TBI One Love Survivor Melissa Meszaros
Updated: Mar 24, 2022
Hello Everyone, my name is Melissa and I am from Washington State.
I am a publicist, a comic book publish to be exact and three years ago(04/17/2018), I suffered a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). I was walking to a Judas Priest gig with some friends in Portland, Oregan. We had plans to get pizza before heading to see Rob Halford and his gang tear through metal classics such as “Painkiller” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'”. All of a sudden I woke up in the street! I had been hit by a car while walking on a designated crosswalk.
That turned everything upside down really fast, with blood pouring from my head, my friends feared the worse. Honestly, I was in a confused state but the continuing mantra was, I’ll go to the hospital but then I’ll go and see Judas Priest. I’ll get the MRI and then I’ll go to the concert.
When I reached the hospital, however, the seriousness of the situation dawned on myself and everyone. I was lying in the ICU and they told me that they had a surgeon coming to stitch my head. The doctor said to me that I had a brain bleed at six millimeters, and if it hit 10 millimeters then I could suffer permanent brain damage or die! Thankfully the bleed didn’t hit 10 millimeters, but I still sustained a Severe Brain Injury.
After I got stitched up and released from hospital I was still, in a state of “delirium”. Even to this day I do not recall what happened in the days that followed my release, nor how many revisits that were made back to the hospital. But, I do remember the impact the injury had on my senses, memory and cognitive functions.
Ex: I slept a lot, I was in the dark a lot. I couldn’t look at screens, I couldn’t look at my phone, I couldn’t handle any noise, I lost my sense of taste and smell. Basically anything of “real life” my brain couldn’t synthesize, it just wanted to be in the dark and not exist.
My doctors prescribed me to attended a multitude of different therapies, including counseling, physiotherapy, massage therapy and cognition therapy. When my senses started to come back, she still faced disassociation and memory loss. On top of that, I also couldn’t delineate sound and my eyes were misaligned.
Every brain injury is unique to the person. I couldn’t walk for a long time, I couldn’t even stand without falling over.
In the bewildering maelstrom that I found myself in, a stem of hope sprouted unexpectedly in the form of 90s grunge music!
I was walking with my headphones in and Alice In Chains popped on. It was like my mind was 15 and my body was presently 35. I could not figure out what was going on! I went back to a really terrible memories. I told my therapist about this regaining of memories and when asked what the trigger was, I simply explained that it was music! The therapist told me that my brain was dissociating in order to salvage itself and rebuild.
I then started revisiting the albums that I loved as a teenager- 20s. Some of music that was among them: Melvins, L7, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and The Brian Jonestown Massacre – in the hope it would help her remember who she is.
After my TBI, I’d become tabula rasa. A blank slate. I had to earn a lot of the above skills back because all that stuck was what was deeply ingrained, and what I had done forever when it all went to shit—I’d write. It became an exercise in memory mapping, which I wrote entirely on Google Docs, on my iPhone, at my leisure, when something sparked. At the time I didn’t consider how much I could or would write—the word count adding up—or that it could even be cohesive enough to make a book. I just wanted to get back some memories that had been taken away. I wanted to remember my stories and what made me who I was, how I got there. Honestly, I found it quite self-deprecating.
I started her own company: Don’t Hide PR and to get creative with all the notes I took throughout her recovery. With the help of editor J. Bryan Jones, I have weaved the “smattering mess of notes” into a memoir, Heavy Metal Headbang.
I hope that my book can further help spread awareness and help those with injuries like myself.
Brain injuries and the fallouts from them aren’t fully understood in wider society. My story isn’t mine anymore, it belongs to people who are coming out of brain injuries, or people that are coming out of trauma-ally.
I hope that it gives people solace and lets them that they’re not the only people going through these things. They can get to the other side. Nothing is impossible if you just keep going at it.
Thank you TBI One Love for the opportunity to share my story and help end the silence.
Click below to get a copy of my book, or to connect us on twitter.