A field in Wales is a dreadful place to have a panic attack.
Especially when you’re camping in a silent, almost deserted campsite.
Oh, I was safe, utterly so – within a few yards of a farmhouse at all times, and never more than a mile and a half away from a village or town – but it was off season, wo we only had two other tents on the field… which eventually became JUST us. And it turns out there are downsides to a good imagination, in that my mind combined it’s horror obsession with animal instincts… and voila. Panic attack. I had to make my husband take me to the toilet.
Fortunately, I had books.
Books have always helped me when my panic attacks hit. After the first two, back when I was fifteen, I learned I wasn’t going to die, and I developed the ability to exist and go about my daily life with my heart hammering in my chest and my skin prickling with fear. Reading helped.
I’ve always been able to just disappear into a book, completely lose track of the world around me while immersed in the story. I found that reading a particularly beloved book while a panic attack was ongoing was enough to make me forget what was happening, and if I was lucky I’d be reading long enough for the worst of the symptoms to pass.
I didn’t have that luxury in Wales. We were in a tent, it was dark, I couldn’t just get up, go to another room and read for an hour or two. But I’d taken one of those books that worked on my panic attacks like that, and I was able to remember enough of it, th story, the writing, to calm myself down enough to get back to sleep.
I remained anxious for the rest of the holiday, but a selection of slightly trashy murder mysteries to read in the tent before bed and a long time walking up and down hills and looking at waterfalls, castles and caves kept me calm enough to ignore it.