Retirement gets better

by Gilbert

So the last time I posted here 18 months ago I was down, depressed, insomniac, and thinking about suicide

My plan was to hang myself in a vacant garage -- but not before leaving a note so the police could find me before my wife or son did.

So how did I get to such a dark place?

It had been 3 years since I took an early retirement/buyout at age 57 from a successful job I'd held for 30 years. The loss of routine, my public identity, and a meaningful sense of purpose left me drifting in a sea of self-doubt and pity.

I began questioning everything I had ever done in my life, including my career, my marriage, my friends and how people looked at me. In a classic case of depression, I began losing interest in things I had enjoyed -- even taking a puff of weed or having a couple of beers.

Rather than helping me relax, the drugs or booze would send me into a round of "beating myself up" about what an alcoholic pothead loser I was.

Another favorite "sad song" was blaming my wife for my troubles, thinking I had married the wrong person or didn't "follow my heart" in choosing the right mate.

But I'm happy to report the depression has lifted and I'm feeling more energy and enthusiasm than ever. Even my marriage -- which I had longed blamed for my woes -- seems somewhat fulfilling rather than something I need to get out of.

I've also been able to enjoy the occasional puff of weed again -- although I'm finding CBD oil brings much of the same relaxation and focus without the paranoia intoxication of the THC heavy marijuana.

If I could bottle up and sell my secret to recovery I would. Plenty of people are out there selling their own brand of snake oil from 12-step models and psychotherapy to self-help books and herbal supplements.

But there is really no magic bullet for what I did -- aside from the usual recommendations including mind-fullness, group therapy, good sleep and diet practices and a healthy dose of self-acceptance. The right combination of meds has also helped.

If you are struggling to find you way in retirement all I can say is talk to as many people as you can. Isolation is the killer and you should know that depression in retirement affects nearly 40 percent of people.

And try the stuff everyone recommends: exercise, meditation, volunteering, getting together with friends, etc, etc, etc. All of the above are good and it does help to share every chance you get

In the Western World we are sold this fairy tale about retirement, that we will sail off into the sunset with a sexy and exciting life partner, exploring new adventures around every turn. Well, that is pile of crap sold by what I call the "Retirement Industrial Complex" of financial advisors, travel agents and AARP cheerleaders.

We spend our entire lives working for retirement and there are plenty of people willing to help you part with your money to achieve "happiness." Unfortunately, big life changes can bring big emotional problems and mental health challenges.

So please, take time to help Wendy out here by posting to her site and offering feedback to others. She is doing a great service here by helping those struggling in retirement or wondering what happened to that "pot of gold" at the end of the rainbow.

Comments for Retirement gets better

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Join the gang.
by: Retired Texan

You have seen what is involved with joining a gang on TV. Retirement is somewhat like that.

When you first get in, you get beaten and struck down with everything "reflection" can hit you with. Then you fight to find your way, accept you for being you.

You suddenly discover you retired from a job, not from life. Then you discover more and more about the world around you. You become productive again because your mind is active and not focused on yourself. You even have time to fall in love all over again.

It is a very hard trip to take but well worth the rewards. Wendy's site here has pulled me out of really deep depression. This site is the life-line we are all looking for when we retire.

Congratulations, you made it to the other side of the river of doubt. No one can take the journey for you. Glad to have you among Wendy's survivors.

Work through it
by: Sherry/NC

Everything is work even retirement, but it all works out in the end!

Never ever give up.

Retirement Does Get Better
by: Canadian Retiree

Hey Gilbert I enjoyed reading your post about how you were able to find your way in retirement after such a horrendous struggle. I couldn't agree more with your insight about retirement:

"In the Western World we are sold this fairy tale about retirement, that we will sail off into the sunset with a sexy and exciting life partner, exploring new adventures around every turn. Well, that is pile of crap sold by what I call the "Retirement Industrial Complex" of financial advisors, travel agents and AARP cheerleaders."

For many of us, it's so true. My husband and I both have health problems, he especially now has to take life easy due to cardiac issues. We are both retired and had talked about taking trips when we retired, but we've had to rethink that idea. Our house needs a lot of updates but even though we now have the time, it's also on the back burner.

As you mentioned about Wendy, I too benefited from her advice about "don't just sit there, do something, do anything".

I also had to struggle at first and recover from a deep depression when I retired. I thought I made a huge mistake, but I'm finding my way and can say as you do that retirement does get better.

by: Rancho Cucamonga

You are a warrior. Your testimony so reflects my own experience when I retired after 35 years as a Registered Nurse.

I read uplifting, educational and empowering material. I read everything relating to anxiety, depression, insomnia and everything that goes along with it. These disorders began to plague my life like a tidal wave and subsequently lead me to seek some help.

I reluctantly took a 7 week Life Skills Class twice a week and it was a blessing in disguise. Meeting others and hearing their stories open my eyes and really showed me we are truly not alone.

Slowly but surely over the course of a year the I began to emerge from the black hole to the glorious light; LIFE! Thank you for sharing


Retirement gets better
by: Elna Nugent , Lenox,, MA/Location

The best to you Gilbert:

I wonder how many people have "come alive" by reading your story.

Words are so powerful. We are all here for a
reason. Each person is so necessary without realizing it.

You have done so many people a service by their reading of your story.

Much more wisdom is bound to come your way and
be shared. Much love and God Bless. Elna

a new life is waiting
by: Jim from New York

Gilbert, I am glad you found a way to manage the transition into retirement.

I almost retired at age 58 but chose to wait a little longer. I knew I was not ready and did a lot of reading, thinking, praying and other things to help prepare me mentally for it.

There are several ways people use to cope with change. I was fortunate that I had time to prepare. Hang in there.

Always A Way Out
by: Sherry/NC

No, never suicide.
There is always a way out!
Just like you found.

So Happy FOR YOU!
by: Wendy, Retirement Enthusiast/Coach


It does take a while to find yourself, post-retirement.

We do rethink life (because we are no longer busy, and it just happens as we sit...)

We do wonder what might have been if we took a different path in life.

BUT -- in the end, we have one life, and we need to get into mindfulness and meditation to find out what's next in our path.

Finally, God Bless your wife for having the patience to wait this out. She knew you were troubled, she likely did not know how badly... we are good at faking it to our loved ones.

Life is what we make of it. We can sit and be depressed -- OR -- we can do something, anything, about it. Gibert, You took action and I am so thrilled for you!

p.s. To me, Helping someone else is the KEY. Simple acts of kindness make a big difference to both YOUR day and that of others!
Retirement Workshop: Help Yourself By Helping Others

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