OPM Disability Retirement: Light & Darkness

Darkness is the absence of light; and whether “black” is a color, or the complete expungement or its very opposite, the aggregation and mixture of all colors into a single cauldron of rainbows, is a concept often debated, based upon philosophical paradigms of objective criteria.  But darkness is not the same as color, or the lack thereof; rather, it points to the subjective capacity to perceive; and thus do we attribute the word, the concept, and the ideation not only to sight, but to moods and feelings.  And of its antithesis, do we embrace a similitude:  of lightness of being, having light-headedness, and of metaphors involving shining bright lights upon dark corners of moods and metabolic disturbances.

Medical conditions and situations which entrap moods and mental mindsets, are often enveloped in what can only be described as “darkness”.  One may discount and serve with ironic suspicion the use of anthropomorphic metaphors and analogies to describe circumstances and moods of pervasive negations, but the fact is that the mode of communication we primarily use — of linguistic tools through words and stringing together of words — can sometimes only inadequately express the profound and overwhelming sense of one’s being.  “Darkness” and escape from such a situation through the shining of light, is a concept which individuals understand when medical conditions, whether chronic pain and physical debilitation or psychiatric measures of depression, anxiety, panic attacks, etc., impact one’s life in untold ways.

Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from medical conditions, where the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, know well the mood of darkness — of the insecurity because of one’s employment, and sense of foreboding because the end of one’s career is within sight of a shortened plateau of accomplishments.  And what will the future hold?  What will my family, friends, and peers think of me?  I am not doing this to “game” the system, but because it is necessary to preserve what is left of me; but will others understand?

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a traumatic event in and of itself; it is, as the proverbial concept implies, a darkness in a period of one’s life; and until an approval is received from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management determining the validity and acceptance of a Federal Disability Retirement application, such darkness will only squeeze out any potentiality of a lightness of being.

For, “light” is not merely the opposite of “darkness”, nor darkness the pure expungement of light; rather, the one follows upon the other when a recognition of awareness is achieved, that the flowing stream from a hidden spring of hope can only be tasted when the trickling water finds its way down rocky paths to the tributary of life’s meaning which is unraveled for significance and unconcealed mysteries of human suffering.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

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