Early Retirement Blues
by Ian White
Well my story started in November 2014. After 30 years of teaching I found I woke up one morning, sat on the toilet and burst into tears.
My understanding wife, also a teacher, took me to the doctors and I was given a sick note for 4 weeks. Within 1 week I had decided not to go back. I got in touch with my pension people and to cut a long story short in February 2015 I officially retired.
Life was great until Easter 2015. Those first 4 or 5 months were great. The elation of not having to go back in was overwhelming.
I started running again; I went for regular walks; I started to look after the house; I lost 10kgs in weight and now feel fitter than I felt 20 years ago.
With my pension we managed to pay off all of our debts with a good lump left to do house improvements. Money is not a problem, with my wife still earning. Life couldn't have been better.
Since Easter, however, I have been getting anxiety attacks. it started with the innocuous crossing of a railway bridge to change platforms. My legs started to shake. I started to sweat. My fear of heights was intensified and I won't go to places with high buildings and "a nice view" is a real worry for me.
Suddenly, after enjoying going out every day, I get mild vertigo attacks. Don't get me wrong...I still do go out, and go running; the irony is that my times are getting faster!!
I try to meet up with other retired friends once or twice a week for a walk, and in one case to help out with some DIY.
My worst days are when I have nothing on my agenda. I feel as if I am in a void. With no school to go to and no pressures taking my mind off things, I tend to overthink. My stomach churns and when I go to new places or experience new events, my legs wobble again...that for me is the worst of all the symptoms.
I have been for counselling, which has indeed helped and the doctor prescribed beta blockers, which I threw in the trash bin!
From what I have read, a lot of others are having similar problems. That alone holds a certain amount of relief for me. At the moment, I get good days and bad days. It's the old "two steps forward, one step back" routine. Surely this cannot last forever?