Getting out of a black hole?

by David
(Utah)

I'm 67, been retired now for 18 months, and like so many, dealing with boredom, depression, apathy, and lack of joy and motivation.

For the first 15 months, I was motivated by the goal of doing a 7 day, 500 mile bike ride with my 3 sons. I made losing weight and spending hours on my bike my focus for over a year. It was something I wanted to do my whole life, and for once, I had the time to spend getting ready. I even had a heart attack in the process.

But I was pleased to be able to overcome many painful hours, and accomplish that goal this past summer. It's a memory I'll hold dear for the rest of my life, spending that time with my sons.

As long as I had that goal, I wasn't totally lost. But since that week, my life has been nothing but a big black hole.

I find it hard to get out of bed. I've gained 35 pounds. My blood sugar is high again. I can't get off the couch. Watching the news all day. Starting books and not finishing them. Absolutely no motivation. Things to do, but not doing them. No control to my eating, and no exercise. I've gone through 4 months of this. I'm ashamed and extremely disappointed with myself.

The drive, ownership, responsibility and motivation that I put into, and made me successful in my work for 40 years, now has no place to go. Like so many, my work was my life. But I don't miss work - it makes me sick to think about being tied to a schedule.

About 5 years ago, my work took us across the country from our friends, kids and grandkids and other family , and as an introvert, I haven't really made close friends here.

I'm struggling with making sense of it, taking it one day at a time, trying to do ONE thing each day - either a chore at home, a short walk, a short bike ride. I just asked for anti-depression medication, and hope it helps.

I've made an appointment with a therapist. I just started volunteering at the hospital in our nearest town once a week for 3 hours (we live fairly isolated on a mountain with snow 6 months a year).

I'm sensing a small glimmer of improvement, but it's still hard to find motivation.

I never expected retirement to be like this. Just saying. To all others who have had this problem, you're not alone.

One day at a time.

Comments for Getting out of a black hole?

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just a thought
by: Dana

Hi David,

Thanks for posting - you are a very good writer and may want to keep that in mind for something to do in the future.

Just wanted to comment that although you stated that you moved to Utah 5 years ago because of your work which took you away from family, what is keeping you there now that your work is done? Hopefully you are free to move wherever you'd like and how nice it would be to move back to an area where loved ones and familiar faces are.

It sounds like you are good at setting goals (re: your bicycle journey). A move might just be the thing to help get you jump-started again with a pleasant end result.

I recently retired and couldn't wait to get away from my upstate NY winters. Last year I lived down South for 6 months and although I enjoyed the change of scenery, I knew no one and like you, being more or less an introvert, it was difficult to make friends.

Back at home, I would often run into someone I knew when out shopping. Not so in a new place. Everyone you see is a stranger. It was comforting to return home because of the familiarity of locale and people.

It won't stop me from being a snowbird again, but like Dorothy says "there's no place like home."

Hope you post again and let us know what's going on. All the best.

Getting out of a black hole
by: Anonymous

Your story made me sad so I wanted to reach out to you to encourage you. Retirement is what you make it.

It’s important to stay active. You’ve found a volunteer position, that is a good start. Be on the lookout for any activity that might spark an interest.

Being in a place that has snow for six months in itself can be depressing. Seek out opportunities in the nearest town. See what the library has to offer.

Usually you can find their activities online and they’re free! Is there a Senior Center in town? What activities do they offer? It also helps you to meet people. How about exercise at a local gym, can you find classes there? Plan a healthy diet and stick to it. Take hikes. There is a lot out there to do, you just have to seek it out. How about church activities.

It’s important to take the initiative to make things happen. Don’t be passive, after the first step, it does get easier. Hope you will start taking new steps to help you out of that black hole.

There is light out there. Go find it!

Depression
by: Sherry/ NC

Just keep working at being retired and everything will work out good.

You'll see!

Black hole
by: Natasha

Hmm I Thankyou for posting.

I hear you David in Utah
by: Larry Steward / SC

David, I just want to say this detailed comment you posted to me is a good sign that you have turned the corner in terms of coming to grips with all the issues you listed.

I have honestly been surprised to learn how many people who transition to retirement bump into the loss of motivation you describe.

So beautiful that you accomplished your life long dream of taking that challenging bike ride with your sons. Now that is an accomplishment!

I say accept what you're experiencing now as part of the overall, on-going process of moving into your retirement period. I don't like the term retirement however, because we don't really retire or should I say, we shouldn't.

This can be a time when all of us think hard about all the things in life we have done and how we can now assemble new interests to move us towards recreating what we want these golden years to truly represent in terms of finding purpose and happiness.

That won't happen on its own. We all need to become the masters of directing what we want to do and why we want to do it.

I can feel your compassion for living a full life and want to encourage you to start focusing on anything that has interested you in the past and think hard about doing more of that in some new way.

Like I said earlier, I sense where you are now as a turning point. I'm predicting you are on your way past this fogginess and coming out into a clearer world where you are going to latch on to something meaningful and really run with it as you did with the bike ride.

Please keep us informed and good luck. You have many here that I'm betting will cheer you on.

Another Goal
by: Laura in Vermont

You might look at setting another goal, since that works for you. I have a friend who is in her 70s and she is getting ready to go to Okinawa and scuba dive with her son and granddaughter. She's working on her fitness for the dive.

Is there a thought that you should do something but you don't get around to it? Maybe start with one of those and set a goal to get it done.

I do little goals every day to keep moving and have bigger ones that I work towards as well. Nothing as grand as diving in Okinawa but they do the trick for me!

Black Hole
by: Joy Tx

Oh David,

You have a great skill. You have an opportunity to start up a small bike riding group. Seniors - kids- families. Once a week gathering together to bike ride. Get the word out in the small community you live in . Maybe Seniors meeting in the morning or mid day. Take your love of biking and share it!!

Good luck

David
by: Nancy

David I'm sorry to hear that you're struggling with all these feelings. Would you consider moving back to be near your family and friends? I would imagine that would be very helpful.

Retirement Blues
by: Wee-zer

David,

Yes, you are not alone in this retirement dilemma! I also worked for a big corporation and gave it my all every single day. There were tight timelines for our projects and we were constantly on the fast track. In the beginning of your retirement you had a goal, like work there were timelines to prepare for, and there was an end goal. Now that this retirement project is done and there are no more projects in the pipeline, it can feel like a let down.

It sounds like you are tackling you issues by going to the doctor, volunteering, doing chores, bike rides.

I have three suggestions:

1. You seem to need companionship and you like to bike. Why don't you look up Meetups in your area to see what bike clubs you can join. Some may go for weekend trips, day trips or maybe even a trip like you went on with your sons. Would you be interested in repeating this same 7 day, 500 mile trip with other bike enthusiasts? You would be the expert! No idea what part of Utah you are in but here is a Meetup group: https://www.meetup.com/Cycling-Southern-Utah/

2. Write about your trip with your sons. Get a journal and write about each day of the trip. What you saw, your feelings, what you ate, how you prepared, packed for the trip, add pictures, add every little detail you can think of. You could have the book self published and give one to each son and one for yourself. This will keep you busy for a while and it should bring you joy.

3. Get yourself a daily planner and write your daily goals and objectives in it. Also, get yourself a basic kitchen timer. Some of the tasks and chores are boring and you man not enjoy doing them but they need to be done, allow yourself a certain amount of time to do it. When the timer goes off, you are done with the task. Challenge yourself with small, achievable tasks and that will give you a feeling of accomplishment. Little by little you will be ready for more.

Yes, retirement is like a black hole, no roadmaps are given out, no one holds your hand. There are no timelines, no clocks to punch, no boss to please. It is a little like when we were taken to school that very first day. We no longer had Mom to cry to. We didn't know what was expected of us. We were scared but a bit excited too!

Good luck and keep us posted on what you are up to!

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