Retirement Disease!

by Andrea

The day I retired last year I got a whopper of a flu bug. It hung on all during the first year of my retirement. I was also nursing a knee injury. I ran (or crawled) from doctor to doctor for one symptom, then another, but of course they found nothing all that terrible.

I, on the other hand, had good reason to feel sorry for myself and spend lots of time on my living room couch, losing contact with former co-workers, just watching movies, reading, and intently following "Political TV" for months and months.

By the end of this past summer, not only was I still under the weather physically, but had a pretty bad anxiety problem that was causing the first panic attacks I had ever experienced in my life.

I blamed current events, all the terrible anger & divisiveness I was witnessing in my country and around the world, for my anxiety and despair.

Until I came to this wonderful website and saw I was not alone, but just one of many retirees suffering from the inability to deal with something we had looked forward to all our lives: all the time in the world and only ourselves to please!

So I began to think about what was actually creating my anxiety and soon realized that it was not the world situation, but me!

I was an unemployed workaholic.

Could there be anything more awful?

I had never truly acknowledged my obsession with work, assuming everyone had work on their minds 24/7, never took a vacation, solved problems, answered emails until midnight every night and all day weekends, arrived at the office 2 hours early every morning, worked holidays, worked at home, etc.

My husband was able to relax as soon as he left the office every night and I thought there was something wrong with him...

Though I had two marriages and a child and other normal events through the years, I was never really mentally anywhere but in whatever job I was working.

I would not allow myself the option of a vacation, or hobbies, or any kind of self-rejuvenating activity. I just worked. And I think I worked to the exclusion of any kind of pleasure because I did not think I deserved pleasure.

I was on earth to achieve, and to do it as perfectly as possible. Anything short of that was unacceptable. And nothing else mattered.

The reason I'm sharing this is to offer the rest of you what I hope might be an insight into your own post-retirement discomfort. Not sure how many of you were/are workaholics. Hopefully few; hopefully you're just suffering from a transitional identity issue, or miss the structure, the satisfaction of producing something tangible, the socializing, and so forth.

But I think for workaholics there are these things but also a deeper issue, one that I am facing now and want you to think about if yours is a similar story.

Think about whether you will allow your own happiness without producing that daily report, that monthly inventory, the dozens of logistical problems you solved every day.

Can you be happy just being you? Just accepting yourself as the lovely human being you are?

I have discovered that this is my issue, I know this is why I worked so hard for so many years--trying to avoid facing the fact that I didn't think I was "OK."

Retirement has brought me face to face with myself and although in lots of pain, I am thankful. Now the real work begins!

If this problem of not caring for yourself sounds like it might be yours, please know you have my love and support as you try to work to fix it.

Please remember: you are a precious human being and just that fact alone means you deserve happiness -- without having to earn it!

Comments for Retirement Disease!

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Great insight
by: Chris

Andrea after reading your post I realized I am going through something very similar as I enter into retirement, Thank you for sharing your thoughs and insight!

Unemployed Workaholic
by: Ken San Diego

Great Post! and great label (that fits me to a 'T") Unemployed Workaholic!

I retired Aug 2016 and the first 4 months were ok, but then ... BOOM.. I had nothing to do, I had no schedule, no routine etc.

I started a routine of going to the gym 3 times a week (mon tue wed) (just so I have Fri Sat Sun OFF?) Off? for what?

I would stay up all hours of the night on computer, or watching TV etc. but to break the monotony I would take spontaneous trips .. lunch near LA via Surfliner train, Cross country trips from LA to Seattle, Chicago via train (Private bedroom/bath) - the only way to go!

Now I get job postings for part time work... but I look at the job duties (which I have done for decades) and say OH HELL NO! I'm retired now... I worked 50 years ENOUGH is ENOUGH... but anyways.... Now what do I do?

;-) Thanks for the "Unemployed Workaholic" label!

retired workaholic
by: Diane, Canada

I thought you were right on when you spoke about the work of retirement. I also spent more time and thought on work than anything else. I had children but they had their own lives and I had no spouse.

When I retired the thought of spending time at home in my house was strange and unnatural. So I went back to work but this time volunteer work with no compensation. I work at a senior centre doing what ever needs doing and am also on the Board of Directors. I do afterschool care for my grandchildren and in the time I have off (which is not much) I usually go out.

The interesting part is that now I am thinking more about me and realize there is no joy in my life and starting to see why. So the process of retirement is almost another job.

I will keep on top of it, but really don't miss the paid job. It was very stressful and like this one more.

Not really workaholic
by: DC

I wouldn't call it being a workaholic. You, like many of us, were your job. You are now un-defined. Who are you really?

You have to re-invent yourself. I say this because my husband is a true workaholic. He's retired, but has never stopped working.

He'll paint the house, fix the patio bricks, install new lighting, trim the trees, mow the grass, till the soil for the garden, plant the garden, build the fence around the garden, fix the flat tire, split wood and it goes on and on everyday. He is always working, can't sit still.

Does take off a week or two for travel, a few times during the year. But always on the go. That is a workaholic!

Drives me nuts.....

Dear Unemployed Workaholic!
by: Wendy,

Oh I love that... unemployed workaholic! Woot!

Just got a kick out of that description--- and yes, that was me. However, my workaholic-ism wasn't quite as bad as yours. I think, in part, due to my field: retirement.

At approximately 40 yrs old, I was doing Pre-Retirement Planning programs for employees. The Director of Senior Citizen Services was speaking about "retiring TO some thing, not AWAY from your job." Even at 40-something, that hit me.

I started to enjoy my off-work hours, playing entrepreneur games. I never took it really seriously, but I was again, always working but on MY work, not theirs.

When I retired, I had this site already going for two years -- and it has helped me through the first seven years of retirement.

Under my signature, on the home page of this site, I wrote:

"Oddly enough, I am learning more about the REAL "me" now, in retirement. Why did it take me all these years to stop and think about ME!? "

Two great minds think alike, Andrea!

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