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Admittedly, this will read more like a blog entry, but I am not afraid to be open and honest about who I am. Also, as I know of at least one other individual who is in a similar boat to me at this time, I sincerely hope said person is able to read this, and understand fully that I empathize with their situation. I also have nothing but heaps of respect for said person, and I hope this person realizes my writing this is a way to attempt to help out during a time of painful healing.
I have not given up on my goal of telling the story of the Winnipeg Jets this season. Rather, I have just been forced to take another route, and am working with an amazing team doing so. Now, that is not to say this wasn't something I'd not considered doing. On the contrary, this was something which I had pitched earlier this fall, but as there was a changeover being made at the media outlet I'd sent it to, I did not receive word back on it until a few short weeks ago.
Between the time I had pitched it and when I got the response, I had received my ninth concussion.
And as usual, I have been trying to keep up with my "usual pace," which is the LAST THING a person with a brain injury should be doing. In fact, I know I have set my healing back a bit each time I have tried pushing myself. Thankfully, I have friends, both old and new (especially the new friends whom I have met that are helping me with my pitched project!) who will tell me, honestly, to SLOW THE F**K DOWN, or even firmly say to me "Please, sit down!" whenever I look worn out.
Physically, I need to pace myself, even writing this piece this late at night (or early in the morning as it is 2:28 AM Saskatchewan time right now) I know will give me a horrid migraine in the morning. Still, I am compelled to write to let this person know YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
When I was recovering from concussion number seven, I was in a playwriting class, and I wrote a play where a young woman was recovering from a brain injury, and how people mistakenly felt that she was totally vulnerable and easily fooled. In the play, I explored this misconception and showed that, though there were certain things she was unable to do as easily, she could still think fairly well when she slowed down her physical pace, took the right medications for her, and was not at all useless. In fact, one of the most memorable lines I used in the eventual final script was one that someone who read the script said to me (and yes this person KNEW FULL WELL about my own injury!)
"You can't have her behaving in a way where she is OUTTHINKING THE ANTAGONIST! Everyone KNOWS that people with brain injuries are DUMBED DOWN, A LOT, so remember that in your script!"
My response was as diplomatic as I could render, through my pain, but I was truthful when I told this individual, "I will keep your words in mind in my final draft!"
Someone else who knew me well was within earshot when I stated this, and let out a chuckle, as whenever anyone says something meant as a barbed insult to me, and I respond with something like that, it means THAT WILL GO INTO MY SCRIPT! Which was truthfully what happened, as I had the antagonist saying this about the protagonist in the opening moments of the play.
I am not going to get into anything with my current project, but I know allowing myself to step back and rest—and take on the role which I know I am able to do and still contribute to it—is the best thing for my team. My brain is still working, but there are times when I still feel lonely and at times, frustrated and mad at myself for not doing my usual sorts of tasks.
For instance, before this latest concussion, I was used to putting in about a three to five hour day working on a computer. Now I have to reduce myself to about an hour or two at the most, then taking about a 30-minute break away from any screens (cell phone included) to finish my creative projects.
Am I giving up on my creativity? Not at all! In fact, I am guiding my team as to what my vision is, and make what suggestions I can about how I want a project to turn out, and also give suggestions when needed as to how things may be improved upon. My past experiences and knowledge in the game of life can still be useful to others, it's just my means of communicating that knowledge, my ability, and mindset of feeling useful, has had to change during my time of recovery.
Even with this article, whomever the editors were who initially read it failed to have the understanding or humanity to see the fact that the original digital artwork, or accompanying graphic, was relevant. In fact, it was originally not approved for this article three times due to the failure to understand that the misconception of this invisible disability is something which adds insult to injury...literally. I did change it and have included what I had originally wanted to use as the title one (which took me hours to make) in a later part of this piece. I was even told not to have my copyrighted image watermarked as this could "distract the reader" (wow, they really have a low opinion of what a reader might or might not notice!). The pixel and dpi size of the graphic was within the exact technical standards presented in the guidelines. Because the initial editorial viewers of the graphic failed to understand the validity of the graphic furthers why so many of us with this kind of injury are frustrated constantly...because so many of us are brushed off as anomalous and not "normal." Tough. We exist and due to our experiences, have our unique vision and perspective on life.
And for the individual I am thinking of, who received an injury very similar to my own within a week or two of my receiving my ninth concussion, please understand that sometimes taking on a slightly different role in the area you love dearly is the best road to recovery. People love your knowledge in your chosen area, and certainly would respect and listen to your experiences and/or educated observations. It wouldn't be a forever step, but it would be something that would allow you to stay as active as you are able to. Also, it would give you time to heal but keep you within the world you love so much.
This is only being written because I do care about your recovery, and understand it all too well. Hopefully, these words do not fall upon deaf ears, and if anyone else reads this who can relate, I hope it helps them as well. Because nobody should feel alone in this situation. Ever.