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About the competition

 

I couldn't find an exhibition or book that featured elements and the topics in the way mine does.

Book wise, competition closest to my genre is:

  • Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan details Cahalan's struggle with a rare form of encephalitis and her recovery. The book narrates Cahalan's issues with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis and the process by which she was diagnosed with this form of encephalitis. It also covers Cahalan's life after her recovery, including her reactions to watching videotapes of her psychotic episodes while in the hospital. Although I will like Cahalan discuss my symptoms prior to my hospitalisation and the events that follow thereafter, my book goes further by applying neuroscience and how our brains are responsible for our sense of spirituality and the experience we each have of the world and of events around us, the power of the breath, heart, gut, colour and nature based meditation techniques to heal the brain and body and look at issues beyond the disease itself and what I mean for those suffering with chronic brain injuries such as issues around identity, loss, and grief.

 

  • My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor, tell of her observations as a brain scientist who experienced a massive stroke in the left hemisphere of her brain. Taylor alternated between the euphoria of the intuitive and kinesthetic right brain, in which she felt a sense of complete well-being and peace, and the logical, sequential left brain, which recognised she was having a stroke and enabled her to seek help before she was completely lost. It would take her eight years to fully recover.  For Taylor, as it was for me, her stroke was a blessing and a revelation. It taught her that by “stepping to the right” of our left brains, we can uncover feelings of well-being that are often sidelined by “brain chatter.” Whilst my book will cover very similar topics ie brain injury and applying neuroscience to the experience I am having of myself and the world, I differ in that I have had no formal neuroscience medical training, that I was completely alone and un supported during the years of my recovery and also go into more detail on more philosophical questions such as our awareness of self, God and soul being reliant on having a functioning brain. I also bring in many creative things that helped me such as sitting and staring at words in a book 10 minutes each day for months on end until my brain remembered to recognise words again, using Radio 4 to help me with improve my memory, going back to improvisation classes and drumming to engage the brain and rewire it.

How my book differs:

 

There are literally hundreds of books on the mind and brain, on women’s brain, on depression and suicide and on therapies. Equally, a vast array has been written on so many varied spiritual experiences, as well as the power of bodies to heal, the power of the breath, the impact of food and our gut health as well as neuroscience and heart math. As much can be found on various meditations and the now the ever increasing documented proof of how these and as well as simply being in nature help humans heal.

I cannot go into each one in detail here though I am happy to upon request.

However, I can say how my book differs is that it brings in a little bit of all, one thing in each chapter, with much humour and quirky thinking. Part memoir, part photography, part poetry, reader participation, part scientific and medical science and facts and so on.

 

I give an open, no holes barred raw account, insightful and curiously varied (to represent the variety of my personality and impact of my brain injury) that can be understood and appeal to the person at the bus stop as much as to the leader of the House of Commons. 

I also have visual only chapters such as one whole chapter that is just a blank black page (to represent both grief as well as the dark rooms I had to be in for many months) and one that is just a full stop to represent how everything stopped in my life – my brain, my thoughts, my organs, my memory, my everything.

 

There will be opportunities for reader participation and call to action such as fun exercises, QR codes to link to video, talks, music, website, share their experiences and photos on social media etc.

 

There will have an appendix at the back that will give examples of unique cognitive exercises that I created and worked, meditation scripts that I  somehow made up and helped me heal, to the recipe of making a Greek coffee (which signified so much to me).

 

If anything, this will be a book like no other (not black nor white): it is so colourful, quirky and definitely living the grey.

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