Man develops new talent after traumatic brain injury

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A car accident left a North Carolina man with a traumatic brain injury, and a new talent.

“You can’t see trauma,” Scott Mele said.

But you can see light.

For Scott Mele, that light has come from painting.

“I was going to tell my story to bring light to what it’s like to be somebody who’s depressed or has anxiety, that has gone through trauma, and suffering in dealing with losing parts of who they are,” Mele said.

The strokes of a paint covered brush on canvas can create something beautiful, but one move can alter a painting forever. The same can be said about life.

“I’m 42 years old. I restarted at 38,” Mele said.

Four years ago, Mele was stopped at an intersection when a driver hit him at 70 miles per hour. He didn’t know at the time, but he suffered a traumatic brain injury. Four months later, he woke up feeling lost.

“When I say I was completely estranged to my life I felt like I was in somebody else’s life, and trapped,” he said.

The former car salesman says he used to focus on himself, success, and material things. Suddenly, he questioned every decision he ever made and fell into a deep depression.

“I felt like i was suffocating every day,” he said.

Today, he paints a stunning portrait of a woman under water suffocating. But before the accident, he had no artistic ability at all. Months later, at a craft store with his kids, he had a compelling urge to paint.

“It was the first time in four months that I saw something that I could relate to that was mine. That felt like it was me,” he said.

Scott later learned he had atypical acquired savant syndrome, known in the medical community as an extraordinary condition where an individual displays remarkable abilities they did not have before a brain injury.

“I’m one of 33 known cases in the world,” he said.

Like a painting in progress, Scott is still working to create his new life, hoping to help others who feel lost find beauty along the way.

“I started over at 38 with nothing, and had to figure out who I was and what I was going to do and how I was going to get there,” he said.

Scott is able to paint in many different styles. He moved to Wilmington to start over and plans on joining the local art scene.

             
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