I could use this space to rant about the unfairness of life with a disability; how the world doesn’t understand, puts problems in your way, makes life much more difficult than it should be, rather than trying to make it easier.
I could do that all day long, but what’s the point? It wouldn’t change my situation now, other people are better-placed than me (if they would stop obsessing about Europe) and it would only make me angry. And as I’ve said ad nauseam, getting angry gets me stressed, which gets me angry, which gets me stressed…
So instead, I’m going to talk about creativity. It’s a well-known fact that people with brain damage find they are able to express themselves in different ways than they could before their accident. This is because the zillions of neurons in the brain rewire themselves in different ways to cope with the fact that an area of the brain is now dead.
This process is called neuroplasticity and to get a far better understanding of it than I could ever give, I recommend you seek out a book called “The brain that changes itself’’ by Norman Doidge. I was given this book soon after my stroke and it is by far the best thing I have ever read about this fantastically complex piece of kit.
It explains how stroke-survivors suddenly become accomplished musicians or artists or IT experts - because the connections needed within the brain to make them accomplished musicians or artists or IT experts didn’t exist previously, but do now.
It’s why music therapy is so useful, why art therapy is so useful - because stimulating these new connections helps them grow and improve.
I’m a prime example. Before my stroke, I could hardly draw a square but my local branch of the Headway brain-injury charity puts on occasional art classes at which we are encouraged to paint by a very good teacher, Jayne Good (paintwithjayne.co.uk). We had another one this week and in a three-hour class, four strokies with no previous artistic talent produced some inspiring art. In my case, it was my second effort and although I wouldn’t say it was massively better than the first, it was certainly just as good and the class was just as enjoyable. I definitely want to do it again.
Yes, I would need expert guidance; no, I won’t be selling my art any time soon. But the sense of achievement is enormous and stroke-rehab, as I say so often, is all about mindset - focusing on what you CAN do rather than what you can’t.
My only problem now is finding somewhere on the increasingly crowded walls of Warrillow Towers to hang this beach-scene.