Retirement: Not as great as I thought it would be!

by Paula
(Grand Prairie, Texas, USA)

In March 2014 I retired at the age of 63. I couldn't wait for full retirement age.

After 40+ years of office work I was burned out, fed up, tired, depressed and ready to be able to stay home and do what I wanted.

At first it was fun. Getting up when I felt like it, not having to contend with rules, bosses, co-workers. I thought yes now I can paint again, play the piano again, play my favorite computer games for as long as I want but it hasn't turned out that way. I've picked around at a few things but nothing seems to hold my interest for very long. I've played my computer games so much that they are no longer fun.

I am somewhat homebound due to severe osteoarthritis in my knees and have only been away from the house a couple of times over the past few months.

I have been exercising and trying to lose some weight and that seems to help but exercise only takes up a small portion of my day.

I am fortunate that I don't live alone. I own my home and my daughter, her husband and my grandson live with me. But they have their own lives.

I am not married so I don't have a partner to grow old with! My husband and I divorced after a few short years leaving me to raise my daughter alone. I was busy back then working full time, running my household and being active in my church. But now I don't have those responsibilities and I don't know what to do with myself.

I have read many articles about how to have a happy retirement but I often end up feeling more depressed because I am limited financially and physically. I was diagnosed with clinical depression many years ago and took medications but I don't want to go that route again.

I have realized though that I am probably being much to hard on myself. I feel guilty for not having some wonderful hobby to keep me busy. I don't have to do much around the house other than my own laundry and keeping my room clean yet I still feel this sense that I must do something productive everyday. I think that comes from all the years I've spent being the provider and caregiver.

I did read that retirement is a time to reinvent oneself but I am at a loss to know how or what it is that I want for my life.

I suppose it is a journey, one that starts with small steps. I just need to figure out what path I want to take.

Comments for Retirement: Not as great as I thought it would be!

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Retirement not so great
by: Lois

Retirement is a big change in a person's life. Not only do you not only have the job you once had but with health issues and less income there are a great many changes to be made all at once.

Take it slow and sort out each change one at a time. Don't feel as needed as you did when you were working? Write letters of encouragement to others who are also depressed or just need to hear that someone else cares and understands.

Feeling home bound because of your knee problem? You don't have to get out and run a race. Just slowly take a turn around the garden or your neighborhood block and stop to enjoy what you see, or speak to whomever you chance to meet, even if it is just a smile and a hello. That could make the world of difference to someone else and in so doing will uplift your sense of well being.

It's not easy to decide what you want to do with the remainder of your life. If you truly cannot get out, try to get others to come to you. Perhaps you could start a home Bible study or some other type of discussion group in your home. It's not necessary to be an expert in any field to have people sit around the table with a cup of coffee and discuss how they feel out a topic.

Have you heard of Laughter Yoga? It's not really yoga, just a way of breathing, relaxing and getting enjoyment in your life by laughing which in itself helps combat depression and gives you a strong sense of health and well being. There are many articles and videos on the internet dealing with this new craze.

Hang in there. Rome wasn't built in a day and it will take time for you to sort through what you want to do with the rest of your life.

I share your feelings!
by: Anonymous

I retired 6 months ago from being an active nurse and around many people. Now at home alone (widowed 7 years ago). I am so lonely living in this big old house on a country road. I am starting to volunteer at nursing homes and at the hospital I worked at for 41 years. But then I go home to no one. That is what is bothering me most: loneliness.

Figuring it out
by: Paula

I appreciate all the great comments to my post. I am doing better these days as I begin to settle in to being retired. I now see that working defined me but not anymore.

I have gotten into a daily routine which helps (although I know I can be flexible). As Joe C said "baby steps". In our instant gratification society it's easy to want it all now which takes away from the joy of growth and change.

Not that it's easy, it isn't but as the change occurs you can look back to see how far you've come and feel pride in your accomplishment.

Joe C.'s comments
by: Nancy

"Baby Steps" is a good way to look at it. A lot of good suggestions in what Joe C. said. When I get up feeling depressed, I act "as if". They call it faking it till you make it in AA.

I go about my day as if I weren't depressed. Today is one of those days. I'm not going to take to the sofa, but I'm going to clean house, go to the store and work on my hobbies.

Also Joe C. mentioned being grateful. The first year I retired, I was horribly depressed and grieving over the loss of my job. I would wake up at 4:00 and feel a blast of pain. But I always did feel grateful.

I remember getting in the shower and just feeling overcome with gratitude for everything. I was always grateful I didn't have to put up with the stress of work.

Baby Steps
by: Joe C.

Just two quick thought that come to mind.

I like to keep things simple.

Thought #1. Take Baby Steps. Make a list of what you want to do or accomplish each day. Does not have to be a major project. As time goes on, add to your list. Summary: Need to Keep Busy.

Thought #2. Be Grateful. I realize that this might be tough. Find things that you have that you can be grateful for. For one thing, you have a computer and can connect to the outside world. You have great writing skills. I could go on and on.
Summary: Find the positive things in your Life.

From: Joe C.

I hear ya
by: No Name

I was just reading your post and thought to myself that I have been telling people that are on the fence about retiring to wait and think about it---would doing something else in your career niche better than leaving all together? Is there a way that you could segue into part time?

I have a wealth of hobbies, but my husband has none--you can see the vast difference but I will admit that I have a part-time job running a small office---I also substitute for the system that I use to teach in---so I have kept myself involved part time---could you get a small job somewhere?

Even one or two days a week give you the opportunity for some structure at some time--it does help---can you volunteer a day or two/week --- at a local school, library, senior center?

I tell people all the time, retirement is not what it is cracked up to be---if you have unlimited funds and can golf and meet people for lunch, it is GREAT---if you are limited financially and physically, of course, it is not so great---but slowly, push yourself to do a little more physically and perhaps ask a local place--school, church, library, hospital, if there are opportunities to volunteer---dog rescue places are always looking---how about taking up quilting or knitting and getting into a group.

just thoughts, but you must not give up---be proactive and investigate any opportunity out there to get you out with other people---the kids in school and some of the people I worked with on a daily basis is what I miss---

Take care

Retirement not as great as you thought it would be
by: Soky Santos/FL

Hi, I can certainly agree with you about retirement not being as great as we thought.

I myself had a huge problem a couple of weeks ago and wrote about how miserable and wretched I felt since I retired to an isolated country are in Puerto Rico and was alone most of the time with no car and no friends.

I received such a huge amount of advice and love and guess what? I spoke with my husband and we both decided to stay married, but that I would move to Florida and he could stay where he loves, which is the country.

Now I am feeling better about myself, my children and grandkids are all around me, and I can get out and about to shops, restaurants and other places where I was isolated from.

Perhaps you can find a new interest. Computer games are good, but boring after awhile. Do you like to cook? Maybe you could fix a special meal for your family and sit back and take in all the compliments!

I am back in Tampa today, and looked at myself in the mirror and saw how I had aged during that year of isolation.

Look at yourself, you are beautiful.

Fuss over yourself and God bless you.

Retirement Plan
by: Joe W.

@Paula, Some say that all you need is a financial adviser and you will have a cheque for life. The problem is that a financial adviser isn't going to tell you what you should do with the rest of your life.

Here, I think the 50+ Group needs to have a place to go (not a senior center) to discuss and plan a realistic retirement plan. How this group(s) will be created is still in the infancy stage. The minimum requirement is having like-minded individuals who will be in most cases having similar problems and successes in their own retirement lives. We can then inspire and elevate each other to be the best that we can become.

by: Gerard/ Omaha

If there is a will there is a way. If having bad knees keep you from walking, swim or some kind of easy less weight bearing exercise. Join or get involved in a social group, church, Y, etc. Life doesn't end on "retirement".

Suggestion, maybe!
by: Carol, Meadville, PA

You mentioned you were trying to lose weight. How about joining your local Tops?

I too retired at 63 and belong to our local chapter. The people are terrific and come up with all kinds of ideas and things to do as most of them are retired too!

I'm very fortunate and have good health, raise quarter horses, have 3 dogs and a husband.

Totally loving retirement! Worked since I was 16 to have what I have now!

by: Pat N

It sounds like part of the problem is that you are somewhat housebound.

Try to get out of your house each day for one reason or another, even if it's just to run an errand.
Have a lady friend pick you up and go to lunch.
If there is a senior center close by, try some of the activities they have to offer.

I live only about one quarter of a mile from my local senior center, and even though I am on the shy side, I have found that those that go to the center are friendly and inviting, and additionally the center has tons of classes, music entertainment and other activities. You might even make a new friend who shares your same interests.

Best Wishes

Not as great
by: Anon

First and foremost, go back on the antidepressants. If you're depressed, you can't manage life without them. They won't make life rosy, but they will help you cope better. Then it's up to you. Once the antidepressants start working (it takes a few weeks) you'll be better equipped to make decisions on what is next in your life.

I know firsthand about depression. My mother refused to treat hers and lived with it untreated for years and it ruined her quality of life.

I take antidepressants and they have changed my life! I've dealt with many setbacks and much sadness and have been able to stay strong and keep a positive outlook because my family needs me. I wish you luck.

I feel your pain
by: Nancy

Wow, I had to plagiarize the previous comment because it was so profound:

"Focusing on one's emotions instead of thinking one's way out is a better way to finding new life interests. "

I had an extremely hard time adjusting to retirement, like you are. I've been retired for 3+ years now. Everyone had advice: get another job, volunteer But like the above comment YOU have to find it. No one else can tell you, but the above advice really nails it. You can't think your way out.

A lot of what you said struck a responsive chord in me. I have osteoarthritis really bad too. I still feel like I should be doing something useful all the time.

But it DOES get better. At least it did for me. I'm grateful that since I have these disabilities I don't have to drag myself to work. When I was working there were many many times I had to drag myself to work when I didn't feel like it.

You are really in the right place here. Keep coming back. I send you my support.

Had same experience
by: HS Calgary Canada

Two things

It will change for the better.

Focusing on one's emotions instead of thinking one's way out is a better way to finding new life interests.

At least that worked for me.

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