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
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
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
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
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