Retirement: Having anxiety attacks!

by Kathy
(Chicago, Illinois)

I have been retired from the Chicago Public Schools since this past June. Well, really for the past month as I would have been off for the summer anyway. I worked there for 20 years as a school psychologist.

Over the past few weeks I have had a few anxiety attacks: Pounding heart, hyperventilation, choking sensation in the throat, dizziness, and nausea. I had similar attacks 40 years ago after the birth of my first child.

Never thought this would happen as I longed for this time to come.

I am trying to "float" through the attacks and go on with life as that is what cured them before. Must admit it is not pleasant!

Anyone else out there experience anything like this at retirement?

Comments for Retirement: Having anxiety attacks!

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by: Phasing out

I share your pain. It is comforting but also regrettable that we share these feelings.

I experienced very bad pains attacks and insomnia a few years ago.

I was able to get it under control with counseling and prescriptions medications. I transitioned from this after a few months with excercise, meditation (Headspace), healthier foods, less caffeine and alcohol, and more socialization outside of work.

Since phasing into retirement, I have had episodes of anxiety that I can almost get under control. I know that it is related to the unknowns of retirement, what I will do with my time and my life, how will I now define myself, what is my purpose and meaning.

I think this is a 20th century creation.

Glad I'm not alone!
by: Anonymous

Going through this NOW! I am retiring from a library position (20 yrs.) Instead of feeling the relief and joy I expected, I am a bundle of nerves!

Can't sleep or relax. I know it's "time" on all levels. I didn't enjoy my job and have been waiting for this moment to come. Would have done it sooner if I could.

I have a nice little part time at-home job lined up, plus I am a professional musician and I can finally sleep in after a gig...BUT! I find myself worrying about it all and wondering if I'll be bored or worse...have REGRETS! (Except I know that's silly!)

So glad I'm not alone! Knowing this does help!

The new you!!!!!
by: Sassy

Hi Kathy,

You are feeling very normal transition feelings. Soon these feelings will fade.

I also had restlessness, anxiety, when I quit working full time in the healthcare field.

Give yourself time to adjust to your new life.
Enjoy the moment, try new things, rest.

Soon you will be smiling and feeling yourself again, I promise!!!

Pre retirement stress
by: gary

I am suppose to retire in seven weeks. I will be turning 62.

Wendy: Gary, I moved your comment to it's own page so that retirees can write back to you!

Contentment before you know it
by: Anonymous

Hi Kathy

Being anxious at first is a very common feeling.

I would have an overwhelming feeling when I stopped working- that I had to plan my entire non-working life.

It took me awhile to realize to enjoy the moment, relax and not put that kind of stress on myself. Remember, we have dealt with many different situations, people, in our careers, mutitasked and adapted to changing responsibilities at work. We have many coping skills.

This is a big change in our lives and I can assure you it gets much easier and it is actually

Give yourself some time, before you know it you will find a calm and enjoy your new found freedom


I am also retired from CPS and was so glad to get out. I keep thinking that when I get depressed. I do miss the kids. Currently I am volunteering with my dog in schools, taking art classes, and doing yoga.. but somehow I just don't feel relaxed or fufilled.. Ive even looked for other jobs. Will call my dr. tommorrow and see what he suggests.

by: Jim

I guess we all experience this. In a way, it's good news. I thought there was something wrong with me. I am surprised to find so many people who are experiencing the same symptoms as me!

Are you feeling any better? I find that talking with others helps. I look forward to meeting people. That's why I'm here.

I'm engaged, my fiancée lives with me, but one person can't continually solve my problems. I just hope and pray that this thing will run its course.

I just want to be "normal!" (And get a good night's sleep!)

Pre-retirement jitters
by: Anonymous

I'm in my final year of teaching . . . have been at it for many years, but had to move from state to state with my husband, so my career took second place to his.

He died 20 years ago . . I have been teaching full time since then, and I'll FINALLY be able to retire 3 months shy of my 66th birthday this June.

Teaching is an absolute zoo these days. Stress is very high owing to student discipline issues, having no pay raises in 5 years, more and more duties and responsibilities added, etc.

You'd think I'd be over the moon to be able to retire!

On top of everything else, the governor of my state is considering offering incentives to lure seasoned teachers into retirement. If it's a monetary incentive, I'll be in great shape financially.

So what's my issue? I never had children; consequently, I have no grandchildren and no extended family (they're all deceased).

I myself have no siblings.

Whew! I'll be TOTALLY on my own at 66 and I'm wondering how in heck I'll fill my days.

I'm sure that I'll settle down once I see my first retirement check and Social Security survivor's check and know I can pay my bills.

However, I've worked ALL MY LIFE, and I cannot envision actually having time to relax, to take a real vacation, to indulge in hobbies.

I'm a true Boomer who was taught (and expected) to work hard for everything.

Geezzzz . . . I'm 8 months away from retirement and already jittery about it.

Nope, I won't substitute teach . . . have had enough of bad-mannered teens.

Maybe I'll do volunteer work . . . or work part time somewhere.

I could read all day, catch up on hobbies, putter around in the house . . . . but I want to move back to my home state and begin again.

Perhaps if I can sell my house, I can manage to do that.

Despite my nervousness, I'm not frozen in place. I have a plan (of sorts), but getting to it from here seems like a very long road to walk.

Wish me luck!

by: Kathy

Thank you, Joe and Sue for your support! I am taking it one day at a time. I KNOW things will get better!

Anxiety Attacks
by: Joe W.

Kathy, Welcome! I think that stress and anxiety attacks is different for different people. I had an anxiety attack at 45 years old when I was downsized from my permanent contract job. Getting turfed out put a lot of pressure on me. I was forced to think about early retirement before I was ready.

In your case having a baby and/or being a new retiree are good reasons for those anxiety attacks.

I also had hypertension until I started my formal retirement life at the age of 65. I also think that it is valuable for all pre-retires to figure out what they are going to do with all that free time. Myself, I found out that my Seniorpreneur Project was suitable for Lifelong Learning and this also game me an opportunity to help other Seniors 50 Plus.

Joe W.

by: Sue

So sorry to hear that you're going through anxiety at this time in your life. I was laid off my job over a year ago and have experienced anxiety and depression on a grand scale.

I did consult with my doctor and am not on an anti-depressant and feel so much better and in control of my life.

People our age were never taught to relax! We were taught to work hard, keep going, and give to others. Now, at this time in our life, we need to learn to relax and after 1.5 years, I'm finally learning this lesson and loving retirement.

So, hang in there, Kathy, and enjoy the time that you have. Time to sleep...time to relax...time to enjoy life to its fullness.

Take your time and don't get WILL get much better.

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