Yesterday we must have had a swarm of bees pass through the garden and I found a dozen of the frantic creatures beating themselves against the living room windows, having come in through the kitchen door. Some exhausted little bodies already littered the windowsill. This sad tableau sparked some fellow feelings in someone who could well define herself as an exhausted ‘Busy Bee.’

Like many people who find themselves floored by fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue, I am a chronically busy person, craving quiet time and relaxation and yet filling every one of Kipling’s “unforgiving minute(s) with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run.” I am the sort of busy person who people always approach if they want to get something done, knowing that I’ll say ‘yes’ and then deliver. Being helpful and reliable has always been important to me but, until my body decided to intervene and say a very loud ‘No More!’, I hadn’t realised that helpfulness and reliability had become more important than taking reasonable care of myself. When I was given the gift of a spare minute I asked ‘what can I do with it?’, having forgotten how to just sit still and appreciate the calm. In the evenings I collapsed onto the sofa and slept, while my children showed me their favourite TV shows.

The winter before last I grasped the opportunity to fulfil a long held ambition and enrolled on a bee-keeping course. This required long weekly drives in the dark, to and from the classroom, adding to my growing exhaustion. However, I was determined to fit in something for myself on top of my full time work and family commitments. By the end of the summer I had reached breaking point, but found help through The Chrysalis Effect Recovery programme for people with fibro, ME and chronic fatigue. I began exploring my crazy expectations of myself, learning how to protect time to be rather than to do.

Eight months later I was offered a colony of my own bees. Having given up my work to focus on my recovery, I had the time and energy to say ‘yes’ to something for me. Now I can appreciate these extraordinary little creatures without feeling the need to identify with their frantic lives. I find a deep joy and pleasure in sitting near their hive and just listening to the deep hum of honey production on a sunny afternoon.

Watching them come and go I begin to see their patterns of activity, to marvel at the intimate interplay between insect and flower; a stripy little body settles on a rosemary flower, whose stamens and anthers curl around to deposit and pick up pollen from the furry back. I notice the differing colours of the pollen clinging to each bee’s legs, lemon yellow from the oilseed rape, white from the rosemary, neon orange like tiny swimmers' armbands from my comfrey patch.

I still have a way to go before I am fully recovered and don’t feel the pull back inside the hive to compulsive activity, but just for this afternoon I can enjoy the warm sun on my back and just Bee me.

Are you always running to stand still?  Where does looking after yourself come on your 'To Do' list?  Learning to sit alone and just be yourself is vital to healing and a garden is the perfect place to practice.