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Paramedic Nat

A Blog About My Mental Health Journey

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My Perspective on Boredom

On this episode of BrainStorm: How I battle boredom, My spiritual awakening while at rehab, Gratitude for monotony, Special interview announcement, and more…

Pre-order my New Book: Here

Get Save My Life School: Here

 

Brain Storm by Paramedic Nat is proudly produced by PodcastWagon.com

 

Being Numb and Swimming in S**t Soup

On this episode of BrainStorm: How being numb doesn’t mean that you feel nothing. “Don’t Swim in S**t Soup.” A tribute to Chester Bennington, …and more.

Pre-order my New Book: Here

Get Save My Life School: Here

 

Brain Storm by Paramedic Nat is proudly produced by PodcastWagon.com

My Interview On The Agenda

Thank you again to The Agenda for this amazing opportunity.

Humility Has Saturated My Soul

Confucius says, “Humility is the solid foundation of all virtues.” Profound right? And so true. But in our commercialized, ego-obsessed society, humility isn’t always the easiest trait to practice. Allow me to elaborate…

I have come to see quite clearly that the social media forum is an extremely powerful way to help the largest amount people I can; so I use it…a lot. Through my eyes as a care-giver, the results are wonderful, and continue to be, but as my ‘followers’ increase, I am forever practicing mindfulness to be sure that I remember that this number is not just a number, each follower is a human being.

The part of me that still battles my concern about what other people think of me has an insatiable need to be sure I’m not just quenching my own thirst. I have had conversations with the people I trust on more than one occasion about whether or not they perceive humility when I share my thoughts, pictures, etc.  It’s not an easy internal battle to be honest, I am petrified of having my ego ever displace my ability to genuinely love and care for people, and potentially bring me back to the darkness I have (with a lot of work) escaped. So, where am I going with this? Well, luckily for me, sometimes there is no need to question if a post I share is humble – sometimes it can’t be anything but.

Today I was given a gift that brought me to my knees and wrapped me in insurmountable humility, and I want to share it with you. My friend Mike Speers, went out of his way to photograph my book, Save-My-Life School, at the Vimy Ridge 100th year anniversary and tribute because he knew I couldn’t be there myself. My first feeling when I saw them was, “I don’t deserve this”, as humility seeped into every cell of my body. It was his way of saying thank you for what I had shared, and I knew immediately that I needed to show my gratitude for his kindness and pay tribute to the memorials I am so honoured to even figuratively be photographed beside. These photos deserved much more than a quick Facebook or Twitter post, they deserved explanation and gratitude to the highest measure.

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In front of the Vimy Ridge Monument in France.

About Vimy:

“The Canadian Corps was ordered to seize Vimy Ridge in April 1917. Situated in northern France, the heavily-fortified seven-kilometre ridge held a commanding view over the Allied lines. The Canadians would be assaulting over an open graveyard since previous French attacks had failed with over 100,000 casualties.”

“Canadian divisions stormed the ridge at 5:30am on 9 April 1917. More than 15,000 Canadian infantry overran the Germans all along the front. Incredible bravery and discipline allowed the infantry to continue moving forward under heavy fire, even when their officers were killed.There were countless acts of sacrifice, as Canadians single-handedly charged machine-gun nests or forced the surrender of Germans in protective dugouts. Hill 145, the highest and most important feature of the Ridge, and where the Vimy monument now stands, was captured in a frontal bayonet charge against machine-gun positions. Three more days of costly battle delivered final victory. The Canadian operation was an important success, even if the larger British and French offensive, of which it had been a part, had failed. But it was victory at a heavy cost: 3,598 Canadians were killed and another 7,000 wounded.”

“Vimy became a symbol for the sacrifice of the young Dominion. In 1922, the French government ceded to Canada in perpetuity Vimy Ridge, and the land surrounding it. The gleaming white marble and haunting sculptures of the Vimy Memorial, unveiled in 1936, stand as a terrible and poignant reminder of the 11,285 Canadian soldiers killed in France who have no known graves.”

The Battle of Vimy Ridge – Canadian War Museum.

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And if having my book photographed beside the Vimy Ridge Monument wasn’t enough, Mike also took a photo beside the grave of Lieutenant Colonel John Mc Crae, the author of the poem, ‘In Flanders Fields’. Gratitude overflowing.

Nothing I ever do will ever compare to the ultimate sacrifices the men at the Battle of Vimy Ridge made for our freedom. And these photos will forever saturate my soul in humility.

Mike, with a humble heart, I accept your gift and sign of appreciation. Thank you.

Toronto Eaton Centre Book Signing

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Former Simcoe County and Peel Region paramedic turned author, Natalie Harris, pens raw and honest memoir about her battle with PTSD, depression, addiction and suicide titled Save-My-Life School, ISBN 978-1-894813-91-4.

In 2012, Harris attended a grizzly double murder that caused her to spiral into a challenging battle with mental illness. As part of her recovery, she started a blog that has since had almost 200,000 hits and grabbed the attention of Canada’s favourite Olympian and mental health advocate, Clara Hughes who wrote the Foreword for this title.

Clara Hughes writes, “There is no one audience for Natalie’s writings; I truly feel she writes for us all.”

Harris’s book, Save-My-Life School expands on her recovery process, giving a real-life glimpse into the mind and thoughts of someone suffering with mental illness. In the second week after its release this January, the book reached the #2 spot on the Amazon.ca Kindle Store’s “Hot New Memoir List,” one spot ahead of Anderson Cooper’s The Rainbow Comes.

Harris will be at the Eaton Centre Indigo, April 3rd for a book signing from 6 – 8 p.m.

For more information or to book media appearances, please contact:
Heather Down (PR Manager)
Heather.down@live.com

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Coffee Talk with WSIB

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I am about to broach a sensitive subject. Retired paramedic Mindy Piva and I had the opportunity to have coffee with the Vice President and Executive Director of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) today. The informal meeting was extremely positive and productive – this is where I’m am expecting the ‘sensitivity’ of this subject to emerge. Today I am going to share a story of progress, and by doing so Mindy and I want to be very clear that this is not to ignore the pain and hardships of the past. We want want to encourage hope, and share how change is happening, but while always acknowledging the losses so many families have, and still continue to face. We also want to share our gratitude for all the other voices on this mission with us!

For many years the letters ‘WSIB’ and the words ‘positive’ and ‘productive’ have rarely crossed paths in the same sentence. After personally reading dozens of impact statements and hearing hundreds of stories about the losses so many of our first responder family members have experienced after battling to have a psychological injury claim approved, (some which I myself have experienced) I have extreme empathy with regards to all aspects of this subject. With that being said, Mindy and I are going to do our best to move forward with a positive voice, and be extremely grateful for the opportunity provided to us today.

Bill 163- Ontario’s First Responder’s Bill, has opened the doors to obtaining the help so many first responders need. In my opinion, one of the most important things this Bill has done is prompt necessary discussion about the reality of psychological injuries. Stigma is lessening, and awareness campaigns are in full swing. This is amazing! But now one year later there is definitely lots more work to do.

Today, Mindy and I shared the following suggestions and information:

  • We recommended Mental Health First Aid training for every case manager in order to improve sympathetic communication skills with often vulnerable, acutely injured  first responders.
  • We recommended the implementation of first responders as consultants to aid in the translation of cultural lingo and language in order to lessen the number of potential anxiety-producing phone calls in the early stages of a claim.
  • We recommended the provision of peer-support contact information (external from the first responder’s employer/service) as soon as a claim has been made.
  • We shared detailed information about triggers and symptoms in which someone without a psychological injury would not be able to fully comprehend.
  • We shared that specialized earplugs should be a compensateable expense.
  • We discussed the possibility of receiving funding to initiate a peer support evidence-based study. (And provided contact information of professionals who we feel could implement this).
  • We discussed the importance of providing structured peer-support to the WSIB case managers themselves.
  • We discussed MP Todd Doherty’s Federal PTSD Bill C-211, and how we felt that it was necessary to implement our suggestions in order to lead the way with respect to modelling a comprehensive and successful provincial psychological claims process.
  • We discussed the development of a formal committee to allow for other first responder’s and services to share their progressive suggestions.

I am firm believer in the quote by Martin Luther King Jr.,”Love is the only force capable of changing an enemy into a friend”. And on the eve of the presentation of Canada’s PTSD Framework Bill, Mindy and I are happy to go to sleep knowing that friend’s were made today, and that even though it many not be easy sometimes, positive change is always possible.

Book Launch Jan 25th!

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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.

THE AUDIENCE
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.

COMPARABLE TITLE
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.
ENDORSEMENTS

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:
https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/…/sa…/9781894813914-item.html

You can also preorder at winterticklepress.com

Equine Love and Learning

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An Opportunity I Couldn’t Pass Up!

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of experiencing the magic of equine learning with my children and the founder of New Horserizons, Maud Revel, in a town just West of Barrie, Ontario.

Maud, an Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) Certified Facilitator, through Dreamwinds – Cartier Farms, contacted me after reading about my battle with post traumatic stress disorder, and wanted to introduce me to a new and exciting way to compliment professional therapy I may have been receiving; I was more than happy oblige.

Research has shown how equine assisted activities are effective with helping people cope and heal from mental health illnesses of various degrees (https://youtu.be/6wCq6GeyFgk). New Horserizons uses the Cartier Farms EAL Building Block Curriculum which is tailored specifically to meet the unique needs of members of the Canadian Armed Forces, First Responders and Police Officers.

For All Ages

According to the New Horserizon’s website, “Equine Assisted Learning, is for anyone who can benefit from strengthening their interpersonal skills, building confidence and relating more effectively with others. Whether you want to develop different communication methods, better listening skills and better teamwork abilities or simply cope with every day life and communicating with your family, EAL might be right for you”

I was encouraged to bring my daughter Caroline (20), and son Adam (10) with me, as Maud has been a teacher for many years, and has witnessed first hand the positive effects in which being around such majestic animals can have on all age groups.

Caroline and Adam had never been in close proximity to a horse before, and were excited but visibly nervous for their day at the Kureka Equestrian Centre, where Maud facilitates an interactive learning experience between participants and horses such as Murphy.

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We participated in activities which encouraged ‘out-side-of -the-box’ thinking, and teamwork, and by the end of the day Adam and Caroline were no longer nervous of being around Murphy, and were confident and proud to be able to maneuver a 1000 lb creature through the fun obstacles.

Why Horses?

According to Maud, “horses will help you recognize opportunities for learning about yourself. Horses provide honest, instant feedback when we work with them. They don’t judge, they don’t over-think but they do challenge our behavior and leadership abilities”.

New Horserizons’ EAL activities always include a minimum of two humans and a horse and are conducted on the ground. The exercises will let you reflect on your own communication and negotiation skills, and practice reasonable goal settings while having fun in the company of horses.

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A huge thank you to Maud Revel and New Horserizons! 

For more information please go to: www.newhorserizons.com

Please take a moment to read the news article from the Barrie Examiner about my experience with Equine Learning found in the link below.

http://www.thebarrieexaminer.com/2016/06/17/equestrian-centre-offers-calming-courses

Bill 163: Ontario Supporting First Responder’s Bill

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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.

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