I have faced problems with anxiety and depression for about a decade, but I have only sought help in the last few years. This past December, my family, counselor, doctor and I made the decision that I should try an antidepressant. I have seen wonderful results (the most significant being the near eradication of my depression and the significant reduction of my anxiety), but one side effect is that my anxiety feels different.
In the past, my anxiety was intrinsic to me, and I was unable to separate it from all of the good parts of my personality. Now, it feels like a separate part of me, something negative that is residing inside of me.
When I get anxious, I tell my close friends that the bees are anxious. This doesn’t make sense most of the time, so this is my attempt to put the feeling into better words.
My chest is filled with bees.
My rib cage is their hive.
My heart is their queen.
And while I know the bees are dying,
I assure you mine are thriving.
While I try to keep them calm with the smoke of self-care pumped into my body,
I cannot seem to keep mine from swarming
And pollinating my thoughts with self-doubt
And stinging my brain
So I can’t seem to do anything but focus
On the pain.
This is what mental illness is like for me.
The bees dwelling in my chest are anxious
But they are not me.
I feel like if I could just crack open my ribcage and let them swarm out I could be
My anxiety is something that is part of me and inside me.
But it is not me.
From an outside view, I know that I seem to be the most caring of beekeepers.
That I do nothing but tend to my tenants.
And sometimes I feel that way too.
But I know that I have worked hard to achieve a life of balance.
That some days I will coat my lungs with smoke until they calm
Even if I choke in the process
But I will not
There are days I may offer you a beekeeper’s suit for you to put on
And all I request is that you do
For your safety.
So when I open my mouth and their anxious flying bodies come pouring out of my throat that you will be protected.
I don’t want them to be a burden
I don’t want them to sting you as they have me.
But sometimes I need a break
So that my lungs can fully inflate.