When you simplify some of mankind’s basic desires, one of them if Fullfilment. We want to feel like we are contributing something to society. When all of a sudden you don’t have the ability to do that, there is a gaping hole in the persona. Now I will grant you there are always exceptions and there are those that are perfectly content contributing absolutely nothing but I have to believe they are in the minority.
When someone goes on disability, gets furloughed/laid off, etc. all of a sudden several things are happening at once that you are having to deal with. What do I do now for income? Am I somehow viewed as expendable? Do I not bring value and worth to my employer? But the most difficult question of all is what does my family think of me? It is very important to the male psyche to feel they are a valued contributor to theIr family. When that feeling goes away, the effects can be catastrophic and lead to hopelessness, depression and a loss of confidence.Depending on what your plans are and your individual situation, the primary thing I would recommend you do is simply stay busy.
If you have been furloughed and you have a date where you will be returning too work, use this time to get some much needed projects done around the house. You will find it very cathartic and it will be greatly appreciated. If you think there is a possibility that you are going to have to sell your house, these kind of projects that give you the best value for your time. If you are not selling your house, it can provide a much needed cathartic outlet in working off excess energy and angst. Some things to definitely avoid are too much time on the internet (Facebook will melt your brain), too much time just sitting in front of the TV binging your favorite shows..
If you are going on SSA Disability, you can earn up to $1,500 per month. So if you want to find something to do part-time to help occupy your day, go for it. Staying busy is very important for your mental health and maintaining a sense of self-fullfillment. If you have been furloughed because of the current health crisis there are actually a lot of jobs out there that are considered essential and can provide some immediate income for your family and possible medical benefits as well.
The other thing I highly recommend is finding a volunteer organization that you can feel passionate about and pour yourself into it or consider going back to school. Here is what I do:
1. Scouts BSA – Vulcan District Chairman
2. Scouts BSA – Greater Alabama Council Executive Board Member
3. Scouts BSA – Troop 93 Assistant Scoutmaster
4. Fellowship of Christian Athletes (UAB Chapter) – Board of Directors
5. Cross Creek Church – Pastoral Care Minister, New Visitor Coordinator, Sunday School Guest Teacher
6. Birmingham Theological Seminary – Masters of Biblical Counseling
Involving yourself in activities and organizations that do important work, work that you can be passionate about is one of the single most important things you can do to give yourself a sense of meaning and fulfillment. This is especially true if you are now on disability and can no longer work. For myself, giving up a career of 24 years was very traumatic and at the beginning caused severe depression and a sense of uselessness. I am now two years into disability retirement and I am in a much better place emotionally. I have now also opened myself up to doing some occasional consulting.
If you are reading this and you find you’re self in a similar situation, don’t give up hope. Make a list of three things that you can be passionate about and find an organization that can be an outlet for you. I promise you that even though it may not be the same as your previous career but it is a great substitute that can give you that sense of meaning and fullfillment back to your life. Feel free to comment and I will answer your questions. Good luck and God bless.