Posted by: ayrshirehealth | July 17, 2013

Dancing with myself…integration – my personal journey (so far!) by @kerryahpaa

What is integration anyway?

It seems as though everyone is talking about integration just now… fact it would be difficult to find a current health and social care policy which doesn’t include it.  Dancing with integrationBut what is integration and what does it mean?

Reviewing the literature as part of my MSc module has been most enlightening…fundamentally I’ve discovered that there is no single definition of the term and that it means different things to different people.

So as we approach one of the most significant changes within the public sector, with integration of Occupational Therapy services no longer on the horizon, but nipping at our heels, I’ve taken time to reflect on what it means to me.

“He had the charm of all people who believe implicitly in themselves, that of integration.”

John Fowles, The Magus

I’ve discovered that true integration isn’t only about partnerships with others, but that self integration is equally important.  As an Occupational Therapist, I believe that the way we spend our time; and the activities, or occupations we undertake; determine how we feel.  The term “work- life balance” has been used for some time, but I prefer the term “occupational balance” as I consider work to be an integral part of my life, rather than a separate entity.

“Man, when you lose your laugh you lose your footing.”

Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Many people who work in the public sector will have first hand experience of being under stress and I am no different.  Busy work schedules, with seemingly endless emails and demands from others; coupled with family pressures; housework; trying to fit some exercise in (unsuccessfully); and personal issues, led to a highly strung me.  Dancefloor 2Not particularly pleasant to be around, I went from day to day, working longer and longer hours, achieving less and less (or so it seemed).  Until good friends said to me “you can’t go on like this…..” and they were right.

At that point I decided to climb up on the balcony which overlooks my life and have a good look at what was happening on my dance floor.  Family and friends were like the proverbial wallflowers, waiting to be asked to dance. I saw chaos and exhaustion, with little sign of laughter or fun.

The same old dances were being danced, but with little enthusiasm or energy.

“My life didn’t please me, so I created my life”.

Coco Chanel

So I decided to practice what I preach and completed the occubuzz quiz to help me identify what was happening for me. Not surprisingly, it told me what I already knew (but hadn’t acknowledged) – I was experiencing occupational imbalance and that left unaddressed, it could lead to low self esteem, poor relationships and reduced wellbeing.

So I took a decision that I’d been putting off for years – I started an MSC…. ok, so now you’re probably thinking “why would she add something else into the mix?”  But by addressing that occupational gap, the rest of my life has come back into balance which is now only upset when my next assignment is due!  Learning was the missing piece of the jigsaw for me and gave me the opportunity to learn new dances and to refuel myself.

Today I am in control because I want to be.

I have my fingers on the switch, but have lived a lifetime ignoring the control I have over my own world. Today is different.”

A.S. King, Please Ignore Vera Dietz

Dancing - treesI now feel integrated with myself and ready to dance with others.  The lessons of the past couple of years will give me the strength and motivation to lead on our Occupational Therapy integration agenda …. with a little help from my friends!


“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

This week’s Ayrshirehealth blog was by @kerryahpaa

Next week, first time blogger @joannepayneOT writes for ayrshirehealth


  1. […] Dancing with myself…integration – my personal journey (so far!)  by Kerry Gilligan on the Ayrshire Health […]

  2. […] partnerships are important, self-integration is key and one which delivers Occupational Balance. In Dancing with myself…integration – my personal journey (so far!), Kerry reflects on her own occupation imbalance and the steps she took to get this back on track. A […]

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