Last year at this time we were reading the Jess Pettipas story, “Different is Amazing”. Once the final draft was accepted, Jess recommended I speak with a friend of hers, who also had a story to share.. this is that story”
Steady & True
Originally invented by frontiersmen as a means of staying awake during lookouts, the campfire story is today’s venerable rite of passage. No matter where you are in the world, everyone has a story.
In universal language, good storytellers speak as close to the truth as they can. Setting atmosphere with eye contact and just enough pause, themes that scatter & bump make for perfect reactions from the littlest campers.
Taught that material things don’t matter, Madison Bennett came into this world (possibly) smiling. Born from love, Madison was a level-headed fun-loving kid whose parents were high-school sweethearts. Said to be a confident, social, open-minded family man, Madison’s father Todd came from simple roots. His belief in open-air education included freestyle summers and eating hot-dogs off sticks.
Madison’s mom Sheri loves to make people smile. With her husband, a passion for motorcycles is shared. Madison sees her mom as an understanding, nurturing soul who more than any accolade, exudes peace of mind. Virtues of this nature are not something we go out and get, but are an inner reward for being at one with ourselves.
From an early age, Madison suffered from anxiety. To compensate, she would force herself to laugh and act out, sing musicals or try to make others laugh. Her parent’s maintained good structure through trips to Disney, and long drives to the Lake of Two Rivers where they camped in little tents or trailers, talking around the campfire. Anything that got you outdoors into physical activity, won the day.
When she turned 15, Madison worked to earn herself a cell-phone. Once she got her driver’s license, everything changed as her mental health issues reached a critical point.
During her 2nd year into the Social Service Program at Saint Lawrence College, Madison at 18, started hanging around with the wrong people and began using substances like speed, ecstasy and alcohol as a means of “fun” with friends.
One day the class watched “Thirteen”- a film loosely based on the actress Nikki Reed’s childhood. As life imitated Art, Madison got pregnant, left school and could not complete the semester. Although her credits were lost, Madison stayed clean while her son grew inside her; returning to work when he was four months old.
Five years later, Madison began partying again. After birthing her second child, she acquired post-partum depression and kept it a secret. Living a sort of denial, she stopped attending family functions; made excuses, would eat and leave, lose and gain weight. Before her daughter turned 1, Madison was arrested for possession of tobacco. Everything changed for the worst after that.
When Madison was 26, she hit her bottom. The stead of how she was raised could never convey the parallel of shame and guilt she felt in facing her parents. From the secret desire to make a difference in the world and live a good life, Madison found a counsellor through the Canadian Mental Health Association who gave good tools for living a sober life. https://cmha-east.on.ca/index.php/en/
Just as tales around the campfire; Madison practiced mindfulness and spoke from the heart –steady and true. Getting back to nature, the kids felt the difference in their mother and were drawn to the change.
In 2021 Madison attended some recovery groups within the Cornwall area and found a spiritual connection with peers, like Jess P.
Firsthand experience of people sharing their life-stories with others can’t be recommended enough. Being acknowledged in this way without judgment is but one of the many gifts of recovery. From that meeting, Madison was joined by two friends in the creation of HELP Addiction & Mental Health Recovery Services Cornwall https://www.facebook.com/HELP.AMHRS.
Inclusive to youth, single adults, families, parents and people of different ethnicities, the centre will serve as a resource and peer support for anyone needing to speak with someone with lived experience. For those who feel they are beyond help, having a peer walk us through appointments is life changing.
For those new to the program, addictions in Cornwall overwhelm speculation. A highly synthetic opiod, fentanyl is a dangerous substance currently circulating, and it is very important to understand how to protect yourself in case you’ve came into contact or witness an overdose. Narcan kits can be found at any pharmacy for free in Cornwall, and should be stored with your first aid kit. Training is also available through Recovery Care. https://recovery.care/location-cornwall-clinic/
Once Madison began paying closer attention to her mental health, she made the choice to change. Inspired by her example of keeping her eye on people and making sure everyone is safe, Madison steadies us all.
Through her addictions, Madison found her voice. Sharing her journey with her parents for the first time without shame, at last summer’s Recovery Day Cornwall event was the best thing she’s ever done for herself and her family.
So glad to have you back ~
“Happy Joyous & Free, that’s me”
Lisa Gray 2023 © — Copyright © February 2023