Diary Entry 11: Confessions of a Hand Sanitiser Addict

Diary Entry 11:  Confessions of a Hand Sanitiser Addict

As a ‘clean freak’, I LOVE hand sanitizer.  I praise the day that it became available to us in dinky little bottles.  It is cheap and it fits just about anywhere – which makes it very easy to keep one in your bag; in your pocket; beside the bed; in the car; in your desk drawer; in the kitchen; in the bathroom…… plus a few spares scattered in random cupboards.  It has changed my world; it has probably changed the world for many ‘clean freaks’ because it offers us ‘peace of mind’.

But where did this need to ‘sanitise’ come from?  Did it come on the back of all those microscope images that show us exactly what germs, bacteria and viruses look like?  I know the photos are magnified but these things look horrific!

Aaaaaaaaargh!!

Scientists fell over themselves to tell us that these horrors are caked onto EVERYTHING.  When the shop assistant passes your change she is giving you a handful of Norovirus.  The office door you have just walked through is crawling with Influenza (and possibly Ebola depending on how active your imagination is) – and don’t even start me on public bathrooms.

If ‘knowledge is power’ then it did not apply in this case.  Knowledge about these horrors brought alarm!  And I initially responded to my alarm by carting Wet Ones around with me.  That was back in the day when they were only available in large plastic containers with a flip up lid.  Not so handy for your pocket; handbag etc, but the inconvenience was so worthwhile.  That sweet sensation of a damp cloth wiping away the horrors was both comforting and uplifting.

And it soon caught on!  Society (and advertising companies) soon realised that Wet Ones were not just for chocolate caked babies and oily handed mechanics.  They were an all purpose, portable solution for everyone (and a calming device for anxiety sufferers).  When shops first began to stock ‘pocket sized’ hand wipes I almost wept with joy.  As a self confessed ‘indecision maker’, I was momentarily thrown by the influx of brands and fragrances but I found a ‘lemon fresh’ option and stuck to it.

With every wipe of my hands I gaily banished germs, bacteria and viruses. I watched others do the same, all of us feeling free from the risk of lurking infections and illness.

But then the guilt set in.  How many of these little wipes were being discarded every day across the globe.  How would the environment cope with the waste.  My anxiety about ruining the earth was up against anxiety about catching a nasty bug from a door handle.  I compromised.  I began to tear the wipes in half thus reducing my waste volume by 50% but it was still a worry.

And then it arrived – the ‘hand sanitiser’.  A wonder liquid that hits the skin with a germ busting tingle and then disappears!!  No waste! (other than the empty bottle of course but lets not spoil the feel good factor here).

Peace of Mind in one handy sized bottle

With every bus trip, Tesco trolley dash and visit to my Dad, I skoosh my cares away with a little bottle of hand sanitiser.  Of course, there is still a place for hand wipes in my life, but nothing beats the feel of that clear liquid coating my hands and vaporising the surface; that nippy, fresh sensation as the alcohol zaps the microscopic baddies.

I feel INVINCIBLE!

So who can blame for closing my ears when I hear certain rumours on the wind.  The suggestion that hand sanitiser may not be all its’ cracked up to be!’ WHAT? That it might even be BAD for us!  NO!

Oh but YES! There may be a whole pile of ‘cons’ to counteract the ‘pros’.  It pains me to list the down side of my beloved hand sanitiser but a problem shared is a problem halved.

 Apparently it may not actually work at all; it does not eliminate all types of germs; the alcohol content might be less than claimed; it may destroy ‘good’ bacteria’ on your skin; it may reduce your own immune system; it may contribute to the emergence of powerful resistant bacteria and superbugs that will one day destroy us all (OK I didn’t read that anywhere but it’s a reasonable assumption isn’t it?).

Of particular note is that it may lull us into a false sense of security and discourage us from washing our hands with soap and water.  In other words, whilst thinking that we are being super hygienic we may actually be taking less care with our cleanliness!  As an example we are reminded that hand sanitiser will not remove dirt.

So if, for example, there is a spot of invisible ‘faecal matter’ present then we will simply smear shit all over our hands when rubbing in that gel!  Can you imagine?

And (gulp) …… I can hardly bare to tell you this but I read that the residue which remains after application of hand sanitiser may cause us to pick up even more unsavoury particles because they stick to the gel.

Bottoms Up!!

Finally – there are folks out there who have been drinking it!  Apparently the alcohol content makes for a potent liquor that can cause blindness, memory loss and organ damage.  Obviously I do not want to see myself on this ruinous path but I have a dilemma now.  If I can’t use it to sanitise my hands any more, what else am I going to do with the 237 bottles which are lying around the house?

Next Week:  Water Shortage!

 

 

My Vagina Is Just Fine

TV advertisers take note – our vagina’s are just FINE!!

 

My Vagina Is Just Fine

 I’ve never wanted to be known as someone who’s a whiner

But I’m sick of advertisers trying to sort my poor vagina.

Commercial breaks are full of them, I don’t know where to start

To dispel this list of ailments that affect our private parts

 

This constant flow of creams and wipes; of pessaries and powders

Is peddled on you hinting that we smell like sea food chowder

I’ve checked down there, I’m glad to say, that everything looks great

So let me take things one by one and set the record straight

 

Like every gal, I menstruate, there’s really nothing to it.

If bungee jumping is my thing I’ll still go out and do it.

I’m sorry but your progress with new products makes me yawn

Who cares if we have wings to stick our sanitary towels on.

 

I don’t have yeasty growths and there’s no fungus on my flaps

No scratching at my area, no chaffing, cracks or chaps

I’ll defuzz if I feel like it, it’s my choice when to spruce

You can’t step in and shame me if I want a massive bush

 

And will you make your mind up cos I can’t leave this to chance

Is my poor old snatch too dry or am I going to pee my pants?

You reckon that a big sneeze could put pressure on my bladder

Well I’ve finally had enough of this and now I’m getting madder

 

Occasional adverts would be fine but we have been bombarded

And all the cunty scaremongering should just be disregarded.

We’re happy with our Hoo Ha’s so this scorn is bad enough

But you’re also spreading wider disrespect of ladies muffs.

 

Hairy, itchy, fungal quims and leaking lady gardens

All before the watershed, and so I beg your pardon

But since when did problem pussies make for early evening viewing

Should pre-school kids be wondering if Mum’s got something brewing?

 

And why the female focus, do the men get off scott free?

I never have to look at problem peckers during tea.

What happened to equality and fairness for the genders

Discretion for an ailing penis; never a pudenda?

 

It’s shameless beaver bashing from folks obsessed by fannies

Trying to make a profit from our beautiful punanis.

Go pick another body part to boost your bottom line

Cos the last time that I checked it, my vagina was just fine.

Diary Entry 10- You’ve Got The Power

Diary Entry 10 – You’ve got the Power!

Anxiety and Depression – Have you ever considered that it’s just NOT your fault?  If you think about it, today’s world seems determined to drive us all mad!  The list of modern triggers for anger, anxiety and intense emotion is endless, so I’m going to cover one today.  Let me describe my latest experience of contacting our power supplier and how it left me sobbing on the floor.

I bought a property which has a pre-paid electricity meter.  I hate it.  I do not want to trot down to the shop in my slippers every time it runs out.  For the last three years I have tried to get this pre-paid meter removed so that I can pay my bills by direct debit like a normal person.  The pattern is always the same.  A long phone call to the power supplier; a promise by the staff member to resolve it; and then….nothing.

Take me back to the stone age!

My most recent attempt is still raw in my memory.  When I think about the impact it had on my emotional state, I start to question why society has allowed these vessel-popping systems to remain in place.

In a nutshell, my last contact with the electricity supplier resulted in a phone call which had me on the line for one hour and fifty minutes, during which time I spoke politely and patiently to four different staff, none of whom could be bothered to help.  Eventually the phone battery ran low and I had to lie on the living room floor so that I could stay on the line while it recharged at the socket.

As it happens, the floor was the best place to be; because it meant I did not need to collapse with rage when the fourth member of staff simply hung up on me without warning – after nearly two hours on hold!  I was in the right position to throw a full blown hissy fit.

Your call is extremely important to us – and that’s why our staff will be delighted to help you in approximately 13 hours time – in the meantime, please enjoy this soothing music!”

On hearing the line go dead, I couldn’t breathe for a minute.  I remained on the floor choking with fury before coming out in a rash.   My first gasp of breath was used to turn the air blue with ear bursting expletives.  Hubby asked what was wrong with my face (the rash!) and he suggested that I should ‘calm down’.   At this point I turned on him like a wildcat because everyone knows that the very worst thing you can say to anyone who needs to ‘calm down’ is “Calm Down”.  I promised to tear him apart if he ever made such an unhelpful remark again.

There was only one healthy way to channel my emotion – and that was to phone the power supplier straight back and rejoin the long queue.  But when I did call, I was given the automated response which informed me that the offices were now closed and that staff would be ‘delighted to help me’ when they re-opened the following morning.

I simmered in my bed all night and then rose early, determined to catch a call-centre person the minute the lines opened.  And I got straight through – to Alex!  It was incredible, but then I was passed from pillar to post; from Vikram to Akachi to David.

I was asked, for the millionth time, to give them a reading from the electricity meter.  Now that is all very well when your meter is under the window, but not when it is located above the front door and is only reachable by using two people; a table; a chair and some footage from Britains Got Talent.  Hubby had helped me the previous night but he was already away to work.  I was on my own so I gave ‘David’ my reading from the night before.   But it wasn’t good enough! He wanted a new reading.

Just another inch….

Well I told him about the inaccessible meter and that it would take me about five minutes to get the reading.   David said he would be ‘happy to wait’ on the line for me (which is fair enough given that I stayed on hold for two excruciating hours the previous evening).

I had to drag all the hall furniture to the door and make myself a stable platform on which to reach the meter.  I twisted my ankle when it all collapsed but at least I had the reading – and well within the five minutes I had estimated!  I hopped back to the phone feeling very pleased with myself.

But you already know the next bit don’t you?  Yes indeed …. the line was dead.  Clearly ‘David’ had not been ‘happy to wait’ five minutes for me to get the reading.  My spirits slumped and I knew I could not face another call that day.

The next morning I rose early once again, and grabbed the first call-centre person (Colin).  He seemed genuinely bothered by what I told him.  He sounded ashamed of his employer and maybe even a little tearful as I poured out my woeful experience to him.  He made a big deal of lodging a complaint on my behalf and assured me that I would hear back within five working days.

A month later, I hadn’t heard ANYTHING despite emailing them every Monday with a polite reminder.  It was not until I added the line “your customer service is disgusting”, that I received an instant reply. They were frightfully sorry to hear of my experience and they arranged an appointment to come and remove the prepaid meter.  Obviously nobody turned up and when I called some weeks later I was told that the complaint had been labelled as ‘actioned’ and the case was now closed.

Maybe next year… next year…..next year…..

So there you have it!  Just one example of how our mental health can be affected by hair-tearing, recycled communications.  Who wouldn’t feel anxious, stressed and depressed after being treated so shoddily; running up a large phone bill; falling out with their spouse; and twisting their ankle – and still with no resolution to their issue.  Who could muster up the energy to call them back?  Not me!

Not until next year anyway.

Next Week: Confessions of a Hand Sanitiser Addict

 

 

Diary Entry 9 – What Would John Steinbeck Say?

Diary of an Anxious Mind Entry 9: What Would John Steinbeck Say?

So last week I spoke about ‘Morning Anxiety’.  That is, waking up in the morning with a low mood, a panicky feeling or some other bleak sensation.  The source of the anxiety may be known to you – but often it is not.  It may simply feel like a black cloud which has settled over your head without good reason.

In the last diary entry, I revealed my own coping mechanism – which is to flee!  If I wake to find the demons are lurking, I bolt from my bed; get showered and dressed; then I sprint for the nearest café and absorb the real world.  Always works (and Starbucks have made a fortune from me over the years!).

But prevention is better than cure and if I could find a way to stop morning anxiety, I might enjoy a more leisurely start to the day.  And on this point, I have recently been pondering the biological side of anxiety.

My interest was piqued after a rare nap on the sofa.  It was a Sunday afternoon, my work and family tasks were reasonably up to date; and Colombo was playing out reassuringly on some random TV channel.  When the sun moved round to my window I couldn’t help drifting off into a pleasing snooze.

When I awoke (feeling fine), I was struck by an important question.  Why does anxiety only attack me when I wake up in the morning and why does it never get me if I wake up after an afternoon nap.

I was reminded of a famous quote by John Steinbeck in which he states that “it is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it

Unless you suffer from a General Anxiety Disorder that is…… 😂

I wonder what it is that happens inside John Steinbeck’s head that doesn’t happen in the mind of anyone who suffers from morning anxiety!

Because our version of Mr Steinbeck’s observation would read a little more like this.

It is a common experience that a seemingly non-existent matter at night is turned into a real big f*cking deal after the committee of sleep has worked on it“.

Similarly, neurology expert Professor Daniel A. Barone, also claimed that, at night, a key function of the brain is to ‘take out the trash‘.  Again, I suspect that the reverse applies in the case of anyone who suffers from morning anxiety.

I suspect that my own brain actually goes out at night and brings the trash in; it fetches back the mental rubbish that I have already disposed of.  If that were not bad enough, it slopes off down the street, ransacking the neighbours trash too – like a racoon.  And, by morning time, my head is full of it.

Something else for Kate’s head!

Now you might think that clue is in the name.  ‘Morning anxiety’ is bound to affect us in the morning rather than after a daytime snooze but, for me, it’s all about what happens inside the sleeping mind – and we all know that there is a world of difference between a ‘nap’ and a ‘sleep’.  Our body clock knows when we are properly going to sleep at night – as opposed to being slothful on the sofa for a couple of hours.

At night, our brain undertakes a vast range of rest and regeneration activities.  I was often told that depression and anxiety can be down to a ‘chemical imbalance’ in the brain (which I always thought was a great excuse) but it actually makes a lot of sense!  And, if the brain carries out a lot of chemical processing at night then it makes sense that morning may be the moment that you feel any ‘imbalances’ more acutely.

So what exactly is it that is out of balance?  What is it that overreacts or under-reacts and leaves anxiety sufferers fleeing from their demons every morning.

Let me remind everyone that I am not a medical expert.  I am led to believe that there are billions of chemical reactions which take place in the body and mind every day, so I will not make a fool of myself by selecting one at random!  Instead I have picked up a couple of common suggestions which crop up when reading around the subject of morning anxiety.

One is that adequate Magnesium levels are essential in regulating the stress hormone (Cortisol) and maintaining a healthy mind.  Many of us are now deficient in Magnesium so is that something which is worthy of consideration?

The other is that, if our blood sugar levels have dropped considerably during sleep, then mornings may start with anxiety or low mood.

As I say, I’m no expert and you should read up on these findings yourself, but I may just toy with some Magnesium supplements and see if it makes any difference.

Ah well – it was good while it lasted!

I would also like to try a jar of honey before bedtime but, as you know, I am also trialling a sugar free diet as a means of stabilising my mood.  A spoonful of honey before bedtime will mean that my sugar free diet is out the window.  And then I will be at the mercy of all the cake and biscuit delights that I have lived without these last few weeks.

Oh well – something had to give!

Next week:  You’ve Got the Power!

“Thanks for Reaching Out” – The Latest Blood Boiling Expression

Reaching Out

A new expression is sneaking into everyday conversation and I do NOT like it at all.  In fact, it angers me.  I don’t know who started it; or where it started.  But of even greater interest is how it has managed to take hold in every day conversation.

Have you noticed that, when communicating with businesses (particularly larger companies who are more prone to faddy jargons), they don’t thank you for calling them these days; they thank you for ‘reaching out’ to them.  If you have been referred to them through one of their workmates then they might thank you for ‘reaching out’ to their colleague first.

“Reaching out” has become interchangeable with any term which falls under the banner of ‘communicating’, be that ‘phoning’, ‘speaking’, ‘emailing’ or whatever.

Thank you for ‘reaching out’

When I enquired about a mortgage, the bank thanked me for ‘reaching out’; when I followed up on an advert for fancy new bed linen the person who answered the phone said ‘it was great’ that I had decided to ‘reach out’ to them today.  Hell, someone even thanked me for ‘reaching out’ when THEY cold-called ME!

Now, to anyone with half a brain, it is obvious that this new expression has come into play with the best of intentions.  It sounds more ‘human’ and ‘touchy-feely’.  Phoning, speaking and emailing can be clinical forms of contact.  But ‘reaching out’ is a different matter altogether.  It implies that there is some genuine emotion underlying our communications with each other.  That, and a desire to reach satisfactory fulfilment, because if someone ‘reached out’ to you as opposed to simply ‘contacting you’ then you could not possibly let them down.

But that is precisely why I find it so irritating; because the emotion at which it hints is one sided.  ‘Reaching out’ suggests a clingy neediness on the part of the person who is allegedly ‘reaching out’.

It suggest that this person needs help or salvation.  Don’t get me wrong – there is a time and a place for it.  For example, if I was religious and in a state of despair then I may ‘reach out’ to Jesus.  If I were drowning I might ‘reach out’ to my rescuer.  If a waitress was about to take my plate away when it still had a few chips on it, I would ‘reach out’ and grab it (or her).

I would NOT, however, ‘reach out’ to my bank, or to any utility company, or to the dry cleaners.  I would simply ‘contact’ them, as an equal party to whatever was the matter in hand.  If I want to be pedantic (and I do) I might argue that, in openly offering their services, the companies who use this offensive expression, have actually ‘reached out’ to me first.

I am always in danger of losing it over small things like this.  If you poke the beehive what do you expect?  In fact, I am a ‘ball hair’ away from saying all of the things I have dreamt of in response to meaninliness, repetitive service expressions.

When the hundredth checkout person asks if I want a hand to pack my carton of soya milk (which I am not even packing as I won’t pay 5p for the bag) would anyone blame me if I simply said, in a sing song voice, ‘No, I f*cking don’t’.

“I don’t want a hand to pack, there was nothing else I needed today, I managed to find everything I was looking for and I don’t want a f*cking bag. But thanks for asking!!”

When their colleague asks ‘was there anything else you needed today’ while forty people wait behind me at the checkout – I may one day say “Why yes, I need the patience to stay calm in the face of such a stupid f*cking question”.

But I digress.  I often declare that my middle years should be peaceful and that tolerance levels and violent reactions should remain at an all time low.  But it would be helpful if there were not so many triggers, and the inference that I am ‘reaching out’ – when I am not, is just another one to add to the list.

So the plan is this. I now realise that I can avoid irritation by simply beating people to it.  To use my earlier examples, when I enquired about a mortgage I could have started the conversation by quickly thanking the bank for ‘reaching out’ to ME with their generous interest rate.

“No! I said it first. YOU ‘reached out’ to ME”

Would Mr Sykes have risked looking foolish just to stick to his script (Thanks for reaching out to me with that bank flyer Mr Sykes – No, No, thank YOU Ms Ritchie for reaching out to ME).  You see what I mean?

The only problem is that, in order to get in first, I will need to say it at the very start of every conversation regardless of whether the person planned to say it to me.  And in that way, ‘reaching out’ will become incorpated into ALL of my communications, as opposed to just a few.

Now why does that sound like such a crap solution……..?