This inspiring book of quotations from Natalie’s Harris’s raw and gripping account of her mental health journey, “Save-My-Life School,” offers daily motivational and thoughtful lessons.
Living in the now is great and all, but I can’t help but wonder what the future holds for me. Finances, health, relationships – these are all big question marks. But I suppose they are question marks for everyone really. I don’t do well without having inspiration in my life. That’s why I usually have several projects on the go – when I’m healthy the more inspiration the better – I think. Wings of Change, a new Save~My~Life School quote book and journal, my Brain Storm podcast, future speaking engagements, a little pastel artwork…I don’t do well with doing nothing.
When my brain feels well, I usually get to work on a lot of projects because I know that beyond the horizon there will be yet another era of my alien life that will grab me tightly and not let me go for however long it chooses. And during alien life, projects are few and far between. But they are inspired when they do arise. Being in darkness fills my brain with outer-space ideas and feelings that rip out of my soul because they are too painful to contain. Actually, they are impossible to contain.
My alien mind is interesting and thought provoking while I’m in a healthy mind. But when I’m actually in alien mind, it seems anything but interesting! When I’m in it, death screams in my face constantly. It literally spews hot spit-filled air on me as I try to breathe. I have a noise sensitivity when my healthier mind is active, but when my alien mind is active, noise is more than just sound! It’s like acid that permeates the air, my cells…my entire existence. It hurts, a lot. It makes my eardrums bleed invisible blood. It makes my eyes cry invisible black tar filled tears that I can’t easily wipe away. It makes my lungs cave in on themselves and scream that they hate taking yet another breath…and another breath…and another. And all of these symptoms are SO real to me when I am in my alien mind. You could tell me they aren’t but I wouldn’t believe you. In fact, I would probably punch you in the throat if you tried.
It was nice to draw today without my alien mind active. I can personally still see that mind lingering in the background with the colours I choose and the features I draw. But when I put the pastels away today I sang a song, and cleaned up, and made dinner for my kids. Lasagna and garlic bread! Some days are ok. And I will have some art to remind me of it when these ok days are gone.
It will be interesting to see what I draw when the alien returns.
What does freedom look like to you?
To some it may be;
The mending of a broken heart,
Being cured from a disease.
The heavy weight of a jail cell opening.
Running past the finish line and falling to the ground.
Drinking refreshing clean water.
Escaping the pain of an abusive relationship.
Turning the ignition after getting your drivers licence.
Performing a play you have rehearsed for months.
Finally apologizing – and it being accepted.
Feeling the diploma placed in your hand.
Tasting the salt of the ocean for the first time.
Holding hands under the stars.
Freedom to me is;
A quiet mind, free from feeling broken for a full minute.
Waking up to see the sun and actually wanting to feel it on my skin.
A night of dreams that I can’t remember.
When I finally run out of tears.
When the obsession to numb passes.
Walking Walter and not having to look over my shoulder.
Not seeing the pain in everyone’s smile.
Not feeling dark energy looming over the earth.
Having a day when I don’t learn of a suicide of a peer, and knowing exactly how that person must have felt.
Looking into Adam, Caroline, Walter, Pepsi and Loller’s eyes 🙂
Thinking that maybe…maybe…one day I can let someone in again.
FROM THE PUBLISHER
This intense and engaging memoir is based on the true-life of Natalie Harris. Mental illness, post-traumatic stress injury, overdoses and addiction are some of the demons this paramedic-turned-author deals with–stemming from a horrific double-murder call. This incredible story makes public the very private battles many face. This book is raw, honest and a window into the mind of someone facing mental illness. Although a serious topic, this biography is at times laugh-out-loud funny, poignant and simply a good, entertaining read. This is a must-have for anyone who wants a cover-to-cover book that keeps you on the edge of your seat. To me, it is a Bridget Jones’ Diary meets Girl Interrupted.
Obviously, this title will appeal to first responders such as paramedics, firefighters and police officers. However, this title will also be of interest to those suffering with or suffering beside people experiencing mental illnesses and/or addiction. In Canada alone, there are 4.5 million people with mental illnesses.
Last year, Jody Mitic released Unflinching: The Making of a Canadian Sniper. Like Natalie’s book, Jody’s had a specific audience as well as widespread interest. His book touched on PTSD; and akin to Natalie, he worked in a field with a very unique culture.
Natalie and her writing are highly supported and endorsed by many people with influence. The foreword is written by six-time Olympian, Clara Hughes. In addition, all three levels of government officials have written endorsements for the book. This includes, Arif Khan, Barrie City Council, Ann Hogarth, MPP, and John Brassard, MP.
Link to Book on Indigo:
You can also preorder at winterticklepress.com
This damn darkness… Why is it back? Not nearly to the extent it use to be (don’t worry, I am safe), but it’s here nonetheless. Close enough to make me feel like a fraud. Dark enough to make me want to hide from all of the positive advice I have given over the last…however long its been.
I’ve been wanting to write about it, because as you know, writing is therapy to me. But no matter how hard the magnetic field has been between my fingertips and these keys, before right now, I have filled my time with sleep or useless ‘being’, in order to avoid how honest this blog may end up being. So as you may be reading this and thinking.’that’s courageous of her to share this’, I promise you that all I can feel are fingers pointing, and hear skeptics yelling ‘we knew that you weren’t better’, when I say that I am depressed.
I’m torn…and uncomfortable. I have finally closed the pages of an old book, but not after reading the last few chapters over and over again because I didn’t want to admit that that book was done. It sucks. I had finally settled in to the comfy corner of pillows in my reading spot, had finally chosen my favourite coffee mug, and had gotten so comfortable with the feel and smell of the pages…and now, that book is done. I’m not getting anything else out of reading it over and over again. The comfy pillows are making my back hurt now. The coffee mug is suddenly just a coffee mug. And the pages feel cold, and smell boring.
Today, unable to stop the force to write, as my mind and soul know how necessary writing is for me to grow, I have finally accepted, that a new book, chapter, page…whichever you choose, has come to be; and this first edition really sucks for me.
Days have been boring, long and filled with my old alien brain lately. Nights have been sleepless. Thoughts have been dark…and incessant. This makes me SO MAD! I will get through this…I have the tools. But man oh man it feels like a punch in the throat having to share that I feel like shit again. I am NOT looking for sympathy. I am NOT looking for anything really. Selfishly, this blog is for me. And if you gain insight or even spiteful joy, good on you. The honesty, vulnerability and egoless peace I feel from writing this is what I need right now.
I’m doing a juice cleanse today. I thought it would suck…but I can tell you that this blog cleanse is worse…Both will make me shit, I’m sure.
April 5th, 2016 will always be a day to remember! Seven years of fighting by SO MANY amazing people (of which I was only part of for 2 years) for the recognition of the toll our careers take on our mental health. There’s LOTS more work to be done.
Stay tuned for an upcoming article in the Canadian Paramedicine magazine documenting the time line of the PTSD Bill’s past seven years, and of the fight that Toronto Advanced Care Paramedic Shannon Bertrand so bravely started so that April 5th, 2016 could one day become a reality.
My daughter and I were fortunate enough to participate in a fundraiser for the Canadian Mental Health Association yesterday. The event was all about…wait for it…MULLETS! Yes, business in the front, party in the back, mullets.
It was held at a beautiful wine and art store called Canvas and Cabernet. I had OJ, cran and soda…but none the less it was a lot of fun watching everyone paint their artistic version of a mullet. I chose to put mine on a sugar skull 😉
I want to thank the radio station Rock 95 and their fabulous DJ Ozz, for inviting me and for being such an amazing mental health advocate! Barrie is so lucky to have you.
And to Liz Grummet and Jim Harris from the Canadian Mental Health Association (Simcoe County Branch) for organizing the event and for really putting Barrie’s CMHA on the ‘mental health awareness’ map.
And to my beautiful daughter for always supporting me and this mental health awareness journey I am on. I am SO proud of you! <3 You are always a wonderful date.
Stay tuned for more upcoming events! So far I will be travelling to Ottawa and Nova Scotia over the summer. Let’s let this amazing mental health momentum keep on keeping on!
Hi Everyone! I wanted to remind you that the FIRST Wings of Change – Peer Support meeting will be held this coming Tuesday, April 5th, at the Canadian Mental Health Association Simcoe County Branch (Boardroom)
128 Anne St S, Barrie, ON
6:30 – 7:30 pm
ALL first responders, healthcare professionals, dispatchers, military members and corrections workers are welcome. Join us for coffee and anonymous mental health solution-based discussion. We provide a safe and stigma-free environment for anyone wishing to receive peer support with regards to occupational trauma and stress. You are welcome to share your views on related topics or simply sit back and be part of an understanding group of fellow peers.
*Remember that a mental health diagnosis is NOT required to attend, and that we do NOT provide professional care. Crisis numbers will be provided at every meeting.*
We hope to see you there!
If you have any questions please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org