Health and its many issues

Mental Illness in this Millennium – a layman trying to work it out.

It was an ordinary morning in June 2021 that I woke remembering a snippet of a dream.A group of young adults sitting around having a discussion. One young lady placing her hand over her chest expressed with sadness that she was in pain and believed she must be suffering depression. Having been in close contact with several people who suffered from depression I jumped in questioning why she felt this.  When I awoke that’s all I remember about the dream but it started a thought process which I had touched on many times over the past 20 odd years.

How does one who has not experienced mental health issues possibly understand what mental illness is? The umbrella of mental illness is very large. It encompasses such a complex range of behaviours. There is a lot of information and misinformation available. There are doctors, psychologist, psychiatrist, councillors, educators all with tools to help but not always helpful. There are books, papers, lectures and blogs which can be helpful but can also be harmful.    

Mental illness has been highlighted in recent years with the hope of bringing awareness and acceptance for those who are suffering. A much needed fight to remove the stigma around being mentally ill. The assumption  that someone with mental illness should be locked away. The thoughts that mental illness rendered people as NOT normal, strange, shameful or scary is something to be obliterated completely. 

Awareness and education is a great thing  and should always be encouraged. The need for money to be allocated for intensive research should be supported. The need to bring back institutions to help those in dangerous or destructive or self abusive situations is absolutely essential.Mental illness is too often silent and must be given a voice.

Having said this I believe awareness has a downside. It can bring false assumptions,  self diagnosis, self medication. Awareness can give people information to abuse and to misuse. It can offer people a false sense of entitlement. In the hands of the inexperienced  it can result in the wrong diagnosis and consequently  the wrong and in fact detrimental treatment.

The dream I mentioned earlier is the catalyst for this following statement, “What I have observed more and more is a behaviour which concerns me. It is the harmful reaction of normalising the illness to the point of minimisation of the illness”

Real mental illness should never be considered as normal. Accepted, yes but not ignored or passed off as a phase. Untreated it is destructive, debilitating, and painful, it silently eats away and constantly manifests itself. It can destroy both the person who is suffering and the family and friends it encounters.  It not only effects behaviour but can also result in many complicated  medical conditions.

Mental illness cannot easily  be identified by a set of  definitive criteria. As I said previously the field is enormous and the unknown is huge.

I continue to write without any formal degrees. I do not claim any expertise in the area of mental illness. I have no training in this area.  These are my thoughts only based on my experience with mental illness. My personal experience was not of my own mental illness but of family members and what I heard and felt over a 25 year span.My experience probably differs from others so what worked or did not work for me and my loved ones may have the reverse effect on other situations. Therefore I will not be presumptuous and give advice to anyone else during these blogs. What I and others should do is to encourage everyone to seek professional help at all times.  And at first you do not get answers please try again, there is someone who will be the person for you.

What I believe we can do as ordinary untrained people is discuss mental illness as you would cancer, heart conditions, dementia or alzheimers, cancer, or any other medical condition. Think about someone you know who has suffered a heart attack. If you do not have a heart condition you would not pretend to know what they are going through. You would possibly ask questions, what happened and then let them give you detailed  description. You would listen without judgement or input, you would express concern and tell them to call if there is something you can do. We certainly do not minimise, heart attacks, we encourage people to seek the opinion of a doctor, to follow up on any signs or warnings. We tell them it is serious and not to dismiss it.  We offer to make appointments for them, to drive them, we offer our help. Basically we confirm to them they are worthy of help.Do we react the same if someone indicates they have BiPolar, Depression, Anxiety, or any of the many other conditions referred to as mental illness. Most likely we do not. We often retreat in fear. People who suffer from Mental Illness are very worthy of our help and their illness is certainly worth your time.

Another thing I believe we should try to do is to maximise our understanding of ourselves and what our feelings and what our behaviours are telling us. Read the basics and ask questions of those who know and have experience with mental illness.We should not make assumptions and we should be careful in our choice of words to describe how we are feeling.

A good example of understanding the basics that comes to mind is the term depression as opposed to feeling depressed. We all have those times when we don’t feel like talking or going to work. We  feel out of sorts or off beat, unable to verbalise our problem. We cannot be bothered and we may feel that we are depressed. The end result is we often experience tears, anger or avoidance.  Usually a change in routine, a good nights sleep, a holiday or simply a chat with a friend etc will pick us up and we are able to move on. If we took the time to think about what we are feeling at these times we would probably realise something triggered our thoughts. Maybe we were grieving, overtired, overwhelmed, scared or angry.  Once we understand what we feel we can  justify it, and therefore can react accordingly. We are feeling sad, we need to cry, we feel life is boring or annoying, we feel depressed.

When someone is suffering depression or chronic depression it is not the same thing. There is often not an immediate feeling. It is something that is just there. They are not necessarily in a bad situation or feeling sad, etc etc etc. It is not something that is easily explained. As described to me they are not there at that time, they are not able to self talk, motivate, explain or describe. They are surrounded by a black cloud. Nothing exists. I experienced this once for a mere day. I did not realise what I was experiencing at the time and still cannot explain the time it happened. After the time passed I certainly identified with what had been previously described to me and it shocked me to have completely lost control of myself at that time. From then I understood in a miniscule way the debilitation that comes with true depression.  To live like that for any length of time, days, weeks or months is unfathomable to the average person. For someone who goes in and out of depression for years on end it becomes normal and therefore minimised both by themselves and by those surrounding it. It is not a passing phase and can be undone by going shopping as some would say. It needs professional help by way of medications and psychological assistance. A few other examples to consider.

  • Feeling depressed vs. Depression or chronic Depression
  • Feeling anxious vs. Anxiety or Chronic Anxiety
  • Feeling indestructible or being a risk taker vs. having Bipolar
  • Dieting vs. Eating Disorder
  • Feeling sad and frightened vs. PTSD Post traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Being clean and tidy or fastidious vs. having OCD

I value others opinions and experiences so ask you to comment below if you wish.

Living Long Enough to Have Clarity

From my diary

I wrote the following thoughts in a notebook. I cannot recall anything significant on that day so I have no idea why I wrote it. It was in the first year of our retirement so possibly the first time in many years that I had time to reflect. These are just my thoughts and feelings at the time. Having just reread it I still feel the same. I do feel it has taken me a lifetime to be able to put this into words.

What is this feeling I have right now? (27/01/17)

It wasn’t something you bought on a whim; it was not a gift from someone else. You cared for it and protected it within yourself for many months wondering and marvelling and dreaming of the future to come.  I cannot speak for adoptive parents here as I am not one but I will take the liberty of saying I think the anticipation and desire for them would amount to the same feelings.

We go through  enormous and excruciating pain to let this little marvel join us in this very unpredictable world. Why do we do this, of course there are many reasons and I think the main reason is that we want something to cherish and to call our own. We all want something special in our lives. There is also a part of us that is selfish and  wants to show the world how clever we are. We want to prove to everyone that we can do it better. We want to produce another Einstein or Elvis. Ours will be the most attractive baby, they will walk and talk before our friends child did. They will excel in school and will be up standing pillars in our society. They will change the world.  After all I will do better than my parents did. I will be the perfect parent.Those thoughts we all have. They are real and they are selfish, but let me tell you how quickly that selfishness disappears.

Whether it is your first or your tenth child, or your newly adopted child the overwhelming changes you experience are hard to describe when you hold this parcel in your arms for the first time.

With large, deep inquiring eyes that look at you with wonderment, Eyes that have never seen you before but for some reason trust you implicitly. Your gut is on fire. Your heart is pumping with a feeling you have never had before. Your sense of achievement and fulfilment is indescribable. You are strong and you immediately become the protector, the mentor and the teacher. Your senses have just been manipulated by a little person with a brain 1/3rd of the size of your own, with a body, which will fit in a shoebox.You have just lost control because you are totally under their spell.

It is impossible to comprehend the size of the commitment you will now need to endure life in the future.  You thought you had huge responsibilities previously, to your partner, your parents, your career and to yourself but it is nothing compared to what lies ahead.

This is the first of many sleepless night you will have, but it is different to the ones to come.  This first night the feelings of joy and wonderment will be interrupted by thoughts of inadequacy, anxiety and fear.It will be overwhelming. A glimpse of what your future looks like is quickly haunting your every moment. Immediately you will want to map out their life right there and then. Your intentions will become clear. You will make sure they are healthy and safe. You will afford them every opportunity you possibly can. You will hope for great things for them. You will want their life to be without complication. You will want their life to be better than yours. You will be proud of them, revel in their happiness and enjoy their achievements. You will protect them at all costs.

Then the doubt will rear its ugly head and seep into your mind. So many questions you will ask yourself again and again.How do I do this, can I do this, am I strong enough, am I smart enough. What do I teach them, how do I raise them to be kind and considerate. How do I show them humility, how do I guide them and how do I know what is right for them.I do not understand myself, how on earth am I going to understand the needs of this child. Who put me in charge? What have I done?

Never fear mother nature is here. This negativity you feel can and will be overcome. Natural instinct will kick in. Our body and our mind both know what needs to be done.Self-talk, the first of many discussions you will have with yourself.  Self-doubt will always be there but if you allow it self-confidence will get you through.Somewhere from the depths of this brilliant body we have, there comes strength we did not know we had. Determination, commitment and dedication to their future starts right here and believe me that strength will be tested continuously in the years to come. It will not leave you until you die.This feeling is called LOVE and it is different to the love you have experienced before.

Those feelings you had when you first encountered this new acquisition to your life is love. Every time something is difficult in your life reflect on those first moments and then on every other beautiful moment your children will bring to you. There will be so many glorious, memorable, uplifting times you can reflect on.They are easy to recall as they multiply as the years go by. Every parent could fill a book with funny, awesome and gratifying moments their children have given them.  Remember them, treasure them. They are priceless.

What I am feeling is the love for my children. It is a special feeling for me alone and one I will keep forever.

Other than your family who or what has had an influence on your lifestyle or life choices?

I think for me it has been employment and the people who you spend a great deal of your life with on a daily basis. I do not recall any one person having a profound effect on me, but I do recall learning from many.

Work

Work commitment was discovered by me when I was first thrust into the workforce at aged 14. My first job was in a supermarket and it was really survival of the fittest. If you wanted to keep your job, you did whatever was asked of you. I had no formal training, no degrees, no experience. I had no time to think of what I wanted  or desired. At that time,  it was  Mum, my sister and I in a flat trying to pay the rent and eat. To keep my job, I learned everything I could to be able to excel and to become what I thought was necessary and that was to be indispensable. Later in life I would discover one is never indispensable as there is always someone available to step into your shoes very quickly. It  did serve me well in the beginning and a strong work ethic is still with me today.

Feminism

I think another major occurrence which influenced how I developed was definitely the 60’s liberation of women. Being 16 and married in 1968 was both remarkable and difficult.There were negative people in my life with doom and gloom predictions for my future. These comments tended to instil a rebellious attitude and a need to prove them all wrong. I believed  I had no choice but to think independently and to stand up for myself. I had the backing of a strong independent thinking male in my husband, so it was not hard for me to voice my opinion. I worked in an office situation in the early 70’s and the inequality of pay and workload was extreme.  Men were in positions of power, influence and control. Women had to be quite blunt to be accepted and unfortunately, we had to become like the men we often worked with if we wished to gain respect within our jobs. Therefore, I had to be arrogant, entitled, and forceful. Attributes I don’t necessary like but back then it was the only way I could find to show confidence in my ability. There were many men who accepted my independence and even encouraged it however there were twice as many who did not and who wielded their power relentlessly. I do personally believe during that time a lot of women lost some of their femininity and became emotionally vulnerable during this time and hence lost a little of themselves. It became all about the power instead of the real issues of equality. As women we could not show our anxieties or our insecurities. These would be considered as a weakness in the employment world. Sadly, this is still the case for many women in the workplace today and yet men in the modern world are encouraged to  show and discuss  their vulnerabilities openly.

Friends 

When I say friends, I am talking about those people with whom we have built strong relationships. There is a handful of which I count in this group these days. There of course are those that we thought were friends who are now not in our lives. What they have all taught me and how they have influenced me is wide and varied. Compassion, thoughtfulness, empathy, and the importance of conversation. They have taught me that it is ok to have different opinions, it is ok to have individual tastes in all things. It is not ok to judge too harshly especially without the facts.  It is important to work at life, by that I mean we get caught up in our own needs and forget that others have needs also. It Is wise to look to others for support. It is very  wise to listen as we all have so much to learn. I have learned to value friendships as many people pass through life with you, but true friends stay with you and support you no matter how your life changes.  As we age, we realise just how important they are. Friends differ to family as they are who you choose to be around. You have no say in who is your family, but  your friends are those people you want to be in your life. What I think about friendships in the environment in the modern world is that we need to work  little harder at maintaining our friendships. People have everything at their fingertips today. They travel more, they try new hobbies, they get preoccupied with work and life in general. It is easy to get so wrapped up in your own life that it is easier to forget the value of others.  When you become a senior your needs change considerably and you realise the absolute importance of friends.

In my case two of my dearest friends passed away over the last 12 months and I can honestly say I cannot explain it but felt both were more painful to me than the loss of family members.

How have particular family influenced your life/thoughts/actions?

The term influencer is thrown around a lot these days. It would appear the title of Influencer is given to one who has built a loyal following through their online content creation. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and TikTok are huge avenues in which one can market oneself. The internet has opened up the world and things are approached in a different way. As a member of the senior age group I thought I would answer some familiar questions asked when trying to evaluate ones life. Some questions are more intense than others so I will give each question its own blog.

Mother

When I think of my mother, my immediate feeling is not what I wanted it to me. I do not recall loving tender moments with her. Our life, which was her life, was full of sickness, unhappiness and survival. Nothing bad happened to me personally and I have no thoughts of blame for my mother. Her circumstances were pretty tough. She married young, had two children, she did not cope well with life in general. She divorced and married again. Second husband was an alcoholic and she had a third child to him who was very sick for many years.  Our lives were ordinary, financially a struggle, however we never went hungry and I do not recall any physical violence or abuse. It is funny but even though I did not  have loving thoughts of my mother on her death I do recall a huge and painful  loss. What I do recall is that she struggled through in difficult situations and she always  meant to do right by her children. I feel now as an older person that I have a better understanding of the depth of pain and suffering  people endure. Unbeknown to ourselves those close to us suffer in silence and others judge without knowledge. I understand the shallowness of our thinking  regarding things we know nothing about. I understand that we do not understand ourselves very well and to judge others on what you think you know is wrong. When I look at what I gained from her, I find she instilled in me  strength in the face of adversity, patience and determination. 

Father

The father whose genes I have is not well known to me. I was introduced to him in my late teens. He was a complicated, confused man who struggled until his death to understand himself let alone others. I do not believe I gained any attributes from him as he was not part of my day to day life.  He did however have a love of music and of the guitar.

Stepfather

This is the person I think of as my father. I do not have strong feelings here either. He served me well as a father figure in the fact that there was food on the table and he tried to do the right thing by us. He was an alcoholic whose priorities were survival. Hold onto the job and keep going seemed to be his motto. I do not remember any great achievements, any special moments. Definitely nothing to which I aspired. I do remember he also loved music as did my biological father. Maybe this is what I gained from both father figures. I do love the freedom music brings and have always loved to dance.

Sister 

I have loving thoughts of my sister but we are not close as our lives were chaotic throughout our childhood times. Our parents’ sadness influenced our happiness. My sister rebelled where I just plodded along without questioning. We spent our early teens together to some extent and I have some fond memories of this. My life changed dramatically at aged 16 when I met my current husband. My sister and I then continued down roads where we would not have the opportunity to develop strong life long bonds. Without having strong role models in our parents it was easy to be influenced by the people we met from then on. My sister survived some extreme challenges in her everyday living and as I moved along with my life I was quick to criticise her behaviour. I am older now and have experienced my own challenges. I now  know that I judged easily but I did not walk in her shoes. I guess she influenced the way I think now which I hope is to be a little less judgemental.

Brother

I have loving and sad thoughts about my younger brother. He was sick as a child and I spent many hours with him which makes me very sad that I am not a strong part of his life now. Again family chaos, divorces, separations destroyed what could have been. He moved away from him when he was only 7yrs old. We met again much later in our lives. I have feelings for him and we casually stay in touch, the bond we should have is not there. He fought to stay alive in his early years and I think watching him go through that helped me to build resilience and compassion.

Husband

This man is the strongest, most stable, most influential person in my life and yet he has a vulnerability about him that only few would see. He has taught me values, commitment, love, laughter, loyalty and humility. Having been together from such a young age there was a strong need on my part for acceptance and stability. Both he and his family gave me that without question and under difficult circumstances. Together with the strength I had gained from my childhood and the protection and space he gave me to be able to grow and learn I was able to continue my life with a more positive attitude. He is also the most honest person I know who will not break the rules or the laws. I would like to think I was always an honest person but he has certainly cemented that trait in me.

Eldest Daughter  

She has taught me that nothing is as it seems. She has taught me that we can physically and mentally endure much more than we think. She has taught me that the mind is a powerful, scary and a  potent part of our lives. I have discovered that the love of a child is different to the love of a husband. They are equally as strong and as vulnerable as the other but they present as a slightly different form. The influence she has had on me is to open my eyes to others more and to value my health more.

Youngest Daughter

She has taught me to question things. She has taught me that it is important to understand and learn about what you stand for. To stay strong in your beliefs and to think outside the box. She has proved that having commitment and conviction results in brilliance. She has taught me that love is not always on show to the outside world but that does not mean it is not there.Together with her husband they have taught me to chill, to be a quiet achiever, and to see there is strength in silence. She is teaching me constantly.

Reflection

Wow, it is quite empowering to write this. To actually think about these influences in your life. I think it helps to make you realise a little more about yourself. It helps you realise how you have become the person you are today.

Taken From My Diary

At the beginning of Covid I found myself at a loose end so started to write in an online diary. I have always written my thoughts down as it seems to help me put them in perspective and I worry a little less once I have gone through the process of making sense of my thoughts. I have decided here in my blog I would start a section where I could go back over my ramblings and share some with you. The first one is what I wrote on my first day.

Friday 28th February 2020

This morning I woke and felt like writing so I started this journal. I have no agenda, no ideas’s but why not. I am 67years old. I forget a lot these days and thought to myself, if I live till a ripe old age this may help me to remember some things.

It is 7am and I am sitting at my computer looking out the window and marvelling at the beauty. We moved here around 4 years ago and have not regretted a day. We have had some tumultuous weather in recent months, massive bushfires, extreme winds, scary thunderstorms with heavy continuous rain. This is Australia and we are in the Blue Mountains.Today the sun is creeping above the trees and the magpies  are chortling their morning greetings. The red wattle bird is flittering from bush to bush and the white cockatoos are standing watch. Our grass is a vibrant green, the fruit trees are pushing toward the sun and the neighbours are quietly stirring. This time is mine to plan the busy day ahead. Who said retirement would be boring. Not on my watch.

Today my daughter moves to her new flat at Blaxland (Lower Blue Mountains) She has been here living with us for some time now. Leaving her place in the city because of ill health. She struggles with life constantly and today is no different. Living with your parents as an adult is not easy for either party. Everyone’s routine is out of pace and tensions are strained.  Today though she is a little excited together with a little apprehension.  Her health is still not good but it is important for her to be independent. Hopefully with some help she will find some joy in life.

Recently Ken and I have discovered a peaceful pastime in doing jigsaw puzzles. We have discovered we can become a little obsessive about them. We start out putting restrictions on the time we spend, it does not last long as the desire to complete it takes over. We have done several in the past few months and I know my interest is not diminishing. I find them very relaxing in a mindful way. We as a couple do not have a lot in common however we find this is something we can do together. I find it Improves one’s patience and ones concentration, minimising the use of technology, and they can be quite challenging.  Our most recent was a flock of colourful birds. One of the more difficult that we have done.

Reflections on the past

Looking through my photo’s just now has reminded me of some wonderful things from the past 4 years.  Building our new house, travelling to USA. Neighbourhood gatherings, constructing Kens observatory, Trip to South America .Visitors from Queensland and from England. Local drives finding coffee shops and lunches out.  Finding new hobbies, Watching our gardens transform and making our house comfortable. I know I will refer to all of these things again in my diary and will elaborate on them as I go.

The simple art of taking photos must be one of the most important discoveries ever. Our whole lives are reflected in them.

Not the best picture but it was spontaneous and I managed to capture just one of our many cockatoos.

Our Backyard – The Blue Mountains

In 2020/2021, Covid, vaccinations, masks, stay at home orders are all that we hear on a daily basis. It is easy to become preoccupied with the enormity of this situation. I know for some it can be quite distressing. We are super lucky as our local government area is huge and is filled with lookouts, walks, flowers, mountains and waterways. I would like to share a few ventures we have had since moving here 5 years ago. I hope this will encourage people to look around and see what is there. If you are in a area that is more heavily restricted and unable to find beauty close by I hope the photos will help to brighten your day. (I am not a photographer by any means though)

This was a walk I particularly enjoyed. Ken and I went there in July 2018 during the week. It was like a little secret world of enchantment. It is quite close to the main highway and being so close to civilisation its beauty is very unexpected. It is also surprisingly very accessible. We spent maybe and hour or two just taking the 2.6km walk slowly enjoying what was on offer. On the way down the ground is carpeted with ferns, fungi, huge grass trees and native flora. At the bottom of the walk you will come across a sparkling creek with rocks jutting out, caves, bridges and waterfalls. It is a natural little piece of paradise. The path is primarily quite easy but can be a little rocky and a little steep on the way out but it is certainly worth the effort. I would highly recommend it to families as the children would love it.

Changes over the years

Technology and we as Seniors

Technology and I are not good friends. I can operate a laptop, an iphone, and ipad. I managed to get a google home set up. We have a smart TV, an alarm and camera monitoring home system and a few other smart devices. However they are working but to their minimum ability, except the Iphone which I am reasonably good with. The rest is dumbfounding and the technological terminology constantly confounds. I am a qualified accountant and have seen many changes over the years with office technology. I came from manual systems, using my hands and my head. We moved through the ages of computers taking up a whole room with special heating and flooring, to now working on a small laptop from home or anywhere for that matter. I have had to embrace a multitude of software changes, system differences. inadequate programs, obnoxious educators with no patience and much more. I am pretty proud of how I have coped over the years. I cannot say the same for current times. I have to admit I am tired of having to google every product I buy to find out how it works. If I could avoid them I would but that is becoming increasingly difficult.

Of course there are positives to this world we live in. The Internet has provided us all with accessible information at our fingertips. Not always good information but readily available and a multitude of differing options. It now assists to entertain us on a daily basis. It corrects us, calculates and deciphers for us. We now have technology sending us reminders for everything, appointments, duties, when to sleep, when to exercise, when to weigh in and how when and why to eat. We can order in, order out, and return without question. Social media keeps us in contact, helps us travel the world from an armchair. gives us recipes, pet care information, restaurant information, gossip, gossip and more gossip. The list is endless and sometimes hilarious but also sometimes frightening.

I really don’t want people to think I am negative to the changes. I am not as I believe change is good and it primarily improves us as humans. Change is inevitable and I want to embrace it but I am tired and confused. I sometimes think back and laugh as I have worked since I was 14 yrs old with the expectation that retirement would eventually come and my life would be simple once again. No decision making, less worrying, less brainwork. Now I know life will never be that simple again.

How has technology affected your life?

I would love to know how other seniors have coped throughout their lives.

Who I am and why I blog

My husband Ken and I (Lesley) live in the beautiful Blue Mountains in NSW Australia. We have 2 adult daughters and one son In law. We retired, downsized and moved from the western suburbs to our current location 2016. I say retired however we both still work part-time. My husband and I were married in 1968 and are proud of the fact we are still together today. We are average people who have experienced good and bad in our life times and can say we have learnt a lot over the years.

We are in love with our current situation as we have each other and are surrounded by the natural wonders found in the mountains. We have great neighbours, our girls live within a half hour drive. We own our home and we have some part-time income to supplement our part pension. Our lives are busy and interesting. We both have hobbies and we both like living together. Ive heard this is not always the case when partners retire. We did both work together in our own business for approx 18 years prior to retirement so I guess we were pretty used to each other by then.

We have a meaningful group of friends who fill our lives with fun, interest and drama of course.

Why I chose to blog

I like to write down my thoughts, I like to have an opinion, I like to learn from others. I like to keep my mind active.

These are the reasons I chose to start this blog. I am not particularly profound in any one subject, I am certainly not highly educated nor am I specifically interested in any one thing. My childhood was not fantastic but not horrific. I married at age 16 which is usually intriguing to others. I have dealt with and been surrounded by illness including mental illness from a young age. I have worked continuously from age 14 and have experienced many highs and many lows. I have seen a lot of changes in the world during my 69 years. I have to say I am quite interested in human behaviour on a basic level. I have no education in this area and therefore no expertise but I have experience and I am happy to talk about it. I also find talking or writing in this way very healing and a good way of putting things into perspective. I do fear loneliness and isolation in my aging person and I am hoping that blogging will keep me in touch with the world if and when I do end up alone. I hope to engage with others via my blog and look forward to reading other blogs, hearing other opinions and hopefully providing and receiving some laughs through the process.

Retirement and the change it brings

I would like to talk about a few of the changes in both mine and my husbands life since we moved to live in our home in the bush. Before retirement my husband and I had our own retail shop for around 18years. It was relatively good business, with one full time and several casual workers. It was a huge undertaking at the start, many years without income or any free time but we managed to build the business into a success. So work was the focus of our life as we remember it. Very little time for holidays and certainly not enough time for relaxing or life in general.

We had no big plans for when we retired except to downsize so we would be able to be comfortable in our retirement. Therefore we put our house, in the suburbs, on the market and commenced building our new home in the mountains. Sold our business and changed our lifestyle. This all sounds easy but it wasn’t and it was not without a lot of difficult decision making and not without a lot of doubt and trepidation. There are decisions to make which affect not only yourself and your partner but your children and also your lifestyle, your friendships and other family. We had lived in our home at Kellyville for approx 15 yrs and our previous home at Seven Hills for 25 yrs. We were familiar with our neighbours, our area in general, shopping, entertainment, our friends who lived nearby, our doctors, the hospitals and specialists.and many other facets of daily living. One daughter lived in the city and the other was in the Lower Blue Mountains. We had no specific requirements but I always maintained that I wanted to be close to major hospital, and within walking distance of transport.I also did not want to be isolated. My husband ‘s main requirement was a flat block of land without many trees. This is funny when you consider we settled on The Blue Mountains. A haven for trees and not many flat blocks of land. So the looking started and took us 2 years to find the block we wanted and to start building. We did achieve what we wanted, close to the shops and station and a relatively flat block. Possibly more trees than we wanted but we settled on it and commenced the move. Financially we were not able to simply retire in full. Selling the business took time and what we made from there went in to boost our superannuation. Unfortunately we did not consider retirement enough in the earlier years when we should have committed more to our future. Both of us are fortunate enough to have the ability to continue working part time and to date it helps us to live comfortably. As it was we could build a nice new home, fill it with new furniture and a few other luxuries to see us through hopefully till the end.

Moving into a new area, we did not know our neighbours, or anyone else in the area. We continued with our friendships from previously. That meant travelling a lot up and down the Great Western Highway pretty much every other day. Once the shop was finished we started to settle a little more into the area. Commuting down from the mountain has diminished somewhat. We go to know our new neighbours who turned out fantastic. They look out for us and are very friendly and also entertaining. We discovered another couple of friends who actually lived quite close so that was a bonus we were not expecting. Our lifestyle slowly changed. We began to sleep longer in the morning without feeling guilty, we started to explore the area we now lived in and discovered many places to walk and enjoy. We realised this could be done during the working week when there were less people, better parking and less noise. My husband was in his element as he had been coming to this area with his parents since he was a child. He knew it well and was ready to familiarise himself with every secret hide-way he had found as a child. I was not into the bush or walking as much as he was so I had to find myself some hobbies. I will talk more about those things in other blogs. For now it is sufficient to say I had to do some thinking.

There are not many negatives that come to mind. We see less of some long term relationships that had developed. Simply because the distance is greater. We have to work harder at keeping in contact. We have less choices for shopping, restaurants, activities. Our doctors and specialists are further away. In the beginning our eldest daughter was at least an hour and half away. She has now moved to lower mountains which has made things easier. It is a little colder up here and a there are a lot more windy days in our particular spot. These are very minor things when we compare with what we have gained.

We love it here now, have settled into a routine and relishing in our choices every day. I will elaborate on the area and how we spend our time in further posts. See a few photos below of our transition.

Reflection

Planning earlier in our life would have made things easier. We let work get in the way too much.

Who out there has undergone a large change on retirement. How did you deal with the emotions that go with that?