Author Topic: FIRE and depression?  (Read 5753 times)

purplish

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FIRE and depression?
« on: February 09, 2015, 06:36:35 PM »
Curious of others thoughts on FIRE and depression.  Twice I've been unemployed for about 1 1/2 years each time.  One time I was able to live off of investments (but very tightly), and the other I lived on unemployment.  Both times I felt like not having a job triggered my depression a LOT.  This is one major reason why I would like to be FI, but not FIRE, I don't think I could handle the down time. 

Anyone else have experience with this? 

JLee

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Re: FIRE and depression?
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2015, 06:37:51 PM »
Was it not having the job that triggered it, or was it having inadequate income and worry about getting another job?

Jon_Snow

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Re: FIRE and depression?
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2015, 06:43:42 PM »
It's been quite the opposite for me.

I was FI at around 37 and continued to work for 5 years. Knowing that I didn't need to work anymore but choosing to continue to go to a job I detested was the recipe for depression for me. I guess it was cool to watch the stache climb higher to some extent - but I was still a miserable SOB - amazed my wife put up with it.

I have been FIRE'ed for about 5 months now - would it be hyperbole to say it's been 5 months of bliss? Not at all...it has been.

My job was the thing keeping me from doing all the things that I love - and they are many. I don't know what DOWN TIME means.


sleenie

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Re: FIRE and depression?
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2015, 06:52:53 PM »
For a few months after I graduated college I was unemployed, and didn't really have any commitments to attend to. It was fun at first, but then I became frustrated at the prospect of not having a job, even though as a new grad that was supposedly the natural next step. I felt like I was behind my peers, which is what caused my slight feelings of depression.

I think that's what scares me most about FIRE, is feeling like I'm no longer winning by beating my peers' savings levels, etc. I hate the feeling of being behind.

When a large commitment like school or a job is removed, it can be hard to fill the void with something else immediately. I would think though, that after six months or so something should have caught your fancy (hobbies, etc)?

desk_jockey

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Re: FIRE and depression?
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2015, 06:57:12 PM »
Purplish, What were the circumstances of your unemployment?     If you were terminated involuntarily and then subsequently rejected multiple times for other employment opportunities that you sought, then I could definitely see that contributing to depression in many people.

Once you are FI and decide to RE on your own terms, then nobody is rejecting you.   You are the one terminating employment.   And you can use your independence and free time for other gainful activates including personal interests, volunteering and self-employment.   As long as you kept up the social interaction and positive reinforcement, I would think that this would be worlds away from depression inducing. 

Ricky

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Re: FIRE and depression?
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2015, 07:27:37 PM »
Are you a natural introvert and work is your primary source of employment? Or do you have a social life regardless of working. If the former, you're just gonna have to work harder to sustain relationships outside of work. I struggle with this myself.

purplish

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Re: FIRE and depression?
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2015, 07:40:45 PM »
Probably a large part was my time spent applying to jobs and getting nowhere, and feeling like I was failing at life.  I think another part is that I find interest in the field I'm in, and don't actually wish to retire (I do plan on being self employed though in the future).  Also a large part is naturally having clinical depression, certain things can trigger it.  Having unstructured time for an unspecified amount of time is one of those things.  I also still can't really imagine what I would fill my time with!  I know many people here do it, but I feel like I'd end up on the couch sitting around all the time. 

JLee

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Re: FIRE and depression?
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2015, 07:49:40 PM »
Probably a large part was my time spent applying to jobs and getting nowhere, and feeling like I was failing at life.  I think another part is that I find interest in the field I'm in, and don't actually wish to retire (I do plan on being self employed though in the future).  Also a large part is naturally having clinical depression, certain things can trigger it.  Having unstructured time for an unspecified amount of time is one of those things.  I also still can't really imagine what I would fill my time with!  I know many people here do it, but I feel like I'd end up on the couch sitting around all the time.
The beauty of FI is that you're independent - if you don't want to retire, you don't have to. If you do want to, you can.

Kaydedid

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Re: FIRE and depression?
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2015, 08:25:47 PM »
When I started taking summers off work, my depression definitely got stronger at first.  The key for me has been to have structured activities in the morning 3x a week (exercise classes).  It gets my butt out of bed and ready for the day, exposes me to new people, and gets regular exercise in (which has been even more effective than medication).  I usually end up getting more done on my exercise class days, despite having less time.

deborah

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Re: FIRE and depression?
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2015, 09:27:11 PM »
Retirement not of your choosing can definitely cause depression. My neighbour was fired(?) because he turned 75, and for months he shambled around like and old man without anything to live for.

Many years ago I was retrenched - but given 6 months notice. It was extremely difficult to work during the remaining six months - I'm not sure I would wish that particular hell on anyone. However, being retrenched and taking a long time to get a job is even more dehumanising. I once interviewed someone (we were going to give him the job before the interview - he was the only person suitable, and he was very suitable) who had been retrenched eighteen months previously. He couldn't answer any questions, and had been rejected so many times that we just couldn't hire him. I have interviewed hundreds of people since then, but that interview still haunts me.

For OP to have gone through that sort of experience twice and to have ended up with a job both times shows real resilience, and I can understand why he (I'll make an assumption that OP is male) is concerned about retirement, and worries if it will be a similar experience. I had similar concern - I think anyone who has been unemployed without intending to be would be worried.

When I was thinking about retirement I treated it like any other project. I worked out what my fears were, and solutions to those fears; what would make me happy in retirement; what I would do... I read a lot of books, and thought about what made me happy. I made a plan, which started before I left work.

For instance, I decided that I didn't have friends, and I needed them. You can't just go up to someone and say "Will you be my friend?" like a three year old (in some ways, it would be nice to be a three year old again). I decided that I would join groups (competely different, so they had different people in them) - one every six months. I planned to retire in three years, so I would be a member of at least 4 groups (two mightn't have worked out). This didn't work out in the way I planned, but I do have friends, so the basic problem was solved.

If I hadn't been so miserable at work I may not have retired, since I did have a few concerns about retirement - very similar to OPs. However, retire I did, and it has been absolutely fantastic. I don't think I ended up following any of my plans, but thinking the problems through and making plans allowed me to be much more sure that retirement would work for me - and I always have the plans up my sleeve in case I need them. It has been four years of bliss - and there has been no return of the depression that had haunted me. I am deeply happy, especially since my father got very ill and my parents are now very frail, and need me to visit frequently. I don't think I could have managed work and my parents' needs, whereas, being retired, I can drop things and go to them.

Being largely self-employed and "retired" would mean you wouldn't need to worry if the business didn't work out, and you could reduce or increase your workload as you felt like it. You would always be a success, because there are really very few people who actually have frugality and commitment to make it through to FI! In fact I think it is awesome that you managed an 18 month unemployment stint without unemployment benefits. You rock!

act01

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Re: FIRE and depression?
« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2015, 09:46:01 PM »
Being unemployed can bring on depression (understandably). It sounds like you're afraid that just having free time for long periods of time will bring on depression, which makes me question if there's something more going on.

I spent years as a contractor where the projects I worked on were on for a few months, then a couple off. Every time I was off, I had a sense of loss and depression. In retrospect, I had too much of my self worth tied up in my job. When the job went away, it made me feel unneeded personally. Even my identity was tied up in my job title, what projects I was working on, etc (so I often was keeping tabs with what other people were doing). I just kept myself busy during my downtime and it'd go away... until I burnt myself out. Then I had to face it. That period really felt like everyone was going back to school or getting ready for prom, and I couldn't go.

I'm curious about this sense that others are going to continue to do well while you're not. If you're FIRE and they're not, doesn't that mean that you're ahead of the game?

socaso

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Re: FIRE and depression?
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2015, 12:47:01 PM »
I'm in the "want to be FI not FIRE" boat. I'm a very outgoing people oriented person and I like having work to do so I don't see myself completely retiring. I'd just like to get to the point where the work is not about the money. I suppose if I found some volunteer work I was really passionate about then I could make that my job with no pay.

My dad FIREd at 58 and for the first year or so he floundered a bit but he got involved with a bunch of organizations and made new friends and now he's so busy I can never get him on the phone!