This morning I was self-soothing down from a panic attack and I used all of my tools (positive self-talk, swaying, balancing, conscious breaths, putting my legs up the wall, environment awareness). I’m my own best expert when it comes to my body and panic attacks, and as I gain experience I feel more and more mental control over my state when I have my symptoms, even if my body continues to have its episode.
It got me thinking about Solas and how he calms the Inquisitor and Cole, saying all the right things when they panic. He recites a practically perfect script for soothing symptoms. How does he know what to say? Is he just a kind man, an empathetic person who has a sense for the right words? Or it might be that he came to know many ex-slaves who experienced panic attacks, and sought knowledge of how to best respond.
Then it made me sad to remember that Solas’s expertise might have been earned through personal experience.
Fen’Harel is said to have spent centuries in a far corner of the earth after his great deception, hugging himself and giggling madly in glee.
It’s only a legend. But I’m thinking about Solas after he’s trapped the gods away and he’s still mourning Mythal’s death. A wandering dreamer comes across him in the Fade. Solas is hugging himself, rocking back and forth, making gasping, choked noises.
The Dread Wolf is laughing over his victory, spreads the legend.
Solas feels like his lungs are collapsing. His eyes hurt so much, he doesn’t know how long it’s been since he was able to move his arms from their rigid grip but his hands are aching and stiff. He stopped thinking a long time ago, but his thoughts before his mind blacked out were all vicious and scared, and those sensations of self-loathing linger; he wonders if this is the end, and wonders if that is for the best. But it never is. And he hates how he has time to recover between the waves. He thinks in these moments when his mind is clear: are you trying to prove something with this pathetic display? Then the next wave hits, and he can’t control the way his legs kick out or how his heart feels like exploding.
I feel like he slowly realizes that these episodes are a product of an instinctive defense of his body and mind. One which hurts more than helps, and one which can be approached, observed, and soothed. The immortal scholar labors over centuries to do just that. He becomes his own best expert. And then when he wakes, and when his friends can’t breathe, he does his best to help them manage, and help them heal.