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Paramedic Nat

A Blog About My Mental Health Journey

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life

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.

5 Ways To Help Put The Life-Saver On Ice

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I have a new mission. I’ve chosen to accept it. I want to stop referring to my events and myself as “paramedic” Nat. I won’t be able to completely get rid of the adjective (I think it’s an adjective), because it’s my social media handle in many cases, and that’s ok, but I do feel the need to be just me again – a mission that hasn’t been an easy one. That doesn’t mean that I don’t still love the profession of paramedicine and most of my experiences as a paramedic, but I feel the need to just be me now – whatever that is – I’m still soul-searching.

I’m not alone in feeling the difficulty of putting the ‘life-saver’ side of me on ice – not even close. I have people reach out to me almost every day sharing their own struggles with separating from their life-saving persona. Whether it’s because of retirement or injury, leaving the profession of saving lives can take a toll on our own. Let’s face it, first responders and healthcare providers are cut from a different cloth – they have a passion for helping and for running ‘into the fire’, and learning how to stop doing that can be a delicate and difficult process – trust me, I know.

Five ways to help put the life-saver on ice.

  1. Allow for a grieving process to occur. This may sound silly, but I can tell you whole-heartedly that I have had to grieve the loss of my career. All five stages of the Kubler-Ross grieving process have been a part of my life over the past few years: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. And when I realized that this was occurring, it helped me to recognize that a process was taking place and that each stage takes some time. It gave me permission to not have to be accepting of the loss over night.
  2. Take time for mindfulness. First responders and healthcare providers are trained to live in the past and future. We go to a call and collect information about what has happened, and prepare in our minds how to be one step ahead with how we will treat a patient. Always ready for the next…anything, and researching how we can improve on past-practice. I found that when I started to practice living in the now, I was able to enjoy a part of life that had been obscure to me for a very long time. Living in the now is a beautiful thing. This is not to say that you can’t live in the now while you are still a first responder or healthcare provider; if you can that’s amazing.
  3. See that you are still able to help people. When I wasn’t able to put my uniform on, I felt like a part of my value and self worth had vanished. It took me some time to see that I was still able to help others – on a very large scale in fact. My passion to help people and to be of service never left when I stopped being a paramedic on the road. Consider volunteering as a wonderful way to potentially fill that void.
  4. Get back to the things you love. If your busy shift-worker schedule took you away from the things you love, try to add them back into your life. Easier said than done! I still can’t drag myself to a yoga class. But writing and drawing has added joy to my life again.
  5. Enjoy eating slowly! And pee whenever you want to! Sometimes the little things can be big things. Until I was off the road I didn’t realize that for over eleven years I never knew when I was going to eat next because a call could come in at any time. And I definitely didn’t have a washroom to use while at a multiple car accident on the highway for hours. Sometimes I sit in the washroom for a few extra minutes now because I can! Too much information? – Nothing is too much information from me anymore – LOL.

Putting the life-saver on ice doesn’t at all mean that I need to forget the love I have for my past career. It was part of who I was for so long and I carry many amazing, positive memories with me forever because of it. But the fact of the matter is what I do is different now, and it’s ok for me to be ok with that.

Happiness Eclipse (A Tribute to Suicide Awareness Month)

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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.

My Interview On The Agenda

Thank you again to The Agenda for this amazing opportunity.

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.

You Can Preorder My New Book!

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Click Here!

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.

 

BrainStorm – Suicidal Ideation & Relapse

On this episode:

  • What suicidal ideation feels like to me,
  • Coping tools to use when suicidal thoughts are present,
  • What is relapse?,

and more…

  • National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Wish Upon A Star…

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Did you know that there was a meteor shower tonight? My kids and I just came in from watching it. We saw about four meteors (aka shooting stars) and a candlelit moth or two that tricked our ever concentrating eyes. Together we laid on blankets and pillows on the deck and starred into the satellite filled sky waiting to see the show. Like usual, Walter snuck popcorn out of the bowl as we giggled and farted and listened to Adam teach us how our galaxy is shaped like a pancake. The city sounds were muffled by my earplugs, but my anxiety still raced in unison with each motorcycle that graced us with its presence on the road out front – but that didn’t matter because nothing could stop the happy memories formed when you can ‘make a wish’ with your kids after cheering that “we saw one!”.

Starring into space tonight was peaceful overall. Normally ‘space’ and its vastness causes my brain to over think and speculate. But tonight it was just a night of citronella candles and Caroline yelling at Adam to stop shining the flashlight in her eyes – some things never change.

I can’t tell you what my wishes were, because then they won’t come true. But I can tell you that four wishes in one night will never be taken for granted by this girl.

Good night. May all YOUR wishes come true too.

 

Wide Awake

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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.

Sigh…

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.

Sigh…

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