2017 barreled into me with a vengeance. If you had told me this time last year everything that would happen, I probably would have spent the year hidden under the covers.

My work stress and unhappiness outgrew my fear of unemployment and lack of income, and I quit my job. Of course, the universe then thought it would be funny to throw the rest of the year at me so I could really hone in on that money anxiety.

My personal stress also outgrew my body’s ability to handle it and I ended up in the ER for a panic attack. That was a fun bill.

And then the panic attacks continued so now I have what I like to call my crazy pills.

We also adopted a new puppy with medical issues, and I basically didn’t sleep for the month of October while we tried to figure out why he had diarrhea every two hours. New puppy plus vet visits every week made for more wonderful money stress.

Between the panic attacks, the anxiety dreams, and the nonstop dog potty outings, my writing (my purpose for quitting my job) took a hit. As in, I didn’t write for a month. And I beat myself up about it every day even as I was too exhausted to do anything more mentally draining than laundry.

I had my first ever car accident, which totaled the car I’d been relying on as a constant through my unemployment, and I faced the prospect of trying to buy another car.

You would think, since my boyfriend has two cars, we would have been able to manage. But a week after my car was put down, he also got in a car accident. So for the week it was in the shop, we were down to one car. And then the remaining car started acting up. So the anxiety of being car-less propelled me to deal with the awfulness that is car buying.

I feel like all of this made for a pretty awful year for me. When I think about it like that.

And yet.

I quit a job that I had grown to loathe. On my last day, I felt such a weight lifted off of my shoulders. I had never been able to do anything like that before. I had always just endured things. But this really felt like the first time I was making a difference in my own life.

I realized my anxiety wasn’t something that I could just wave off as a daily nuisance. That it was taking a physical toll on my health (ask my dentist-she could tell from one look in my mouth that I’d been both grinding my teeth and dealing with stomach acid). Going to the ER made me realize I needed to take control. And it’s still a work in progress, but I don’t want anxiety ruling my every day of my life.

I’ve always had a fear of taking pills, especially for mental issues. Like it was admitting weakness, or that it would change me. But not having every waking minute and every dream laden with little anxieties is a strange novelty that I never thought was possible.

Oh, Gambit. The first week we had him, I wanted to take him back. And now I don’t know how I would live without him. Through all the vet visits and late night vomit sessions, he’s never lost his sweetness. I need that sweetness in my life. Even as I’m writing this, his head is in my lap, keeping me warm against the cold.

The car accident did suck. I didn’t even see it coming, stopped at a light and hit so hard from behind that my car was squished between two others. It sent me into an immediate panic attack and I was still hyperventilating as the cops were trying to see if I was OK. But I was OK. Aside from a little whiplash, I was fine. Nobody got hurt.

And car buying, as draining and patience-testing as it was, turned out to be pretty fortunate. I’m actually saving money on my monthly payments, even with a newer car. Take that, money anxiety!

With the dog, the car, and the panic attacks (mostly) settled, I’ve refocused my energy on a novel that’s been begging for an edit since I finished the first draft a few years ago. It was so far from where I envisioned the final product that I used to think it was going to die a slow death on my hard drive. And yet, going through piece by piece, I’m really starting to see how I can make it the story I wanted it to be when I first started writing it. That, coupled with my first short story published in print (!!) and starting this very sporadic blog, has made me think that maybe, just maybe, this writing thing is for me.

Last but certainly not least, the love of my life and now-fiancé has stood by my side through all of my crazy and he hasn’t run for the hills yet. I couldn’t have survived the changes this year has brought without him. Love you, J.

So maybe it’s the pills talking, but it’s getting easier to see the silver lining of things. I’m going to try and continue that into 2018. Whatever it may bring.