swarm season. acrylic, ink, paper on wood. april 2018.
there are specific times of the year when bees and birds and butterflies swarm, drawn together in a seemingly chaotic instinct to find their place. i read an article that described swarms and on that day i felt all my worries, fears, regrets, and shame had similarly swarmed in my body, frantically congregating in crowded quarters beneath my rib cage.
this year i have experienced an unexplained and sudden onset of panic attacks, chronic high anxiety, and insomnia. during the past month i have essentially been disabled by this, unable to work, drive, be alone, eat, or sleep. my life was hijacked. even though my panic mostly feels like an infestation of hungry invaders, i have reframed the urgent fluttering presence in my body as my swarm.
there is no apparent root cause (no situation or event) that we have landed on yet. could be cumulative stress or secondary traumatic stress, could be hormones, could be sensitivity to the growing collective anxiety in our world, could be genetic, and on and on...
i want to write more on the ways i managed the worst of days when i was overcome with fear and energy, because i know it can be helpful for others to read (especially for those like me who are sensitive to medication and have a desire to go the most natural route possible). i'm not in that space yet. i'm still barely hanging on over here, trying to remain an objective observer to this madness and focus on the day when the swarm moves on.
with all dark days, there are moments of light. even though it has been hard to see and acknowledge, some goodness has come from this. this is the grace (and quite possibly the purpose) of swarm season: attention, vulnerability, deciding to do things differently. here are a few moments of swarm grace:
- i cut out caffeine and it was relatively painless. all the cortisol and adrenaline cursing through my veins cushioned the typical withdrawal symptoms. after decades of two cups of strong coffee daily, i am now enjoying one cup of swiss water processed decaf every morning.
- i asked for help. and not just for help, i asked for exactly what i needed. and you know what? people responded in the most loving and supportive ways.
- i finally got it that i really do need other people.
- i cleaned up my nutrition.
- the breath is fucking magic. magic.
- i have an entirely new appreciation for the exquisite beauty of an ordinary day, a night of sleep, someone who holds your hand, people who know things, people who are able to hold space.
here's looking forward to the day the swarm has done its thing and lifts in gentle flight.