one hand. The cracks represent the part of me that feels broken. I put teardrops on my mask because I am often sad. I feel that no one truly understands me. I don’t even understand my own feelings sometimes. Since my injury I developed anxiety/panic attacks and I struggle to cope. Lips are half black because I have difficulty speaking. The other side of the mask is my hopeful and happy side. The butterflies represent hope and new beginnings. I continue to make progress and hope my progress will allow me a fresh start; my new beginning. The mask is half burgundy and half green to bring awareness to both: AVM and brain injury. Burgundy is for AVM and green for brain injury. “Remember as long as you are breathing it’s never too late to start a new beginning.” – Rumi

Name: Nita M.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident 

Explanation of Mask:  The right side of my mask shows the many things I have experienced with having Post Concussion Syndrome. Life became muddled, and there were so many changes to face. The left side of the mask represents my life now. It has taken me a long time to accept “the new me”. I know through time, courage, hope, and faith I am how I am now. I am a survivor!

Name: Keith B.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident 

Explanation of Mask:  I acquired a brain injury. My short term memory is impacted. I joined the club ABI and am glad as it helps me to see the happy side. The question mark represents the confusion I live with now. The number signs and dollar signs represent how I used to be an accountant before the accident. I look forward to attending church and club ABI every week. I love animals.

Name: Cindy R.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: Suffered a stroke while riding my horse, and fell off on September 1st, 2009.

Explanation of Mask:  I spent time in the hospital wondering what would happen. I had to learn to walk and move my right side with a broken shoulder. My injury has affected my vision, and is deteriorating more and more everyday. As a result of my injury I could not find work, and nobody would let me volunteer. My horse is my saviour! We go for walks, and she has been great therapy for me. I love her!

Name: Melinda C.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: I was diagnosed with a brain tumour in October, 1991 at 9 years of age.

Explanation of Mask:  I have daily headaches that shine out of my eyes, primarily out of my left eye. I have had many brain surgeries, with 31 days of radiation therapy on three sections of my brain. All of this has caused considerable nerve pain over the years.

Name: Sarah R.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: Result of multiple seizures/ falls

Explanation of Mask:  My mask shows my strengths and my mixed feelings due to my ABI. The puzzle pieces represent my frustration, confusion, stress, and my challenges. The question mark and exclamation mark represent my feelings of being overwhelmed. The clock represents how tired I am every day. The other symbols represent my positive outlook and how my life is. The sparkles represent my positive, upbeat personality.

Name: Melissa H.

City: Quinte West

Brain Injury: Passenger involved in a motorcycle accident. He got dragged, I was shot off a few good feet. I suffered a stroke due to impact, and a grey matter leak. Minus the pain, I’m okay; although improved, still working greatly on mental strength and endurance.

Explanation of Mask:  No life is “perfect” but I wanted to be a Police Officer. I went to school and worked two jobs. I am a mom, I drove, I had friends, I had nights out, and I was able to do it all over again.
Then suddenly, nothing.
All the support I thought was there, all the things and routine I depended on drastically changed. Signed out of Sunnybrook two weeks after the accident, one week after waking up from a seven day induced coma…to neglected medically (harsh to say, but true) and emotionally by friends for three years.
I don’t know what’s going on. Google states I’m going to die. Just listen and help me.
That hardened the anger that was already felt from losing my entire life. I’m angry and I’m not going to lie I’m depressed and sad. As much as I know I can’t dwell on “what was”, I can’t help it. I can’t shut that off, no matter how much I place everything I am happy and thankful for upfront. I love my family, and I’m proud of the strides I’ve made. I love having the few true friends there. In all, I’m quite content and appreciative, and again thankful.
But the anger is always there. That causes anxiety, but that’s the topic for another day.

 

Name: James B.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: I had an injury at work which caused my ABI.

Explanation of Mask:  My ABI has changed my life in many ways. I aim to live my life with compassion. I am at peace with myself and the cards that I have been dealt. Life isn’t as easy as it once was, but I am thankful to be alive.

Name: David J. L.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: Complications during surgery 1984.

Explanation of Mask:  When a person has healthy lips, the lips are a reddish colour. When they are purple or blue, it means a lack of oxygen or hypoxia. I am healthy now so the lips on the mask are bold red. There are seven red hearts and they represent the seven surgeries that I have had, and lived through. The nine black hearts represent the hypoxia, and the lack of oxygen. All the black dings to my head represent the life that I am now living. I am having to work through the dings to my head the best that I can. I try to be as bold with life as I can be.

Name: Willow T.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: Struck by a falling piece of steel

Explanation of Mask:  The mask represents how a blanket has covered my life and caused a muted understanding. The colours on the face represent my true nature – happy, gypsy, fun, and hippy. The fuzzy edges present how difficult it is to know where I end and you begin. The key(s) represent my many changing perspectives. The phone represents my willingness to communicate. The sun, clouds, rain, and bird represent that I belong to this earth still. The empty message balloon says I am okay not knowing and understanding everything now. My flower glasses represent me holding onto beliefs I have made to bring peace to my life. The arrow reminds me to look to the other side to finding meaning when I’m confused.

 

Name: Leslie L.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: MVA, January 2003

Explanation of Mask:  Brain injury is an invisible illness. My mask symbolizes that I may “look okay” but I am “broken”. I am living life to the best of my ability (with Band-Aids). The symbol on the right cheek is called a “Dagaz”, which means an awakening, enlightenment, and the “concept of becoming realized”. Learning all that we can and sharing what works always helps.

Name: Kate W.

City: Napanee

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident at four years old

Explanation of Mask:  The orange half of my mask represents life after my brain injury. I’m content with how my life has turned out. The doctors said I would never talk, walk, or get past grade two after my injury. The footprints represent how I proved the doctors wrong and now can walk. It also represents the journey of my life with a brain injury. I hate the word survivor because it makes me think of the TV show. I believe you never survive a brain injury; you just learn how to work with it. The graduation cap represents how I recently graduated from Loyalist College. The mouth on the left side represents my public speaking. On the first day of high school at a brand new school, I did a speech for my entire school explaining who I am, my brain injury, and how to communicate with me. If they didn’t understand me, I wanted them to tell me and not just smile and nod. The book and “author at work” picture represent my love reading and writing. After graduation I have continued talking writing course working towards getting my writing certificate.
The white half represents life before my brain injury. I have so many questions about life before my brain injury which is represented by the question marks. I can’t help but wonder how my life would be different if my brain injury hadn’t shifted my whole life.

Name: Bryan B.

City: Brighton

Brain Injury: Childhood accident

Explanation of Mask:  My accident happened when I was very young. I added some of my favorite things that I like to do to my mask. I put the game controller on there because that is one of my most favorite things to do. The band-aid and the word “ouch” is there because I am in constant pain every day. The tears show that I am often sad. I have the Hogwarts symbol because I love Harry Potter and that makes me very happy. The picture of the dog is for my dog TuTu. Sometimes TuTu goes away and then we get another one. Right now I have TuTu the 3rd.

 

Name: Gary S.

City: Trenton

Brain Injury: MVA, July 28th, 2011

Explanation of Mask:  My brain injury took away my ability to speak, walk, and live the way I was used to. I had to work very hard to re-learn to walk and talk again. The white on my mask represents the portion of my life that I never got back! My eyes see the pain that my accident causes me.

Name: Bryan

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident

Explanation of Mask: The ying-yang represents how hard it has been for me to put my life back in order.  It has been a very slow process and I am trying to get it back to the way that it was.  As time passes by slowly over the last 18 years, I have relearned to cook, clean, go to the gym by myself.  I got my full G drivers license back, but still live with 24-hour attendant care.  I feel as though sometimes I have hit a brick wall, and I am trying hard to make it over to the other side.

 

Name: Jodi M.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: I was driving and I hit black ice on November 13, 1995.

Explanation of Mask:  I picked some colours from the feelings on the sheet of how I was feeling after the accident. They are the colours that match my feelings. The grey shows how I was feeling lonely. The red shows that I was feeling frustrated and embarrassed because I can’t drive anymore. The yellow demonstrates how I try to stay positive with the way things are now. The brown shows my strengths, worth, and honesty. The blue shows how I now feel calm and peaceful.

Name: Marty G.

City: Tamworth

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident on May 30th, 2015

Explanation of Mask:  Blue for frustration and helplessness. Yellow for happiness, cheerfulness, and gratefulness. Red for anger, annoyance, and cheated. Green for alive, glad, love, lucky, and appreciative.

Name: Doug B.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: Aneurysm

Explanation of Mask:  I acquired a brain injury from an aneurysm. I was retired from the military and was working as a truck driver for ITS and was forced to resign from my job. This mask represents how I feel after my injury. The ribbon represents that I am an ABI survivor and the heart represents the love and support system that I have – my wife, children, club ABI, CBIS (Christine). The tear drops represent the sadness, memory loss, and overwhelming feelings I have. The face on the left represents anger and frustration as I am unable to remember things because of my short term memory loss. The plus sign represents my positive attitude. I never give up, stay optimistic, and believe “together we can do anything”. I am lucky as I am surrounded by a good support system and am thankful for this. The question mark represents how I am confused. I have memory loss however I have strategies such as writing things down. I receive lots of support from my wife and club ABI. The happy face represents how I continue to keep smiling and have a great sense of humour.

 

Name: Megan D.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident 

Explanation of Mask:  July 29th, 2014 I was in a motor vehicle accident. I spend four months in the hospital. That day my loved ones had hard choices to make. I did not know what traumatic brain injury meant. It has impacted the last four years of my life and my caregivers severely.
My mask on one side is puzzle pieces. It means to me that my life is shattered and some pieces don’t fit. Lost friends, memory, and independence.
The butterfly represents how “you see beauty”. You do not see my disability because it is invisible. Therefore, you do not see the tears, frustration, and fatigue. Brain injury is invisible and no two are the same.

 

 

Name: Dudley B.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: Strokes

Explanation of Mask:  I started out life wanting to be a mechanic and worked hard after school. I was basically in the gas station business from age 14 on where I met my lovely wife. Her dad owned the gas station that I worked at. The first stroke left my left side paralyzed. After more strokes came I lost my hearing in both ears. Then I had a cochlear implant on the right and the hearing is back. The brown in the mask represents my comfortability. The blue represents boldness and the red represents anger. The orange represents that I am capable.

 

Name: Olivia P.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident; diffuse axonal brain injury, subarachnoid hemorrhage, cerebral spinal fluid leaking from right ear for one month, skull fracture from under base of skull at neck up through side of head up through right temple, fractured mandible, severed right clavicle

Explanation of Mask:  The left side of my mask represents important aspects of my life pre-accident. I have used light colours to represent the gentleness, lightness, and ease of that part of my life. The colours used are true colours of the chakras, the energy centers of the mind, body, and spirit. The lotus flower represents the journey of life. The words represent the qualities of my being and important aspects and activities in my life. The pictorals illustrate a variety of activities I was deeply committed to and involved in. The heavy black line represents the accident when everything stopped and I experienced death. The red center panel represents how I experienced the first couple of years post accident. The red colours represent the struggle and energy required to survive.
The right side of the mask represents how life feels now and how I experience life now in the present – compartmentalized, divided up, and forceful. There is pattern – order – in the chaos I feel. There is defined order: true chaos just overwhelms the order there by shattering me and scattering me. The chakra colours are again represented – they are life – alive and loud. On the right side, post accident, the colours are bright and loud and scream. The red again represents the struggle to survive. The pink represents moments of grace and hope. The right side, at the edges of the mask, has no border or boundaries. This represents how my energy escapes my being, my body, and how easily energy enters my being, my body without my being able to stop the influx of outside energy or prevent the leaking out and away of my own energy.

 

Name: Maria R.

City: Quinte West

Brain Injury: Brain tumour

Explanation of Mask:  I painted half of my mask red to symbolize my daily struggles. I painted the other half blue to represent my happiness for life. The tear represents sadness, the question mark represents confusion, the “zzz” represents tiredness, and the lines sealing my lips represent my speech. The ribbon symbolizes that I am an ABI survivor. The road represents my road to recovery and relocating to Quinte West. The heart represents my love for my daughter and the butterfly represents happiness.

 

Name: Pauline R.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: Blackout

Explanation of Mask:  The left side of the mask indicates how I felt from December 2013 to March 15, 2014. In December 2013, I was finally free from debilitating back pain. I was free to live again. Things were looking great. I could now volunteer as I had planned to do in my retirement years.

The right side of the mask indicates how I felt after March 15, 2014. I blacked out and fell and hit my head on something very hard. I was partially in and out of consciousness until the paramedics arrived, and gave me oxygen. Then my life changed dramatically. Everything seemed overwhelming – overwhelming was a word that became a major part of my vocabulary. I was not able to carry on with my normal activities. I had to back down from responsibilities. I experienced extreme fatigue but tried to stay positive (bright purple mask and earrings). I had to learn to pace myself (indicated by the black lines). I remind myself that although my life is different, I still have family and friends. Such a blessing in my life.

Name: Philip B.

City: Quinte West

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident at 3 and a half years old

Explanation of Mask:  I painted half of my mask black to represent the anger I feel. I painted the other side blue to represent the happiness in my life. I am a survivor. The black half shows the sadness that I have because of my brain injury, and the darkness that I feel. The blue shows that I am a survivor and that I also have some confusion. I do have some independence and really enjoy club ABI that I participate in.

 

Name: Kevin G.

City: Quinte West

Brain Injury: Brain tumour

Explanation of Mask:  I was young when I got my tumour. I don’t remember life before my ABI. I used the colour red because it is my favourite and it makes me happy. My brain injury makes me tired zzzz! I often forget stuff so that’s why I painted the question marks. Because of my brain injury I have met some really great people. We go to the races and this makes me happy.

 

Name: Kim E.

City: Coe Hill

Brain Injury: 

Explanation of Mask: 

 

Name: Barry D.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: On June 7th, 2009 I fell down a flight of stairs and cracked my skull open.

Explanation of Mask:  I get overwhelmed when I get frustrated, and I get tears coming from my eyes. I feel proud of myself, and am satisfied when I get creative, inspired, zestful, enthusiastic, terrific, and passionate. I am grateful when everything is going my way.

Name: Sylvin P.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: MVA

Explanation of Mask:  ???????? I feel that I never really know what is going on in the future. I feel lost at times. I received a severe injury on the left side of my head. I try hard to enjoy life! I like music, fishing, bowling, and playing pool.

Name: Judy C.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: Concussion and whiplash

Explanation of Mask:  A few things were very prominent in coping with the concussion I had. First was my faith and the God who loves me and desires good for me. I learned a lot through this experience. Second, painting is a great way to deal with pain and to relax. The dark circles around the eyes are from lack of sleep and the hollow shell I felt like. The grey under my eyes with tears represent the sadness I felt but couldn’t cry out because it hurt my head to cry. The grey clouds above the eyes are for the foggy thinking I had for two years after I fell. The puzzle pieces represent the disconnect I had in planning. Two thoughts were separate and I could not overlap in planning tasks. The dagger is for the sharp pains out the top of my head, and the yellow lines are where I hurt. The green represents the scarves I now wear to lessen muscle spasms in my neck. The pink represents that I am peaceful and I like this colour. The stars represent how I saw stars.

 

Name: Shannon R.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: Hit by a car that ran through a stop sign. I was nine years old and was crossing the street.

Explanation of Mask:  The pink side represents how on the outside I appear the same as everyone else. You have to really know me well to recognize that I have a brain injury. The red side represents my brain injury and the brain bleed that I had. The pink glitter on my right side represents my rosy cheeks that appear the same as everyone else. The white dots on the opposite side represent how the two sides are different and how sometimes it is apparent that I am different than others. The broken puzzles pieces represent my broken brain that has been fit back together. Because of this I have ended up with a lot of confusion and lack of coordination.

 

 

Name:  Julie

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of maskI decided to paint my mask using colours to represent my brain on fire. That fire is starting to seep into the rest of my face and it feels as though now it will be a part of my life forever. I tried to paint make-up as it is my own daily “mask” I use so that people say “Julie you look great!”. They assume I am okay but I am struggling. The ruby red lips represent the weeks of losing my speech and the years it has/will take me to learn patterns again. I used to take speaking for granted – now I know what a privilege it is. My mask is both beautiful and ugly, dark and light, hopeful and discouraged — which is how I feel regularly.

Name:  Phil

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Massive hemorrhagic stroke at basal ganglia causing left sided paralysis.

Explanation of mask:   “Recovery Road”. When I awoke after my stroke in hospital, my first and most lasting impression of my situation was to imagine myself on a long, dusty road in the middle of an arid nowhere. I came to call this place STROKELAND. This mask represents the journey of recovery that has been my life for the past thee and one-half years. Long, hard, but hopeful and with the destination in sight.

Name:  Denis

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Stroke

Explanation of mask:  Prior to my stroke, I enjoyed fishing, hunting and camping. My stroke has affected my speech and communication. I have aphasia. It is frustrating but I am able to get my message out with help from people that know me. The buttons represent my difficulty with speech and the letters are my thoughts.

Name:  Kristen

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Anoxia, Diabetic Coma, Seizures.

Explanation of mask:  After the coma, I lived in a cloud for months but at the same time, I felt very clear on my wants and needs. Relearning about my life was hard along with relearning to read, write, and use a coffee maker. I am so lucky to have my loving husband and daughter to help me through all the joys and frustrations.

Despite the coma, I feel I am a stronger person, regardless of having a “cloudy brain” once in awhile.

I love my family. I love my life. I am still learning to embrace the struggles, changes, challenges and disappointments but I have learned that after the clouds part – the SUN is always there.

Name:  Linda

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Pedestrian accident. When I was five years of age, I was struck by a transport truck while crossing the highway; first flying lesson, no gear, header, not so good. Hospitalized, blood clot, wouldn’t operate. They believed I wouldn’t survive past 18 years.

Explanation of maskThe colours grey/red represent ages 5-11: Constant pain, ISOLATION, SILENCE, no one wants to hear; all thoughts are locked in my head, told I wouldn’t live past 18; FEAR. The red/blue represents ages 12-29: challenged to fit in, to learn, to keep up; FRUSTRATED, LONELY, PAIN. Strive to overcome, persevere to find the one who listens with Love. FAITH in God and myself saved my sanity. The green represents FAITH, MEDITATION. Yoga helped me to see what was/is/and could be. I found a family of my own to love. Will continue to overcome, one step at a time – ONWARD. The gold represents 60 years. Music, laughter and love keeps my pain and thoughts under control. Battle forever onward. I am a survivor.

Name:  Sherry

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident. I was hit from behind while stopped at a stop sign. I was taken to hospital and told I had a mild concussion and to take a few days off. Four months later, I am still suffering with the same symptoms and more.

Explanation of maskI’m okay but I’m broken. I’m broken but I’m okay! Even though my accident was minor and my injury mild, it has changed my life. Since this is all fairly new, my future is still undetermined. I’m no longer able to work and it is difficult in my personal life to do the things I used to.

I am learning to live in the moment and take life day by day. Sometimes the best thing to do is not think, not wonder, not imagine, not obsess. Just breathe and have faith that everything will work out for the best.

Name:  Richard

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Three Transient Ischemic Attacks (mini strokes)

Explanation of mask:  Most of my brain “injuries” are self inflicted. So often I felt like a fake when I was attending the stroke recovery group. However, my attitude to life has very much improved since my TIAs. That is the reason I quit smoking. I was a smoker for over 40 years but have been smoke free since my last TIA 3-4 years ago. The FOG in my brain and thinking had already lifted and I became a new and better person when I stopped drinking. I am now in my 10th year of sobriety. I am grateful to be alive!

Name:  Eric

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident

Explanation of mask:  The mask is painted yellow and green to depict my favourite colours. The feathers and the word “birdman” are reflective of my nickname. The third eye is representative of my seeing life in a whole new way now.

Name:  Darlene

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Cerebral Hemorrhage at 47 years of age.  On November 19, 2011, I awoke not feeling well. It was a Saturday about 8 a.m.  I had a massive tearing, burning sensation rip through my head. I screamed and I couldn’t see anything. I went to the hospital, was tested for a migraine and sent home. About five hours later, it happened again; back to the hospital, put in a room in the Emergency and laid there all night being treated for a migraine. The next morning a new doctor came in, realized no tests had been done and ordered a number of them. The spinal tap showed blood in it. I was subsequently airlifted to a hospital in Toronto, experienced the same thing again and spent a month there. I realized I had host the left peripheral vision in both eyes, had brain damage, couldn’t remember people visiting me. I was terrified to sleep at night. I returned to North Bay and began therapy. Shortly after arriving at the hospital I developed blood clots in both my lungs and legs. They weren’t sure I would survive the massive amounts of Heparin they needed to give me, but I had no choice.

Explanation of mask The mask represents the four months I was in hospital, the terror I felt of not knowing what was going to happen; of not being able to remember things; of looking in the mirror and not recognizing myself. My face was bloated from the medication and steroids; of not knowing why. Toronto did several tests but never found out why this happened to me.

Not being able to see was like looking through a tunnel. I had to relearn to tell time, do math, read. It has gotten better but I still have trouble doing the simple things. ANXIETY is a continuing problem.

Name:  Heather

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Catastrophic Motor Vehicle Accident.  I didn’t want to lose marks in a college course (any more days missed would have meant 7% off my final grade) so despite ridiculously bad winter weather, I left anyway. Getting stuck in a friend’s driveway, she asked if I wanted a picture taken before I wrote my car off. I said no. —A few hours later, that’s what I did.—

Explanation of maskThe Spiderman represents the superhero each of us surviving a brain injury is, while also showing the mystery and cloak we hide behind. We find strength we never believed possible in ourselves and adapt and adjust however we have to.

The butterflies are to show the changes we experience and to show it is a BEAUTIFUL result more often than not. They also show the steps we need to take to find that beauty may not always be so beautiful but holds great rewards.

The spider shows how scary it can be… We start with fear before becoming fearless; with weakness that becomes IMpossible strength; we learn that change propels us forward to live a life of both discovery and miracles. Then we learn to live life the way it could never have been lived before.

Name:  Butterfly

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Falls, Blunt force trauma, motor vehicle accident, struck with a baseball bat, skull fracture, family and domestic violence, lightning strikes, stroke, vestibular migraine, loss of oxygen to the brain.

Explanation of maskThe purple represents brain injuries and/or broken bones. I am a life long survivor of acquired brain injuries (ABI) and traumatic brain injuries (TBI). My first memory of serious brain injury happened in 1957 before I started school. The most devastating brain injury was in 2009. The pale colour represents the loss of self and my struggle to find a way out.

Some life long symptoms you might notice are my balance, body movement, speech, thought processing and lack of speed. There is so much more damage from the ABI that you do not see. What you do see is Yes, I take longer than you have patience for to move and communicate. You do not know or understand how much effort and what a challenge it is for me to function.

I am not drunk, high, or mentally disturbed. Being crushed and dented has allowed my perception of life to see what is truly important.

Please remember I am still a valuable, intelligent and contributing member of society.

I am still all of me.

Name:  Paul

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident – a transport hit my car while I was driving across the highway.

Explanation of mask: The top half of the mask is black representing my injury. I put my name on the forehead and the numbers 1981 as that was the year of my accident. The blue represents emotions such as sadness and grief. The green represents that things are getting better as in nature when spring comes. The red is happiness, showing love, contentment and pride.

The frowning white face symbol on the mask represents being angry, grouchy, irritated and annoyed. The lightning bolts represent pain from migraine headaches. The black lines under the eyes are tiredness from not sleeping well and worry. The white tears from my eyes are for sadness, grief as my girlfriend died in the accident and loss of my former self. The rainbow after tears are for things getting better, with the sun coming out.

The happy face is pride and contentment for what my life is today. The shamrock is luck as I was given last rites in the hospital The three hearts represent love for my marriage and family.

Name:  Jeff

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Aneurysm, Hydrocephalus

Explanation of mask: The mask represents my life since my brain injury. The eyebrows, tears and frown represent the sadness I feel. The scar represents the several surgeries I have had. The heart and the star represent my hope that things will continue to improve.

Name:  Phil

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Stroke

Explanation of mask: The mask represents my life since the stroke. I always try to learn something new and give it back to someone else. Life is all about change and how to make it work for me. The skill is for those moments when all goes wrong. Love is something that has helped me get through the tough times.

Name:  Michael

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Workplace Incident – chemical exposure.

Explanation of mask: “A picture speaks a thousand words.” I use my mask to show what happened to me so that it will not happen to others. My brain injury affects both my memory and my functioning. I now have seizures and am required to take medication on a daily basis to control them. I had a near death experience and I am lucky to be alive! I pray and give thanks every day.

Name:  Shar

City: Sundridge, ON

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident in 2014 – vehicle rolled eight times before coming to a stop.

Explanation of mask: My mask explains how I feel now that I have a TBI. The paper maché represents my difficulty finding who I am. The cotton depicts the fogginess I deal with daily.

The sparkles represent my “zoning out”. It will happen and I won’t even know it. It is like the blink of an eye and it is gone – I have no recollection of what just happened. The stickers on my mouth signify that I have a hard time expressing myself both mentally and physically. My eyes are just sitting there with clothespins because I have difficulty picturing/imagining things.

The feathers are to show that I do have some good days too. They remind me it’s going to be okay and I’ll get through this – to stay strong and be brave.

Name:  Danny E

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: My brain injury was caused by a concussion when I was also having difficulty with my mental health.

Explanation of mask: My mask depicts from left to right the difficulties with audio and vision that have gotten better over time but not via the broken paths created by the brain injury but by realizing that I had to blaze a completely new trail to get me to a “new” home I could live in which is different than the one I had prior to the incident.

The frog is a symbol for all the losses I’ve had to accept along the way, which still on occasion reminds me in my throat, of the struggles of walking a new path to get from A to B.

There has been much confusion along the way and many unanswered questions for which I have developed faith to help me deal with all the changes.

I am grateful for all the people that have come along side of me to help me to the better place I am in today.

Name:  Rebecca

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident – I stopped behind a line of traffic waiting for someone to turn left. The driver behind me didn’t. He hit me at about 50 kph, the force of the impact throwing my van forwards into the vehicle in front of me. The concussion that resulted was severe and led to post concussion syndrome, which is still ongoing fourteen months after the injury

Explanation of mask: Although things have improved a lot since the first few months post injury, I struggle with numerous symptoms that significantly affect my daily living, my family, my social life and are preventing my return to work. I feel as if I am waging a battle against the darker side of myself and it would be so easy to slide into despair when I reflect on all that I cannot do, all that I have lost and the frustration that I experience on a daily basis is profound.

In more recent months, I have found a degree of acceptance and am learning to accept help and support. I am hopeful that in time, the struggles will be fewer and I will adjust to find peace with the new me.

Name:  Dan

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Traumatic brain injury from a fall.

Explanation of mask: My mask represents my journey through brain injury – my past, my family and “retirement”.

Name:  Veronica

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: To date, I have had 14 TBI’s – many of them from different types of events. My earliest TBI happened as a small child falling down a flight of stairs. The most significant event occurred in 1990 when I was hit by a drunk driver. In 1998, I suffered two TBI’s within months of each other and then in 2011, I fell approximately 12 feet off a cliff side when my horse was spooked by a bear.

Explanation of mask: For the majority of my life, I lived undiagnosed with the effects of a brain injury(s). I carried on living with headaches, brain fog, confusion and so much more, but I pushed through and became successful in many areas of my life.

When the second last TBI happened in 2011, it shattered my fragile world I worked so hard to hold together. Those symptoms that I hid or really didn’t even understand, became impossible to overcome or hide.

In 2014 after my last TBI, my world imploded. I couldn’t function on a day to day basis. I withdrew from life just to stay alive. I have never felt so alone, isolated, afraid or out of control in my life. I was trapped inside my head and all its brokenness unable to escape the pain, the symptoms, the guilt, the fear. I felt myself falling away like the leaves on a tree in the fall. The world was out there with everything I loved, but I was being held captive in my own brain and body, watching as the world passed me by. I was mad, sad, depressed! I missed who I was before, my life, my family, my sport, my abilities. No longer could I fake my way through this and pretend for others that I was okay. I hit rock bottom and like Dorothy on the golden brick road, I had to make a choice – get help, get stronger and take control back or end up dead.

I am strong so I chose to fight, find help and do whatever it takes to get better and accept that I will never be the same as I was before (but then have I ever been okay with all of the TBI’s I have had).

I still fight every day in one form or another but I am winning this battle inch by inch. Slowly but surely, my brain, that for so long has been much like dory – forgetful and disorganized, just keeps swimming towards a better, healthier, happier life, where I am accepting of myself, my brain injury and the gifts (the unseen gifts) it has brought along this journey.

Name:  Joe

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Machinery accident. Rented wood chipper I was using fell apart and a piece of steel from the machine struck me in the head and basically destroyed one half of my face.

Explanation of mask: My mask is a representation of the pain, confusion and disorientation I experienced following my accident. The scars represent the surgeries I required to repair my face and I now have three steel plates. The cotton in my eye signifies the loss of vision in my right eye.

Name:  Kim

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Stroke, October 2008

Explanation of mask: The yellow side of the mask represents my life before my stroke. It was good. I was content more than ever! I was happy with the everyday things, working, and doing the average life things. There was no foggy vision or thinking and no extreme emotions.

The black half of the mask represents the left sided loss from my stroke. Full left sided neglect occurred right after the stroke. All I remember most is heart wrenching crying and not being able to stop for months. The words are the different emotions I felt when the stroke happened. The cotton represents blurred and foggy understanding and vision.

Name:  Claire

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Stroke approximately 6 years ago.

Explanation of mask: The mask represents how I see myself. The letters CG stand for my name. The feathers represent my native heritage. The jewels are to show that I love to wear jewelry and the red lips are because I enjoy wearing red lipstick.

Name:  Gord

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Leg weakness that caused a fall.

Explanation of mask: The words on the mask represent my likes and previous work experiences. The hair and eyes represent how I think I look.

Name:  Doreen

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury:  Motor vehicle accident about 25 years ago – hit a rock cut.

Explanation of mask: The mask represents how I was shortly after the accident when things were at their worst. I was full of fear and anxiety. I experienced double vision, both my short term and long-term memory were affected and I could not distinguish any sensation on various parts of my body.

I had to relearn how to walk, talk, read, recognize who people were, and figure out who I was. Although things have improved significantly over the years, that was terrifying and very a stressful time in my life.

Name:  Janine

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Two falls – once from a couch to a cement floor. The second fall occurred when I slid and fell backwards onto ice.

Explanation of mask:  I have made my mask backward. I am displaying my life after my brain injury. My injury was from several falls where I fell and hit my head on cement. This caused my concussion which in turn damaged “my processor”. I cannot retain new information or understand all that is being said. I interpret messages incorrectly and I write down the wrong information when it is given to me verbally. I need someone to confirm what I have written is what was said. It is very hard to know whether what I have written is accurate.

I have lost my independence and self worth. Other areas have been affected as well such as my happiness, judgement and hope. I am unsure about my future.

Name:  Diana

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Stroke

Explanation of mask: My mask shows the differences between my good and bad side. It shows that I’m not that different. It just takes me a little longer to figure things out.

Name:  Nina

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Multiple concussions from playing sports and falls.

Explanation of mask: My mask represents how I feel every day living with my brain injuries – sometimes scared, mostly healing but wondering when the next fall or knock on my head will occur. I painted my mask purple to represent healing. The seven pink flowers stand for my siblings and me.  The letter “N” is for my name. The googly eyes represent the fact that my eyes feel strange/funny at times. The peace sign shows that I am always looking/searching for peace. The phrase “you know who you are” is a reminder for me because of some memory loss. The pointed orange stars represent the knocks on my head and the question marks represent me wondering when the next knock will be.

Name:  Caroline

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Pedestrian Accident

Explanation of mask: My mask is skin-toned and though I have a brain injury, the core, the spirit is still the same. I need extra sleep and am often tired. The emotional filter has to be addressed. Mostly happy before the accident, the smile represents half anger and depression. I am fully bilingual and am now learning Spanish. A paraplegic – I have had to do three years of rehab and relearn how to speak, focus and deal with simple math equations. I am a proud Canadian with native roots enjoying 3 of our great seasons. Christian, I believe in the Spirit of Life, Love.

Name:  Phil

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Stroke

Explanation of mask:  Since my stroke I feel I have gotten 95% better and I am feeling more capable. I exercise regularly on my three-wheeler and I am still improving day by day. The support I receive has been extremely helpful and made a huge difference. Thank you to PHARA and the March of Dimes for being there for me.

Name:  Thomas

City: Callander, ON

Brain Injury: Arterial Venous Malformation (AVM)

Explanation of mask:  I am hoping my mask will portray my anger, my self loathing, the self pity I feel every day of my life as well as the regret and empathy I feel for my children who had to grow up with the backlash of their mother having a brain injury. It wasn’t easy for them at all. Every year I get worse. Now I have to live with the fact that my granddaughter won’t like me as she gets older when she realizes grandma is different.

The colours on my mask represent different things. The blue face and tears are for depression and sadness. The black face represents me living in isolation. The red tears are the anger and hurt I feel. The cotton on the forehead is for the fogginess I live with 24/7.

Name:  Thomas

City: St. Catharines, ON

Brain Injury:  I was injured quite severely in a car crash on September 11, 1994 that put me into a coma for four months. I went to give different hospitals while I was in the coma, and they all doubted I was going to come out of it. My family was so nervous of course. But I did actually come out of that coma and I did have problems but got better and better after time and motivation.

Explanation of mask:  On the left – negative situations after coming out of coma. On the right – positive thoughts and feelings to reach independence which was a most appreciative goal, especially since the doctors believed I would never walk or talk again…time and effort proved them wrong!

Name:  Tammy

City: Welland, ON

Brain Injury: Postpartum hemorrhage, failed intubation, anoxia, cardiac arrest and coma

Explanation of mask:  Right side of my mask represents before my acquired brain injury. I was satisfied, positive, lucky and loving most of the time. The left side represents a lot more emotions; sometimes confident, occasional anger, challenged by optimistic, with confusion going on at times. There are times I feel wise and serene. I used to feel refreshed but not so much anymore. There is a cloud hanging over me.

Name:  Sid

City: Vineland, ON

Brain Injury:  I fell off my roof when I was 26 years old. I was in a coma for seven months.

Explanation of mask: Gene Simmons – Music helps me cope every day. It’s my escape when I’m feeling disturbed or confused. Music makes me feel happy and free!

Name:  Sandra

City: Welland, ON

Brain Injury:  Motor Vehicle Collision. Lost my two dogs who died in the crash. I was flown via helicopter to Hamilton Health Sciences Centre. Traumatic brain injury, along with physical injuries, and memory loss.

Explanation of mask: Represents state of confusion – always struggling with words, making sense of things, chaos with understanding and too much noise.

I have changed but at the core, I am still empathetic, strong and still have a sense of humour. These characteristics make me”fight through this struggle every second.”

I wanted others to be aware when speaking to me:

  1. Stop – please slow down so I understand.
  2. One direction only – please keep it direct and simple in your speech or I won’t understand.
  3. PTSD – Ongoing issue, frustration, grieving, doubt, loss and nightmares.
  4. Hope – to fight through.
  5. New beginnings – new me going forward, new loves, new friends.

Name:  Reid

City: St. Catharines, ON

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Crash

Explanation of mask: Thunderbolt happens in a split second! The car crash changed my life that fast. Clouds represent how I feel some days…just cloudy.

Name:  Paul

City: St. Catharines, ON

Brain Injury: 1st brain injury – winter 1973: at seven years of age while attempting to cross a busy street in between parked cars, as I was walking home from school for lunch, I was struck head on by a vehicle travelling in my direction, causing me a very serious head/brain injury/fractured skull and various bodily injuries.

2nd brain injury – spring 1978: at 12 years of age while assisting at my school’s high jumping, track and field event, another student attempted to jump over the high jumping pole, but while jumping upward the same student slipped, traveled off course in the air in my direction standing  beside one of the big, metal high jumping pole support posts and with the full body weight of this student hitting the same big, metal high jumping pole beside me, came down right on top of me altogether with the metal post and student’s body striking my forehead/skull, heavily, and rapidly knocking me down and out onto the ground, causing me once again another serious brain injury.

Explanation of mask: This mask represents, in part, an array or spectrum of the number of different experiences, emotions and feelings I’ve encountered as I continue to progress/move forward in my life over the decades since the two head/brain/skull/bodily injuries have made themselves known to me, coming out of left field in my life’s past.

Name:  Mike

City: St. Catharines, ON

Brain Injury: Brain Aneurysm/Brain Explosion. I was in a coma for seven days in Buffalo.

Explanation of mask: The sun and the smile represents positivity. I feel good. I am kind, confident and since my injury, I have been amazing. Since the injury, I struggle to find the right words. It’s a challenge to explain myself. I am happy.

Name:  Max

City: St. Catharines, ON

Brain Injury: One gorgeous day, on the 19th of July, I was hit by a car, and I almost had to say goodbye. Again, I had to learn to eat, write and walk. I also have to learn to t-t-t-talk. It ain’t no fun getting hit by a car. I went into a coma after falling in some tar. Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Language Pathology, aren’t much fun. So wear your helmet, EVERYONE!

Explanation of mask: Belief that tomorrow will be better. But still a shadow of a doubt/pain.

Name:  Martha

City: Welland, ON

Brain Injury: Stroke, 14 years ago.

Explanation of mask:  Half of mask, dark, sad, why me??

Other half, bright, new beginning, chin up…go forward.

Christian sign of the “fish” highlighted across both eyes shows FAITH is strong in both dark times and bright times.

Name:  Margaret

City: Welland, ON

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Crash (hit by a transport truck).  In a coma for 17 days, sustained traumatic brain injury. Additional injuries, ruptured spleen, collapsed lungs, broken pelvis, fractured ribs. Husband and 3 1/2 month old granddaughter died in the crash.

Explanation of mask:  Reflects how things were before the accident and conversely how things are since.

Name:  Gerald

City: St. Catharines, ON

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Crash, assault

Explanation of mask:  The broken shards of glass were as a result of the car crash. The broken jaw and black eyes were as a result of being assaulted. I called my mask, “Down for the Count,” because in both situations, I lost consciousness.

Name:  Frank

City: Fonthill, ON

Brain Injury: I fell of a four story building at a construction site.

Explanation of mask:  The cracks on the head of the mask signify major damage to my skull. The flue means close to death. Almost died twice on the operating table. Light blue and green signifies recuperation, a slow and study process.

Name:  Dennis

City: Wainfleet, ON

Brain Injury: Motorcycle Crash

Explanation of mask:  After my brain injury I am looking at life “through different windows.”

Name:  Christine

City: Niagara Falls, ON

Brain Injury: My brain injury is from 7 confirmed concussions. The last one did me in! in 2015, I was at work and a senior male student accidentally kicked an indoor soccer ball which hit my face and forced my neck to whip back and hit the cement gym wall. I tried to return to work 3 times but was unsuccessful each time.

Explanation of mask:  My mask was very liberating for me. It shows my life in the past 3 years.

WORDS:

  • On the right side of face, things I did before the injury
  • On the left side of face, things after the injury

4 PANELS:

  • Orange: Shows what happened to me and what I have now, seizures, Post Concussive Syndrome (PCS), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression
  • Pink: Also shows what happened to me – Concussion. Pink Concussion is a website for females with PCs and its a support group which has helped me a lot. The pins represent the 175 Botox shots I receive every 3 months for my constant headaches since my accident.
  • Green: The tears and Tombstone represent me grieving my past life still. It takes time to grieve and to understand that your life has changed. I really miss teaching Phys. Ed and coaching and being told “I can’t do it anymore” really hurts.
  • Yellow: Represents my current life – BIAN – Clubhouse in which I consider my other family, BICR – Activity based group which keeps me active, HEART – I found love at the BIAN!
  • Hand Bound: Throughout my brain injury I have felt like I have had no say in everything from treatment all the way to how I was to return to work (and it failed 3 times). I want a voice! I want to be heard! I want to be taken seriously that I have a brain injury and seizures!

Name:  Brad

City: Welland, ON

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Crash – where the other driver of the oncoming car fell asleep at the wheel and hit my vehicle.

Explanation of mask: The car crash happened on my left side of my body. All of the injuries that happened to me were:

  • My left ear only hears a whisper
  • My left eye doesn’t move past the middle
  • My left leg is 1/2 inch shorter
  • My left arm does not extend perfectly straight.

The tire mark on my mask explains where and how the oncoming car hit/crashed into me.

Name:  Andrea

City: St. Catharines, ON

Brain Injury: In 2003 I had a benign tumour in my brain that was wrapped around my pituitary gland. I had one minor and two major surgeries, along with radiation during the course of a year and a half in order to attempt to remove or stop the tumour. My hypothalamus was affected as well as many parts of my brain.

Explanation of mask: The left side of the mask represents how I felt when we first discovered the tumour. The right side represents how I feel now.

 

Name:  Mary Lou

City: Welland, ON

Brain Injury: Meningitis, Encephalitis and Pneumonia

Explanation of Mask:  Pain, frustration, confusion keeps us working to improve our life. We go through therapies to relearn how to walk, talk, think, feel and do. This “will” gives the “NEW ME.” You can never stop trying to grow and change. Helping others, accepting help from others includes a family, being part of a Brain Injury support group, being part of a church (or having faith), makes life complete. Reciprocity…helping others, being part of life and not just standing on the sidelines.

Reading, music, painting, gardening, writing…LOVE.

  • The Quick to Anger
  • The Anxiety
  • The Headaches
  • The Forgetting
  • The Fatigue

When Will It Go Away???

Name:  Kathy

City: Fenwick, ON

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle crash 1984

Explanation of Mask: One side of my mask represents how things have changed after my accident. The brain knows how to do things, but can’t do them! I cannot see properly as my visual field in one eye is foggy. But I am happy for what I can do! I am grateful for the things that I can still do post injury: stained glass work, and now I also create paintings in acrylic and oil, and I enjoy giving massages, and most important is enjoying time with my family.

Name:  Elliott

City: Niagara Falls, ON

Brain Injury:  I was in a motor vehicle crash in 2011. I learned to walk and talk again. I now have a support person that helps me during the week.

Explanation of Mask: My personality is similar to Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. When I am happy, I love to laugh and joke. When I am upset, I become very angry and it’s hard to control my emotions. I drew the crossroads to represent trying to mix my two sides together. My goal is to have a better balance between the two.

Name:  Carmond

City: St. Catharines, ON

Brain Injury: I was an arborist. I was responsible and went to work. I fell 73 feet along with the tree I was cutting down.

Explanation of Mask: It has been my experience that people hear that I’m brain injured and right away think I am “retarded.” They don’t understand who I am, but look to my injury and limitations to set who I am. My mask is split in half, one side painted black, the other painted yellow. The black side represents the incorrect ideas that narrow-minded people have. The yellow side represents my true self and how I want people to see me.

Name:  Bill

City: St. Catharines, ON

Brain Injury: Motorcycle crash, hit by a truck in 1974. I was 19 years old when the crash occurred.

Explanation of Mask: One side of the mask shows:

  • the frustration because I can’t see
  • quick to anger
  • anxiety
  • the worst enemy is yourself

The other side of the mask shows

  • the new beginning as I started to change
  • sharing, forgiving, accepting, staying positive
  • now working which gives me a sense of purpose.

Name:  Dennis F.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury: Brain Tumour

Explanation of Mask: Change

Name:  David C.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury:  Brain Aneurysm

Explanation of Mask: “Changes” This mask represents my experience of change and the abrupt displacement of my life. The disappointment and how life is boring now. I never get to see my wife and kids and I miss them!

Name:  Taylor R.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury: Meningitis

Explanation of Mask: I feel sad, I wish it didn’t happen to me and I was free from my injury. This mask represents my frustration and sadness, I wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t have my injury

Name:  Marg O.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury: Pushed from a moving vehicle.

Explanation of Mask: This mask represents my feelings of being pulled in so many directions since my injury. I miss my old life, on one side of my mask is when I was happy.

Name:  Jimmy B.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury: Meningitis

Explanation of Mask:The gold part of my mask is the part when I’m happy. The dark blue represents my frustration and the red part is my tears for what my live could have been.

Name:  Scott

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury: Skiing accident; 35 years old.

Explanation of Mask: I painted the black lines on my mask because it represents my brain being on the outside of my head; I have no skull on the right side.

Name:  John

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury: Car accident

Explanation of Mask: What happened? I don’t remember what happened and I don’t know if that’s good or bad. My whole life changed; I had to relearn everything.

Name:  Christina C.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury: Overdose

Explanation of Mask: My mask is made with mixed emotions; happiness, sadness and confusion.

Name:  Julie M.

City: Huron, ON

Brain Injury: Brain Aneurysm and stroke

Explanation of Mask: One side of my mask is before my injury and is more intricate and the other is a bit foggy, however, I am getting better.

Name:  Theresa VD

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident 2009

Explanation of Mask: Thunder represents the unrest and pain of mind. The mask covers what people don’t always see and that it could happen to anyone. The makeup of pink cheeks is to show we can still be fairly healthy people with a rosy outlook on life, as to the bright pink lips.

Name:  Gary M.

City: London, ON

Brain Injury:  Concussion – banged head on sharp edge of car hatch/trunk when unloading things at night. I was a rapid downward motion of the head against a stationary object.

Explanation of Mask: The left side of the mask represents any life before the injury. Like anyone, I had my ups and downs, but overall it was a happy and positive place to be, hence, the upward arrows.

The centre of the mask represents the time since the injury to the present. It has been literally an explosion of noise, of uncertainty, of pain, of wonder if my headaches and dizziness and memory loss and sensitivity to light and noise and fatigue will ever go away. The arrows go down.

The right side of the mask represents hope, a turnaround, a time for being positive, the start of a new life. The arrows were going down, now they go up.

Colours:

  • Yellow = Happiness and general contentment in life.
  • Red = Chaos and pain and uncertainty
  • Green = Hope and belief things will be better.

Name:  Giles

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury: An asthma attack at the age of 15. I had to relearn how to do everything again, i.e. speaking, eating, etc.

Explanation of Mask:  I painted the top different colours because I felt different after receiving my brain injury. I had a question mark and a face with an x on it, as I was confused about what was going on. The face with an x on it was also because I could not speak after waking up. I added the pictures on the sides as I wanted to be a photographer. I painted the middle and bottom yellow because it was my favourite colour. Yellow also represents being optimistic.

Name:  Negassi

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury:  I had a seizure and hit my head.

Explanation of Mask: I painted this mask purple because it is my favourite, it always reminds me of my doctor who works at Western University. I chose pictures of the Sudan flag because that is where my injury happened and I have family there. I picked a picture of the weather man because I like the weather. P picked the picture of a doctor as everyone calls me Dr. Negassi.

Name:  Dimi

City: London, ON

Brain Injury: Car accident

Explanation of Mask:  In my mask I listed several emotions any person has. The black outline around a word represents how much I believe that emotion had impacted my like prior to my brain injury. The colours on each emotion illustrates how much that emotion impacts my daily life now. Some emotions impact me more, some less – this could be seen as good or bad.

For example, I used to be athletic and played soccer (competitive), and ice and ball hockey (recreational), as well as other sports with friends. Since the accident, I can’t even play soccer because any type of head contact, even heading a soccer ball, could result in a concussion.

On the other hand, even though I was always appreciative and grateful before my brain injury, ever since I have been even more thankful I survived the accident, along with a number of other things.

Name:  Geoff G.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury: Stroke

Explanation of Mask:  The picture of the wii helps me with my brain injury. I picked the picture of a microphone because I like to sing. I played basketball before I got hurt. After my injury I have a hard time communicating and I work on it every day here. I picked the earth picture because it’s blue and I like to travel.

Name:  Adam O.

City: London, ON

Brain Injury: On July 30th at about 7:50 a.m. on a beautiful clear morning, I was riding my six week old Harley Davidson on Wharncliffe Road to my work. A U-Need-A-Cab decided to make an illegal U-turn and ran me over damaging my skull and giving me grain damage on all four sides. As we as the brain injury, I broke 35 major bones, broken neck in 3 places, perforated lung, damaged liver and spleen and much more.

Explanation of Mask:  My mask consists of pictures of anxiety causing issues. I never had anxiety before I had my accident, it was all new to me. I worked at a highly technical job where there were time constraints and I rarely broke a sweat. I was in charge of my life. Looking at my mask you will see Taxi signs, ten years later I cannot get in to a cab. Walmart has always been the bane of my modern existence, confusion of medications, direct spinal injections and taps, the weather, airports, loud confusing noise, getting groceries, money of course, at this time Trump as I am anxious about WW3, the lunar cycle, pubs and restaurants, talking on the phone (yuck) and many, many more.

Name:  Colleen M.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury: Tumour

Explanation of Mask:  My mask represents the journey I have taken with a brain tumour. Easy journey?…not at all, that’s just a rumour. The left side depicts the struggle in my pre-surgery days. The right side depicts my recovery in many ways.

A Cranio Pharyngima my doc tells me this could really affect your ability to see. Close to the brain stem and below the optic nerve cross. I receive this information and now…I am at a total loss.

Left side of this mask is full of doom and gloom. Right side has flowers in full bloom! Right side has sunshine and a bunny, left side has dead worms – (Not too funny). So the right is like a candle in the dark my road to recovery, my personal Noah’s arc.

This has given me the chance I so desperately needed and it gave me the soil that I have seeded. To grow the flowers that have removed all the sorrow and strife. To be happy, to love, and to celebrate life!

Name:  Don O.

City: London, ON

Brain Injury: Motorcycle accident in 2015.

Explanation of Mask:   Since the cause of my injury was due to a motorcycle accident, I painted a helmet around my mask.

Name:  Leighanne H.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury: Hit by a car

Explanation of Mask:   On the top of my mask I have “Why Me?”  I ask myself this question often, I have a hard time understanding why this happened to me; I’m angry sometimes. The bottom of my mask is my happy place…somewhere I wish I had been on the day of my accident.

Name:  Martyn

City: London, ON

Brain Injury: Subarachnoid (Brain) Hemorrhage, three aneurysms and four strokes in October 2010.

Explanation of Mask:   I divided my mask into both positive and negative aspects of my brain injury. The following colours indicate:

Negative:

  • Anger, confusion, overwhelm = Brown
  • Grief, irritation, worried, dizzy = Black

Positive:

  • Miraculous = Purple
  • Love = Blue
  • Resilient = Green
  • Hopeful = Yellow
  • Passionate = Orange
  • Content = Red

There are benefits to having my brain injury. I’m more content in my life now. I had (BS) Before Stroke up until 2010. How I have (AS) After Stroke and life is a lot sweeter!

Name:  Crystal F.

City: London, ON

Brain Injury: I had brain surgery 10 years ago this up coming December for a benign meningioma tumour the size of a naval orange in the left frontal lobe of my brain. After 9 hours of surgery they were unable to remove the entire tumour as it is attached to the main vessel in my brain. Removing it would have caused me to hemorrhage. Still to this day I live with a tumour that is watched for any regrowth.

Explanation of Mask:  The top of my mask represents the headaches that occur for me frequently. Some days are worse than others and can turn into migraines. Other days it is just a nagging feeling of pressure. The feeling of being lonely is how I have sometimes felt with the anxiety and panic that I now deal with due to there being a change in my brain. Feeling empty is feeling like I can’t give back to my community anymore like I used to do, due to the headaches, etc. And of course the tears represent the sadness that overwhelms me for the whole situation.

Name:   Fernanda D.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury: Pedestrian Hit by a Drunk Driver

Explanation of Mask:  Life was wonderful before my injury; I had a great husband, three wonderful boys, a great home and an overall great life. I was seven minutes from my front door with my sons when the car hit me. After my accident my life completely changed, I had to grow up for a second time and relearn how to do things for myself again. I’m sad at times but the sun always seems to come out.

Name:  Anonymous

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury:  Viral encephalitis

Explanation of Mask: Brown represents face colouring, culture. Black around eyes means lack of vision caused by brain problem.

Name:  Eve O. (caregiver)

City: London, ON

Brain Injury:  I am a caregiver. My husband, Adam, had sustained a horrific motorcycle accident in July of 2007, when he was hit by a taxi on his way to work. He was not expected to survive and was placed in a coma for many weeks after.

Explanation of Mask: I met my husband at the beginning of his third year dealing with his brain injury. He is a proud man, who was doing his best to make sense of this new life path with all its confusion and fearsome stages. The band-aids represent the pain that will always be there and the kiss represents my love, support and admiration for this man who gets up most mornings wanting to live the best life he can. His humour and will to make the most of our life together has made me a better person. We are Adam and Eve making our own little piece of Eden.

Name:  Pat J.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury:  Suicide attempt; carbon Monoxide poisoning.

Explanation of Mask: Glitter on the forehead represents me moving upward and onward; my inner journey post injury, light, peace and oneness with God.

Name:  Jamie F.

City:  London, ON

Brain Injury:  2 brain tumours, requiring 8 brain surgeries (3 craniotomies, 2 ventriculostomies, a series of shunt revisions), 2 cases of meningitis (bacterial & viral), and an assault causing a subarachnoid hemorrhage resulting in stroke-like symptoms.

Explanation of Mask: My mask is divided in two. The left side is representative of the period after my injuries. Since my first craniotomy I have left homonymous hemianopsia (no left field of vision in either eye) and very poor dexterity in my left hand. Since the assault I have visual mid line syndrome and a loss of propioception in my left limbs (unable to sense where the left side of my body is in space) causing my left side to be incredibly clumsy and sluggish. In other words, there is no left in my world. I felt sad, anger and cheated because my first tumour was discovered when I was 18, a time when my life and independence should have been flourishing, but my life was irrevocably changed and I felt my future was ruined. These words are spelled out with different letter cutouts like a ransom note because these feelings had taken my life hostage.

The right side of my mask is representative of my life after all my injuries, especially after the assault. The “Peer Support Program” has allowed me to turn my injuries into something positive and helpful, giving me purpose. I was one of the first 10 mentors trained in the entire province and I was “promoted” to the position of Peer Support Coordinator who is in charge of the program for London. The words “husband” and “father” are two roles that I have achieved despite my injuries, which make me “lucky” and gives me great “hope” so I can “love” and “laugh” again.

Name:  Stefanie DK (caregiver)

City:  London, ON

Brain Injury:  Husband’s injury – brain fracture due to a fall.

Explanation of Mask: One side is me, trying to deal (bit sad). One side is him (Dan), as the Joker, as his moods change all the time.

Name:  Gary R.

City:  Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury:  Stroke

Explanation of Mask: The curling rock at the top of my mask represents my passion and love for curling, something I did before my injury. The baseball lat and baseball and on my mask because I also enjoy baseball. There is a small part of my mask that is black and that represents my injury; despite of my injury I’m still a happy person.

Name:  Kayley G. (caregiver)

City:  London, ON

Brain Injury:  Car accident

Explanation of Mask: My mask helps define the feelings that I felt when my fiance’s car accident happened. As a caregiver, I had to learn how to quickly adapt to the new changes that were happening in our life. I was very anxious becoming a caregiver at first, but I quickly overcame that. Being a caregiver, it was and is certainly hard and exhausting at times, but I always remember that I am doing it for the one I love!

Name:  Bob R.

City:  Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury:  not listed

Explanation of Mask: Before my brain injury there was green grass and blue, blue sky; I had a game plan for my life clearly laid out. After my accident I lost all direction; the green grass turned brown and left me with a big question mark in my life. My goals became very foggy, if not impossible. I’ve had to come up with a whole new game plan and new goals for myself.

Name:  Gary F. (aka Gar-Bear)

City:  Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury:  Car hit me into 2 parked cars due to cellphone use.

Explanation of Mask: Still running it over in my mind. My mask represents the nightmares I have of being in the dark, finding a door opening and it is dark, also but now I have the darkest behind me and entering the light more and more. The words describe what I feel and the statement of being a distorted thinker working towards finding more and more clarity.

Name:  Petrina

City:  Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury:  I was hit by a car

Explanation of Mask: I was hit by a car when I was young. The white part of my mask represents me being calm and happy, the black part of my mask represents my frustration and bad days.

Name:  Bill O.

City:  Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury:  Hit by a car

Explanation of Mask: Along with my brain injury came mental health issues.

Name:  Joey L.

City:  Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury:  Temporal Lobectomy; right hippocampus was resected

Explanation of Mask:  I made my mask this way because this is how I was born. I put a band aid on my head because I have seizures and need help.

Name:  Natalie M.

City:  Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury:  Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of Mask:  My mask represents my journey since my injury. My life was shattered into a million pieces and I had to find a way to put it all back together; it’s like putting a really difficult puzzle together.

Name:  Wes R.

City:  Stratford / Wingham, ON

Brain Injury:  Illness

Explanation of Mask:  This mask is representative of my war wounds from brain surgery. The cheeks are all rosy because I’m happy to still be alive.

Name:  Tara

City:  Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury:  Meningitis

Explanation of Mask:  My mask is split in two, the illness on one side and my feelings on the other. I got meningitis when I was a baby, I don’t know life without my injury but it still makes me sad having to live my life the way I do.

Name:  Janko S.

City: London, ON

Brain Injury:  Car accident (passenger)

Explanation of Mask:  The bottom left, the darker side, represents my life before the accident (brain injury). Soccer ball and stars are for the full soccer scholarship I was on at the time.

The “BOOM” in the middle represents the accident and sudden/complete change in my life!!

The top right is filled with lighter colours and a couple of butterflies to show how I have to have an understanding in my life, and maybe, just maybe things are actually much better than I first envisioned. The “change” (butterflies) of my own outlook and attitude.

The cross in the upper-middle is there because I never lost my faith, not did it ever come into question at any point in my life since the accident (brain injury).

Name:  Janelle C.

City: Wingham, ON

Brain Injury:  Not listed

Explanation of Mask: Emotions: Black = bad mood and White = Good mood. Green mouth = Envy of people who can talk normally and not slow.

Name:  Lori H.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury:  Aneurysm

Explanation of Mask:  The red on my mask represents my aneurysm and the gold is my personality shining through.

Name: Paul A.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury:  Tumour

Explanation of Mask:  Life before my brain injury was happy. I was wise and I could think of things clearly and I was in control of my life. I was able to steer my life in the direction I chose. Life was just beginning for me on the path I had chosen.

I remember the doctor saying things like “things aren’t good and you have tumours.” I felt like I was kicked in the stomach. He wanted to schedule the surgery that night and I knew that was not good. That was the first of three surgeries.

Now? My life is so restricted. I can’t do the things I love that most people get to do, I can’t work, I can’t live with my girlfriend like I did before. My life is hectic and I have no control. I feel like the little bit of life that I have left could be taken from me at any time. I think of this daily which makes me feel ill and I often think of the ominous one eyed man from the deck of playing cards.

“Deuces and jacks and the man with the axe, the one eyed man takes it all!”

Name: John M.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury:  A number of hits to the head

Explanation of Mask: Black eyes from the first time I was in hospital by someone else. The target on my head was the one kids but on me, by other students and people I worked with over the years for bullies to know how to push my buttons and upset me. My face where they decided to target the areas I’ll bleed the most. The rest of my head represents the scattered thoughts and confusion all this caused.

Name: Debi W.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury:  Aneurysm and stroke

Explanation of Mask: My mask represents my outer body experience post-injury. I saw six guardian angels over my head and fire; I knew I had to keep fighting. I still have some difficulties with everyday life but I’ve come a long way.

Name: Cecile J.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident; other party ran a red light.

Explanation of Mask: I tried to present some of my trying initial problems, some of which have not left. The chin as well as some of my other areas painted black were numb and then painful. The left side of my face was paralyzed, I couldn’t smell anything and my left eye was always weeping. The red on the right represents bruising and abrasions, when I opened my eyes I had double vision.

Name: Anonymous

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury: Thalamic Intra-Cranial Hemorrhage

Explanation of Mask: I feel as though my life is lost, I have no memory and feel like all my talent is gone. I am still an artist but I now need to be grounded in a different way than I was before. I’ve had to adapt to this new life…it isn’t easy.

Name: Bob F.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury: Stroke

Explanation of Mask: The left side which is black is evil as I have left side neglect. The right side is white which is joy and happiness because the stroke didn’t effect this side. The stroke hit me like a bullet.

Name: Michele L.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury: Suicide attempt

Explanation of Mask: “Highs and Lows”

Name: Sonia G.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury: Car accident

Explanation of Mask: I had a car accident when I was a child so I don’t know life before my injury. The flowers on my mask represent how I’ve bloomed and how I continue growing into the person that I am. I am happy with the way my life is; I will always keep smiling.

Name: John

City: Woodstock, ON

Brain Injury: Slip and fall on ice

Explanation of Mask: 3 skull fractures, sub-cranial bleeding, hemispheric disassociation, etc.

Here on my mask I have chosen to display how I feel living with my brain injury. The dark blue side represents my hemispheric disassociation. This means the tactile and normal nerves are disconnected on my left side resulting in a dead and often cold feeling splitting my left and right sides right down the middle of my body. The traffic lights (red, yellow & green) with emphasis on the yellow shows my continuous and conscious decision-making that I have always used to regulate my mine-by-minute decision-making in order to keep myself safe from bad decision-making and physical overexertion that results in a painful hangover-like state that could last for days. The faint rings around the eyes shows my light sensitivity that keeps me wearing dark sunglasses indoors even on cloudy days. The three jagged lines show the fractures in my skull that burn and ache when the weather changes.

Name: Art B. & April K.

City: Woodstock, ON

Brain Injury: Fall from ladder while trimming trees at home.

Explanation of Mask: Art suffered a catastrophic brain injury 9 years ago and was diagnosed 3 years ago with Parkinson’s (which I have learned can be more likely to occur to a person who has suffered an ABI). Since Art is unable to participate in this activity, I have envisioned this mask as being from the perspective of BOTH survivor and spouse/caregiver with the overlap that often occurs with these injuries.

Name: Jeff D.

City: Wingham, ON

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of Mask:  All aspects of my life changed when I had my injury. The pieces that stayed the same are my love for Boston Bruins, which is represented but the green and black. My love for my community also remained, which is represented by the blue; this is the community that supported me after my injury.

Name: Laurie F.

City: Woodstock, ON

Brain Injury: Stroke

Explanation of Mask:  My mask shows a kaleidoscope of colour and the chaos I feel each day. My brain is overwhelmed at times, dizzy with my thoughts and memories. In spite of my stroke and disability, I am still a happy and cheerful person. I have worked hard to maintain my independence.

Name: Tanya

City: Brain Injury Association of Durham

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of Mask:  none given

Name: Ashley

City: Brain Injury Association of Durham

Brain Injury: Cephalitis at 7 years old

Explanation of Mask:  Green feels like I am sad, sensitive, migraines, earthy outdoors, open to change, adored, dark green sports represents I love animals, especially cats.

Name: James

City: Brain Injury Association of Durham

Brain Injury: I was hit by a car when I was nine years of age. I wasn’t checked for a brain injury. Only 3 years ago the doctor diagnosed me with a post traumatic brain injury which gives me a different way of thinking and understanding people. So I don’t think the way they think. Makes it hard to focus on the things I need to to survive. I come to BIAD because I feel they help me a great deal.

Explanation of Mask:  My mask represents that I read and see people different. My background is that I have Mic Mac non status Indian, Irish, English British, Norwegian and Newfie. So I feel like I am part of everybody. For I see people all over the world have an injury. People see us differently and think that we’re no good and look down on us. But places like BIAD look after us and if it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be recognized. We wouldn’t be able to function and think, but BIAD prepares us to think as the outside world thinks, with the activities they do here. They prepare us to do what we need to do on the outside. BIAD gives back our rights. Thank God for them. They are a true blessing to us.

Name: HuiYu

City: Brain Injury Association of Durham

Brain Injury: Car accident

Explanation of Mask:  My daughter has suffered from car accident. Lots of scars on her face. She is a girl. She has a long way to go. She loves to have a beautiful face. She is sad and crying. She often shields most parts of her face by covering it with her hair.

Name: Dawn

City: Brain Injury Association of Durham

Brain Injury: Slip and fall as well as multiple concussions

Explanation of Mask:  Life is simple and it’s sweet. Your life looks complete. You are normal and content, cheerful and a delight. However, I didn’t understand: they say “You don’t work?” “You are normal”, “Don’t be lazy”. If they only knew. If they only saw the inside. If they only knew that the mask I wear is to keep them from being affected to what my brain injury has done to me. I am un-reparable, un-fixable, but aware of who I once was. I am anxious, lonely. I’ve lost all of my friends. I have been forever changed and long for the past. I’ve been cheated but still hide behind my pretty mask as strangers judge. Truly, I long for the past.