Lessons Learned by a Psychiatrist From His So-Called Retirement


How’s retirement going? Well…

couple, beach, retirement

Day Of Victory Stu/AdobeStock


Today is my anniversary, that is, my retirement from my official full-time work 10 years ago. Actually, I wrote an article for Psychiatric Times™, “Mental Bootcamp: Today is the First Day of Your Retirement,” on June 25th, 2012, a week before that transition. I followed that up about 2 years later in the February 10, 2014 article, “Classic Blog: Reviewing Retirement.” It was a retirement partially planned and anticipated over the prior couple of years.

Since then, I have come to conclude that the word retirement does not fit. If I am writing a weekday column and doing a weekly video for Psychiatric Times™, among other psychiatrically-related things, I am not in retirement. Let’s think of other words that might apply: refirement, refinement, realignment. Others come to mind?

The one promise that I made, and have kept pretty well, is to avoid situations which I could predict would be stressful. That stemmed from the burnout that I was in 10 years ago and which quickly dissipated after “retiring.”

I have also found that once a psychiatrist, always a psychiatrist. Given that psychiatry is curious and concerned about how people think and act, that happens in everyday life and it deepens my appreciation of people and society.

In retrospect, it certainly helps to prepare for retirement beforehand, especially if it is forced upon you by illness or something else. Not surprisingly, that includes finances. It is hard to accomplish financial security in the last minute or years.

Finding other things that you enjoy is also helpful. For me, it was traveling with my wife and being with her much more. We even ended up sharing a computer and proved one of my colleagues wrong, who had predicted that this practice would end our marriage! Is ours a rare exception, or can such sharing not only bring marriages closer together, but have diagnostic and therapeutic potential?

Think about your health. Though relatively healthy when I retired, I had sleep apnea for a decade already, and since that gradually takes its toll on the heart even with treatment, I had a sense something more was in store later. Fortunately, last December it was an unanticipated finding of a sudden death risk heart arrhythmia necessitating a pacemaker, which I fondly named Pacey.

Since I do other volunteer work as a psychiatrist, especially on many Boards of Directors, I call myself a Pro Bono Private Community Psychiatrist. It is a great job.

Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who has specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry. A prolific writer and speaker, he received the one-time designation of Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association in 2002. He is an advocate for mental health issues related to climate instability, burnout, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism for a better world. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times™.

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