Work Defined Me

by GS

I was let go from my facility a year ago at 58 in a Restructuring (the new term for layoffs). I was a department director and enjoyed my work and co-workers. I’ve been working full time since I was 19 and have always lived under my means so I can’t even talk about financial problems.

I always thought I would retire in my early or mid 60’s then do some consulting work. I had a plan. When my plan collapsed I found myself waking up every morning still at 4am but would lay there thinking where did I go wrong. Your mind can be your worst enemy.

Reinventing myself throughout my career was a way of life and I tried to convince myself I will do it again. This time it was harder to get out of bed, concentrate and socialize. To help, I kept telling myself "you beat cancer twice, you can beat this situation".

Work turned out to be who I was. It unfortunately defined me as a person and when it was gone so was my identity. The feelings of being alone and worthless, all contributed to bringing down my self esteem. There is a condition called dysthymia which is a form of depression that some people have and don’t even realize. Think of a sign wave where you have high peaks and lows. When you lose the strength to pull yourself out of a low cycle it can last for months to years. That’s when you need professional help which is what I am getting.

In the meantime I keep busy by reading, exercising and keeping up with all the new regulations in the slight chance a facility might want a 59 year old person with one eye and a bum leg. Have to try to keep some humor to all this.

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Parallel Paths
by: Sandy

GS - your story is almost identical to mine....and yes, I researched dysthemia. However, I came to the conclusion that I really did not have general depression before I retired, so it made me feel better to label it as just situational depression caused by sudden retirement. I wonder if the medical field has coined an actual phrase for this.

I post often on this site and it has helped me move forward from a serious depression to being able to see and even act on the possibilities.

This does not mean I don't miss my job and my colleagues but the pain is not so deep. And with therapy, I have begun to explore the concept of working and what it meant to me. For some people, working is just that - a job....and th

ey have a robust life. For me (and it sounds like for you, as well), work was life. We scheduled our family, friends and activities around work and became our jobs. So it is no surprise that you are struggling.

I do hope that you continue to stay connected to this site, read about retirement AND depression, find a good therapist and take action, even if it is to volunteer once per week.

Once the momentum starts, it is easier not to dwell on things. Also, after a few years of being jobless, I now work part-time and volunteer and care for my ill parents. So my life is pretty full (and if you are wondering - yes, I still do miss my job. But again, it is more of a sentimental missing than a desperate one. I don't think that will ever go away and I have accepted that).

If you'd like to connect, I am on the retirement community and you can "friend" me. I'd be glad to email privately. You will get through this.

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