Joe, 63

Depression / Retirement

I had just retired and thought the world was my oyster. I looked forward to free time and travel. But I wasn’t prepared for the day in/day out of little to do. I’d always had a goal or project, one achievement after another.


Now there were no more goals or even an impending project. My last achievement seemed to be the big “send off” retirement party my company gave me.


I became depressed. At first it was headaches, then listlessness and apathy and eventually sleeplessness. I started to feel useless; what good was I?


I was happily married 40 years and I had four great children and adorable grandchildren. But even that started not to matter. In fact, I actually felt I was a burden to them.


Doctors gave me medication. When I went to Dr. Barge (after medication alone did not help), I wanted to die. I told her that I was thinking of suicide. At least then, I wouldn’t be a burden to my family anymore.


She must have known what I was about because she said the exact right thing; “you really have lost your mind!”


I wasn’t at all comfortable with being a person who was losing control. Counseling was exactly what I needed. I went to work on the problem (project) right away!


I realized I had to find meaning in/to my own life and not look to external achievements to define me.


I also realized that I had a lot of anger. It came from believing that I had to be all things to all people. I had believed others expected much more from me than they actually did! I was turning all of this anger inward, against myself, especially now that I had “no use” or purpose.


Through my counseling with Dr. Barge, I learned to identify and deal with my angry feelings. I changed the way that I viewed myself and my reason for being alive.


The depression is gone and I don’t need medication anymore. There is a lot of love in my life and I am very grateful for what I have. I have started to share it by volunteering to help others. I now feel I have a real purpose in my life.


NOTE: Patient stories are real life stories. The identities are disguised and sometimes, a composite to protect patients. No identity should be assumed with any of these stories.