A New Life
by Chris Twist
for QLife Las Vegas
I have a brain injury, the kind of brain injury that changes everything in my life. I was so many things that I am not now, because I can’t do all of the things that I use to do.
I used to be a contortionist, wrote and said Japanese and French, sword swallower, suspensions, music (bass, piano, synth, guitar, and digital drums), photography, and the biggest component is writing. I have a B.A. in English with a certificate in technical writing. Though I did most of the things I just wrote about as work, it was writing that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It doesn’t mean that contortionist or photography didn’t mean a lot to me, but it did mean that I loved writing more than anything I can think of.
Now, working as a writer is something that I cannot do, at least right now. I have aphasia, which makes it very hard for me to write, say, or read things. It is as though I don’t remember any words in the English world, at least it used to be just like that. I could only say “fu**” and “love,” for about one month. After that I started to get little bits of words, sometimes I knew what they were and other times I didn’t know what the words were; but I could still say them. It was very hard for me to get as many words as I have right now, enough for me to write this letter for all of you to read. I still get new words every day, and maybe that will be the rest of my life. I’m just very happy that I can finally write something, something that means something to anybody.
There is another problem that I have, and it is that I don’t remember anything from my life. Fortunately, I have my Mom, Dad, brother, and my friends to tell me who I was and what I did. Apparently, I did quite a lot each day, from my body to my mind; I was always working on something, wanting more and more every day. You should know that I was done with high school by the time I was sixteen and then was in CSN for what I thought was “big school.” I did very well in that place, and there was a book, one for English students, that used one of my letters in it so that everybody in English classes could read a little bit about me. I also started to work as a writer, writing business plans and short resumes for other people.
I also was a contortionist, which was incredible as work could be. It gave me a way to use my body and my mind at the same time, and that was a great feeling. I would be a contortionist for the rest of my life, and it always helped me by making my mind think about a little less.
Unfortunately, I also started to have a big problem, bi-polar. Maybe it happened because people always said that I was “genius” or maybe it was something from my family’s genes. I started to hurt myself with a knife on my legs and arms. I don’t remember why I felt like that, and I think it is maybe better to not know why. I would sometimes say things about how it would feel so great to be dead.
At that time, I was starting in UNLV, and I had no idea what I was going to do in the end. I was good at everything I tried and loved, so it was very hard for me to get one thing and finish it. Eventually, I wanted the most to be a writer, and some of that was from by teacher Beth Rosenberg. I actually remember her, the only person from school I remember, and I loved her very much. She was the kind of person who was strong and was fine with weird people, even liking weird people a little more than people who are like everybody else. So she really got me, because I was very weird so say the least. In the end I got a B.A. in English and wanted, eventually, to get a Ph. D. in English just like Beth Rosenberg.
Around this same time, two very atrocious things happened. The first was that in the home that I used to live in, living with a friend who had the home, his boyfriend did something amazingly scary. He put both of us into a room and had a gun. He was thinking about killing both of us. It really wasn’t about me, but I was there; and he would have to kill me as well. He was mad about something with his boyfriend, and I was just there. People have told me that I was the one who changed the gun-holding man’s idea. I just said something that was so right and true that he didn’t hart either of us, and I can’t remember at all what I said.
Another thing that happened around this time was my boyfriend, Philip, killed by the boyfriend before me. Philip was working in the bar, and it was very late so there were no people in the bar that time. He was killed in the bar by a gun, and that was so very hard for me to think about. That was the first time when I really tried to kill myself. I was taken into a hospital with other people who have psycho problems, and I was there for three days. There was another time when I was home, with my Mom and Dad, and they took me to the same place for another three days.
After all the things that happened in Las Vegas, I needed to leave and try a new city; so, I want to Atlanta. In Atlanta, I got the best work as a writer I ever had, and that was at Edelman. I was a writer and a photographer. I wrote for many kinds of ads, and I really like working in the world of ads. Unfortunately, my bi-polar was just getting worse, and eventually, they had to be done with me after about one year and a half. It was after this that I tried to kill myself again; I remember that. I was worried that this bi-polar problem would make it very hard for me to work at any place for very long, and that eventually I wouldn’t have any place to work as a writer.
This time, I really almost killed myself. There were months when people were not sure if I would get better or if I would be dead. My Mom, Dad, and brother were all there. This is also the time when I had the brain injury, which is why I’m writing to you right now.
Now, I can write and say things much better. Everyday I’m getting better and I love it. I looked at a book that I made years ago, and I saw that it needed a little more; so I made more. It was amazingly hard for me to write again, but it was also awesome to think that I could really be a writer again. So, I made about 24 new pages in this book, and I really think that the new pages finally make the book truly done. Now I’m making a new book, and so far it is doing very well. I’m just so happy that I can write again. Every time I try to write, I’m a little bit better. I will keep doing this and I’m hoping that in two years, I will be ready to get a Ph. D. in English, something I’ve always wanted.
Anathema is a twenty-first century retelling of affectionate delusion and the dissolution of a man whose affair with a young transsexual turns into an obsessive relationship with his inner monologue and his deranged affinity with a mysterious cicada.
Available on Amazon
Publisher’s Note: As I started to edit Christopher’s article, I realized that doing so changed the essence of the article and undermined the progress he has made in his recovery. His article is presented as submitted. I hope you read it with compassion and appreciate what this man has accomplished in not only writing this article, but publishing a book.