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Coping with the Challenges of Forced Retirement


Barbarannamated

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Barbarannamated

Coping with the challenges of forced retirement

http://www.fireengineering.com/articles/print/volume-160/issue-8/features/coping-with-the-challenges-of-forced-retirement.html

 

Solida's question about coping with being unable to work prompted me to post this article. It is targeted to Firefighters but is the best description and explanation of what I experienced since forced onto disability and medical retirement when i was 39.

 

It explains how Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs are abruptly challenged and rearranged. It also refers to Elizabeth Kubler Ross' and grieving the loss of the largest part of life apart from family/people.

 

When i was forced onto long term disability, i didn't realise it would end up being a permanent end to my career. I suspect this is the case for many people in similar positions. I learned later that it is very unusual for people to return to work after being on disability for more than 1 year. Some programs (including SSDI) have Return to Work incentive programs and Trial Periods to help people get back to some work, even part time, without risking the loss of all benefits. My program does not offer that. It's an all or nothing program.

 

I believe that if i had viewed and processed what happened to me with this information, i may have been able to move forward in some healthier and more timely way.

 

I hope this may be of benefit to someone else.

 

BASIC NEEDS

 

A forced retirement challenges several of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. 2 Maslow’s theory was that people will seek the next level of needs after acquiring the basic needs. Figure 1 shows how some of the basic needs are violated by a forced retirement.

 

SAFETY NEEDS

 

People have a need for safety. Forced retirement challenges an employee’s safety needs. The employee is removed from his job; the injury/illness violates the employee’s safe work

environment; and there is a change in retirement savings. The injury/illness may also violate the firefighter’s need for the security of health.

 

SOCIAL NEEDS

The employee forced into retirement often feels that he no longer is part of the fire department. Over time, he begins to feel that he has less and less in common with the current workforce. The firefighter feels the lack of the team-based operation. The injury/illness may prevent the firefighter from attending social events. The employee may choose not to attend social events with fellow firefighters out of the fear that the firefighters will not accept him because of the injury/illness. Fellow firefighters may not be understanding of the illness/injury that forced the firefighter into retirement. Fellow firefighters may view the retired firefighter as “damaged goods” or believe that he is faking the injury. Fellow firefighters may not have a clear understanding of the injury/illness that led to the forced retirement. For example, in some cases, people do not understand a psychological injury as opposed to a physical injury. For the psychological injury, there are no X-rays to read or physical wounds to see, making it hard for fellow firefighters and administrators to believe there is an injury. The misunderstanding or lack of understanding of the injury may lead to resentments among firefighters. The underlying resentment can push the injured firefighter farther away from the department and the support system he desperately needs.

 

For most firefighters, the job is who they are. When this is taken away, they lose their identity. Look around the firefighter’s life; you will notice a strong identity with the fire service in the form of off-duty clothing, homes, and vehicles identifying him as a firefighter. A firefighter struggling to find a new identity may become frustrated and angered over having to choose a new identity because of the injury/illness. The frustration and anger, if not properly addressed, can result in the firefighter’s becoming depressed. Add the diagnosis of depression to the injury/illness, and the recovery process may be complicated and prolonged.

 

ESTEEM NEEDS

 

The firefighter forced into retirement may feel he is not appreciated and valued. Resentment and bitterness may affect him and his recovery. Generally, people want to feel that they are appreciated and valued by the department.

 

SELF ACTUALIZATION

A natural feeling demonstrated by firefighters forced into retirement may be that they have been robbed of their ability to reach their full career potential. In time, some people will overcome this feeling by finding a new way to contribute to the fire service. They may consider teaching part-time at the state fire academy or the local college or writing for trade journals. They may even develop a totally new career path. (2)

 

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs involves basic needs most people value. However, not all people have the same needs at the same time and may have other driving forces for their needs. A secure living area (a place to call home) and money (a paycheck) are very basic needs. Challenge any of these needs (home and money), and you will have a fight on your hands. The chances are that the firefighter will fight you to the very end.

 

DEATH OF A CAREER

 

A person forced into retirement is grieving the loss of a career. For some people, the loss of their career can result in a grieving process much like that following the death of a friend or loved one. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross has written extensively on death and dying.4 She outlines five steps in the process of grieving a loss. The loss may be in the form of a loved pet, a job, a marriage, or any other thing a person cares for very strongly.

Pristiq tapered over 8 months ending Spring 2011 after 18 years of polydrugging that began w/Zoloft for fatigue/general malaise (not mood). CURRENT: 1mg Klonopin qhs (SSRI bruxism), 75mg trazodone qhs, various hormonesLitigation for 11 years for Work-related injury, settled 2004. Involuntary medical retirement in 2001 (age 39). 2012 - brain MRI showing diffuse, chronic cerebrovascular damage/demyelination possibly vasculitis/cerebritis. Dx w/autoimmune polyendocrine failure.<p>2013 - Dx w/CNS Sjogren's Lupus (FANA antibodies first appeared in 1997 but missed by doc).

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Barb I think these issues apply to people who are laid off or fired.

 

It's heavy stuff and can be very depressing.

Intro: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1902-nikki-hi-my-rundown-with-ads/

 

Paxil 1997-2004

Crossed over to Lexapro Paxil not available

at Pharmacies GSK halted deliveries

Lexapro 40mgs

Lexapro taper (2years)

Imipramine

Imipramine and Celexa

Now Nefazadone/Imipramine 50mgs. each

45mgs. Serzone  50mgs. Imipramine

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Barbarannamated

Barb I think these issues apply to people who are laid off or fired.

It's heavy stuff and can be very depressing.

 

In the case of forced retirement, it's different because it's due to a permanent medical condition or disability and there's often no choice or ability to return to work without change in what was determined to be a permanent medical condition preventing person from working. It's usually decided after lengthy medico-legal evaluations to determine if the condition will improve or not. Some situations do allow for modified work.

 

With layoffs or firings, the person can immediately seek new employment. There's no medical component.

Pristiq tapered over 8 months ending Spring 2011 after 18 years of polydrugging that began w/Zoloft for fatigue/general malaise (not mood). CURRENT: 1mg Klonopin qhs (SSRI bruxism), 75mg trazodone qhs, various hormonesLitigation for 11 years for Work-related injury, settled 2004. Involuntary medical retirement in 2001 (age 39). 2012 - brain MRI showing diffuse, chronic cerebrovascular damage/demyelination possibly vasculitis/cerebritis. Dx w/autoimmune polyendocrine failure.<p>2013 - Dx w/CNS Sjogren's Lupus (FANA antibodies first appeared in 1997 but missed by doc).

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Barb I think these issues apply to people who are laid off or fired.

 

It's heavy stuff and can be very depressing.

 

Not necessarily, Nikki. I retired voluntarily and found myself at sea, a nobody in a country where what you do for a living is who you are. Retired = 0.

Psychotropic drug history: Pristiq 50 mg. (mid-September 2010 through February 2011), Remeron (mid-September 2010 through January 2011), Lexapro 10 mg. (mid-February 2011 through mid-December 2011), Lorazepam (Ativan) 1 mg. as needed mid-September 2010 through early March 2012

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." -Hanlon's Razor


Introduction: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1588-introducing-jemima/

 

Success Story: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/6263-success-jemima-survives-lexapro-and-dr-dickhead-too/

Please note that I am not a medical professional and my advice is based on personal experience, reading, and anecdotal information posted by other sufferers.

 

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Barbarannamated

I have definitely been in the Bargaining stage until recently - thinking i could/would go back to work. Now in Depression stage. Not sure why this all coincided with withdrawal.

 

"The third stage, Bargaining, may have the firefighter believing that he can bargain his way back into the job. The firefighter thinks that maybe sometime down the road he will be able to go back and do the job one more time-that maybe someday the department will create a new position for him.

 

The fourth stage, Depression, comes when the firefighter no longer denies his forced retirement, is faced with fewer fiscal resources and increased expenses, and has less social support and a diminished social activity calendar. Many times, we do not associate the signs of depression with a person who has been forced into retirement. We tend to think of retirement in a positive way. Nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to a forced retirement."

Pristiq tapered over 8 months ending Spring 2011 after 18 years of polydrugging that began w/Zoloft for fatigue/general malaise (not mood). CURRENT: 1mg Klonopin qhs (SSRI bruxism), 75mg trazodone qhs, various hormonesLitigation for 11 years for Work-related injury, settled 2004. Involuntary medical retirement in 2001 (age 39). 2012 - brain MRI showing diffuse, chronic cerebrovascular damage/demyelination possibly vasculitis/cerebritis. Dx w/autoimmune polyendocrine failure.<p>2013 - Dx w/CNS Sjogren's Lupus (FANA antibodies first appeared in 1997 but missed by doc).

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