GAD/Panic attacks -- careers that will allow me to afford my horse?

I’ll preface by saying that I am working with an MD and a LSW on these issues, but they’ve been life long and I am looking for a way to keep myself going.

I’m currently on fmla/disability leave due to my GAD, and the difference is night and day. My current position is as a trainer for a veterinary software company. This position requires a great deal of travel, and with the current climate of COVID and political discord, even the thought of travel is kicking my anxiety into high gear. My previous work experience is in the veterinary field, as a tech and a practice manager. Those positions are nice, but tend to be too high stress/pressure and I burn out in about a year. I’d love to find a place where I can have a long term position that understands the issues I’m dealing with. While my current company claims to be understanding in those areas (veterinary medicine has a huge push right now to be aware of mental health due to high rates of suicide), my direct supervisor has little to no empathy or sympathy to my disorder and responds by micromanaging my time, which makes the situation worse.

I do talk to my doctor and LSW about these issues, but I thought I’d ask a broader audience. I live in New England, and do not have a college degree. I have been taking some online courses in computer programming to give me some other options, but MAN it’s not an easy concept to wrap your head around!

I wish I had some helpful suggestions to offer you, but all I can offer is sympathy and hope that you find something. I have suffered for 60-odd (very odd!) years from GAD and panic disorder, due to a physical condition (mitral valve prolapse syndrome dysautonomia, which affects my autonomic nervous system) and I have been miserable at jobs I was otherwise qualifed for, just because of the panic and anxiety. Most of my working years I did not know I had it, nor apparently did any doctors, and even after I did I was unable to get on disability.

I would suggest you try to get on permanent disability, but IME that might make it impossible for you to own a horse or even ride/work with horses, due to being “disabled.” Because a lot of people don’t get that there are disabilities that do not make a person unable to be with horses and even benefit from being with them. Most of the people I have known who are on disability don’t seem to have any problem affording anything they want – nice cars, vacations, etc., so maybe you could afford your horse if your doctor and others on your team approve it.

Good luck – it is a hard world out there.

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I have GAD and panic attacks, along with derealization and depersonalization, and visual snow, all of which trigger it. I got a degree as an aerospace engineer and ended up working as a contractor for the army, which has been great through the quarantine stuff since they have just been having us work from home. And my boss is incredibly understanding about my anxiety stuff, they are even looking into me being able to do more from home after we go back to on-site.

That being said, my anxiety was at its best (as in practically nonexistent) when I was doing more physical jobs, like working as a kennel tech at vets that had really nice pet boarding facilities, or working at barns doing lessons, exercising horses, and barn chores. There will always be a bit of stress in any job, but the physical aspect of it, plus interacting with animals, seemed to cancel it out. The pay just typically isn’t that great, which is why I went to engineering.


As far as schooling…what are you good at? I originally was going to do either art or pre-vet, but I always found math to be stupid easy, which is why I looked into engineering eventually. Though there are different kinds that suit different strengths, I’m not great at programming or circuits. Systems engineering is getting to be a more popular choice, if you are decent at math.

Thank you for your feedback, I really appreciate it! The thing I like the most is research. I love to go down the rabbit hole and compile data. I had applied for a recruiting sourcer job prior to the COVID thing, but they decided to put that on hold. The funny thing is I really like people, but I need a supervisor/company that truly understands that I get burned out quickly from too much interaction. I also applied for a position with the Department of Ag for my state working as an environmental analyst. I would love that, but it’s hard to break into that work if you don’t have a BS.

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I love doing research too. When I am doing creative writing I find myself getting sidetracked by research and I love when that happens! :slight_smile:
Library jobs don’t pay a lot unless a person has a couple of degrees, but there might some libraries who need staff members who love research but don’t have degrees. Degrees aren’t really necessary for several library jobs. When I was a library manager I was the only one with a master’s, and I think only one of my staff members had a degree. We all did research for reference work and I think we all enjoyed it. All the degrees in the world won’t help if the person doesn’t really really love research.

I know you posted months ago – I hope you have found a job you love that pays wells enough to support your horse habit. Or disability payments that will.

I have GAD and frequent panic attacks as well.

I recently switched from vet assisting to phlebotomy and the change has been SO good for me. I was so burned out and anxious about going to work. I honestly don’t think I would have survived the last six months at the vet clinic but phlebotomy has been a perfect change for me. It was a easy transfer with my skills as a vet assistant. The pay/benefits are better and the job is loads better for me. I actually enjoy going to work now and don’t dread it.

Just something to think about as a option.


Wow, you sound so much like me. I’m in the process of getting on disability currently for crippling lifelong anxiety. I studied Physics and Philosophy as an undergrad, and burned out in engineering. Then I went into the vet tech world and burned out there. Tried my hand at a masters in Applied Behavioral Analysis, got assaulted at work, and dropped out. Went back to vet tech world, and couldn’t do it because of the anxiety attacks. No meds work for me, or they have dangerous side effects. Cut down to part-time to pursue computer programming, but had a baby. Covid has put me so over the edge that I cannot leave my house. The only job I could ever do is remote work, but I don’t know in what field, and I have not been successful with my searches thus far.

I feel so lost and depressed because I know I am an educated and capable individual. I just cannot handle going into a job. I am afraid I will lose my horse on one income. I wish you the best of luck, I really do.