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Paramedic Nat

A Blog About a Paramedic's Mental Health Journey

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recovery

One Last Ride

Off to a book signing at a Chapters in Mississauga. The day was dreary. Sleet was covering the roads and threatening to freeze as the temperature read 2 degrees …then 1 degree. Ok, good, back up to 2 degrees. To be honest, and at the risk of sounding ungrateful, I wished I could have stayed in my pyjamas and blocked the cold outside world out. But, Heather and Matt were waiting for me. So, I salted the walkway and stumbled along what was left of the ice from the day before in my high heeled boots.

I got to the Chapters happy to find everything set up already – Heather is great like that. I was even happier to see Matt’s, “A Medic’s Mind”, banner and his books on the table. This moment was very full circle for me – sort of a proud mama moment. I had been introduced to Matt via a mutual friend several years ago, and we connected on Twitter. Instantly, …and I mean INSTANTLY, I was so impressed by his writing and creativity; this guy had talent – and I was happy to retweet what he shared. We became fast friends for many reasons: our love of writing, our dark humour, but mostly because we were both former paramedics now battling PTSD. Matt was a military medic. And I was a medic in Simcoe County, but the colour of our uniforms were irrelevant – we were the same.

Back then I was a bit further along in my recovery than Matt, and could tell from our conversations that he was still working through an early anger and frustration phase. (I could remember being there myself very well.) So, I was a friend and helped as much as I could while he navigated his emotions. (Once again, I could remember being there myself very well.)

Deep down, I knew there were big things in Matt’s writing future. He just needed a bit more time to get healthy enough to rip open some old wounds. He eventually did – and, “A Medic’s Mind” was born.

I was honoured to be at a book signing beside Matt today.

After I put up my, “Save~My~Life School” banner, we sat beside each other to await the interested book-lovers. Little did we know that what would ensue would be a healing and amazing moment for both of us.

With Matt in the figurative, ‘driver’s seat’, and I in the ‘passenger’s seat’, we became paramedic partners, reminiscing about the good ol’ days. It was like the clatter and busyness of Chapters disappeared, and we were back in the truck again. We instantly chatted in our paramedic lingo. And laughed so hard about some memories that will always make us smile! I had tears running down my face as he described an impromptu zombie apocalypse plan that needed to make happen on a call, and when my partner accidentally made a hoarder house, ‘a mess’. Without even noticing, we were back there, in the truck, remembering what we loved so much about being paramedics, and then, with a blink of an eye, a person wanted a book signed and Chapters had returned.

It was a magical day; I’m so happy I didn’t stay home. Being able to reminisce and smile together was super healing. We both reminded each other that we were ok with what our new futures held; were ok with that being our last ride.

We got to roll up our banners at the end of the day, and go home to our new futures. We had an opportunity to see that we were really only a moment away from laughing at the good times – all we needed to do was sit beside each other, like a driver and a passenger… and we didn’t have to do a night shift to get there.

I’m proud of you Matt! The future is so bright for you! And of course safe with your zombie apocalypse plan 😉

Video By Matt

The Benefits of Sharing Your Recovery Story – with Matt Heneghan

On this episode of BrainStorm I chat with my friend and retired paramedic Matt Heneghan about recovery and our love for writing.

Check Out These Books Written by Natalie Harris

📚 Brainstorm Revolution: Here

📚 Daily Lessons from Save My Life School: Here

📚 Save My Life School: Here

This episode of BrainStorm is brought to you by The Homewood Health Clinic Mississauga 

➡️ BrainStorm by Natalie Harris is proudly produced by PodcastWagon.com

Coping Tips For The Holidays

On this episode of BrainStorm I share some of my tips on how to make it through the holidays if you are feeling down.

Check Out These Books Written by Natalie Harris:

📚 Brainstorm Revolution: Here

📚 Daily Lessons from Save My Life School: Here

📚 Save My Life School: Here

This episode of BrainStorm is brought to you by The Homewood Health Clinic Mississauga 

➡️ BrainStorm by Natalie Harris is proudly produced by PodcastWagon.com

Steps To The Podium of Gratitude

Three steps onto the stage. Four more to the podium. Each step before I speak carries such a profound meaning. Since I was diagnosed with PTSD and alcoholism, I have been sharing my recovery story with the world. Most of the time behind a computer screen, but also from a mic on a stage – earlier this week was the latter. Allow me to take you on a journey through these steps.

As I wait in the audience to be introduced, I see the stage steps…they really mean something to me today…and I know why. I am speaking to employees from my rehab, Homewood Health, and the steps it took to get me to this day were with them and their belief in me and my ability to embark on a beautiful journey of recovery. They saved my life and having the opportunity to speak this make me so filled with full-circle gratitude, that I can’t help but to reflect on what each step to the podium means to me today.

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First Step – Like a lost soul in denial I was too sick to see how sick I was. I was an alcoholic and an addict and I didn’t want to admit it. My body shook every morning from withdrawal. I hid bottles of wine all over my house. I blacked out many times – once in my hot tub and almost drown – but still I didn’t want to come to terms with my reality. I didn’t want to accept that I was slowly killing myself and hurting everyone around me.

Second Step – While at Homewood my daughter gets sick at home and I am so sick myself that I can’t leave to see her in the hospital. Broken and ashamed I FaceTime her and bawl so uncontrollably that I am convinced I may stop breathing. My eyes burn with salt water and sadness. How am I supposed to call myself a mom when I can’t even be with my sick daughter? It’s time for me to open my eyes.

Third Step – I fall to my knees – literally. Like a wall being demolished, I crumble to the ground. I need to see how sick I am. I need to be a mom. I am ready to surrender. I am no longer willing to die. I need help and I am ready to accept it.

Fourth Step – I accept the help they are offering me. Clearly what I have been doing to heal isn’t working – it was time for me to listen to the lessons. Cry the tears of locked up emotions in my heart. Talk to others about my pain. And be a student willing to learn.

Fifth Step – I start to breathe. I walk the labyrinth outside and sit alone – something I hadn’t done without alcohol in as long as I can remember. I shed tears of heartbreak from love lost and ask God for help. The trees sway in the wind and the sun sets in front of me and I know that I will be ok. I still have some work to do – but I will be ok.

Sixth Step – I practice what I am taught. How to feel emotions and let them pass without covering them up with vices. How to not be codependent. How to accept love and how to laugh. How to forgive myself and others. I make amends to those I have hurt. I value my new found health – free from the wrath of alcohol.

The steps are steep some days, making them challenging. But that’s ok. I’d rather walk up difficult steps than lay alone in a dark pit of hopelessness and pain not knowing how to escape. I didn’t know that there were steps at all before I went to Homewood, and I am so grateful that they showed me that they exist.

Final step to the podium – deep breath in, take in the room, deep breath out – thank you.

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Mental Illness Stigma Hurts

On this episode of BrainStorm I talk about the courage my daughter had to share about her mental illness and the backlash she got from someone because of it. 

 

➡️ Want to support Caroline? please click here ➡️ mental-health-for-c

 

Check Out These Books Written by Natalie Harris

📚 Daily Lessons from Save My Life School: Here

📚 Save My Life School: Here

 

This episode of BrainStorm is brought to you by The Homewood Health Clinic Mississauga 

 

 

➡ BrainStorm by Natalie Harris is proudly produced by PodcastWagon.com

Career Fulfillment

The feeling of career fulfillment – ahhhhh – like a post-turkey-dinner nap, or a gold-star-stamped exam – it feels wonderful doesn’t it? In essence it satisfies our being – and who doesn’t want that feeling? I know I sure do.

I had that feeling for many years as I zipped up my black steel-toed work boots and buttoned my advanced care paramedic epaulettes onto my uniform shirt. I had that feeling when I showed a paramedic student how to start an intravenous (IV) line and when I saw their eyes light up when I placed their hands in the proper place to feel that a patient’s pulse had returned. I had that feeling when I held a patient’s hand in the back of a bumpy ambulance as we drove them to the cardiac care centre to have the blockage removed that was causing them to have a heart attack. I had it when a healthy baby was born, and even when I stood frozen from the cold wind on the side of a highway waiting for a patient to be extricated from a car.

For me, career fulfillment didn’t come easily. It took a lot of endurance and hard work to become a paramedic, and alas, it was fleeting. What fulfills my life has changed since I was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a double murder call I was a paramedic at in 2012. And finding that feeling of fulfillment again took me quite a long time because sadly I placed all of my worth into being a paramedic and forgot that I was still a human being under my uniform.

The truth is, just when you think life has set you on a path of endless happiness, an unexpected fork in the road appears, and pulls you down a path you didn’t choose – or did you? That path may be dark, and filled with thorn-covered, tangled vines in which you have to navigate around, through, and under, careful not to cut yourself or get suffocated with. At some point the path may be filled with hopelessness…until one day a glimmer of light appears through the mess, and you suddenly remember that life can be fulfilling again.

Career fulfillment has returned to my life – I now I share my recovery story with the world. I let people know that there is hope and happiness after a major career change; sometimes happiness you never could have imagined if you didn’t make that change. I now have the opportunity to watch people grow through peer support meetings I helped to create called, Wings of Change, (a free solution-based peer support model that demonstrates to the meeting goers that they are not alone and that recovery can be a beautiful path.)

Now I get to listen to stories of enlightenment when someone finds a break in the binding chains of PTSD. I get to witness heartwarming moments of recovery. I get to say I have a voice again, and best of all, I get to witness other’s find theirs. I may not walk in paramedic boots anymore, but I have been blessed to now walk beside those who still do.

Path To Enlightenment

On this episode of BrainStorm I contemplate the phrases, “Our life IS the path to enlightenment” and “Be a part of life, not an island.” … And you get to meet George, the kitten.

Check Out These Books Written by Natalie Harris

📚 Daily Lessons from Save My Life School: Here

📚 Save My Life School: Here

This episode of BrainStorm is brought to you by The Homewood Health Clinic Mississauga 

➡ BrainStorm by Natalie Harris is proudly produced by PodcastWagon.com

Restless, Irritable and Discontent

On this episode of BrainStorm I share how I manage feeling “off”.

 

Check Out These Books Written by Natalie Harris

📚 Daily Lessons from Save My Life School: Here

📚 Save My Life School: Here

 

This episode of BrainStorm is brought to you by The Homewood Health Clinic Mississauga 

 

 

➡️ BrainStorm by Natalie Harris is proudly produced by PodcastWagon.com

 

Planting The Seeds Of Recovery

On this episode of BrainStorm I share how to plant the seeds of recovery and how to give yourself permission to have healthy boundaries. 

 

Check Out These Books Written by Natalie Harris

📚 Daily Lessons from Save My Life School: Here

📚 Save My Life School: Here

 

This episode of BrainStorm is brought to you by The Homewood Health Clinic Mississauga 

 

 

➡️ BrainStorm by Natalie Harris is proudly produced by PodcastWagon.com

 

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