(If you missed the first half of this story, click here first.)

So, there I was: holding my cell phone and sitting in the driver’s seat of my car on a small side road in the woods with no reception.



I was shaking like a leaf and I barely had any control over my limbs. What should I do next? I tried to think, but only one thought kept breaking through into my consciousness: you are going to die. You are going to die. You are going to die.

First, because of how lightheaded I felt, I instinctively tugged at the lever that reclines the driver’s seat. Wouldn’t laying back — and thus increasing bloodflow to the head — prevent me from passing out? Yeah, that sounded good. It sounded like a good idea…

…for about three seconds, that is. It sounded like a good idea until the very fact that I was lying down in my car made me all the more aware that I was having a terrible panic attack. It’s superstition, I guess: My panic resume boasts some real doozies, many of which involve either driving or being a passenger in a car — and for the worst of those attacks, I laid back in the seat to keep that light-headed feeling at bay.

The very fact that I was reclining reminded me of other panic attacks, which, in turn, made my panic worse.

I suddenly became afraid of the car seat. I grabbed the door handle and fumbled my way out of the car, dizzy.


Was getting out of my car a good idea? Not really. Leaving the car didn’t stop my heart from racing, and of course it didn’t do anything good for the wooziness. And, because it was raining, all I got was wet.

Back in the car. Back to laying down.

Back to realizing that laying down in my car freaks me out.

Again, I stumbled out of the car. Rinse and repeat about five times over, all the while clutching my cell phone and desperately trying to get a signal.

My fingers shook as I composed a few misspelled texts to my husband, hoping that they’d all go through at the same time if my phone received even a brief blip of a signal:

  • “Ism going to die”
  • “I can’t did his”
  • “Violent shaking”
  • “Are you getting these messahes”
  • “Pleae”
  • “Tell me”
  • “My heart is racong so hard”
  • “I can’t think”

Terrified that I didn’t have a signal, I (almost involuntarily) started my car — and, with the seat still reclined, somehow — pulled back into the main road in a desperate attempt to return to the state park parking lot where I’d last had a signal.

Note to self: when your limbs are shaking uncontrollably, the gas pedal is a nightmare to control.


My car heaved in fits and starts, thanks to my spasmodic right foot, but I didn’t make it far before I started to feel very cold and prickly. About ten yards down the road from where I’d been, I turned into what appeared to be a very long driveway, shut the car off, opened the door, and leaned my head down to my knees to bring more blood to my head.

I pulled out my cell phone again. Any service here?


Now, I had two big problems with my location: not only was I still without cell service, but now, I was nowhere near any houses. I’m pretty sure I audibly yelled the F-word here, and with good reason: I felt completely and utterly screwed. (If an agoraphobe falls in the woods, and there’s no one around to hear her, does she still make a sound?)

I hopped back into the car, hyperventilating to the nth degree, turned my car around and drove the ten yards back to Schoolhouse Road. The road and the trees and the sky all looked light and cartoon-y. I knew this wasn’t a good sign.

(Check back tomorrow, again, for the rest of the story. To those who might be yelling at the screen and telling me to stop writing cliffhangers: I’m sorry. Writing about this stuff is exhausting. I can only write so much at a time, and then I run out of spoons.)

Photo: David Becher


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