Let’s talk about bees. The black and yellow fuzzy kind. The ones that are lovely and need to be protected at all costs and definitely not killed because there will be no coffee and chocolate without them. (Or so I read.)
– ??? –
I’m deathly afraid of bees. And wasps. And anything that looks remotely like it could be a bee or a wasp. (I panic about regular flies an embarrassing amount.) I’ve jumped off balconies to get away from bees and wasps, ran into walls trying to flee from them, and danced like a maniac in public places to try and flap them away. I’m fine when the bees are contained, like the bit in London Zoo where the hive is safely closed-in and the spicy sky raisins can’t actually get to me. One of those spicy sky raisins in the outside world, though? Totally different story. And don’t even get me started on what happens when one of them manages to get inside the house.
all. hell. breaks. loose.
My phobia doesn’t stem from anything. I’ve never been stung, and I’ve never seen anyone get stung in a violent, scary or particularly gruesome manner. In fact, I’ve only ever seen two people get stung by a bee or wasp in my entire life. One of them was my mother, in my childhood kitchen, when she stood on a wasp on the floor (accidentally) and it stung her between the toes. The second was at primary school when my friend was playing Sticky Toffee and the insect flew up the arm of her shirt in the sticky position, stinging her in the armpit. My poor friend proved to me that standing still doesn’t save you from a bee — and that’s why I can’t stand or stay still whenever a bee or a bee-looking bug is flying around me. I’m a serious arm-flapper.
I think I’m so scared of them because I’ve never been stung. I don’t have a clue what it feels like, or whether or not I’m allergic to bee or wasp venom, or if I’m going to go into anaphylactic shock and die.
What happens if I get stung by a bee and I’m all by myself and then I go into anaphylactic shock? I’ll die. A bee will have killed me. A fucking bee. Something that’s barely the size of a 5p coin … my brutal killer?
But I am terrified of them; of being anaphylactic’ly allergic to them.
I’m scared the bees and wasps will kill me.
Anyway, one day, I opened up a few packages* and found myself with some new beauty products on my lap. Lipsticks and liners, eyeshadows and blushers, primers and setting sprays, some designer fragrances, a bunch of lotions and potions, and various masks and gels. After swatching and applying virtually every shade of every product to my face to ‘test’ them – and making myself look like a right clown in the process – my eyes were drawn to a couple of bright yellow tubs. After washing the mish-mash makeup off, I grabbed one of the tubs and smeared the luxurious-feeling moisturiser across my face, neck, and shoulders, following it up with a little tapping of the eye cream. The new products felt amazing on my skin. So good, in fact, I took a moment to check out the ingredients and see what had left my face feelin’ so damn fresh.
“Cautions: Do not use if you have an allergy to bee stings. A patch test prior to use is recommended. If signs of irritation occur discontinue use immediately.”
Fuck. I might die.
There’s bee sting stuff in these products and they’re all over my face and I’m going to die.
Fuck. Shit. Help me.
Am I swelling?
Oh god, I didn’t patch test and NOW I’M GOING TO DIE.
My throat started closing up. My heart started racing and pounding so hard that I could actually see it thudding through my chest. My face felt swollen and rounder, and my eyes seemed more squinted than they had a few moments before. My hands were swimming in sweat. I started seeing white and black fuzzy spots in my eyes. I couldn’t breathe. It was happening. The fear was real. The bees had got to me.
MY NEW MOISTURISER WAS TRYING TO KILL ME.
Except it wasn’t.
I was just having a panic attack. I’d worked myself up so much about an allergy to bee venom I didn’t know I had, that I created the symptoms out of nowhere. Absolutely nothing went wrong as a result of putting that bee venom cream all over my face and neck, some on my forearms, and probably a bit too much on my décolletage. I didn’t even get a rash. No redness. No tinging. No anaphylactic shock. NOTHING. Just soft, plumped, glowing skin. (I’m actually obsessed with the products now.)
Overreacted. As. Fuck.
I overreact about things like this a lot. I try not to let my head get carried away with itself, but there’s an anxious troll waiting inside of me just dying to freak out at every little thing. The crazy anxiety troll that makes me think I’m dying every time my body does the slightest thing differently. Like that time I had a weird patch on my gum and thought I had gum cancer. It was just a little sore caused by the weird positioning of one of my piercings, but that didn’t stop me from overreacting and thinking I was going to die.
And then there was that time I started getting weird headaches above my left eyeball and convinced myself I had a brain tumour, but it was just the wrong prescription in my glasses.
And that other time I thought there was more hair than usual in the shower plug once I’d finished washing and conditioning my long locks and Googled everything there was to know about alopecia.
I overreact a lot on my bad days. On my good days, I could have an actual limb falling off and it would be nothing. Just a scratch, nothing to worry about. Stick some Germalene on it and it’ll be alright. It’s funny how that goes, eh? I don’t go to the doctor when I freak out or anything like that, but I do spend a ridiculous amount of time Googling my symptoms and convincing myself I’m going to die. Even when I know I’m doing it – when I know I’m overreacting like a complete and utter lunatic – I wind myself up to the point where I actually manage to cause my own anxiety attack. Like today: the day my moisturiser tried to kill me … but didn’t really.
At least I know I’m definitely not allergic to bee venom now.
Oh, a friendly reminder: always do a patch test, kids.
* I didn’t order the products for myself.