Paramedic Nat

A Blog About a Paramedic's Mental Health Journey


October 9, 2014

Day 4- “Happiness Day”- Oh Lord

Ok, I’m not going to lie, I do like discovering a great example of true irony, but I’ve had enough for one week! “Welcome to happiness day!” In the saddest class I’ve ever been a part of? You’ve gotta be kidding me?

Don’t get me wrong, I understand its a topic we SHOULD cover, but the look on almost everyone’s face when we got the “Happiness Alphabet” handout, was similar to the look the Titanic passengers had just before the ship went down! People were already passing around the kleenex, and we hadn’t even put the handout into our binders. This isn’t going to go over well. 

I was pretty worried. The room was filled with people who could barely get out of bed and have a shower. Filled with people who cry all day and don’t even know why. Filled with people who have suffered horrible abuse and loss…and you want us to sing the happiness alphabet? Ok, we didn’t literally have to SING…but it was close enough in our eyes.

Cue the music…Sigh…”A”- Accept others for who they are and for the choices they’ve made even if you have difficulty understanding their beliefs, motives, or actions. Well, that one’s not too bad I guess.

“B”- Break away from everything that stands in the way of what you hope to accomplish with your life. Ok I can deal with this one too…but we’re getting into murky water here.

“C”- Create a family of friends whom you can share your hopes, dreams, sorrows, and happiness with. This alphabet may not be too bad… I DO have this family of friends. I NEVER take that for granted. And now I’m also part of a NEW family of friends.

“D” “E” “F”…Forgive and forget. Yikes! People already start to cry. It continues on to say that we should soar above grudges, and remember that everyone makes mistakes… I feel like most of the class is about to walk out. And I also feel that this is a concept which MOST people have difficulty with, not just the people in the room. Everyone has been hurt…everyone! But apparently, some are much better equipped at practicing this forgive and forget business, than people with mental health illnesses. Apparently many people can allow for a normal progression of emotions. They have the ‘ingredients’ to nurture their spirit. Vomit. So why did I get the shitty ingredients? Why do I have to be here and practice to ‘choose’ happiness? And how do I know if it’s not just the meds that are allowing me to have better days? UGH. All I want is my pillow and to sleep this day off. I need my comfort-zone. 

Speaking of which, “How comfortable is your comfort-zone?” was also a topic today. I suppose it’s only temporarily comfortable when I think about it. My alcohol abuse was only temporarily comfortable, (none since Sept 23rd may I add..yay!). The days lost from hours of sleep were only temporarily comfortable. The pills I took to sleep were only temporarily comfortable.

The teacher continued on to say, “You need to move out of your comfort-zone, and you will see it wasn’t actually comfortable at all.” Hmmmm interesting. “And if you don’t try you won’t know”. Once again she’s right. Damn-it. I know that she’s right because I was suppose to be in a similar program last year when I overdosed the first time; I didn’t try, so I didn’t know. Back then I completely believed it was a waste of my time…and look where that got me… back to 3NC. Last year when I snuggled back into my comfort-zone, I missed out on singing the happiness alphabet. I’m sure if I would have tried then, the tune would still have been horribly ‘off-key’ at first, (like is was today). But when I was a kid, after I practiced my alphabet really hard, I learned it cold…So I’m trying really hard to learn this new one now.  “A, B, C, D, E, F, G…..” 🙂

Day 3- Think vs. Feel

Thankfully today was a better day! Different teacher. (Natalie, stop being judgy)…baby steps 😉 The two main themes of the day were ‘thinking’ and ‘feeling’. Both at ‘save my life school’ and at ‘the reason why I had a permission slip to skip the afternoon’- I will start with the latter.

I have been ‘thinking’ a lot about getting a particular tattoo…so I ‘felt’ a tattoo needle for 7 hours today…pics to follow. 🙂 Its a tattoo 37 years in the making. Each image carrying so much meaning to me. I have other tattoos, but much smaller, and I’ve always ‘felt’ when the time was right to get them. (Ok, I’m going to stop putting quotations around the words think, and feel, because I’m annoying myself…) Anyway…I’m by no means recommending that people go out and get a 3/4 sleeve because they have a mental illness (obviously), but I know that I will cherish it forever. I had SO MUCH support over the 7 hours! Visitors on a regular basis, texts constantly. It made the time fly and I love you all for being there for me! My tattoo artist now knows quite a bit of paramedic lingo and he LOVED all the stories! (Told with patient confidentiality of course).

Ok, on to how my day at school went. Our main topic was ‘being co-dependent’. It taught me that…well…I am. I’m a people pleaser and a perfectionist. I have a hard time saying no, and feel a lot of my happiness depends on how I make the people around me happy.  I was frustrated by how many checkmarks were on my page after I took the ‘quiz’. I’d rather be doing a Cosmo, “Who’s your perfect guy?” quiz.

So how was I suppose to use this new information? I ENJOY making people happy and always avoid conflict like the plague. Was I suppose to turn into a selfish, argumentative person in order to heal?…Apparently not. I learned that my thoughts dictate how I feel…and my thoughts are not always right! Sooooo, wait a minute. Are you telling me my judgment could be wrong? Whoa whoa whoa…I’ve been right for so long! WRONG. Today was a perfect example of this! I was sitting with my friend waiting to start my tattoo, and I was telling her how I was SO appreciative of all the support people have been giving me but that I felt so bad for not being able to reply to everyone because at the end of the day I am so tired. I was SURE this was hurting peoples feelings! I was SURE people thought I was rude for not replying!.. My friend’s immediate response, “Nat, people aren’t expecting you to reply. They just want to show that they are proud of you and love you.” Whoa whoa whoa…this can’t be.  But I realized it was true. Thinking that people would be upset with me was making me sad; my thoughts totally dictated my feelings. If I changed my outlook even slightly, it didn’t mean I was rude and selfish, it meant I wasn’t forgetting to take care of me.

Ok…I’m super tired and off to bed. I am mentally preparing to tell you all about Sept 7th, 2013 and Sept 21st, 2014. But thats for another day. We have LOTS of days.

PS. Remember ‘Starbucks guy’? As I left the hospital he came up to me and gave me a high-five. He’s off to a private treatment centre tomorrow. 🙂 I’m going to cheers a latte to him.

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