As we approached the great grand age of 40** , Mr WembleyWonderful and myself found that life was suddenly becoming much more complicated . No more babies-related sleepless nights but more health issues – I ruptured my Achille’s tendon (3 months of crushes, 9 months of recovery), he stopped running to delay his hips being replaced by brand new plastic ones; less ability to stuff ourselves with unhealthy food and large quantities of alcohol; a week recovery after going to bed post 2am; many friends around us in full existential crisis; not even mentioning having pre-teenagers in the house. Does it sound familiar?..
Thankfully I found out last weekend that this is all normal. The FT published an article about mid-life crisis, where it highlighted the findings of a 2008 study by economists Blanchflower and Oswald. The conclusion of this study is that “psychological well-being is U shaped tough life”, with the bottom being reached around your mid-forties – that’s us then!!! Just six years to go and I’ll feel much better, arrgghhhh!
So what to do to beat the blues of mid-life crisis? After much reflection, here are my recommendation:
- Read about it. This is my solution to all problems, don’t complain! My summer has been all about reading books on life and death, health, relationships - clearly the best way to beef up my moral! (Mr WembleyWonderful blatantly refused to share my readings…) In any case I feel a bit better informed. My favourite readings were: Secret Paths: Women in the new midlife by Terry Apter; Being mortal by Atul Gawande; and the hilarious Ladybird book of the midlife crisis, which has been on my bedside table for months because I like it so much. The FT also recommended much more philosophical books, but I can only name them as philosophy was by far my worst subject at school… (Midlife: a philosophical guide by Kieran Setiya and Aging thoughtfully by Martha Nussbaum)
- Talk about it, everyone is the same! When you start talking about your emerging health problems, your relationship issues, your family crises, your work choices, how you sometimes (most times…) struggle with your children, and in general your doubts about life, you just find out that everyone has exactly the same issues. And it makes you feel just normal, not depressed, it’s fantastic! I’ve found that having friends not only my age but also a bit older helps a lot as it gives me perspective and a sense of what to expect. If friends are not enough therapists can also be of huge help – I highly recommend (yet again) Shadi Shahnavaz.
- Be completely caricatural about it and just do it : buy a sports car, go sky-diving, sign-up for an ironman/woman, become a complete sewing & knitting addict, upgrade your partner to version 2.0 (no actually don’t!), etc etc… Why not!!! If you don’t have crazy enough ideas the Ladybird book mentioned above will give you plenty.
So let’s enjoy our midlife crisis as much as the rest of our lives!