BORN TOO EARLY PERHAPS?

Looking through reams and reams of old photographs dating back to around the time of Noah (well, it feels like that sometimes!), I am distressed by the fact that what today is regarded as a fashion necessity, labelled me as a bit of a freak of nature. What am I referring to, you probably wonder? It is the fact that on all my school photos I was always the only one wearing glasses! What on earth was going on in the 1950’s which resulted in me being an odd one out? Nowadays every second person, including many children, are wearing glasses of every style imaginable.

I was diagnosed as having an alternating squint and had to have an operation to correct it when I was 3 years old. At that time parents were not allowed to visit their children in hospital and my parents could only peep through the window at the top of the swinging doors at the entrance to my ward. Even though I was so young, I have memories of having bandages over both my eyes and peeping under the bandage to be able to sneak a look at my surroundings. I also remember being in a cot and having to be fed by a nurse and the bowl was specific to the era – with a wide rim surrounding the actual bowl. This was probably to minimise any spillage.

Nowadays, if a child has a squint, the treatment is non- intrusive and definitely less traumatic. The problem in those days was that eye specialists had yet to realise that, if you corrected the muscle in one eye, then the other eye started to squint. Why this was only discovered by the time I had children of my own, and my daughter began showing the same kind of problem, heaven alone knows. After all, the eye is a muscle and muscles can be strengthened by exercises. As a teenager, and having emigrated with my parents from the UK and now living in South Africa, I had a second operation on the other eye but afterwards, much to my disappointment, I still had to wear glasses. The eye specialists who had operated on my eye now recommended that I saw a lady in Johannesburg, Miss Munro Henderson, who specialised in teaching people how to strengthen their eyes through exercises using a variety of printed cards.

The point I was trying to make is how advanced life has become and how attitudes have changed. When I was little, I was often teased and called “four eyes” by classmates. I was even asked if I wore my glasses when I was sleeping. I eventually learnt to answer that I actually did sleep with them on so that my dreams were in colour! The glasses I wore in the early years were national health issue (UK) and were round and pink with wire ear- pieces. If one compares what is available nowadays, mine really did look very antiquated, but then they were issued free!

How I would have loved to have been able to wear my glasses as a fashion item instead of just a way of keeping my eyes straight, at a time when image, and being like everyone else, was the most important thing in life. Teenage years are when you want to fit in, not stand out! Anyway, suffice to say that as soon as I was able, and soft contact lenses became readily available, my glasses became a stand-by for night-time reading in bed while my lenses were in their overnight soaking solution. Unfortunately, by this time my teenage years were long gone and I was in my thirties.

 As soon as I became a contact lens wearer, life changed dramatically as now I could swim in the sea and find my way back to our spot on the beach without the help of a human guide dog! Contact lenses were the best thing since sliced bread for me. My eyes no longer squinted at all, I found that I wasn’t as much a failure at ball sports as I had been whilst wearing glasses and my peripheral vision was amazing! Another fantastic benefit was being able to chop up onions without any tears whatsoever and being able to put food into a hot oven without the irritation of glasses misting up all the time. Raindrops falling on the glasses was no longer an issue and how wonderful it is to be able to see what you are doing when putting on eye makeup.

So now, why are so many people wearing glasses, whilst I, who have worn them from the age 3, couldn’t wait to swop over to contacts? Yes, there are some beautiful, mod frames from which to choose, but they still have the same drawbacks as before, except that no-one is made to feel embarrassed by wearing them due to them being viewed more as a fashion item than an aid for a disability! Sometimes one has to wonder whether they were born too early!!

BORN TOO EARLY PERHAPS?

Looking through reams and reams of old photographs dating back to around the time of Noah (well, it feels like that sometimes!), I am distressed by the fact that what today is regarded as a fashion necessity, labelled me as a bit of a freak of nature. What am I referring to, you probably wonder? It is the fact that on all my school photos I was always the only one wearing glasses! What on earth was going on in the 1950’s which resulted in me being an odd one out? Nowadays every second person, including many children, are wearing glasses of every style imaginable.

I was diagnosed as having an alternating squint and had to have an operation to correct it when I was 3 years old. At that time parents were not allowed to visit their children in hospital and my parents could only peep through the window at the top of the swinging doors at the entrance to my ward. Even though I was so young, I have memories of having bandages over both my eyes and peeping under the bandage to be able to sneak a look at my surroundings. I also remember being in a cot and having to be fed by a nurse and the bowl was specific to the era – with a wide rim surrounding the actual bowl. This was probably to minimise any spillage.

Nowadays, if a child has a squint, the treatment is non- intrusive and definitely less traumatic. The problem in those days was that eye specialists had yet to realise that, if you corrected the muscle in one eye, then the other eye started to squint. Why this was only discovered by the time I had children of my own, and my daughter began showing the same kind of problem, heaven alone knows. After all, the eye is a muscle and muscles can be strengthened by exercises. As a teenager, and having emigrated with my parents from the UK and now living in South Africa, I had a second operation on the other eye but afterwards, much to my disappointment, I still had to wear glasses. The eye specialists who had operated on my eye now recommended that I saw a lady in Johannesburg, Miss Munro Henderson, who specialised in teaching people how to strengthen their eyes through exercises using a variety of printed cards.

The point I was trying to make is how advanced life has become and how attitudes have changed. When I was little, I was often teased and called “four eyes” by classmates. I was even asked if I wore my glasses when I was sleeping. I eventually learnt to answer that I actually did sleep with them on so that my dreams were in colour! The glasses I wore in the early years were national health issue (UK) and were round and pink with wire ear- pieces. If one compares what is available nowadays, mine really did look very antiquated, but then they were issued free!

How I would have loved to have been able to wear my glasses as a fashion item instead of just a way of keeping my eyes straight, at a time when image, and being like everyone else, was the most important thing in life. Teenage years are when you want to fit in, not stand out! Anyway, suffice to say that as soon as I was able, and soft contact lenses became readily available, my glasses became a stand-by for night-time reading in bed while my lenses were in their overnight soaking solution. Unfortunately, by this time my teenage years were long gone and I was in my thirties.

 As soon as I became a contact lens wearer, life changed dramatically as now I could swim in the sea and find my way back to our spot on the beach without the help of a human guide dog! Contact lenses were the best thing since sliced bread for me. My eyes no longer squinted at all, I found that I wasn’t as much a failure at ball sports as I had been whilst wearing glasses and my peripheral vision was amazing! Another fantastic benefit was being able to chop up onions without any tears whatsoever and being able to put food into a hot oven without the irritation of glasses misting up all the time. Raindrops falling on the glasses was no longer an issue and how wonderful it is to be able to see what you are doing when putting on eye makeup.

So now, why are so many people wearing glasses, whilst I, who have worn them from the age 3, couldn’t wait to swop over to contacts? Yes, there are some beautiful, mod frames from which to choose, but they still have the same drawbacks as before, except that no-one is made to feel embarrassed by wearing them due to them being viewed more as a fashion item than an aid for a disability! Sometimes one has to wonder whether they were born too early!!

Update and Comments – 4 July 2021

What is there to say when we are once again under lockdown level 4 with all its crippling restrictions for many industries. The situation concerning Covid has been badly mishandled by the powers that be, who spend more time taking one another to court than sorting out the crisis raging in our country, and Gauteng in particular. Our politicians prove over and over again that they are totally incapable of planning for the future. Everyone knows that the health department is in a real mess with a shortage of skilled staff as well as enough functional hospitals. All this whilst around 200 newly qualified young doctors have yet to be given posts to complete their internship programme. Their knowledge would surely be able to help to alleviate the current chaotic situation.  Much of the problem has been caused by total mismanagement ever since the current government came into power, as well as the ongoing illegal pocketing of millions, if not billions of rand, which is rife throughout the entire country. Most municipalities countrywide are on the verge of bankruptcy. Tax money paid from the hard-earned incomes of frustrated citizens have been pocketed by corrupt individuals who have been entrusted with the running of their constituencies. A very sad and diabolical state of affairs.

All of the above is apart from the psychological strain being put upon many citizens due to having lost their jobs, being confronted with the loss of family members or friends due to the virus, and then hearing all the constant negative news reports.  What appears to be a strange situation is that within the crowded informal settlements, the incidence of Covid infections seems to be very low. Could this be due to the fact that so many poor people have always lived in very close proximity to each other and have thus developed extremely strong immune systems? Has this perhaps resulted in them creating their own herd immunity? It has been documented that ever since the virus raised its ugly head, and protocols regarding the wearing of masks and keeping social distancing were implemented, these were totally ignored in many of the poorer areas. One would have thus expected the numbers of casualties to be astronomic, and this does not appear to be the case. No doubt there will be some or other kind of study done regarding this phenomenon, so only time will tell if living in a crowded environment with all the challenges of surviving on or even below the poverty line can actually provide a protection against the Covid virus.

Bye for now and see you on the Magic Roundabout!

Updates and Comments2 472x265 Continue reading Update and Comments – 4 July 2021

The Effects of Lockdown on Mental Health

For a large number of human beings who have grown up in societies where freedom has been taken for granted, lockdown with all its restrictions appears to have had a massive effect on mental health. I have read recently, as well as having heard reports on the radio, that many mental health professionals and organizations such as Lifeline, have been inundated with calls from people feeling so down that they are contemplating suicide.

How do we explain these feelings of desperation? People by nature need contact with others unless they have chosen a life of solitude, such as becoming a hermit monk. I don’t think that the percentage of people who have gone in that direction can be very high, to be honest. Being isolated from family members and close friends has been very tough on most people but especially on those who live alone. Different countries have treated lockdown in their own way and with their own level of trying to control the spread of the virus. However, where it has resulted in the banning of friends and family members being able to come to one’s home, this has proved to be a very hard pill to swallow and has caused many people to feel extremely isolated and depressed.

“There is no greater sorrow than to recall in misery
the time when we were happy.” – Dante

Even if one has been able to carry on making a living whilst working from home, just having to think twice before going anywhere can, in itself, be a very distressing way of living. Is it really necessary to go outside one’s home? What is the risk of coming in contact with the virus? Are you in that age group which is seen as the vulnerable bracket or do you have an underlying health issue which could affect you very negatively, if you should you actually get Covid 19? Are you comfortable having to wear a cotton mask whilst you are outside the home? If you wear glasses, can you even see with the mask having the effect of steaming up your lenses? Oh boy, so much to take into consideration and you are more than likely happier to stay at home after all, and make do with the groceries you already have in your store cupboard or do the obvious and order on line.

Many elderly people living in retirement homes have been in total lockdown for months now in order to protect them and the rest of the residents from the possibility of being infected by visitors who may be carrying the virus. These individuals are not in total isolation as there are others living close by as well as nurses and caregivers in most cases. They would have been in a much more difficult situation if they had still been living in their previous homes, very often after having lost their partner.

Much has been said recently about the effect this lockdown, and the fear of the virus, is having on children and young adults. Although children are believed to be fairly resilient and able to bounce back in many situations, this Covid 19 pandemic is completely alien to us all. No-one has so far devised a fool-proof method of teaching them new coping strategies. Only time will tell just how severely this lockdown, with all its restrictions, has affected the mental health of many young people all over the world. One can only hope that it won’t be too long before we can all relax a little and start to put our rather fractured lives back together again, even though we are warned that a “normal” way of life will, in fact, be a “new normal”.

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In the meantime, whilst we are playing the wait and see game, children are slowly returning, or have already returned, to the classroom. Having to have their temperature taken each morning before going into the school building, wearing a mask all day long, and being sanitized at the school door, are all practices which have to be followed. Some parents have reported having to cope with children returning from school complaining of headaches and being extremely tired. This could be as a result of the new regulations in place forcing them to breathe behind a cotton mask whilst trying to concentrate on the work being presented to them by the teacher. It is critical for parents and teachers to take cognisance of these side effects which appear to be the result of going back to school.

Having been home schooled for so long, it stands to reason that it will take some time before students, especially the younger ones, adjust once again to being away from the comfort and relative safety of their home environment. The school year had hardly begun in the southern hemisphere when Covid 19 reared its very ugly head. Little people had just become happy to say goodbye to their parents in the mornings and the crying and clinging had stopped. Now, there is a big chance that this will start all over again as the smaller ones face going back to pre-schools and nursery schools.

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The excitement of seeing friends again and interacting with other children is obviously a big factor when it comes to going back to school. Online lessons, with the advantage of Zoom, is a good substitute but nothing can compare with the fun that often comes from interacting with one’s peer group. This mixing with their own age group is particularly important for teenagers, who often feel that only their friends understand them. Months of keeping friendships going via social media and mobile phone calls does not have the same meaning as actually seeing and interacting with one another.

Teenagers have been affected badly by the lockdown and isolation and they have always been a very vulnerable group where suicide is concerned. Without school classes as well as sporting activities it stands to reason that many young people would have experienced feelings of anger and frustration Those looking towards writing their final exams at the end of the year must have become very anxious, especially if it was impossible for them to study on line. Others may have suddenly had to give up the intense physical training they were doing regularly in their various sports. With so much having been halted in one foul swoop, it is no wonder that the result is often depression and a severe feeling of loss.

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Many parents too must have thought the end of the world had come when, having to work from home, surrounded by young children needing care and on-line lessons, they are totally exhausted every single day. Realising just how demanding trying to teach children can be has definitely raised the respect level given to the teaching profession. However, the feelings experienced by parents of not doing everything as well as they should, may also have caused much anxiety and despondency as this is not a normal situation, by any manner of means.

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One wonders whether the effects of this pandemic will be long lasting or will we all forget just how stressful life in 2020 has been. So far, we have actually lost a huge portion of the year which has included Easter, Mothers’ Day and soon, Fathers’ Day and one hopes that by the time Christmas arrives, things will be looking a little brighter. It seems that it is only countries like New Zealand and Australia who have been affected very little by Covid 19, whilst the rest of us are soldiering on and hoping for brighter days ahead. Well, hope doesn’t cost anything, but if you are suffering from severe depression then hope can be a pipe dream.

My wish at this time is that all those people who are at the end of their tether reach out to the organizations who are available when life seems worthless and that they find a listener who has empathy and the ability to assist them and prevent a disaster. After all, tomorrow is another day, and sometimes there really is light at the end of a very dark tunnel – as long as hope survives.

“I am so angry with myself because I cannot do what
I should like to do, and at such a moment one feels as if one
were lying bound hand and foot at the bottom
of a deep
dark well, utterly helpless.” – Vincent Van Gogh 

Update and Comments: 16 May 2020

The end of the world as we know it?

It is getting more and more difficult to stay positive here in South Africa during the lockdown and being isolated from family and friends. Unlike in other parts of the world, it seems to be more about turning the country into a police state than protecting the vulnerable. There are just way too many ridiculous rules being made with no explanation given as to the reasoning behind them. There is also an unacceptable level of violence being committed by those whose job it should be to protect the public. How are we meant to maintain sound mental health when we are bombarded constantly with distressing statistics and reports of violent behaviour.

Hundreds of South African schools have been vandalised, and in many cases set on fire, during the past few weeks of lockdown, and this is a country desperately in need of education. There is absolutely zero control over crime, and this has been the situation for years now. Currently many things have gone completely crazy, as the emphasis is on checking for illegal cigarettes and contraband alcohol, due to the ban of the sale of these products during lockdown. This kind of draconian control has no intelligent reasoning behind it. No-one had the common sense to consider that there should have been 24-hour armed surveillance at all schools whilst they were unoccupied. Instead, they became an easy target with laboratory equipment, computers, in fact anything the thieving swines could get their hands on was stolen.

The control is over the middle-income (not going to be middle-income for much longer) group as the poor do not heed such things as social distancing as it is not part of their culture. They are the ones who are suffering from food shortages due to so many employers being unable to continue with their businesses and being unable to pay their staff. Some will receive a smaller amount than their usual income from unemployment pay-outs, but this is likely to take quite a while to be implemented and people need to survive in the here and now. The government are proving to be totally inept when it comes to preventing hunger among millions of poverty-stricken individuals.

It has been so easy to convince the masses, mainly uneducated and usually totally illiterate, to always vote for the ANC, as for many they honestly think that Nelson Mandela has something to do with the party today. How very wrong can they be?

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Psychopathy

There seems to be a great deal of information quite readily available these days regarding the rather disturbing incidence of psychopathy. I watched a documentary recently which involved a young boy of around 4 years old who has already shown frightening behavioural patterns which would seem to indicate that he is possibly a young psychopath in the making. His mother, when interviewed, said that he had already killed a kitten by microwaving the poor creature, and was constantly harming other defenceless creatures and showing no remorse whatsoever. It must be extremely unpleasant to witness this kind of behaviour in such a young person, but what is one supposed to do?

The answer is quite clearly that the parents need to get professional help as soon as such disturbing tendencies are noticed. Depending upon one’s financial circumstances, as well as the country in which one resides, this may be easier said than done.

Years ago, if a child committed any kind of act which was deemed to be anti-social or plain cruel, the parents would have most likely taken a belt to their backside and punished them with taking away any privileges. However, what we don’t know, is just what effect such punishment ultimately had on the child and if possibly it exacerbated the occurrence of the disturbing behaviour. If we take a person such as the infamous Jeffrey Dahmer it would seem that he appeared to be a normal, happy boy during his early childhood. He had surgery for a hernia and, according to his mother, his personality began to change thereafter with him becoming withdrawn and morose. However, there was also the added stress of a baby brother being born, and then his parents divorcing. So, is it possible that the surgery itself may have, through the anaesthetic having been administered, paved the way for his becoming a psychopath? Interesting thought, but has it ever been the subject of research, one wonders.

In many documented cases where a mass murderer has been arrested, tried and found guilty, there often seems to be a common thread running through the personalities of many of them. This commonality appears to indicate an innate desire to harm, torture and destroy, with a total lack of empathy, and no feelings of remorse for their actions, from a very young age.

Although psychopathy and sociopathy are both classified as mental disorders, and are both antisocial behaviours, there are differences. Psychopaths are believed to be born and their condition is theorised to be due to the underdevelopment of the area of the brain which is responsible for impulse control. Sociopaths, on the other hand may develop these behaviour patterns through physical or emotional abuse in childhood. What is concerning is the estimated percentage of people whom we are likely to come in contact with, who are possibly psychopaths. They may be in our work environment, or at social gatherings and yet we possibly view them just as unfeeling individuals or plain antisocial in their behaviour and we may tend to avoid them as much as possible. Many psychopaths will never end up in jails or psychiatric institutions, but they may still be capable of wreaking havoc on those with whom they come in close contact, such as family members.

I remember as a child picnicking on a beach one Sunday morning with my parents, and next to us was a boy of about 7 years old who was with his grandmother. He appeared to be very intense and somewhat morose and he seemed to be completely engrossed in building little humps of sand with his spade. When my father asked him what he was making, he replied in a very creepy voice  (rather unnerving in  such a young child), “I’m building a graveyard!”. His tone gave us the shivers and one has to wonder just how he turned out when he grew up. Another Jeffrey Dahmer perhaps? Or maybe another Stephen King? Who knows, but gives one something to ponder.

“People who do hideous things, do not look like people
who do hideous things.
There is no face of evil.”
– Martha Stout (American Psychologist)

Update and Comments: 20 March 2020

Confusion reigns

We all believe that we are invincible and that anything which is happening in another part of the world is not going to affect us in any way. How wrong can we be, as this Corona Virus (Covid-19) virus is proving to us all. The fact that we are able, through all the technological advances at our finger tips, to follow the lives of fellow humans all over the globe, can cause mass panic and fear amongst us and this is becoming more and more evident as the number of diagnosed cases increases.

Somehow, we have all been led to believe that the government and its policies will look after us when disaster strikes. We forget that every one of these so called “leaders” are just mere mortals like the rest of us. They have a tremendous task, when unforeseen events occur, to try to convince the population at large that they, the so-called people in charge, are aware of the problems and are in a position to offer solutions.  I suppose this is their way of attempting to prevent us all from going stark staring mad due to fear and panic. The trouble is that they are often spouting promises with little actual facts at their fingertips as to how to solve the problem at hand.

All one is hearing right now is how shelves in retail stores are stripped of items such as toilet rolls and hand sanitizer! For goodness sake, what happened to good old soap and water? It is a sad fact of life however that for many people in South Africa, as well as many other parts of the world, the availability of running water is a pipe dream (rather an unthinking pun, for which I sincerely apologise!) and those same people are not in a financial position to purchase expensive hand sanitizers. When you live in a crowded environment and have to queue up to use communal toilets, I hardly think you can afford to buy economy packs of 2 ply loo paper either. So, the more clued up you are about health and safety, sometimes the more idiotically you behave. One would have thought that, if you can afford to bulk buy in order to protect yourself, you would be in a reasonably good financial position which should surely be linked to a certain level of education and/or intelligence? Apparently not, if all the hooliganism surrounding the purchasing of toilet paper is to be taken seriously.

Whilst I may appear to be flippant about this pandemic, it is certainly not the case. One is constantly second guessing just how to carry on when making a living is all important. Being surrounded by others who are losing their jobs, having functions cancelled upon which their livelihood depends is very distressing, and it’s not easy to remain positive right now. We have abundant challenges world-wide every single day, even without the threat of coming down with the virus, but we just have to try to band together (from a distance, and after sanitizing our hands!) and offer emotional support if possible. Doesn’t the old adage say that what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger? Well, we can only hope that this proves to be the case right now.

As I am writing this, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and all is well in my little neck of the woods. The gate, which was hit by lightening a month ago has finally been repaired, my flat tyre on my indispensable little Hyundai i10 has been fixed, and I managed to get my doctor to issue a repeat of my prescription without having to spend time sitting in a waiting room which was jam packed with coughing and sick looking individuals.

So, all is well in this neck of the woods for the time being at least. Hope all who read this missive are taking the right precautions, and if you are quarantined, read all those books which you have been stockpiling for that elusive day when you have some time on your hands.

Bye for now and see you on the Magic Roundabout!

Updates and Comments2 472x265

The Changing Face of Addiction

Having studied the subject of addiction during my psychology courses quite a number of years ago, I am beginning to wonder nowadays whether or not the incidence of addiction is on the increase with the ongoing technological advances with which we all seem to be faced?

In the past, when one mentioned the word “addiction”, thoughts went automatically to alcohol abuse, over-eating, the use of recreational drugs, gambling and even exercise. These days the goal posts have moved, and we see people who cannot function if their mobile phones are not in their hands or positioned on their desks right in front of them. First thing in the morning the phone is grabbed whilst eyes are still bleary from sleep – “what messages have arrived during the night, who has posted some exciting information on Facebook whilst I have been asleep, what earth shattering news have I woken up to read? I need to scroll down and update myself before brushing my teeth, having a cup of coffee, and generally facing the day.”

One of the biggest catastrophies in modern day society, is often the theft or breakage of one’s mobile phone. Heaven help us all if we lose reams and reams of totally inconsequential information, not to mention photos from every person with whom we have had any dealings at all, be they good friends, family members, or just passing acquaintances. How are we ever going to survive without this personal encyclopaedia of trivia? Archiving the information in “The Cloud” can be one’s life saver when this happens, I believe (never having had to travel that road, thank heavens). So, if one is techno-savvy, there is always light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

The trend amongst many of the so-called millennials is to exercise to extreme, and to spend as much time as possible at gyms, pounding the pavements, or swimming the oceans or taking part in triathlons of one kind or another. The health stores are benefitting all the way to the bank, due to all the supplements, vitamins, and health foods which go hand in hand with all this obsession with beautiful bodies. This kind of life also can be lumped together with other forms of addiction, one would think. There is the obsession with attempting to prevent the ageing process with cosmetic surgery not to mention purchasing the most expensive cosmetics which promise eternal youth.

I have realised over the past few weeks, since the beginning of December in actual fact, that as business slowed down, so there was more time to engage in mindless, time-wasting activities, and the mobile phone was the partner in crime. So easy to download casino games, mental exercise apps, you name it, you can download it. Once you have learnt the basics as to how to play the game, then voila, you are soon hauled in, hook, line and sinker! It takes a very strong will to actually limit yourself to a certain time of the day for playing, or even a certain amount of games before you close the app., and get on with the serious matters of the day. One does not need to be a neurosurgeon to realise that something is happening in one’s brain when these apps are downloaded. It doesn’t take long to become addicted – or is that just me? The solution seems to be to uninstall these apps and get on with a normal day?

face id smartphone parasite, woman and Internet addiction

I would really like to know just what does happen within the brain’s wiring system which allows us to so easily become an addict of one kind or another. Are we born as potential addictive personality types, depending upon our specific DNA? Or is it all a matter of a certain chemical reaction taking place due to a particular occurrence that results in our suddenly being able to waste valuable time, or mess with our healthy bodies because of having acquired a specific craving which conflicts with our previous behaviour? All I can say is that it must be very trying for those individuals whose job it is to assist in breaking these destructive behavioural patterns with which addicts of any kind are afflicted,  as well as for anyone seriously trying to move on, addiction-free.

If it is an addiction linked to one’s physical health, such as alcohol, drugs, tobacco, etc., then it is probably more difficult to handle than one which just messes with one’s brain, e.g. the mobile phone, or the computer, and is more detrimental to one’s quality of life. However, seeing people unable to interact with one another without the perpetual glancing at phone screens to check for messages, then how detrimental are any addictions when it comes to personal relationships and the future of the human race per se?

“Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the
narcotic
be Alcohol or Morphine or Idealism”
– Carl Jung (Psychologist)

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The amazing benefits of a Reflexology treatment

For many people the sheer idea of someone handling their feet makes them shrink in horror. It may be something which sounds totally alien and a little too personal to contemplate with any degree of seriousness. However, for those who have discovered the wonders of having a qualified reflexologist giving them a treatment, it is a totally different story.

A foot rub does not constitute a reflexology treatment. This needs to be said, as a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Only when one has studied reflexology does the realisation kick in that our state of health as well as our personality is reflected in the soles of our feet and there is a specific way of giving a treatment. So yes, let your partner rub your feet if you are stressed, but if you really want a therapeutic treatment, then make sure this is done by a qualified practitioner and not a charlatan.

A reflexologist is not qualified to diagnose illness but they can advise a patient to seek medical advice if they suspect a potential problem. By looking at the condition of the feet, the colour as well as the texture, much information can be gleaned about the person to whom they belong. The toenails and the shape of the toes also hold their own information about the patient but the best measure of all, is for the practitioner to take a full medical history before doing a session for the first time.

“The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering
and a work of art,” – Leonardo da Vinci

Many years ago I was coerced into allowing a beauty therapist to give me several reflexology treatments at a special “stress package” price. In hindsight this really was a big mistake to make, but at that time I was ignorant as to what exactly reflexology was all about and how I would react to a treatment.  The first session just left me feeling rather tired later in the day and I found the woman giving the treatment did not make me feel relaxed at all. In fact she was rather rough and it wasn’t a particularly pleasant experience.  However, having paid in advance for the entire package I did go for the next treatment. This time it just happened to be in the afternoon prior to attending a business dinner at a restaurant that evening. The so-called therapist did not at any time say anything relating to the dos and don’ts of a post reflexology treatment.  It is important to know that afterwards you should drink plenty of water, limit alcohol intake and take it easy and not be over active.

That evening, on arriving at “Fat Franks”, an upmarket and very popular Johannesburg restaurant at the time, my husband and I were both given a tequila as our welcome drink.  Then it was time for the meal to be served and my choice was one of extremely rich food accompanied by wine. I remember having eaten and drunk very little when I had to go to the bathroom where I spent most of the rest of, what should have been a pleasant get together of colleagues, throwing up. It was highly embarrassing as it must have appeared that I had drunk way too much whereas that was very far from the truth. I just had no idea what it was that had caused me to be so ill.

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Years later, when I studied to become a reflexologist, I soon realised just what the problem had been. The body tries to expel toxins whilst, at the same time, attempting to achieve a state of homeostasis (balance)  when you have a reflexology treatment. Therefore, loading it with more toxins whilst the de-toxifying process is taking place is a recipe for disaster. That is why I have a total aversion to people with very limited knowledge giving others so-called foot treatments. Like anything related to the body, if you don’t know what you are doing and what damage you can possibly cause, then leave it to the experts.

The health benefits from reflexology are numerous and I have been witness to this over the years during which I have given treatments to people of all ages and levels of fitness. The amazing thing for me, after many years, is just how well one is able to pick up on personality traits as well as health issues by studying the feet of the person one is treating.  It is also beneficial for the therapist who is giving the reflexology treatment as the nerve endings which are linked to every part of the body, which one is working on in the feet, are also present in the hands. Therefore, I believe that by giving a treatment and using one’s hands, this has to have positive results for the reflexologist as well as the patient.

It has been found that where reflexologists give treatments to children, who have suffered horrific burns, there appears to be a big reduction in the pain and the trauma which accompanies having the dressings changed.  Several years ago I recall that a Cape Town hospital which has a paediatric burns ward had volunteer reflexologists who were on hand to assist when these painful procedures had to take place. This is probably still the case today and the caring attitude combined with the treatments appear to be of immense value.

You may have had massages and various other forms of alternative treatments. If you have never tried having a reflexology treatment, believe me you will most likely find it a pleasurable experience. This is provided that the person giving the treatment does not use excessive force and cause undue pain. The ideal is that enough pressure is used on every part of the feet to be of benefit without being uncomfortable and hurting you unnecessarily. Enough said. When you are looking for the right therapist,  ask around and make sure that they are qualified to give the treatment.  You will soon find out whether their style and personality suits you and allows you to fully relax and enjoy the entire experience. If you are unable to relax and feel irritated during the session then you need to find somebody else! Putting your feet in another person’s hands is a personal experience and it should be pleasurable.

 

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Why no cure for the common cold.

When last did you stop and look around you whilst in either a pharmacy or a supermarket and take note of all the bottles and boxes of products claiming to help you recover from a common cold? The money being made by pharmaceutical companies from we humans trying to stay healthy during winter months must run into the billions (whether rands, pounds, dollars, euros or any other currency). If a cure were to be found for the common cold then there would be no need for all these hundreds and possibly thousands of products cluttering up the shelves.

A cough, a runny nose, itchy ears , sneezing– these can all be signs of a cold and we are constantly being told that the best course of action is usually to try to prevent it from turning into something more serious such as bronchitis or, the worst case scenario, pneumonia. Are we not perhaps prone to being brain washed into believing that we have to take off-the-shelf medication or, worse than that, a prescription for an antibiotic, in order to get rid of the cold? If caught in its early stages  an early night with a home-made toddy could be the best remedy of all, perhaps with no side effects either.

In the past it was the usual routine to drink a hot lemon drink which contained a spoonful of honey  (and maybe a tot of brandy) in order to help us stop coughing and to feel better.  Once tissues replaced those ghastly and bug infested cotton handkerchiefs it became easier to manage one’s cold. Blow, flush away and wash your hands afterwards became routine instead of having all those filthy germs sitting inside a soiled rag in your pocket. Yuck! So, with improved means of coping with that wretched cold what has actually changed for the better?  From taking vitamin C tablets, cough mixtures, rubbing one’s chest and throat with a vaporub, there is still no cure- all for the common cold. Why? Is it possible that, like so many areas in life where the controlling force is money, that any invention which could prove that it really does cure a cold would be hi-jacked before it could become common knowledge? Too many people would lose too much money if none of us ever again needed to peruse the shelves in search of that elusive successful cold remedy.

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At the risk of being attacked from all angles by anyone who is earning an extremely lucrative living from being part of a huge pharmaceutical company, I am extremely cynical when it comes to medicines and the ease with which doctors dispense a pill for every possible ailment. Sometimes a placebo might be the best option as we all have heard time and again of the power of our minds. The current extremely high incidence of cancer must be one of the very best calamities as far as the pharmaceutical companies are concerned. The moment anyone is diagnosed with the disease it seems that in most cases the first thing the doctors do is to recommend chemotherapy or radiation, or both. If a growth is removed, then these options also seem to be very much the route which is followed.

Sadly, over the years I have seen many friends as well as a family member suffer the most incredibly painful results of the above treatments and none of them is alive today. So, all the cost and extremely unpleasant side effects didn’t save their lives. In some cases maybe they had a few months longer than if they had opted to refuse the treatments? I know that there are many people here in South Africa who are trying Cannabis Oil and when it comes to pain alleviation, the results would appear to be very positive in many cases. Not for me to judge, but the billions spent annually on chemotherapy drugs and radiation treatments would surely be a factor which may be preventing that elusive cancer cure? Just a thought but there must be others out there reading this post who have seen or experienced first hand loved ones suffering the pain and indignity of these treatments  and seen the patients  losing their hair, feeling weak and debilitated for a great deal of the time and then dying anyway.

There do seem to be excellent results in many instances where children have been diagnosed, for example, with childhood leukaemia. Although they have had to endure all the pain and suffering of their chemotherapy treatments, the disease has gone into remission and often never ever raised its ugly head again. As parents it is obviously going to be a case of trying anything and everything to save your child’s life.  When it comes to adults, perhaps we should be considering all our options before taking the route of radical treatments.

However, with all the advances being made in the medical field why do we still not have a cure for cancer? We also don’t have one for the common cold but we are looking at being able to have a body part replaced using 3D imaging. Too much income would be lost by the massive pharmaceutical businesses worldwide if cures were to be readily available perhaps in the form of an injection or drops taken orally as with smallpox or polio.  A controversial issue and one that we could debate ad infinitum. Suffice to say that we have been blessed with a questioning mind (most of us, anyway) and we do have the right to make our own decisions without being bullied into taking a course of action which is against our better judgement.

On a more cheerful  note, let’s all try to keep some kind of balance in our lives as far as our health is concerned and  do our best to enjoy every day to the full. I trust that you found something of interest in this post as I enjoy putting my thoughts down on paper, despite possibly ruffling a few feathers in the process.  Some subjects lend themselves to future posts and health and lifestyle are one of many. So, stay well, eat well, exercise when you can and most of all try to keep a positive outlook on life. Not always easy to do, but nothing ventured, nothing gained!

“Suggested remedy for the common cold: a good gulp of
whiskey at bedtime – it’s not very scientific,
but it helps.
” – Alexander Fleming (1881-1955)