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Paramedic Nat

A Blog About My Mental Health Journey

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depression

Mental Illness Stigma Hurts

Whoever made up the phrase, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me”, is so wrong! Names (and words) do hurt, a lot. And seeing your children experience such hurt is infuriating. Allow me to explain.

There is a mask that people with mental illness wear. A mask on so tightly that even the individual who is wearing it often forgets what their real face looks like underneath. The mask is not comfortable – oh no – it is heavy and difficult to keep on. It portrays happiness which doesn’t exist. Social media pages like FaceBook and Instagram are filled with said masks. I have posted many pictures of myself wearing this type of mask – you know the kind … perfect selfie angle and filter to make everyone think that I’m happy and that life is just tickey-boo. Alas, life is hard, for everyone – I get it – but today it’s really hard for my daughter Caroline, and I’m so sad that what she experienced is even possible.

My daughter is 21, beautiful and smart. She makes a room light up and has a witty sense of humour that instantly draws people in; it captivates them. But there are many days when she wears the mask of mental illness. Her hair may be straightened and her highlights on fleek, but behind her aviators, in many of her pictures she is wearing a mask that is so hard to remove. It takes tremendous courage to take that mask off and show the world that you don’t always have it all together. It’s difficult, especially in today’s picture-perfect society, to show the tears that have washed away any trace of makeup that may once have given you a fake glow. Its difficult to peal away a mask that fits you so well for so long. And yesterday my daughter did this brave act and removed her mask for all to see, in hopes of not only helping herself, but in hopes of helping others as well.

This is what she wrote: (Papa, get a tissue!…)

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Mask. Off. Here is my beautiful daughter, brave and kind, sharing something that shouldn’t require courage, but for now it still does. Sharing with the world that she needs help, just like so many others, and that she’s ready! Amazing.

Coming to terms with the fact that you need help is one thing, being able to afford it is another. Until Canada, makes mental health as much of a priority as physical health, there are many Canadian’s who will go untreated because of lack of funding. The cost of most psychologist visits is approximately, $150/hour and without private insurance, treatment facilities that specialize in things such as EMDR, cost thousands of dollars. I have been fortunate over my recovery to have had insurance cover the cost of my care, but because Caroline is too old to be on my insurance plan, she has little to no coverage for the care she requires.

Enter Caroline’s friend Josh into the picture. Recognizing that the intensive therapy and treatment Caroline requires costs thousands of dollars, he crafts a gofundme page where people can donate to Caroline’s care. I swallow my pride and gratefully accept Josh’s offer to do so (it’s extremely difficult admitting that you may need help as a parent), and Caroline, also happy to potentially take away some of the financial burden from me, posts the gofundme excitedly and mask-free.

And then this happens:

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This person’s words made Caroline scramble for her mask. This person made her feel bad and selfish. This person caused Caroline to breakdown into tears and beg for Josh and I to remove the gofundme page. After she picked herself up a bit (mask now tightly affixed again), she reached out to this person and made sure that he was safe and tried to offer support as he is clearly hurting too – that’s just what Caroline does. Broken and in pain, she still made sure this person was ok.

But why does this have to happen? Would anyone say, “if you weren’t so flashy with your diabetes”…or “look at your insta pics, you don’t look like you have coronary artery disease…” no. But, sadly stigma around mental illness still exists and causes so many people to resort to the uncomfortable masks they wear rather than being ridiculed for their honesty. This needs to change. And Caroline, you will be a part of this change because you shared your beautiful face – mask-free. I am so proud of you.

If you are interested in learning more about Caroline’s GoFundMe, click here.

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Where On This Earth Am I?

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I’ve been owning the seconds of my life. I’ve been embracing them like a small baby in my arms needing comfort and security. I’ve been recognizing the frailty of it all; time, love, honesty. So mush so that I often feel like I needed someone to talk me down, and get me out of the rainbow-coloured alleys, and butterfly chases – when just like that, a second happens to knock me down. There comes this second when I don’t want to open my eyes because a relationship is immanently about to change as trust goes over the edge of a cliff. I can’t stop it from going over – I’m just a spectator – the leap is not mine to be had. Then, during the next second, the universe is torn and my heart is on the floor bleeding hot, angry blood.

I need to own my seconds again – somehow. I need to stop thinking about the cliff. It’s airy silence reminds me that it’s not mine and that I should pay no attention to it. I had to look hard to find this relationship – and now everything is gone. Time to turn life off for another day. I can’t stop thinking about what we used to be. That I loved you – that I chose you. Now all I can see are stars in the sky reminding me that another second to be owned will come…eventually.

I will be thinking about us. And life moves on with yet another lesson I never asked for or saw coming. Like being sideswiped on the corner of a street by a speeding van – this relationship loss has hit me hard and fast. I have to stand my ground – trust deserves the splendour it is entitled to. Trust is everything. Until my tears have soaked my shirt with tears of truth, I will continue to look for another perfect breath. Chasing stars and hope. Backing away from the cliff at the very last second.

Stigma – Facebook Live Chat

During An Anxiety Attack

On this episode of BrainStorm: I record this episode during an anxiety attack to let you hear how it affects me, and so you might have a better understanding of your own anxiety or for someone you know that suffers from them.

Note: this episode has minimal edits to give you a true representation. 

 

Books

Daily Lessons from Save My Life School: Here

Save My Life School: Here

BrainStorm by Natalie Harris is proudly produced by PodcastWagon.com

 

Ben Dionne

On this episode of BrainStorm I speak with Ben Dionne who gives his perspective on mental health and shares about his journey. Ben was diagnosed with Schizophrenia when he was seventeen, he become an advocate for his own mental and physical health, has overcome many challenges, and now lives without the label and, has a clean bill of health. 

Ben is the host of his own podcast called Fireside Chat with ben Dionne 

Follow Ben, Instagram: @bennydjetts & @fs_chats

 

Pre-order my New Book: Here

Get Save My Life School: Here

 

BrainStorm by Natalie Harris is proudly produced by PodcastWagon.com

The Layers Of My Depression

On this episode of BrainStorm: I describe the four layers of my depression.

Pre-order my New Book: Here

Get Save My Life School: Here

 

BrainStorm by Natalie Harris is proudly produced by PodcastWagon.com

 

3 Questions Answered

On this episode of BrainStorm: I discuss why we isolate, why it’s so difficult to ask for mental health help and why we can sometimes feel alone in a crowd. …

Pre-order my New Book: Here

Get Save My Life School: Here

 

Brain Storm by Natalie Harris is proudly produced by PodcastWagon.com

Looking To Smash A Broken Record

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I’m still searching for some meaning here. I’ve been ‘here’ before – figuratively and literally. I’m at Save-My-Life Summer School, where I hope to bump up my grades. “What grades?”, you may be asking. Well, my grades in coping with life and PTSD symptoms. I’m so grateful, don’t get me wrong. Like SO grateful. But no matter how you look at it, summer school sort of sucks.

I have a feeling that I will have a breakthrough – but alas, it’s only day three for God’s sake. I need to be a bit gentler on myself.

I actually bored of writing right now. No epiphanies to share. I’m numb. Completely numb. Like a robot walking the halls, emotionless and cold. I wish I had some feeling of connection to this life beyond being a mom; that connection is inherent. I mean a connection to a person or an experience. A connection to a feeling.

There were lots of spiders outside this morning. One even crawled onto my hand. A baby one. I passed it to my neighbour and he passed it to his. Without words, just passing spiders so delicately, like balancing a fragile egg on our finger nails, fearful that it would fall. It was moved safely to the seat beside us to go on with it’s merry day. It’s funny how none of us even came close to killing it. We’ve experienced enough trauma that even killing a spider is too much to bear. Well at least that’s my view of the experience.

I get so tired of feeling like a skipping record when I share what feels like the same story over and over with yet another nurse or doctor. I’m grateful – but I’m tired. The skipping record laughs at me and taunts me. Just when I think I’ve reached the end of the damn record, it skips and starts again. I wish I could just smash that record! Smash it into smithereens. Jump on it and scream for it to never play again. The pieces wouldn’t even deserve to be swept up. They don’t deserve my attention anymore. They don’t deserve my breath, my energy, my time. And I don’t deserve to be a broken record. Maybe I will smash it over the next eight weeks. It would feel so wonderful to have a different story. This one seems so pointless now.

Stories Behind The Smiling Pictures

On this episode of BrainStorm: My publisher Heather Down and friend Kim Forster share what it is like to be behind the scenes with me at events. Not everything is smiling faces like the pictures may show. Learn what it’s like to battle PTSD and depression while trying to feel like a contributing member of society – it’s not easy.

Pre-order my New Book: Here

Get Save My Life School: Here

 

Brain Storm by Natalie Harris is proudly produced by PodcastWagon.com

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