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having daily anxiety attacks over career choice.. mother.. grandparents

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so i just came down from a huge hypervenalating session.. and worried im gonna work myself up again. I think I need to give a quick background of my situation so this makes sense.


I'm 29. i have an associate in graphic design. I have about a year left until i have a bachelors in graphic design. my mom has three degrees (occupational therapy, speech therapy and social work) and has been unemployeed for about 8 years and is dealing with issues of her own.


ive lived with my mom and my grandparents my entire life. my grandpa is now 88, my grandma 85, my mom 59. we're all in metro detroit, michigan.


i have a gappy employment history with nothing lasting over a year, if you don't count my internship that im at now (unpaid, it's a one person business (my boss)).


Over the last few months, my anxiety has skyrocketed. I've started having almost daily anxiety attacks. The major thing that triggers me is dread of the future. I think if I write this down it'll help.. it usually does.


So the big factors I panic about are:

1. that I've choosen the wrong career, especially for this economy, and that I won't be able to find a job or get hired as a graphic designer, and that I might not even be able to get hired at some minimum wage retail job.


2. that my mom won't be able to support herself, and that there is no way I would be able to support her. I know she does more, but it seems like all she does right now is sit in her room listening to music. At least she started seeing my med doc, and my doc said she can help my mom get on disability. I really hope she'll be able to pull herself out of what's happened, becuase it wasn't always like this. she had a stable job when I was a teenager. Stuff happened that screwed up her life in my mid 20's.


3. what my mom and I will do when my grandparents/her parents are no longer with us. I have laid out a plan, but I still panic. If anything else, both of us get full time minimum wage jobs, and she hopefully will have disability as well. we move to some place that's warm so there's no cold winter, and rent the cheapest 2 bedroom apartment we can find, where the area is semi-decent, and there's jobs. maybe somewhere in texas.


So, those are basically the areas that I panic daily over. I think it helped that I wrote it down somewhere. I'd write it in my blog here, but I thought other people would relate to panic over a career in this crap ass economy.


I also worry about how our state of living will be (or whatever it's called). I also get really depressed because I did really well in h/s and college, and my mom has three degrees and got like 4.0's all the way through.. and the thought that both of us will end up working at some minimum wage jobs is beyond depressing. I think back to something I said to myself at my first job as a library page when I was 16 ("well, this is just a JOB, not my CAREER") and I start crying because I think, I might just end up back in that very same kind of job again, 20 years later.


I think I'm not looking at things logically when I get like this. I know my mom's situtation has affected me in a huge way. I also know the last time I tried finding any kind of job (cashier, etc) was around 2009-2010, which was the height of unemployment in Michigan. Now, the rate is slowly going back down (it's at 9% now I think, back in 09 it was at 14%, I think the highest it ever went was 15%.) My grandpa says its cause everyone's leaving Michigan (lol) but even if that is the case.. eh it leaves a bit more jobs open for the rest of us left here, right?


I guess it just boils down to the fact that I'm freaking out that I won't be able to get hired and have a job that pays enough to live off of, and what to do if my mom is with me.


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Hi MissBlue,

Wow that's alot of stuff to deal with...no wonder you're anxious!!

I really can't comment too much on all the stuff but on your career I definitely can :) I live in a crappy, high-unemployment dump in the rust belt...all the companies here are shutting down and laying off...however the GOOD news is that graphic designers have had no problem getting jobs here!! Our company employes 3 at any given time, and we're just a small-medium sized manufacturer. Our last graphic guy left because he found a better paying job upstate--which says alot because we do pay really well here (hence my sticking with it for 6 hellish years.lol)... And the girl in graphics who's wedding I went to--she just left because she also found another better paying job...The pay here wasn't so much the problem, but our CEO is evil incarnate and her direct supervisor is a woman-hater... It wasn't that she didn't do a good job or get paid enough, it's just that she was having alot of anxiety/panic attacks from coping with the owner and this supervisor. But in other good news, she loves her new job--has greater responsibilities, better pay, and no dickhead bosses to abuse her--so it's a win/win for her.


Companies who manufacture stuff constantly need graphic designers...There's always label issues and marketing stuff...Plus if you have any web-design experience that helps increase your chances of getting a great paying job! No guarantee about having great bosses however, but you can always find another job with a more compatible work environment. Definitely think you're in the right field!!


Sorry I can't comment on the other stuff with your mom...It sounds like she might need to get some help in order to move forward from her own depression issues...

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those are some big concerns you have there.  i don't blame you for worrying.


i've never been in your situation, but i have had similar anxiety over returning to work with a spotty employment history, and what kind of retraining can i possibly do that will help me and my family without setting off another episode.  it involves a lot of worrying about the future and what could possibly happen at any time.


it's one thing to plan ahead, and quite another to be paralyzed with fear over a future that we obviously can't predict.  i fall into this unhelpful pattern of thinking about a lot of things.  what helps me more than anything is CBT.  do you have a tdoc?  CBT helps me identify the thoughts that are true in the present, versus the thoughts that are distorted about both the present and future.  then i can proceed to act on the things that will help me feel competent instead of anxious and doubtful, and leave the gloomy predictions about what may or may not happen behind.


easier said than done huh.  if i can do it, i think anyone can, because i'm pretty hard-headed :).  i need refreshers in this kind of thing regularly.  i'm glad my tdoc doesn't mind repeating herself again and again.


i hope you get things straightened away, and that you can feel better soon.

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That's a lot to worry about. I'd have concerns too, especially since once you tip into a negative "what if" scenario, it's easy to play out worse and worse scenarios. The thing is, the future will happen whether you worry about it or not. Somehow that realization helped me step out of a few fear cycles.


You are taking actions today. That is a good place to focus. What can you do now? Just as important is appreciating the actions you have done. You hooked up your mom with your med doc and he is going to help her get disability. If she worked enough quarters in the past, in a few years she'll qualify for social security, too. She will have income and health care. I think your worst scenarios there won't play out.


You are in school. That is action. Is it the right field for employment? Well, do some research. Check job boards and employment adverts. Are there many jobs posted? What qualifications are needed? Check out jobs in the places you think you'd like to move. What is the demand there? Talk to your school job counselors. Get their input. If you have been interning for free for over a year, then think about applying for a paid internship or one with broader responsibilities where you might broaden your experience for prospective employers. Focus on figuring out what you can do today. Also, instead of placing your whole wager on an undergrad degree getting you somewhere, start considering that you may need some grad school to get ahead in a field. Take a few business courses. Augment your field of study. Not saying you won't get ahead in your chosen field. Just suggesting that having a plan b can help alleviate hyperfocused stress that leads you into black or white thinking.



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Thank you for all your kind words. I woke up this morning and went straight into another anxiety attack over the entire thing again.

It's so f*cking frustrating because logically I know I'm mentally just re-hasing the same old  bullsh*t but I can't stop doing it. It's horrible.

Brokendishes, where do you live? Seriously. lol.


lysergia, I've always assumed Tdoc stands for Therapist doc, so sadly no I don't have one of those. But I have the kind that gives you meds. lol. And she listens to my crap, so she's kind of a stand in therapist at times. But, I really need to see an actual therapist I think, because this anxiety over the future is just escalating horribly.

What you said here really caught my attention:   CBT helps me identify the thoughts that are true in the present, versus the thoughts that are distorted about both the present and future.  then i can proceed to act on the things that will help me feel competent instead of anxious and doubtful, and leave the gloomy predictions about what may or may not happen behind.

I really need to look into CBT. I have never tried it but I think that could really help, since it seems like you suffer from the same kind of sensation of being paralyzed with fear over the future as I do. Thank you for bringing that up, I am going to look into that.

AnneMarie, thanks for the kind words too. What's stupid is that hearing people tell me to do research just makes my anxiety go through the roof. It's probably because if I do research, half of it is horrible doomsdayish talk, but then again, I find that when trying to research anything about jobs, the economy, and the unemployment rate. It's gotten to a point where I get so anxious over it I actively avoid putting myself in a situation where I could run into one of my triggers (those doomsday naysayers that say everything is done for that you often find in the comment section of articles).

I worry about being able to just finish what I have left. My grandpa is currently helping me with that and I know if he wasn't here I'd have to get a full time job (most likely minimum wage) just to make ends meet. If my mom isn't on disability at that point.. well I don't know what the f*cking hell we'll do because there's no way in hell I can support her as well as myself. Hell, I'm going to have a seriously hard time just keeping myself from starving if I'm on my own. Even factoring in the my meds, 10 bucks for my birds food a month, shelter, and electricity, I don't think I have the money to make ends meet. It would of course mean probably throwing away  my health insurance.. dunno how I'd make car insurance.. it's just a very very scary idea and it's there looming in the back of my head like a nightmare just waiting to strike.

Sorry, I'm just in a horrible mood right now.

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I wanted to post an update. My pdoc diagnosed my mother with bipolar and gave her some scripts. Can you get bipolar later in life? She's thinking she might have had it all along, and the high stress right now brought it out.

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