Sunday, 31 August 2014

depression issues

For many people the experience of retirement is akin to a living nightmare.

People make the mistake of planning for retirement - not for an ongoing life. ‘Retire’ means to ‘remove from view...from society’. Retirees may find that they do not have a single reason to get out of bed in the morning. Their lives have become meaningless and they themselves have become valueless.

Instead of enjoying one long holiday, they find that their life is one of boredom, emptiness, isolation, loneliness, and helplessness. Many loose the sense of purpose which directed their working life. With this comes loss of self-esteem, with those who were previously the most successful being now often the most vunerable. Life appears futile. Despair and depression set in with devastating results.

Depressed men are three times as likely as women to commit suicide. The suicide rate in the general population is 0.01% (10 in 100,000). The rates for depressed people are 10-30  times higher, and for elderly men five times higher.

US studies have found that the risk of people experiencing depression rises six-fold in those experiencing highly stressful events such as financial disaster, bereavement, or loss of a job. The situation is compounded at certain more vunerable stages in life eg in childbirth and menopause for women, and (most importantly here) retirement in men.

 A variety of treatments can be effective in treating or helping people cope with depression: including medical anti-depressants, and self-help modalities (eg. meditation). However, men tend to resist seeking help from doctors, psychologists or psychiatrists - let alone “new age” healers! The negative associations of depression play some part in this reluctance, with depression being linked to madness, failure and weakness. Not only are people ashamed of admitting to such a condition, they may have a dread of being institutionalized in ‘the looney bin” or ‘the mad house’.

In “Depression Explained”, Gwendoline Smith points out that “keeping people occupied is far more useful than allowing them to sit and dwell on how bad they feel...inactivity and social isolation can influence and reinforce are often less skilled at accessing support, and older married men have often been dependent on their wives contact.”

It can be seen here that Men’s Sheds can play a vital role in reducing social isolation, and hence depression, by providing normal, non-judgemental spaces for men to meet without the negative associations of alcohol or gambling. By keeping busy with community and personal projects, and working shoulder-to-shoulder with others, men can develop a sense of purpose and an experience of belonging which can greatly assist in escaping from a living nightmare to a life of meaning and fulfillment.

Monday, 25 August 2014

henley men's shed (masterton) video

After visiting Kapiti Coast & Wellington Sheds, I crossed over the Rimutakas and spent a week at the Greytown campground from where I travelled to Masterton several days in a row to visit the Henley Shed. Coordinator John Bush &  the crew made me very welcome, and I enjoyed yet another Xmas BBQ!

Sunday, 24 August 2014

retirement writings

Over the past few months I have been talking with many members of Men’s Sheds throughout the North Island of New Zealand, as well as reading extensively on issues relating to retirement.
The key themes apparent in my study of retirement issues are that a loss of purpose upon retirement after decades of responding to the manifold demands of work and family can make life appear to be meaningless. Faced with a loss of purpose and a lack of meaning can lead people to give up hope.
A sense of hopelessness is often what precipitates a rapid decline in physical and mental health in retired people, and it may be noted that the loss of hope can be the final straw which drives people to commit suicide.
In discussions at the Shed about retirement, Shed members often refer to the fact that their fathers and other older male relatives were often dead within eighteen month of retirement. Studies have shown that eighteen months of feeling “blue” (not even mildly depressed) can have a severely negative effect upon the body’s immune system and general functioning to the point where severe illness sets in, leading to a rapid decline and death.
This is the first in a series of notes (which I intend to turn into articles for publications) in which I will explore the issues men face upon retirement - issues they are ill-prepared to face, and which comprise the most difficult problems many of us have ever encountered.
My main themes will be addressing loss of purpose, meaning and hope as discussed above, how planning and adapting to changing circumstances can help overcome these problems; and, of course, the invaluable role Men’s Sheds can play in developing strategies and providing opportunities to help us successfully cope with these and other complex retirement issues.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

More NZ Shed videos

I have finally edited the last videos I took on my November/December tour of NZ North Island Men's Sheds between Auckland and Wellington.
See videos of the Levin and Kapiti Sheds:

Men's Shed North Shore August video

This month has been a busy one at our Shed.
See what we have been up to:

Sunday, 3 August 2014

shed bbq

Last week we held the first of our monthly BBQ’s at the Men’s Shed North Shore. Over 30 members and supporters turned up. The next BBQ will be on Weds 13 August @ noon, then we will hold one on the first Weds of each month - starting on Weds 1st September. All welcome - including non-males!