Retirement depression? Say it ain't so!
by Paul R
It was the beginning of 2013 and I was like a “retirement wind-up toy” -- wound tight! I was 57 and in good health, but had just laid my wife to rest after 34 years marriage. Retirement seemed to be the right move.
Now, however, almost years later, I’m not so sure.
Initially, although I was intensely grieving, I had a tremendous amount of energy! I entered a grief recovery group to help, and being retired, I actually did the reading and exercises sent as homework, that none of the “working people” had time do.
Grief was something I lived, I fought, I gave in to and, now, manage a little better.
And, now, out of blue, completely blind-siding me is this: Retirement Depression!? I didn’t even know “retirement depression” was a “thing!”
With the loss of my wife, I suffered through a period of depression, but with some anti-depressants, some “wine, women and song” and an acceptance that I was depressed, I worked through it.
Retirement Depression, however, and at least for me, is different. I was self-employed for over twenty years, and although I was never the “early bird catches the worm” type, I was typically on-the-clock by 9AM and I often worked until 9PM.
Being self-employed though, and working in Cloud Computing, I could make billable hours, 24/7, from my clients both national and international. There wasn’t a SET structure in my work, but there was structure. Now, not so much.
I additionally had goals. Ironically, mostly for retirement. We planned on going to Italy. Cruising the Mediterranean, retracing our honeymoon in Banff and flying to Hawaii A LOT more to visit our daughter.
I also had (have?) personal goals. I planned on riding my motorcycle across the US, taking up sailing and golf, spending a lot more time skiing, fly fishing, shooting my bow and firearms, buying more motorcycles and riding them EVERYWHERE!
My grand babies and children were also a top priority for both my wife and me, but it was going to be about adventures, not just babysitting. (Although I do a fair share of babysitting. No worries! I love ‘em!!! :-) )
Back to the “wind-up toy analogy,” I was living a busy life and knocking a lot of things off my bucket list. Plus, I did many other new things as well. I prepped my house for sale, bought a couple of those motorcycles, did a lot of activities and, for the most part, went to bed feeling accomplished (and exhausted) most nights.
But like a tightly wound wind-up toy, naturally, that energy is not a perpetual source. Wind-up toys, over a period of time, slow and, ultimately stop. And that’s where I now am. Although I would not say I’ve come to a complete stop, my energy level is way down and things that once seemed adventurous and exciting, now, seem overwhelming.
Numerous people say to me: “I wish I could retire young like you!” and I’m always sure to tell them how great life is, but the people that really know me, know I’m depressed.
Everyday, I ask myself “what can I do today?” Unfortunately, many times, the answer is: “I DON’T KNOW.”
And the “I don’t know theme” has come to permeate my life. I don’t know where move, if I should move, what new hobbies might be fun, when I’ve already got so many hobbies and toys, there’s no way I’ll have time for all of them.
People ask: “So what are your plans?” and, again, my answer is “I DON’T KNOW.” :-(
On the upside, I’ve realized I’m depressed. Apparently, retirement depression leads a lot of, mostly men, to suicide. Although such a thing would NEVER enter my mind, depression over the long term will take a toll. For me, I believe, I’m nipping it in the bud.
But it begs the question: “Now what?” And for the moment, at least, I still have to say: I DON’T KNOW.”