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Three Weeks Ago Thursday I Just Got Old

It wasn’t gradual. I didn’t ease into it. I woke up that day and everything was different.

An older friend once told me that sometime in my early 50s it would hit. It would seem like on one day things would hurt, the world would seem set-up for younger people, and retirement funds would become an obsession.

Well it didn’t. Not in my early 50s. I made it to 55. Then I got old. Just like that.

And now my knees make crunching noises when I walk up the stairs. Everybody on TV is younger than me. I went on-line to see how much social security will pay me when I turn 67 (and panicked). Movies just seem loud and over-stimulating.

I see young people and their energy and talent make me optimistic. But they seem to accept without question some pretty crazy ideas without nuance and without an open mind to understand opposing views. But then I see old people guilty of this even more.

It seems like every year doctors want to give me another medicine for some new ailment, and I topped out on the deductible on my health insurance last year.

I sought to get into better shape so I checked out some fitness routines for people my age. They said walk, and do some weight-bearing exercise and focus on stretching and balance.

One said I should get on the ground and get up everyday. So much for my Olympic dreams, unless there’s a medal for cleaning up a spill.

I was at the flower show and my daughter was covered with butterflies. A woman took a picture and asked if she should air drop them to me. I asked if she could text them instead.

When we sell Girl Scout cookies people ask if they can Venmo payment. What?

I have a computer in my pocket more powerful than the whole NASA system that put a man on the moon when I was a kid, and I have no idea what to do with it.

There’s a lot I could teach, and some information I have about coping and getting on that is worth sharing. But nobody’s asking, probably because I say no all the time and I complain a lot.

I think the best course at this point is to stay healthy and fiscally sound. There are things I just can’t do anymore, and I would be silly to keep on trying to do them. And I should be comfortable looking my age.

The designer Karl Lagerfeld just died. He once said, “If you want to look old, try to be young. There is nothing worse.” I agree.

But then I’m not really that old, am I? My parents are still alive in their 80s, and they’re still independent and high-functioning. Just being like them gives me at least another 30 years.

Colonel Sanders started KFC when he was 62. So there’s still a lot of potential to be expressed left in me. And I get up ungodly early now, so there are more hours in every day to do things.

I just need to avoid the fear and anger that seem to overtake so many competent minds. The TV sure doesn’t help, with all its apocalyptic shouting and dark trolling. So I leave it turned off for most anything but baseball.

Continuing to work, to be productive, and to serve others are keys to staying vital, so it’s still appropriate, even at my age, to consider accomplishment and growth. Meaningful work connects us to others and keeps us current and giving.

Also, getting outside and moving around everyday is key to health. I know people like their fancy gyms and interactive, social network connected exercise bikes, but we’re meant to go from one place to another with our bodies as well as our minds.

Finally, to keep my mind alert and to manage stress I read a lot and meditate. The ability to focus cannot be underestimated, or left to atrophy. A slower, narrowing mind is not inevitable.

So if I have a manifesto about sliding into twilight, it’s meditation, movement, and meaningful work. Mental acuity and physical fitness require effort. My health demands it.

I can’t stay young, but I can keep from getting creaky and curmudgeonly. There’s plenty of good life left. People depend on me and I intend to deliver.

Three Weeks Ago Thursday I Just Got Old


George Hofmann

After much of a life spent in and out of hospitals, jobs, and relationships, George has spent the last dozen years living successfully with bipolar disorder 1. He teaches meditation as an adjunct therapy for mental illness, and writes and speaks about the therapies of meditation, movement, and meaningful work. Visit George at www.practicingmentalillness.com or join the Facebook group Practicing Mental Illness


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APA Reference
Hofmann, G. (2019). Three Weeks Ago Thursday I Just Got Old. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 23, 2019, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/older-bipolar/2019/03/three-weeks-ago-tuesday-i-just-got-old/

 

Last updated: 5 Mar 2019
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