Oliver B.C. – From a University graduate to a life of living on the streets Guelph, Ontario native Brad James was once so ill that he was banned from a shopping centre for anti-social behaviour. Shortly thereafter he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and has become a modern example of how the human spirit can triumph over adversity.
Brad James grew up in a middle-working class Catholic family where everything seemed normal; even if he did sport weird hairstyles, engineer boots and black leather jackets that he would sometimes wear over top of his Catholic high school uniform. Eventually Brad would graduate from high school and earn a Baccalaureate in Fine Arts from Montreal’s Concordia University.
Along with other factors, it may have been the stress of trying to make ends meet as a graphic designer that contributed to the onset of his schizophrenia. It was this unfortunate illness that lead to Brad’s homelessness and a life of sleeping on the streets and rummaging through garbage cans.
Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness where symptoms typically manifest themselves during young adulthood. Symptoms can include auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking with significant social or occupational dysfunction. There is no cure for schizophrenia, however the symptoms can be treated with medication.
To help him deal with his illness Brad developed the Boggles Brown cartoon as a kind of alter ego. His first book, Boggles Brown | My Cartoon Life, explores issues of mental illness, homelessness and the erosion of social morale in tough economic times.
It was very sunny day. Perhaps I was harkening back to a time when the sun would rise on the wrong side of the bed but it was a new beam of information for my word-wracked brain. What was my name again “oh yes, Boggles Brown – the guy who’s first name sounds like a Milton-Bradley board game for bohemian coffee-connoisseurs.”
“Boggles,” that schizophrenic part of my brain spoke out, “you’re as ready as you’ll ever be.”
Brad James considers himself Boggles’ “interpreter and facilitator” and his mission is to generate his own independence, even though there are times when he himself cannot think straight. “It is better to live on your own terms rather than those dictated by the poverty of living on Governmental assistance,” says Brad.
This year Brad published a book, made and sold t-shirts, and released a CD. “If you just give people a chance you will see what they can do.”
For more information please visit: www.bogglesbrown.info