For the rest of you, welcome to Purgatory.
“Okay Jay, your life looks great to me. What the problem?”
I hear this whenever I’m willing to share one of my “moments” with a friend.
I could ask the same of any number of older men and women who, for all intents and purposes, have it all.
Celebrities, CEO’s, retired athletes, artists, et al.
But the simple – and honest – answer is very complicated, which is why I rarely delve into it unless I’m paying someone to listen to me.
It’s important to give some perspective where these things are concerned if only to clarify frames of reference.
First, I have always been athletic.
I played sports in high school and college and then went on to live my life with athletics a big part of it.
I have always been in shape and rarely sick, other than the common cold, peppered with the occasional bout of anxiety and depression, which athletics tended to check.
The aforementioned is particularly germane to this discussion because I have always battled anxiety and depression.
This is probably why athletics became such a large part of my life. It was an effective, albeit fleeting, way to slay the noonday demon when it awakened from its tenuous sleep.
So far so good: We have a man predisposed to depression with a reliable coping mechanism.
THEN CAME 60 AND ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE
When you’re young – or younger – you can pretty much handle anything life throws at you.
For me, even my early 50’s felt like Teflon for the most part.
But something shifted when I turned 60, and then 61, which was pretty much the beginning of the end as I saw it.
Little shit started to go wrong. For one thing, I developed arthritis in both thumbs, probably from power lifting.
In the old days it was referred to as tendinitis, which tends to heal over a relatively short period of time.
Now it’s a permanent resident.
Then there was the chronic shoulder pain, foot pain, hamstring pain, nose bleeds from NSAID overuse…and finally, depression that no amount of exercise could slay.
It came on like a fucking tidal wave washing away all reason, crushing my defenses.
I started sleeping longer, getting up later, popping antacids to keep the stomach acids quiet…and wondering when the other shoe was going to drop.
It does, at some point, drop.
No one disputes this, not even therapists who are paid to relieve the suffering.
Do one tends to live in a low-level existential nightmare that burns, but doesn’t exactly kill.
It just sort of drains your energy like leaving the pool light on for a month until it burns out and you have to pay a professional a fortune to change it.
When I go to the gym I train with people half my age because the other half of the population is either dead or in Florida.
I am no longer reminded of where I’m headed, but rather, where I am, which is a lot better, believe me.
Kids don’t talk about pocket catheters, hip surgery, arthritis or death.
They talk about the here and now, which is fine with me because anything beyond that is a crap shoot.
So I guess you could say I’m in a state of denial, but in psychiatric parlance – healthy, all things considered.
But while this keeps me psychologically young, the specter of my age is never far off the radar.
Denial is porous at this stage point.
You can pull it off for a while, but it’s rife with reinforcements.
You have to keep fighting, like warding a bedroom from werewolves, or beating back feral hogs in the dead of night.
Lots of older folks take SSRI’s for depression.
Others just settle for anti-inflammatory medications, intense workouts, Netflix marathons, sex with strangers…and gin.
But there’s only so far you can wander from where you are after enough time has passed.
It’s not like you’re happy just hanging out with a bunch of friends at some shitty little apartment with a TV and refrigerator full of beer.
All of us need so much more no matter what people say about how less is more.
Less is only more when it involves all the comforts of life without all the hassles.
The pressure to supplement your daily vitamin regimen with steroids is overwhelming.
The reason for this is two fold: First, you feel better immediately. Your spirits lift, you libido rises, and you inflammation goes away.
What’s not to love?
And second, you look better. Much better. Preternaturally better. The love handles disappear, muscles sharpen up, veins wrap your arms in what feels like an impenetrable barrier.
So why isn’t everyone on them?
Well, they pretty much are, at least all the men I know who want to stay active – and, in this minds – relevant.
Are there any downsides?
Abuse of testosterone, usually at doses higher than those typically prescribed and usually in conjunction with other AAS, is associated with serious safety risks affecting the heart, brain, liver, mental health and endocrine system.
Serious adverse outcomes include heart attack, heart failure, stroke, depression, hostility, aggression, liver toxicity and male infertility.
Individuals abusing high doses of testosterone have also reported withdrawal symptoms, such as depression, fatigue, irritability, loss of appetite, decreased libido and insomnia.
…but who’s counting?
You look better, feel better, have more sex drive…and tomorrow’s another day.
Now you know why the sales are through he roof.
The conclusion is that we have just a few good years left in us before the whole fucking world comes crashing down on our heads.
Most of life as we want to know it is in the past no matter how many more years we have to live.
And yes, it’s possible to live another 40.
If this makes you feel any better, God bless you.
I’ll just keep trying to deflect the blows while focusing on the tasks at hand.
I’ve gotten used to the fight and know that there are good and bad days that, each playing an integral role in balancing the scales.
In conclusion, the thing that really chaps me is how much you have to accomplish to get here, and after you are [here], you spend the rest of your life trying to be somewhere else.