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Paramedic Nat

A Blog About My Mental Health Journey

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Depression vs Sadness

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*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.

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Dear Paramedic Student,

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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

Natalie’s Community Goals

via Natalie’s Community Goals

The Welcome Mat

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Have you ever walked around your neighbourhood, alone, knocking on doors and talking to strangers for hours? I have. Welcome to a day in the life of a City Councillor hopeful.

I see a lot of bugs on my campaigning walks. Moths, grasshoppers, butterflies and bees drift and jump aimlessly around the bushes that line the pathways to homes of my neighbours. I’ve learned that people like figurines of owls, dogs and frogs. And that apparently “pedlars” knock on people’s doors too – and that that is frowned upon.

These experiences have offered me so many raw and real lessons. Vulnerability at its finest, I feel, is standing on a porch with dogs barking behind the door, sweating in the hot sun, fixing my hair in the door’s reflection, taking off my sunglasses, stepping back a bit after I ring the bell so that the person feels they have some personal space, smiling and preparing to talk about … anything. Absolutely anything.

I’ve gathered so many great ideas on how to improve my community from these amazing strangers. I have also learned that a welcome mat, a hockey net and a comfy chair on a porch put me at ease for some reason.

Have I skipped across a lawn or two, but told myself I wasn’t going to? Yes. I should really stop that.

So far this journey has been amazing.

Covered in Art

I love getting my hands covered in art.

Stigma Alive And Well

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When did it become a competition as to who has worse mental health and who deserves help more?
These are photos from a post made about my daughter. Stigma is still alive and well – sadly.
This person is sick too and deserves help. But hate doesn’t need to be spread – no matter what.
Lessons I have learned over my recovery:
1. People who spread hate are hurting and need help and compassion – but that doesn’t condone their actions.
2. You are allowed to make healthy boundaries. You can always send love from afar.
3. It’s ok to take space and not reply to posts right away – that doesn’t mean you don’t appreciate and value them.
4. You will never please everyone.
5. Resentments only make pain worse. Forgiveness takes strength and brings peace.

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“What A Different Day That Could Be”

“We have a tendency to identify with our limitations.” Gen Kelsang Suma, Jampa Ling Kadampa Buddhist Centre. 

What a powerful and true statement spoken by one of the teachers at the Buddhist Centre in my hometown. I can definitely relate to this statement as I, for many years, have been identifying as a paramedic…who can’t be on the road anymore. Rather than simply sharing that I am a paramedic (because technically I still am), for a very long time I felt the need to add my limitation to the description of what I do. Many people have challenged me on this and have shared that they feel that I don’t need to identify as such because I still help people on many levels and that I am a paramedic at heart forever, and I appreciate these people and their kindness very much. But how can I change this opinion of myself permanently? How can I change my description of what I do to something new and positive like, an advocate for mental health and public speaker, and be ok with that? Well I learned the answer to this question at the Buddhist Centre too.

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“Our life IS the path to enlightenment.” Gen Kelsang Suma, Jampa Ling Kadampa Buddhist Centre. 

Rather than embarking on a path of self-pity because I’m, “not on the road anymore” as a paramedic, I need to be mindful that the path I am on, and have already travelled down, IS the path I NEED to be on in order to achieve the best version of me, a.k.a. enlightenment. Sure, the cultivation of new abilities and experiences takes time, but the path that is required to do so doesn’t need to seem like a life-sentence of horror and pain. Ok, let’s face it, we all have experienced a painful path in some way, but re-travelling it over and over with the high beams shining on the limitations it has caused us will only make us veer off the road to recovery and growth. When I am able to enjoy where I am on the path right now, today, I will be at ease with any part of my past.

”What a different day that could become”, Gen Kelsang Suma, Jampa Ling Kadampa Buddhist Centre. 

Delighting in the opportunities that present themselves along our life-path can change our outlook as to what is actually a limitation at all. If I saw PTSD as the pathway to the many beautiful and amazing experiences I have had since being diagnosed, I wouldn’t be angry at PTSD anymore. If I simply lived in the moment and soaked up the sunshine of a day without depression, I wouldn’t need to feel loss of my career anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t wish PTSD on my worst enemy – what I do wish for is that everyone had the ability to reframe painful experiences from hopeless disasters, to seeds of possible growth. Changing our perspective sure can change our entire day.

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Go Fund Me – Mental Health Revolution

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Would you like to help out with our mental health revolution? Click here for more information!

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