My “Fear” of Buzzing Insects

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 🙂

Putting You in My Shoes

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” – Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I was going to write a post, explaining a situation that happened recently, but then I realised my words weren’t enough. I could tell you the events in detail, how I felt and what I think, but that’s just my word. I’ve already been through it with a few people, and so I’m too exhausted to explain exactly what happened – not least because I’m paranoid it’ll upset someone. Instead, I want to show you.

Whilst you’re reading this, I want you to really try and imagine the feelings. Step into the situation for a second, because it’s the only way that both you and I can understand it.

You came into the, what is to you, huge room with friends. They’re gone now. You don’t know where, but all you know is they’re gone, and it takes you a second to register that.

Oh, you don’t panic first of all. They’ve just lost you for a second – they thought you’d follow them, that you’d hear their voices and come over to them because you’re good at that, right? You didn’t, because it’s so loud. It’s so, so loud. They’ll come back – it’s just momentary – and anyway, someone will find you. Won’t they? You’re not here on your own; there are people, there are.

There’s the light from the window, and the break in between two windows. You can see that, and look – there’s the space where the benches aren’t. Are those shapes tables or people? There’s an open space in front of you, in between what must be benches, and to your left are some indistinct shapes. They must be people, but they’re not the right ones, because they’ve been standing there too long and they don’t speak to you but would they speak to you anyway? Maybe they are your friends, or maybe they aren’t, and you can’t ask them because you don’t know who they are.

It’s okay. You can just listen, listen – listen! If you listen hard enough, you can hear your friends. Are those them? You don’t know at all, and you’re disorientated now, because they could be anywhere. You can’t move, because you might bump into someone who doesn’t know you, and you can’t do that. They think you’re weird, and it’s embarrassing because you can’t do this. You need to grow up – you need to!

You’re taking deep breaths now, to try and calm yourself down – but there’s nothing to panic about! It’s fine; you’ll find them. But oh god, you’re going to be standing here until the end of break, and you’re alone too. You’re alone, and no one is here; they can’t see you. Their eyes aren’t pointing in your direction, and you can’t get their attention because you don’t know where they are. You can’t ask someone random to help, because you don’t have a clue who’s there, and you can’t be a burden on anyone. You’re going to be here, standing, until the bell rings and then what? How will you get out? How can you if the room’s so expansive?

You feel like you’re about to be sick, but it feels almost muted. You’re boiling, shaking, breaths getting shallower and shallower. Maybe if you cause a scene, someone will notice? They’ll find you? But no! If that happens, you’ll look pathetic, they’ll feel guilty when it’s not their fault and everybody will think of you as the helpless blind child. You can’t but you’re also finding it difficult to breathe. Are you doing this on purpose?

You’re turning your head now, because your eyes could be caught by one of your friends. You don’t even know why you’re doing it, because you can’t see and you’ll never see, but you can’t think straight either. Where are they? Where are you? You don’t know any more, and the voices around you are swelling; you don’t know what they’re saying. You have to be putting this on because you weren’t panicking earlier. You were fine! You need to be fine, think, think, think think think!

You are terrified. You are so scared, because they could be anywhere; they could even be right next to you but you’re too paralysed with worry to notice if they are. They don’t understand, but it’s not their fault because they can’t. You’re on your own, the only blind one in the school that feels this way. Alone, and it’s all you can think about, and you’re almost crying because there’s no one here and you feel like a child again. You remember primary school, where sometimes you were just there on the bench and no one else was, when your best friend wasn’t there because she was busy.

Someone’s come up to you, asking if you’re okay. Who are they? Their voice isn’t that familiar, but maybe it’s one of the new people, or maybe it’s someone you’ve never spoken to before. They noticed, but no no no, they want to help you find your friends. How can you let them do that? It would be mortifying, presented to them like a package, and you can’t. You say you’re fine, but your heart’s thumping, and you ask to get out out out. They know how to guide you, as you clutch their arm and gasp – are people looking? Do they want to help you? They must feel so awkward! God, you’re so scared, and where are you?

You found a friend, but you wanted to get out. Your vision feels like it’s blurring, and you absolutely can’t catch your breath. You’re out of the room now, crashing into a door – shit, where are you? You walk, and there are people, but they’re not the right people because the “right” people are together and laughing and seeing and not crying, because they can walk into a big room and go across it to anyone they like. You can’t.

A teacher finds you, someone that’s quite high up in the school, and your tears run faster because you don’t want this. You can’t make a scene, because people will say you’re blowing things out of proportion. You’re still afraid, saying you’re okay to him whilst tears splash down your face. When he leaves, you turn to the wall and sob and sob and sob, fingers pushing at the bricks, hunched over like a wounded animal because you’re alone, alone, alone.

When they find you, you tell one of the teachers that knows you the best what happened. All throughout, you can’t speak because you’re crying too hard, humiliated and miserable because you’re doing what you promised you wouldn’t. You’re telling people how you feel, and people that might tell your parents, and people that will think it’s bigger than it is. But you feel isolated and you can’t take it any more, no matter how pathetic it makes you feel.

Even for that, you’re petrified. You don’t want this any more. You avoid people, shaking, tears sliding down your cheeks when you remember just how fucking lonely you feel.

Your eyes hurt now. They’re widened, blinking sometimes more than usual, and it hurts. It shouldn’t be like this, at the age you are. Will it happen again?

You’re scared. You’re so, so scared, but you can’t do anything. It would be a little thing to anyone else, but you feel cold when you think about the icy fear you felt, and the sheer horror of feeling like an object, or like the anxious 11-year-old you once were, when you were shoved into an unfamiliar surrounding with people you’d never ever met before in your life, and just expected – expected to be okay. To be normal.

That’s just a little of what I’ve felt. I’m not trying to make you feel upset: rather, as I would want people to do to me, I’ve tried to let you understand something different: a little of what it’s like for one person who can’t see much, who’s put into a situation where they feel helpless, but where they’re too scared to do anything about it.

From Elm 🙂

I Should have Known This Would Happen

Right. I’ve had it up to here with my bullshit.

When I started to feel bad at the beginning of the week, I should have suspected that things would go downhill, and so should have prepared for the fallout of my thoughts. In the time when I was more okay, I should have done more work, in preparation for the time when I just couldn’t. That time has come, I haven’t done enough, and I’ve realised that this could easily have been prevented. Or… Could it?

Today, I had horrendous stomach pains, and was so physically and mentally exhausted that when I woke up, I felt hopeless and awful and like I couldn’t face the day. So, I took the day off school, exaggerating my stomach ache and downplaying my mental exhaustion because I was just too tired to explain it. I felt – and feel – ashamed, and angry at myself, as if I’d given up – which of course I haven’t, but it felt like at the first sign of weakness, I’d just… Stopped.

When I woke up again after four hours of sleep, in the weird darkness of my room that felt wrong because it was so late, I felt… Okay. Still not good, but more okay, not as if I was about to break into pieces like I had this morning.

I took time for myself, relaxing as best as I could, trying desperately not to panic or hate myself to a large degree. After taking care of my skin a little, eating and listening to music, I did some work. Not enough, but it was a little victory.

I got lost in the reading of Jane Eyre, where words just flowed over me. They were beautiful, and when I read, I go into a quiet space where only the descriptions and I exist. Though I didn’t read much more of Othello, I looked over my notes on it, remembering about all the characters. I don’t even want to think about the disaster that is my notes for The Great Gatsby, which I wrote last term in my phase which I like to call “Elm Wreckage 2.0.”

That, unfortunately, was it. I emailed my history teacher to sort out the work, cried a bit when I thought about my French essay, and shed some further tears on the fact that I felt I was useless. It feels like a never-ending spiral, and if I tried hard enough, I could just get out of it. I could do more work, could get the motivation – because I’m doing less than is even required by the class teacher.

It sickens me that it’s taken me this long to even start to smash myself back together. This has nothing to do with the state of my love life, or anything to that effect: this is just me, all me, and my mental health which is becoming unchecked and wild. However, I think I’m blowing this up in my head to be worse than it is, as I tend to do; if I just TRIED, I could do this.

I don’t try enough. I become overwhelmed, get distracted, and then do nothing. It breaks me when I remember that I can’t help the girl I’m mentoring tomorrow, because I won’t be there as I have an annual review about my statement (disability thing) and she, someone who needs me and wants me to help her, is one of the people who holds it all together in her own little way. I need to do something, to get help or to figure out my thoughts before they run away with me.

It starts tomorrow. I don’t give a shit if I feel crap tomorrow: this has gone on long enough. Healing starts with me, and it’ll only start if I truly want to get entirely better. I’ve been languidly floating along until now, shoved along by a vague purpose, but that purpose snapped and broke and so I have aro create a new one.

Though it upsets me that I’ll have to do ! so much just to get my crap together and even more to succeed, I have to do it. Where will I be if I don’t? Today wasn’t me giving up; I realise that now.

Today was me giving myself a break, whilst simultaneously coming to the conclusion that I’m very lonely and sad and will remain so for a long time, the only thing changing being my motivation levels. It was almost me accepting that I’ve got to a state that’s separate to my crisis of mental health over the last three months – which wasn’t even that serious. Oh, it’s linked and caused by the low mood I was already in, and the lack of motivation goes back very far, but this time I know it’s me.

Because it’s me, I have to sort it out. I have to be brave enough to tell myself that enough is enough, I’m able to do this, and existing isn’t just enough any more. For my own sake, and for the sakes of people who I’m not sure even care about me any more. For those people, I’ll prove I can be closer to the person I was – filled with the true will to live.

Now, I just need to take my own advice, and put things into action. How, when I feel so panicky? The state of my notes is atrocious, I’m finding it hard to organise myself, and that’s all from before Christmas; I kicked myself into shape over the holiday, then regressed back to this. How am I supposed to clear up the myriad of crap from before then?

I’ll do it. I’ll stand the fuck up and try, try, try, and even if I fall again I’ll get up; even if people don’t understand what I’m doing, I’ll get up, because this is for me.

If you’re going through something similar, don’t forget that you can’t get better in a night. It takes time, and yes it’s hard, but I’ll be struggling right alongside you. There’ll be times when we’ll give up, and cry, and scream because we just don’t want to do it any more. I’m getting scared just thinking about those times, and I’m trying to stop one of those from approaching right now.

I knew this would happen, but after writing this, I know that I couldn’t have done anything. Being too emotionally sick to go to school was the spark that caused this: without that, I’m sure I would have got worse. Maybe I still will, but maybe I won’t.

From Elm 🙂

I Shouldn’t be Ashamed

I started writing this in the last 15 minutes of my chemistry lesson, because I need to get this out. I really hate writing negative posts, but I set this blog up to get my thoughts out, so I won’t beat myself up or call myself attention seeking.

I got lost on the way to Chemistry today, and had – what I think – was a panic attack. I’m trying to tell myself it’s not disrespectful to say that.

I’ve refused to admit it to myself before, but I’m not close to anyone in my form (that’s the class I was put into at the very start of school; we used to have lessons together but now we’re doing GCSEs, we don’t). We have 20 minutes of form, but today we had a yearbook photo outside. After it was taken, we went upstairs to get our bags. My friend Pine had to stay behind because she had an Honours Tie (where you’ve done something exceptional in terms of sport or music and that kind of thing).

There’s a girl in my form called Daisy, who’s VERY good friends with Pine. She and I used to hate each other, but now, we don’t mind each other – she’s been quite kind to me over the last 2 years, and there is no point arguing with her when she’s not done anything nasty to me recently, and vice versa. I asked her, and Pine, if they could wait for me after Daisy went down to give Pine her bag.

They didn’t. I can’t blame them, but I remember going down the stairs and wondering if they’d be there – they weren’t – and feeling this horrific sense of loneliness, like I’ve not felt in such a long time that it was a shock.

My chemistry room is one of the rooms that’s difficult for me to find, because it’s always busy and it’s not at the end of a corridor. I decided, stupidly, to go and try and find it, and that’s when I realised I couldn’t catch my breath at all, and that I felt so upset and sick that I nearly burst into tears just walking down the first corridor.

There’s another corridor that you go down before you get to the science corridor – it’s got nothing much in it, but it’s always busy. I was finding it hard to breathe as I walked down it, as it got busier and busier – I was taking deep breaths that got quicker and quicker. This bit gets a bit confusing – I thought, if I leaned against the wall, I’d be able to clear my head and maybe someone would notice me – at the time, that was what I wanted. I did so, and I was shaking so hard as I felt my way forward because I felt too terrified to go away from it. A girl asked if I was okay – just a random girl, someone I’m sometimes wary of – and I said yes, but it was obvious I wasn’t. Several other people asked, and I completely panicked – I felt boiling all over, my vision had gone horribly blurry and I couldn’t tell where I was at all.

Luckily, Willow found me – I didn’t quite register it was her, until she grabbed my hands and spoke to me. She got me out of the building, calmed me down and then helped me to my classroom. When I was outside with her, I cried – partly out of embarrassment but also an awful fear. I really don’t know what I would have done without her – I had some half-arsed plan that I didn’t even think through. I’ve never felt so mortified about making a scene like that, or being so… Well, looking like I wasn’t okay to such an extreme.

When I went into the classroom, I acted like things were cool and that I’d just got lost. I’m guessing it was obvious I had been crying.

I’m okay now. Whenever I think about being in that corridor’ with so many people and my thoughts and vision narrowed down to a horrible wavering point, I start shaking a little. It’s not logical: things aren’t logical, though, when it comes to fear.

Being ashamed is wrong, for this situation, but I can’t help it. I made it so PUBLICLY obvious I wasn’t okay, that it made it feel like I was purposefully drawing attention to myself. I need to stop thinking about that, though, because now I realise I truly was scared (I remember the moments when I had to just stop and breathe, when I felt like tears were about to come pouring down my face).

I wasn’t okay, but I am now. I’m just shaken, because I never thought I’d be so scared. Before the self-hatred at my lack of independence starts, I’m going to end this post. Hope you don’t mind reading it.

I have to request this – people in real life are going to read this. If I don’t specifically talk to you about it, please, try not to bring it up. I actually can’t deal with it right now, because the feelings I had was so terrifying. Sorry.

If you’ve gone through a similar situation, or have panic attacks regularly – you’re in no. way alone. You have us, always.

From Elm 🙂