Here are a few facts that everyone knows:
• Bees will only sting you if provoked and they die from stinging, meaning they wouldn’t usually do it
• Wasps won’t sting you unless angry
• They’re more scared of you than you are of them
• They aren’t actually concentrated on you – either they’re finding a way out or just flying around
• English flies are harmless. They can’t hurt you. Seriously.
Now, I know all this: when I’m away from something that buzzes, I’m totally fine. I list all the reasons why I shouldn’t be scared. When I hear one? I completely, completely freak out.
I’m asked a lot why I have such an extreme reaction to anything – literally anything – that makes a buzzing sound. My token response – “I’m blind so can’t see where they are or what they are, meaning it could be a wasp and I wouldn’t realise – works in most cases. However, even when I know it’s a fly or a bee that wouldn’t harm me, I have the exact same reaction. I can’t ignore it; everything in me becomes focused on where it might be, listening out for it and avoiding it.
To illustrate this, a situation happened to me today which brought my fear into sharp focus. I was home alone – my sister and dad went to an art gallery which is pretty much useless to me. I had just finished my lunch when I heard the horribly familiar buzz of something – wasp, bee or fly I still don’t know.
After that, I had one of the worst freakouts I’ve had in a while. Some of it was documented on my Twitter but what happened was that for half an hour – perhaps more – I sat in the same seat, shaking so hard and frantically messaging anyone, just to try and keep my mind under control.
I kept on hearing it. It flew into the kitchen, flew around me once and went towards the window. It quietened for a bit – it just stopped – and every time that happened, I stayed stock still because I knew it was still there. After a few minutes it’d start up again, faintly in the living room but soon coming back into the room I was in. Every time I heard it, I would sob “No please!” and gasping – honestly crying out of terror and not even logical terror. At one point, I thought there were two of them; I was unable to do anything. I called my mum, telling her I was bored and wanted to go to hers, trying to minimise my shaking whilst on the phone.
Now I’m out of the situation, it seems strange to me how terrified I truly was. That is until I remember that all the windows were closed and all the doors to the rooms in my house were open. That meant that the insect couldn’t escape but it was able to fly anywhere; i would have no idea where it was. Because of that, I was so scared that I didn’t want to move and then couldn’t. I couldn’t bypass the fear – what if it appeared whilst I was walking? What if it was just inside the other room and I would be faced with it? What if it was right behind my head and when I moved, it’d continue buzzing?
I managed to run upstairs – I spoke to my dad, barely able to stop myself from shrieking when I heard the thing again. When I got into my room and was alone, having slammed the door, I sat there crying in shock for about 10 minutes because I hardly ever react that badly.
I suppose it was because I was alone. Whenever I’m around people, it’s not so bad; I can just talk to them loudly and try to ignore the buzzing. I don’t want to go out into the garden in the daytime just in case – especially if I wanted to do work out there. When I’m in the park, I’m never alone and the insects don’t bother me because if I hear them, I can run as grass and paths are stretched out before me. It’s avoidance tactics at its best.
Luckily, I know it can’t be a diagnosable phobia: I only display a small percentage of symptoms. One key thing is that when I’m away from them, I’m not terrified because if I hear a bee on TV and am assured it’s not in the house with me, I calm down completely and can carry on as usual. It doesn’t affect the entirety of my life or intrerupt everything I do. However, it’s horrible.
My main problem is that people don’t understand. I’m aware that my fear is illogical but if you put me in the same room as an insect which buzzes and leave me, I’ll scream up a storm and would probably resort to tearing at the walls if I felt like I couldn’t get out. People say that they’re harmless and I know that but that knowledge doesn’t transfer into the situation when I’m in it. There’s only one person I’ve found who fully understands this and that’s All the Jazz who has honestly been a lifesaver to me today. Just no know that there’s someone who gets it and doesn’t think I’m either being pathetic or stupid for crying my eyes out because of a fucking tiny thing with wings is such a comfort.
Apart from forcing myself to be around bees or anything that buzzes, there’s not much I can do about my… Rather extreme reaction. It never used to be like this when I was a child – or I don’t remember it being – but nothing traumatic happened involving insects for me so I have no idea why it’s such a huge thing. Maybe it was because I spent so long avoiding them because of the little fear that it’s now grown into something almost unmanageable.
You’re not an idiot for being scared of something. Only you can tell yourself that your fear is illogical or not because only you can describe and experience your personal “brand” of it. To other people, it might not make sense but to you, the heart-pounding, tear-inducing fright makes all the sense in the world.
From Elm 🙂