I haven’t written a blog in a while, well a year to be pedantic. I would apologise to all my dedicated readers, but seeing as there was only 2 posts prior to this one and WordPress shows me all the stats on who’s been reading what, I know there aren’t many people to apologise to. Nonetheless, I am sorry, and it is time to try again.
In the past year a lot has happened, as you would expect from 12 months. I went to San Fransisco (AMAZING place) and got all my hair chopped off in Santa Monica – didn’t tell my mum, so when I got off the train back in Suffolk she circled me several times on the platform screaming “your hair, your hair!”. My father, bless his simple male soul, didn’t understand what my mother was on about, it looked exactly the same to him.
Over a several month period I bought a drastic halt to several friendships – not quite as easy as deleting someone off Facebook. It’s not something I regret, and it is something that I felt and still do feel was best for me, but I do regret any pain I may have caused other people.
I also attended my brothers wedding, where I DID NOT cry, in Pretoria – that’s South Africa, just FYI. It was a beautiful day, total shambles in regards to organisation, somehow a wedding cake got lost. But they got married and they were happy, so of course we all are too.
And most drastically – even more drastic than the hair – was the most horrid placement I had. Technically the placement wasn’t drastic, but the results of it were. If you train as an Occupational Therapist, like most healthcare courses, you must go on several placements to qualify. Last year my placement was my favourite part, it was sunny May, the team was small and laid-back, and it was dementia so I aced it. This time it was intensive neuro rehab. The thing with neuro rehab you see, is that everyone is at the top of their game, it’s not something that you succeed at based on instinct, and it’s not something the staff like to fail at. Don’t get me wrong, the hospital was amazing, and had I had had a stroke I would have felt in safe hands, but as a student there were times I felt I wasn’t even treading water. I cried everyday for two weeks, mainly at home, but one time in the hospital toilet.
One of the lowest points (even lower then crying in the toilet) was around my birthday. My family had come down the day before to celebrate, I’d had a fabulous time with them (as per usual) but then they left and I had to get up the next morning and go back to the hospital, to having no idea what was going on, to doubt whether I even wanted to continue, and to feel so ridiculously stupid. At this point I would like to take a moment to say that I am rather proud of how far I’ve come in life, in year 4 my teachers actually put me in a confidence club because I was so timid, and now I can at least successfully fake confidence when required, sometimes it even feels genuine. But on this particular Thursday morning I felt like I was in year 4 again, and so I sat down at the table before going to work with my bowl of porridge and I just cried. Solid sobs for 20 minutes – let me tell you now, porridge was not made to have salty tears in it. Somehow I managed to force myself to wash my face and get the bus, to continue through the day, because I knew if I didn’t that I would never go back. I’m glad I still turned up that day, and every day of the placement, because I learnt a lot during those 10 weeks. Not just how to write an acceptable patient note or administer a cognitive assessment, but also that I do have the mental strength to carry on, and that I need a break.
I wrote once that it is ok to not be ok, and I still believe that. I think it takes strength to not only recognise an issue but to admit it and seek help. I think it’s also ok to need a break, or even a complete change. During that challenging placement I considered quitting OT all together many times, but, as desperately as I wanted to, that just didn’t seem right. Instead my mother suggested that I take a year out to travel, to rebuild all the confidence that got knocked during those 10 weeks, and so that’s what I’m doing. I’m absolutely shitting myself, mainly because it’s so unknown, but I know it is the right thing to do. And luckily I have the full support of my parents. So who knows what’s to come next, maybe stories of sunburn, failed white water rafting, or another radical hair change – I’m thinking pink tips next time.