Friday, August 5, 2011

How fortunate I am to lead a busy, hectic, overwhelming life

It is so common to hear people complain about how busy they are. They are busy working; driving their kids to activities; keeping up their house, car, cottage, trailer, boat, etc; pursuing hobbies; and many other activities.

Then I talk to a client with severe and persistent mental illness, and I see a stark contrast. Just to be clear, many people with mental illnesses lead busy lives, just not the ones who are usually referred to me. If they are doing well enough to lead a busy life, they usually do not need my assistance. Also, people with other kinds of disabilities can experience similar challenges.

Most of the clients I see have often lost contact with family members; never married or else are divorced; are unable to maintain employment; do not own a house, etc.; and have difficulty finding rewarding leisure activities.

In fact, one of the most common complaints that I hear from clients is that they have way too much time, and do not know what to do with it. I also frequently hear that they are incredibly lonely. At times, coming from my hectic life, it has seemed difficult to understand this boredom and loneliness.

Of course, as an occupational therapist, part of my role has been to help people find meaningful ways to fill their time, and help clients find ways to make meaningful connections with other people.

However, I return to my life and see it with fresh eyes. I now try to refer to my life as "full" instead of "busy", and to appreciate how fortunate I am to lead a full life.

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