The Masks

United Kingdom

In Partnership with

Brain Injury: I had a stroke on January 3, 2018.  The mask represents how I was at the start and how I feel now.

Explanation of Mask: At the time, I didn’t know I’d had a stroke.  I didn’t know what stroke meant.  I’m not angry that I had the stroke, but there were things I couldn’t do, which I’ve started doing now.  Initially I was in darkness, and now the light is brighter for me, with the rehab I’m having.  When I was in hospital, I couldn’t talk and now I’m talking a lot better.  It was frightening, I couldn’t say anything.  Every week it’s different, it’s getting better.  I took it for granted how lucky I was with my family.  I haven’t been doing as much with my family since my stroke.  Hopefully I’ll get back to doing that.  I’m fortunate to be able to go and play golf now, and watch the football.  And I love doing painting.  Before the stroke, I didn’t used to have time to paint, or know that I could. 

Brain Injury: My face mask represents how sometimes it can look normal but other times I have problems with my face and how I feel.  I was in a car crash two years ago and I have no memory of it.

Explanation of Mask: I chose the green around the eye because it represents my blindness.  To me I feel it’s not ‘normal’.  I thought I might be able to see out of that eye again, so I used to be upset about it but now I am used to the blindness on one side and it no longer upsets me.  The dark blue around the other eye represents my ‘normal’ eye and how I see everything, this eye is very strong.  The red dots near my mouth are not blood but show how sensitive my mouth was and how I could spill a lot of water.  My mouth is ‘talking’ but also worrying a lot.  When I made the mask I enjoyed doing it but also found it physically very hard.  Now I find things much better and I hae hopes for my future.

Brain Injury: My name is Kay and I had a stroke after a brain aneurysm in May 2017.  

Explanation of Mask: It was really scary at first.  I didn’t know I’d had a stroke.  I woke up and I’d lost 20 years.  I didn’t know who anyone was.  My speech was jumbled and I said the wrong things.  It was very confusing and when I realised that I couldn’t control what I was saying, I became silent.  I came to Icanho and met the Speech Therapist and she made me feel better about myself and conversation was good.  The Psychologist said, “Bad thoughts are just thoughts,” which had a big effect on me.  I began to accept how I am and explain to people when I can’t find the words that I’ve had a stroke.

Brain Injury: A taxi knocked me off my bike when I was turning right and I have struggled with my memory and feelings since then.

Explanation of Mask: The black holes are where my thoughts or instructions fall through so that I don’t have a clue of what was said.  I can’t grasp information or conversations.   The black loops depict scrambled thoughts.  All emotions, thoughts, feelings are jumbled into big balls of spaghetti.  Katrina (Psychology) straightened these out enabling easier thoughts.  The jumping from one thought to another and flitting about persists.  The eye lashes are all the feelings I have had.  The red areas in the brain are intense pain in one area.  This occurs with tiredness and concentration.  The fluff is the brain matter.   My brain is all woolly and has lost its sharpness.  It’s slow and spongy.  The nostrils are enlarged because of my heightened sense of smell.  I smell things that others don’t notice.  The mouth represents my difficulty finding words and getting confused with my speech.  The veil is a symbol of grieving.  The head injury has caused a huge change to my life for which I grieve as I did my partner.  With Katrina’s help I have accepted the changes.  Still have wobbles as I’m human! 

Brain Injury: My name is Mick and I owned and ran a screen printing company with my son.  December 2017 at work with my son, I felt strange… I woke up several days later in hospital and I don’t remember anything about what happened to me.  I was told I had a stroke from that day on my life changed, it was the start of a new way to live and it was scary.  I can’t begin to understand what my family must have felt at that time.

Explanation of Mask: The stroke stole… my job, my liberty, my memory and sometimes, to be honest, my happiness.  At times I get moody and anxious, sad and frustrated even angry when I remember the things I used to be able to do before the stroke compared with what I can do now.  Rehabilitation is tough, I won’t lie each day has its struggles.  I get anxious at times and try not to show my frustration by trying to be upbeat… it doesn’t always work.  My family, bless ’em have made it their mission not to let me stay in those feelings too long.  They make me smile when I get frustrated and stuck in those feelings.  They have seen my depression and give me a reason to be happy – I’m glad I’m alive I’ve just got to get on with it.  I dedicate my mask to my wife and family.  Thanks for making me smile and helping me cope with my moody, sad, frustrated and anxious episodes.  You make me laugh and help me look at the brighter side of life.