My occupational therapy journey so far has felt like a rollercoaster. It all started with the first ascent into acute inpatient mental health. After a year, I finally felt that the journey had smoothed out. Then came the next big hill – working in eating disorders, followed by another hill as I was promoted to senior occupational therapist and embraced more service development and leadership opportunities.
I truly love working in eating disorders. Although there is a predictable structure to the week, every day holds something different; a perfect combination for someone like me who enjoys structure yet craves stimulation and challenge. My rollercoaster ride has been enriched by each person I have worked with; fascinating, inspirational people who have all brought their own unique struggles and personal qualities to the journey. And I am a better occupational therapist – and person – as a result of knowing them.
My favourite thing about this role (which is advertised on the NHS Jobs website) is that it has given me a precious opportunity to practice in a way that is consistent with my personal and professional values. Step Up is a unique occupational therapy-led service built on the foundations of collaborative working, occupation-focused practice and constant development .
And yet, the time has come for a completely new rollercoaster experience. I’m leaving permanent employment to become a locum (or temporary) occupational therapist. This is an exciting new opportunity for my rollercoaster to connect to new tracks, where I hope to develop new skills and ideas to keep me hurtling forward.
There’s a rollercoaster – the Gravity Max in Taiwan’s Discovery World theme park – which perfectly exemplifies this stage in my occupational therapy journey. On this ’tilt coaster’, the track ahead of you only connects moments before you drop.
And so, as I travel along the final stretch in my current role, staring at the abruptly ending track and wondering what lies ahead, I feel a mixture of sadness, excitement, panic and hope. Just as you do on a rollercoaster, I am embracing the confusing mix of emotions and doing all I can to remain fully present in the moment. In the words of one of my favourite songs from a musical:
“Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It’s time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes
It’s time to try defying gravity”
If you are also considering Defying Gravity, contact me on LinkedIn. I’ve learnt that the journey is far more enjoyable (and way less terrifying!) when you’ve got someone in the seat next to you. I may be able to recommend an agency or share some of the knowledge I hope to pick up.
Or, at the very least, I’ll be someone to scream in the seat next to you!