Search

Paramedic Nat

A Blog About My Mental Health Journey

Category

Uncategorized

“After The Sirens” Award Nomination

After The Sirens

I am so happy to announce that “After The Sirens” has been nominated for Best Documentary by the Canadian Academy Screen Awards! Congratulations Kevin Eastwood and the whole production crew. Also a huge congratulations to Don Devine and Clive Derbyshire who were also featured in the film. I am honoured to have participated in this amazing production; it has been a major component of my recovery.

The event date is March 26th.

Misconceptions About Addiction (My Opinion)

I have realized that there are still many opportunities for education surrounding misconceptions about addiction. As a recovered addict myself, I would like to share some of these with you.

  1. “Success” looks the same for addicts and non-addicts. As a non-addict, you may believe that success to an addict is recovery. When in fact, success to them may look like, having a shower, eating food, finding a clean needle, not overdosing, keeping their children safe, finding safe shelter, finding work, making it to work, not dying. We shouldn’t impose our success labels on others.
  2. Addicts just need to go to detox and they will get better. In order to be able to get a bed at a detox centre, several things have to occur. The addict needs to call themselves and ask for help (no one is allowed to do this for them), there needs to be a bed available (just today I witnessed a friend have to call back six times because there were no beds available), they need to not be intoxicated (detoxes require individuals to be clean to a certain extent, this may mean that the person requires hospitalization or withdrawal time prior to going to detox).
  3. Hospitals provide long-term addiction treatment. Hospitals are meant to provide emergent care and often do not have enough beds for patients requiring addiction related treatment. This can often lead to long wait times in waiting rooms, and with paramedics. When the patient is seen by a doctor, they are not necessarily admitted (this depends on many factors decided upon by the doctor and patient).
  4. Addiction is a choice and is not like other diseases. Addiction is a disease like any other disease. Addicts become such for many different reasons, (just like people acquire other diseases for many different reasons), one such reason being past trauma (physical and psychological). No one chooses to be an addict, it is a manifestation of physiological, psychological and social factors.
  5. Safe injection sites will encourage people to become addicts and only enable addiction. I know that this point is a touchy subject for many, but in my experience, and through listening to many lived experience stories, these sites are most often used by longterm drug users and do not encourage drug use – the use was already going to happen – just possibly not safely, and safe injection sites prevent the transmission of viruses such as hepatitis, HIV and bacterial infections that may cause heart inflammation, and localized and systemic skin infections.
  6. Addicts are dangerous and cause crime. I never broke a law as an addict. My drugs were legal and often prescribed (that’s a whole other topic of debate in itself). Yes, many drugs are illegal, but that does not make every addict dangerous. Yes, addiction can lead to illegal actions and crime, but many addicts do not fit into this category.

Do you have any points to add? I would love to hear them. Let’s all work together to educate one another and share lived experiences so that stigma can be smashed and acceptance and love can be promoted. We are all in this together.

You Deserve An Abundance Of Joy

joy-choose.jpg

Did you know that you deserve an abundance of joy in your life? If you said, “no”, you probably haven’t forgiven yourself for something in your past. Guilt is a good hider of joy. You may feel like you don’t deserve happiness when you have harmed others in one way, shape, or form. Well, what if I told you that if you learn how to forgive yourself, you will be able to accept the all the joy that this life has to offer you. Rather than smothering yourself in self-pity and shame, you can forgive yourself and cultivate joy.

I know what you’re thinking – easier said than done Natalie; and I agree. Forgiveness requires patience and kindness to form an intricate dance together; a dance that represents freedom and acceptance. And sometimes patience and kindness wait along the gym wall, nervous to ask one another to dance. But when they have the courage to do so, the music of peace gets played all around them.

It’s not until you forgive yourself that you can truly be able to be happy. You are worthy of forgiveness. You are! Don’t let the liar mind of guilt convince you otherwise! When you look in the rear view mirror, all that you should be able to see is how far you’ve come. You are not supposed to be looking back in regret.

In my 12-step meetings we talk a lot about making amends – cleaning our side of the street. If we left a tornado of destruction all around us while we travelled down this road of life, we should apologize for it and then move on; not letting guilt convince us that we need to continue to carry it around like a ball and chain. And the more you practice to make amends quickly when you do wrong, the smaller the tornado will be and therefore the smaller mess it will leave behind.

Making what we call a ‘living amends’ means to live your life doing the next right thing. We can’t always apologize for our actions face-to-face at times, but we can live a better life and wish love to those you have harmed.

I make a living amends everyday to my kids for what I put them through when I was first diagnosed with PTSD. My actions are what keep them having faith in me, not my words. The rear view mirror of my life, as well as the road in front of me, are filled with joy because I choose to forgive myself and to not ruminate in toxic guilt. My kids want to see me happy, not miserable and filled with regret. So I work hard on my recovery every day and show them that they can trust that I am always doing my best to heal and to accept joy into my life. This in turn teaches them how to do the same.

What a beautiful gift recovery can be. I now know that I am deserving of an abundance of joy now, and it feels wonderful. Joy and forgiveness in, sadness and guilt out – one day at a time.

 

 

A Nice Day For Art

This Stethoscope…

50411424_10161550552965624_7371372303344467968_n.jpg

This Stethoscope… Was bought in 2001, when I was a paramedic student;

Has listened to thousands of lung sounds;

Has made sure the nebulized epinephrine was working on a pediatric patient;

Has listened to heartbeats after bringing people back to life;

Has been around my neck while I crawled into crushed cars;

Has pronounced many deaths;

Has listened to the cries of a newborn baby;

Has dangled around my neck while doing CPR;

Has been at a double murder, and auscultated the chest of the murderer;

Has helped to perform blood pressures on patients having a heart attack;

Has heard nothing sometimes, causing me to perform chest needles;

Has been wiped clean of blood after treating a patient with shotgun and stab wounds;

Has been around my neck while I told families that their loved one had died;

Has been dropped in a ditch where patients in a rolled over car waited for extrication;

Has been present for many air ambulance calls on the highway;

Has shown students how to trust that they hear no air entry;

Has been present in thousands of stranger’s homes;

Has been hidden under protective equipment at hazardous material calls;

Has been with me while driving lights and sirens more time than I could ever count,

Has been there when I held many patient’s hands;

Has been with me when I cried after after pediatric calls;

Has been present when I treated patients with strokes, diabetes, and amputated body parts;

Has been hidden in a box for a while now;

Has represented so much loss for me for a long time;

Has inspired me to tell this story;

Now hangs on my wall in front of Bill 163;

Doesn’t make me cry anymore;

This stethoscope will be a memory holder for the rest of my life and I will not hide it anymore.

Walter Loves Pastels Too

Depression vs Sadness

img_9424-2

*Important note about this post – if you are feeling suicidal or like you want to harm yourself, please reach out and ask for help. Call 911 or your local crisis line. You are not alone. Help is out there. Canadian Crisis Line

Sadness: It seems nice outside, maybe I should go for a walk.

Depression: You may say it’s nice outside, but all I see is darkness.

Sadness: Maybe I should eat something to cheer myself up?

Depression: What is food and water?

Sadness: I will just go for a drive to take my mind off of things.

Depression: Drive where? And why? My thoughts are with me wherever I go.

Sadness: I will go to a friend’s house to chat about gratitude.

Depression: Gratitude is just a word, because I don’t know how to feel it.

Sadness: I’m not suicidal, I’m afraid of death.

Depression: I welcome death. It’s all I think about.

Sadness: A bubble bath will cheer me up.

Depression: I haven’t showered in a week and I definitely don’t care.

Sadness: I know that there are good things in life.

Depression: I am incapable of feeling joy even if ‘good things’ are all around me.

Sadness: There’s a light at the end of this tunnel.

Depression: The light at the end of my tunnel is very different and ominous.

Sadness: Hope

Depression: Despair

Sadness: Often attached to a sad event.

Depression: Comes. Out. Of. Nowhere. And tackles me to the ground. Every muscle in my body is frozen and moving a finger feels like I’m lifting the hate-filled universe.

Sadness: Breathing is slow.

Depression: Breathing hurts; mentally and physically.

img_9414-1

Dear Paramedic Student,

IMG_6608

To the paramedic student,

You will think you can save everyone; you can’t.

You will learn how to eat an entire meal while walking from the station to the ambulance; who needs to chew anyways?

Nightgowns will be your nemesis; trust me.

You will question if you can defibrillate in the rain; can you?

You will hold many stranger’s hands; respect this opportunity.

You will question humanity after a pediatric VSA; that’s ok – you are not alone in this.

You will think that talking about your feelings makes you weak; it doesn’t.

You will learn the ‘vomit-look’ and be able to unwrap an emesis bag faster than you can blink an eye; you’ll know you have ‘made it’ when you can do this.

You will have your hands frozen to the metal of the stretcher when you are on the side of the highway in a snow storm; be grateful for quick-connects.

You will run out of sterile water when you are irrigating a burn; thank God for pain meds.

You will wonder how the heck could the senior guy/girl know more about anatomy than you? Remember, they have put anatomy back together on the side of a road; they know their stuff.

You will get lazy and not wash the truck; wash the damn truck.

You will step in things you cannot recognize; don’t wear your boots in your own home.

One of the best sounds you will hear is a newborn crying; then you will breathe.

You will wade through bloody mud to reach a trapped driver; they have been waiting to see your face.

The last sense that leaves an unconscious patient is sound; talk to them.

Google ‘agonal breathing’; you need to know what this looks like so you don’t mistake it.

You will think you’ve seen it all; trust me, you haven’t.

You will think you are the luckiest person in the world to have the career you do; you are.

~Nat

Coping Tips For The Holidays

On this episode of BrainStorm I share some of my tips on how to make it through the holidays if you are feeling down.

Check Out These Books Written by Natalie Harris:

📚 Brainstorm Revolution: Here

📚 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

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: