You might remember that I’ve shared some of my experiences with anxiety and phobias (here and here, for example). Although I’m not generally a fan of self-help books (which I rarely find helpful), I’ve had this one taking up shelf space for a while and thought it was time to give it a go. Maybe it’ll help (or maybe I’ll end up wishing I’d read a good novel instead).
Speaking of good novels…
(See what I did there?)
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I have melissophobia– the fear of bees. I’ve suffered this intense fear since I was 3 or 4 years old, when a bumblebee chased me and wouldn’t leave me alone (eventually my sister told me to stand still, which I did, and the bee flew away, but the damage was done). If I see a bee now I keep my distance. If it’s flying near me I instinctively freeze in terror. If I can get inside I’ll walk as fast as I can without “provoking” it, all the while too afraid to look back to see if it’s following. If one gets in the house, I’ll hide in the farthest room with a door and wait until someone can come take care of it. The first time I realized I was having a panic attack was when I heard buzzing in the living room curtains (it turned out to be a fly). Basically, I react to bees the way other people react to axe murderers. My logical mind loves bees: they pollinate flowers; make delicious honey; and are symbols of orderliness, productivity, and a peaceful garden. But phobias aren’t logical, and on a deeper, baser, level within me, bees are the incarnation of danger and chaos. Even looking at the photo at the top of my post makes my stomach twist with anxiety.
Last night I had a nightmare about bees that wasn’t about bees at all.
It started when one of my cousins pointed out a swarm of bees in a tree. I knew we had to get out of there, so I started running. But my SO said we should find somewhere quiet to hide and let them pass us by. When I saw bees overtaking me as I ran, I knew he was right. I tried hiding.
The next thing I knew, my scalp was crawling (in the dream I could actually feel the physical sensations) and I heard buzzing. I asked my SO if they were on me and he said he would go get help. While I waited for what seemed like ages I tried to think of a way to get them off me. I kept moving near flowers, hoping they’d prefer the blossoms to me. But nothing I did helped, and they started moving down. They clustered around my eyes, ears, and mouth. They crawled down my neck and settled on my chest.
Suddenly my mom was there, smiling. My mom died 9 years ago, but has been visiting my dreams lately. She saw I was in distress (and I really was, having been crawling with bees in the dream for what seemed like hours) and took charge. Suddenly people were there trying to help. I woke up before the bees were removed, but the dream ended on a hopeful note, and I was confident the situation would get resolved.
I was covered in bees, but this was a dream about my anxieties over coronavirus (COVID-19).
The swarm of bees represents the virus: a massive danger off to the side that I didn’t immediately notice and then couldn’t get away from. Trying to hide from the bees is my self isolation (I have an underlying condition, so I need to avoid people as much as possible right now). Every time I hear the word “coronavirus” I’m reminded that corona means crown, so of course the bees started in my hair. Then they moved to my face, which is the area we’re constantly warned not to touch. From there to my chest, the part of the body the virus attacks. I hope the appearance of my mom means I’m being watched over. The hopeful note at the end gives me a little hope in real life too.
These are scary times. Nightmares are coming to life and threatening us all. But there’s still hope. Sometimes you can’t avoid being stung, but staying calm will help you get through it. And if you’re lucky, there’s still flowers and honey in the end.
Because so many people are stuck at home right now I’ve decided to make the ebook of Love Lies Bleeding free for the next few weeks. Books can help us get through the worst situations, and hopefully my books can help you.
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