4 Years and struggling to stay engaged with life.

I retired 4 years ago - happy to leave a job that I no longer found fulfilling. I didn't miss work at first because I had lots of projects I wanted to do.

After a few years, the projects have turned into home maintenance problems and the reality of leaner finances have struck home. I can't afford to do what really needs to be done. So, I do nothing.

I lost my husband a few years before I retired and belong to a widows support group. Since I lost all my work and couples friends, the ladies in the group have become my friends. (no family close by)

Unfortunately, I am the youngest of the group and the majority of them never had careers outside the home so they are content with the stay at home lifestyle. I have lost interest and really can't afford to do the things that I used to do so I do nothing.

I do splurge on travel but then feel guilty for the rest of the year for wasting money. My doctor did prescribe an anti-depressant last fall that seems to have helped. I went to the only counselor in the area a few times but she is a school counselor - kids. I was her only mature patient. She was very nice but I don't feel she can help me.

I hate paying someone to have a nice chat every few weeks without any feeling of improvement.

I do volunteer work (Food Pantry & Meals on Wheels) several days a week but it's not enough. I actually would rather be at home alone doing nothing. (dangerous, I know)

I over analyze everything so that doesn't help. I wish I were happy just keeping a clean house and working in the yard but I'm not. So I do nothing.

Everything I want to do costs money I don't have to spend. I have no interesting in working again.

I don't know what I should be doing...

Comments for 4 Years and struggling to stay engaged with life.

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A few suggestions
by: Donna B.

Money seems to be a big concern. If you can get more money, you will be freer to do more things you want, and maybe buy a pretty thing now and then that might perk you up. Apply at some places for part time work to do anything you are capable of doing physically. The goal is to get a little extra money, and the social contact in a work setting. I hope where you live has places you can apply for work. Even a temp agency, where you could fill in as a receptionist or office worker. Or a cashier at a cafeteria. Adding structure and more cash to your life might help.

I also think that exercise might help. Getting into shape makes one more present in the world. Walking every day does wonders, plus you could do home exercises and stretching like yoga. Gyms may be too pricey, but check out the rates. If you can afford it, the YMCA has a gym and pool, and lower rates for seniors. Look at pics of Helen Mirren and other hot seniors for inspiration!

Someone else suggested www.meetup.com. Excellent suggestion. Groups of like-minded people get together for a particular interest, like yoga, bicycling, outdoors, metaphysical, spiritual, etc. They are usu. free. When you're comfortable with that, you could start a group of your own.

If you live in a small town, that might be contributing to your problems. Is it possible to move to a larger nearby city? Larger cities have more to offer, like cheaper gyms, more meetup groups, more places to work. But it's traumatic to move alone to a new place at our age, so I think that should be approached w/caution.

Please post again and let us know how you're doing. We have all faced these issues. Who is it who said "Getting old isn't for sissies"? Try to apply at least one place for part time work. If you don't like it, you can leave.

by: Rose Raintree Arlington Wa.

I retired 4 years ago from the a 35 year career as an RN and busy life, when I first retired actually was my hardest as the first year I did not know how to slow down and just enjoy my life now. I took on projects like crazy and painted my home inside and out, landscaped my front and back yard, which didn't cost much financially but sure did in back breaking work at 69 years old. I am fortunate to be pretty healthy though do suffer more and more with arthritis.

For what it may be worth this is what I learned and today I am happy and peaceful and most of the time wake up with a joyful heart of thanks. That is to accept life changes and so do you and it is never going to be the same and trying to make it the same will lead to depression and anger.

I went from making 75,000 a year to now my income is solely from SS at about $24,000 a year so it was a huge change. And most things I did in the past I can no longer afford.

But I also discovered when we approach each day with a heart of gratitude that we may not have the life we thought we would at this stage we still are alive and if we learn to make the most out of it some pretty great things can emerge.

I am happier about the person I have become since I retired, I have learned to relax and go for long walks with my dog, garden which I never did before, sit and read a good book, and enjoy the peace and quiet and not having to be on the hamster wheel we had so become accustomed and lost who we were. I am a much better friend, mother and grandparent.

I have no family accept my son, DIL and granddaughter near who live just 2 miles away and she gives me a vision of how to love and be loved and stay healthy in my mind and heart.

We do need to be flexible and also I discovered when I think less about myself and more about the people around me who have needs and also many worse off than I am as I have a comfortable home and food and safety and many do not I find this keeps my perspective in a healthy place.

I believe our senior years can be some of our best but I discovered they also can be some of the worst and it all depends on our approach and attitude about embracing this time of our lives. I also volunteer and enjoy that but my most enjoyable times now are just spent home most days. And I love to travel and there are ways to live rather inexpensively and take an occasional trip, many of us never have seen some of the beauty in our own state and pack a picnic lunch and strike out to a different area and enjoy the new experience.

Browsing costs nothing and I have had some wonderful days and great conversations just going to antique stores or thrift shops and also I have a good friend in our park and we share visits and talk every day and play Royal dice every evening on our computers through Facebook. We do not need a lot of friends we just need a few who see the possibilities rather than all the negatives who can keep us focused on what is most important instead of things we have no control over.

I do hope you gain some benefit from my insight learned along my journey with retirement as I have discovered along this journey like every thing it is not the circumstances that defeat or encourage our hearts it is our attitude of deciding to make ourselves a blessing to others and in the process we are blessed most of all.

4 year and struggling to stay engaged with life
by: Gwen Skinner/Florida

I am 5 years out of retirement and felt very much the same as you. Five years ago, my husband died, my brother and father died, and I retired. Then on top of everything else, I sold the house and moved to Florida to be near my son who I never see because he's working all the time. Then I was diagnosed with lupus so I rarely feel good.

I made one friend at church who dumped me as soon as she got a boyfriend.

You know, this is sounding more and more like a really bad tv "soap".

All I can tell you is to put one foot in front of the other and keep going. That's what I do. I also have tried to find pleasure in the smallest thing: A Red bird was in my backyard, an eagle was sitting on my fence one day. It's true, the simple things in life are free.

We need to find a different perspective, I think. I've cried a river, and decided before I start working on crying an ocean to just "be". Be happy if I'm with people, be happy if I'm alone, be happy if I'm just playing with my dog. Just be and the gratitude will come. Eventually, it will get better.

Oh, and I cannot say enough about the power of prayer. I would say like the others to join this or that; but I have found that a person who can enjoy being alone has truly found life. Sort of like Thoreau going off into the woods.

Oh, and just let me say this: I spent my entire career surround by people (whether I liked them or not) and it is such a pleasure to get to pick and choose who I spend my time with now. People are just people and they always disappoint in some fashion so why not enjoy self reliance?

I've traveled the world and believe me it's over rated for the most part - people squished together in a plane with bad breath (a woman actually flossed her teeth next to me), standing in line to see a 3,000 year old castle (I remember thinking " I'll be 3,000 years old before I get to the front of the line".

Well, now I'm just rambling.

Thinking of you,

Gwen Skinner

Helpful comments
by: Nancy

There were many helpful comments to this post. I'm glad to know I'm not "crackers". I also liked the comment about keeping "occupied", but not "busy". What a useful way to look at it. Also, the comment about your still getting your sea legs. Gives us both permission, to take as much time as we need to adjust.

Maybe you could look into part-time employment. I saw an ad in the paper for a job which I would have liked to apply for 10 or even 15 years ago. I started thinking I should apply for it! What nuts!

Being in this group has given me a place to connect with other going through the same thing. Keep coming back!

Define retirement
by: Maureen, living on the road

Perhaps you are not ready to retire. Not your age, your mindset. Perhaps you still see purpose in work.
Money sounds like a concern. Get a part time job not a career. Serving others through volunteering is good, perhaps you need a different volunteer job or a different mindset about volunteering. Perhaps you are grieving your losses (work, husband). Perhaps a spiritual person could be of some assistance.

Changing your lifestyle should be an adventure.

Be kind to yourself
by: Jessie

I am not sure what you like to do in your spare time that is not available to you anymore. My first thought is the theatre and I wonder if there would be amateur productions you could be involved in. Whatever your interest, is there a way to be connected without paying a lot of money?

Top marks for all the things you are already trying, you are a fighter (in the nicest possible way).

4 years and struggling
by: Lois

Sounds to me like you are your own worst enemy. Let me soften that by saying 'been there, done that'. It's easy to get in a rut and look at the other side of the fence and think it is greener.

I don't have a family except for a couple of nieces who live some distance away and I rarely hear from them.

I didn't retire, quit work to care for a husband who was ill but he passed away almost 12 years ago. No, I didn't go back to work.

Spent some time feeling sorry for myself but after my doctor told me that I was the only one who could change my way of thinking and my life, I took it to heart.

Threw myself into gardening, started doing some volunteer work at the schools (which I no longer do because the children were constantly giving me colds which turned into bronchitis and pneumonia) but I eventually sold my house and moved into a senior retirement community. Lots of things to do with people my own age.

Still spend a lot of time alone with my dog in my apartment but I do get out for walks which helps clear the mind and refresh the spirit.

Take hold of yourself, get out and do things that don't cost a great deal of money. Fortunately I can afford a yearly trip but if I couldn't, there are lots of other things to do such as just short trips or walking around the local parks, visiting the local museums, etc.

Your future is yours to do with as you chose. Make the most of what you have and enjoy it.

Hey now...
by: Rox/BHC

I found myself in the same predicament and later found that at four years you have a couple more to go before you really get your sea legs.

You're still running on adrenaline and the idea that you need to keep going. You'll find a bit later that you ARE going. You actually just need to listen to yourself and keep in step. You are not the same one that has been working and going on a schedule. You are pushing it, right? Stop it.

Have any pets? They are a GREAT help, believe me. Calm down. You will find things that entertain you, that's all you need now. Keep occupied, not busy. SLOW DOWN!

And join us, there are many people here that will show the same and interesting thoughts as yourself. Have a good day. L8R.

I'm 4 years out too
by: Nancy

I'm 4 years out in retirement also and identify with a lot of your feelings. What has helped me the most is this group here, this retirement group. I was a year and half into retirement when I found Wendy. What Wendy said about checking back here and leaving your e-mail could connect you with some of us.

But with me, just reading posts like your own and responding has been a Godsend.

I found a hobby I love which is quilting. I started by quilting vintage quilt tops then I joined some quilt block swap groups on Facebook and that has been a lot of fun. I think you will find your way too. I, too, find I want to stay home a lot and for me, that is not a bad thing because I do things that interest me and I have pets and a husband.

I wish you all the best.

Doing well
by: Carolyn

I have posted twice on this very helpful site about retiring in October 2013, enjoying it for 7 months, and then slipping into a deep depression when a family member got ill, they were jack hammering my balconies, I was missing being at work, our dog passed away, my best friend got married and moved out of the city.

I was seeing a very nasty psychiatrist who was making things worse for me - by sheer luck I found someone else through a friend. I am now on the right anti depressant medication and for a year now I have been myself and no longer yearn to return to work.

The few friends I have left working at my place of employment now tell me it is a nightmare with micro managing and morale is very low - they are envying me and my other friends who have all left.

So I went on a 2 week Caribbean cruise in January, swam with dolphins, jumped into the Caribbean sea with sea turtles, visited a beautiful beach in the Bahamas and had the time of my life with two other girlfriends who had invited me on a spur of the moment whim.

I kept smiling as I thought of how dark a place I had been a year before and now here I was on a cruise having the time of my life.

Time and medication and analytical thought about what was going on helped me come back.

I am fortunate to have enough money to be comfortable and to have many friends - I live on my own with a lovely cat. So there is hope - and I want to again say thanks to Wendy for creating this site - many of us thought we were going crackers wondering why we were so depressed after retiring.

Reading what others felt made me realize I was not alone. Now I keep busy with friends going to art galleries, lunches, hikes, I swim and do volunteer work for the humane society.

I am me again!

Push Yourself
by: Sandy

I am sorry you are struggling in retirement. I can very much relate so you are not alone. One suggestion you may consider is to join "Meetups" in your area. If you are not familiar, these are groups which you can learn about online and then go to the event. There are book clubs, hiking, reading, retirees, etc. Perhaps you will find someone just like you and start a new friendship.

Sometimes it is much easier to stay in your home and not face the world, but please try not to do that. It will just sap your energy. As much as you don't want to, get out there and live. None of us on this site has more than 30 to 40 years left (I am being generous), so find a therapist and medicine that works for you (If that's what you need) or experience what life has to offer.

If I can do it, you can.

4 years and struggling to stay engaged
by: Donna

I don't know where you live, but many towns have senior centers that are a real blessing offering lower cost day outings, classes and presentations on subjects of interest to seniors.

There are also many free online classes you can take on subjects of interest to you. And your local public library has many free options that include free classes, free movie rental, lectures, etc. please think about taking advantage of some of the opportunities available to you while you are still physically able to do so.

Make good memories today so you have no regrets tomorrow. Good luck to you.

by: Wendy

Sad to see no name, and no email attached to this story... if you don't leave your email in the system (nobody else can see it and I do not contact you), but you miss out when others write to help you. I pray you are watching your post!

There is so much you can be doing, without income. If you really only enjoy activities that cost to do them, then earn a small online income and let the guilt go!

I don't know your age, but if you've only been retired 4 years, I will assume you have the possibility of another say 20 years of retirement... do you really want to live this unfulfilling lifestyle for the next 20 years?

Get Moving!

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