At the age of 35, I was able to pull occasional strands of my grey hairs out. They were so few and far between. The idea of increasing my hair dressing bills by adding colour treatment was a far away notion. In a similar vein, the concept of a ‘midlife crisis’, in my 30s, was something that crossed my horizon as a joke in a movie or as a flippant reference in the media to a celebrity’s notorious behaviour, often a male star over 50 years old.
The model Chrissy Teigen posted a photo of herself wearing a silver wig calling it her ‘midlife crisis’. She is 35 years old. While I have no idea as to whether she is or is not suffering from the midlife crisis or ‘MLC’, as I refer to it, she did get me thinking about the age threshold during which an MLC is first detected in one’s life.
The phrase ‘midlife crisis’ was coined in 1957 by a Canadian psychoanalyst called Elliott Jaques. He named the symptoms as being depressive and which lasted for years. More interestingly, he identified these feelings as materializing in people who were in their mid-30s. Yup, you read that right!
Is it realistic that people in their mid-30s could be suffering from the midlife crisis? The word ‘midlife’ refers to a life halfway through the life cycle but, considering that the average life expectancy in the UK is 81.26 years, starting your midlife crisis before 40 years old would be debilitating. Dr Jaques used the description of a troubled person in their 30s reaching the crest of the hill and seeing death at the end of a very long road to help people visualize what a midlife crisis looks like. It just seems rather sad that someone could start feeling this way quite early on in their lives given that a crisis could last a decade or more, taking them into their 50s.
While I don’t think that I was afflicted with the MLC in my 30s, there have been periods in my 40s and 50s when I have been that person standing at the crest of the hill. Strangely, being in lockdown has lessened the intensity of my MLC. Perhaps it is because I feel more in charge of my present and future without having to cope with the busyness of life as it was pre-pandemic. Not being able to visit the hairdresser to colour my hair black hasn’t irritated me either.
When did the midlife crisis first hit you?