Our Stories

"If I had left treatment with nowhere to go, I don’t know if I’d be here now."

Terry Bertram, author of the story, in the dining room at Good Shepherd Centre.
Terry Bertram, 2014

I was born in Toronto in the 1980s. My mother passed away when I was 3 years old. I didn’t have a father figure at the time. I moved from one uncle to another.

Around age nine or ten I started being a troubled child – aggressive, lying, manipulative. By age 11, I went to a group home, where I stayed until I was about 14 or 15. Then I entered a youth gang and that’s where my career of drugs and alcohol began.

I started on the road to recovery in 2004, just after my brother was killed by the police during a break and enter. I dealt with the pain by using drugs. I was living in the shelter system, getting into trouble with the police. Then in 2007, I couldn’t live my life anymore.

I entered detox and did treatment, but relapsed. In 2008, I found Good Shepherd, and entered the DARE Program through Toronto East General. I came here, and I was here six months. I wanted to stay and stay without going to treatment. One day Steve, the DARE Manager, sat me down and said “You’re going to treatment tomorrow.” Instead, I went and took a bed at another shelter, and I started using drugs and alcohol again.

Then I tried the geographic cure – I went to Calgary and entered a treatment program there. I thought I could get away from my addictions, but of course I came back. I just went right back to the beginning. I was banned from community housing, living in a ravine.

Then in 2013, a friend of mine died of a drug overdose. I went down to the bottom of the ravine and cried, asking why she had to die.

I looked up and saw two baby deer down at the bottom of the ravine. I felt it was a sign. I tried one more time. I called a place where I had done treatment before, and they took me in. July 1, 2013, is my sober date.

But I needed somewhere to go after I finished treatment, so I called Steve, the DARE Manager. I told him, “I’m doing good, but I need some place to live until my spot opens at the St. Vincent de Paul house.” He said “Come.”

When I came to DARE in October 2013, I had a whole new attitude. I was more helpful. Instead of trying to work the system, I worked with the system. I helped take other guys to meetings.

The staff here helped me keep focused on recovery. Everyone had faith in me this time because I showed that I was in recovery.

Recovery takes a complete lifestyle change. I can’t change just one thing, and not the others. I had to change my attitude, the way I present myself, the way I treat others. You have to treat others with respect. Because I was that homeless guy in the line once, I treat them the way I wanted to be treated back then.

Good Shepherd saved me. If I had left treatment with nowhere to go, I don’t know if I’d be here now.

Now I focus on the positive aspect of life, and I have God in my life. I let God drive my bus, because every time I drove my own bus, it got stopped.

I am working on recovery. I’m the house rep at the St. Vincent de Paul house where I live. I help other people in recovery to stay focused. I go to the aftercare meeting every week at Good Shepherd.

I figure, Good Shepherd saved me, maybe I can save someone else.

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