Bees (or, What Anxiety Feels Like in My Body)

On Easter Sunday we went for a hike in the hills beyond the end of our neighborhood. The boys went off looking for snakes, per usual, and texted us to stop at a turnout. After a quick photo shoot of our dogs amidst the wildflowers, we waited.

As I surveyed the surrounding green hills (big picture) and the lizard doing push ups on a log near my feet (close up), I noticed right in front of me a bee unlike any I’d seen before. Fuzzy, soft latte brown, it buzzed at me, zig-zagging near my abdomen. Then I saw another, and another, until suddenly I noticed they covered a nearby bush; I wondered how I hadn’t heard the buzzing.

Bees sense fear, so I consciously took deep, even breaths and watched it. I asked it nicely to please fly away and not sting me. Slowly, I took a step backwards. It flew off.

All during shelter-in-place, I’ve felt the persistent buzz of anxiety. Like too much coffee, which I haven’t had since C21 has discovered that he also likes coffee and so the pot is almost always empty by the time I reach for a second cup.

I don’t typically have anxiety. This is new for me.

I didn’t notice the actual bees in front of me because for weeks I’ve been annoyed by, denying, avoiding, or trying to manage the buzzing inside me. Sometimes the anxiety feels like background noise, the hum of one bee, or a few. Other days, I feel shaky, unable to take deep breaths and step back. The bees swarm in and around me.

I know these are just feelings. Like clouds moving across the sky, my feelings are not the sky. The anxiety will blow over and I will still be here. The bees can’t hurt me, but they sure can rattle me.

I have tried all the things: writing and exercise. Talking with loved ones and with God. I drink lots of water, make healthy meals, try to reign in the detritus of everyone home all the time. I’ve drastically limited social/media media exposure. I crawl in bed at a reasonable time with a book. I try to sleep.

Generally, I feel better in the mornings, a fresh start. And over time, now eight weeks into shelter-in-place, living with bees has become increasingly ‘normal.’ Always on the lookout for gratitude maybe–somehow, eventually–I’ll even learn to make honey.


Cover image by shell_ghostcage from Pixabay

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