Dr.Shivani Salil

I’m a working mother, who is forever on her toes multi-tasking, to meet deadlines. It would be dishonest if I say I haven’t harboured fantasies to retire. Oh, to retire and to be on vacation all the time. To sleep late, to take that trip or to rekindle the long-lost hobbies. How often have I felt that twinge of envy for that colleague on his farewell day?

The other day I bumped into one of them on my way to work but then it took me a while to recognise him. Because the usually suave and well turned out gentleman was nowhere around. This was a slightly disheveled fellow with faraway look in his eyes and a stoop in his shoulders. We made polite conversation and moved on. But that brief meeting made me relook at my ideas of retirement.

Retire comes from French and means “withdraw” or “tear away” …. ouch… Sounds a little cruel or may be the French knew something that I didn’t! It turns out that the French did get it right. Retirement does hit badly especially the ones who refuse to see the writing on the wall. Often people consider their job as an extension of their persona. With the job gone, the people and the perks disappear too. And so does the person’s self-confidence. That rocking chair doesn’t seem so rocking any more. They become cranky and withdrawn. The family around them just doesn’t know how to handle this stranger.

The grumpy exterior often hides more than it reveals. There is a sense of worthlessness that just pulls them into the pit called depression. Without the daily motivation of getting ready for work, they stop making an effort to look and dress better. With no fixed routine, the schedule for meals and chores goes haywire. And life as they’ve known it slips out of their hands. Sometimes the depression is so bad it gives way to suicidal thoughts.

Seek help before it’s too late. Self-reliance is so ingrained in us, it’s actually overrated. There’s no harm in looking for solutions from people who are trained to do so. Professional help and therapy can do wonders. A timely helping hand is just what is required to avert a crisis. I have often felt that more than the people who suffer from mental health issues, it’s the people around them who need to be aware.

Some pointers for those who are still a little away from hanging their boots:

  • Connect with your family.
  • Take this opportunity to reconnect with your family. In the humdrum of life they are often ignored. If your grandchildren are around that’s an icing on the cake. The little ones understand the value of your time and love. Try spending time with them and you wouldn’t remember what worthlessness feels like. They put the ‘grand’ back in grandparents.

  • Community life.
  • Nowadays often with the children being too far, you may not want to give up on your freedom. Look around for community living options and settle for one that meets your specifications.

  • Plan ahead…. way way ahead of the D day.
  • Apart from financial planning, make an effort to build your own world outside the professional one. Seek like-minded people. Engage in conversations and if someone clicks, go that extra mile to stay connected with them.

  • Get attached to a worthy cause
  • There are enough and more around. There are a lot people who may benefit from the time you give them. Make that count. It’s a win win situation. You feel needed and important and that does wonders to the flagging self-esteem.

  • Recognise, develop and cultivate hobbies
  • Do that TODAY rather than waiting for retirement.

Do not stare at that closed door of your office. It had a purpose in your life which it has fulfilled. Just turn around and you’ll realize that retirement was actually what you had imagined and more.

Keep in mind, that your job was just a section of your life and not the entire pizza