Just Stay Calm

Why do bees follow me when I panic and run?

“Community Answer: Because they think you’re trying to attack them. If you panic and make sudden/fast motions, that will scare the bees and make them want to defend themselves. And that’s pretty much the only time bees sting people. Remain calm and still and they will mind their own business.https://www.wikihow.com/Overcome-the-Fear-of-Wasps-and-Bees

This is one of life’s cruel ironies, isn’t it? This phobia is a self-fulfilling one. (Basically, If I’m scared of them, I should be.) As if I consider my options, calm or panic, and think, let’s do panic. I choose to run, scream, cry and have a mental breakdown in public, 100 % of the time, because it’s really improved my quality of life. Screw you, everyone who has ever said: Just stay calm. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

“Since it may not be possible to safely expose yourself to…wasps and/or bees, a therapist might ask you to vividly imagine that bees and/or wasps are all around you.” See the problem? If they’re so cuddly and harmless, then why is the above sentence necessary to consider? You cannot safely expose yourself to wasps/bees, that’s for sure, so how do I ever get over this fear, and in fact, why am I the weirdo?! I think other people are born with an inner chemical that enables them to saunter through a beach riddled with wasp/bees without a care in the world. And then let’s hold hands and skip through traffic on the highway too! Because that feels like equal risk to me. I am missing that chemical, and would like to know what it’s called, and where I can get me some. Also, vividly imagining doesn’t help, my brain is not that gullible. It can tell the difference between make-believe and reality. Imaginal exposure is not scary at all.

I’ve tried it all: psychologist, psychotherapist, psychiatrist (who specializes in other phobias and admitted defeat for this one), self-hypnosis, gradual exposure, flooding (but not on purpose! I wrote about my “Nightmare on Cobourg Beach” in Waspageddon), gardening, medication, meditation, avoidance, etc. All that’s left is biofeedback (can’t find anyplace that does this and I live close to Toronto) and hypnosis.

So I’m asking again, if anybody has helpful info or resources, please share.

Secretive Services

For the past several years, I have been trying to find mental health support in my community. Wow! This has required detective skills, persistence, patience, and a lot of time. Things that are in short supply when someone really needs help managing their own, or their loved one’s mental illness.

What have I tried in my search?

-asked my GP

-asked my Psychiatrist

-used eMentalHealth.ca 


I found a few leads online and checked those organization’s websites where I found bare bones info and very little related to available programming or groups.

Why is this so? I’ve asked. “We like people to come in and be assessed and then we share information that we think is appropriate to that person’s needs” (but I know my needs better than anyone else). This would be fine, but resources are still not fully disclosed this way, and I’ve had to be assessed in person, separately, for each individual program, within the same agency. Not to mention, the process is time-consuming and stressful.

I mean no disrespect to the agencies or the support workers who do great work in a very challenging job. I am thankful for the help I have received. I just wonder about all the people who need help and aren’t up to the task of doing all the research so just suffer in silence. An ounce of prevention, right? Don’t we want to help people before they are in crisis?

I find it frustrating and I think we need a better way to share all the great resources that are out there. I have been part of some really great groups but only after doing the work of finding out about them. If you are looking for help, don’t give up! Keep searching, and show up in person, if you are able to, to get all your questions answered. Find someone assertive and knowledgeable to help you out. Become the assertive knowledgeable one, and help another person one day!



When the “worst” has happened. (From the viewpoint of one phobic.)

© satan


It was a beautiful late September day, 31  degrees Celsius at my favourite local beach in Cobourg, ON. Unfortunately, because beach season is over (but not according to nature), the parks department hadn’t emptied garbage and there were overflowing piles of delicious and verminous debris all over. My unsuspecting daughter and I innocently began setting up our station and applying unscented sunscreen. No food or drink in sight. No bait whatsoever. And yet.

We were instantly a-swarm with wasps. They just kept coming, like ninjas in an action movie. But minus the cool factor. I’d rather get attacked by a ninja than a wasp! The sunscreen was thrown, my hat was flung, a few more seconds and I would have been the crazy streaker at the beach. I’m trying to be humorous but it was far from funny. I abandoned my (adult) daughter and ran into the water. Where they followed me. I had to keep plunging underwater, losing my sunglasses each time. A scene was made, a few people came over to help but eventually drifted away when they couldn’t understand my terrified gibberish. I just kept going further and further out and they kept coming. WTF? Eventually Amy joined me in the water, where we both agreed we wanted to go home. (But how to get home? I felt like I would be trapped underwater until December before they left me alone). Finally I realized I had to leave the water so Amy could at least enjoy the nice day. (When I left, they left too). I decided I needed to find a way to go inside somewhere and calm down as this was a full-fledged panic attack and the trigger wasn’t going away. At the beach, far from our car, no such place. I sobbed all the way to the washroom but it was stinky and busy and hot, no place to sit (other than the filthy obvious place). Back down the boardwalk shaking and sniffling, stopped to have a few quality moments of mental meltdown with my husband who had finally arrived, then I saw the coast guard office. There for reasons of public safety, so why not? I knocked, they answered, I blubbered, they let me in and gave me water and place to sit and let me chill. (For which I am ever so grateful!) Five minutes later I got up and went back to my spot, put all my clothes on top of my wet suit, and endured. Waspageddon had subsided to the regular fly-bys, and shortly after we left.

Waspageddon is exactly what my fear is, more than the fear of being stung (I’ve been stung, and it was no big whoop, compared to chronic pain and natural childbirth!) I am afraid of wasps flying around me and not leaving, which is what happened. (“Just stay still, it’ll fly away”–I’m calling bullshit!) I’m afraid I’ll lose my grip, and make a scene. Check. I’m afraid I’ll be trapped and have no way out. Check.

On the way home, as the adrenaline started to recede, I felt guilty and shamed. But then I thought, no. All that happened, and I still went back to our spot and sat there. That is called resilience (or naivete?)

**Does anyone know of someone being successfully treated for a wasp and bee phobia? I’ve tried almost everything, and research is not turning up anything specific to wasps and bees. All the guidelines for treatment are not relevant to these nasty aggressive creatures, which is why CAMH gave up and said, sorry, we can’t help you. The helpline for mental health services could not find a single place that offered help for specific phobia. If you have a more typical phobia, just about anyone can walk you through cbt and exposure therapy, you can even diy. But wasps don’t go on a leash, or sit placidly in the tank for your comfort level. They don’t come in gentle, or good-natured. ! The truth is, it’s really depressing and feels hopeless. I am asking for hope. I live in the GTA, Ontario, Canada



How Wasp Your Day?


Trying to describe a phobia to someone who doesn’t have one, is like trying to describe what childbirth feels like: this is a place beyond words. But heck, I’ll give it a try!

First off, a phobic attack is exactly the same as a panic attack, symptom-wise; the only difference is the presence of a defined trigger. All the unpleasant physical stuff happens, plus a host of crappy emotional baggage. Like guilt, and shame. Guilt because I’m a mom and having a phobia means my daughter grew up watching me react, just like I grew up watching my mom react. Guilt because my irrational fears affect other people, and plans. Shame because….weakness. Running and screaming when a wasp suddenly appears in my personal space. Wasp over there? Ok. Wasp close enough to see its stripes? Very, very bad.

So despite fall being my favourite season, in theory; I’ve come to hate September. It is the height of waspiness. This summer we had an infestation in our vinyl siding, a few feet from our bed (separated by walls and such, but still….) Quickly I called an exterminator, but in the meantime I watched in horror from the window and from the car. I thought it was like exposure therapy, good for me, but no. Very bad for me, it just added to my dread. When I close my eyes there are wasps in here with me. I know that sounds nutty.

So while everyone enjoys our beautiful warm autumn weather, I persevere and make myself go outside. I walk the dogs, run and scream through the field. (Cardio, score!) You enjoy, I endure.

Here’s what people think happens with a phobic trigger: You see a wasp (or whatever), you pause and decide to freak out, you freak out, run and scream.

What actually happens: Wasp-Running-Screaming-Thinking. Seriously, who would decide to respond this way on purpose?

I’ve written about this before, my disappointing adventures with the professionals who treat phobias (but not wasp phobias, apparently). The only thing I haven’t tried is hypnosis. If anyone has experience with this, please share with me.

Just a friendly reminder if you know someone who has a phobia: knowledge and logic don’t apply here. You can’t talk us out of it. Please, please stop trying to prove how wrong it is to be afraid. We know.

Every step you take, every plan you make….I’ll be wasping you.


How to improve your sleep

Great, practical advice!

Richard Wiseman

I recently gave a Funzing talk on how to improve your sleep. A few attendees asked for a summary and so here are 10 main points.  I discuss all of this in depth in Night School, and will be giving another Funzing talk on the topic in London in June.

Avoid the blues: When your eyes are exposed to light, your brain produces less of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. Light towards the blue end of the spectrum is especially stimulating and computer screens, tablets, smartphones and LED lighting all emit a lot of blue light. Try not to use these devices in the two hours before you go to bed. If you must use them, turn down the brightness or wear amber-tinted glasses designed to block blue light.

Avoid nightcaps: Although a small amount of alcohol helps you get to sleep more quickly, it also gives you a more…

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