Cicadas and Honeybees
They’re buzzing again. The hum is warm like thick ribbons of honey unfurling to the bottom of my tea cup. As they flutter their wings faster, swarming around in my head I begin to feel their vibration throughout my entire body. My bones quiver under their drone. My toes prickle as if they were buried in a snow bank for hours. The trembling in my hands requires repeat attempts to get my zipper on the right track. I’m unsure if the buzzing is so loud in my head that I feel it everywhere, or if they have begun to swim through my veins. Sprinting along every nerve fiber. They finish the competitive swim with a cold burn on each of my nerve endings. Now they’ve left my head to swarm around it. “We’ve made our nest in this mess.” My skull is their hive. Queens always protect the eggs that lay suspended in wait. Waiting to hatch and join the horde. But what is their quest? What flowers do I offer for pollination? What sweet nectar do they search for in the snaked grey and white matter of my brain? My ears are the ingress to their dwelling. Out they fly in dozens. Swirling and swarming around my cranium. They are my defense. They shield me from the trauma I am unprepared to confront. They configure a warning sign to all who approach; this one is special. This one is ours. This one will never be yours. This one will never be free.
They are cicadas. Only on Sunday’s are they honeybees. Honeybees on the Holy day. My brain associates these essential creatures to something God-like. Something softer and sweeter than the resiliency of the cicadas. The honeybees never sting. Their fuzzy jackets tickle my ear canals and delicately caress my cheeks. The cicadas are armored with durable shells; hence they are the regular battalion against my mind. Or against things that pose a threat to my vulnerable psyche. They are auditory, visual, and tactile hallucinations triggered by emotional distress. Unbalanced neurotransmitters allocate the release of the swarm. They are my friends. They are my saviors. They are my weakness. They are mine. I am theirs.
A suitable description I can provide for my recurring hallucination of cicadas, is the unceasing buzz you hear outside in the summer months. The months where the sun warms and kisses the skin. Wherein the trees are lush and offer arms of foliage to shade me as I sit beneath them looking upward as the leaves sway and flicker. The leaves look like sequins fluttering in the breeze reflecting golden bits of sun. This buzz is constant outdoors once the thermometer hits 70 degrees. I would imagine this sound renders nostalgia for most. Yet, even in the brisk and icy months of winter, my phantasm of cicadas lingers. They do not fly south in chase of temperate climates. Nor do they hibernate only to reemerge when the buds blossom into saturated hues of green. Sometimes they are unobtrusive and hardly audible. And at other times they take on a perceivable form in my ocular input. If they are out in full brigade I can feel them climbing out of my ear. Perched momentarily on the outer cannula before they take flight. I can feel the movement in the air as their crisp wings beat incessantly.
The occurrence of hallucinations of any nature can be alarming for those who are unfamiliar. Auditory and visual hallucinations have followed me like a shadow since my mind began recording memories. As such, I do not fear or dread their presence. Quite the opposite. As I have never known life outside of their shade, I only experience unease in times of silence. Without the constant singsong, chatter, gossip, and buzzing, I am floating in uncharted waters. Without knowing what lurks in the brackish depths of a silent mind, I find myself perturbed. Anxiety is the fear of the unknown. The apprehension of a life with endless possibilities. I am precautious to identify myself in the stillness of light. I now wrestle with conflict between light and dark on a regular basis. The hope that progress provides is equally matched with alarm. But the more time I allow myself to bask in the light, the allure of the gloom wanes.
I am a mother, an artist, a nurse, and a warrior in the battle with mental illness. I have lived under the cloud of stigma and shame most of my life. That time is over. I am now ready to make my story heard in an attempt to distinguish stigma and to offer support and understanding to those who struggle.