Still struggling

by Rick
(London, Canada)

I chose to retire at the formal end of my career in education. I was barely 55. Like many others, I dreamed of the halcyon days of retirement. Thing is, I believe I dreamt too much about what retirement wasn't and not enough about what retirement was.


Yes, there were no more meetings, no more goals, no more memos, no more phone messages, and so on. But what was there going to be? I only thought of reading the paper over a cup of coffee on the back patio.

And that lasts about fifteen minutes.

After 18 months of retirement, I continue to be miserable. I have evolved in my view of retirement from "embarrassed", to "ashamed", to "disgusted". Every one says that it will get better, but in my case, it has been getting worse.

So, very recently I went to the family doctor, was diagnosed with depression, and put on medication.

I admit that I am feeling better. I still don't enjoy this stage of life. I hate having no purpose to waking up, making no contribution to the world during the day, and having no sense of accomplishment when I go to bed.

But at least now, the breakdowns have stopped, and the suicidal thoughts are distant. I also find I am self-medicating far less (alcohol).

I don't know where this will all lead. I share that despite anticipating and planning for retirement, it has not been pleasant. And I struggle each and every day. I hope that with the support of this medication, I can at least tolerate the future. Wouldn't it be nice to enjoy it?

Comments for Still struggling

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Spot on Rick
by: Sue Australia

I retired early from teaching. I was proud of my profession but changes and a toxic environment somewhat forced my hand. I stay in bed until 12 or 1 pm. no reason to get up. And yes I find it is embarrassing and without purpose. Don't have hobbies and will never be a quilter etc. Drink to excess and on antidepressant medication.

Thought I'd post once more
by: Author

My last post suggested that I had no intention of posting again. Nothing has improved. Retirement sucks, and is an embarrassment. For the life of me, I do not know how people can enjoy this stage of life.

Anyway, fortune brought me back to this site, and reading many of the articles, I note how many people find retirement to be a terrible experience.
Why did we believe all the lies? Can you seriously find your purpose in life in quilting?

Three years of hell. There's the update from me. At this stage, my perception of retirement is that it is such a shallow existence, I hope that I never do become accustomed to it.

Regards.

Wendy: These posts tear at my heart strings... you are so deep into hating retirement, I fear you can't see the sunshine!

There MUST be things in life you Enjoy. There MUST be new foods and restaurants, a movie, a walk in simple nature that can restore your soul.

Take a class (even online) to learn something new. Get your brain engaged again, get it out of that rut it's totally stuck in.

You are what you think.. If you think negative retirement thoughts day in and day out, you will be a grumpy retiree. You need to shift your mindset into something else... anything else, something that interests you and wakes you up and out of this black hole.

I can't imagine living there.... sending prayers!

All of this scares me....
by: Jerry

Jerry --

Moved your comment to your own page... that way retirees can comment back to you. It's here:

All of This Scares me...

Update
by: Author

So, it turns out that I was not placed into counselling. Rather, a second medication was prescribed. And, I will admit, that it has helped. Before you get all excited...

I still hate retirement. It continues to disgust me. But, now I can accept it, and endure it.

I do not enjoy it. But I no longer wish to blow my brains out, and have accepted that this is my life, just as I accepted that red hair means I'll never get a sun tan!

If you enjoy retirement, good for you! I applaud your sense of selfishness.

I will continue in my own acceptance of this journey from success, to significance, to senility.

This is my final contribution to the site. Best wishes to all, and my thanks for making this communication possible!

Slainte,

Canada

Young and retired
by: Chris from NY

Hi guys, I'm 42 years old and recently retired from a career of a correction officer. The fist few months were great as I retired in the summer, I traveled, enjoy fishing and martial arts.

My depression started in the winter, winters in the northeast are extremely long and cold. I found myself not having much to do after the gym workout and a couple of martial arts classes a week. I miss the comradery of work but not the job.

I'm looking to volunteer at the local hospital, I hope this goes well, I'm a people person and need the everyday conversation with others.

Summer is coming so life gets easier. I hope this is a transitional period while I find something to do.

Update
by: Author

So, approaching two years of retirement. Have doubled the meds. See a counsellor tomorrow (first session). I have "settled in" to the lifestyle.

Odd, that even though I have all this time, I still want the shortest check-out line at the grocery store, and all green traffic lights....

Still a void, if you ask me. "Keep busy" sounds so easy, but there is nothing meaningful. So much of what people suggest is merely "selfish".

I sing in two semi-professional choirs. I perform in an instrumental ensemble. I ran a marathon. And people, treating me like a child, comment on how busy I am!

I did all that while I was working, too. Now, I have sixteen hours a day to kill.

Dylan Thomas' widow penned her autobiography upon his death: "Leftover life to kill".

I think she might just as easily have written about retirement. A shift a week at a volunteer location, and mindlessly pursuing hobbies is hardly a reason to celebrate.

Yes, I'm still down about this suffocating coffin of retirement. I'll let you know how counselling goes.

Also struggling!
by: Diana, Northern California

Just sharing my experience: I am 58 now, but have not been working much since age 53 or so, the reason being I've been hit by health problems that are a real nuisance and drag me down. A

dd this to the fact that I never had a real career, and now it feels much too late, so I'm depressed and ruminating over "if only I'd done it differently when I was younger."

Try to enjoy the fact that you had a real and possibly satisfying career. That's a great thing!

It's hard when I introduce yourself as "Hi, I'm Diana" and then it's always "oh, what do you do?" and then I have to make it up!

Anyway, I guess the key is knowing what you like and going after it, in some way: classes at a college (which can be challenging if you are surrounded by 18 year olds, like I am); finding something to volunteer doing (harder than it sounds); travel; or working part-time at just about anything.

Best wishes!

Find your passion
by: Jenny - australia

I'm heading towards this scenario. Find what you are passionate about, a world problem, a system problem a charity etc. Go for it with all gusto as you have nothing to lose. You can speak up and say what you think. No you won't lose your job. Use the freedom of not being in a system - education for instance.

Good luck finding yourself.

Each to is own
by: James

I believe each individual is different and can cope or not cope in different ways. I never really planned for my retirement and now I have time on my hands, but I try to keep occupied from gardening, community work, fiddling on the computer, shopping, going for drives, reading, getting under my wife's feet etc.

One cannot turn the clock back, I'm afraid. Much as I would like to. I guess that wasn't a great help, but thought I'd get it off my chest.

Hang in there
by: Donny, Pennsylvania

Rick, I too retired early, 56. I miss the people at work, but I do not miss work at all (USPS). Hopefully it will get better for us. Hang in there buddy.

Retirement means being active - reinventing and reconnecting
by: Richard - West Coast of Canada

Rick, it sounds like you enjoyed teaching and being with people everyday. Sitting around drinking coffee is nice -- but only for a short part of each day as you mentioned. I suggest that you consider reinventing yourself and get back out there with people.

Maybe take up private tutoring or teaching part time. You liked working with people and meetings, volunteering on local Municipal Committees can help you regain the feelings of doing something important and working with similar minded people.

Maybe you need to take up some courses in subjects you wished you learned when in University? Education is a life long pursuit is it not ?

Retirement is like any major change in life and it's a huge transition. It can be like a death or a divorce to many (depressing).

Read some books on "Transitions" - William Bridges: "Making Sense of Life's Changes - Transitions" is a good read and how to move through this period of your life.
Transitions: Making Sense Of Life's Changes

You are on a desert island and its up to you to learn the ways of this island and how to make it your own. The key is get out there and get involved. Find your next true purpose.

Good luck
Richard

Hi Rick
by: Anonymous

I can sympathise to some extent in that my depression hasn't got to the taking meds stage. But what has me popping pills is ongoing arthritis which makes things I would like to do hard, uncomfy or downright impossible.

The garden is my life saver, so to speak - it's rough and the weeds sprout more each day. But at the end of each week I can see some progress - which is in itself progress.
However I realise that gardening is not for everyone and here in NZ we don't get the severe winters that parts of the US get.

Without the arthritis I would (probably) be doing a lot more - maybe a part time volunteering job but that's not going to happen unfortunately. And I would rather be depressed than in almost constant discomfort.

Good luck . . .

Wishful thinking
by: Cyndy

I joined Wendy after I retired hoping to make some new friends. Like Still Struggling, I find retirement very lonely.

I am now 80 years old and am seeing all my old friends leave this world. My children are all living so far away in other states so I am alone nearly all the time. My husband passed away 30 years ago this year.

I live in a gated community for over 55s but find life very lonely as I am quite a hermit. I can write to people but find it hard to make conversation with people face to face as I have always been extremely shy. No one wants to write to an 80 year old woman so my life seems to just drag by every day.

I no longer have a car so can not get out much. I keep thinking that there must be more than this to life but as yet I haven't found what it is.

I am glad that I am not alone in my feelings of retirement. I was starting to think there was something wrong with me. So Still Struggling you are not alone with your feelings.

I keep hoping that each day something will happen and I will be able to start and enjoy life again.

Wendy: Cyndy - join my community, then click on the PEN PAL TAB... lots of seniors looking for chatty pals. Just click on the two smiling faces in the right column.

Good wishes
by: Ade

I wish you all the best Rick

Volunteer
by: Anonymous

Fill the hours

How about doing some volunteer work, drive for cancer, become a big brother, tutor, and the list is endless! Besides filling the hours, you will find these thing so rewarding

Find a new purpose
by: Anonymous

I have been retired for two and one half years. It is beautiful because I have a life which is rich and full.

It is important to have goals and purposes in life when you are retired. Life does not end with retirement. It can begin again.

The depression creeps in when you do not have anything to fill all of the corners of your life.

Fill the corners with activities, goals, purposes and other interests.

To Nina
by: Carolyn

Nina - thank you for your uplifting comments.

I feel as though I am never going to come out of this depression. I'm seeing doctors but although I am coping better, I am still very unhappy.

To add to it all, they are going to be jack hammering out balconies during the month of March and I am beside myself as my nerves are already raw enough - the noise will be so horrid and I will have to kill time elsewhere but 7 hours a day 5 days a week?

I like to assume that if I am having a bad day I can just stay home and be at peace but this has me so upset - it has just been one thing after another it seems - but you seem to have gone through a lot too and perhaps worse losing your spouse - I am so glad to hear you are better - I hope I am too one day.

WENDY: Hey Caroline, Nina is a member of the Retirement Community. Join and chat with her thare... hit the two smiling faces on the right and register!

The Future Looks Bright
by: Nina from London

Hello,

It does get better! In fact I have to admit that this has to be the happiest time of my life. I almost feel like a teenager sometimes. Why? It had to do with not having responsibilities.

Besides this I've been lucky because of some private pensions. Then I began to explore my hobbies (painting, reading, musical concerts and traveling). My vacation to China in October with my daughter was amazing.

Sounds good! What I wanted to say is that when I first retired I also went through a deep depression. There are lots of reason not just retiring. I had a lot of life changes like my husband passing away. But then with my doctors help and medication plus going to see a counselor I got through the dark place. The sun will shine and the clouds will pass.

Wishing you a very Happy Retirement! Instead of feeling lost you will find a road that will be like the best one in the world.

Best Wishes, Nina

Lifesaver
by: Nancy

Wendy's website has been her lifesaver. It has been a lifesaver to me too. Keep coming back.

Boy, do I get it, what you wrote. I'm 3 years into retirement. My dental hygienist asked me last week if I loved retirement. I said I like it, but I don't love it.

I still miss work, like you, I miss the sense of purpose. Having said that, I no longer wish to work, mainly because I just don't feel well enough to work.

The big lifesaver for me, however, has been my hobby which is quilting and sewing. I can immerse myself in that hobby and make it through the day much better.

You are not alone. You are not crazy. There are more of us out there than you know.

Been there, done that
by: Carolyn

Rick - I could have written your story about retirement - I retired about 18 months ago too and although I went through a honeymoon period of enjoying it - hiking, art galleries, meeting friends for lunch, lectures at the university - in May of last year my sister fell quite ill - all the fun stopped for a while but when she got better, my depression did not lift and I have been so unhappy over the past 8 months.

I had been on medication for depression and it worked like a charm for 20 years but then it stopped and I began a new medication 6 weeks ago - I am slightly better, not suicidal, coping, but I'm not happy at all and worst of all I have unbearable insomnia so I feel horrible most days. I realized I need structure. But I'm too down to seek work and I only want to return to my old job which is not do-able right now.

I miss my job so much and I have so many regrets that I left (age 62) voluntarily - I don't know what I was thinking for I live alone and always wondered how people used up their time when they didn't work.

Almost all my friends are retired and loving it. I feel so peculiar. Good luck to you.

Been there..
by: Wendy

I retired just before age 55 too... and it's not easy doing little. Luckily, I had this website to keep me busy... my lifesaver!

Glad you saw the doctor, get yourself back in balance then consider what you will do with life. You've got lots left to live!

Why not start a business... online business? You could do a site, its not that difficult, but it IS so rewarding... you'll have purpose every day, you can take off work any time, work as few hours as you care to, or as much (me at 1:40am right now.. :) ) -- and earn an income too,

I go to several conferences each year snd learn more about what I can do, Active participant in some online business groups. All networking, All new friends that i love motivating!

IF in the least interested, write to me under the Contact me (bottom left column) or visit my newer website: www.justbusinessideas.com -- click on Online Business (to the right) then the FIND YOUR PERFECT NICHE article. Just interesting and might get your creative juices flowing again... conversation between me and a gal from Australia who is starting her website -- soon!

You WILL survive retirement... seriously.

You had the common sense to seek help, now you can find a new life. There is a whole world out there -- waiting for you to jump in!

Best Wishes!

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