The Interdisciplinary Work of Lyss Warmland.

Posts tagged life

Check out my interview with Shayne Traviss!

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We talk about:
– What it means to live a radically authentic life
– The trauma-based patterns that keep us stuck in suffering
– Grief and how to live through it
and so much more!

Get his book, “Your Vivid Life: An Invitation to Live a Radically Authentic Life” here!
Follow him on IG @shaynetraviss and @YourVividLife
Check out his website for informatio on all the cool work he does here:

Featured Tunes:
2nd Date by The Unlovables
Hollow Sounds by Dan Andriano in the Emergency Room
One Great City! by The Weakerthans
Anna’s Song by Teenage Bottlerocket

April 20 LIVE @8pm on Northumberland 89.7: Truly local radio:
LISTEN HERE if you missed it live!


Join Lyss and guest, writer, Lindsey Woodward, to discuss topics such as:

  • All about Lindsey’s self-published book, “Resurrection”
  • Lindsey’s writing influences
  • The importance of poetry as an art form
  • Our respective experiences with Short Order Poetry
  • The upcoming poetry reading: Poems to Live By
  • Written poetry vs. spoken word poetry
  • Influence of neurodivergence in writing
  • Writing as an integral part of a healing journey
  • Each of our top 5 healthy coping strategies
  • What to do when someone you know if in crisis
  • A reading of an essay and a poem by Lindsey

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“Lindsey Woodward is a writer who specializes in both poetry and personal essays focused on mental health. She is a bibliophile, feline enthusiast, nap connoisseur, and a scholar of an obsolete vernacular. She recognizes that memes are the most powerful medium for social commentary and expresses such through her limited social media presence. She studied Art History and English at Carleton University, but hasn’t been able to do anything especially meaningful with her degree so she should probably omit it from her bio. Born In Port Hope, when it still had a hospital, she’ll most likely die here as well. Not in the hospital. Because there isn’t one. Hopefully asleep in bed. Or smothered by kittens. Either or. “

Featured Tunes:

Rainy Weather by Hailiah

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Hailiah is a musician who grew up in Cobourg. She’s been involved in music her whole life. Her music style has been compared to the likes of Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, and Lana Del Rey.

She’s releasing her new single Hunters featuring Joel Wesley and Brizzy Beats May 1st. Currently working on a new performance project, you will be able to find her performing live this summer around Northumberland county!

Don’t forget to tune in to The Nothing Exists Radio Hour on Northumberland 89.7 to hear Hailiah’s brand new single and to listen to an interview with her!

You can find Hailiah’s event and release dates on her Facebook or Instagram page @hailiahmusic and you can buy her music on bandcamp.


The Night That Joel Got ShotWinona Wilde

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“A child of Iraqi parents, [Winona Wilde] was born Noosa Al-Sarraj and became infatuated with playing classical music on piano at a young age. At the same time, her country music-loving nanny planted the seeds for her future devotion to artists like John Prine, Hank Williams and Loretta Lynn, and by her teens she discovered a natural ability to write songs in a similar style.

Noosa explains, ‘On my first album, I was too afraid to be good. On my second album, I was too afraid to be real. This time I feel like I am as real as I can possibly be, and the songwriting is infinitely more vulnerable.’”

The woman who describes her music as “Canadian Feminist Folk” mostly calls Peterborough home and can be found playing just about all over the place. Winona Wilde‘s newest album “Wasted Time” just came out this past October 6. Lurk her facebook page, website, spotify, or bandcamp for all things Winona Wilde.


Blackout Love and Running Down A Dream by The Castor Troys

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Featuring Cobourg’s own Bryson Emmons, The Castor Troys are a story-telling hard rock band from Hamilton, Ontario. Drawing inspiration from bands such as The Headstones, Social Distortion, Motorhead, The Offspring, and Iron Maiden, The Castor Troys have been around since 2013.

They have a full length album out called “Come Hell or High Water” and are currently releasing singles from their upcoming 6-track EP. The Castor Troys just released a new music video for their song “Blackout Love”, and have also previously released a Tom Petty cover, “Running Down the Dream”. You can find them on Spotify and iTunes as well as Facebook and Instagram.

Screen Shot 2017-10-29 at 5.36.26 PMContent- medical system, ableism, denial of access, chronic pain, mention of parent death, pharmaceutical medication, naturopathic medication.

I was eight years old, running some relay race in gym class, when I first experienced the pain. Burning, throbbing, aching pain in my ankles and knees. My ankles gave way, and I fell, embarrassingly, in front of my peers. That was how it all began- a lifetime of chronic pain.

Between then and when my mom got sick when I was fourteen, she advocated or me to have any and all testing done to rule out any potential chronic health issues. She had fibromyalgia, and had since my brother was born, so she knew to believe me when  said I was in pain…though I don’t think she wanted to believe the extent of it. As tests came back negative again and again, I grew to normalize my pain, assuming everyone lived this way. By the time I was in university, the pain wasn’t just in my ankles and knees anymore- it was overwhelmingly in my shoulders, neck, and back, though my legs also often ached and I couldn’t seem to digest any food or drink aside from water and milk chocolate. It was overwhelming, but as far as I was aware, everyone felt this way.

If anything, I believed that the issues all stemmed from my depression, which is what my doctors told me after yet another CT scan came back normal. My doctor had prescribed me Prozac and Clonazopam after my mom died, days before my sixteenth birthday. By the time I was in university, my prozac prescription  had been maxed out and replaced with a high dose of Cipralex. Despite this, I was actively self-harming (via cutting and self-starvation) daily and was in more physical pain than ever.

Then the accident happened. You can read about it here. After that, my pain got infinitely worse. What I had been able to normalize before was no longer something I could even think about ignoring. So I went back to my doctor and we started the torture- I mean testing- process again. CT scans, (“inconclusive”) MRIs, EKGs, and a million other tests I can’t even remember the names of. For one, they put thin needles in my nerves and sent shocks in to test my nerve response. The specialist didn’t believe me when I said it was excruciating. At some point, my doctor diagnosed me with fibromyalgia. In other words, he gave his lack of understanding about what was going on with me a name that was meant to acknowledge and validate my wide-range of painful symptoms.

I took to the Toronto Public Library, reading anything and everything I could get my hands on. I made lists of potential treatment options- both based in traditional Western medicine and more alternative methods. I  stepped into the role of advocate for my own treatment and watched the battle unfold. Since I was no longer a passive recipient of my doctor’s decisions, he and I began to clash. At one appointment, he suggested the third or forth pill I could try (he’d prescribed me more medication, Lyrica and Tramadol, on top of my psych meds upon my diagnosis).

I said, “I use cannabis to manage my symptoms and have for years, that’s how I am able to function. Can you please give me a prescription so that I don’t run into any issues with the law while trying to medicate appropriately. My understanding is that fibromyalgia makes me eligable for this prescription”.

He said, ” I will maybe consider it after you have tried every approved pharmaceutical drug approved for your condition”.

He sent me to a pain clinic in Hamilton, where the doctor prescribed me Gabapentin and began to give me nerve block injections, a cocktail of drugs injected directly into the nerve in the curve where my neck and shoulder meet with a long, thick needle. The first time, I screamed the way people cry when they get punched in the nose. The spasm I experienced throughout my entire body was simply indescribable.

“Be quiet, you’re going to scare the other patients,” said the specialist. He turned to my partner, “don’t let her read up on the Gabapentin, I’m sure she’ll just end up with all the side effects if she does that”.

As it turns out, Gabapentin was one of the medications I got the most side effects from. It’s also the most common medication people recommend to me to this day when they find out I experience nerve pain.

It took three or four trips to the pain clinic before the specialist diagnosed me with neuropathy and declared that nerve block injections were not an appropriate treatment method for me after all.

I don’t even remember how many medications I tried to appease my doctor. Lyrica, Gabapentin, Tramadol, Nucynta (a powerful opioid similar to oxy), Cymbalta, Amitriptyline, Prednisone, and more. I was a full-time student in the first few years of my twenties, and feeling like a drug addict because I was following doctors orders. It was around this time that my partner’s father accused me of being an opiate addict and threatened to disown us (flash forward- we ended up disowning him). It was right around this time that I failed the only class I would ever even come close to failing. It was right around this time that I was constantly suicidal because the quality of my life was so deeply affected.

I began to try every alternative treatment I could think of- yoga, acupuncture, massage, naturopathic remedies, homeopathic remedies, energy therapy… Most of them seemed to work a bit better, but I had a  long way to go. Regardless, it cemented my commitment to having some control over how I managed my symptoms.

I went back to my doctor and said, “I’m done with this. I don’t want to me on drugs anymore. I want to manage my symptoms naturally, and I know it’s going to take a lot of work, but this is what I want to do. I brought my paperwork, I’ve filled it out, please sign off on a cannabis prescription.”

He said no.

I found another doctor through a friend who was compassionate and gained legal access under the MMPR in 2013. After evaluating my symptoms, he prescribed me 20 grams per day so that I could tincture or eat it if I wanted to, rather than smoking it. At the same time, I (against the advice of my doctor- don’t do this!) went off all my medication cold turkey and changed my diet to exclude gluten, sugar, and nightshades. I went through about two weeks of the hell that is opiate withdrawal and sugar withdrawal combined, and then almost immediately noticed a huge difference in the way I felt. I still lived with serious pain, but I was able to manage it- through choices I made.

Because my prescription is so large, I realized the importance of having access to grow it myself. It would cost over $100 000/year to purchase my medication from an LP. Since having my prescription, I’ve experienced two sets of law changes and the advent of recreational legalization.  At one point, I literally received a letter form Health Canada telling me to destroy my plants because they were no longer allowing patients to grow for themselves. LPs were to be the only option. While I’m excited that access will be easier for many people and they won’t have to go through what I did, I’m also terrified that it may impact my access moving forward. My access, and thousands of other people who could probably tell a story similar to mine.

I am 26 years old, I received my diagnosis 7 years ago, and I work full time, volunteer 10-20 hours/week, maintain countless beautiful relationships in my life, and manage my pain pretty damn well overall. I smoke a ton of cannabis, am conscious of my lifestyle, eat really well, go to therapy once a month, and take naturopathic medicines. Because that is how I choose to manage my pain.

I want to see the widest possible range of access for this versatile plant. I want to see people having access to grow their own, cultivate the strains that work best for them. I want to see dispensaries where  people can easily access multiple strains. I want to see mom-and-pop shops instead of LPs. I want to see less stigma, because autonomy is important for disable people like me. Access is important to disabled people like me.

There’s something to be said
For the pain of knowing
What you want,
Putting in so much
That you lose the rest of
And being rejected
Over and over and over
And getting back up
To put in more
Than you ever had to
Begin with
And finding that what you wanted
Doesn’t feel
Like it was for you
After all.
There’s something to be said
For dreaming and working
And not being seen
And finding that
You were never made for
That dream.
(Or the dream was never made for you)
You were made for
The challenge.

CW: death (feat. lyrics by Dashboard Confessional)

I remember her body
tiny and frail
convulsing in my arms
still pretty
still in this physical world
back then.

I sang to her

“she smiled in a big way”
her dry, thin lips unmoving.
“quiet in the grasp of dusk and summer”
it was late December,
but she was quiet.

“you already lost”
as she faded from me.
“when you only had barely enough to hang on”
it was true.

“she made you better than you were before”
I wanted it to be so.
“she told you bad things that you wished you could change”
and I grew up
so young.

“she said, nobody here can live forever”
And she died a couple of days later.
“Some things tie your life together
With slender threads,
And things to treasure,
And days like that should last and last and last”

he came home
I was already awake
he didn’t have to say anything.

my brother,
hugged her body.

touched her hand.

my suddenly too-big body
I drew in a deep breath
cold air
scraping against my insides

CW: death, death of a parent, cancer, mental health, care-taking, crisis

I don’t remember very much about the summer I was fourteen except that I did backstage crew for Les Miserables put on by the Burlington Student Theatre Arts Camp. I’ve always measured my life through association with whatever show I was working on at the time. I also spent a lot of time that summer sitting on the back deck with my mom in the backyard of the house I grew up in surrounded by flowers, two Japanese Maples, and the pond that mom was constantly re-creating. We would read trashy, secondhand, paperback novels (V.C. Andrews for me, Nora Roberts for her) that smelled of coffee and mildew and eat sweets alongside our vanilla tea.

It was a time in my life where I was discovering the constant ache that is clinical depression and generalized anxiety (and everything that comes along with it). Ever the researcher, my younger self took to the internet and then the library for something to describe what I had been going through for the last few years. I wanted so badly to understand. To be honest, none of the psychology books ever came as close to describing what I was going through as My Chemical Romance did.

The week before I started grade nine, I was sitting at the kitchen table with our freshest secondhand book store scores, waiting while Mom finished preparing our teas. She was talking to me about something casual and nondescript that I can’t remember anymore. She kept losing her train of thought and stumbling over her words, something she had been doing a lot lately. We had chalked it up to “fibro fog”, a common symptom of fibromyalgia, which she had been diagnosed with for years. I didn’t know it at the time, but she had been struggling to read all summer, and most of the time I had spent sitting on the back porch with her, she had simply been pretending to read and enjoying sitting beside me.

She started to sob in frustration. She couldn’t remember my name.

“Green…green, I can’t…”

It was rare to see my mother like this. She was a woman who shared a lot with me, but who always tried to spare my brother and I the extent to which she struggled with chronic pain and fatigue. It was a struggle I wouldn’t fully understand for a few more years. The night before, when I had been in my room, I had heard her scream at Dad and throw a plate at him. This wasn’t like her at all, and I knew something was off.

Since I had been researching my own struggles with mental health, I recognized her sudden change in behaviour and cognition as signs of a potential mental healthy crises. I had read about this. I knew what to do.

Dad and my brother were at some hockey thing or some golf thing. So I called my mom’s sister at work and said, “Something is wrong with mom. I need you to come pick us up and take us to the hospital.”

Mom sat at the kitchen table and cried. “Green,” she pleaded with me.

“Everything is going to be okay. We are going to get you some help,” I told her. I didn’t cry.

My aunt arrived and assessed the situation, agreeing with me that something was wrong. She called our family doctor and asked him to meet us at the hospital, and we drove there. They admitted her, and then I don’t remember very much more until the next day, when I came to bring mom a laptop and some O.C. DVDs. I think it was Dad who told me that the scans had come back, and the doctors had found a brain tumour on a part of Mom’s brain that affected language and emotional regulation. They were going to do surgery the following week, and once they had removed the tumour, they would do a biopsy to see whether the tumour was malignant or benign. There was hope that this would all be over in a week. Maybe Mom’s fibromyalgia would even be cured, who knew. Mom, who had always smoked, immediately quit, cold turkey. I took the cigarettes from the top drawer of the hospital cabinet, sat in Mom’s bathroom upon getting home, and smoked my first cigarette.

I remember going to all of my classes a few days into grade nine and explaining to my teachers that I would be keeping my ringer on my phone, and that I would leave the classroom immediately if it went off because my mother was having brain surgery and it was important for me to be able to handle potential crisis. Mom deserved that from me.

My phone didn’t go off during class, but when I exited the front door of my new school that day, Dad was there to pick me up, even though we only lived a fifteen minute walk away. I already knew what he was going to tell me, I had known since the moment I had heard the words “brain tumour”. It was malignant. It was also in her lungs and adrenal glands. I had lived with chronic nightmares and the seemingly unfounded belief that my mother would die from cancer when I was fifteen, and that premonition I had chalked up to anxiety was coming true.

For the next year and a half, I watched my beautiful, intelligent, opinionated, creative mother die. She fought, never wanting to believe that the cancer would kill her. After her brain surgery, she lived through radiation and chemo. I used to go sit with her during chemo while we marathoned crappy t.v. shows. I wish I had known more about cannabis at the time, but I had chosen to stay completely sober upon learning about her diagnosis. She needed me more than I wanted to learn to party, but I often think now that maybe cannabis could have helped her.

She went to all of my brother’s hockey games for that first year. Bundled up, makeup fully done, she was there. She had begged the brain surgeon to spare as much of her hair as possible while he removed the tumour, but shortly after starting chemo, she bought a beautiful wig that looked a lot like her hair had been, but thicker, which she was pleased about. She laid in bed while I sang to her and begged me to tell her it will be okay, just like I had as a kid when she was mourning the loss of her own mother to cancer.

“It will be okay, mama”.

A lot happened that year. I started getting really into going to shows. I fell in love. I joined choir and band. I watched my friends struggle with their relationships with their mothers and learned to cherish mine, even though it was hard and the brain tumour came back shortly after the surgery, so she still couldn’t speak fluently or regulate her emotions. It was really hard, and I have had to work hard to forgive myself for being wrapped in my own life as much as I was and not spending even more time with her.

Mom died at 3:00 a.m., January 1, 2007, which was four days before my sixteenth birthday. I gave a eulogy at her funeral, and I didn’t cry. I often feel spirits around me, but almost never hers. Ten years without her, I am still learning to own the affect losing her has had on me and learning to celebrate her life, even though I only remember bits and pieces of her from before she got sick. I wish I had gotten to know her more. I wish I remembered the sound of her voice. Sometimes though, I hear the sound of her wedge heels and catch glimpses of her when I look at my own legs or in my face when I do full theatre makeup.


She told me once
“good poetry is what makes you feel”
something real, something bigger
than you:
The Moment.
I am a robin in the tree behind her house
snow cascading, furious,
settling on my wings
like cotton, like my mind
I am hope, she is a tree.
An orchard stands around her
blankets of snow
over firmly-rooted toes
curling around the soil
grounding, anchoring,
pulling her close.
I am a robin, and she is a tree
still close to me.