Crashed Out

The Australian

26 February 2011

IT’S like a scene from a comedy skit. But true and too precious not to share.

I’m visiting a leading hypnotherapist. Sitting here because I can’t cope. The neighbours are renovating. Each morning, before I open my eyes and remember to be horrified by all the things I need to do, the drilling has commenced, through a common wall and into my ear. Smash, crash, bang, bang.

It’s only a few months since my other neighbour renovated, and another across the street. My nerves are shot. I need something to help me think positive thoughts or even just be able to function, working at home with that racket. The clatter of the city can become excruciating. Living close to the sea, we attract backpackers who sleep in their vans on my street. They yell and play music outside my bedroom window. They urinate, or worse, on the lawn.

My hypnotherapist is one of the finest. An experienced psychologist, his voice and manner immediately soothe me. “Don’t let the noise of the outside world disturb you,” he whispers. “Go deep inside, deeper and deeper…”

As he talks, I can hear women discussing a refrigerator, so close it’s almost in the room. Her husband didn’t fix it. The food went off before her dinner party. He never does anything. On and on. Finally a declaration: “Look, I do still love him.”

“I’m glad,” I say, sitting up.

The hypnotherapist looks irritated, but not at me. “I’m so, so sorry. Because of the courtyard, the acoustics are dreadful. We can hear everything they say. And her husband smokes like a chimney! If I leave the windows open, cigarette smoke billows into our house.” His face is anguished. “A nice couple live behind, but they have a four-year-old. He screams day and night. Don’t get me started on the skateboarders…”

He tells me that many of his clients suffer similar issues: powerlessness in the face of the noise, smells, smoke, barbecues, babies, building, that bombard and brutalise them each day in their own homes. “Lack of control leads to feelings of depression,” he says.

As he talks, the conversation next door gets more fiery. “Who are you to say that? Your marriage isn’t so fantastic either.”

“At least they have cold beer,” I joke.

My doctor doesn’t smile. “Studies have shown that not being in control of your immediate environment is the leading cause of unhappiness,” he says. His shoulders are slumped.

“Ummm, doctor, have you thought of seeing a hypnotherapist?”


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