The Year of the Panic Attack: My 2017 Year in Review

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What a year, hey?

When I look back on 2017, I think of all the crazy shit I’ve been through and I’m kind of surprised I made it out alive, honestly. It started off with my husband getting surgery for a severe hernia and my precious three-year-old kitty, Poppy, dying super unexpectedly of cancer. (Not to mention everything our world has been through…) I probably should have had an indication that this year was going to be trying from the get-go. Alas, I made it out alive, and married. So that’s something.

It might sound cliche, but I believe life is an ever flowing yin and yang. It’s never all good or all bad, and learning to ride that wave of in-between is crucial. (Cue: Blink-182’s “Dammit.”) You must withstand the darkness to appreciate the light, and likewise, you must relish the light in order to withstand the darkness.

So, without further ado, here are the top moments of light and of darkness of 2017, for me.


Top Highs (Higher an’ higher, baby…)

  • Marrying my best friend. Need I say more?
  • Going on an epic three-week honeymoon to Ireland, which you can read all about here.
  • Reading all the Patrick Rothfuss books I could get my hands on. This guy’s a genius. He works super hard and he gives me hope for the literary world. Reading a good book, in my humble opinion, should really feel like an escape, and his writing (albeit long-winded…) transported me elsewhere. And that is truly a feat.
  • Finishing my second book. My feminist fantasy trilogy has been in the works since I was 10-years-old and is now currently on submission to literary agents. Finishing the first book in this series, the prequel to the story I have had in my head since childhood, felt really freeing. I am just getting started on my literary path, wherever it may lead, and I am so excited.
  • Applying for my master’s programme in Scotland. One of my goals is to become a literature professor. And another dream of mine is to move to Celtic land. So, master’s programme 2018, here we go. Send good vibes my way.
  • Getting to see friends and family I haven’t seen in a long time. One of the best parts of a wedding, especially *your* wedding, is the chance to have almost all of your loved ones in one place. I will be grateful for the rest of my life to you wonderful humans.
  • Late night impromptu dinner parties with friends. Followed by candlelight, games, scintillating conversation, laughter, and possibly tequila. I love these moments.
  • Millions of little moments that don’t seem significant at the time. I feel like I will look back at my time on this planet, at the end of my life, and it will be a flash of millions of little moments, memories, that don’t seem significant at the time, but mean everything after. Like waking up early in Ireland while my husband sleeps soundly to watch the sunrise at 4 a.m. and the waves crashing against the rocks; or weeping in gratitude and joy in the back of a bar because the music is so soulful and overpowering; or spending countless days in a library I love working on my manuscript; or spending time with my sister, even if it’s just mundane stuff that we do; or creating new nourishing recipes; or taking a walk as the autumn leaves change color and listening to the rushing of the river; or spending time meditating and doing yoga; or raking my grandparents leaves; or seeing my family over the holidays, even though it’s chaotic; or running all over Ann Arbor for one of my best friend’s birthdays. And meeting Paul, my husband’s old friend. Because he is really just worth mentioning. These are simple moments in 2017 that have made an impact on my life, even if in a small way.
  • The annual Mackinac Island trip. I never get sick of visiting this tiny island in Northern Michigan. You can read about my 2017 adventure by clicking here. 
  • The Michigan Renaissance Festival. I love this celebration of nerdy wonder. These are my people. I look forward to Ren Fest every year. And also mead. Lots of mead.

My Lows O’ the Year

I’d like to start this section off with a quote from one of our world’s beloved poets, William Butler Yeats:

“Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.”
― W.B. YeatsThe Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats

  • Husband getting surgery. Not only did his surgery spark a string of insane medical bills, but it was the most pain I have ever seen him in. Hernia surgery is no joke, so if you know somebody who has to have this done, make sure to do your research. Luckily, almost a year later he is on the mend, but it has been a long and painful healing process.
  • Watching people I love going through hard times. Maybe it’s because I’m an Empath, but when people I love go through hard times, it hits me hard. Several people I love have contemplated suicide this year, some even attempted, and others have dealt with crippling depression. My grandpa has also been sick for a while and watching him fade has been eye opening.
    • 2017 has been a hard year for the world in so many ways, and perhaps this is a reflection of that. Remember: just because it appears like everything is OK on the outside for somebody, doesn’t mean it actually is. And a kind word, an open ear, and a hug can go a long way. In other words, be kind to everyone you meet, no matter how *you* are feeling on the inside. Service to Others is perhaps the most important journey we can embark on in this short life. Let’s leave this world a better place than we found it.
  • Losing Popsicle. Watching my cat, the first pet I adopted, die of leukemia was one of the worst experiences I’ve ever been through, and also the first time I had a panic attack. Her death ended up triggering a series of panic attacks that I dealt with all year. Which leads me to my next low…
  • Riding a wave of panic attacks. Luckily, I think I’ve a good handle on them now. But if you’ve ever dealt with the all-impending-doom-feeling of a panic attack, you’ll know they’re horrible. (But they always pass!) The mind is wild, vastly under-explored territory, and for me, usually panic attacks are a product of a way overstimulated brain. A couple of quick tricks I’ve learned to calm me down in the throws of an attack are:
    • hold something cold or drink cold water.
    • get into bed and breathe deeply (9 times in through the nose and out through the mouth is supposed to reset your nervous system).
    • have somebody there with you to rub your face or just to talk to (or call on the phone) and remind you everything is OK and no, you are not actually dying. And even if you were, everything would be OK then, too.
    • listen to relaxing music. Try this. 
    • try to fall asleep if all else fails.
    • go outside and look at the sun/moon/stars —  barefoot for grounding, if you can. Being outdoors is really helpful for me.
    • take preventive measures. Yoga, hiking, meditation, reading good books, being in nature, taking care of my health — these are all things I do to make sure I am releasing negative energy, de-stressing, and keeping my mind in a positive place.

It’s been a pretty crazy year, but looking back, I have experienced so much good and love. And I am so grateful for my health, our earth, this life – however short it may be – and for you, dear reader, because it is beings like you who keep our world turning. Keep fighting the good fight. We are all in this together.

 

Until next time,

xx

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2 comments on “The Year of the Panic Attack: My 2017 Year in Review”

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