A Sundre-area woman who suffered a traumatic brain injury crawled out of an “unfamiliar, frightening place” by writing a song that’s giving hope to other concussion survivors.
Bearberry resident Linda Jean Holden is amazed she was able to return to writing music with her single Brain Cell. The tune will be released Friday under her performing name, Linda Jean, to all major music streaming platforms.
Holden explained she had lived a happy, fulfilling life as a member of the Calgary-based country band Rooster in a Hen House until four years ago.
While crate training her donkey in June of 2017, a high wind spooked the animal, who “turned on a dime” and sent her falling backwards. Holden said the back of her head hit a concrete walkway — and the resulting pain and trauma obliterated almost every part of her former life.
“The first year of my injury I was unable to do much of anything other than sit in my dark barn or my dark house. Communication with people was unbearable,” she recalled.
The once social woman began living what she describes as a lonely, “ghost-like” existence.
With a frozen shoulder, severe neck pain, delayed brain-to-hand communication, loss of focus and memory, her passion for playing guitar and singing evaporated. “I thought how could something that was so joyfully, a massive part of who I am, be so painful and not even worth trying?”
As the days turned into months, her spirit started fading. Along with the chronic pain, Holden felt depression looming.
One night, when she was at her “absolute lowest,” she picked up a pen and began writing her feelings down on paper. A poem she titled Brain Cell took shape.
Holden eventually learned more about her condition after getting an MRI. She embarked on some sports medicine-type therapy with a local chiropractor. At one point, she was told to start tapping along to a metronome. “I said, ‘Well this is stupid, I might as well try strumming on a guitar…”
As she continued making small improvements, Holden gradually returned to her instruments and used music writing as therapy.
Among the songs she wrote is a tuneful version of her Brain Cell poem. It was produced by Joel Pearson of Calgary, has Calgary and Edmonton musicians playing lead guitar and pedal steel. The bass, drums and mastering were provided by Wayne Proctor at the House Of Tone Studio in Nottingham, England.
“This song is no longer just about me and my battle,” said Holden, who’s encouraged by comments left by other concussion and TBI injury survivors on her early acoustic performance of the song, which is on YouTube.
Another survivor called it “the song of my people.”
She hopes the tune will help “others, like me, all over the world that suffer with this invisible and often misunderstood life altering injury… Then perhaps the nightmare that I have been through will not have been in vain, and maybe my experiences through this song can do some real good.”
Holden is also planning to release a holiday album, Christmas in My Heart, that will be streaming on Dec. 1.