Ask anyone to keep count of the number of times they get angry in one day and my guess is the figure would head towards double digits pretty quickly. If you're a woman with a stressful full-time job, three children under six, a diabetic Airedale terrier, a pregnant nanny, a partner who also works full-time and a staff of 35 other women to manage then, believe me, that number easily surpasses double digits by lunchtime. But given our time-poor (and now cashpoor) "have-it-all" lifestyle, isn't a simmering level of female fury understandable? To be
expected even? I thought so, until my colleagues suggested I take an anger management course.
The good news? My team weren't too scared to suggest anger management to me in person; I mean I'm not Tony Soprano for goodness sake. The bad news? When quizzed, a friend confirms I do spend a ludicrous amount of time getting angry about everything and nothing, barely keeping a lid on the "mean reds" as Holly Golightly called them in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Let's be clear, I am not the female equivalent of Gordon Ramsay. I never shout at people, and I cope well in a crisis. No cover for the October issue? I'm as cool as a cucumber. Mobile phone lost at bottom of handbag? Steam is coming out of my ears.
It's the small stuff that infuriates me. I'm prone to checkout rage, bus-stop rage, taxi rage, and changing-room rage, but it's mostly white-goods rage that takes up my time. Other significant fury flashbacks include the time I beat my non-starting VW Beetle Basil Fawlty style with a branch, the day my husband hauled me off the broken dishwasher, as I attacked it with the business end of a Louboutin, and the toaster with a fork permanently rammed in it, like a piece of mad modern art. But I am not alone. A recent study by the Mental Health Foundation concluded Britain is becoming an angrier nation, with women finding it harder to control their
rage. Ultimately, I don't like feeling this cross: it's tiring and my children have started to mimic my Marge Simpson-like growling. I try a Qi energy treatment. Tired and irritable, I reluctantly head off to see Master Oh. But I tell you, if you haven't had a small Korean man in nicely ironed linens belch, yawn, hiss and grunt at you as he painfully pummels your abdomen, you are missing out on something quite extraordinary.
The theory is that Qi - or energy - flows through us all. When it flows freely it keeps us healthy and happy, but when there are blockages the energy slows down and turns toxic, making it difficult to deal with stress and harming the immune system. This treatment unblocks the blockages. The Qi Master re-vibrates your energy with the noises he makes so it flows more fluidly and massages your energy knots. He also gives you his energy. I'm not sure how. Master Oh tells me I have a fiery energy and a very sensitive system; this makes me creative
but volatile. I use all my energy up immediately, he says, and it is all in the upper part of my body, which explains the weakness of my kidneys (he's right, I do get kidney infections). Three sessions down the line I feel a lot calmer and a lot less stressed. This has made a real difference. I am also sleeping well.
So what have I learned? The basic problem is one most working women with young families face - I don't have enough hours in the day and this makes me impatient and frustrated. The female ability to multi-task is not a godsend, it is a curse, and I think it makes women secretly furious. Oddly the Qi energy treatment seems to have made me feel physically less stressed and less wired on a day to day basis. I have slowed down and begun to accept that I cannot control every situation. Buses will be late, four-year-olds will insist on wearing odd shoes to school, gadgets will defy me.