OPM Disability Retirement: Cycles of reality & unreality

The linear model of life is the preferred perspective for the Western world; the cyclical, for the traditional Eastern sector, as well as the indigenous cultures of the Americas; whether such an outlook alters the way in which we live is debatable.  In either or for both, however, it is the passing through of various realities and “unrealities” that is often overlooked, and not whether or not there is a straight and linear road as opposed to a cycle of returns and reenactments.

Reality is the being we encounter; unreality, the life within our minds and souls, depicted by thoughts, emotions, daydreams and nightmares.  How the two interact, whether in cyclical form or in a linear continuum, often defines how well we are able to adjust in maneuvering through the difficult passages of life.

We encounter “others” in the reality of our being; but as to the “other” person’s thoughts, feelings, history of life and other subjective issues, we know nothing about them except what we are told.  We could work beside another individual in an office setting and never truly know the “unreality” of his or her life, and when we retire, the office throws a party, and we depart and suddenly realize that the cycle of reality was a limited one, and the subjective unreality of another person’s life never really touched us.

Or, one is married to another for a decade, two decades, perhaps even three, and a cycle of reality is embraced where life becomes a routine, taking each other for granted through habit of form, monotony of repetition and predictability of actions.  Yet, after some decades, the significant other does something completely “out of character” – suddenly dyes his or her hair purple, goes bungee jumping or unannounced gets his or her nose pierced without telling anyone.  When asked, the reply is: “Oh, I got bored and decided to do something different.”

That is when the cycle of unreality suddenly surfaces into the boundaries of reality, and we suddenly realize, again and again, and are reminded fortuitously, that there is a subjective unreality that we can never quite pierce or fully comprehend, just as others cannot of our own.

That is what often happens with a medical condition.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the question often asked is:  “When do I tell my agency”?  Isn’t that a peculiar question – as if no one at the agency knew or knows about your ongoing medical condition, and that filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through OPM is going to be a complete surprise to everyone?

But that is, indeed, the reality of the unreal, where those around you are completely oblivious of the pain, the turmoil and the complications of those medical conditions you have had to deal with for so many years.  It is, in one sense, rather sad; but it represents the cycles of reality & unreality in an uncaring universe which prompts such an empty feeling when the question asked doesn’t quite have an answer to be given.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire