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Paramedic Nat

A Blog About My Mental Health Journey

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Peer Support Focus Group Invitation

Hello All!

I’m looking for some very important people to comprise an anonymous focus group for the review of the Peer Support Group model I, with the support of the Canadian Mental Health Association have created.
As I have briefly mentioned in the past at my event and on social media, a model for a solution-based, community support and discussion group for first responders, military members, communications officers, and healthcare providers who are, or have had, difficulty coping with the traumatic calls/events often experienced in their daily work environment has been successfully developed.
While an employer may be providing this group’s information as a resource they sanction, they are not directly affiliated with this group, nor are any professional therapists of any kind. This informal group is anonymous, and only facilitated by peers experiencing similar struggles with traumatic calls/events, and does not require the diagnosis of a mental illness such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to attend.
Each meeting (frequency to be determined by focus group) will provide a safe environment to interact and discuss the maintenance and improvement of mental health with relation to these essential professions. The extent of an individual’s participation in each group is entirely up to them. Professional assessment and care is not provided in this group, but is always advised. It is my personal experience that whether an individual chooses to attend these types of groups to simply listen and learn, or interact with peers, that they can obtain the understanding, support, and respect necessary to heal from trauma, thus improving career longevity as well as overall health.
Relevant and current evidence-based research is being used to establish a foundation for the group, and it is probable that an evaluation strategy will be incorporated into this program.
I have been invited to Calgary to present this model to first responder services in the early new year, so it is my goal to have the focus group feedback collected within the next few weeks.
Focus group members will participate in feedback with regards to all aspects of the group. I certainly appreciate the offer of anyone’s valuable time to participate, but for optimal feedback results I am asking that only those who are having, or have had, difficulty coping with traumatic calls/events in their daily work environment apply.
Five members have already been selected (3 paramedics from various services, 1 RN, and 1 police officer) and I am hoping to have fire fighters, communications officers, military members, and other healthcare providers as part of the focus group as well.
Please reply to me via personal message if you are interested in obtaining more information about the group model, and/or are interested in applying for a focus group position.
Thank you for your support and encouragement! Stay tuned for more information ❤️ My email address is: natalie8816@hotmail.com
Mission: Through non-stigmatized fellowship and education, our mission is to encourage a new outlook where the need to be comfortable with uncomfortable, no longer exists.

Paramedic Nat’s Evening for Mental Health Photo Album

Hi Everyone! I wanted to share some of the pictures taken by photographer Paul Viscoff at my event (Paramedic Nat’s Evening for Mental Health) held on October 14th, 2015. The evening was a huge success and raised over $3100 for the Tema Conter Memorial Trust. The Master of Ceremonies was the amazing Ozz from Rock 95, and special guests included, Vince Savoia (Founder of the Tema Conter Memorial Trust), Andrew Robert (Chief of the County of Simcoe Paramedic Services), Kimberly Greenwood (Chief of the Barrie Police Department), John Lynn (Chief of the Barrie Fire Department), Kevin White (From the Barrie Fire Fighter Association) and Dan Marouelli (Former NHL Referee). Thank you to EVERYONE who made the night possible! I hope that it’s the first of many <3

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I Am Still Human…

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I share my lessons so you can learn; that doesn’t mean I’m not learning.

I share my joys so you can smile; that doesn’t mean I don’t cry.

I share my victories so you can have hope; that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle.

I share my visions so you can see too; that doesn’t mean I’m not doubtful.

I share my words from numerous friends; that doesn’t mean I don’t have enemies.

I share my experiences so you don’t feel alone; that doesn’t mean I’m not lonely.

I share my illnesses so you can relate; that doesn’t mean I don’t feel stigma.

I share my love so you can feel loved; that doesn’t protect me from hate.

I share my recovery so you can believe, that doesn’t mean that I’m cured.

I share how I breathe so you can too; that doesn’t mean I don’t feel suffocated.

I share because that’s who I am; that doesn’t mean all will agree.

I share my vulnerability so you can feel safe; that doesn’t mean I don’t have insecurities.

I’ve shared my faith so you can find peace: that doesn’t mean I don’t have demons.

I will continue to share as more work’s to be done; more people are clearly suffering.

The work that I do will benefit you; the one’s who are living in darkness.

I know how you feel, I’ll take it from here; I’m not finished, I’ve only started.

~Nat

How Confusion Gives Birth to Wisdom

The other night, an amazing teacher once again shared a comment that would put a great deal of my past and present struggles into a positive perspective. While learning about ‘the mind’, she stated that, “confusion is present before wisdom can be born”. I had to repeat it in my head a few times, but wow did it ever make sense. Suddenly this phrase allowed me to recognize how much foresight I have gained by navigating through confusion; whether it be confusion in my life, or confusion in my mind. Furthermore, as I pondered this ‘Ah-ha moment’, I realized that my extreme circumstances of confusion launched me into a life filled with gratitude and love.

This lesson made me recall how when I was young, my parents tried to involve me in team sports, but I never really connected with the concept because I usually found the atmosphere confusing and overwhelming. Situations brimming with lack of organization required so much extra patience for me to focus in, that rather than having the action of the game bring me to exhaustion, my inner anxiety took my breath away. I liked to do my own thing. I equally disliked group projects in school, because I would get worried that my grade would suffer because of someone else’s laziness, causing our less than exceptional performance to be perceived as a disappointment. Wow, did I ever worry a lot! 

But, like the rule abiding child I was, I would do as I was told, join the group with a smile, albeit fake, and pick up the slack when needed without a peep of a complaint. But as I got older something amazing happened! As I realized that it was necessary for me to learn how to thrive in confusion, I began to take small leaps of faith and see things beyond my narrow-minded view. Eventually, through my exposure to these uncomfortable emotions, I gained the wisdom to be able to excel in team environments. I learned the importance of professional delegation and embraced the opportunity to gather peer feedback. After all of those hours I spent taping bubble letters to bristol board with a partner who had no concept of symmetry, and lacked any internal sense of urgency before a due date, I learned how to be an awesome team player…who knew?

By being mindful in times of confusion, I gained a deeper insight into how I was projecting the emotion of disappointment onto every team environment, rather than examining my lack of evidence to possess such a general impression. And as years passed by, I learned how to explore my individual experiences with teamwork, and began to clearly see the positive outcomes they could produce.

Learning how to recognize the possibility of forthcoming wisdom is not an easy task; especially in a world permeated with confusion and chaos. But this insight all comes back to practicing mindfulness. Realizing that people and events we think cause us suffering, are in fact presenting us with the opportunity to gain deeper insight into our own mind’s misconceptions or points of contention we may have within ourselves, is a very precious gift. It may not be something we want to admit right away, but if we take the time to step back and reflect on the people and events which we perceive are causing us confusion, resentment, and eventually anger, we can learn that they are actually teaching us how to cultivate our happiness. Over time, I have learned how to consciously stop myself from quickly attaching a person or event to an unpleasant emotion, and examine where it is coming from inside myself. And by doing so, I am no longer depriving myself of the opportunity to heal from these situations, thus presenting me with the opportunity to truly feel what it is like to forgive and reflect inwardly, and develop the virtuous mind of love.

So today when you are presented with a moment of confusion or frustration, try to be mindful of it, and use it as an opportunity to gain inner wisdom. Ask yourself, “Why am I feeling this way?” Try to recognize that the confusing person or event your experiencing is not the cause of your emotion, but simply a condition. The emotion is coming from inside of you. Before reacting in anger, step away and see what wisdom and peace awaits you when you take responsibility for that feeling, rather than lay blame. You may not have a wise answer right away, but if you keep practicing mindfulness in times of confusion, you will be amazed at what life lesson you will learn.

New Mental Health Facebook Page

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Hi Everyone 🙂 I have a new Facebook page: Paramedic Nat’s Mental Health Page

Check out my personal:

~book selections, photos, ‘mental health mission’ videos, events and more!

Hope you’re doing great!

Natural Wisdom IS Inside of You!

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Do you believe that you possess natural wisdom? And if so, how much do you believe in your natural wisdom’s ability to make the best choices for you? How often do you ignore this wisdom and say ‘maybe’, when you want to say ‘no’? And do you take time to reflect on your experiences in order to stop repeating negative, unwise actions? Or have you convinced yourself that you just can’t change? Just a short year ago I would have said that I had zero confidence in my natural wisdom. If you asked me to rhyme off a textbook version of the renin-angiotensin aldosterone system…not a problem! Ya Ya…boring I know. But when it came to my gut feelings, they were routinely ignored while I made great strides to please everyone else but myself. I was completely focused on my faults, rather than my extraordinary potential…now where is the wisdom in that?

When we think we ‘are’ something, whether that’s ‘a jealous person’, or ‘a stupid person’, or ‘a person not worthy of love’, we get stuck in that personal image…sometimes for a lifetime. Abandoning these delusions may not happen over night, but I can tell you from experience that when you begin to remove the label you have assigned for yourself, and breathe, say ‘no’ when you need to, find what you like to do, and start to take responsibility for your personal inventory, you will nurture your natural wisdom, and from that you will naturally learn how to love. Yes, that’s right…I said naturally.

I didn’t come to this ‘natural wisdom’ realization all on my own. I have a year’s worth of beautiful, loving souls who have carried limitless faith in me to thank for this. People who taught me that love can’t be destroyed, and that there is nothing that love can’t heal. People who waited patiently for me to discover that the enemy was hiding inside of me all along, and that focusing on blaming others would only prolong my pain. With their loving patience and teachings I finally came to see that anger only looks at things from one point of view, and that in order to heal I needed to let go of anger, and finally allow myself to experience inner-peace. They cultivated my natural wisdom with patience, while I grew into ME.

Over the next few blogs I am going to take some time to acknowledge and recount some of the precious natural wisdom shared with me by loved ones and friends over the past year. Like I said, I definitely didn’t get to this awareness of my natural wisdom alone! And now it’s time for you to meet some more of my wise, kindred souls.

No Experience Is Ever Wasted

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Everything in the past and future has a relationship to now. Where I have been and what I have done in my life has brought me here, to this hour, this second, this moment. And what I will do and become tomorrow will dance before me like an intricate ballet of cause and effect. As I mark the passing of one full year sober and healthy, I can’t help but reflect on all of the experiences I’ve had along the way. All of the ups and downs which have provided me with invaluable opportunities to change. I don’t believe in coincidences anymore…life to me now is more like a platter of perfection, masquerading as irony, at first appearing to serve a dish of disappointment, but if you look close enough, it’s actually serving exactly what you need.

September 23, 2014, I drank copious amounts of wine and ingested a bottle of Benedryl knowing full well that the possible consequence of this could be death. I didn’t care. I didn’t feel. I was so tired of thinking about suicide every day, that having death ‘happen’ would have been a gift to me. I didn’t want to have another nightmare, I didn’t want to watch my relationship fall to pieces, and I didn’t want to feel guilty anymore for all of the inadequacies I believed whole heartedly that I possessed. … I don’t remember that person anymore. She’s gone. She somehow climbed out of the darkness that was suffocating her slowly, breath by breath. It feels like a tornado of emotions and experiences had swept me up, and has finally spit me out; and leave it to me to need a tornado as my healing vessel, I don’t seem to do anything the easy way!

The transformation of my mind has changed me forever. I’m alive. I’m happy. I’m able to feel emotions in a healthy way. I am an amazing parent, modelling a life of hope and love for my children. I am beautiful. And I am free. I don’t blame others for my feelings anymore, and I am not obsessively attached to the fulfillment of my dreams. I now prefer to live a life that maintains the passionate wish to prolong my health and wellbeing, without harsh expectations. I let life guide me, rather than trying to guide life. I’ve realized that when I thought I always had to be at the wheel, I continued to crash into a sea resentment when things didn’t ‘go my way’. Now I breathe. I walk. I smile. And I love.

I consciously try to build a mind of love every day now, which effectively eliminates my previous negative and deluded states of mind. I have learned lessons I never could have predicted in a million years, like how to reframe my experiences so that they remain congruent with my wish to be happy. I see difficulties as my teacher, ever reminding me of the importance of humility. And try to consciously abandon non-virtuous, toxic minds. Life is perfectly imperfect (I forget where I’ve heard that line before), and one day at a time I experience its imperfections, never wasting what they are always trying to teach me.

Life-Pajamas

Change can be terrifying and very uncomfortable. So much so that many of us would rather live our lives in our ‘life-pajamas’ day after day, snuggled up on the couch watching our lives pass us by like a movie. Don’t get me wrong, life-pajamas are super awesome on those rainy, cold, dreary days we all have. But if we notice that our life-laundry is piling up, and all it’s filled with are pajamas, we may need to try on something different…for a change. Fear of the unknown can keep us from achieving so many successes, and also from equally as important failures we so desperately need to learn from. When we are stagnant because of our fear of change we block ourselves from getting dressed for life, and truly living.

What I’m trying to get at is that I have been very afraid of a certain change in my life…but making it or not has now become a matter of life or death. The change I am talking about is my co-dependent relationship with my daughter. I have known that our dependency on one another has always been extreme, but guilt with regards to things and people she has missed out on in her childhood has overridden my ability to really wear the mom-pants effectively. My rule-making sucks! And my follow through is even worse! I am the queen of turning a blind eye to the dishes that were suppose to go in the sink. I’d rather not argue about the extra half hour of TV before bed. Laundry on the floor right beside the laundry basket takes me only two seconds to pick up. And the X-box…what X-box? What I thought was being a cool mom was actually not cool at all, and I’ve let my children run around in their life-pajamas way too long!

To be honest I have parented out of guilt for all of my mothering years to some extent. But living with the guilt of making your children wonder when they would come home to find their mom dead, is a guilt-inducing traumatic event that’s very difficult to move past. So when I came home from Homewood as a guilt-riddled, barely-even-worthy-of-being-a-mom, woman, our house became even more carefree. My son missed and worried about me so much that my guilt convinced me to let him watch Full House until the wee hours of the night and eventually to fall asleep in my bed. And when my daughter started to duplicate my depressive behaviours, rather than encouraging healthy coping skills at all times, my guilt told me to be at her beck and call and to watch her like AB and Ian watched me. I had offered her all of the precious tools in the palm of my hands…but I rarely reinforced them. My guilt tricked me into thinking that any tough-love would backfire on me. It told me that if I enforced house rules they would rebel because ‘how dare I’ suddenly start to act like a mother after what I had put them through. Even though my gut told me that being too easy on them would eventually cause a tornado of confusion and angst, guilt was always so cunning that it seemed to win day after day.

Then the tornado hit! I won’t go into details as this tornado story is for my daughter to tell. But I will say that it was an F5…and I almost lost her.

The destruction this tornado left could have been dealt with in one of two ways. Option one would have been for all of us to snuggle back into our comfy life-pajamas and pretend like nothing happened and that change wasn’t needed. Or I could FINALLY give my head a shake! FINALLY realize that what my kids NEED is a mom who provides solid structure, and FINALLY stop sewing patches over the holes made from too much comfort. I KNOW that change is good…I’ve been reaping the rewards of it for 11 months now. But now it’s time for me to lovingly enforce change in my children’s habit’s and lackadaisical life-style as well. They may not like that I’ve ‘remembered’ there’s an X-box in the house, or that I deserve and need time to myself, but they will eventually get use to the change and appreciate it, just like I did.

Our tattered and torn life-pajamas got blown away in a tornado, never to be found again. And I’m grateful beyond words that it was only our pajama’s that we lost.

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An Evening For Mental Health Awareness

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I am so excited to announce my upcoming event!

Join me and special guest Vince Savoia (Founder of the Tema Conter Memorial Trust) for an evening of mental health awareness, and recovery celebration.

The semi-formal evening will include a presentation documenting my mental health’s journey of happiness, sorrow and hope, followed by refreshments and mingling among fellow mental health advocates and organizations.

200 Tickets Available ~ Order Yours Now!

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