New 52 Batgirl flying through stormy city skyline via grappling hook

How Batgirl Saved Me

Babs did me a 24K solid during my TBI recovery

Okay, she didn’t really save my life.

But, she did something else that’s valuable: her character boosted my confidence at a time when I had ambitious goals to achieve but little strength and guidance with which to do so.

She ended up being a strong female role model whom I’d tap for strength and whose example I learned from when I felt lost and confused. The New 52 Batgirl also happens to be a big influence for Shroom Raider—so, I’ll give a little context on why Barbara Gordon is a great influence for Amanita Jones (or anyone else for that matter).

New 52 Batgirl flying through stormy city skyline via grappling hook

New 52 Batgirl | ©DC Entertainment

If you enjoy DC comics, you may know Gail Simone’s work well. She is a considerable influence on the style of Shroom Raider. . .in fact, Simone’s Batgirl trade paperbacks were the first thing I remember reading when I awoke from my coma in October 2014.

Wait, waitwhat? Coma?

I awoke from a week-long coma in an ambulance (not that I had any idea what ambulances were at that point), rumbling along to the 3rd hospital I’d stay at after getting a rash of TBIs (Traumatic Brain Injuries). I was hit by a drunk driver on October 4th 2014. He drove his Ford F150 into my left hip and sent me flying 40+ feet onto my forehead.

Comatose Taylor in hospital

The impact skid marks on my forehead left scars, but they’re gone now! Woohoo!

Let me tell you, recovering from TBIs feels like undergoing adolescence again. Actually, I could only describe what I personally felt upon waking as being “born again.” Pretty strange feeling. I’m just glad I didn’t have to go back to high schoolbut I did have to earn my driver’s license a second time. Naturally, the State revokes it if you contract a TBI.

The recovery process is like undergoing a second adolescence

The Feds don’t go easy on you either: did you know that over two-thirds1 of SSDI applicants are denied benefits? They must undergo lengthy appeals processes to prove they’re in need (the litigation often takes years). So, I’m grateful that I’ve been able to keep jobs after my severe TBI.2 And, I know it only helped to have Barbara Gordon as a fictional role model while I struggled to recover some semblance of my former life.

Taylor at rehab1

The netted bed I was confined to for hours daily

Following the injury,* my partner bought The New 52 Batgirl comics for me. As soon as I cared about reading again, after a few weeks, I absorbed Barbara Gordon’s story. I found in it a figure I could relate to from the confines of my netted bed. The story of a woman who struggles to regain her abilities after a devastating injury. And her ability to walk was stolen from her in an instant—boy, did I relate to that.

Taylor hospital-Vallejo2

I eventually regained my balance thanks to the generosity of many.

The New 52 Barbara Gordon is funny, smart and imperfect3, and I relate to her struggle to regain former balance despite severe trauma and disability. For Barbara Gordon, this involves maintaining a convoluted docket of work and superheroingnot to mention personal life management, which involves roommate conflicts, romantic relationships (with her own therapist even), family disagreements and so much more.

Barbara’s wit, strength and courage helped me find my footing under pressure

In my personal experience, Barbara Gordon is an apt and wonderful role model for Traumatic Brain Injury survivors. If you are helping anyone heal from trauma and acclimate to a new way of living, you can help them rebuild self-confidence by gifting them The New 52 Batgirl comics. The comics helped me see my potential and aid redevelopment of my moral compass throughout a lengthy recovery.* I believe they’ve helped others too.

 

*the distinction between the words “accident” and “injury” are important to know if you want to understand this TBI survivor’s perspective. The man behind the steering wheel of that Ford F150 accelerated into me. There was no evidence he tried to stop (no skid marks found onsite). He made a mistake. But the situation wasn’t unexpected given the circumstances.  It wasn’t an accident.
*the term “recovery” is another one…the process is made one-dimensional by this term.

1 http://www.headinjuryrehab.org/assets/files/headinjuryrehab%20SSD.pdf

2 http://www.traumaticbraininjury.com/symptoms-of-tbi/severe-tbi-symptoms/

3 https://wtfdccomics.wordpress.com/2012/08/31/new-52-batgirl/

Credits

Thanks to my Dad, Ben Devarie, for the photos

Thanks to the many, many people who donated to my GoFundMe fundraiser and helped me in other forms during my time of need (we know who you are)

Thanks to all I might have forgotten

And thanks to you for reading this. This post is important to me.

 

Shroom Raider issue 1 cover image, Amanita Jones sitting atop pink-hued chair-sized mushrooms

First issue of Shroom Raider!

Hey there! It’s been awhile since my last post, but I’ve recently completed some new work – I’m trying my hand at comics!

I think comics are where it’s at in terms of storytelling.  What better way to tell a meaningful story than through semiotic mediums – or comics! Comics are unique because they are like languages –  they are systems of signs the reader must interpret to understand what the author intends to communicate (just think of any time the sequence of panels on a page threw off your understanding because you read the panels’ speech/narrative bubbles in a different order than the author intended).

shroom-raider-Pelo-Mo

Amanita Jones finds the legendary Pelo-Mo mushroom. | ©SCLeccentric

 

via Shroom Raider: Mushroom and Zombie Flambé

Above is page 16 from issue 1 of Shroom Raider – only one box of narrative here, not confusing at all heh 🙂 you can click through to the *entire* first issue of Shroom Raider, where we are introduced to our mushroom-foraging citizen detective, Amanita Jones (named after Amanita muscaria).

Sam (or SCLeccentric) based the character off of me. So if you think she resembles me, that’s the intention 🙂 Of course, I’m NOWHERE *near* as cool as Amanita is. But it’s always good to have goals!

Let me know what you think in the comments! We’ll be seeing Amanita again soon enough; I just finished a beat sheet for a new comic she’s featured in – exciting! See you all next time!

 

Bhutan Creates Gross National Happiness Metrics to Gauge a Nation’s Well Being

Hey y’all! I took a hiatus from posting here due to new beginnings elsewhere, but I’m back!

I began writing for the Soul Doctors blog, Ctenidium (‘ti-NID-ee-um’), about a year after my release from the hospital, and it’s been an amazing experience for my personal and business growth. I love writing for Ctenidium and hope people enjoy the blog’s focus on Psychology, mental health, and health in general. I wrote about Bhutan’s unique standards for measuring Gross National Happiness (as opposed to GDP), and you can see the article here.

Bhutan Creates GNH Metrics to Gauge the Nation's Well BeingThis article was originally published on Ctenidium.

A bit about Souldoctors.com (launching in July 2016)

Are you interested in a sophisticated directory of health specialists that seek to improve and enrich the lives of others? Have you been looking for a practical and effective way to find new clients and manage the ones you already have? 

Souldoctors.com is the answer you’re looking for! The health directory launches in July 2016 (that’s next month!!) so sign up early and be first in line for listings or info.