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Paramedic Nat

A Blog About My Mental Health Journey

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Having Faith In Transformation

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I’ve heard people from all generations mock social websites like Facebook..and to be fair, I have been known to take a Facebook hiatus or two. But when I think of the amazing transformations it allows us to see in ourselves and others, I’m super thankful that it exists. Yes, before we could waste the day away Googling anything imaginable, we would spend more time pulling out the old photo albums and have a good laugh at when we use to wear our bang’s feathered, hyper-colour Vuarnet shirts, jelly bracelets up both arms, and off-the-shoulder ‘Thriller’ shirts covered in sparkles. Wait a minute…well at least those are pictures of me. But before the world-wide-web came along, we never had the opportunity to witness the transformations of our loved ones and friends to the level we are so accustomed to now.

Yes, not everyone is like me and wants to see 347 kindergarden graduation photos every June, but when you really think about it, what an amazing gift it is to actually have these shared with us! To be allowed a glimpse into our loved one’s moments of pride, happiness, and even sorrow is a blessing. Furthermore, these sites give us permission to ‘share’ our reactions to transformations we would have normally never experienced if we all didn’t update our ‘status’ on a daily basis (or hourly, depending on who you are) :).

Transformation is what we are! Tomorrow we won’t be the same person as today. We all transform through experiences, and mould our dreams with faith that we will one day be that spouse, parent, friend or successful person we imagine we can be. And how cool is it that we get to witness these transformations in others with a click of a mouse. I can definitely attest to the power of sharing our transformations with the world. Every blog and honest word I’ve written and shared has profoundly disarmed my mental illnesses. One word at a time I have had the opportunity to fracture the shell of stigma my mind so barely existed in, and see that beautiful healing is possible by having faith in transformation.

Faith often sounds like a passive word. ‘Oh, just have faith’, makes it seem like it’s something we just need to remind ourselves to do, and them BAM we’re doing it. I disagree. I believe that faith takes courage and determination. It takes passion and hope. And above all, it takes trust. If we have faith in our ability to grow and transform into the happiest form of ourselves possible, we need to trust our instincts and listen to that little voice that always seems to be guiding us down the right path. But the difficulty with faith is that during our transformations very often we need to trudge through the darkness before we even come close to seeing the light, and this is scary and uncomfortable. Faith may need to take us far out of our comfort-zone, and moving out of that zone takes a heck of a lot of courage. But at the end of the day, our options with transformation are only one of two; we transform into what we want to be, or we transform into someone we will eventually barely even recognize.

If I hadn’t had faith in even the potential of transforming into a healthy person through this blog, I would still be SO sick. I needed to trust that my instincts to open up, and become completely vulnerable were right. I was lucky to have had loving people support and encourage me to do so, and yes not everyone has this blessing, but I still needed to sit in front of this computer, write the first blog, and…press….send. Gulp! With one click I was catapulted out of my comfort-zone! And with one click, I began to heal.

So what do you think more faith in your life would look and feel like? What is holding you back from stepping outside of your comfort-zone? What vision of transformation of yourself do you have in your heart that you haven’t truly considered as possible yet? You may have heard the verse from the Bible, “Faith without works is dead”, and whether you’re religious or not is irrelevant to deciphering it’s meaning. Simply put, it’s another reminder that faith isn’t a passive word; to reap it’s immeasurable benefits it requires action. One foot in front of the other…through the darkness of doubt. In order to transform into a person who’s truly happy with their life, we need to have the courage to ‘press send’, and not just when we are on Facebook posting a kindergarden pic. 🙂

Compassion vs. Attachment

young-couple-holding-hands One day while being enlightened in Buddhist class, the topic of ‘compassion’ came up. I was all ears when the teacher shared how in the Buddhist culture compassion for all living beings comes from a wish that all are well, very much like love. But after listening for a while, I felt frustration bubbling up inside of me, and I was compelled to put up my hand to make what I thought was going to be an excellent point!…My poor sister-in-law pretty much counts down the minutes every time we go until I make my so-called ‘excellent point’. Some things never change… Sorry Mandy 😉 I announced that I agree that the idea of compassion sounds wonderful, but, too much compassion made me sick! Being a paramedic involves compassion to some extent every day! And after 12 years of compassion, I developed post traumatic stress disorder…so how is compassion good for anything? Bam! I thought I had delivered a zinger! But then, like the calm beautiful woman she is, the teacher gently replied, “Compassion never made you sick. Attachment did“. WOW! Put your hand down Natalie!… 

What a compelling statement! I had NEVER thought of it that way! But it made complete sense! Compassion is what made me a paramedic…I have no doubt about that! Witnessing my mom being cared for by smiling compassionate paramedics back when she had seizures on a regular basis is what inspired me to become a paramedic myself. But over the years, my attachment to even the potential of the successful outcome of a call, made me sick when I was not able to achieve the happy ending I seemed to always looked for. Even though I was very much aware of the limitations of any skill or directive I possessed, my goal going in to a call was to ‘win’ every time…and realistically, those ‘wins’ can be rare.

So this brings me to another thought. How can I be sure that I am not attached to the outcome of advice I give through this blog? When does it get to the point that I too get pulled under when I am trying to save someone who’s drowning in the dark sea of mental illness? I think I found my answer today while once again chatting with my sister-in-law…drum-roll!…I’ve gone too far when I feel co-dependency has occurred.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with what co-dependency is, in short, it’s an excessive reliance on other people’s help which eventually enables the person’s illness, inevitably discouraging recovery. For example, the adult child who still lives at home and has his or her parent(s) provide everything they need to survive lives in a co-dependent relationship. The excessive help these parents give, actually discourages their child’s recovery from extreme dependence. The problem with the development of co-dependency is that it’s usually not a quick double-drowning! It’s more like a slow safe rescue in your rescue boat, but when you’re not looking, during your hopeful journey to shore, the person you rescued is adding a cup of water to the boat, and over time, you unexpectedly both sink! Sigh!…

Yes, the purpose of my blog is to help others, and to deliver compassion; I hope that goes without saying! It’s to help me, and it’s to help you. But what I need to remember is that my help doesn’t give me the right to champion other people’s success. Furthermore, beyond my ability to give you good directions, I have no right to map out your journey…because it’s just that…YOUR JOURNEY. I will never stop cheering you on, and I will wait for you at the finish-line. But by only being your coach, the medal at the end of the race belongs to only you.

Looking back on my years as a paramedic, I WISH I had viewed the outcome of my calls in this much healthier, less attached way. I can hold the wish that my patients are well when I leave the call, be they in life or death, but when I pack up my bags and drive to the next call, I can’t be attached to the outcome. When we’ve done all we can do, compassion should only bring us peace, it should never hurt.

I like to believe that as I drive my rescue boat around looking for people to help, that I have at least started a ripple in the water which will spread for years and years. But when my boat is full, I may have to limit my help to a shout of encouragement over the dark sea. And if my boat starts to sink, I will need to detach in a healthy way, and hope that I taught you to swim. And when you finish your journey and reach the shore, let me know, and we can guide the rescue boat together…Heck, I’ll even get you your own! 😉

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