Laid Off from Job

by Lian

I first experienced panic attacks when I was laid off 2.5 years ago. At first I thought I was having a heart attack, but after googling and reading, I understood what happened to me. I eventually found another job, and the frequency and intensity of the panic attacks greatly decreased, although they never entirely went away.

I just got laid off again, and because I am now 60, I know it is unlikely I will ever work in my field again. I have prepared financially as best I can in the last two years, though I don't have enough to retire. I know I ought to be able to figure out some kind of income to supplement my savings, even if it's part-time minimum wage. I should be able to survive just fine. But I'm experiencing major panic attacks on almost a daily basis. I feel very trapped. I've lost my appetite (not necessarily a bad thing for now). I think it's worse this time than it was after the first lay off, because I know the career is gone and there's no going back.

I feel as though my heart will give out if I don't get a handle on this - that it will pound so hard that it will burst. I'm bit by bit increasing my daily exercise (I'm not in very good shape), and cut out expensive junk foods. At least one of the other posters mentioned that exercise helps. I've been immersing myself in escapist entertainment through books and TV, which I don't think is a very good long term solution. It may be time to give meditation a try.

It is interesting to read about the underlying unsettledness, because I do believe I have been living in that state since the recession, and the lay-off was the trigger. I know other people who never lost their jobs, but still started experiencing panic attacks. I think it is a consequence of a brutal corporate culture that discards people as easily as a used kleenex, and the recession really woke up many of us (those of us who were apparently oblivious) to the realization that there is no job security.

Comments for Laid Off from Job

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Feb 20, 2016

by: Jude @ anxiety unravelled

Hi Lian,

Thank you for sharing your story with us. I think for most people, even if you're half expecting it, losing your job is a massive shock. When the thing that you've relied upon for your livelihood is taken away, it can feel like a total shake up of your reality. It can suddenly seem that most of the things we take for granted as being stable and secure are actually uncertain and unreliable.

It's hardly surprising that your nervous system has suffered.

You sound like a very intelligent person, so you probably don't need to be told that there are two things that have to be dealt with - the practical realities of your situation and resolving the shock your nervous system has received. Each will help the other.

I guess you could add one more thing - coming to terms with uncertainty. Ultimately, everyone of us will deal with what life throws at us at the time when it happens. What's impossible to deal with are situations that haven't happened yet. We can spend enormous amounts of anxious energy imagining the worst.

Two of the essential things that your nervous system will need are regular periods of deep relaxation and becoming aware of your thought patterns so that you can challenge or alter them.

Meditation can certainly help with both of these. You may find though that initially some kind of deep relaxation exercise will bring you the quickest benefits. You could try out the 5 Minute Free Relaxation and see how you like it. If it feels OK you may like to go for the longer practice of Yoga Nidra to gain even more benefit.

I really wish you all the best at this difficult time - may it turn out to be the beginning of an even better, more fulfilling, happier, healthier life for you.


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