Living in a pressure cooker?

For some people home isn’t a safe haven. I know. In the course of my professional life, I encountered and cared for many women, men and children who experienced abuse in their homes. Their stories came to mind, earlier today, as I meditated and took in the beauty of my surroundings. I was watching five goldfinches bickering over access to the feeder and boom, just like that I connected to some stored away memories. 

Why write about it? I’m writing because we need to talk about it. We all agree that the added stressors brought on by this pandemic are bringing out our best and worst selves and everything in between. 

What can we do about it?

It would be wise to keep ourselves in check 

  • Are you…
    • … growing impatient and irritable? 
    • … snapping at people? Getting short-fused?
    • … becoming rude? 
    • … isolating, feeling unfit for human interactions?

We need to protect ourselves and our kids

  • Are you …
    • … walking on egg shells? 
    • … hyper alert, constantly trying to anticipate someone else’s needs to help keep the peace? 
    • … feeling triggered? 
      • Sometimes highly stressful situations bring back unresolved past experiences and make it more difficult to cope with the current situation.
    • … worried about your safety or the safety of your kids? 
    • … worried about how your kids are coping?
    • … wishing you had someone else to think with? 

We need to be on the look out for people who need help

  • Are you …
    • … disengaging from the people around you, worried about getting in the middle of something? 
    • … trying to convince yourself that something not right is none of your business?

Help is available!

It is important to restore the balance; level the scale. Imagine on one side of this scale all the stuff which contributes to raising the stress level and on the other side of that scale all which helps us cope and thrive. 

We can positively affect the balance in two ways. We can work to decrease some of what is in the stress side and we can increase what is in the coping side. 

As an Nurse Practitioner, I have the knowledge and experience to help you with decreasing your stress and improving your resilience:

  • Together we can figure out a way to safety.
  • Together we can equip you to deal with those in your life who are not coping well. 
  • Together we can affect what is in your scale and restore some form of equilibrium.

Become your best self, not your worst! It is possible.

Worried about finding some privacy? 

We can talk over via a video conferencing platform or over the phone. Whether you are sitting in your car or walking around the block, reach out! We’ll figure out  “the how”  together. 

Are you anticipating many barriers? Have you got many questions? Book a free introduction session to see if we can work them out together. 

photo credit Lucas VanOort

person keeping balanced on one foot

Done with feeling off-kilter?

I don’t know about you but I’m ready to shift from surviving to thriving.

In the face of danger, our first response is often to run for our lives or to freeze. After the initial shock, we fight, we get busy dealing with the basic necessities of life. We function in survival mode. After a beat or two, or more, we then get into working the problem. Depending on our training and our past experience with traumatic events we go through the steps with varying speed and efficiency.

“Work the problem,” that’s one of my mantras these days. Repeating it to myself, keeps me from getting overwhelmed. Another good expression to remember is “two heads are better than one.” You may already know that I love puzzles, all kinds of puzzles. I’d like to help you with yours.

Too much stress can mess with your mental and physical health. Be brave! Be wise! Don’t wait! Get help!

Hire a nurse practitioner, a compassionate health puzzle solver. I’m here to help you get back on an even keel.

Need another reason? Looking after yourself well, will enable you to better look after those you love. It is the most worthwhile investment!

Currently, I’m using a health video conferencing platform. You can talk with me from the comfort of your home.

running away from a monster

Running Scared?

Most people manage to tolerate high levels of stress for a little while but what happens when a little while turns into longer and then longer still? 

Do you know how to keep your mind sharp and your body resilient while dealing with these highly stressful times? Do you know enough strategies to mitigate the effects of stress?  

Before take off, travellers on airplanes are reminded that they should put on their own oxygen masks first and then help those requiring assistance. Making sure you remain at your best physically and mentally is not only wise, it is the best way of ensuring that you will be able to continue looking after your loved ones.

My psychologist and my physician have my back. Who’s got yours? I encourage you to get the help you need to look after yourself!

I’m using a health video conferencing platform. You can talk with me from the comfort of your home. You’ve got questions about how this works? Ask for a free introduction session.

Nathalie Héloïse Graveline, Nurse Practitioner

I miss you so much!

Two months ago my friend Jim died. Every day since, he has been on my mind at some point in my day. We didn’t know each other long, less than a year, but the time we shared was really meaningful. He liked that we could talk about anything and everything. I knew, as we became fast friends, that we might not have long, so I made a point of not missing out on opportunities to spend time together. Jim died just before celebrating his 94th birthday, following a short illness. 

Our time together changed both of us for the better. My friendship with him, reminded me that I’m capable of being “all in” even if I know that it might be short-lived; that the pain of the loss does not out-weight the meaningfulness of the shared experience. 

That was a valuable reminder. Over my many years working with very sick patients I’ve experienced a lot of losses. But even before that, I was someone who favoured having a few close friends and who experienced losses deeply. Prone to introspection, I often wondered how it was that some people seemed to manage multiple short-term connections and then more easily bounce back from their loss after they exited each other’s lives. The answer is a complex one and I’m still figuring out all its parts but here’s a bit of what I know about getting through losses. 


We need to mourn our losses. Mourning is when we take the grief we feel inside and find ways to express it outside ourselves. 

I’m getting ahead of myself. Maybe I should tell you about grief first.


Grief is our internal experience of loss. The word is used to define our experience facing all kinds of loss. Today, I’m talking about the loss of a loved one, from dying.

There is no right or only way to mourn. However, I would venture to say that, in my experience, those who find a way to share their experience with others, tend to fare better.

Complicated grief

Some people have to deal with losing a lot of people during their lifetime. If there are too many losses, within too short a time span and the person hasn’t had the opportunity to “properly” mourn one loss then the impact can be further complicated. Sometimes a new loss can trigger the resurfacing of previous unresolved losses and make dealing with the new loss more difficult. 

Unresolved losses can lead a person to adapt by emotionally withdrawing and avoid making new meaningful connections with others for fear that they might have to experience another loss. This seems very protective and is partly unconscious. It is also not the best coping strategy for the long run.

We can’t selectively cut out some of our emotions and feelings. Invariably, if we try, we end up cutting everything out and numbing ourselves. The consequence of this is that we end up depriving ourselves of the good stuff too.

If, as time passes, you feel like your grief is getting heavier instead of lighter, you might be experiencing complicated grief. 

Here for you

You don’t have to struggle alone. If you’re concerned about the way you are coping, reach out! I can help you through this. If you are worried about someone else, reach out! I can help you learn more about this and help you help them.

During the “social distancing” period some of my services are available by phone and via secure video conferencing and my rates are on a sliding scale. Contact me for details.

Nathalie Héloïse Graveline, NP

Tired looking dog on leash

I’m so tired!

What is fatigue?

Fatigue is such a common complaint. It is one of those symptoms which is too often not getting proper attention.

Everyone has, from time to time, felt overtired. Feeling temporarily fatigued after working too hard for too long is easy to understand and typically resolved with getting proper rest. Most people know what to do about that kind of fatigue.

I want to discuss a different kind of fatigue — that unrelenting exhaustion, that “I’m so tired I could cry” kind of tiredness. I’m talking about the kind of fatigue which isn’t resolved by rest alone. That weariness which has developed over time and seems to sap your energy, your motivation, your concentration. The kind which has got you disconnecting for the world around you and has got you thinking that you are “not fit for human consumption.”

Fatigue has so many causes. 

Lifestyle factors

There are many lifestyle factors contributing to fatigue, such as the adverse effects of alcohol, drugs and certain over the counter medications such as allergy medications or cold remedies. Too much physical exertion or, conversely, a lack of exercise are also common causes. The better understood cause of fatigue is, of course, is lack of sleep or a lack of recuperative sleep. Or then again maybe a lack of quality sleep is not that well understood. With our frenetic schedules today we have created a problem by neglecting the need for good sleep hygiene.

Health conditions

A great many health conditions also present with fatigue as one of their symptoms. I won’t list them all. I will draw your attention to the fact that sometimes we attribute fatigue to one cause and we might have missed the culprit, or more likely the combination of culprits. 

Another thing to consider when assessing fatigue is that ironically, some of the medications used to treat certain medical conditions cause some fatigue. The intensity of this undesired effect varies widely from person to person. That’s why it is worthwhile to find out if a smaller dose or a change of medication is indicated for you. Going though life feeling fatigued all the time is not ok. 

Being a Nurse Practitioner with a practice focussed on mental health and addiction problems, I cannot talk about fatigue without including the fact that many mental health problems present with fatigue. If you’ve experienced grief before, you’ll remember that bone deep fatigue. People who suffer with depression also experience fatigue. So do those with PTSD and anxiety disorders.  Many of my patients recovering from opioid addiction started out with and continue to struggle with chronic pain. Chronic pain is almost always accompanied by fatigue.

Why am I writing about this? I know what it’s like. Fatigue is a difficult thing to tackle but I’m a puzzle solver. One of my former, long time patients called me her “health detective.” I hate knowing that many people are out there slugging their way through life feeling tired all the time. It doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. If you are tired of being tired and you’d like some help figuring out your fatigue puzzle, reach out. I’m here for you. 

Pills spilling from a bottle

Let’s Talk About Addictions – November 21 Seminar

Have you ever wondered if…

  • your alcohol consumption has more to do with coping with life than simply enjoying a nice beverage with friends?
  • the pain meds you’re still using are for more than physical pain?
  • someone you care about is struggling with substance use disorder?

It is easier to stop avoiding these worries once you know what to do.

Help yourself! Help others! Join us to learn how to tackle addiction problems.

The next in our Wellness Seminar Series will take place on Thursday, 21 November 2019, at the Almonte Branch of the Mississippi Mills Public Library (155 High Street, Almonte, Ontario). We meet from 7 – 9pm.

RSVP with your host Nathalie Héloïse Graveline, Nurse Practitioner, by email at or by phone or text at (613) 558-1967.

Hand above water

Let’s Talk About Mental Health – November 7 Seminar

Have you ever gone to your health care provider’s office concerned about your mental health and found yourself walking out without having managed to get the words out?

Have you ever had a loved one hint that something wasn’t quite right and found yourself changing the subject? You just didn’t know what to say.

Those scenarios are very common.

Join us for the next in our Wellness Seminar Series on Thursday, 7 November 2019, at the Almonte Branch of the Mississippi Mills Public Library (155 High Street, Almonte, Ontario). We meet from 7 – 9pm.

We will talk about the challenges we face when seeking help and how we might all do better talking about mental health.

RSVP with your host Nathalie Héloïse Graveline, Nurse Practitioner, by email at or by phone or text at (613) 558-1967.