Midlife crisis has been the butt of jokes in our society. It brings to mind visions of men who cannot face the fact that they are not as young or sexy as they once were; men who seem to think that a toupee or a little red sports car will renew their fading youth. However, midlife crisis (for lack of a better term) is very real, despite what some psychologists say, and very destructive to families. It has become an epidemic about which most of us know dangerously little.
Midlife crisis is an illness, a chemical imbalance that either is or highly resembles a typical affective mood disorder (clinical depression or bipolar). If recognized, it can be treated. The signs are sleeplessness, anxiety, repetitive thinking and talking, weight loss or gain, irritability. During this time suffers might seek help; once they are in the middle of it, however, they are much less likely to do so.
Factors that can contribute to the onset of midlife crisis between the ages of 35-50 include the loss of a promotion or job, a death of a close family member, the empty nest, and/or rebellious teenagers. My husband suffered all of these and spiralled into a depression and strange behavior that became so bad that he left me for two years.
During this dark time, I read all I could get my hands on about midlife crisis and found precious little written on the subject. One good resource I highly recommend, however, is Men In Midlife Crisis by Jim Conway, Chariot Victor Pub; ISBN: 1564766985. It is written by a pastor/professional counselor who himself experienced midlife crisis. This book saved my sanity, enabling me to understand that this was something that had happened to others. Prior to reading the book, I had no idea what had happened to my husband and could only see that he had become a monster.
For an inspiring account of one woman’s determination to hold on to her marriage despise the severe midlife crisis that gripped her husband, see How Carol Saved Her Doomed Marriage