We hear about depression so often, it is becoming one of those excuse diseases that can get us out of doing things that we don’t want to do.
It can work the other way too, “I’m depressed, ice cream and chocolate cookies help I am told.” Never underestimate the healing powers of cookies!
Enough fun and games, what is depression as it relates to us retired people?
Basically, depression is an extended period of sadness or hopelessness, and it affects about 5% of us deeply and affects all of us at least a little. As retired folks, we have unique pressures like aging bodies, ailing friends and loved ones, financial concerns, and other age-related issues (too many for me to list here). Eighty percent of us have at least one chronic health condition and for those of us who have worked for many years, retirement itself can be a leading cause of depression, we battle a reduced sense of purpose. Our number one symptom, apparently more so than all the others, is that we get lonely.
Depression can cause us to:
- Become apathetic (we just don’t give a $@^@#%^#)
- Become irritable (cranky old farts)
- Become tired and lessen our energy (no get up and go)
- Loose interest in activities we once cherished (I’m sick of it all)
- Fight Insomnia or oversleeping
- Have problems concentrating (oh look, a squirrel)
- Change our appetites (up or down)
- Be persistently sad.
In truth, there are many symptoms of depression, I have just listed a few above. The next question would seem to be the obvious, what do we do to avoid loneliness and depression. The short answer is:
Whether you are alone or with a life partner, invite and go out for lunch with your friends (old and new; invite the ones that are willing to pay for their own lunch first, we don’t want to become bitter and lonely). Chances are your friends, to some degree, may be dealing with the same loneliness/isolation that you (and maybe your partner) are dealing with.
Most importantly, reach out to someone. A counselor, a friend, or family member; senior centres usually offer peer supports; a second voice needs to be involved with your conversation’s.
There is one other part that can help, start practicing kindness both to yourself and others. Do things that you like to do, you can let go of things that you don’t like. Practice staying in the moment, being clear-headed and intentional will keep you from wallowing in things you have little or no control over. Hug yourself and hug those around you that you know well enough to hug. (Don’t start hugging strangers or those determined not to be hugged by you). Touching and being touched by other humans is a wonderful way of reclaiming your sense of self. Smile and laugh as often as you can, (fake it till you make it if need be!)
Finally, learn to be grateful for that which you have, not for what you don’t have. A warm cup of coffee, bacon with breakfast, or simply a wonderful sunny morning, be at peace with what you have. This does not mean you can’t get more, but being satisfied with the world around you can be, “as good as it gets.” The big answer to Depression is to get out and be around more people; socialize as much as you can. A secondary suggestion that also can help alleviate depression is to get a pet (I won’t be writing about pet care).
Accept the world with a smile and adapt yourself.
In putting this little dialog together, I admit trying to find things like, “Drink a bottle of wine a day, smoke a pack of cigarettes, and eat more bacon.
“Those cookies and chocolate eclair things can be very uplifting as well.”
Alas, I did not find any confirmation about these diversions being particularly helpful in any meaningful way. I will keep looking though, just so you know.
Wishing you light and love!!