Stories from the brainreels guests Sonya Lea and Richard Bandy

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Here’s something I take very seriously: folks should be given the space to speak for themselves. I’m talking about everyone really, but especially anyone who’s in any way marginalized. In the case of today’s podcast and post, I’m specifically talking about women and people with disabilities. I bring this up because for this episode, I interviewed the married couple Sonya Lea and Richard Bandy. Richard sustained a serious brain injury 12 years ago. They collaborated on a memoir, “Wondering Who You Are,” due out July 9th, 2015. It’s an amazing book. And it’s only that much better when you recognize that even though only Sonya’s name is on the front cover, they wrote it together. Although much of it sounds like it’s in Sonya’s voice, you’ll hear them talk in the podcast below about the ways in which they shared the writing. Fantastic!

The memoir's cover shows Richard and Sonya, younger, smiling for the camera.

[Image description: The memoir’s cover shows Richard and Sonya, younger, smiling for the camera.]

I’ve read a lot of memoirs, and I will tell you that this one doesn’t fall into tear-jerking, heartstring-tugging traps. Honest and raw about sex, love, and the pain and loss of acquired disability, it’s not a sensationalist confessional or pity party. I genuinely think for any partner or family care partner of someone with a brain injury that this book would be extremely validating and eye-opening. As I read it, I saw things of myself in Sonya even though I identify as someone with a brain injury and not as the care partner or family member. I also wondered how her words might fit with the people in my life who were most affected by my experiences in early impairments. I saw myself a little bit in Richard as well. So I really think it’s an engaging book, no matter what your relationship to brain injury is.

Please visit the website, where you can find out more about the book as well as Sonya’s film, screenplay, teaching, and other writing work. I don’t have a link to Richard because he’s not a limelight kind of guy. He also works as a physical therapist rather than in the media.

You can find excerpts from the book in many places online. Sonya starting publishing essays and chapters last year.
Cover of the Brain Injury Association of America's journal, The Challenge issue on Maintaining Intimacy shows a couple kissing lit by the sunset.Click on the image above to get to the Brain Injury Association of America’s journal on maintaining intimacy and relationships after brain injury. Sonya and Richard’s essay on page four, “Like a Virgin,” appears in the book, “Wondering Who You Are.”

If you like very short posts with pictures, follow Wondering Who You Are on tumblr!

Huge thanks to Sonya and Richard for creating this fantastic book which will be of interest to people with and without brain injury and disability experiences, with and without experience with marriage or exploration of sexuality and relationships. And thank you for sitting down with me for this very engaging conversation.

Click on this sentence for a typed, accessible transcript of podcast episode #037.