Retirement gets better
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.