In lieu of all expectations, let me be of help to you.
We matter to each other. We are social beings longing for connection. The power of connectivity gives us purpose. We feel strong when we are not going-it alone. Heat and hostility can be cooled and soothed when we join together. Anger can be turned into hope and dedication. Let’s face it, when we leave somewhere, we want to be missed and hoped to return. Finding our best judgement can be better attained when we listen to all opinions and concerns. When we do things together, with patience, happiness is our destiny. Equality equals endless opportunity for all. Sincerely I tell you, together we can change the world.
I lived in the dark for so long. My view, covered with a veil of depression, used to only see black and white. I craved and prayed to be able to see the colours of this world again; like through the eyes of a child. But for so long I isolated away from the light; alone, and cold. Depression and PTSD made vibrancy non-existent. And I was sure that’s how it would stay forever.
It’s taken some time, and a lot of work, but now I see the reds, blues and yellows of this vibrant world. I see hope and happiness and love – finally. Does darkness come creeping back into my life sometimes? – Yes. But I keep days of colour like today in my back pocket, like a tattered pictured of a loved one that you cherish, ready and waiting to remind me that I will one day see a small beam of light through the cracked fortress of sadness.
I’m no longer blinded by PTSD. I’m thriving in my new purposeful life. I still wear my earplugs to keep my amygdala at bay, but generally speaking I am overall symptom free. Recovery is possible if you choose a path filled with colour. Purples, oranges and greens will fill you with joy when you are able to open your eyes.
Today I danced in the sunshine with my daughter. We laughed and sang and ate good food. We celebrated spring and all of the newness it represents. We became colourful humans – and for once, I felt colourful both inside and out.
On this episode of BrainStorm I share blogs about my memories of being a paramedic and I wish ALL of the paramedics out there a happy paramedic week!
Check Out These Books by Natalie Harris
📚 Brainstorm Revolution: Here
📚 Daily Lessons from Save My Life School: Here
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This episode of BrainStorm is brought to you by The Homewood Health Clinic Mississauga
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Addiction isn’t 9-5
As you may already know, I am fighting hard (with many amazing people) to tackle the opioid crisis in Barrie. I have had the privilege to work alongside many talented and dedicated doctors and specialists. I have sat at boardroom tables and asked questions…and even more questions. I want the answers to this crisis so bad, and I know that it will take an army of people to solve it. And members of this army include people with lived experience with addiction. I don’t see many of these people when I am in boardrooms, and I think that THIS is a critical missing piece to the crisis puzzle.
One day, while sitting at said boardroom table with doctors and specialists, I asked why the Rapid Access Addiction Medicine (RAAM) clinics are only open two hours…that’s correct, I said TWO hours a day for drop in? And only 9-5 for appointments. You see, I am one of those lived experience individuals. I am a recovered addict and I can tell you with 100 % certainty that my addiction isn’t with me for two hours a day. This huge gap in this service needs to be addressed! My addiction is ever present in my blood. It tries to fool me into drinking and abusing my drugs again. It still tells me that I’m worthless and that people would be better off without me (sidebar – I’m safe, don’t worry!) My addiction is conniving and sneaky and as they say at my 12 step meetings, it’s doing push-ups while I stay sober, just waiting to hit me hard one day.
Hearing that the RAAM clinic was only open for two hours a day broke my heart. Some people don’t have a car and it would take them two hours just to get there by bus! I am told that the hours are so low because they don’t have enough staff to operate it – well I say let’s find some. Addiction is 24/7, and available care should be too.
Are you a mental health and/or addiction specialist who lives in the Barrie area? Email me! Natalie.Harris@barrie.ca
I can’t promise anything except that I will submit your name and resume to the RAAM. Thank you!
I, like thousands of others, have recently watched the latest Brene Brown documentary on Netflix. And while doing so, this particular quote jumped out and hit me in the face!
“If you’re not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback”
I think she is referring to negative feedback – but I could be wrong. She may be referring to all types of feedback. Regardless, I could relate to it. I could feel the examples she gave of hurtful people throwing punches from outside of the arena where they are safe from ever truly wrestling with life themselves. I could relate to the feeling of confusion when someone can’t see that I am already fighting in the arena and I could be fighting for them, not against them – if they would let me. But, not everyone wants to be helped – remember that.
When I’m not interested in hearing negative feedback, I simply block the person. In fact, I was chatting with a friend today, and I shared with her that ‘blocking’ people on social media is sometimes necessary and the right thing to do. It’s not mean; it’s an element of personal survival sometimes. And to be fair, I’m certain that people have blocked me too. BUT, I believe the difference between my block and theirs is that I block hate, and they block the possibility of seeing themselves in my own PTSD. I know this to be true because people have told me this.
Being in the arena can take a lot out of you. I used to be in the paramedic arena, and now I’m in the political arena (not sure which is harder…lol) and I get metaphorical punches to the face from time to time. I actually mentally prepared myself for this if I were to win the election – which I did. Preparation came from knocking on all of the 5600 doors in my ward and speaking with my neighbours. Overall, people were wonderful! But I did have a few tell me that they hated my tattoos, (more so who told me they like them), and that they weren’t happy with one thing or the other to do with the City. I had to let these comments bounce off of me; so I did. And no matter what, I never stepped out of the arena even when the punches were coming at me non-stop. Furthermore, I have learned that I actually thrive in the arena, and I absolutely love being there.
I read every email I receive, and when they are riddled with anger, I can totally see that the individual needs their concerns validated and they ultimately need my help – so I give it. BUT, some people are not just angry, they are relentlessly mean. They punch from outside of the arena, but would never in a million years enter into it themselves. That’s where Brene’s quote comes in for me. If you throw suggestions and concerns into the arena; I will catch them and address them – that’s my job. But if you are spitting and lying and punching me with hate outside of the arena, I won’t continue to respond. I will use my energy to help those who require it and will fight for their needs.
I teach the necessity of ‘blocking’ to my kids, so why wouldn’t I practice what I preach? BUT, equally as important, I also teach them to send out love to the person they blocked; so that they don’t build a resentment towards them. That’s easier said than done when the people they/we block is/are a bully. “How am I supposed to send out love to a bully mom?” They have asked. “Slowly”. I reply.
You see, blocking someone on social media is a powerful demonstration of the boundaries you are absolutely allowed to set. And when I block toxic people, I am simply making room for amazing new people. I believe we teach people how to treat us. So, if I block you because you are relentlessly mean, I am teaching you that I will not stand for that and that I deserve happiness and positivity.
Don’t feel bad for setting boundaries. And remember to look around the arena from time to time to see that others are fighting too. Acknowledge them and thank them for being in the arena with you. The more fighters the better! That’s how positive change happens! And if you see a new person enter the arena because they have changed their perspective and want to be a fighter too, welcome them with open arms – even if they were one of the people on the outside throwing punches at one point – I have known this to have happened too.
To the people I have blocked: I have zero resentments towards you and I truly wish you happiness and wellness…from afar.
Thank you. Xo
I’m not athletic. So much so that my chances at receiving a medal in school for being athletic were nil. I remember signing up for track and field as a spare when I was in grade 8, only because I got to miss a day of school; I had zero intentions of actually running, or throwing, or whatever else you do at those things. But on this particular day, Susan got a nosebleed and I was up to run the 800 meter race! Sweet baby Jesus! I didn’t even know how far 800 meters was! I begged that the teachers pick someone else…but I was it; no other spares signed up. It was up to me and my New Kids On The Block t-shirt to run (hahaha…that’s funny) the 800 meter race. Long story short, I was last place and walked the majority of the laps around the track while people clapped and giggled and as I thought I would die from embarrassment. Oh, I also participated in cross country once and came in second last…only because my best friend Sandra had an asthma attack. That’s horrible! Oh the memories!
Needless to say, medals were never in the cards for me…or so I thought. Until the other day I came upon a bunch of speaker name-tag lanyards I have received over the years at conferences and events. And clumped together they looked like…medals. My medals. They of course are just plastic and paper, but to me they are as priceless as gold. As I looked at each one, I remembered the event (as well as I could) and said thank you to the universe for allowing me the opportunity to, a) still be on this planet, and b) to have had the chance to show people that even through the darkest times, recovery is possible.
I smiled as I hung each one back around my neck. They represent talks that I have given literally across this great country of ours. They represent healing and passion. And most of all, the represent hope.
So, as I stood in front of the mirror to take a selfie for this blog, I thought to myself, I may not ever adorn real medals like Olympian Michael Phelps and Clara Hughes, but to me, those pieces of paper sure do remind me that I have won.