Retired? Unemployed? Sick? Or what?

In five minutes I am having a call with my employer to finalise my official leaving date (why do they call it termination??). I am sad as it probably marks the end of my career since it is hard to imagine ever being well enough to work again. I am blessed that I will continue to be paid an income though a insurance backed scheme. So at 49 what do I call myself? I am surely not “retired” and indeed won’t be claiming my pension. I am no longer employed so am I unemployed? But surely that means I’d be looking for work which I am not. On sick leave? But that implies I have a job to go back to which I will not. A gentleman of leisure? Part of the aristocracy? I really don’t know what to call myself or how to answer the question “what do you do?” other than “Well I do a bit of social media from time to time…”!

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Hi @Adrian, I sense you have lots of mixed emotions.
It is so true what do you call yourself and what really annoys me is that question so immediately asked upon meeting someone ‘and what do you do?’ to sort of pigeon hole you in some way. I know someone who will not retire just because of that question.
I would suggest something along the lines around ‘I am taking time out to consider what I really want to do when I grow up’.
The 5 minutes is up, have you had the call yet?
What is your official leaving date?
Start planning your celebrations although we will probably all still be in lockdown then.
Please keep letting us know your thoughts and feelings we are here to support you.

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Hiya. I don’t officially leave till end of April but I haven’t worked properly for almost four years. Actually it will be my four year anniversary of sickness when I leave. Which is a coincidence. But I did manage some work for a few months after getting sick tho it was really hard. Not sure I feel like celebrating to be honest.

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Hi @Adrian, fair comment not a time for celebrating.
How are you feeling about being in Lockdown 3 and how are you feeling in yourself?
Anyone else had feelings around the loss of employment?

Hi @Adrian and @Erica. Adrian, I feel for you so much. The shock of finding out you have a blood cancer is bad enough, without also having to face early retirement due to ill health. I was in a very similar situation to you over 20 years ago when I was in my thirties. It is very hard and even now I don’t like it when someone asks the inevitable question, “What do you do?” For several years I did some voluntary work and so I was able to talk about that, but these days I tend to answer by saying something like “I had to stop working due to ill health.” There is the ongoing problem of blood cancer being a hidden illness and I still dread the comments about how well people think I look! Some days I could scream!! Thinking of you. Warm wishes. Willow

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Hi @Adrian. That must feel really strange. I was thinking about what you said. I wonder what your response will be when somebody asks? Maybe something will just come out and you’ll surrpise yourself. Please keep letting us know how you are doing.

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I can only sympathise @Adrian . I’m a similar age to you but I don’t know what I’d do with myself if I didn’t work. If I could afford it I’d just do voluntary work but I don’t live with family so I need some income. I’d also miss the personal contact even with people I’m not especially close to. It was hard enough being away for nearly 5 months back in 2018. I was really relieved to get back even though it’s not an especially fascinating role. Keep in touch with how you’re doing and I hope you’re able to find the answer that is right for you.

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Adrian, I empathise with you, as I had to retire at 54 from a job I loved. Although it took me a while I now have a full life. I volunteer for the local hospice, one day a week, although this has not happened whilst I’m shielding. I also run a Support Group for people with Myeloma and as we only meet every six weeks, currently on Zoom, this is all done from home. I decided to do some low level studying and initially did some Future Learn courses which are free. I now learn Spanish and have a weekly class but also use Duolingo which is free. As I got stronger I took up tai chi which I currently do via Zoom and even do Zumba but Zumba Gold which is less intense. So hopefully you too will find things to fill your day and give you a purpose. I wish you all the best. As I am now 68 I have no problem in saying I’m retired!

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Hi @Joan . Like you said, it takes a while to find yourself. Sounds like you have lots to keep you busy!

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Hi Adrian, you are so articulate and honest. I think you will find that you develop a range of answers in different depth to that sticky question. I found that I started with the “I was a … for … years and it was a job I relished and still miss now but after some health issues I am recovering and am not yet sure what I will do in the future.” Nervous folks will stick to the known, empathetic folk will check on how you are feeling and keeping now and the go getters will plan your life for you! Job done!!
My wish for you is that you might feel released from the battle to get fit for your busy career and adjust to not working full time. You really do not need to feel bad about it. It is hard when we are so conditioned to think of our working life as who we are. It is really not the case. It is of course a big part in hours spent and status and our education and family history can be very relevant. I found that regular exercise helped me a lot. It was pathetically slow at first. I chose swimming and just pottered about in the pool and then swam for a set time but with as many stops as I wanted and eventually built up to swimming a kilometre. I am at home in water and it relaxed me and blanked my mind. It may not be that for you but I look forward to hearing how you get on. Our lives are all in turmoil at the moment anyway and even the most positive of us are a bit at sea and emotions up and down. I for one would love to know how you are occasionally and what you have to share. There is a men’s group in my area that meets for a pie and a pint. It is all ages and by all accounts quite popular. That may not be for you but opportunities are around.

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I think articulate and honest applies to both of you. Great to share your experiences with each other x

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How about Resting as I hope that’s what you’ll be doing.

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Hi @Adrian and all

Well - I hope your discussion went well with your employer, and that you are adjusting to the change in your employment status!

You ask a very poignant question. So many of these ‘invisible’ illnesses cross paths where there are no clear directions as to the route and answers needed as time passes.

Feelings of being ‘blessed’ as you will receive an ‘income through an insurance backed scheme’, are totally understood by me (Financial Adviser/Planner of 30 years). The additional stress of ‘financial concerns’, while dealing with any form of prolonged illness is so stressful at a time when full focus should be on ones well-being and return to ‘as normal health’ as one who is affected, can hope for. I am very pleased to hear this very important part of your life, is not a part you need to worry about moving forward.

On a professional level, I would refer to you as medically retired (although there are some much better suggestions in this thread!). The insurance you refer to is designed to continue to provide and replace your income, until your eventual ‘planned’ retirement, when your income would naturally change to a different source - your pension.

GrandmJo is so right when referring to the enquiries of others; those that will judge too quickly when they see someone who is apparently ‘fit and young enough’ in THEIR EYES to work, but don’t …’but they appear to have a reasonable income’ – ‘how very dare they’! They are easily spotted and as such, avoidable. You seem articulate enough to have a simple response to leave them thinking of their own shortcomings!

The ‘empathetic folk’, they are amazing! Kindness and empathy are so underrated as virtues. They can both help and affect us all in very positive ways – but some of us have to learn to accept their genuine expressions!

I also wish you well moving forward, being ‘financially’ released from your busy career, to refocus on you, your well-being, your health and your life as a result of contracting a blood cancer!

I guess what I am trying to say Adrian – there isn’t a right or wrong answer when asked “what do you do?”, but you will find the right answer at the right time, that most importantly, works for you.

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Such a great response @AdamM! How are you keeping?

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