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Paramedic Nat

A Blog About a Paramedic's Mental Health Journey

Month

June 2016

Both Will Make Me Sh!+…I’m sure!

depression-quotes1

This damn darkness… Why is it back? Not nearly to the extent it use to be (don’t worry, I am safe), but it’s here nonetheless. Close enough to make me feel like a fraud. Dark enough to make me want to hide from all of the positive advice I have given over the last…however long its been.

I’ve been wanting to write about it, because as you know, writing is therapy to me. But no matter how hard the magnetic field has been between my fingertips and these keys, before right now, I have filled my time with sleep or useless ‘being’, in order to avoid how honest this blog may end up being. So as you may be reading this and thinking.’that’s courageous of her to share this’, I promise you that all I can feel are fingers pointing, and hear skeptics yelling ‘we knew that you weren’t better’, when I say that I am depressed.

I’m torn…and uncomfortable. I have finally closed the pages of an old book, but not after reading the last few chapters over and over again because I didn’t want to admit that that book was done. It sucks. I had finally settled in to the comfy corner of pillows in my reading spot, had finally chosen my favourite coffee mug, and had gotten so comfortable with the feel and smell of the pages…and now, that book is done. I’m not getting anything else out of reading it over and over again. The comfy pillows are making my back hurt now. The coffee mug is suddenly just a coffee mug. And the pages feel cold, and smell boring.

Today, unable to stop the force to write, as my mind and soul know how necessary writing is for me to grow, I have finally accepted, that a new book, chapter, page…whichever you choose, has come to be; and this first edition really sucks for me.

Days have been boring, long and filled with my old alien brain lately. Nights have been sleepless. Thoughts have been dark…and incessant. This makes me SO MAD! I will get through this…I have the tools. But man oh man it feels like a punch in the throat having to share that I feel like shit again. I am NOT looking for sympathy. I am NOT looking for anything really. Selfishly, this blog is for me. And if you gain insight or even spiteful joy, good on you. The honesty, vulnerability and egoless peace I feel from writing this is what I need right now.

I’m doing a juice cleanse today. I thought it would suck…but I can tell you that this blog cleanse is worse…Both will make me shit, I’m sure.

 

Equine Love and Learning

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An Opportunity I Couldn’t Pass Up!

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of experiencing the magic of equine learning with my children and the founder of New Horserizons, Maud Revel, in a town just West of Barrie, Ontario.

Maud, an Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) Certified Facilitator, through Dreamwinds – Cartier Farms, contacted me after reading about my battle with post traumatic stress disorder, and wanted to introduce me to a new and exciting way to compliment professional therapy I may have been receiving; I was more than happy oblige.

Research has shown how equine assisted activities are effective with helping people cope and heal from mental health illnesses of various degrees (https://youtu.be/6wCq6GeyFgk). New Horserizons uses the Cartier Farms EAL Building Block Curriculum which is tailored specifically to meet the unique needs of members of the Canadian Armed Forces, First Responders and Police Officers.

For All Ages

According to the New Horserizon’s website, “Equine Assisted Learning, is for anyone who can benefit from strengthening their interpersonal skills, building confidence and relating more effectively with others. Whether you want to develop different communication methods, better listening skills and better teamwork abilities or simply cope with every day life and communicating with your family, EAL might be right for you”

I was encouraged to bring my daughter Caroline (20), and son Adam (10) with me, as Maud has been a teacher for many years, and has witnessed first hand the positive effects in which being around such majestic animals can have on all age groups.

Caroline and Adam had never been in close proximity to a horse before, and were excited but visibly nervous for their day at the Kureka Equestrian Centre, where Maud facilitates an interactive learning experience between participants and horses such as Murphy.

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We participated in activities which encouraged ‘out-side-of -the-box’ thinking, and teamwork, and by the end of the day Adam and Caroline were no longer nervous of being around Murphy, and were confident and proud to be able to maneuver a 1000 lb creature through the fun obstacles.

Why Horses?

According to Maud, “horses will help you recognize opportunities for learning about yourself. Horses provide honest, instant feedback when we work with them. They don’t judge, they don’t over-think but they do challenge our behavior and leadership abilities”.

New Horserizons’ EAL activities always include a minimum of two humans and a horse and are conducted on the ground. The exercises will let you reflect on your own communication and negotiation skills, and practice reasonable goal settings while having fun in the company of horses.

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A huge thank you to Maud Revel and New Horserizons! 

For more information please go to: http://www.newhorserizons.com

Please take a moment to read the news article from the Barrie Examiner about my experience with Equine Learning found in the link below.

http://www.thebarrieexaminer.com/2016/06/17/equestrian-centre-offers-calming-courses

My Reflection on the Healing Power of Vulnerability

pie mag

I’m approaching 40 years old, but have amazingly done most of my personal growth in just one. Crazy right? Whoa! Natalie! Back up! Are you really going to use the word ‘crazy’ when you’re a mental health advocate? What impression will people get of you? So there it is…a perfect example of how a lifetime of depression-guided, self-appraisal can to this day influence how I think (or over-think) I’m making an impression on people.

Even though recovering from the dark world of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction has undoubtedly strengthened my confidence and inner-peace, there is still a side of me, (the tattoo-free side I suppose), that deeply safeguards my albeit false, perpetually smiling image. But why does this side of me still care what image I am portraying? I really have nothing to hide! I have already very publicly announced, and illustrated to thousands of my blog readers who the Natalie is behind a fragile bubble of incessant laughter. People already know that I have travelled from the relentless hell of suicidal ideation, to the heaven of self-acceptance and love. So why would I still worry about whether or not I make a good impression, when I know that I am a good person, and when I’m pretty candid about, well…everything?

I think the answer lies in the fact that I am still a woman who battles mental illness in a world that often smiles and nods in the lime-light of mental health awareness, but quickly closes the blinds when the cameras are off to retreat to the comfortable world of complacency; and that fact alone can make even me feel like I should retract certain impressions that I’ve made.

Promoting a stigma-free world is somewhat of a social hot-topic these days, but ‘hot-topic talk’ is cheap when lives are still being lost because many people simply give the impression that they maintain a stigma-free view of people who battle mental health illnesses, when really they would rather gargle hornets than speak out about the stigma-acts they still witness. – So no wonder depression still makes an impression on even me.

But alas, my doubts about speaking up and fighting for the suppression of mental health stigma always subside, and I soon feel the need to strip down to my core beliefs again. I think from time to time that some people probably roll their eyes because my blog posts still appear on Facebook and Twitter, but I won’t stop speaking the words that so many still can’t say. Besides, at the end of the day your impression of me is really none of my business anyway.

I finally feel comfortable in my own skin and the world is a much better place when I don’t have to hide. Inner-strength is much deeper than the clothes, and THAT is the impression I fight to leave.

*A tremendous thank you to Pie Magazine (Editor Sandra Roberts and Photographer Jeff Buchanan), for the opportunity to embrace yet another level of strength through vulnerability, and to learn how beautiful living without a mask can be. xo

Parenting a Teenager Can Still Be Fun

I love to sing in the car! And I especially love how it annoys my teenage daughter A LOT! So I decided to record her reactions to MY playlist. She would have none of it. Until… Enjoy 😀

Source: Parenting a Teenager Can Still Be Fun

Parenting a Teenager Can Still Be Fun

I love to sing in the car! And I especially love how it annoys my teenage daughter A LOT!

So I decided to record her reactions to MY playlist. She would have none of it. Until…

Enjoy 😀

A Day in the Life of My ‘Mild’ Depression

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I know that I have written about the healing power of mindfulness and living in the moment a lot, but I just want to share how difficult it is to do such things when depression rears its ugly head. When depression engulfs me in its cloud, I NEED to sleep all day or be bombarded by reminders of, a) things I am not doing and should do, b) things I have done in the past that I shouldn’t have done, or c) things in the future that I want to do but don’t know how to. Sigh…

For those of you who are fortunate enough to not live with depression, let me share what it’s like to live inside my head when I do. And keep in mind, the following daily routine example is one during my mildest form of depression. 

9:00 am: What I Want to do: Clean the backyard. Get a coffee. Get caught up on paying bills. What I do: Nothing.

10:00 am: What I want to do: Get dressed and drive to get a coffee from Tim’s. What I do: Flop out of bed (which is an accomplishment in itself) throw on some shoes and a sweater even though it’s 30 degrees outside because putting on a bra is WAY too much energy; I’d rather sweat like a track runner while I drive.

11:00 am: What I want to do: Go outside with my neighbour who invites me to have a Perrier. What I do: Ignore the invitation until my guilt takes over, then text him from my bed telling him that I can’t today.

Noon: What I want to do: Make lunch, walk my dog and put together my new rowing machine. What I do: Eat ice-cream out of the carton, let my dog go for a quick pee in the backyard, and walk past the rowing machine in the box by the door that the cats have torn apart.

1:00 pm: What I want to do: Not sleep. What I do: Sleep.

2:00 pm: What I want to do: Not sleep. What I do: Sleep.

3:00pm: What I want to do: Get out of bed because I have a headache from not doing anything all day. What I do: Convince myself to stay in bed, because I have a headache from not doing anything all day. Proceed to wallow in self-pity because this time of the day is the ‘danger-zone’ part of the day, meaning that if I don’t FORCE myself to get out of bed, there is NO turning back…I will remain in bed all day.

4:00 pm: What I want to do: Some stretches on the floor to get my blood circulating and hopefully relieve my headache. What I do: Touch my toes. Once.

5:00 pm: What I want to do: Laundry. What I do: Kick the pile of dirty clothes into a taller, less large-looking pile. Return to bed.

6:00 pm: What I want to do: Brush my teeth. What I do: Remind myself that I am well into the ‘danger-zone’ so it is not even practical to do such a thing when I will be asleep very soon.

7:00 pm: What I want to do: Nothing. What I do: Nothing. Success!

8:00 pm: What I want to do: Anything but sit in bed! What I do: Not even change positions in bed.

9:00 pm: What I want to do: Write. What I do: Write. The only way I can live in the moment. My healthy source of serenity.

There you go folks. As I sit here and type from the same spot I woke up in 12 hours before, I am actually happy that to me I had a relatively functional day!

Now I’m off to bed…I’m exhausted.

 

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