I live in an occupational therapy bubble
This post is really long and seems like it doesn’t have much to do with occupational therapy at first, but bear with me, I bring it all back into the OT domain!
I was completely overwhelmed yesterday as was obvious when I posted, and was slightly overwhelmed today after waking up. We learned about the NIHSS (National Institute of Health Stroke Scale?) this morningand then we had a lecture on augmentative/alternate communicative devices. Luckily it was a short day so I came home and took a nap because I was exhausted. I don’t function well when so tired. When I got up I read my friend’s blog, where he talked about his father dying. He talks about how much he needed his friends to help distract him. It made me sad to read it because I knew I wasn’t one of those friends right now.
I needed to get in my workout, so I stepped outside and realized it was finally, for the first time in many months, almost balmy outside! I went walking with my iPod and a Beatles Song came on. The Beatles are my friend Doug’s favorite band, and I guess I was feeling tender because it practically brought tears to my eyes to hear it, since he has just left for a year abroad to get his Master’s in history. I also realized that while I had told another non-OT friend I could meet him for lunch Friday, I would have to back out because I found out today our Friday afternoon occupational therapy lab on adaptive technology is across town and so I’ll have to use my lunch hour to get there. Right before my walk, I had also called another non-OT friend and starting blabbering about OT stresses, when she suddenly had to go deal with something and I felt bad I was not better about shutting up about OT stress and letting her share her own stresses. So overall, most especially after the blogpost reading about my friend’s dad, I was feeling pretty low about my non-OT life and how I am treating my friends.
This was compounded by the fact it is starting to be Fall. For some people, Fall conjures images of crisp air and fiery leaves. For me, it signifies claustrophobia. I’ve always needed a lot of light to feel normal, and the time change freaks me out. I have really bright halogens lights and natural spectrum light bulbs in my house and I try to get as much sun as possible, but it still sometimes feels like the darkness is closing in on me. Fall for me has always been a time of melancholia. Some people have a fear of falling – I have a fear of Fall. Walking through the neighborhoods today, thinking about my non-OT friends and the many ways I’ve been letting them down, with the smell of Fall in the air, made me start thinking about how I currently live in a bubble.
I live in a graduate-school occupational therapy induced bubble. It’s large and it’s social, but it’s a bubble that doesn’t easily include the non-OT/OTS population. Seeing as how I have 24 years of family/friends that are not OT-related, this makes things a little hard. I sometimes feel like there is not enough of me to go around. I do my best to “rotate” my social schedule so that I see different friends regularly and don’t neglect anyone, but the fact of the matter is, friends DO get neglected, and sometimes I feel like none of my friends end up satisfied with the time I do find to give them. I like to think it’s better if I see a bunch of my friends quasi-regularly then to see a few friends regularly and ignore/lose the rest, but it also means all my friends would probably give me low satisfaction ratings right about now! I say the above as a blanket statement of projection – I know that most of my friends realize and understand that my schedule is crazy and that I’m not deliberately being neglectful. I just can’t help but feel I am constantly disappointing my friends in the non-OT world by not being more available. I’m talking with a friend right now and he is trying to convince me not to feel guilty or project my thoughts onto others, but it’s hard – I hate feeling like I’m not able to give friends what they want or need.
Sometimes I look over my schedule to see how I could be less selfish and incorporate my non-OT friends better. But honestly, for the most part, I haven’t been able to figure it out. I’m almost always exhausted, and typically the last thing I feel like doing at the end of a day is driving elsewhere to hang out, or even having company, period. Between being in classes, volunteering, working, getting in other leadership hours, working out, and errands/chores, there just isn’t a lot of time for social activities, and there isn’t much I can cut out that wouldn’t be detrimental to either my health (mentally, physically), and/or make it harder for me to be successful in OT school. I am a single-minded person and right now, my goal is to be a good occupational therapy student, participating in as many OT-related activities as I can, so that I am well networked, well experienced, and ready to start my career!
Sometimes I worry about posting all the doings of my day on here because I think my non-OT friends will read it and go “She has time for her OT friends, why not me/us?” The fact of the matter is, when I do get to do stuff with OT friends that is purely social, it is rarely planned. Things are always up in the air with our schedules – labs get changed, things get canceled, things get added, group meetings get scheduled, etc. If it’s 1pm and a lab just got canceled, yeah, we can go out to lunch together, but it wasn’t a planned thing. If it’s 7pm and we’ve been studying for a test and we’re exhausted and need a break, maybe we’ll end up doing something for a little while. But in general, I live in the OT bubble of grad school. I run around crazily with heavily scheduled days and when I have leisure time, I’m incredibly picky with how I spend it. I’ve always had fatigue issues and so I’m going to spend my leisure time doing something as restful and stress-less as possible, and also involving as little transportation as possible. Often times that means writing on this blog or reading books or something in the comfort of my own little place.
When I first started thinking up this entry in mind as I was walking earlier today, it seemed like it would be really profound and enlightening. But now that it is all written out, it feels really superficial. I’m realizing that really, nobody has said mean or guilt-filled things to me – I just feel personally guilty about not having as much time for people and project those feelings onto others so that I can think that other people are causing me to feel that way instead of it being self-inflicted guilt/pain. Plus, I think I’m just being a complainer/catastrophizing. But writing it all out helped me come to a real conclusion and I feel a little bit better now. Basically, being in graduate school for occupational therapy and working hard means I have to make sacrifices, and lately those sacrifices affect my non-OT social life. But overall I still see 2-4 non-OT friends almost every weekend and talk to others daily, so I guess I’m not doing that bad. Hmm. So I guess yes, I live in a Bubble, but it’s kind of a Venn diagram bubble. Does that make sense?
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