It's like Living inside a box...

by Fred Goraieb

I once described this post-retirement depression as living inside a box with my hands tied and unable to move or breathe...the depression hit me hard and fast and felt like nothing i have ever experienced before.

I had experienced episodes of depression before (usually after a move or a relationship break-up), but this new monster was different. All hell broke loose and i did not know if i was going to make it.

I went to a therapist, a good one, who did not prescribed medications (thank God), and instead decided to "walk me through" the despondency and anxiety i was experiencing with no end in sight. He said, the only cure for this particular issue is time. There are no short cuts, and the medications, while appropriate in some cases, was not advisable--and he is a medical doctor.

Instead, i decided to bite the bullet and go through the pain minute by minute, day by day...the pain at times in excruciating, but thankfully, as my new friend the psychiatrist predicted, the pain began to dicipate on its own.

It has been almost six months now since the worst episode (i wanted to end my life). Now, although i still grapple with the depression, at least i feel that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I am still young enough to start another career, but would rather take this opportunity to re-explore some of my old passions, like painting and acting in theater.

And, telling myself that this time is like childhood, in some way, because back then, i had no job and did not live independently of my parents. I was free to play. i want to get back, mentally, to that time when everything was possible, and with the help of my higher power, afchieve some modicum of happiness in this time of great anxiety, and also great hope...

Wendy: So happy that you are going back to find where your real passions lie - not simply keeping busy at just anything. Sounds like a great retirement is in store for you, Do the work now, Enjoy life again - SOON!

Best Wishes!

Comments for It's like Living inside a box...

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Retirement Support Groups
by: Joe W.

@Fred, Hi! This is another case where we need more retirement support groups just to talk about physical, mental, emotional and spiritual issues that are prominent for new retirees.

Joe W.

Depression after Retirement
by: JohnA

Fred and All:

My guess is that you were probably wrapped up into your job prior to your retirement; as most men do in their careers. As a result for many of us, including me, we derive our identity from the job. And when that comes to an end we are lost; we get depressed and seem to lack a purpose in life.

It is important to find something, anything, to take your attention away from your former job to an activity that is constructive. You'll have to find something that will bring out a passion in you; whether writing, art, volunteering, stained glass, basket weaving or what ever. Get out there and do something because that is the important part. If you just sit there the depression will only get worse.

As for me, I retired from a very well paying job with tons of pressure after 30 years of service. I was pretty lost for a while and didn't know what to do. Depression was beginning to get a strangle hold of me and I could not let that black cloud hang over my head any longer. Missing the hustle and bustle of the job along with the pay check were always on my mind. So on a lark, I decided to volunteer at a local hospital.

Volunteering was the best medicine for me. It got me around people again, it gave me purpose and I was serving others who were ill, injured and less fortunate than me. To me, volunteering provided something more valuable than a hefty pay check. There isn't a dollar amount that can be placed on the smile of someone's face by doing something for them or to hear them laugh after telling a corny joke when they not feeling well. It's putting a bright spot in someone's day that I find most rewarding.

There's a tremendous reward one receives when in service to others; it's purpose, happiness and contentment.

Hang in there Bud!! Things will get better in time on their own. But if you serve others, it's amazing how fast that depression will go away because you are helping others who are less fortunate or healthy than you. You are not longer absorbed in the self.

Wendy: So thrilled you've found purpose again, with volunteering, John! I keep intending to volunteer at our local hospital, I know it well from my parents visits. Maybe this summer...

Great Article
by: Nancy

What a great article you wrote. I sure do understand the anxiety and depression. So glad you found a good therapist. I've shied away from getting counseling b/c I've had so many bad therapists.

But I also know, the problem is me, too b/c it is so hard for me to talk about myself. I still grapple with the depression and anxiety.

This week, I've had bad anxiety and a flare up of the depression and regret over retiring. I'm glad I'm not alone in this.

I also agree totally that this is like childhood and it is important for me to just plain old have fun. Thanks for sharing.

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