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If you’ve gone through feeling unmotivated, lonely, depressed, sad...

(113 Posts)
gmarie Wed 12-Feb-20 08:22:53

...and come out the other side, what worked to get you engaged and moving again?

I’ve experienced things similar to what most older people have - a career, divorce, raising kids and then empty nest, retirement, loss of loved ones, pets, etc., and I just feel lost and stuck.

I enjoyed my teaching and supervising jobs but am very glad to have retired and don’t regret it. When I was raising my kids, I started mom’s groups, took writing and dance classes, did hospice work, volunteered in sons’ classrooms, etc., and remember thinking that I’d found the “secret” to happiness to use later when I got older and retired. But now I’m so unmotivated and it seems like my efforts are empty without loved ones around.

I have a lot of good friends from over the years but none locally. I’ve gone to several things - Meetups, a Unitarian church service, a couple of political meetings, swing dance - but nothing seemed to click. I notice that I feel happy and energized when my “kids” and their SOs are going to come over for something but that isn’t very frequent and I’m quite aware that I can’t live vicariously through them. I’m hoping I can get some of my stamina and enthusiasm back.

I’m familiar with many of the recommendations out there - getting good sleep and eating well; exercising; meditating; connecting with others by volunteering, taking a class, joining a group; going out in the sunshine and nature; practicing gratefulness; “just do(ing) it”, etc. - so I’m not asking for advice or a critique. I just want to know what, if anything, worked for you.

Anything on that list? Something else? Thanks! flowers

Jane10 Wed 12-Feb-20 09:11:59

I know exactly what you mean. I have a 'mantra' phrase that I tell myself.

It's 'Make the effort'. Not very exciting or transformative but I say it to myself when I can't be bothered to do something. It works for me. Nine times out of ten I'm glad I did and usually find that I enjoy the activity or event that I'd not wanted to do. If I didn’t enjoy it then at least I felt OK because I'd tried it.

Eglantine21 Wed 12-Feb-20 09:20:05

Maybe the problem is that you’re still operating within your comfort zone? The sort of things you enjoyed in the past? We’re only really motivated when we have a challenge to overcome.

Me, I threw it all up in the air. Sold the big house, bought a pad in a completely new town, got a backpack, went off to see the world.

Lots of people disapproved, but it worked for me.

Hetty58 Wed 12-Feb-20 09:26:49

I know that feeling very well. I used to teach too and was always frantically busy. I brought up four children single-handed at the same time.

I'm just not that person any more. Did I burn myself out? The menopause knocked me down, then a back injury stopped me in my tracks. Retirement is peaceful yet challenging - good and bad.

This time of year is always difficult anyway (especially since my SAD lamp broke) and I tend to wait it out, knowing that by March I'll have a bit more energy and enthusiasm for life.

I really don't know the answers, having tried most of the usual things myself. I often have to cancel stuff if I'm in too much pain with my back. Therefore, I'm reluctant to even book or arrange things. I wish there was a drop-in centre with useful things (or anything) to do - for my good days - as I'd love to volunteer.

I have discovered clues, though, to my often self-defeating behaviour and state of mind:

I have too much time to overthink things (and find excuses).

I'm reluctant to try things 'in case' I don't enjoy them, or 'fail'.

I'm usually feeling well when family come (funny, that).

I often have to force myself to get ready and get out.

I need a reward system to overcome barriers (even chocolate will do).

I need patience with myself. I often feel like a failure - but that's just me/my upbringing - other people don't see me that way.

I feel guilty and useless unless I do/achieve one small thing a day.

I need company but feel socially awkward so that quick chat with a neighbour, fellow dog walker or shop assistant means the world and lifts my mood.

I have to spend time outside, walking, gardening, pottering or just sitting to stave off depression.

I spring into life when I have my lodger or grandchildren here - so I'm at my best doing things for other people.

Why do I value doing things for myself so little?

I believe I'm not cut out to live alone, not really.

So some things help me but I've not 'come out the other side', rather learned to accept my 'winter doldrums' and wait them out.

Yennifer Wed 12-Feb-20 09:35:14

Get yourself a vitamin D spray from Holland and Barrett, absolute must this time of year x

Jaffacake2 Wed 12-Feb-20 09:35:25

I am feeling just like you at the moment. But lost can't work out what my role is in life and totally unmotivated. Felt relieved to retire from nursing 3 years ago and went straight into childcare for baby grandchild. This felt like I was connected and needed. Then ill health hit and I could no longer look after 2 little toddlers.
Have tried joining U3A ,classes, help with role play training as a volunteer with the police. But still feel empty and realised that I am aging before my time..
Winter seems a hard time emotionally,the large house is empty and cold. I should have been born as a bear hibernating through the winter as I always feel better in the spring !
Will be interested to read how others are coping.
Well done for downsizing and travelling the world but seems a massive change that I am not capable of mentally or physically.

annsixty Wed 12-Feb-20 09:41:34

I think at a certain age acceptance is the answer.
We cannot go on doing the things we have always done.
We are not robots.
Parts wear out, we have less energy , sometimes a lot less money.
That doesn’t necessarily mean settle for a quiet boring life but accept your limitations, if in your fifties, go for every new experience you can..
In 70s/80s then accept those days have gone and a different life doesn’t mean it is all over.

gmarie Wed 12-Feb-20 09:41:54

Thank you Jane10 I just read, yesterday, that it would be better to use "Just get started" rather than Nike's "Just do it" which seems similar!

Eglantine21, I'm seriously considering renting my house and buying a camper van to go around the US. I could bring the dog with me but I also have 17 and 18-year-old diabetic cats to care for so it would still be a year or two before I could do that. Hope you're having fun!

Eglantine21 Wed 12-Feb-20 09:47:47

I’ve spent ten years going round the world and Im making another change! I’ve bought a house in a county town and moved in with the lover.

Time for another new life. And boy, is it a challenge! 😬😱

Spend the next year preparing for that trip to America. Time will fly by😀

gmarie Wed 12-Feb-20 10:11:30

Wow, Hetty58, I was surprised at how many of the comments in your post rang true for me - a majority of your "clues" list for sure. Instead of back pain I have migraines which can lay me out several days a couple of times a month. The upside of those (over back pain) is that at least I have headache-free weeks and during those I feel very grateful and a bit more motivated.

I hadn't thought about the winter influence that many of you mentioned. My dad died in August and I have been pretty down since then but some of that is very likely due to the cold, gray days. It also doesn't help, I'm sure, that I stay up late (it's 2 a.m. here) and sleep in during the morning hours.

I feel a little better, already, after reading your posts. I didn't realize how much it would help just knowing that others felt similarly.

polnan Wed 12-Feb-20 10:15:18

wow Hetty 58, thank you for this. most all you say applies to me..
I am happiest when doing for others,, learning to think of "me" not been brought up like that, never done that.... wow!
love this thread,,,
Eglantine 21.. you are blessed indeed... a lover! wow!

gosh,, am I too old at 83 coming on 84, to have a ......

no not lover! LOL a dog?

gmarie Wed 12-Feb-20 10:15:19

Yennifer, I just started taking calcium tablets with vitamin D3 this week. I'll have to look it up to see if it will provide a similar benefit.

PernillaVanilla Wed 12-Feb-20 10:19:14

For me, at a very difficult time, I joined a sewing class. It worked for me because although I'd designed and made my own clothes as a teenager I was not in truth very good at it, and my techniques were not up to scratch. Apart from the usual things of a bit of convivial company and the pleasure of making the items I found that concentrating, working hard at getting things right, not "good enough" enabled me to go home and modify a pattern to produce something far nicer than I could have bought in a shop. It restored me, in a strange way to my 20's when life had got in the way of creativity.

BlueSky Wed 12-Feb-20 10:38:21

Same here I've got to the unmotivated phase, nothing seems to get me going. Perhaps it does happen because of various reasons and not just physical issues? The winter certainly doesn't help but it's helpful to know that there are other people in the same boat.

Nanny41 Wed 12-Feb-20 10:50:09

Interested to hear about the Vit D spray, does it help "the blues"or just a supplement instead of the sun, which we are missing at this time of year? Must give it a try.

Silveronline Wed 12-Feb-20 11:12:59

When I gave up my job I decided to travel 2-3 weeks every 6 months which is the amount of time I want to be away. I am also part of a religious gtroup and spend a few evenings and a day with them. I decided to take up th3 piano again after leaving it 50 years ago so that has been my big challenge. I think challenge is the key. I don’t have family so I mak3 myself busy

Tillybelle Wed 12-Feb-20 11:17:49

I can identify with you. I was always so busy.

I am wondering if you have something like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? You were so busy during your working life it might be your body saying it wants you to let it have a good rest.

I have been forced into much less to hardly any activity due to disabling pain. Somehow though, the time passes by usually without me doing everything I wanted to do. I do rely on the internet for many interests and have taken up a few craft hobbies that I never had time for, or even thought of, before. Before I was disabled I was a keen gardener, and the garden won't let you stand still.

I don't know if any of my thoughts have been useful. I do feel for you. Maybe you might try giving in to this unwonted lethargy and just be lazy and pretend you are giving yourself a holiday? I do hope that some way or another you begin to feel much happier.

Sussexborn Wed 12-Feb-20 11:20:52

How does the Vit D spray work? Is it a room spray or a body spray? I used to joke that I would leave my OH when he retired because he was a grumpy young man (at times) and now gets even more grumpy especially when it rains continuously. His family always made a big deal about the weather whereas my family just accepted whatever weather came along.

Alexa Wed 12-Feb-20 11:47:25

gmarie, what worked for me in similar circs was understanding I was on my own and it followed I needed to look after myself, instead of . as had had previously been the case, looked after others.
Basically, I did what I wanted to do. I looked after my finances, moved house. The main innovation was acquiring a GSD puppy and a cross breed terrier who needed training classes. I also joined a group of people who shared the same intellectual interest as me.
Unitarianism was a help mainly because of the few nice people I met at the local U church. I wish now I had loved them even better now they are all dead.

SaraC Wed 12-Feb-20 12:04:45

Don’t be too hard on yourself gmarie. It’s only six months since your Dad died and bereavement is a tiring journey. Six months, generally speaking, is when we run out of energy and realise that life will never be the same again. So many changes going on under the surface which take up a lot of energy. Maybe having time to feel sad and to reflect is no bad thing. Take good care.

Kim19 Wed 12-Feb-20 12:35:10

My chosen Christmas gift to friends (who don't need 'stuff') is an IOU for lunch. I put an expiry date on these and then move into diary time where I try for as many January slots as I can manage. Awful month for me. Totally survival time. Many years ago crippling finances were also part of the survival. Nowadays, lie-ins, lovely lunches and telly kick it into touch not too badly. I do understand the 'alone' situation being worse at this time of year but with a bit of resolve it can be coped with. Thanks for that Vit D tip. I will pursue but perhaps take the childrens' dose after reading a few reviews. Roll on Spring!

lovebeigecardigans1955 Wed 12-Feb-20 12:40:42

Normally I find that being creative is helpful - even the largest project can be started with just a few stitches. It lifts my spirits to make something unique and I hope, beautiful.
As SaraC says, maybe it's no bad thing to pause and take stock of one's situation. Recharge your batteries then begin again.

Camelotclub Wed 12-Feb-20 12:59:01

Hetty: Your list was so inspiring I printed it out!

curvygran950 Wed 12-Feb-20 13:09:58

You are absolutely right SaraC .
The winter ‘blues’ affect so many people, myself included, but I find I do feel better if I can make the effort to go outside for a walk even if just round the block .
I’ve also treated myself to buying cut daffodils- they really cheer me up by reminding me that spring will
Definitely be here sometime !

Rufus2 Wed 12-Feb-20 13:23:52

now gets even more grumpy especially when it rains continuously
Sussexborn. Now why does that remind me of an earlier tale? GreatNan's I think!
Woman says " I think my husband's depressed. It hasn't stopped raining for three days and he's been staring through the window all the time.
If it's still raining tomorrow I suppose I'll have to let him in!