Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 05 June 2016





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

Don't let middle age blues set in

Everything is an effort. You don't feel like making that push for a promotion. Your back aches when you get into bed at night; you feel tired, restless, anxious, uncertain and bored all at once. The old zest just isn't there.

Your problem? You're on the verge of entering middle age, and suffering the beginnings of the middle-age blues - a very real psychological stage in life.

The middle-age blues you experience are different for each one, and they strike with varying degrees of intensity. But they are universal, unavoidable and normal. For women, they usually arrive around the age of 35 to 40. They may not hit men until 45 or 50.But they occur to all of us, and when they do, it would help to remember that nobody escapes them. Nobody.


The middle-age crisis is adolescence renewed. Again you are asking yourself: Who am I? Where am I going? What does it all mean? The answers don't come as easily than when you were 18, and the situation is compounded by a sense of urgency, a knowledge that you haven't got all the time in the world.

How do you answer these questions? First, keep in mind that what you are going through is a process - it is not permanent. Consider it as an exceptionally constructive process and as another opportunity for self-discovery, another chance to re-evaluate and assess, to start growing into a more fulfilled person.

From a psychological point of view, it is important to recognize the blues, to join them, not fight them. You must understand what is going on inside you.


Those early signs - restlessness, anxiety - cannot be denied; they are the forerunners of the real blues, which hit people in quite definable psychological stages. For the realists, these stages are usually short-lived. Some people however, spend the rest of their lives trying to work through them.

The first psychological stage is shock and denial: the grey hairs, the expanding middle, and the tired feelings. Some women start on a frenzied search for youth - costly make-ups and even plastic surgery. Men often look for their lost youth by trading in their old home and habits, for new ones.The modern culture intensifies this frenzy. We live in a country where new is good and old is bad. Because old is bad, we feel inferior to the youth.

Fright and depression

Fright is the second stage of the blues. This phase is usually characterized by an anxious, clinging behaviour. All of a sudden you realize you are aging. This is the time when a wife or a husband (who may be going through the same problems) must lend support to each other, if the marriage is to hold good. Someone must love you, nurture you, and take an interest in you.

After the fright comes a third psychological phase: the classic depression, the apathy, the "What the hell's the use?" period. A person may attempt to reduce his feelings of anxiety by withdrawing. His chief characteristic is inertia. He goes to work, barely does his job, and comes home exhausted. He's preoccupied with security and doesn't want challenges.

Psychosomatic complaints are common: an itch under the arm can mean cancer; a gastric pain is a heart attack. You can't sleep, or you may sleep all the time. You wake up early with a sense of panic. At this stage you often show an increased sensitivity to pressure. "Don't bug me. Don't come to me with your problems." The family climate may become one of discontent, bitterness and pessimism, from which everyone, including yourself, tries to escape.


Luckily, most people survive this period and enter the fourth stage: resolution of the depression. It has two parts. The first has the tone of a pep talk: "Okay, get out there and play the game! Show people you're not defeated yet!"

Sometimes, the coach is the inner you, often it may be friends, counsellors or a psychiatrist. And, if the appeal works, the person becomes expansive, rejuvenated. This stage may focus on new friends, new activities, and new hobbies. A sense of urgency develops. "Who knows how long I'll be around? I must do it now!" feeling.

The second half of stage four is the time of self-realization. You take an honest dispassionate look at yourself, your life and your situation. This can be sobering. You will not be MD of the company or the winner of a Nobel Prize. Your mate is not going to become younger and more attractive -and neither are you.

Now is the time to stop running, to slow down and reflect, to start developing your own depths. Now is the time to examine yourself - your feelings, your wants, your possibilities - so that you can live your life as you are, with no deception, no fraud, and no buts.

In other words, you accept yourself respectfully. Self-acceptance does not mean you can't change. You won't suddenly become the live wire of the party if you've been a quiet person all your life; but you have the power within you to determine a course of action. Basically, this is your opportunity to do what you've always wanted to do. Forget what the world, the neighbours, or even your family expect of you.

Take that vacation you've been thinking about. Start guitar lessons. Go back to the higher education institute and get your diploma in whatever you wanted to learn. Don't make a bookcase if you hate carpentry, go and serve in a voluntary organization.

Honest self-examination is what matters. There is a real you, with assets and liabilities, likes and dislikes. Find it and accept it. Follow your feelings, look inside, take this chance to start afresh.

Begin the rest of your life. This is the resolution of the middle-age blues.


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