Recovering & Starting a Business

If you would have told me eight years ago that I’d own my own business, create TBI resources
and live a “somewhat normal” life, I would have said that you were crazy. My medical team and
support system would say that when they first met me, these things were absolutely out of the
question. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t sure if these things were in the cards for me either.

With an original diagnosis of a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) and “she
may never be the same again” - you cling onto whatever hope you can. All medical diagnoses
are hard to swallow- but those that change you and shake you to your core are the most
difficult. That’s where I was eight years ago. With little TBI/SCI resources available, new medical
studies and an unknown future, I dove head first into “recovering.”

People often ask how I did it? How did I recover? I unfortunately don’t have a magic potion or
wishes to grant and I’m still working on my recovery daily. What I can tell you is that there is
much more hope for those of us with Brain/Spinal Cord Injuries today., greater options in
medical treatment and resources and that the workforce is constantly changing.

Carley Dole recovering with friends
After graduating college, I entered the workforce full time. I was doing everything the way you
are supposed to. I was by any definition, normal. I worked your typical 8-5 and loved my job. I
was consistently exercising and tracking my water intake and making time for my social life. In
my head, this was the payoff for years worth of therapies, education and medical treatments
and yet I wasn’t okay. Although I loved it, I was quick to realize my brain didn’t and that this
“normal” was not something that I could keep up in the future. Of course, this experience was
discouraging and like many of us, I felt like I took 20 steps backwards in my recovery. I went
back to therapy. I reduced my work hours. I was accepted into medical trials and I slept and
rested more than I'd like to admit. I re-evaluated this concept of “normal” and learned
(stubbornly) that normal just wasn’t going to work for me- nor was it sustainable for my brain.

Throughout college and after, I was approached by local businesses and nonprofit organizations
to lend a hand with graphic design needs; creating logos and branding, running campaigns and
helping to tell their stories. I was also an advocate to all things dealing with the brain and was
working with numerous organizations who focused on concussion, TBI and SCI related
injuries. As I was advocating, sharing, and creating content- I began to blend both my love for
graphic design and the human brain into one. Combining both, I created Open Mind & Designs
in 2019. Open Mind & Designs is dedicated to fueling small businesses and non-profit
organizations with the passion we desire and the creativity we crave while making positive
impacts on the human brain. We provide graphic design services to small businesses,
nonprofits and start up companies as well as provide TBI and SCI related content, resources
and media.

I’ve learned that although being a business owner comes with its own set of challenges, it was a
move and a change that has benefited me greatly. It’s given me the work-life balance that my
brain needs as well as the flexibility required to continue recovering. Most importantly it's
opened up more doors and windows than I thought possible and has led me to so many great
organizations and people!

Carley Dole With Cat
My recovery is far from over. There are symptoms and things I struggle with daily. For those out
there who think they’re doing “recovery” wrong- know that there’s no right way. There’s multiple
routes and limitless opportunities for you regardless of how your accident or injury affects you.
Understand that your brain and your experiences may not lead you to “normal” outcomes. Most
importantly understand that what’s most important is what your brain needs. The rest will fall into
place from there!

Interested in connecting or want to chat? Please feel free to reach out, my door is always open!
Find me at my website at , email me at or connect with me on social media
Instagram @openmindanddesigns
Facebook: Open Mind & Designs
LinkedIn: Carley Dole

Topics: Spinal Cord Injury, Traumatic Brain Injury, Spinal Cord, TBI, SCI, Recovery, Daily Life, Graphic Design

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