The below is and article provided by Maureen Ryan, a member of the Association of Occupational Therapists of Ireland.
Inspiring Occupational Therapy
I am an Occupational Therapist who loves writing, and, often write about how I am inspired by my clients. As we entered “Lockdown”, my sister prodded me to submit a piece to one of our national newspapers.
I sent it expecting to hear nothing, but, instead the editor called me back within 5 minutes. The piece was published on a Friday evening, as Ireland faced the “surge” phase of the pandemic. An undercurrent of anxiety and fear, not always vocalised, was present in every supermarket queue and phone conversation and WhatsApp thread, as we retreated to home and bunkered in. My article struck a chord.
Bravery is not a nebulous concept, an attribute only shown under fire, or in extreme danger. Bravery is what I see every day, in the faces of my clients, such as parents presented with a lifelong diagnosis for their precious child.
Any mindful therapist is well-aware of our clients’ valour and stout-heartedness. We know that clients silently bear the burden of disability without needing to dramatise. Many of our OT clients spend their lives “in lockdown” due to physical, economic, environmental or social barriers. Every evening I reflect on the courage, of the people I have met through my work, that day.
I wanted to draw attention to these people, our neighbours, as an example from which we all might draw inspiration, at time when many people were feeling overwhelmed with concern for their relatives, their jobs, their children’s schooling.
Nelson Mandela, is held aloft as an almost unattainable example of physical and spiritual bravery. He is not quite “one of us”. I wanted to draw people’s eyes to the “Nelson Mandela’s amongst us”. The clients every OT meets, the people who have Nelson’s same depth of character and moral strength. These people who, though they would reject the label, are daily heroes.
It is worthwhile to amplify that bravery, for, who knows who else might be touched and inspired to go on, by hearing the story of someone physically close to them, even if not easily visible in the community. In Ireland, we say “Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine” or “People live in the shelter of each other”. We can use each other’s bravery to shelter against our anxiety for our families, our healthcare and economy, and what the future will bring.
© Maureen Ryan Occupational Therapist CORU Reg.No. OT023579