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Paramedic Nat

A Blog About My Mental Health Journey

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ParamedicNat

A paramedic on a mission! Let's talk about mental health <3

You Deserve An Abundance Of Joy

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Did you know that you deserve an abundance of joy in your life? If you said, “no”, you probably haven’t forgiven yourself for something in your past. Guilt is a good hider of joy. You may feel like you don’t deserve happiness when you have harmed others in one way, shape, or form. Well, what if I told you that if you learn how to forgive yourself, you will be able to accept the all the joy that this life has to offer you. Rather than smothering yourself in self-pity and shame, you can forgive yourself and cultivate joy.

I know what you’re thinking – easier said than done Natalie; and I agree. Forgiveness requires patience and kindness to form an intricate dance together; a dance that represents freedom and acceptance. And sometimes patience and kindness wait along the gym wall, nervous to ask one another to dance. But when they have the courage to do so, the music of peace gets played all around them.

It’s not until you forgive yourself that you can truly be able to be happy. You are worthy of forgiveness. You are! Don’t let the liar mind of guilt convince you otherwise! When you look in the rear view mirror, all that you should be able to see is how far you’ve come. You are not supposed to be looking back in regret.

In my 12-step meetings we talk a lot about making amends – cleaning our side of the street. If we left a tornado of destruction all around us while we travelled down this road of life, we should apologize for it and then move on; not letting guilt convince us that we need to continue to carry it around like a ball and chain. And the more you practice to make amends quickly when you do wrong, the smaller the tornado will be and therefore the smaller mess it will leave behind.

Making what we call a ‘living amends’ means to live your life doing the next right thing. We can’t always apologize for our actions face-to-face at times, but we can live a better life and wish love to those you have harmed.

I make a living amends everyday to my kids for what I put them through when I was first diagnosed with PTSD. My actions are what keep them having faith in me, not my words. The rear view mirror of my life, as well as the road in front of me, are filled with joy because I choose to forgive myself and to not ruminate in toxic guilt. My kids want to see me happy, not miserable and filled with regret. So I work hard on my recovery every day and show them that they can trust that I am always doing my best to heal and to accept joy into my life. This in turn teaches them how to do the same.

What a beautiful gift recovery can be. I now know that I am deserving of an abundance of joy now, and it feels wonderful. Joy and forgiveness in, sadness and guilt out – one day at a time.

 

 

True Heroes Coffee

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I am so happy to have had the opportunity to meet the founder of True Heroes Coffee, Calorado, while visiting Grande Prairie, Alberta with my friend Wayne Jasper.

Find them on Facebook here.

Delicious coffee and hot chocolate
as we will be hosting a number of blends and similar coffee or tea related products
Our biggest goal is building a stronger community and giving back to the
True Heroes that keep the world turning and creating an amazing environment for the people around us.
We want to help our first responders with PTSD and their families who struggle with loss.
Give to charities and fundraisers or provide food for struggling families. Help build playgrounds for schools and attend events for fundraising. We want to build a community around our brand but better yet a community built around
giving back and taking care of the people that take care of us!!

True Heroes Coffee has been created in an effort to support ALL
Emergency Service personnel with a special focus on those suffering with PTSD.
As emergency responders, we feel
compelled to reach out to make a difference.
We donate a minimum of 10% of our profits into foundations and
charities in support of Firefighters, EMS, 911 dispatch, flight pilots and medics, Nurses and other hospital personnel, Police Officers, RCMP, Military, Corrections Officers. On top of all that our mission and our goals will only expand as we do so stay updated with True Heroes as our story grows. Some of the Foundations we support are the Tema memorial trust, wounded warriors Canada & similar charities a like and local community programs.

Check out their website and order here.

A Nice Day For Art

This Stethoscope…

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This Stethoscope… Was bought in 2001, when I was a paramedic student;

Has listened to thousands of lung sounds;

Has made sure the nebulized epinephrine was working on a pediatric patient;

Has listened to heartbeats after bringing people back to life;

Has been around my neck while I crawled into crushed cars;

Has pronounced many deaths;

Has listened to the cries of a newborn baby;

Has dangled around my neck while doing CPR;

Has been at a double murder, and auscultated the chest of the murderer;

Has helped to perform blood pressures on patients having a heart attack;

Has heard nothing sometimes, causing me to perform chest needles;

Has been wiped clean of blood after treating a patient with shotgun and stab wounds;

Has been around my neck while I told families that their loved one had died;

Has been dropped in a ditch where patients in a rolled over car waited for extrication;

Has been present for many air ambulance calls on the highway;

Has shown students how to trust that they hear no air entry;

Has been present in thousands of stranger’s homes;

Has been hidden under protective equipment at hazardous material calls;

Has been with me while driving lights and sirens more time than I could ever count,

Has been there when I held many patient’s hands;

Has been with me when I cried after after pediatric calls;

Has been present when I treated patients with strokes, diabetes, and amputated body parts;

Has been hidden in a box for a while now;

Has represented so much loss for me for a long time;

Has inspired me to tell this story;

Now hangs on my wall in front of Bill 163;

Doesn’t make me cry anymore;

This stethoscope will be a memory holder for the rest of my life and I will not hide it anymore.

Walter Loves Pastels Too

Depression vs Sadness

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*Important note about this post – if you are feeling suicidal or like you want to harm yourself, please reach out and ask for help. Call 911 or your local crisis line. You are not alone. Help is out there. Canadian Crisis Line

Sadness: It seems nice outside, maybe I should go for a walk.

Depression: You may say it’s nice outside, but all I see is darkness.

Sadness: Maybe I should eat something to cheer myself up?

Depression: What is food and water?

Sadness: I will just go for a drive to take my mind off of things.

Depression: Drive where? And why? My thoughts are with me wherever I go.

Sadness: I will go to a friend’s house to chat about gratitude.

Depression: Gratitude is just a word, because I don’t know how to feel it.

Sadness: I’m not suicidal, I’m afraid of death.

Depression: I welcome death. It’s all I think about.

Sadness: A bubble bath will cheer me up.

Depression: I haven’t showered in a week and I definitely don’t care.

Sadness: I know that there are good things in life.

Depression: I am incapable of feeling joy even if ‘good things’ are all around me.

Sadness: There’s a light at the end of this tunnel.

Depression: The light at the end of my tunnel is very different and ominous.

Sadness: Hope

Depression: Despair

Sadness: Often attached to a sad event.

Depression: Comes. Out. Of. Nowhere. And tackles me to the ground. Every muscle in my body is frozen and moving a finger feels like I’m lifting the hate-filled universe.

Sadness: Breathing is slow.

Depression: Breathing hurts; mentally and physically.

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Barrie Originated Wing of Change’s 3rd Anniversary – Special Thank You To Katherine Pomerleau

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Once upon a time, 3 years ago, I (Natalie Harris) had a peer-support dream. I had been diagnosed with PTSD as a paramedic, and after I spent seven weeks at a rehabilitation hospital named Homewood, in Guelph, I went home and felt very alone. There was no group that I could attend to share my emotions with people in my career/culture anymore. So I reached out to my friend named Dawn, and we thought to ourselves, “Let’s change this”. So we made a call out on social media for people to help, and many people from all across Canada came forward to create what is now called Wings of Change. We are grateful to every single one of them!

One of the main peer support leaders for this group was Syd Gravel, a retired staff sergeant for the Ottawa Police Department and a member of the Order of Merit for Police – he knew his stuff, and told Natalie that she didn’t have to reinvent the wheel and that she could use reading from his book 56 Seconds at her Wing of Change meetings.

After this, Jim Harris, the Director of the Barrie CMHA chapter at the time, provided the location for the first inaugural meeting to take place, and Wings of Change Peer Support was born.

 

Natalie and Syd

But that’s only the beginning! Wings of Change took off! Pun intended – and Syd and Natalie needed some help with the growing demands for the program. But alas, Natalie had an instant idea about who could come to their rescue – the talented, the lovely, the driven, Katherine Pomerleau! She is the perfect Program Coordinator and since Katherine has joined the team she has accomplished SO MUCH…and all by volunteer hours. Wings of Change is always free and all of our amazing facilitators generously give their time every month (sometimes several times a month) to make sure that meetings are held and that community heroes know that they are not alone, but Katherine goes above and beyond her role to make sure that this program excels and follows guidelines set out my the Mental Health Commission of Canada. Katherine’s model has even been named a Thriving Peer Support Organization in Canada by Peer Support Canada and Wilfred Laurier University! 

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Among many things, Katherine has:

  • Created a peer support knowledge exchange;
  • Organized and facilitates peer learning for the facilitators;
  • Established guidelines based off of the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s best practices for peer support;
  • Developed templates for presentations;
  • Developed Google classrooms where facilitators can obtain video guidance and trouble-shooting examples;
  • Developed a framework to help grow chapters across the nation.

She makes sure that every meeting has at least two qualified facilitators, and has grown the Wings of Change family to include the following cities:

Ontario

Barrie
Bracebridge
Brantford
Chatham-Kent
Grey Bruce
Goderich
Kitchener
Lindsay
Mississauga
Niagara Falls
North Durham
Northumberland
Orillia
Ottawa
Peterborough
Sarnia-Lambton
Southern Georgian Bay
Sudbury
York Region
Woodstock

New Brunswick
Dieppe
Miramichi

Prince Edward Island
Charlottetown

 

WE ARE WORKING TO LAUNCH NEW CHAPTERS ACROSS CANADA. STAY TUNED FOR MORE DETAILS
Calgary, AB
Kelowna, BC
Langley, BC
Petawawa, ON
Portage la Prairie, MB
Red Deer, AB
South Durham, ON
St. John’s, NL
Trenton, ON
Vancouver Island, BC
Windsor, ON
Whitehorse, YK
Whiterock, BC

Without Katherine’s dedication and unwavering commitment to Wings of Change, we would not be where we are in three short years!

I would love for people to share a testimonial (anonymous if you wish) about how Wings of Change has affected your life! Let’s let Katherine and the amazing facilitators know how much their hard work is paying off!

You can find more information about Wings of Change here.

 

Dear Paramedic Student,

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To the paramedic student,

You will think you can save everyone; you can’t.

You will learn how to eat an entire meal while walking from the station to the ambulance; who needs to chew anyways?

Nightgowns will be your nemesis; trust me.

You will question if you can defibrillate in the rain; can you?

You will hold many stranger’s hands; respect this opportunity.

You will question humanity after a pediatric VSA; that’s ok – you are not alone in this.

You will think that talking about your feelings makes you weak; it doesn’t.

You will learn the ‘vomit-look’ and be able to unwrap an emesis bag faster than you can blink an eye; you’ll know you have ‘made it’ when you can do this.

You will have your hands frozen to the metal of the stretcher when you are on the side of the highway in a snow storm; be grateful for quick-connects.

You will run out of sterile water when you are irrigating a burn; thank God for pain meds.

You will wonder how the heck could the senior guy/girl know more about anatomy than you? Remember, they have put anatomy back together on the side of a road; they know their stuff.

You will get lazy and not wash the truck; wash the damn truck.

You will step in things you cannot recognize; don’t wear your boots in your own home.

One of the best sounds you will hear is a newborn crying; then you will breathe.

You will wade through bloody mud to reach a trapped driver; they have been waiting to see your face.

The last sense that leaves an unconscious patient is sound; talk to them.

Google ‘agonal breathing’; you need to know what this looks like so you don’t mistake it.

You will think you’ve seen it all; trust me, you haven’t.

You will think you are the luckiest person in the world to have the career you do; you are.

~Nat

The Benefits of Sharing Your Recovery Story – with Matt Heneghan

On this episode of BrainStorm I chat with my friend and retired paramedic Matt Heneghan about recovery and our love for writing.

Check Out These Books Written by Natalie Harris

📚 Brainstorm Revolution: Here

📚 Daily Lessons from Save My Life School: Here

📚 Save My Life School: Here

This episode of BrainStorm is brought to you by The Homewood Health Clinic Mississauga 

➡️ BrainStorm by Natalie Harris is proudly produced by PodcastWagon.com

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