Janice from Bath Maine

I have always had a love of reading. My first memories of the library were of my father taking me there on Fridays when he went to the bank. I felt so important as I stood at the desk and checked out my books. I read every Nancy Drew book they had along with hundreds of others. I remember going into the adult library one day and being in awe as I tip toed around.

During Junior High School, I volunteered in the school library and in High School, I often used the library as a place study and do research for school assignments.

During my early adult years, I would take my four children to story time and various other programs as well as checking out books for myself, reading for pleasure, but also discovering new recipes in cookbooks and various craft ideas and directions.

In my early thirty’s and living in a rural area, I developed panic/anxiety attacks, which put a stop to my trips to the library. I eventually discovered the Books By Mail program through the Maine State Library. Getting their catalogs in the mail was like winning the lottery. How I looked forward to the mail coming after that. I was constantly ordering books for both myself and my children.

About 5 years ago, I moved back to the city where I grew up. The library was bigger than before and how I wanted to go there again, but due to my panic attacks I was unable to leave my house alone and had no one to go with me.

With all the reading I have done on panic attacks, I realized that my fears were being created in my own mind and that somehow I had to occupy my mind when I went out so that I would not be thinking about what might go wrong.

One day I hit on the idea of books on tape and started pricing them on the internet, finding they were rather expensive. I found a used one on an internet site. When it came I listened to it a little at home, then put it into my headset and went out for a walk. It worked! The story I was listening to kept me from my “what if” thinking.

My next thing was to drive alone. I put the tape in the car tape deck and drove around the block a few times. I felt so wonderful and free to be driving out by myself. I hated to come back home because of my new found freedom and wanting to know what was going to happen next in the story I was listening to.

I was fast going through the book tapes that I had purchased. I went to my library’s website and found they had a very large selection. This was my answer, I just had to get myself there. By listening to my tape, I drove myself there. It was only a half mile away, but at that point, a half a mile was a big accomplishment. My first trip was quick.  I was scared to death, got what I was after, got myself back in the car and home again, but now I had more tapes and could continue with my evening rides. Eventually these trips turned into quick trips into a store and eventually getting my groceries alone for the first time in 18 years, and of course more trips to explore the library. Each time I went, I got more books on tape and regular books, too.

I still have my panic attacks, and this has not been a cure, but it is a big step for me to be able to have the freedom to leave my house alone. It is all because of the library that I am able to get these tapes that have helped me so much.

The library has always been a big part of my life - since I was a child and now forty years later, it has given a part of my life back to me.