The Masks


Name: Justin H

City: Bristol

Brain Injury: Cerebral palsy. I was born this way, but it is still a type of brain injury.

Explanation of Mask: The yellow represents the sun. I love feeling warm. The green is the grass and smelling new cut grass. I love shopping at JC Penny. The flower represents my love of beauty. I enjoy meeting new people and getting out in the community. Every Wednesday I lead Bible class. I feel relaxed, content, strong, challenged, happy, rewarded, and free.

Name: Thomas H

City: Roanoke

Brain Injury: When I was little, I feel out of a window.

Explanation of Mask: I like reading the Bible every day because it inspires me, and gives me hope. I like going to church because I can sing, and take notes, which gives me happiness. I put a picture of the sun because every morning I like to watch the sun come up. When the sun comes up, it reminds me that it’s a new day.  

Name: Sara

City/State: Williamsburg, VA

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident, 1977

Explanation of mask: Most people can’t see my chronic injuries and neither could I for many years. My brain injury was diagnosed 26 years after I totaled by baby blue Volkswagen Beetle. By that time, the lowlevel pain from emotional and physical injuries had left me tired-to-thebone, angry, and suicidal. For years, no doctors could help me, I couldn’t understand what was wrong, and I thought I was crazy. Finally, in 2003, I saw a neuropsychologist. Slowly, slowly, I have learned that my difficulties are real, brain-based, and chronic. My mask is divided to illustrate that I have left-sided upper motor neuron damage. This neurological damage resulted in conditions with many names: hemiparesis (weakness), hemiparesthesia (loss of normal sensation, “pins and needles” or “sandpaper” skin), spasticity (muscles continuously contracted). I also have tinnitus (ear-ringing) and central auditory processing delay (left ear hears slightly behind the right). In addition to this physical damage, the blow to my brain’s frontal lobe damaged “executive skills” needed to solve-problems on the fly and make good decisions quickly. I have been clinically depressed, anxious, and impulsive. I am a slow processor. I’ve taken lots of pills for these things, but I have finally found the best medicines of all: meditation and yoga (represented by the third eye) and a little rescue dog named Cici, whose sweet love has rescued me. My life’s purpose is to be present, to practice loving kindness, and to put one foot in front of the other on the bodhisattva path.