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A long journey

My name is Barbara Erickson and I’d like to share a story with you.


My story: I have worked in the field of brain injury for nearly a decade. Currently I am a counsellor working with the Island Family Counselling Centre. A major focus of my practice is to work with brain injury survivors and their families. My first introduction to brain injury was when I was hired to provide support and leadership at the Victoria Brain Injury Society. As a service provider, I became very aware of all the challenges relating to a brain injury and the potential for recovery with sufficient supports. As a leader and an administrator, I became very aware of the limits facing a non-profit society when trying to implement programs to support the recovery of brain injury survivors. Funding sources may fund a program that fits specific criteria, they may fund a new program for a limited time or for certain client groups but very few funding sources are willing to support a non-profit society to pay the rent, keep the lights on, or to fund ongoing services that significantly improve the lives of those living with a brain injury. These funding limitations can inhibit the growth of the society and restrict the services it can provide.


Brain injury can drastically affect daily living; yet to a large extent it remains invisible. Even when someone describes the symptoms and explains the injury that has occurred to their brain, it can be difficult to really understand how their life and abilities have been altered. One of the most gratifying moments when working with brain injury is when I can tell that someone “gets it”, or when someone who is injured can tell that I “get it”. Most of the time this ah-ha moment is facilitated by some form of metaphor, which allows the person to feel the complexity of the changes following brain injury.


In my dreams, the Victoria Brain Injury Society will have enough funds to meet the greatest needs of the society and those who access its services. I know that having access to these funds will make a huge difference in the lives of brain injury survivors because I’ve seen how a brain injury can take so much from a person, their job, family, friends even their memories and speech. I’ve also seen how the society can provide those same individuals with help, hope and support on their recovery journey.


My challenge: I want to do something demonstrates the challenge faced by those recovering from a brain injury, as well representing the resources they need to make it through. I have chosen to hike from McKenzie Bight along the ridge of Finlayson Arm, over Mount Finlayson and back again.


I anticipate this hike will take me between 10 and 12 hours. Just like the long day I spend hiking, every day following a brain injury can feel like a long day. Just as I will be tired after this journey so brain injury survivors often end their day with mental and physical exhaustion. And just like a recovery from brain injury, it’s a long way to hike alone, so I will have my support team with me to keep me motivated when the going gets tough. I will need to pace myself to make it through without exhaustion or injury. Those recovering from brain injury can tell you how challenging it can be to find a realistic pace when the journey feels like it is never-ending.  


My challenge to you: Please support my vision! I am using the concept of a metaphor because I want to share that moment of understanding, when a person finally “gets it”, what it is like to live with a brain injury. That moment when someone has empathy and understands what it might feel like after a brain injury, is what motivates me to want to help.  I hope that when you read some of these metaphors of brain injury that you just might have an ah-ha moment and “get it”!  And that then perhaps you too will be motivated to support the Victoria Brain Injury Society to make life a little easier for those who are living, working and surviving with a brain injury.

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