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The Interdisciplinary Work of Lyss England

Posts tagged overdose

August 17 LIVE on Northumberland 89.7 FM Small Town Radio!
LISTEN HERE for the podcast version. 

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Tune in to hear my interview with my good friend (and low key mentor) David Sheffield. We are gonna talk about Green Wood Coalition, affordable housing, art, poetry, local events, frontline social work, harm-reduction, building community, and more. 

“I’ve lived in various parts of Ontario, but Northumberland County has been my home since 1986. My wife, Beth, and I settled here at that time, and have always felt that this was a great place to raise our four children. I often note that my children have been my best teachers, and that’s more true today than ever. We have four grandchildren, also living in this area, and we are enjoying the new discoveries they have brought to our lives.

My work in community outreach started 10 years ago, but I think I was being guided to this place by many years of life experience. This feels more like a vocation than a job. Much of my career was in the painting trade, while spending off hours in community engagement through art projects, meals, church activities, music festivals and campfires. My writing—poetry and non-fiction—has been published in a variety of periodicals and anthologies. Writing is my favourite way to process some of the difficult days that one can encounter in this kind of work.

These days, I’m the Community Director at Green Wood Coalition, which is a people-level response to the disconnection of poverty and related social struggles. The work is difficult, at times, but also very inspiring because of the resilience of individuals that I encounter, and the encouragement of many people who work alongside me.”

If you wanna read the article Gareth Vieira wrote about poets, including David and I, click here.

To learn more about Art Hives, click here.

Learn more about Overdose Awareness Day Northumberland here. 

Features Tunes:
Roll Away the Stone by Carlos Del Junco and Jimmy Bowskill
I Will by Christa Couture
Shelter Valley Road by David Newland
Barley by Birds of Chicago

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CW- Bronte Creek Project, suicide, overdose, rape, slut-shaming)
 

The last thing that happened before I tried to kill myself was the co-op students in my class told me that it was inappropriate to be sitting on the bed with the boy who had raped me a few weeks prior. In all fairness, they didn’t know that he had raped me, they just knew that I had a boyfriend who wasn’t this guy and that we were on a school trip in Temagami. So me sitting on his bunk was not cool.

I had told some of our classmates what had happened, but they also considered it cheating. They didn’t know about the ways he had manipulated me or understand just how vulnerable I was, having just had the first anniversary of my mom’s death. They just knew that I had had sex with someone who wasn’t my boyfriend. My boyfriend didn’t know.

Anyway, even after the assault, I got off on the intense attention he paid to me, so I was still close with him. I even had sex with him sometimes. After all, he’d already had sex with me, so what did it matter? He had carved my initials into his arm, so I figured that if he wanted me to sit on the bed and talk with him, I guess I had better do it. The co-op students told me that what I was doing was inappropriate, and it was like like a switch flipped off in my head. Now I know that that feeling has a name: dissociation.

I was done. I went to my bag and took every pill I could find. I had brought a bottle of extra strength advil, about two weeks worth of my Prozac and Clonazopam prescriptions, and some allergy pills. I went in the bathroom stall, and I took the pills in handfuls. (That’s always bee a skill of mine). I sat and waited.

The next thing I remember is one of my classmates (we’ll call them “R”) finding me. I think they asked me what I took. I think to this day, they probably all think I was trying to get high. After a few of my classmates gathered and realized how out of it I was getting, they finally decided get a teacher.

The next thing I remember is hiding my phone in my underwear upon getting to the hospital so that “they” wouldn’t take it from me.

The next thing I remember is waking up and swiftly removing the IV from my arm. I looked up and saw my uncle sitting in the chair at the foot of my bed. My dad walked in to the room.

The next thing I remember is being home and all my classmates getting back from their super cool winter camping trip and coming to visit me. Including him. They told me they loved me and they were glad I was okay.

At the end of the semester, I kept in touch for a while with a few of my classmates. Some of them stayed very close. Some of them are still really close. They go to each other’s weddings. They speak so fondly of this semester-long program that changed their lives. It changed mine too. It was formative in a lot of big ways. It is also something that will forever be associated with an event that changed my life.

In the end, it wasn’t the rape that did me in. It was the shaming afterward. It was feeling disconnected from what I thought was my community. It’s a story about a time “community” wasn’t community after all. And maybe it’s time I wrote down.