Thinking about retiring

Fibromale

Member
Joined
May 4, 2021
Messages
13
Reason
DX FIBRO
Diagnosis
01/2021
Country
US
State
TX
If you have read my previous post you may remember I’ve had FM for 7 years but was finally diagnosed early this year.

Working full time has been a struggle for sure and it’s been getting more difficult as time goes on. I know my quality of life would get better if I didn’t have the stress of work.

Fortunately, I have been working for the same company for many years and I’m at the early retirement age so I could if I want to but we would be accepting a lower lifestyle. I would be perfectly fine with that but I doubt my wife would. She has been supportive but has a tendency to not understand my limitations and when I brought up early retirement a few months ago, it did not go well. She thinks I should keep working so I don’t give in to the illness.

So my problem is, what do I say to convince her retirement is what I need to improve my mental and physical wellbeing?

Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
 

sunkacola

Very helpful member
Joined
Dec 2, 2016
Messages
1,466
Reason
DX FIBRO
Diagnosis
00/0000
Country
Uni
State
Somewhere
Gosh, that is a hard situation to be in.
On the one hand, it can be understandable she doesn't want to change her lifestyle.
But, more important is your health and well-being.

First, retiring is NOT "giving in" to the illness. If you broke your leg, would she insist you not "give in" to it and you should run a marathon?
If you had diabetes, should you "not give in" and therefore not take insulin?

If you have fibromyalgia, resting when you need to, lowering stress, eating well, and so on are the things you have to do in order to have quality of life. there's nothing about this that is "giving in". It is taking care of yourself. If you feel that retiring would improve your quality of life, that is not "giving in".

In fact, the whole concept of "giving in" to an illness is completely inappropriate.

When I contemplated this retire-or-not situation, my question was this: Do I keep on working until my body really gives out, is completely messed up and I am absolutely forced to stop, and then I will be much worse off than I am now physically and I won't be able to do the fun and interesting things that give me joy in life, and that I can do more of after I retire?

Or, do I retire now, while I am still relatively able to manage the physical problems I have, and while I am still able to do things that are fun, so I can enjoy what is left of my life?

Put that way, it's really a no-brainer, as long as you can afford to retire.

If your wife loves you, she should want the best for your health, and assuming that you won't go broke, your health and well being should not play second fiddle to the amount of money you have coming in.

Does she work? If not...maybe she can get a part time job if she needs more spending money?
 

Jemima

Senior member
Joined
Jul 30, 2020
Messages
456
Reason
DX FIBRO
Diagnosis
11/2019
Country
PT
Hi Fibromale,

I read your post yesterday, and although I didn't know how to answer right away, it kept bouncing around in my mind. I feel so much for you and can empathise with that feeling of not knowing where to draw the line between your own needs and the needs of those you care about. I have to say, I agree a lot with what Sunkacola said. I think it's a common thread that those of us with fibromyalgia tend to dig ourselves into a deeper hole because we don't want to be a burden on others, but your quality of life matters too. There's a real possibility that allowing yourself to slow down will help your symptoms ease up, which might mean you can offer more to your partner in other ways, such as time enjoyed together.

I also went through the transition from not telling people what I was dealing with, to being quite open about it - but was still struggling with not feeling understood by the people in my life. I think we've all felt the sting of that classic "buy you look fine!" comment. Not long ago, I found myself at a party talking to someone who has had fibro for 25 years. She was telling me how much of a battle raising her kids was, and how the biggest strain for her in the earlier years was that nobody could see how much of a fight she was going through daily. Hearing that come from someone else's mouth hit me like a truck, and I welled up immediately! I don't think we give ourselves enough credit for carrying that feeling.

There's a meme circulating online - it's an image that someone created as a visual representation of fibromyalgia, showing a guy's back covered in bruises and nerve lines, and the caption reads "If fibromyalgia was visible, this is what our bodies would really look like." It's quite a shocking picture, but after realising how negatively misunderstanding was impacting me, I decided to show it to the closest people in my life - family, immediate friends, and colleagues. Fighting the instinct that I was being too self-indulgent, I found that this simple representation was enough to help the penny drop, and they switched from saying things like "and, are you feeling better?" to "how is your pain today?" I know it seems like a tiny difference, but the pressure to be fine when you're just not gets too much sometimes!

Of course, you don't need to show your wife a grizzly meme, but perhaps you can try to find a way to help her understand what you're dealing with more fully. From there, I hope that you can figure out how to navigate your retirement decision in a united way, and that you'll have support to do the things that will best benefit your long term well-being. It's fantastic that you're in a position to do that, so I hope you get to make a change in the not too distant future!
 

Fibromale

Member
Joined
May 4, 2021
Messages
13
Reason
DX FIBRO
Diagnosis
01/2021
Country
US
State
TX
sunkacola and Jemima,

Thank you so much for your heartfelt and insightful responses. I’ve read them multiple times. I think you both are an amazing asset to this forum and I’m so glad I joined.

I’m happy to report that I’ve had several conversations with my wife since my original post and the possibility of early retirement seems to be shifting more towards a reality. She does work and would continue if I retire. Although it’s not a done deal, things are looking up.

Thank you both again for taking the time to respond to me. I really appreciate it!
 

Jemima

Senior member
Joined
Jul 30, 2020
Messages
456
Reason
DX FIBRO
Diagnosis
11/2019
Country
PT
I'm so happy for you, commend you for your bravery, and wish you better and better things! Thank you, also, for your kind words ☀️
 

JayCS

Very helpful member
Joined
Sep 5, 2020
Messages
625
Reason
DX FIBRO
Diagnosis
02/2020
Country
GE
I think my situation is very similar to yours... :)
My wife (along with some of the docs) was also one of the people who thought stopping work completely would be too early, as I had made it into a dream job over the years by targeting what was making it difficult and is one which gives people a sense of purpose. And my colleagues often say they can't imagine that I'd be happy stopping work, as I was always passionate about it, enjoyed it, was committed. Since getting fibro hit me full flare I've always argued and still do that it it may have been the case, but I have quickly learnt to listen to my body and accept what it is telling me, despite my still partly existing mind energy, and it is telling me that everything is too much. After 10 months of finding a few things that helped (mainly osteopathy, cryotherapy and acupressure, also pacing and pinpointing symptoms, getting all pains down) I started a rehab which meant going from +20% every four weeks. At 60% I had to go back to 40%, but it was still taxing. Looking at my wife she then said: I didn't want you to stop, I just wanted you to try, and I can see it's not working (there's a meme about real loved ones being people who can see your pain - my wife is that). So now I'm working 15-20% with all (3) kinds of disability possible for me, also doing only 'easy' tasks. Which aren't easy for others, but they are now for me, now the energy ones are severely cut. I'm still over the limit because I still need a lot of time to do my "fibro-work". Apart from doing acupressure 4h/wk, occasional psychotherapy, 1h+ self-treatments per day, that means sorting GABA & Co. out (reading & writing), keeping my blog/diary, working at compiling info, all also for mental hygiene, but also to help pace and get more symptoms down even more, continually. I would like to get chores etc. done more & better, have a bit more energy for mates and my grandchild/family, I still haven't got enough time to self-care, do what I need. So I'm aiming on getting down to 10-15% using up tons of overtime I'd amassed. Also in the long run they have to let me come later in the day, not early in the morning. If I'd retire now (which'd have to be due to disability) and wanted to start again in 1 or 2 years, I cdnt stay at the same workplace, which'd make it pretty tough. I might get a handle on all this some day, at least things are continually improving step by step, and then I can imagine getting back up to 40%. My wife is now still the first person to say that it still might be too much and who'd agree if I said I need to stop, but my mates are that way too, so thankfully I have all the support I need and make my decisions freely. I still get quite a bit of money and don't need much, so the pay part is OK too. Hope that helps! :) Bit late - due to the reasons named... :-D
 

Fibromale

Member
Joined
May 4, 2021
Messages
13
Reason
DX FIBRO
Diagnosis
01/2021
Country
US
State
TX
You are very lucky to have the support you need and a very understanding wife.

I suppose my biggest hurdle has been my wife telling me I’ve been at my worst since being diagnosed in January although I’ve had Fibro for much longer. I explained what she has been noticing is that I’m no longer trying to fight against it. Instead, as you and others have mentioned, I’m listening to my mind and body much more closely now and reacting accordingly. Understanding my limits, resting more and saying no to things I know will stress me out.

After communicating it that way, she seems to be more understanding about the change in my behavior since the diagnosis. Today was a good example. While doing some work at the house I said I can’t go on anymore and she said okay. I would have received a different response just weeks ago.

If I do retire soon, and it’s looking more likely, I will have more time for self care and a bit more energy for friends and family like you mentioned. A better situation for all.
 

Sabina

Member
Joined
Aug 6, 2020
Messages
18
Reason
DX FIBRO
Diagnosis
09/2010
Country
US
State
IL
I semi-retired at age 62. I started getting my Social Security & found a part-time desk job. I go to work 3 days a week; 4-5 hours per day.. It has changed my life & I have never once looked back.
If you can't swing that, look into getting FMLA. I used it when I was working a very stressful full time job & it enabled me to work at home 3 days per week which was a big help at the time. You do need to have a doctor complete the forms for you.

Best of luck.
 
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