Ronne, Age 70
I turned 70 in January and still can’t quite believe that number. Having struggled with depression most of my adult life. It was well controlled by medication until a couple of years ago, when I had to switch to a different kind of meds, which don’t work so well for me. I find that it is now bedding in and becoming a permanent condition, which worries me. I am feeling my mortality — there seems to be so little time left — and dealing with physical limitations (arthritis) gets tougher every year.
And yet… I know I don’t look, or act, my age — people are generally astonished when they find out how old I am. And yes, “inside I feel 25!” Which makes it even more depressing that I’m so OLD!!
I am a transplanted New Yorker, living in a very small (and very dull) town in Nottinghamshire. I have been here since 1985, when I met and married a wonderful man, who happened to be British and in the RAF, stationed at a base 3 miles from where we live now. We stayed here for a variety of reasons — at first it was my job (I was phenomenally lucky to be able to continue the career I had left in New York — children’s publishing — with a major publisher who happened to be 20 miles away); then we had a son, and this was a lovely place to bring up a child. Of course, he left as soon as he could — first to go to university, then to live and work in London — but by the time that happened, hubby and I felt it would be stressful and counterproductive to uproot ourselves and move to a new area, where we didn’t know anyone. We do have a network of friends here, and my husband is in two folk bands, which mean a great deal to him and which he does not want to give up.
But I am struggling. I don’t know where I belong or what to do with myself, now that I’m no longer working. (I worked from home as a freelance for the last 20 years of my career, so that in itself is not a huge change.) I volunteered with a children’s charity for several years, and found that very fulfilling, but I had to leave when they restructured. It left a gap in my life, but it had been stressful in many ways, so I felt a bit relieved as well.
I feel that it’s all downhill from now, and when I read the positive and inspiring stories of other women here, I feel a sense of wonder: how do you do it? I am struggling to find a sense of purpose, now that most of my life is behind me. And I am plagued by fears — what will happen if my husband dies before me? What if I get a serious illness, as some of my friends have?
I realize this is a very negative story, and I apologise for that. But I’m wondering if I am the only one in this wonderful community of strong, vibrant women who is feeling this way? If there are others out there feeling this way — how are you dealing with it? I would love to hear from other women who have gone through this and come out smiling on the other side!