Ep 21: Life On the Street: The Story of Freddy Boyd -- Our Minds Matter

Topic: Homelessness and Mental Illness

How can we understand why someone chooses to live on the street? This is the story of Freddy Boyd a homeless man who lived with schizophrenia. Freddy died in January with his family at his side. The news of his death resulted in an outpouring of emotion on social media and for that moment, people thought about Freddy as a person. Freddy's sister, Darlene, tells the story of loving her brother, a gentle, kind man who could also be angry and had trouble living a normal life. Darlene wrote a poem about Freddy and read it at his funeral which you can read below in Show Notes.
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Show Notes: 

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This is a poem I wrote for my brother. I tried to depict and capture his point of view intuitively:

I know you think my life was a waste, and my existence was a complete shame,
I can assure you it was a very treacherous journey, but there's no one to blame,
My time is nearly over, the shadow of death looms and lingers all around,
I am feeble and fragile, with a machine to breathe, I am soon Heaven bound,

You could never understand, my choice to be free, living on the streets,
In the elements of Mother Nature, with no bed, no food, no shelter, no sheets,
I've lived a thousand lives at once, no protection, experiencing life in the raw,
With frightening hallucinations the paranoia, you'd be astounded at what I saw,

My personal appearance at times, was scary, ragged, dirty and unbearable,
The sheer agony from hunger pain, the excruciating torture was absolutely terrible,
Sleeping on the freezing pavement, night after night, exposed to much danger,
But a slave to medications daily, living a “normal” lifestyle, couldn't be stranger,

This mental illness label, I carry with me through life, has had a significant impact,
It brought heartache and tears to my mother, my delusions broke her heart, that's a fact,
All those “embarrassing” moments of me “working” for hours begging for change,
Hitchhiking across country not ever knowing where I was, not even a phone call to arrange,

I've been beaten to a pulp, thrown through plate glass, and many times left for dead,
But to me, it was worth it all, let me share what was going through my head,
You see, I never had the ability to trust anyone, also, I just needed to be free,
No deadlines, no appointments, I could live my life daily, just being me,

I've suffered abuse from the opinions and stares of hatred from people, it fueled my fears,
Screams of judgement telling me to “get a job” calling me filthy names through the years,
Life on the streets is painful, dangerous, and definitely not meant for the sane,
The disgusting things I've endured, and witnessed along the way, was tragic, inhumane,

But for me, it was the only way, I could be in charge, and trust absolutely no man,
This was the life I was given, and I got through, and will die by my own hand,
To my family, I am grateful for all the many things you tried to do for me,
There is no possibility for you to know, my way of life, or how to appease me,

I am at peace and I can no longer put up a fight, so I guess I'll just surrender,
I hope I have made clear some of my actions, I'll hold you in my heart so tender,
Just as I, could not ever, take you by the hand and force you to live life as I see it,
You, equally, could never take me by the hand and force me to live normally, or to be it.

Community Care St. Catharines and Thorold
Community Care, St. Catharines & Thorold has been meeting the needs of the less advantaged in our community since 1919. The fundamental principles on which the agency was founded have not changed. Programs range from food and shelter security to emergency services and support that lead to the independence clients strive to achieve. http://www.communitycarestca.ca & http://www.communitycarestca.ca/useful-links