What Christmas Means to Me

My initial thought for the last blog post of the year was to reflect on 2019 but seen as NSTP will be turning 1 shortly after Christmas I thought I’d save all the cheesy stuff for one long blog. Therefore, I will try and make this short so apologies if I get carried away…

Christmas means a lot to me as it means that my body can have a rest, and let me tell you this year my body is in need of a rest. If you follow my blog you will know that I have just finished an 8-week placement and although I’ve enjoyed it, placement is both mentally and physically exhausting so, therefore I am looking forward to putting my feet up and watching so festive films.

I know I talk about fatigue a lot in my blogs but managing fatigue is a big part of my disability. In case you haven’t gathered by now I like to push myself and find it hard to say no, so Christmas for me is the time of year where I can do this and just enjoy being with family and friends. Don’t get me wrong, I know I find it hard to stop and I still plan to do lots of university work to try and make things easier for myself in the new year, but I can do this at my pace! I’ve learnt something this year and this is to put myself first, during my last placement I barely had a social life and just dedicated my weekends to assignments when in actual fact having a social life is just as important and during this placement, I feel like I got this balance right. So, even though, I plan to do some university work I am not going to let assignments dictate my time off and if I feel that I need a day in my PJ’s in front of the TV that is what I will do. I for one have had a very productive week this week in the run-up to Christmas ensuring everything’s in place for the new year so I am looking forward to taking some me time off.

The most important aspect of Christmas has to be spending time with family and friends and I am really looking forward to spending Christmas with my family and seeing some members of my family that I haven’t seen in a while. My family and I lead a very busy life’s and it’s hard to see each other as often as we would like so, Christmas is our opportunity to do this. I am lucky to come from such a loving and supportive family and it’s great to spend Christmas with some of the most amazing people every year. I enjoy the unexpected days at Christmas in which family pop in to see you and the cheese board ends up coming out- food at Christmas is also very important! I also enjoy going out with friends and undertaking festive activities I have been to a few Christmas markets this year with both my university and school friends. I love going to Christmas markets nothing makes me feel more festive!

Christmas is a time of year that has a different meaning to everyone, and this is what Christmas means to my- enjoying a spending time with family without having any pressure.

As you can tell I love being a social butterfly at Christmas. So, what do you enjoy the most at Christmas?

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Transitioning from a Service User to a Healthcare Professional

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that at the moment, I’m on my level 5 occupational therapy placement. I’ve always said that having the experience of being a service user will help me in my career- some of my lecturers and previous educators have said that my disability is a great tool in this career. However, for me to use my disability as a tool I must get over an emotional barrier first, which, isn’t straight forward and is proving to be more of a challenge than I thought it would be…

Being able to empathise rather than just sympathise with a service user will enable a better therapeutic relationship but, when the understanding is so strong it can be challenging to deal with this emotional response. This is when it becomes harder because feelings can only be dealt with if I’m aware that they’re rising too close to the surface. I’ve always been open that I’ve had occupational therapy input when talking with service users and I always will be; at times the fact that I have had occupational therapy can hold me back during intervention implementation. Anyone who knows me well knows that I am very determined and like to aim high in anything I do especially when it comes to my studies. But this emotional barrier is proving to be more difficult to overcome than I initially thought. I like to consider myself as a confident individual who is up for having a go at anything; this emotional barrier is affecting me in ways that I never thought it would when it comes to intervention implementation and making a professional decision.

I’m coming towards the end of my 8-week placement and I’m not going to lie, I’ve not been as hands-on as I could have been during the first 6 weeks of placement. But it wasn’t until my educator questioned this until I realised why I’d been holding back-the reason I’ve been holding back is that I’m going through an emotional transition. How can I suddenly be the professional and be the one making decisions? Being able to empathise is a great advantage to the service user but in terms of me being a healthcare professional it’s actually a lot more emotionally challenging. Believing in my professional knowledge and being able to make confident professional decisions is difficult. I also feel like I have been holding back due to my speech impairment not because it’s knocks my confidence; because I don’t want to cause more of a challenge for the service users. For the past 6 weeks, I’ve been very quiet on visits and been happy to take a step back and observe but, I’m a second-year student I have to do a lot more than observe to get the grade that I want and achieve my full potential.

Now I have recognised that I am going through this emotional transition it has become a lot clear as to why I’m not my normal confident self when out on visits and I have my educator to thank for this. If it wasn’t for my educator challenging my mindset I don’t think I would have realised that this mindset was the reason why I was holding back and the only way to challenge this mindset is to be thrown out of my comfort zone and take lead during a visit. In which I and my educator have been working on and since we unpicked this during supervision, I have been more hands-on during visits and managed to take the lead on a visit. However, this is a slow process and my confidence isn’t going to come overnight but I feel like I am making a start and working towards this.

My educator and other members of the team have been really understanding of this emotional transition and are aware that this process is not happening at a fast pace. But they have given me and continue to give me a lot of support around this and I believe that everything happens for a reason because without this support this transition would be a lot harder. Therefore, supervision is key, placement is a massive learning opportunity but for me, it enables me to make more sense of my situation and gain insight into what my limitations are going to be in the world of work.

I’m going to have physical limitations when I’m working but how do I know what these physical limitations are going to be until I experience this first-hand on placement? I thought that my physical limitations and speech impairment were always going to be a barrier on placement but they’re provisions that can be put into place, for example, I’m going to try an app that helps me make phone calls. I’ll never know until I try and put myself in these uncomfortable positions. I’ve had this mindset in everything else I’ve been involved in for the last 19 years, so why should I should I let placement be any different?

It’s hard to admit emotional vulnerability but once this is achieved the hard part is over!

If you used to be a service user and are now a healthcare professional how did you conquer this emotional transition?

Thank you for reading,