A few months back, on a rainy afternoon in a noisy neighborhood Starbucks, I agreed to meet with an independent journalist who had found me through a picture I had posted of myself on my Instagram account. Here's the photo:
This photo was taken the day I went in to have a craniotomy (a.k.a brain surgery) to remove a brain tumor found on the right temporal lobe of my brain. The tumor was causing me to have Grand Mal seizures, which the surgery has been helpful in alleviating but I am still epileptic and am being treated for epilepsy and now also severe migraines.
I had posted several photos of my time spent in hospital rooms with tubes stuck throughout my body, photographically journaling myself going through many painful and traumatic tests up to my surgery to make sure I could safely have the tumor removed, and then again after surgery of the scar, stitches and healing of the ordeal. I would include the hashtags #craniotomy, #braintumor #epilepsy etc...on all the photos and get many likes/comments from users going through a similar situation as me. In turn, I too would follow those hashtags and find many other photos of people going through a similar ordeal and comment on their photos, find strength in seeing others who I could relate to in such an isolating time. Posting such intimate photos of my trauma ironically created even more support and community for me.
It also opened the door for communication for people in my life that knew a little bit about what was going on, but maybe not the severity of it, or were too afraid to ask about it (and I in turn did not want to bring it up in conversation every time I was out. It's not so easy a thing to just start a conversation about, you know?). Friends/family/FaceBook acquaintances were more comfortable reaching out to me and giving me words of love and support and comfort after I posted a picture of some of what I was going through, as it was happening, then just bringing it up on their own. It opened the door for conversation.
These are the things I spoke with journalist Sonja Sharp that rainy day in Starbucks, and she has now finished her piece on the phenomenon of "hospital selfies" or "trauma selfies" and included my story among a few others on how they are actually an aid to our healing and not just another form of selfie narcissism. Now published by VICE on-line. I feel honored to have my story included in such a positive way.
Read the full article here "Hospital Selfies are Theapeutic, Not Narcissistic" by Sonja Sharp for VICE Magazine
You can also watch the film I wrote, produced and directed about my experience with this trying time in my life, facing the diagnosis of epilepsy and a rare brain tumor at the age of 25, and how it has changed me forever.
Watch my film here: My Aura's Echo