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Paramedic Nat

A Blog About a Paramedic's Mental Health Journey

Date

October 7, 2014

Day 2- Patience Natalie…PATIENCE!

This morning started off really well. I was on time, I walked Walter through the fall leaves, I remembered my binder…I had all the hope in the world that today would be a fairly straight-forward “save my life school” day. (I am shaking my head right now…you just can’t see it)…Most of today was crap.

The booklet I was handed when we all sat down was titled, “Identifying and Expressing Your Feelings”. Nine double sided pages…of just text. Please Dear God, make this homework…she can’t be reading this word for word right? WRONG! She read every…single…word! The theme of the booklet was dealing with anxiety. How ironic! Each paragraph she read… and lost her place… and re-read half of it again when she started back up…GAVE me anxiety!

Patience Natalie, Patience, I said to myself over and over again, but it didn’t matter. Deep breathing. It helped a bit…but not enough. All I could do was keep looking around the room for a “don’t worry this is driving me crazy too”, wink or head nod. Nope…nothing. Everyone seemed pretty in tune with the ‘reading’. So this made me even more anxious! My chest started to tighten, I started to fidget, I couldn’t concentrate, and I started to feel myself getting mad. Doodles in my booklet included, “Boring, blah blah blah, so tired, YAWN!, I get it!…move on!, daydreaming…, dumb, get through this faster, POKE MY EYES OUT! (beside an interesting drawing).

Why was this happening to me? Its only day two…give yourself some slack. I though over and over. I decided to hold off on my, “Have YOU ever had anxiety?” question directed at the teacher. I was betting she hadn’t..that made me even more anxious. Stop making assumptions, I tell myself…for the 43rd time.

Then suddenly someone got my attention. A girl, maybe in her late twenties, put her hand up and could barely get the words out through her tears as she told the class that THIS session and THIS booklet just taught her what she suffered from. She had battled with never being able to connect with a councillor. She felt lost and alone. She didn’t know what was wrong with her. Everyone told her she should just stop feeling the way she was and she would be better. Her family had slowly distanced themselves from her. But THIS session was her light-bulb moment!…and I was present for it; an amazing thing to witness. My anxiety cleared as I focused on her words, and I recognized myself in her. I didn’t know what circumstances brought her to the class, but that didn’t matter. What mattered was that I knew EXACTLY how she was feeling. I knew EXACTLY how it felt to finally have something make sense. So that’s why I’m here! Not EVERY class was made for me! But I could provide the support someone else may desperately need. I was good at doing that anyway…MY light-bulb moment.

I felt sad and selfish that I walked into class this morning not even noticing how entitled I felt to learning something more about MY mental illnesses; that wasn’t what these weeks would always be about. My time here is equally about how the group supports each other. Maybe others were bored with the word by word play-by I wrestled my way through, (which I was assured wasn’t always the daily routine), but everyone managed their anxiety well. They took solace in just being there, and not being alone; and I was extremely lucky to be a part of that.

I gave the girl my cell number at break and said if she wanted to chat I would be there for here. We were all there for her.

End of day two…I still had A LOT to learn….

Ok soooooo….in the spirit of being honest, I need to add to this blog that I failed to mention I did not attend the afternoon class and I’ve gotten in trouble (in a loving way) by my best friend.  Why?  Because…..she wants me to be 100% accountable for my actions.  Yes all of the above did occur, however, I should have let all of you know that I bailed.  I was judgy of the teacher and my daughter was not feeling well …. however, my daughter said she would be fine without me and I jumped at the opportunity to not return to class.  As I mentioned, I was feeling very anxious in the morning and I resorted to my old habits of just wanting to have a nap and take a lorazepam (but, I didn’t take one – BIG step for me!!)  So … THAT is the full truth about todays journey.  Tomorrow is a new day – and I’m not going to lie … I’m skipping the afternoon again .. BUT, I have a permission slip this time 🙂  Each day, I will try harder.  ~Nat xo

P.S I love you AB

Day 1- “What’s Your Deal?”

Well, here it is loud and clear…today was not my first trip to the mental health department at.  But today was different because it had one thing all of the other times didn’t have; hope.

Making sure I made it on time to the Partial Hospitalization Program, I set my alarm slightly early to allow me enough time to colour my hair, make a quick coffee and run out the door. I had no idea what to expect, I just knew where I was going; 3NC and I had definitely met before.

As I walked into the meeting room I felt like ‘the new kid in class’… because I was. “I hope you brought Starbucks for everyone”, yelled some guy from the corner. I found an empty seat and scanned the room. Everyone looks pretty normal, I thought to myself. How ironic of me! I came here to end the stigma of my mental health illnesses, but my very first thoughts screamed stigma through and through.

“What’s your deal?” asked ‘Starbucks guy’.

“Pardon?” I say, not immediately knowing what he meant. “Oh, why am I here?”

“Ya, and you look really familiar”.

Where do I begin? And how do I summarize this in a sentence? “I overdosed on Sept 21st”. Ok this will take a few sentences…”I’ve been diagnosed with major depressive disorder, anxiety, borderline personality disorder and I’m pretty sure PTSD is in there somewhere.”

“I have PTSD as well.” he replies. “I was in the military. But I know you from somewhere!”

“I’m a Paramedic.” I say, as this is usually the link to myself and anyone who recognizes me.

“I was your patient!”…….

Talk about a full circle, smack in the face! ‘Starbucks guy’ and I had not only met before, I took care of him! I felt awkward at first. How did this come to be? I had been the one helping others like ‘Starbucks guy’ for 11 years as a Paramedic. was the one who spoke in front of classes filled with students eager to learn everything I could teach…but I was sick, just like ‘Starbucks guy’. I belonged there with him and I was ready to get better. The awkwardness subsided quickly as I reminded myself I was there because I had the courage to realize it was my turn to be helped.

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