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Updated: Nov 3, 2023

Isn't that a great word? "Yedasentience". For me, it brings to mind the great fictional character from the Star Wars movies, Yoda, as well as my undergrad days as a struggling psychology student.

So what is it? Yedasentinece is a subjective feeling of "enough"; as in, "I've had enough to eat", or, "My hands are clean enough". Or, even, "I've watched all the Star Wars movies enough times to be over my obsession with Yoda"; no, that could never be! Jar Jar Binks, yes!

I've recently been marking assignments from psychology students who have been studying Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and some have mentioned this long-forgotten (by me at least) word.

People with OCD start worrying about something happening that is terrible, and they can't stop the worry. Somehow, they do or say something that could be totally unrelated, and that becomes associated with a sense of relief from the incessant worrying thought. Hence, the obsessive part is the worrying thought and the compulsive part comprises words or other actions that seem to relieve the horrible worrying feelings.

It's not just about doing something like saying one prayer, to stop a random thought about the nearby volcano blowing. That's a superstition, or a religious observance (depending on your faith, of course). The random thoughts and even obsessions are part of normal life. Ever got a song stuck in your head? It happens to me all the time. Cliff Richard's "Devil Woman", and Pseudo Echo's "Funky Town". And oh, no; Nena's "99 Luftballons".

In OCD, the thoughts can be debilitating in their repetitiveness, and the actions are said to be ritualistic and interfere with being able to live life the way the person wants to.

I used to have an elderly neighbour, who is now long-gone. She would get the pest exterminator in every three months, and have the house painted every six months. Excessive? I would think so. But it was after her son put her in a nursing home that the really interesting things began. He would turn up at 2am, setting off the automatic sensor light (which would wake me), and then when he left ... you guessed it. He would lock and check, unlock and lock and check. Six times, he would do this before leaving. Of course, I'd be wide awake by the end of it; but I'd know that once he got to six, it was all over and I could go back to sleep again. With a big sigh, I got my yedasentience! Now, I have no idea whether or not he was diagnosed with anything, and that's actually not my point.

My point is to ask, "When is enough, enough?"

The reason I ask this is two-fold.

The first reason, I ask this, is because recently, there has been rioting in the USA about a police officer being instrumental in the death of a man who just happened to have skin colour which was different. Surely, after so many instances of this happening the world over, we'd have laws and consequences for their breach to stop this from reoccurring. Apparently, what we have is insufficient, because an officer in Australia seems to have gotten away with multiple counts of rape, until recently.

I'm not condemning police officers (while they seem to be the culprits in those two cases), because I think cops do tremendous work, and I'm deeply thankful for their commitment to truth and fairness.

I am saying that violence against anyone, regardless of skin colour or sex or anything, is reprehensible.

My second reason for writing about yedasentience is good old COVID-19.

We are enjoying the ease of restrictions in Australia, getting back into travel, and being out and about. It's great!

But I have my reservations, because I have a sneaking suspicion that we'll have a second wave in June and a third in November. I hope I'm wrong, but I can't be sure because we are not testing non-symptomatic people.

How does yedasentience relate? Well, last Saturday, I was at a shopping centre. I was okay in the first department store; and then I saw, in the second, a line of people who didn't seem to practise social distancing. I left; and when I got to the main concourse, I nearly ran to my car! The crowds were thick and hanging around; people chatting happily, and blocking the walkways that would normally get me from one shop to the next. I wasn't terrified, but I was a bit intimidated!

Then, yesterday, I met with my siblings for our regular Saturday coffee. We used to meet at a yacht club, but we adapted to online coffees during our home isolation period. I would host a Zoom meeting, and we would have our chat that way. We tried WhatsApp successfully too.

Last weekend, we met in a cafe for the first time; and then yesterday, we got a takeaway and took it to the park.

It was a nice day out. Toddlers and infants everywhere, so I had ADOB!* I love babies! Kids crawling all over the play equipment, parents chatting. It felt like there were hundreds of people. There were, maybe, fifty?

It's interesting how our brains work, when we have been in a state of heightened awareness of danger. We become hypervigilant, and we might "make a mountain out of a molehill". Maybe that's what happened yesterday at the park. Instead of seeing fifty people, my brain blew the numbers out of proportion because I'm still a little scared of COVID-19.

It comes back to yedasentience, because I am not witnessing social distancing when I go out. I think that if I see people standing at least 1.5 metres apart, I won't worry so much, and I won't perceive hundreds of people when there aren't that many. I need the distance between us to feel safe. I'm not seeing enough distance, People!!

So, what do you think? Are my ramblings unreasonable? Are my worries of no concern? I suppose it boils down to how I am adapting to all this behaviourally.

Well, firstly, I'm avoiding shopping centres on the weekends. I'm still going, but while other people are at work!! That way, I can avoid the crowds, but still get used to being in public places with other humans again.

Secondly, I'm trying to maintain social distancing myself. This is one of the best methods to stop the spread of the virus, and all the experts say the second wave could be worse than the first. So, I think this isn't unreasonable.

Thirdly, I still wash my hands with soap and water, dry them with a clean towel, and moisturise (because cracked skin is a germ's playground). When I have guests, I offer them a fresh hand-towel so they can go wash their hands and dry with something clean. I pack alcohol hand-rub in my car and handbag, to sanitise my hands whenever I'm out. I really appreciate all the shops having hand-gel at their entries!! It saves me using mine.

Fourthly, I pack a clean face mask in a clean plastic bag, and wear it indoors. It's important to cover both nose and mouth, to bend the wire over the nose and ensure it fits properly.

It's the little things we do, that can assuage the fears of our loved ones and strangers alike. As much as part of my behavioural response might be "avoidance", other parts are "gradual habituation" - I'm slowly re-entering life and just giving myself time to get used to being near others again. Sure, it will take time. But if I stay alive and well, I'll have plenty of that!

*ADOB - Attention Deficit Oh! Baby!

Hopefully, you will too ... enjoy playing with the space in between!


November 2023: post-script.

This article was written just after Australia started setting the relaxation of many restrictions around COVID-19. Thankfully, life feels normal where I am. I've even flown overseas and had a fantastic holiday. But, did you know that the coronavirus is still active and mutating? Please take care always. There's only one you.


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