Paramedic Nat

A Blog About a Paramedic's Mental Health Journey



Ben Dionne

On this episode of BrainStorm I speak with Ben Dionne who gives his perspective on mental health and shares about his journey. Ben was diagnosed with Schizophrenia when he was seventeen, he become an advocate for his own mental and physical health, has overcome many challenges, and now lives without the label and, has a clean bill of health. 

Ben is the host of his own podcast called Fireside Chat with ben Dionne 

Follow Ben, Instagram: @bennydjetts & @fs_chats


Pre-order my New Book: Here

Get Save My Life School: Here


BrainStorm by Natalie Harris is proudly produced by

Anxiety Disorders

On this episode of BrainStorm: I talk about different types of anxiety disorders and my experience with them. I also share coping strategies and treatment options.



Pre-order my New Book: Here

Get Save My Life School: Here

 BrainStorm by Natalie Harris is proudly produced by

You Can Preorder My New Book!


Click Here!

This inspiring book of quotations from Natalie’s Harris’s raw and gripping account of her mental health journey, “Save-My-Life School,” offers daily motivational and thoughtful lessons.


BrainStorm – PTSD Effects on The Brain

On this episode:

-PTSD effects on the brain,
-Terminology/language debates,
-Coping skills I use such as, specialized earplugs, guided meditation and anxiety distraction tools,
-…and more.

Tips on How to Prune Your Mental ‘Chaos Garden’ 

Social Media Press Release

Book Launch Jan 25th!


This intense and engaging memoir is based on the true-life of Natalie Harris. Mental illness, post-traumatic stress injury, overdoses and addiction are some of the demons this paramedic-turned-author deals with–stemming from a horrific double-murder call. This incredible story makes public the very private battles many face. This book is raw, honest and a window into the mind of someone facing mental illness. Although a serious topic, this biography is at times laugh-out-loud funny, poignant and simply a good, entertaining read. This is a must-have for anyone who wants a cover-to-cover book that keeps you on the edge of your seat. To me, it is a Bridget Jones’ Diary meets Girl Interrupted.

Obviously, this title will appeal to first responders such as paramedics, firefighters and police officers. However, this title will also be of interest to those suffering with or suffering beside people experiencing mental illnesses and/or addiction. In Canada alone, there are 4.5 million people with mental illnesses.

Last year, Jody Mitic released Unflinching: The Making of a Canadian Sniper. Like Natalie’s book, Jody’s had a specific audience as well as widespread interest. His book touched on PTSD; and akin to Natalie, he worked in a field with a very unique culture.

Natalie and her writing are highly supported and endorsed by many people with influence. The foreword is written by six-time Olympian, Clara Hughes. In addition, all three levels of government officials have written endorsements for the book. This includes, Arif Khan, Barrie City Council, Ann Hogarth, MPP, and John Brassard, MP.

Link to Book on Indigo:…/sa…/9781894813914-item.html

You can also preorder at

Walk Down a Different Street


Does this sound familiar to you? “It’s 6am already? Ugh I wish it was Saturday. Make the kids lunch, ok where is the bread? We don’t have bread. How do we not have bread?! Ugh…hotdog buns it is. Ok, so I have that appointment at 2, but I need to get the oil changed at 3 so I may have to leave the appointment early. Donald Trump is President! You’ve gotta be kidding me! I’m so tired of hearing about that election. I didn’t know he had two daughters. Ok where’s the dog’s leash. Why do my children never walk the dog? Who practiced their knots with the leash around the bannister? That’s it! Who made a fort in the living room last night?! Where is that leash? Oh yes, the bannister. Coffee! Yes please! What time is it? Oh my God it’s only 7am…”

Life! Busy, busy life! How do we even begin to live a peaceful and happy life with all of the chaos around us all the time? How do we sleep with so many tragedies happening every day? Well, what if I told you that the conditions in our life are NOT the causes of our suffering? What if I told you that the thoughts we choose to think and the situations we choose to place ourselves in are the causes of our suffering?

Living a peaceful life IS possible with the gift of mindfulness. But in order to reap the rewards of mindfulness to its fullest, our chaotic minds can benefit by taking a few steps to declutter them first.

This week, the Buddhist Centre teacher shared that Atisha (a Buddha from 982 AD) stated  that in the beginning of embarking on a spiritual path (peaceful life) our minds are not stable (i.e. filled with chaos) making it difficult to take and hold any teachings. Furthermore, Atisha suggested that we take the following three steps to develop external conditions and declutter our minds:

Disclaimer: I am NOT an expert at this by any means. Like not even close! However, from my attempts at practising these steps, I can say that they have definitely improved the calmness in my mind and life.

  1. Avoid places that disturb your mind. Easier said than done for sure, but if you REALLY think about it, I bet you CAN avoid places that disturb your mind more than you realize. For example, you know that when you walk down a certain street, a dog in a neighbour’s backyard will bark and startle you, which always makes you mad. Can you choose to walk down a different street?
  2. Try not to engage in worldly distractions. To me, this is an easy one. Turn off your TV or radio. You don’t NEED to hear every station’s thoughts on the election. You may be obsessed with hearing these worldly distractions more than you know, and by turning them off you are automatically removing an external source of stress.
  3. Avoid spending time with people who may have a negative impact on you. I know that we can’t avoid certain people in our lives so easily, but take a moment to stay true to your right to live in a peaceful environment by really thinking about how you can lessen the time with negative people. For example, maybe you don’t like your boss, it definitely happens. But do you NEED to sit and eat lunch with the group of staff who only complain about him or her all the time, thus making it feel like your boss is even with you at lunch? No, you don’t. You may feel out of place making the choice to eat on your own for the first little while, but the freedom from gossip will be well worth you efforts.

It makes me sad when I see and hear about people who don’t feel they can improve their lives or decrease the clutter in their mind. All I can say is, if I can do it, ANYONE can! It takes practice and mindfulness to be aware of when you have the opportunity to practice one of Atisha’s three suggestions – but it’s really worth the effort.


Diving into the Ocean of Contemplation

water girl

How deeply do you ‘think’ when you’re asked to ‘contemplate’ something? What does that mean to you? Does it mean that you simply ‘consider’ it? Or maybe it means that you just ‘give it some thought’? Well, tonight I want to challenge you to view contemplation in a much more powerful sense – a sense that is used in the practice of meditation.

Quite simply, we (a large portion of society) are not very good at deeply contemplating anything. That’s not to say that we aren’t intelligent enough to do so, we just can’t seem to go deep enough to approach contemplation without the pressure to gain insight; so we keep our thoughts superficial and above the surface in a safe, yet dramatically less enlightening, way.

Contemplating expands our view on, well…everything! Take happiness for example, the more we deeply contemplate, explore and feel this virtuous emotion, the more happiness begins to become our natural behaviour. In short, the more we take the time to immerse ourselves in an intention or a thought, such as happiness, the more it becomes our lived reality. Clear as mud?…Well, let me use an analogy to further explain the power of contemplation.

So you say you want to be ‘happy’? You want to live a life where happiness is your prevalent emotion. If only there was a way that you could rewire your brain to FEEL happiness more often and to get rid of the toxic, unnecessary noise that fills your mind 99% of the time. Well, what if I told you there is a way. – Allow me to take you diving…below the noise, in the ocean of contemplation.

You’ve ‘heard’ that it’s peaceful below the waves of life and stress that toss you around like a capsized raft, but no matter how often someone asks you to go diving so that you can actually experience life below the waves, you say ‘no’, because you’re too tired to do something ‘like that’, nor do you have ‘time’ to do something like that. But what you may not have realized is that the reason why you’re so tired is because most of your energy is spent clinging onto the raft for fear of ‘going under’. Ironic, isn’t it?

So take a chance and let go of the raft and give yourself permission to explore happiness by testing the waters in the ocean of contemplation. Even if at first this means that you have to plug your nose and simply put your face in the water (i.e.: close your eyes just THINK about happiness), you will quickly see how peaceful it is below the every day noise that fills your mind. When you give yourself this time, you will see the beauty and serenity that you have been missing while on noisy dry-land, and with practice you can become a master contemplation diver in no time. 

Every time you submerge yourself in this ocean, you rewire your brain to being able to feel happiness innately, even when you’re living life above the water. The stress of life doesn’t weigh as heavily as it did before when you were clinging to the raft, because you now know where to go to refuel and relax. As long as you can give yourself a moment to close your eyes, and mindfully swim in the ocean of contemplation, you know that you will be ok.

The hustle and bustle of life can wear us down so easily, but how wonderful is it to know that we are always standing on the vast shore of the ocean of contemplation, with all of the serenity and peace that it offers. So take the time to explored the waters of happiness, and when you are finished, I highly recommend the Sea of Love, the Bay of Compassion and the River of Giving. 



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