Angela Chao has had three concussions in two years. After the first concussion, she discovered her inner artist and expresses her emotions through paint strokes on a canvas as mental cries for help. After all, art is one of the main antidotes for her feelings of depression, anxiety and stress, which are just some of the various symptoms of concussions.
In recent years, Angela has garnered several awards and accolades for her works of art, including a trip to Australia and New Zealand, and a recent ad campaign with Mercedes. Her work has been featured in several publications, including Best Magazine, Brain Injury Association of Canada Magazine, Mississauga News and countless blog postings. She is scheduled to speak about her experiences later this year in Ontario. Since her own struggles years ago, Angela has discovered newfound purpose. Her current aspiration is to spread awareness to others about concussions. While she still faces many challenges, now more then ever, she is determined to keep painting, along with continuing to overcome mental and emotional highs and lows and adjust to her new life, post-concussion. Art is her therapy.
I am Angela, 33, I work in the Toronto Film industry for the last 8 years of my life. I also met my husband, Shawn on a tv show called Being Erica.
I admit, I was never a always happy type of gal, but I never reached the levels of sadness and depression like after my concussions. I wish I can turn back time but I cannot. I am trying to make the most lemonade as I can.
I had all three injury on set, at work. I won’t explain the gory details but the concussion has allowed me to lead a very unique life. I had issues with depression, anxiety and stress at work and in life. Instead of hiding under my blankets and crying I found peace in painting. It was a miraculous discovery after a Cranio Sacral massage by Edwin Galaeno at Hands for Health in Mississauga. I went home able to think for myself for the first time. Feelings of anxiety did not cloud my thoughts. I felt a huge release in pressure in my head but also my mental state was much more stable. I had a difficult time focusing on one thing for too long after a concussion. I lost my train of thought a lot as well as my memory. While I was at home and able to have a full conversation with my fiance at that time, I started to doodle on a plate. At that point it looked like gibberish on ceramic. 30 minutes later it appears I drew this bird, which is now my logo to “Mindless Doodle.” This was my first step to my new found therapy.
Suggestions for the concussed
I am not a doctor so please take my suggestions as just a suggestion. These things have helped me but may not be for everyone.
I have discovered for me western medication prescribed by the doctor and hospital is harsh and has awful side effects. I decided to take the natural route.
I changed my diet, to eating raw healthy fruits and vegetables. I didn’t have deep fried, sugar or too much white flour. I felt when I feel physically better, I also felt mentally better. This took a while to adapt since being depressed a lot one would CRAVE the junky sugar and deep fried chips. The next step was researching natural supplements that could aid in my brain recovery.
I tried gingko biloba, magnesium supplements, mutli mineral and vitamin, vitamin b, gaba, 5-htp, L-tyrosine (which only works if you consume enough protein), melatonin and st Johns worts. OK from all that jibber what I found worked for me is SAM-E You can buy it in any health stores but in Canada only lower dosages were sold. I went to the USA and purchased a ton of 400mg SAM-E. I found when my mood was low or I knew I had a long day ahead I would take on in the morning and it seemed like I could fake through my day without getting in an argument.
Other types of therapy I have tried were acupuncture for depression, hypnosis for depression as well as meditation. Many of us who have had concussions have issues with fluorescent lights. They flicker at a rate we can perceive but the normal human eye cannot see. So in my case my eyes are ALWAYS in spasm under these situations this leads to a very grumpy short tempered Angela. What has helped me but requires maintenance? An osteopath named Anne Hartley who does eye adjustments. My eyes are converging differently, therefore the world is not the way it is suppose to be. I have seen her over 5 times just to recondition my eyes and its has helped. Usually if I take a bus to see her (45 minutes) I would be sick from the light inside the bus, after seeing Anne I can manage the whole bus ride without being aggressive and upset.