Save My Life School: A first responder’s mental health journey by Natalie Harris

Every now and then a reader comes across a book that speaks to them. The words jump from the page and land squarely to the reader’s soul. For me, this was Save My Life School, by Natalie Harris. This book is so real, so raw and so honest that it is impossible not to fall in love with, from the first page to the last. This is the power of a good book, and this is my review.

When you first bite into Natalie’s story, your senses are met by a sweet girl tarnished by painful experience. Her character is not tarnished… her happiness is. The things she has experienced as a paramedic working the streets no doubt left a mark on her, but on me as well—in the best possible way. I found myself falling further into empathy and understanding for what it is that these incredible human beings known as “first responders” go through. I began to feel as though I knew Natalie. That is the gift of her prose—she takes you with her through the ups and the downs of what brought her to the brink and back again.

“Natalie attended a program for trauma and addictions. She provides an unflinching look into the world of trauma recovery.”

Save my life school is a moniker that she bestowed upon her treatment centre. Natalie attended a program for trauma and addictions. She provides an unflinching look into the world of trauma recovery. To me, this is the epitomization of bravery. She knowingly puts her story to words and binds it with her countenance as if to say “this is me… and this is how my life was saved”.

One line in Natalie’s book that stuck with me for days after putting it down was this: “You can make a plan, just don’t plan the outcome.” What prophetic advice. This simple utterance applies to so many facets of life that I even found myself crooning its importance while on my daily round abouts.

“I am exhausted from crying. Today is another tough day. I knew it would happen; I have to talk about the double murder call and trial…”

Natalie’s story is one that is hard for most to grasp the reality of. It is also a story that could be scripted for TV in the most gripping way possible. The way she weaves her tale is done in such a way that inspires hope and resilience. Though the weight of what brought Natalie down is incalculably heavy, the buoyance of her spirit is uplifting and this is the true beauty of Save My Life School.

I had the pleasure of meeting this author at a book signing. Having never met her before reading her story, I had formed my own impressions of what she would look and sound like. I can tell you this… she surpassed them all with the same elegance that she used to rise above the rubble of pain and anguish.

See also  Just the Usual Work: The Social Worlds of Ida Martin, Working-Class Diarist by Michael Boudreau and Bonnie Huskins

This story is brilliant. It is hard and it is real. A must-read for any who wish to see what happens in the back of an ambulance and in the homes of those who choose to serve.


  • Paperback: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Wintertickle Press
  • ISBN-13: 978-1894813914

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Born in the United Kingdom, Matthew immigrated to Canada at a young age. He grew up in rural British Columbia where he learned the value of friendship and lending a helping hand. Matthew went on to join the Canadian Armed Forces as a medic. His career was cut short by the beginnings of post-traumatic stress disorder. He went on to become a civilian paramedic until he could no longer remain healthy in his job.

Matthew has faced a variety of challenges in his life, including his decision to become clean and sober. Throughout his many adversities, Matthew has discovered a passion for reading, writing and has even published his own story from Wintertickle Press called: A Medic's Mind.

Matthew is passionate about mental health and the medical fields and thus chooses to read a variety of material on the subject of such.

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