TBI & Creativity

A copy from my Weblog.

I am only recently truly getting it that I am a survivor of a TBI: Traumatic Brain Injury. My TBI is considered an “Acquired TBI”.
It’s been 7 years since I became ill and 14 months since I’ve been out of the bed and rehabilitating. Photography, for some reason became intrinsically central to that and I cannot explain why.

I’ve always loved taking pictures. I mean, I LOVED taking pictures. Oddly enough, it never once even entered my mind to become a photographer until after I started rehabilitating.
I cannot even fully understand it myself.

It started with my cell phone and then I remembered (lots and lots of memory loss and on very weird, nonspecific areas) that I used to do a lot of graphic design in my work before I became ill.

Somehow it just became probably the most important therapy for to date.

I was also a good writer and I was getting published. That skill, however is extremely difficult for me to recover.

I did, however meet my very first massive milestone September 9th of this year, 2008.

For 4 months it never left me.
The proposition I came across by pure accident was on a writing essay.

For 4 months I tormented over a blank “page”, terrified to write again.
My typing skills are all nearly clinically dyslexic now and my self editing abilities are poor…to say the least.
Spell check is one thing (used over and over for fear I’ve screwed something up), but proof-reading over and over makes one written entry hours long.
Even then I somehow miss errors.

I don’t think anyone who knows me thought I would actually get it written due to my lack of self editing as (one of several irritating results of my TBI).

Three days prior to the due date I sent my caregiver away and sat alone so I could face it one on one with no one around.
For three days I slept very little and my head felt like my brain was on fire and bruising even,from the pressing on my skull, as it often does; although I remember hearing once on a science channel that the brain has no feeling. So how does that work anyway?

Finally I did do it.
I couldn’t believe it.

Then I did a word count. This was on this past Saturday.

3500 words.
1500 word limit.

I had the immediate emotional urge of overwhelming despair. An immediate impulse to give up. How could I edit it down that much??

It becomes a personal sort of thing when you self edit.
For me, having an overloaded emotional annoyance within my brain, it was like peeling my own flesh off piece by piece as I tormented over highlight/ delete again and again.
I constantly had to fight my self or should I say my brain.

It was a battle that, I knew, if I won, would be colossal… for me. An event that perhaps no one but myself would understand the sheer magnitude of.

Monday morning at 3am, the due date, I did my 999th (or so it felt) word count check and it read 1497.

I thought those numbers were the most magical, thrilling, astounding numbers I’ve laid my eyes on in my entire life.
Those numbers were parallel to, for me, dieing and finding, without any shadow of a doubt, that life after this place was my every hope and dream. That there really is a place where we go in to grow and love and live. And that I was somehow rewarded (not in any monetary way) and reassured that I did good.

Those GORGEOUS numbers told me that I could do it. I could write again. I CAN open that document back up and keep going. FINISH it.

I’ve been working on my book for many years; much longer than before I got sick.
Breast cancer and other traumas stopped me.

I remember very clearly the day I stopped and why. I was right there too. I was getting noticed. I was getting my work in faster and getting published. Access to the right people was becoming easier.

Now, being 47, it is time to complete those but I intend to make it graphical…

I thought, in regards to becoming a photographer, that, it was some compulsion that would pass but it does something for my brain that I still cannot put into words.
It is something that seemingly, I am never going to give up.
It is a large part of what defines me today.

Being on Flickr then on to RedBubble and a little toying around in DeviantArt, and now ImageKind, I get extraordinarily behind in visiting others works, responding to comments and emails, and it bothers the hell out of me.
It’s how the “system” works in this world. We all must promote one another else you run a high risk ofgetting lost in the large masses of great artists.

Even as I write this now, my head is on meltdown range of fire and I’m nauseated from the pain.

I feel I’ve let down so many people on the photography sites that I wonder if I’ll ever catch up without passing out for days from the pain of the effort.
It might sound a bit extreme to some if you’re not an artist (and btw, by the term “artist” I include digital imagery, photography, and writing, etc), but it’s where all of our support lies…well most of it for some and maybe more or less for others. For me? About 99.9%

We brain injury survivors all tend to have something in common whether it’s acquired or from an accident, etc.
That commonality is a lot of lost time.
We don’t walk off and kill people; not that kind of lost time. lol….
We just lose a lot of time trying to work with our brain, or resting from the pain, or doing the things we need to do to be more socially integrated. THAT is very difficult yet one of the most important things to keep working on.

So, to all my friends and supporters on these sites, once again, in deepest humility, I beg you please, don’t give up on me.

I think about you every single day and a deep painful sense of guilt and dismay overwhelms me. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve opened my browser to do the things we all do on these sites and hours later I’m somewhere else…something else caught my eye and my brain just went there.

That’s how it goes with me.

I only very recently learned of the literal help out there for brain injury survivors and that I 100% fit into the category of a TBI survivor…and I never thought of my disease that way especially…ever really…I don’t think…well, perhaps it crossed my mind and came and went like so many, any other thoughts and ideas.
Now, however, I’ve just this past week discovered that I don’t have to try to rehabilitate myself anymore…well not alone at least.
There is a local Group that meets at the hospital( a medical hospital, lol) and special therapists for just my sort of problems. Problems much too abstract to explain to others…hence I tend to give up trying to socialize b/c sooner or later I’m going to disappoint you.
Never will I betray you. Never will I HURT you. No no no no…that isn’t a part of my internal fabric. I’ll annoy you…..I suppose. The kinks in my brain are so subtle yet they very often have large impact in some weird way or another.

I discovered this when I was trying to write the essay and as it turned out, THAT is what my essay was written on. (What I recently discovered about TBI and Acquired TBI.

This was the absolute best news I’ve heard since I became ill and lost literally everything (except my two “boyz” Murphy and Mogley). They’ve been with me now for 14 years.

By all appearances and interactions I seem like a normal healthy intelligent individual. And I think I am. I have chosen a life of a sort of isolationism, however, b/c the subtle issues within my brain that torment me make me fear that relationships would fail.
Besides I’m not interested for some reason.
Yet and still, I must eventually re-integrate myself into social settings.

One thing at a time.

I have taken over 47,000 shots now since I started rehabilitating in June of 2007.
I won’t likely stop now.

(Apologies for any repetitiveness)
Peace, Love, Light and All of The Love I Possess,

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