Michael, a retired civil servant, talks about his experience of transitioning into retirement.
Attending a course on Positive Ageing and Resilience Training helped Michael to become more confident in talking to people and become more socially connected.
I wasn’t prepared for my retirement, not at all. We’re going back to December 2014 when I had a really bad cold and I could feel myself slowing down. At night, I was getting really bad sweats and I just put it down to ‘man getting old’, but eventually I went to my doctor because I was still feeling rough and he decided to do a blood test.
He told me that I had a rare blood condition called polycythemia. I was producing too many red blood cells and the blood was thick. I had to have a double bone marrow biopsy and various other treatments. During this period my line manager referred me to Occupational Health three times, which wasn’t really helping. It took me about three days to get over each venesection and I was on reduced hours as my line manager tried to get me back working.
There was a two-week period while I was having treatment where I had to go back to working full-time. At one point my line manager said to me that I might end up with an ill-health dismissal, but that wasn’t the way I wanted to end my career. I decided to take early retirement, even though my game plan was to do 40 years in the civil service – I would have retired a year later.
My retirement was something that was always going to happen, but I would have liked more time to prepare rather than being thrown in at the deep end. If I’d had more time I would have reduced my hours, planned my resignation and given myself more time to think about what I was actually going to do after I left work.
My retirement was something that was always going to happen, but I would have liked more time to prepare rather than being thrown in at the deep end.
Initially retirement was a struggle. I was getting used to the idea, but felt anxious and in the dark about my pension. I started to worry that I’d lose all my social connections and I was feeling stressed about my health. But I was trying to look on the bright side, and I could see a light at the end of the tunnel.
In May 2016 I started volunteering, and round about the same time, I began the Positive Ageing and Resilience Training. An unexpected aspect of the ten-week course that I thought was very good was the breathing exercises and the relaxation. The bits that were more thinking about where you’re at now and the future benefitted me the most because I then began to plan.
When I retired I found myself talking to more people in the local area. Slowly, but surely, I got more involved in the community. When I was working I would just meet a friend for a coffee on a Saturday, and that was it. As things have panned out, I now have a busy social life. The course helped me be more confident in talking to people and be more socially connected. I still refer back to my notes, and I now feel more confident in my retirement.