A lot of people out there are feeling pretty stressed out about the economy these days: Recession Anxiety Seeps Into Everyday Lives, from today's New York Times:
Anne Hubbard has not lost her job, house or savings, and she and her husband have always been conservative with money.
But a few months ago, Ms. Hubbard, a graphic designer in Cambridge, Mass., began having panic attacks over the economy, struggling to breathe and seeing vivid visions of “losing everything,” she said.
She “could not stop reading every single economic report,” was so “sick to my stomach I lost 12 pounds” and “was unable to function,” said Ms. Hubbard, 52, who began, for the first time, taking psychiatric medication and getting therapy.
That might seem pretty extreme, but the article goes on to detail various other cases of people having nervous breakdowns and turning to drugs, therapy, meditation and other methods to reduce their levels of stress about the economy, despite still being employed and having savings.
Ms. Hubbard, knowing “financially we were fine,” said she believed “I shouldn’t feel like this, I’m lucky.” She cried visiting her primary doctor, who recommended therapy and medication, hard to accept, she said, because her Depression-era parents believed “you pull yourself up.”
“I felt like a neurotic middle-class, middle-aged woman too weak to deal with life on my own,” she said. “I should be stronger, it was simply money, and why do I have to take pills to not worry about money.”
But treatment and further organizing family finances helped. She said the weakening economy made her “fear that even if you do everything right, something bad can happen to you.”
Do you feel this way, or know anyone who does? I find myself worrying about money in a way that I didn't a couple of years ago. Back then, I knew I was saving money at a good rate, and my investments were doing well enough that I seemed to be right on track to reach my retirement goals. Hopefully I'll still end up fine, but I may not be able to have quite as much fun along the way!
Meanwhile, I'm worried about my friend Mortimer, who's only had one interview since losing his job. I recommended him for a job at my company, for which he would have been very qualified, and they did call him to discuss it, but it turned out that the position paid about $25,000 less than he'd been making. Mortimer, to his credit, made a very good case about why he'd still be interested, but they seem to fear he's overqualified, or would be likely to move on at the first opportunity. To me, Mortimer admitted he wasn't thrilled about the idea of making so much less, but he was already trying to figure out how he could make ends meet on a lower income, knowing that he has to get a job, any job. But there aren't many out there in his field, unfortunately, and I know he doesn't have a lot of savings to fall back on. I haven't heard whether he's been able to start collecting unemployment benefits yet, and I'm worried he'll get into debt very quickly.
Fortunately, my worries are mild at this point. I'm not losing sleep or pulling out my hair, though I've probably been more stressed out at work because we're all under a lot of pressure to perform. But I'm trying to take it all in stride and save any real anxiety for an actual crisis, which hopefully won't happen!
How about you?