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Paramedic Nat

A Blog About My Mental Health Journey

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peer support

Barrie Originated Wing of Change’s 3rd Anniversary – Special Thank You To Katherine Pomerleau

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Once upon a time, 3 years ago, I (Natalie Harris) had a peer-support dream. I had been diagnosed with PTSD as a paramedic, and after I spent seven weeks at a rehabilitation hospital named Homewood, in Guelph, I went home and felt very alone. There was no group that I could attend to share my emotions with people in my career/culture anymore. So I reached out to my friend named Dawn, and we thought to ourselves, “Let’s change this”. So we made a call out on social media for people to help, and many people from all across Canada came forward to create what is now called Wings of Change. We are grateful to every single one of them!

One of the main peer support leaders for this group was Syd Gravel, a retired staff sergeant for the Ottawa Police Department and a member of the Order of Merit for Police – he knew his stuff, and told Natalie that she didn’t have to reinvent the wheel and that she could use reading from his book 56 Seconds at her Wing of Change meetings.

After this, Jim Harris, the Director of the Barrie CMHA chapter at the time, provided the location for the first inaugural meeting to take place, and Wings of Change Peer Support was born.

 

Natalie and Syd

But that’s only the beginning! Wings of Change took off! Pun intended – and Syd and Natalie needed some help with the growing demands for the program. But alas, Natalie had an instant idea about who could come to their rescue – the talented, the lovely, the driven, Katherine Pomerleau! She is the perfect Program Coordinator and since Katherine has joined the team she has accomplished SO MUCH…and all by volunteer hours. Wings of Change is always free and all of our amazing facilitators generously give their time every month (sometimes several times a month) to make sure that meetings are held and that community heroes know that they are not alone, but Katherine goes above and beyond her role to make sure that this program excels and follows guidelines set out my the Mental Health Commission of Canada. Katherine’s model has even been named a Thriving Peer Support Organization in Canada by Peer Support Canada and Wilfred Laurier University! 

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Among many things, Katherine has:

  • Created a peer support knowledge exchange;
  • Organized and facilitates peer learning for the facilitators;
  • Established guidelines based off of the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s best practices for peer support;
  • Developed templates for presentations;
  • Developed Google classrooms where facilitators can obtain video guidance and trouble-shooting examples;
  • Developed a framework to help grow chapters across the nation.

She makes sure that every meeting has at least two qualified facilitators, and has grown the Wings of Change family to include the following cities:

Ontario

Barrie
Bracebridge
Brantford
Chatham-Kent
Grey Bruce
Goderich
Kitchener
Lindsay
Mississauga
Niagara Falls
North Durham
Northumberland
Orillia
Ottawa
Peterborough
Sarnia-Lambton
Southern Georgian Bay
Sudbury
York Region
Woodstock

New Brunswick
Dieppe
Miramichi

Prince Edward Island
Charlottetown

 

WE ARE WORKING TO LAUNCH NEW CHAPTERS ACROSS CANADA. STAY TUNED FOR MORE DETAILS
Calgary, AB
Kelowna, BC
Langley, BC
Petawawa, ON
Portage la Prairie, MB
Red Deer, AB
South Durham, ON
St. John’s, NL
Trenton, ON
Vancouver Island, BC
Windsor, ON
Whitehorse, YK
Whiterock, BC

Without Katherine’s dedication and unwavering commitment to Wings of Change, we would not be where we are in three short years!

I would love for people to share a testimonial (anonymous if you wish) about how Wings of Change has affected your life! Let’s let Katherine and the amazing facilitators know how much their hard work is paying off!

You can find more information about Wings of Change here.

 

Career Fulfillment

The feeling of career fulfillment – ahhhhh – like a post-turkey-dinner nap, or a gold-star-stamped exam – it feels wonderful doesn’t it? In essence it satisfies our being – and who doesn’t want that feeling? I know I sure do.

I had that feeling for many years as I zipped up my black steel-toed work boots and buttoned my advanced care paramedic epaulettes onto my uniform shirt. I had that feeling when I showed a paramedic student how to start an intravenous (IV) line and when I saw their eyes light up when I placed their hands in the proper place to feel that a patient’s pulse had returned. I had that feeling when I held a patient’s hand in the back of a bumpy ambulance as we drove them to the cardiac care centre to have the blockage removed that was causing them to have a heart attack. I had it when a healthy baby was born, and even when I stood frozen from the cold wind on the side of a highway waiting for a patient to be extricated from a car.

For me, career fulfillment didn’t come easily. It took a lot of endurance and hard work to become a paramedic, and alas, it was fleeting. What fulfills my life has changed since I was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a double murder call I was a paramedic at in 2012. And finding that feeling of fulfillment again took me quite a long time because sadly I placed all of my worth into being a paramedic and forgot that I was still a human being under my uniform.

The truth is, just when you think life has set you on a path of endless happiness, an unexpected fork in the road appears, and pulls you down a path you didn’t choose – or did you? That path may be dark, and filled with thorn-covered, tangled vines in which you have to navigate around, through, and under, careful not to cut yourself or get suffocated with. At some point the path may be filled with hopelessness…until one day a glimmer of light appears through the mess, and you suddenly remember that life can be fulfilling again.

Career fulfillment has returned to my life – I now I share my recovery story with the world. I let people know that there is hope and happiness after a major career change; sometimes happiness you never could have imagined if you didn’t make that change. I now have the opportunity to watch people grow through peer support meetings I helped to create called, Wings of Change, (a free solution-based peer support model that demonstrates to the meeting goers that they are not alone and that recovery can be a beautiful path.)

Now I get to listen to stories of enlightenment when someone finds a break in the binding chains of PTSD. I get to witness heartwarming moments of recovery. I get to say I have a voice again, and best of all, I get to witness other’s find theirs. I may not walk in paramedic boots anymore, but I have been blessed to now walk beside those who still do.

Resources And Advice From WOC (Anonymous) Members

On this episode of BrainStorm, I share advice and resources provided by anonymous members of Wings Of Change Peer Support. 

 

Check out these books written by Natalie Harris

Daily Lessons from Save My Life School: Here

Save My Life School: Here

 

This episode of BrainStorm is brought to you by The Homewood Health Clinic Mississauga 

 

 

BrainStorm by Natalie Harris is proudly produced by PodcastWagon.com

 

Resolving Resentments and Changing Fear to Faith

On this episode of BrainStorm, I am excited to share a spiritual experience I had with my sponsor. You will hear the happiness in my voice. 

 

Check out these books Written by Natalie Harris

Daily Lessons from Save My Life School: Here

Save My Life School: Here

 

This episode of BrainStorm is brought to you by The Homewood Health Clinic Mississauga 

 

 

BrainStorm by Natalie Harris is proudly produced by PodcastWagon.com

 

Reason And Season For Change

On this episode of BrainStorm I share about how sometimes it takes time to have the proverbial ‘door open’ and that is ok. I thank my wonderful friends from Wings Of Change for reminding me of that. 

 

Books Written by Natalie Harris

Daily Lessons from Save My Life School: Here

Save My Life School: Here

 

This episode of BrainStorm is brought to you by The Homewood Health Clinic Mississauga 

 

 

BrainStorm by Natalie Harris is proudly produced by PodcastWagon.com

Looking Towards The Future

On this episode of BrainStorm: I share my thoughts on envisioning the future and how that can be difficult for people with mental illness and injury. 

Books

Daily Lessons from Save My Life School: Here

Save My Life School: Here

 

BrainStorm by Natalie Harris is proudly produced by PodcastWagon.com

 

Action! CBC Documentary

On this episode of BrainStorm: I share my kids and my experiences with being interviewed over several days for a documentary on PTSD in Paramedics. And … I saw AB!

Books

Daily Lessons from Save My Life School: Here

Save My Life School: Here

BrainStorm by Natalie Harris is proudly produced by PodcastWagon.com

Dealing With The Winter Darkness

On this episode of BrainStorm: I discuss dealing with the winter darkness and helping yourself through Seasonal Affective Disorder. 

Books

Daily Lessons from Save My Life School: Here

Save My Life School: Here

 

BrainStorm by Natalie Harris is proudly produced by PodcastWagon.com

 

Changes In Friendships

On this episode of BrainStorm: I discuss how changes are sometimes ok and do not need to be viewed as a loss. 

Books

Daily Lessons from Save My Life School: Here

Save My Life School: Here

BrainStorm by Natalie Harris is proudly produced by PodcastWagon.com

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