The Masks


In partnership with

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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: Kim E.

City: Coe Hill

Brain Injury: 

Explanation of Mask: 


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.