Captain of Industry to Captain of the Sofa!! :) What now?
Shock...Exhilaration...Depression...Gratitude...Anxiety...what a wild ride this life can be.
After 20+ years in a commanding tech career, I find myself officially early retired with a diagnosis of severe Rheumatoid. It is unpredictable, it can take me out for a few days or a few weeks. It can vary in severity from being just uncomfortable...to having to resort to riding in a wheelchair unable to move.
Emotionally, I am officially in the twilight zone. I sacrificed and worked extremely hard to put myself through grad school and climb the ladder. Then I hit the sweet spot, the goal, the brass ring...we called it "expert" designation.
It was everything I ever wanted and was fabulous. I loved speaking to audiences of thousands at conferences, engaging the top levels of academia, leading industry strategy summits. It was so exciting and rewarding, I just about lived on the company fleet of jets and drove global strategies. I was published, recognized and felt like I had arrived in my early 40s. Yessssss!
Now, at 43, all I lead is my cat and bird from the sofa. :\ Granted, the bird is a tough customer and keeps me busy but still....LoL...
This is the biggest challenge I've ever faced. I am trying REALLY HARD to constantly keep my attitude in check, maintain positivity and continue thanking my lucky stars. I am so glad that I purchased voluntary LTD insurance with MetLife through Intel. It has taken 16 months of effort but I've obtained a full SSDI award, LTD award from my corporation and MetLife LTD award.
I now know all about chronic pain, autoimmune diagnoses, ADA law, invisibile disabilities, how to drive the build of a strong SSDI and LTD case with objective medical findings and the ins and outs of working with attorneys for both government and private LTD insurers.
Who knew I'd have this amazing opportunity?! This was the last thing I thought I would develop an expertise in but it has been rather interesting and with the staggering number of folks being diagnosed with various forms of stress related disability, I can imagine there are many folks out there in big corporations going through a similar experience.
Now the awards are done, the official last day at work has passed and life goes on. I AM BORED OUT OF MY MIND.
I cannot work because I'm unreliable at best, when a rheumatoid flare hits me I am out of operation for days to weeks on end. I have extensive knowledge and desire to be of relevance...but my body stops me. It's frustrating.
I'd love to hear how others have dealt with going from 120mph to what feels like a dead stop...how do you avoid depression that comes with feeling irrelevant or out of the game?
How does one deal with loss of career identity, especially when the career was (admittedly likely too much a part of your identity and life)?
How do you power on when there isn't a spouse or kids to help you get through things?
What is the way to look at the loss of work friends when you are no longer part of the organization?
Perhaps there is some reading or ideas others have come to. I would be grateful for any recommendations.