Do I need Occupational Therapy?

I have recently started to take on private bookings for mental health occupational therapy services in Werribee, Melbourne, Victoria. In doing so, I feel it is important to share what this looks like so you can determine whether these services would be of benefit for you. I will do this a little differently – through story telling. Just remember whether you have a previous diagnosis, or are just not feeling your best, I encourage you to seek help early from whichever service feels right for you.

A Step Forward

I watched the news as the Victorian Premier confirmed the sixth Victorian lockdown would be extended. I couldn’t ignore it any longer – I felt burnt out and exhausted. I had really tried the positive affirmations and practicing gratitude thing. It helped a bit. I knew there were worse things happening in other parts of the world. That I was privileged and safe. Yet I couldn’t deny my experience either. Sure my difficulties sounded trivial to others, but they were important to me. I had really been looking forward to meeting my family for dinner this weekend. I felt alone, sad, perhaps depressed. My anxiety was becoming worse. I knew the importance of following health precautions yet I couldn’t ignore the despair I was feeling deep down. I felt overwhelmed with all the emotions I was experiencing. Sadness, grief, relief, appreciation, despair…

Prior to the pandemic, I had often dreamt of working from home. My first lockdown was a novel experience and I enjoyed embracing my introverted side. But as the fourth, fifth and now sixth lockdown came I couldn’t help but feel… over it. I wanted things to go back to normal. Despite having more time, I still wasn’t leading the healthy lifestyle I wanted. My sleep was irregular, eating was poor and I wasn’t very active. I found it hard to concentrate at work or speak with my friends. I looked at You Tube videos of people transforming their lives in lockdown and felt guilty I couldn’t do the same. I wasn’t enjoying cooking or crafts anymore. I didn’t know what to do.

I told a friend how I was feeling, who encouraged me to speak with a counsellor or psychologist. I told my friend I had been to therapy before. I felt great during the sessions, but found it hard to apply those strategies in my daily life. I felt overwhelmed constantly thinking about my thought patterns.

Wouldn’t it be great if a therapist could just come to my home and help me in real time. Do it together rather than recommend me a list of things to do. I wouldn’t mind unpacking my trauma’s and stressors, but perhaps in a more gentle way, while I engaged in art, baked a cake or went for a walk. So it didn’t feel so confronting.

My friend then suggested a life coach, but I didn’t like that idea either. I felt uneasy working with someone who didn’t have an accredited health background. Besides, I wanted real advice, not just ‘what do you think you should do?’ at every problem. My friend laughed at that and then suggested occupational therapy.

“Occupational Therapy? What like my job?” I asked.

My friend laughed again, and then shared with me how OT’s worked with people in their daily lives. I was intrigued. It sounded too good to be true. Perhaps there was a type of Life Therapist that was accredited, evidence based and regulated. I just hadn’t known what it was called – Occupational Therapy!

Working from home means it is harder to get into a productive zone, with unclear personal and work boundaries. Spending more time with loved ones also means facing relationship difficulties you may have ignored previously. Ongoing restrictions can feel as though there is a cloud of stress hovering over us.