Retirement Boredom: One Tiny Thing
I’m planning on stopping teaching this spring after over 25 years – I will be almost 65. The reasons are mixed and complicated – physical health and burn-out are the two worst – the latter resulting in depression and boredom. I researched dozens of videos and books on nutrients and micro-nutrients and have changed the way I have eat about 6 times.
Even though I’m not ‘retired’ yet, when at home I’ve essentially withdrawn to my room. I work on my computer, but I also do everything else on it from e-mails, watching movies, reading news, and doing research. I come out to go to school, and go right back in when I come home.
Recently I started searching on line for advice about retirement, boredom and depression. On one website I was reading I came across a definition for the word boredom. It was derived by a group of psychiatrists who had polled groups of retirees all reporting problems with being bored.
The definition (and I’m paraphrasing) is that boredom is “a lack of participating in anything meaningful in one’s life”.
Yes, this made sense, and even explained why, for the last year, I’ve had waves of intense boredom towards the end of my teaching day, making me feel even more miserable and guilty. I’ve never, ever been bored previously while teaching – not while teaching children, not while teaching adults. But for whatever reason, the connection I have always felt doing this work has been slowly dissipating.
Over the past 1-2 years as I watched myself slip into a behavior of withdrawal, I’ve tried many things – focusing on my own nutrition was one.
I’ve tried to reprogram my brain with affirmations and thinking positive thoughts. I took a course.
I mentored a friend just starting a teaching position.
Also, my doctor prescribed different medications for depression – of course you have reactions to those so you get another to help with that - for a while I was on four of these meds. As of today I’ve cut out all but one (my family has a history of depression so I’m loathe to drop out the last one). Nevertheless, I’m still withdrawing even more and more. The holidays were – awful.
I’ve been reading all the descriptions of other people’s retirement experiences and can’t say I’m comforted to find my behavior is typical and a bit of a cliché. Swell.
I’ve also read a lot of advice and helpful hints and lists and just reading them has made me feel even more overwhelmed. Do this – plan that. And though I read something and know it sounds as if it might help, it’s all I can do to cook a meal, let alone exercise, take on a new hobby or start volunteering.
And while I don’t want to wallow in self-pity, reading this advice and then pushing out from where I am are two very different things.
I started thinking that I would have liked to have heard someone say instead, “Do one tiny thing.” I think I could do that – just something very small. Since I could not find anyone who was saying that, I’m saying it. I found this website, and writing this comment is my one tiny thing. Tiny in effort perhaps, but huge in that I am extremely introverted and have not confided to anyone the extent to my unhappiness.
I read the requests for advice on this site – sorry. I have nothing pithy or useful to contribute. Just a story with no other intention than just to say – this is where I am.