She's Turning 50 and Feeling Depressed...Can She Get Rid of That 'Ho-Hum' Nothing Feels New Anymore Feeling?

Sheila Key, author of "50 Ways to Leave Your 40s: Living It Up in Life's Second Half" has advice for a reader on coping with an upcoming 50th birthday.


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Sheila Key, author of "50 Ways to Leave Your 40s: Living It Up In Life's Second Half" explains that grief is an appropriate response to loss and aging can include loss, but entering a new decade can also mean a chance at new beginnings. "And, lest we forget, life is what you make it," she wrote. "So, if you’re feeling bored, the obvious solution is to seek out some healthy change in your day-to-day doings.

Dear Sheila:

I am turning 50 next year. I feel ho-hum and a bit depressed about it. Nothing feels new anymore. Any advice for me?

Signed, Forty-nine and Counting (Fast!)


Dear Forty-nine and Counting,

If it’s any consolation, lots of people find their 50th birthday to be a bit of a downer. I know I did, and this is despite having written a generally upbeat book on the subject!

But, see, this is precisely why my coauthor, Dr. Peggy Spencer, and I included a chapter about taking a moment to grieve the passage. “Paint It Black,” we titled it.

Here’s a little excerpt:

Grief is the appropriate response in times of loss, and what can I say? Aging brings with it plenty of loss. Others may wonder at your grief, or not even notice it. No matter. If no “company” calls to share in your misery, just pull the door shut and engage in whatever rituals of mourning feel right to you. Play dirges. Dress in black. Wallow among old photographs. Weep. Wail. Take to your bed… There is nothing like a good cry.

Inevitably, of course, life must go on. As the old joke goes, birthdays aren’t so bad when you consider the alternative. And, lest we forget, life is what you make it. So, if you’re feeling bored, the obvious solution is to seek out some healthy change in your day-to-day doings.

Many people gear up for a career change in midlife. Too drastic? Well, then, simply take up a new hobby or rediscover an old one that you used to enjoy doing, before jobs, family and other of life’s urgencies crowded it out. Write in a journal. Do an art project. Reach out to friends, including those dear ones you haven’t contacted in a while. And, if you aren’t doing so already, get some exercise on a regular basis. The endorphin lift will feel so good!

To purchase "50 Ways to Leave Your 40s" click here.

About the Authors: Sheila Key is an award-winning writer and graphic artist and a former radio broadcaster and on-air personality. Peggy Spencer, MD, practices at the Student Health Center at the University of New Mexico. Both live in Albuquerque.

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