It's not just Dave Hughes that I'm finding excruciating at the moment

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No, I am talking about a new level of frazzled I have reached this week that is completely unreasonable, where the tiniest of niggles can blow up into Class-A calamities as I pace my home/cage in search of vents for my pent-up frustrations. And it doesn’t take long to find them. Oh, no. I don’t even require a visual, as sounds alone can send me spare and mere words can signal war. So, let’s get this sentence out of the way as I white knuckle and grind my teeth to bloody stumps: “we’re all in this together”. Grrrrrrrrr.

You see, that phrase never used to bother me. In fact, I found the sentiment sweet and comforting at the beginning of this fiasco. But not now. Now, it makes me ferociously furious, joining a plethora of overused terms such as “new normal”, “flatten the curve” and “unprecedented times” that make me rage and rail. I swear my head turns a full 360 at the singalong schmaltz of the ubiquitous, “I am, you are, we are Australian” chorus I just can’t escape.

(I get it. I know it. Have the passport. Don’t need to be reminded.) And don’t get me started on the free-to-air TV promo voiceovers announcing upcoming programs with a gravitas that should signal the parting of the Red Sea or the second coming of Christ rather than yet another episode of that Masked malarky. Sigh.

While we are at it, why oh why must the Apple TV remote be the size it is other than to perfectly slide down any lounge crack with minimum ease? And why does every supposedly cute kid on TV have an attitude that entails persecuting their beleaguered parents?

How about the cruelty of ads for interstate holidays published in Victoria? And to those showing off their baking skills on social media feeds or boasting their weight loss – good on you, now go away.

I am aware that many of you reading this am think I am, well, Jatz crackers. So I contacted Anne Marie Collins, the president of the Australian Association of Psychologists, to see if that might be the case. And to my great delight, I discovered I am probably as sane as anyone else in this crisis.

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“You are right in describing this as an emotional carousel because most of us are experiencing emotional highs and lows and acting in ways we may not recognise or question,” she says.

“But what a lot of us aren’t understanding at this time is that it is human nature to experience feelings such as anger and sadness or to get easily irritated by small things like you currently are. Before the pandemic, we were usually too busy and preoccupied to notice or sit with such feelings. For lots of us in lockdown, we notice our moods more now as we have the time and less external stimulus than normal.”

So, yelling at The Masked Singer is OK?

“Well, you might want to ask yourself why you are finding it so irritating,” Collins says. “Are values being portrayed on screen that contrast to your own?

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“Different emotions can crop up at any time. It looks like you are going through an angry and irritable stage that will probably shift to something else soon enough as long as you recognise what you are feeling and don’t push emotions down. And it sounds to me like you aren’t doing that, you are venting, which is healthy.”

So, sorry, Dave, to pick on you while you are grieving, too. Next week, I’m probably likely to send you a heartfelt apology as I enter a calmer acceptance phase in my grieving process. But Sam Newman, that doesn’t mean you are safe, though. Not now or ever.

Wendy Squires is a regular columnist.

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