Surviving The Retirement Blues

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” (Seneca)

I suspected for a couple of years that ‘things’ within me were not too good, a once-enjoyable job had transformed itself into a draconian chore of almost Herculean proportion, my social existence too had entered a stage of wane – and as for realising any sense of accomplishment on a daily/weekly basis – well, that was reserved for those who could adroitly scale K2 – or successfully negotiate the rodent-race on an continual basis – and come out of it relatively unscathed – certainly not I.

I sensed also that what aided and abetted my cerebral decline; lay with the irrefutable fact that I had been a military man for over three and half decades – hitherto, the potpourri of activity and challenges which this occupation threw-up, simply did not lend itself to one coping adequately with the seemingly trivial travails of civilian life.

Some twelve months ago, a female relative, one who had entered the ‘darkness’, as she so articulately coined her one-time dalliance with depression, informed me that there existed considerable and unforeseen opportunities which could lift one from psychotic gloom, the same of which had affected us both in an identical manner, including the behaviour of our sleeping and eating cycles, these also being sorely affected, to say little of our respective sense of low esteem and general lack of focus.

My cousin Rose ultimately found liberty and a long yearned-for panacea from what ailed her – quintessentially through romance with the ‘Right Man’, something she never experienced throughout the first thirty-one years of adult life.

I, on the other hand, contemplated that it may take something more than a Lazarus-like recovery of my love life to alleviate the negativity and despair I was experiencing at that particular juncture.

In order to clear the ‘fog’ contained between my left and right ear – and on complete whim, I inexplicably opted to return to the city of my Birth – Edinburgh, largely to re-trace the steps of my youth and to hopefully reveal the possible Genesis of my mental disquiet at this stage of life.

Edinburgh to this day, remains an amazingly beautiful, yet thankfully unchanging city, no matter the years that had passed since I last visited my former home town, I had little trouble in navigating my way around the Scottish metropolis – reaching each of my desired locations with consummate ease – either by foot, bus and/or car, the highway and byway infrastructure of the Caledonian capital had cheeringly not altered in over forty years.

Within a day or two of reacquainting myself with the ‘Athens of the North’, I actually began to sense a welcoming wave of inner happiness and contentment, the same of which had been lost to me for a considerable passage of time – the return of my prodigal karma soon prompted a light-footedness in my stride – and I inwardly applauded myself for embarking on this mini-retreat – thus far, it was emitting positive and encouraging signals – with each pulse beat resounding blissfully throughout my entire anatomy.

Following several hours of strolling around the major attractions of the ancient city, e.g.; Princes Street, Edinburgh Castle and one or two museums and art galleries in the centre of the conurbation, I eventually found myself in the district of Leith, a former teenage stomping ground of the 1960s.

In those days, Leith was a desperately grim area, made up of filthy docks, bustling breweries, flea-ridden cinemas, forbidding pubs and several houses of ill repute.

As a teenager, both my friends and I used to frequent the vicinity on a regular basis – a la – each and every weekend, principally because it had a small, out-of-the-way club near to Constitution Street, one that played nothing but black American Blues, this genre of music remaining a passion of mine until this very day.

The added incentive of gaining entry to this somewhat special [clandestine] social establishment, lay with the fact that it was possible to purchase bottles of beer without any uncomfortable questions being raised about one’s age – needless to say, we where young, very adventurous, but very young – and on occasion, our adolescence came to the fore all too quickly.

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  1. Beautifully written. Thanks for a reminder of life in the 50s and 60s. It was a different world.

  2. Thank you for a lovely story of your travel home. Depression is a tough road,I hope you are doing well now. I would like travel whileI am well and healthy but as a female who has always had her mate at her side, it is too uncomfortable for me. I relocated after hubby passed to another state to be near my son who is busy with work now.I dont know anyone here and the depression is getting darker. Days seem 48 hours long and I go weeks without leaving my house. Maybe your story will give me the courage to try to enjoy this retirement by myself.

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