The other day my friends and I were discussing the problem of depression and isolation that so many of the husbands of my friends have experienced. We are of an age where the men are retiring and many have held stimulating and challenging roles in their working lives and retirement for many of them left them feeling useless – without a role that they perceived as of any worth and this has led to depression for several of them. One found some solace in alcohol, one was permanently pessimistic and low spirited and one struggled with a number of illnesses that came from lack of exercise, over indulgence and low motivation.
Everyone needs a reason for getting up in the morning, everyone needs to feel wanted and everyone needs to do something to give them a sense of self-worth. Most of the men in our group have found ways to fulfil themselves and have gradually pulled themselves out of their despair but most hit rock bottom first. Of course, the challenge of taking a new path and finding a new reality is part of life and its journey – the way to evolvement is through overcoming the challenges of life but I notice that the wives and partners of these men had also been challenged and there are lessons for them too. It’s hard to live with a partner who finds it difficult to be motivated and who has lost the confidence and self-esteem that characterised them for most of their lives. It’s hard not to chivvy them up, make suggestions for what they could do, tell them to make themselves useful around the home etc. etc. We get challenged with our own control issues and impatience.
Having helped a few who have faced this situation I am putting together some simple points to ponder on.
For the one suffering from depression:
- Give yourself time
Allow yourself some rope. Give yourself time to adapt. Don’t rush into new ventures before you have shed the bonds to your previous work otherwise you will take on a role that may not suit and you will feel doubly upset if you see yourself failing.
- Be compassionate to yourself
Realise that what you are suffering is a form of grief. You have lost status, pride, sense of worth and the excitement and enjoyment of doing a job that you know well and that fulfils you. Grief needs at least a year before it calms and it can take several years before you “get over” the loss of your role.
Depression is a lowering of the spirits. It occurs when you are not connected to your true self – your higher self – your spiritual self. When you experience emotions such as regret, grief, shame etc. you then become disconnected. So make an intention to reconnect – you can do this simply by making a promise to yourself to reconnect and to rise above the negative emotions. I have a short youtube that shows a morning ritual to help with this on my account annejoneshealer.
- Rise to the challenge
See this change in your life as a challenge like your work challenges and let your intellect help you to work out the best new direction for you.
- Look forward not back
Don’t allow yourself to keep looking back and let go regret of the joy of your past. Living in the past is the most destructive thing you can do. So put some dates in your diary and make some plans – holidays, visits to friends, dinner parties etc.
- Give a helping hand
Who can you help? Helping others is the very best way to lift you out of that feeling of worthlessness. Grand-children, neighbours, drop in centres for the disadvantaged and any voluntary work all need you. Take up causes and fight the cases of those who need your expertise or your time.
- What makes your heart sing?
Chose to do with your day what feels good for you rather than what you ought to be doing or should be doing. Plough your own furrow and enjoy your freedom. What makes you smile? What give you pleasure? As long as its legal then go for it!
For the partner/wife/parent/child
- Give them time
Realise that depression is not a state that any one would chose. Give them time and space to grieve, to ponder and contemplate their new route through life.
- Let them find their own way
Try not to “tell” them what to do. Even suggestions need to be handled tactfully as most people would rather come up with their own solutions than follow those handed out to them.
- Don’t control or nag.
The one thing guaranteed to put the person onto their back foot, get them annoyed, make their depression worse, make them feel totally useless is if you tell them that they are useless etc. Let them sort out their situation in their own time in their own way. You can offer love and support but please don’t nag! This is your own challenge for patience and acceptance; no matter how much you want to fix things for them they must find their own way.
- Keep yourself active and have fun
You too need to find things that make you happy. Your partner may not want to join in but that doesn’t mean your life should stop too. Your own happiness will create a good environment for yourself and for them. You don’t want to slip into self-sacrifice for then you will resent them and it will create a very negative atmosphere in your home and will bring you down too.
The good news is that most people have a resilience and spiritual strength that comes to the fore when faced with life’s challenges and given time and a compassionate environment their will and determination will come back and restore their sense of self-worth. One of the greatest antidote that our group have used for years is laughter. We make each other laugh and that brings up the spirit quicker than anything!
Good luck, find fun.
Big hugs Anne xxxxx