Monday, April 07, 2008

ADHD: Keeping the Mind Active and Out of the Doldrums During Retirement

A reader recently wrote on my ADHD: Bored of Boredom - Five Ways to Bear It. One Way to Beat It article... 64, adhd and recently retired, I am feeling something I have never felt before. The feeling comes when I am in my apartment. It is an overwhelming feeling akin to anxiety and sometimes NOTHING changes it. It especially closes in on weekends, but it comes and goes eventhough nothing else changes. I've worked 2 jobs most my life, now I feel like a fish out of water. When I'm with my grandkids, I feel just great and back to my normal happy self, but they can't always be with me. Any advice on where this brain chemical could be coming from would be greatly appreciated. I am not taking any medications nor do I imbide in any addictive behavior.

Hello, anonymous. Thanks for commenting.

It sounds to me like you are suffering from a little AD/HD anomaly called Depression After Success. In this case, you are experiencing anxiety after success. This is my best guess. You were a hard worker and now you have relatively nothing to do. When your grandkids come over your mind is occupied and consequently happy, but then they leave and your mind spins out of focus again. This anxiety comes, usually, after a period of hyperfocus for people with AD/HD.

I don't think it is a stretch to say that you kept yourself in hyperfocus mode for years by holding down two jobs. You might seriously consider getting a time consuming hobby to help you keep your mind active. Your mind needs problems to work on, priorities to juggle, commotion, or just the buzz of keeping busy. I'm not sure how you spend your time now, but the evidence seems to indicate you aren't doing enough to keep yourself satisfied.

Of course, being 64 you won't be able to keep up the pace you set in your 40's, so be careful about what activities you undertake, but in this day and age there is so much more for you to do than sit in a park playing chess or feeding pigeons. My mother is near your age and she keeps herself busy with a anti-drunk driving advocacy group. My mother-in-law has genealogy to keep her busy with long hours. My father and father-in-law still work but will be in your shoes in a short period of time. I know them. They'll be busy in retirement helping their wives, repairing their homes, working on projects they've never had time for on the weekend, surfing the web, reading, exercising, and thoroughly keeping themselves busy.

Adjusting to retirement is tough for most people accustomed to long hours of work. They feel as if they should be busy doing something, and for years that "something" was making money. You'll need to cut yourself some slack while you adjust to a new pace. I imagine most people probably tell you to just relax and enjoy your retirement, but they don't understand the AD/HD mind. So I'll say go get busy and enjoy your retirement. Let us know how you fare. Thanks for commenting.