by Janelle Breese Biagioni
Derrick is a survivor of brain injury. His story is real. It’s disturbing. It’s heartbreaking. It is also filled with promise because once Derrick received the supports and services he needed, he emerged into the honest, trustworthy, kind and hardworking man that he is today.
When listening to Derrick share his story, one gets the impression that as far back as he can remember his life has been in turmoil and that his adult life was a constant struggle with addictions, committing crimes to support those addictions, and serving time in prison. “The last time I was released from prison before the car crash, I really believed I was done with jail,” Derrick reports. “I was finished parole, living with my girlfriend and her two children and working. I really believed I had done my time and was finished with criminal life.”
Life took yet another turn on May 15, 2009 when Derrick was driving home from work and a 5 ton truck smashed into the passenger side of his car. He went home to his girlfriend who crazy-glued the cut on his forehead. Two days later he went to the hospital; however, Derrick was turned away because of his past history. Within a month, he lost his job, his girlfriend and his home.
Out of desperation… craziness… fear… hopelessness… or whatever else you want to call it, Derrick made the conscious decision to commit a crime so he could go back to jail. He knew he could get help in jail so he did what he had to do. He broke into a Surrey jewelry store and was sentenced to three years.
In jail, Derrick was finally diagnosed with having a brain injury and sent to the prison hospital for a 90 day assessment. After steady improvement over the next year – and with good behaviour meaning he had no write-ups or warnings – Derrick was reclassified and sent to William Head Institution.
“At William Head, I met with the psychologist three times a week, I learned to cook and how to buy my own food,” Derrick recalls. “In preparation for my release, I started to look for community resources.”
Following his release from William Head, Derrick moved to the Salvation Army shelter. After two years in the Salvation Army shelter, Derrick was still unable to work due to health issues so the psychologist helped him to get on PWD (Persons with Disability). Derrick was then accepted into Mary Cridge Manor’s three year program.
Derrick will soon graduate from Mary Cridge Manor. During this time, he has made friends, attended AA meetings, undergone therapy, found work, and engaged in healthy activities. He realizes that this care plan is a lifelong commitment, but for Derrick there is also no turning back!
There are many exciting things coming up for Derrick in life. He is in the planning stages of creating a non-profit recovery house for people with brain injury and other afflictions, such as addictions.