Paramedic Nat

A Blog About My Mental Health Journey



Ugh, Insomnia


Dear Insomnia,

I know you keep trying to be friends with me, but it’s just not going to work out. You see, I’m tired. Even though you try to trick me into thinking that waking up at 2:30 am every day is the ‘cool thing to do’, I know it’s not. Insomnia, it’s dark out, that means I should be asleep, but you never seem to care about that, it’s always ‘insomnia, insomnia, insomnia’. Selfish. How about we try to make a deal – you let me sleep for just one solid night each week, and in return I will not get so frustrated when you creep into my sleep-world at an unGodly hour of the morning on the other six nights of the week.

How wonderful it would be to have a good night sleep! I hate doing the Navy Seal roll through the sleeping animals on my bed in order to find my phone while praying that it will say something like 6:30 am, only to find time and time again that it says 2:30am. Walter and Lollers are snoring away – phew. My strategic roll through the blankets didn’t wake them up – that’s good. So I’m going try to say farewell to you for the night.

Please stop trying to be my friend,

Natalie (a.k.a. exhausted)

Crying Is OK. PTSD Sucks

On this episode of BrainStorm: Sometimes reminiscing about working as a Paramedic brings sadness, and crying, its ok, but PTSD sucks. 



Daily Lessons from Save My Life School: Here

Save My Life School: Here


BrainStorm by Natalie Harris is proudly produced by

Looking To Smash A Broken Record


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.

Happiness Eclipse (A Tribute to Suicide Awareness Month)


Have you ever noticed how the most fragile and rare things are often the most beautiful? And have you ever noticed how their beauty often vanishes into the invisible abyss of atoms and time before they can ever truly be enjoyed? A snowflake, a dandelion seed, lightening, innocence – in all of a moment – they vanish. Happiness fits into this category of beauty for me.

I get frustrated with how happiness and my personal life seem to exist in separate orbits. Rarely eclipsing one another, but when it happens, like all phenomenons, it inevitably comes to an end. Watching this eclipse also my eyes to burn and tears to flow, especially when I see the orbit of happiness leaving, knowing that it will be a while until it returns.

Everywhere I go, I’m there. I can’t escape the sadness my mind simmers in so often. My mind’s inability to practice gratitude elicits enormous levels of guilt. And I know full well that guilt is a useless emotion – and that it only brings more pain. But still I feel guilt’s heavy dagger pierce my heart when I see the sunrise and simultaneously need to fight to see the beauty in it. I should be able to see the beauty in it. Why can’t I see the beauty in it?

September is Suicide Awareness Month, and I will endeavour to continue to share what it’s like to be in the mind of someone who has battled with suicidal thoughts and attempts. Don’t worry – I’m safe. But I feel it is necessary to continue this dark and often confusing conversation so that those who don’t understand, can; even if in the smallest way.

BrainStorm Bonus Episode – Learning How To Make Healthy Boundaries Using “The Four Agreements”

On this bonus episode:

-I share how I use “The Four Agreements”, by author Don Miguel Ruiz, to help me form healthy boundaries in my recovery,
-How to cope with negative support,
-and Lollers finds Walter’s bone. 🙂

I have a new book coming out that you can preorder here.

Busy and Bored


Busy and bored – I’m both. It’s possible. Weird right? Even though I am not on the road as a medic anymore (sigh) I am a busy bee. Family, fur babies, podcasts, new book, new speaking engagements, and lots of emails to reply to, keep my busy every day – and I’m grateful that I am able to do all of these things – but I’m bored. I’m on a new medication and I think it is giving me a lot of extra energy (Abilify for those who are wondering). I wake up super early and can’t get back to sleep which is weird for me as the old super depressed Nat only slept!

So with that being said I want to share a few amazing words of inspiration some friends have given me over the last day or too to help easy my mind with it’s new found energy and boredom.

From Christine Newman: “Here’s what I can tell you for sure Sis… things will seesaw for a while until you eventually find your happy medium. Some days you will be in the groove and rocking your socks off. Other days, the needle skips on the record and everything sounds like shit. And at least Lollers didn’t barf IN your shoes”. Brilliant! She also told me that because I have been through so much this year, that it will take some time to find a happy medium.

From Caroline Richards: “Well, I guess this is just where I’m at, I really need to just accept this”. Beautiful and true! When Caroline said this to me, I felt like she was speaking to my soul. I have to accept where I am – it really makes things a lot easier.

From @365daysofbipol2: “When you feel like you are moving forward and seem like you’re going nowhere you are on a plateau. Learn to enjoy the view”. Simple and profound all in one.

From Dr. Debra Lindh: ” Some days are harder than others. Remember: We grow when we’re stretched not when we are comfortable”. Isn’t that the truth – thank you for reminding me. 

I hope that if you are feeling the way I am that these messages help you as much as they have helped me. XO Time for some Pearl Jam and Linkin Park. 

Positive and Positive Attract


I had an excellent meeting with the CEO and Head of the Nursing Department of a hospital in which my daughter and I had a very terrible experience with a nurse and her lack of professionalism and compassion. I’ve always believed that positive and positive attract – and today that theory was once again proven.

The primary reason for my request of this meeting today was to share a negative experience, but I don’t go about doing so with the old Natalie ‘jersey them’ attitude anymore. I now approach difficult experiences as an opportunity to grow; and today I think that all three of us in the meeting did just that.

After sharing my recollection of the events in a detailed fashion, I continued the meeting with a request to not have the nurse in question reprimanded, but rather to have my daughter’s and my discontent shared with the nurse (or how would she even have the opportunity to change her actions and bedside manner), and to share an offering of peer support to her and all of the staff at the hospital. I explained to the CEO and Head of Nursing what Wings of Change was and how it could easily be facilitated at the hospital. I am not naive to think that it is quite possible that this nurse was having a bad day and could require some support of her own – however this does NOT condone her actions. This conversation point went over very well and I will be sending more information about Wings of Change to both of them for there consideration.

I also suggested the following:

  • A patient suggestion/comment portal be introduced on the hospital’s website;
  • Signage be added to the emergency department that offers contact information to the hospital’s patient advocates (a service many people still do not know exists).

I also applied to be on the Patient and Family Advisory Committee and requested that if I am selected that I have a voice in the adult and youth mental health department services and care.

According to the College of Nurses in Ontario, Standards of Care, “Nurses are obliged to provide empathic and knowledgeable care” (, and MOST do. But when a situation occurs where this standard is not met, I encourage you to contact the patient advocate in the hospital you are being provided care in.

I would like to thank both the CEO and Head of Nursing for meeting with me today and for their professionalism and genuine concern with regards to the care of my daughter.


The Word Stealing Demon


I have been blessed with many things. I live in Canada, and get to celebrate its 150th birthday in my new home, snuggled up with my fur babies and microwaved popcorn. The popcorn is a big deal as I haven’t had a microwave in four years (don’t feel bad for me – I could have gotten one if I weren’t so lazy), and I’ve missed the smell of popcorn in my home. Popcorn and fresh coffee – the best smells of all time. Anyway, I digress. Blessings, yes I have many. My kids love their new home and are settling in well. Walter let me tie a Canada flag onto his back for a picture. And I have made a huge dent in the unpacking process – success. But along with success comes stress. Some good (eustress) and some bad (distress), and as a human with PTSD, I find the eustress/distress border difficult to navigate.

No one will argue that moving is stressful (and if you do, I won’t believe you), but it’s supposed to be a good stress for me this time around. New start, cute house, happy neighbourhood – and all of these things are true. But my PTSD brain makes mountains out of mole hills causing what should be good, to be bad. The effects that any stress has on my brain is extremely frustrating, but also intriguing at times. As a human who used to revel in the fact that my brain had a good grasp on intelligent things, like being able to rationalize and formulate things quite well, my now injured brain can’t help but to stand back and ‘looks at itself’ when life gets stressful and it screams out to me how obvious it is that I  am not able to rationalize or formulate incoming information the way I used to. I can’t help but wonder why my brain’s ability to do certain things has changed so much.

When my pre-PTSD brain was presented with a stressful situation, it would soak it in and enjoy conquering the task at hand. But when my post-PTSD brain is presented with a stressful situation, it forgets how to even speak properly. I lose my words and literally can’t find them. I want to say shelf, but that word in buried in the dark abyss of my broken mind – literally gone. What seems like a simple task often forces me to play an embarrassing game of smoke and mirrors so that people won’t worry about me. If they only knew how much of a broken puzzle my mind becomes in those stressful moments. Trying to find the word ‘shelf’ feels like a demon is holding it tightly in his hands, hunched over it and snickering at me. “Go ahead and joke that your brain isn’t working“, he whispers to me, “but I will keep this until I choose to let it go, and no one will know how you feel right now, just trying to find a word“. In those moments it’s like electrical shocks fire all over my brain, faster than light, consuming my breath because of how tiring it is, trying to find a word that should be so easy to find. I know that some of you are thinking that you get it because sometimes you can’t find words too  – and I appreciate your kind attempt at trying to relate to my feelings. But the only people who truly get it are those with a broken brain. If you are not part of the ‘broken brain club’ (the shittiest club I know), you lose words like everyone does, but you don’t have a demon that steals them.

You may be asking yourself why I use the word demon when trying to describe many of my emotions in my blogs – don’t worry, you don’t have to call in an exorcist. I do because that’s literally what I feel like I live with some days. Brain injuries are evil in my mind (pun intended), and living with one feels like someone or something is in control of it. I could use a marionette (also creepy – sorry) to describe the lack of control I feel some days as well. I think a huge part of me loves to blog because it provides me with the physical time I need to find my words…the time my brain needs to feel less broken.

Who knew that not being able to ‘find a word’ could cause so much pain and confusion.

The Depression Rollercoaster – Bring Your Vomit Bag


My latest blog posts have depicted my recent difficulty with seeing light in the world – again. These dark ‘slumps’, (really the word slump does not do these experiences justice – but I will use it for ease of relating to all – we all have slumps – they suck – you get the point), fool me into thinking that the universe that takes care of me even in my darkest hours has abandoned me…and abandoned everyone else as well. Days go by as I agonize through the mundane and torturous seconds of hopelessness, tossing and turning between anger, guilt and remorse, until finally…FINALLY, the universe peeks its little universe head through the darkness and says, “Sorry I’ve been out of sight for a while, but wait until you see what I have in store for your now!”

I talk to the universe a lot…literally. I look up to the sky and say, “Ok universe, show me the way”, and it always does – ALWAYS. This time it spoke to me through a text message from a friend named Matt Henegan, who is also a paramedic with PTSD. This is what he said:

“Here’s the thing, and take it with a grain of salt, as I am not here to undo anything; you’re allowed to hate the world. You’ve experienced it. The good. The bad. And the indescribably ugly. The world is easy to hate. What’s important, is to not live in this world WITH hate leading us..”

Truer words were never spoken. I was leading my days with hate over the last little while because of some unfortunate circumstances – one being that I have sadly learned that Luci my service dog is not a good fit for my home. She bit Walter (food aggression) and the sights and sounds of this experience triggered PTSD reflexes/reactions and have forced me to make sure that that never happens again. My family and I are devastated, and still recovering from this realization, but I know that she will find a home that is best for her. I love her and I will miss her. (* I will be donating the remainder of my Go Fund Me money to the amazing trainers at Grassroots K9 who so generously worked with Luci and I for many months. I still highly recommend them – sometimes things happen that no one can foresee.)

Leading my days with hate, self pity and anger only hurts me and everyone around me more. These emotions are an express-pass to the depression rollercoaster that always makes me vomit. This pass swiftly buckles me in for ‘the ride’ and rockets me into twists and turns that cause me to be disoriented and sick – very sick. I inevitably stumble off the ride when it’s over with my clothes disheveled and no memory of when it really even began. I hate this ride…and I’m naive to think that I won’t ever find myself on it again.

Thank you Matt for your friendship. I know that your words will help many more than just me.

*You can find Matt’s own blog documenting his battle with PTSD at  He is one of the most amazing writers I have ever come across!




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