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Advice needed on dealing with this panicky feeling (DH/job/money related)

(42 Posts)
alabasterangel Tue 17-Jun-14 14:44:16

I don't know where else to post this, its not about job loss itself but about how I'm coping with it (or not).

We were in the middle of moving house, escaping somewhere with neighbour problems, moving onto much better things. I've had a job crisis of my own which has been going on for months, on the brink repeatedly of loosing my 21 year much loved specialised job but have deflected redundancy repeatedly and am now on an extension till end of August, but is only work p/t and my salary only just covers our mortgage and maybe some of the food. If I so loose my job at the end of August I'll get a pro-rated part time redundancy payout (not much) and loose my company car.

We knew we'd cope, because DH earns so much more. Even moving house, we were so desperate to move that we worked out we could afford it. He's flitted about from job to job and dabbled and travelled and been rather daft over the years, plus both of us had huge losses when previous marriages ended (I left an abusive marriage and settled low to get it over with) and he voluntarily left and signed over the martial home (long story) so we were pretty much starting again at an older age than average for mortgages etc. We had two DC very late in life (who are now 5 and 2) and 4 years ago he got a brilliant job, car, great salary, enough to warrant my part time status and enough again to warrant covering us if I do have to further extension to my work in September.

Then completely unexpected he's been made redundant. Bolt out of the blue yesterday. He'll not get much pay as he's only been there 4 years. He'll loose his car of course, all his benefits, and we are fairly sure I'm going to be out of work as well.

I feel so utterly in panic. Because he's self confessed disorganised with finances I've always done it all, but I earn 25% of what he earns we are never going to be able to make the money stretch. He keeps saying I've got to be positive, but my panic is taking over.

I've not eaten, I feel sick, I'm all over the place. I know he's right and I've got to support him, but I just feel like the 'fight or flight' thing is taking over. My heart is racing. I had to do a work meeting today and during it felt I was going to crack at any point. I feel like I'm not coping with it but at the same time I understand its a disproportionate reaction, to a degree anyway. I just want it sorted, but know that won't happen. I actually did that thing last night where I woke up and thought 'I've just had a really shit dream that DH has lost his job' then realised it wasn't a dream.

Suppose I just need some emotional words of advice, I don't know how to learn how to cope (and I've been through some shit times, and have coped, but I've had enough of shit times)

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 17-Jun-14 15:46:54

You're describing a pretty understandable but also rather extreme response to stress. It's a physical as well as a mental condition and I think you're only just the right side of a panic attack at the moment. I'm sorry that you've had bad news.

'Stay positive' is not great advice unfortunately. You and your DH need to ask for practical help quite urgently because you're not going to be able to do this alone. I think you should also talk to your GP and get signed off work for a while even though you haven't long left to go.

In 'world crashing around your ears' situations, IME it helps most to find something that you can feel in control of and see some progress. In your case therefore I'd suggest the finances are the top priority . Sit down together, go through the budget, maybe talk to CAB, see what extra help there is available in the form of tax credits etc to get you through until DH gets another job and work out where the pinch points are. Talk to your mortgage company and see if you can get a payment holiday. Don't know if the house move is irreversible? Also IME organisations tend to be more flexible if they know there is a problem.

You need moral support as well. Friends, family and anyone else who can take a little of the weight off or just be a shoulder to cry on.

Good luck

Jamie1981 Tue 17-Jun-14 16:36:01

Agree with most of the above, apart from the bit about taking time off sick. Don't. You will need to declare it to your next employer and it might count against you as a consequence. Nothing wrong with taking 24-48 hours off sick, but what the previous poster is suggesting can be a downward slope. Stress leave, anti depressants, difficulty getting back on the job ladder and a mentality that teaches you to think in negative terms.

This is what i would be doing (and have done in the recent past)

1. Going through your finances and working out what you can afford not to pay. Do you have debts? Get on the phone NOW and ask that they reduce your payments to a small amount. Ring your bank NOW and ask to talk to somebody about reducing your mortgage payments - maybe paying interest only. Think about what you can afford (after doing point 3 below) and propose it. There is some benefit that will help with interest payments (government) but i don't know much about it. The bank should and if not, the job centre will. If your creditors won't play ball, talk to citizens advice. But before you do any of these things, prepare an income and expenditure list so that the bank/credit card company/whoever know that you are being reasonable here.

2. Sit down and think about the worst possible scenario, not the best one. The worst possible scenario is you lose your home. Who gives a s**t? You will survive. Deal with the negative thoughts around the worst possible scenario and you will find that things don't appear as near as bad as you think. I personally don't believe in all this think positive nonsense. I believe in facing the worst case and then dealing with it.

3. Turn2us.org.uk. Go on this site, plug in your numbers, get an estimate of what you will be entitled to claim.

4. Your husband needs a couple of days to get to grips with his change of status. He should take these, go fishing, whatever, to get his head around things and maybe think about his plans going forward. Then he needs to work on his CV and start hitting the phones. Don't just apply for jobs by sending emails. Get on the phone and sell yourself!

Here's what the future looks like.
1. You have a few tough months, your husband finds a job and things get back on track
~or~
2. You lose your house, go bankrupt, end up renting and have to start over again. I'm not being flippant, but you know what, who cares? I'm in that situation now. I pay less in rent that i paid for my 4 bed house, and i live in a lovely spot outside of town that i could never afford to buy.
~or~
3. You descend into depression. Your relationship breaks up. You still end up with no home but this time you end up with more debt as a consequence.

Number 1 or 2 are possible outcomes that require you to accept change in your life. You may not, ultimately, have much control over which path you follow, but both, in the long run, will enable you to rebuild.
Number 3 is entirely voluntary and is the worst option of the lot.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 17-Jun-14 17:03:10

Stress to the point of palpitations is quite severe. Sometimes work can be a useful diversion but, depending on the role, the OP could end up making costly mistakes if they're not coping If someone's ill they're entitled to take time out to recover and it's utter rubbish that it will go against them in the future.

alabasterangel Tue 17-Jun-14 17:05:28

Thank you. The house move is reversible. We'd accepted an offer and placed an offer which had been accepted but literally only just. Family solicitor for us so no charge on our side retracting now. No estate agents costs despite theoretically having sold as we were paying monthly. I have to make that phone call tomorrow to pull out of it all, and I'm dreading that. Not because I'm selfish and having about a new house (stuff that!) but because I'm cracking whenever I talk about it.

I am so proud of DH. So many people would have gone into a decline / hidden under a blanket / wailed but he's being really positive and got up today, suit on, back in there to do anything he can to seek other work within the company. They gave him an internal joblist with all of 4 unsuitable roles, but he's said he's willing to apply for them all, even if they are a fraction of what he earns, just to keep us going. I don't think he'll even get one, I'm feeling horribly negative and having to stop myself saying anything like that because I know that would be wrong.

He does have a small insurance against job loss, it would pay out about 30% of his salary, so that's a plus (clutching straws) and we would need to calculate what would be worth juggling (taking a very low paid job or using the insurance). No point in him doing a really low paid role if the take home is the same as his insurance.

Because he has a months notice, he says I can't do anything practically (speak to anyone about finances, work out bills, any tax credits or whatever) until he's tried every avenue within the company with no joy. He says we have weeks, not days, and shouldn't panic. I am panicking. I am really seriously feeling weird and lightheaded. I can't recall half of what I've actually done today, or thought processes I've had, because I'm all over the place.

My brain jumps from one thing to another, it's all over the place. I panic that he'll be jobless, we can't spent his months redundancy pay as we'll need it to live, but he'll have no car, he'll need to travel long distances for interviews, public transport might not be an option, I start to be really random and worry about his age and pension contributions and it's all just random jumbled messed up panicky thoughts.

I don't think getting me signed off work would be a good idea. It get paid, yes, but at the moment there is scope for me to do a bit of o/t (not much, but it might be desperately needed) and I'm on this extension to my probable redundancy myself (I was kept on to complete a project which is due to complete end of August) and I am trying above all else to look for a new permanent role in my own company (my job is very specialised and I am unlikely to do the same elsewhere) so I want to give the best possible impression that I can. I don't think going sick would help that!

My stomach won't stop churning.....

Jamie1981 Tue 17-Jun-14 17:37:13

Sadly, its not utter rubbish. The last job i went for i was specifically asked about sick leave at the interview. I didn't get the job. A friend who works there told me they were worried about my ability to cope with stress. That was pre-2012, when the Equality Act came into force, which prohibits these questions being asked at interview. However, once an offer is made an employer may ask a previous employer about sick leave as part of taking up references. I know that my current employer does - and answers such questions too.

Jamie1981 Tue 17-Jun-14 17:53:36

Excellent - so despite the stress that you're under, you are both gathering facts. Don't forget state benefits (tax credits) too. Even if your husband has insurance, he will still be entitled to JSA for 6 months as long as he's been paying NI for a qualifying period (i don't recall what that is, but i suspect he will have been) regardless of the insurance, any capital you have, or your earnings. That adds up to about £350 a month added to the kitty.
His statutory entitlement to redundancy is 4.5 weeks, based on his age (i've assumed he is over 40) and length of service. Don't forget that this is tax free up to £30,000 too. Now, that's his legal entitlement. Many companies, particularly big ones, pay more than this but it depends on the industry (my hubby works in IT and is entitled to 1 month per year of service capped at 12 months).

As an example of what i mean about money adding up, let's assume your hubby is going to be out of work for the full 6 months and currently earns £25000.
So he will get £488 insurance. £320 job seekers allowance. And you can divide the £2400 redundancy pay by 6 too, which will give him another £400. So he's dropped from about £1600 a month to about £1208 - a drop of £392.

Now, earlier i gave you a link to the turn2us web site and that is well worth a visit too. I've no idea about your earnings or the hours that you work, but let's say you work 15 hours and earn £8000 a year and have an outstanding mortgage of £100,000. I'm guessing that today you don't qualify for tax credits because of your husbands job. The likelihood is you'll qualify for at least £500 a month while your husband is not working.

So, in the short term at least (6 months or so) you should be able to get by (although the child tax credit number may be lower depending on what your husband has earned so far this year).

hamptoncourt Tue 17-Jun-14 19:12:32

Jamie it is illegal for a prospective employer to ask you about your sickness absence before offering you a job. This is under The 2010 Equality Act

I am not saying it didn't happen in your case but it is very rare these days as most employers are aware of the law and abide by it.

wyrdyBird Tue 17-Jun-14 19:13:45

Very good advice from the posters above.

A few suggestions about stress control. Chances are you already know what to do, but don't do it. I think we all fall into that trap....

Anyway, if you have any stress control techniques you favour, now is the time to use them. If not, three thoughts:

1 - exercise, even it's just walking. Simply to burn off that excess adrenalin, and help you feel physically better

2 - five minutes relaxation, even if you have to lock yourself in the bathroom for it.

Focus on your breathing, some music, or something else you can contemplate - but key point, do NOT think about your problems. They'll still be there in 5 or 10 minutes' time. I know you have little ones, but if you can find a few minutes, it will help.

3 - simple mindfulness. Leave the future, and come back to the present moment, where you can act.

Two more thoughts. I don't agree with your DH that you need to wait until he's tried every avenue. Planning, particularly contingency planning, is not panicking. So don't wait a month to find out about tax credits, mortgage arrangements etc - look into possible options now.

Second. Write it all down, as you're doing here. When it's out of your head and on paper, it will stop going round and round repetitively, and you will begin to see more clearly what the next steps are.

alabasterangel Tue 17-Jun-14 19:21:45

No I'm bawling because you're all so kind. And I'm walking (getting 5 to myself ) so I'll reply properly when I'm home. Thank you.

alabasterangel Tue 17-Jun-14 19:21:58

Now, not no!

Jamie1981 Tue 17-Jun-14 19:51:17

That's what i said - it is NOW illegal to ask BEFORE offering a job. However, it is not illegal to ask a former employer AFTER an offer has been made.

wyrdyBird Tue 17-Jun-14 20:02:11

Walking is good!
There is so much going on, yet you are still holding it together. Bravo to you flowers

summerflower Tue 17-Jun-14 20:12:50

For anxiety, which I suffer from for different reasons, the point about breathing is that you need to breathe right into your belly; that is your chest should not move at all. If you are chest breathing, you are more likely to panic, but if you are belly breathing, you can't.

I found that advice helpful when I read it, because I was breathing deeply but into my chest.

joanofarchitrave Tue 17-Jun-14 20:23:01

When you've done everything that wyrdybyrd suggested, I'd add that setting up a nice spreadsheet is a wonderful displacement activity way of feeling more in control of things.

Write all the numbers down, every bill, every cost. Trawl through your online statements so you don't forget things. Make a budget for Christmas and put it in as a monthly cost to put aside. Get onto Turn2us as suggested upthread and add those figures in. Make different worksheets for different options (e.g. a worksheet for each of the 4 different salaries of the 4 jobs he is currently applying for). Work out what 'the gap' is between income and outgoings, and then it's just a number, you will find ways around it. Play around with the numbers and watch the gap go up and down. Start another thread for ideas to help with it.

My family had a breadwinner go bankrupt and we lost our house years ago. Here we still are, doing fine.

Jamie1981 Tue 17-Jun-14 20:27:36

My hubby lost his house as a consequence of a divorce and, despite the fact that he earns good money, we've never managed to get to a point where we can afford to buy again. He tells me that he would happily rent for the rest of his life and that he finds it quite liberating knowing that he could up sticks and move to the other end of the country if he needed to. He says he learnt more from losing everything (he was quite wealthy) than he did from earning it.
I asked him why he might want to up sticks and move to the other end of the country. He said "indigestion". I asked why. He said "because i wouldn't have you cooking for me!". I told him that he might like to start with a short distance move out to the shed :-).

alabasterangel Tue 17-Jun-14 20:57:00

Ok, deep (belly) breath and huge huge thank you. I am seriously a lot less panicked without doing a thing other than getting support from you lot, but let's forge on.....

DD had an evening club and I don't have a huge social circle (away here from family) but someone who is a good friend now suggested we walked and we went for a cheeky wine in the pub while we waited for the DC. She just listened, and told me as you have that what I am feeling is valid, which helped immensely, and that I'm not cracking up and I'm not going to either (I hope). The walk there was 30 mins and same back, and a lovely evening which helped. Its times like that your friends really do mean so much.

So home, and some trawling done. I didn't have a clue that he would get JSA or that I would get tax credits. I think with scraping and belt tightening and me doing some OT then I can just about get the books to balance. This doesn't involve saving for Xmas or running him a car, but this is a very very worse case scenario. The worst of all theoretically may sound like me loosing my job too, but actually, if I did then at least our mortgage would be paid (I have a personal insurance against our mortgage payment, referenced to my job alone) and I would get a decent redundancy payment so could in theory self salary for 6 months, plus again if I got JSA too (can you get it x2?) the even that wouldn't result in destitution. And that's not taking into account that I could do some contracting work if redundant and that can be lucrative (my job is very specialised, but there is a chance I could do that) It would bust our chances of increasing our mortgage if I go self employed, but this is a worst case scenario. The other scenario is that at the end of my extension I do get a permanent job with my employers (so they'd know my sick record anyway, just to clarify!). Now that would have to be full time, but again, I'd be no worse off and I'd have the associated benefits (car for a start).

I need to get savvy with money NOW, everything that is spent, now this minute. I cannot waste time I know. I also need to check his insurance to see if it has one of those lead in periods, which could make a huge difference, and mean we could ignore or add his menial redundancy to the pot divided out as suggested. ( it is statutory, and he is over 40).

I need to get a (gentle) grip. I need to shut these stupid internal voices up.... 'It'll be okay, honestly, breathe' followed by 'shit, DH, DC and you will be on the kerb with a kitten on a string and a small black rain cloud over your heads'. I wish that feeling would sod off, big style. I don't feel self pitying but I think sometimes instead of life making you stronger, the bad stuff sometimes accumulates. I got out of a horrendous marriage, met DH, and there have been a lot of stresses one way or the other for the last decade. We are strong and he is one of life's good guys, but I feel annoyed all the crap is flung outwards inwards if that makes sense. I don't think we deserve this, one bit, and after my rubbish childhood and rubbish first marriage, I desperately crave some boredom and stability. Its flippant to say 'I don't need this shit' but I don't. I think I'm prone to panic, because I've been dealt more than your average amount of strife and I really don't know how much anyone can take before they self implode. DH is just being wonderful, and teaching me in his own attitude that panic will not help. I'm very proud of him.

alabasterangel Tue 17-Jun-14 20:58:32

jamie - you are my hero with your posts. You all are, but Jamie you have helped so much. Thank you.

Jamie1981 Wed 18-Jun-14 13:17:16

Sounds like you've already shut some of those internal voices up, so well done :-).

When i was on the downward slope, i found it very useful to use that turn2us site to give an answer on what the money would like if different scenarios happened. It was that that convinced me to leave my abusive husband (first one, not current one) because i realised i could afford to.

The reality is that there is a safety net and if you have kids that safety net is actually quite soft to land on!

To answer your question about JSA, yes, you very probably will qualify.

There are two types of JSA - contribution based and income based. Although there are qualifying periods (i.e., you must have paid into the system by having a job and paying taxes), from what you've said you would qualify for contribution based. This means an automatic £74 (thereabouts) a week for six months. After that six months, it gets more complicated as your JSA will be considered "income based". They look at your capital (savings) and household income before looking at expenditure and in most cases, if one person is working the other person won't get it.

HOWEVER - you'd still qualify for tax credits, etc. In fact, i did the numbers based on what you've said about your family and if you both lost your jobs and didn't have insurance, then you would get about £1500 a month in direct benefits. The caveat is that this number is the number if you made a claim on the first day of the tax year, and would fluctuate depending on what you've already earned.

But the really good news is that in that worst case scenario you'd also be able to make a claim for SMI (support for mortgage interest). This would pay the interest on your mortgage, up to 3.63% APR (i am told most lenders will accept this even if your APR is normally higher), for up to two years while you get back on your feet. It's important t make this claim as soon as possible though, because it takes 13 weeks to process. To qualify, you'd need to be receiving Income Based JSA or Income Support.

Jamie.

Eelseelseels Wed 18-Jun-14 13:29:16

Sounds like brilliant advice you've had here OP from other posters. One word of advice in case your husband has a pension with his company - if he is on a final salary scheme, think hard before him taking a lower paid job in the same company, as if he has paid a fair bit into the scheme ans is on a good salary at the moment, it could be a long term bad move to change to a lower paid job with the same company. I've known this happen before.

Jamie1981 Wed 18-Jun-14 15:12:48

I should perhaps clarify that when i said "first one, not second one" i was referring solely to husbands, not abusive husbands. My current one is a big softie!

bourgoin Wed 18-Jun-14 16:43:02

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

alabasterangel Wed 18-Jun-14 17:15:35

Thank you again Jamie, so much appreciated. I must be doing something wrong on that site because it tells me the only thing we would get is a council tax discount!!! That cannot be right?! I need to do it again, with a clearer head. I might PM you some figures Jamie, if you can help me make more sense of things.

eels, yes we did discuss that. If he took a lower paid job then it would be a real short term measure to try and get a better job in the same company as the company overall is a good place to work and he wanted to stay there till retirement if at all possible.

One good bit of news, he's got an informal interview for an internal job on Friday. It hasn't been advertised, he was given a tip-off, so he knocked on the door and asked, and had a quick chat with the guy concerned and he said he needs to come back on Friday for a proper discussion. In the meantime a mutual colleague of both has rung the recruiting person and sung my H's praises and has said it was a very positive discussion. It would be a fantastic job, so I can only hope and hope and hope. He's got some prep to do in the meantime..... I daren't get too optimistic.

Eelseelseels Wed 18-Jun-14 18:03:56

Fingers and toes crossed for you both.

matildasquared Wed 18-Jun-14 23:43:06

I can't add to what's been said.

This:
I actually did that thing last night where I woke up and thought 'I've just had a really shit dream that DH has lost his job' then realised it wasn't a dream.
broke my heart. But now look at you!

You two are being so positive and pro-active. And such great advice here. Well done!

I wish you well. I hope you'll come back and give updates!

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