Retirement Depression: what happened?
This page about retirement depression is full of stories written by visitors to this site.
These stories all ask the same basic question, after retirement... "what happened?"
We have retirement plans, or dreams, or even simple ideas on how things will happen post-retirement. Then something changes, life happens....
Retired, What now???
by Steve Zenz
(Milwaukee, WI USA)
I just retired from teaching/playing music last July. I am 59 and have worked since I was 14. Most folks spend more time
I really looked forward to my freedom but now feel lost. I never really had any hobbies. All I knew was work and survival.
I have a safe teachers pension but can't use my 401K due to the economic downturn. I'm learning how to live on less money, cannot sell the big family house and my wife is resentful because she is still trapped in the working world.
I really don't know what to do. Going on a diet consisting of tofu and celery and walking around the block with the rest of the geezers doesn't sound like much fun.
At this point the "golden years" don't seem that golden.
Wendy's Comment: I hear you... people always think about the financial issues of retirement, but they don't think much about what to do AFTER you retire! I often use this at the beginning of my Pre-Retirement Planning Programs:
planning for a two-week vacation,
than they do for retirement...
(and the retirement years can be a period of time as long as you have worked).
You need to do something -- part time "fun" work, volunteer, find a hobby. What did you do before your "teacher/married guy" years? (grin!) Did you have dreams of doing something? Take a class -- learn photography, painting, join a gym, start a monthly lunch get-together group with other retired teachers... get busy!
p.s. Ever consider a website? Make an income while you write a purely informational site?
Retirement: From Extreme Noise to Deathly Quiet
I am a retired high school teacher. I worked for 39 years teaching and loved most of it. But the last 4 years were very trying.
I found out I had breast cancer for the second time( first stage and very treatable) and had to retire. For the first 18 months I was focused on treatment and I had lots of attention. haha.
Then when all the treatment was over, it became just me, retired, home alone, in a town where I had few friends,(if you are not from here you are not from here, ya know?) and my husband is still working. I also have no relatives near.
I am going through something I have never experienced. I don't feel sorry for myself. I know millions would love to be me.
We have enough money, our health and a wonderful marriage. So why I am I so depressed and anxious?
Some days I want to just sleep all day. I do cook, keep a pretty clean house, wash the clothes and do my favorite thing- read history.
But this anxiousness is killing me. I am a spiritual person and I seem to have lost my God consciousness during this time.
I feel like what you mentioned before is true- I am grieving for the past me. But I am a wife and Mother, and that is a blessing. I try to keep a grateful list daily, but I think in the end I am just going to have to ACCEPT. The good old Serenity Prayer.
I wanted this, retirement,I got it, and now I have to accept and learn to enjoy. Lastly I KNOW I need to exercise. That too will happen one day.
My family Doc and friend told me I am not alone in these feelings. I am on 50 mg of Celexa. It has helped with the anxiety. I know I need to live in the NOW also.
And I do a good bit of volunteer work. Think I feel some undeserved guilt also.
Thanks for letting me tell my story.
Joy - I think you are close to ending your depression.. I really do. You have spirituality, you have all the answers within yourself, you just need to grieve the loss of your previous life.
You don't need Extreme Noise --
too stressful for most anyone!
You don't need Deathly Quiet either --
silence can be bad if the self-talk is too loud.
You need Joyful Noise!
Please find some great spiritual music that moves you! Turn on a Christian radio program, or Christian Music - let your soul come out of the
dark it finds itself in.
I think you sound ready...
I pray you find yourself soon!!
"So now what?"
I couldn't wait to retire, hated my job, it was so constricting, hours were weird and the stress level was high.
But now, retired for almost 6 months, I find I don't even want to get dressed in the morning, some days I spend all day in my night clothes, on my computer or doing cross word puzzles.
I stay up till one or two in the morning and sleep till nine or ten (when I can sleep, that is).
What's wrong with me?
I yearn to get out, see nature, smell the ocean air, but can't seem to bring myself to do any of it.... anyone else feel like this?
I'm 62, female, married, but feel so old sometimes.
Wendy: Please Please join my Retirement Transition Group (just online emails). There are lots of folks just like you.. and we are working our way through the transition period. There IS a good life awaiting you, just not there yet! You just need to figure out who the new you is...
Just email me on the Contact page to the left -
or find the group on the Online Groups page!
Retirement: Is That All There IS?
by Lore V
Lore wrote this in response to another Retirement Depression post on my site, but I wanted to highlight her own post so that others might help her too! -- Wendy
John A, thank you for making me feel like I'm way off base in how I feel. I too am dealing with depression and anxiety since I retired 3 years ago at age 57 in order to take care of my husband.
We live on his Veteran Disability and my pension, so we too have enough to pay the bills but not too much more. The retirement I'd thought would be one of traveling, taking up a hobby that I'd never had time for just isn't going to happen.
I had good jobs but when hubby got sick and then the economy tanked, we lost most of our savings. I remember the old Peggy Lee song "Is that all there is?" and now understand it.
We were unable to have children, so that avenue of people to visit is not there. I feel alone and know that no one has my back as my husband has physical and psychological disabilities, so it all falls to me. He has been ill for 10 years and before that I had taken care of my mother for 23 years after a massive stroke.
I feel guilty for feeling this way, but had good jobs and they made me feel that I accomplished something/helped someone, and the "friends" I had at work have all now disappeared without so much as an e-mail.
If anyone has some answers/suggestions, I would deeply appreciate them. John A, hang in there, as you have company out on the limb.
Retirement: We dreamed a dream.. but it didn't work out
We had planned to return to our love of camping and travel once we retired.
Both of us planned an early retirement and we got it, sooner than we wanted after some health problems. I had surgery and received an unexpected Cancer diagnosis. He took early retirement then but within 3 months after, was blind due to a reaction he suffered from a new medication he was given.
Shattered dreams and lives turned upside down... it all came so quickly. Lots of problems ensued. I am ok now but he is still blind and always will be.
Wendy: Wow.. that's a rough story. I processed disability retirements for many years in my former working life, and nobody expects it.
The retirement transition can be difficult when its a voluntary retirement, but when its a disability with health issues on top of the transition itself, it's downright devastating.
I do think you sound good... look forward to a great retirement despite your setbacks. Get some tape/cd books from the library so that both of you can enjoy them together.
Give hubby time to work things out. He can do plenty still, just needs time to figure it all out.
p.s. I have a Retirement Transition email group if you'd like to join us...
Click here to post comments
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My Dad died in 1997, I had breast cancer in 1998, and divorced in 1999. I bought a little house in a smaller town, got a job and waited to die.
Well, praise the lord, I didn't, but after 13 years of just existing I have retired at 65. I have no friends or hobbies and have been suffering from depression and anxiety about suddenly being old and so many wasted years.
I would love to sell my house and move back to the city I love, but with the market so bad here that is not possible for now. I need some meaning in my life in the meantime. I walk my dog, garden and read, BUT EVERYDAY?