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Obsession Or Just Good Hygiene? Keeping The Coronavirus And OCD At Bay

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Cleaning skills that only the most generous would have called "eccentric" in pre-pandemic times are actually useful as I try to keep myself and my immunocompromised housemate — my girlfriend — safe from catching the coronavirus. But being hypervigilant is exhausting.
Keith Negley for NPR
Cleaning skills that only the most generous would have called "eccentric" in pre-pandemic times are actually useful as I try to keep myself and my immunocompromised housemate — my girlfriend — safe from catching the coronavirus. But being hypervigilant is exhausting.

Keith Negley for NPR

When I was 8 years old, just about all I could think of was how I was going to die that day.

No, I didn’t grow up in the middle of a war zone, though many others across the world were living through that kind of nightmare in 1996.

I was born and raised in a safe, small town in Idaho where murder was a rarity. It wouldn’t be a gun, a child predator, or a car accident that killed me, I figured.

Instead, because I had a significant form of anxiety that neither I nor my parents recognized at the time — obsessive compulsive disorder — I was convinced that some kind of microscopic creature would be absorbed through my hands and infect every living cell in my body. Maybe it would be bacteria, I thought, or parasites. Or a virus.

That pencil I borrowed from my second grade classmate? It had to be totally infested. The handle on the drinking fountain? Crawling with germs.

When I took out the trash or cleaned our cat’s litter box, my mind raced to strategize which hand I would use to turn on every light switch, open and close each door and carefully lift the lid on the garbage can to minimize my exposure to any kind of contamination.

I got good at using my feet, elbows and any other part of my body that lacked opposable thumbs to avoid touching what I deemed to be the life-threatening surfaces of everyday objects.

Now, 23 years later, those skills that only the most generous would have called “eccentric” in pre-pandemic times are actually useful as I try to keep myself and my immunocompromised housemate — my girlfriend — safe.

But those skills come at a cost as I try to balance the need to frequently sanitize our home with the need to keep anxiety-driven compulsion at bay.

One in 40 adults and 1 in 100 children in the United States cope with OCD on a daily basis, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health

There are different flavors of OCD, with different degrees and different types of obsessions and compulsions, including what people may have seen on the A&E TV show “Hoarders.” Those who militantly organize their surroundings also might have a touch of it.

One of my symptoms has always been an extreme and focused aversion to contamination, a characteristic I share with an estimated 40% of those who develop OCD, according to Dr. Elias Aboujaoude, a psychiatrist and director of Stanford University’s OCD clinic.

As a child, touching anything I thought was covered with germs cancelled out the use of that hand until I had a chance to scour it with soap and water. Until then I’d hold my hand as far as possible from my torso.

If I didn’t perfectly perform these draconian mental gymnastics, I knew — without a doubt — I was going to die. Maybe not immediately, but probably within a day or two, I thought.

Logic, which seems like it would be the panacea for irrational fears, is actually cruelly twisted back at you with OCD. No matter how much you reassure yourself that the hellscape you dreamed up in your head isn’t real, the condition amplifies your fears until you perform whatever fantastic ritual you’ve created for yourself to alleviate the anxiety.

By the time I turned 9 — with cognitive behavioral therapy, persistent practice, as well as a lot of patience and support from my parents — I learned to accept the invasive, persistent thoughts for what they were. Just thoughts. Medication also helps cut my base-level anxiety and it limits the scope of an occasional panic attack.

Today, my OCD is classified as mild to moderate, which means I’m not crippled by anxiety, at least most of the time.

I haven’t had a major contamination relapse since 2008 when I was in college. I was convinced for months back then that I needed to always keep whatever food I ate or drank within sight, because I thought it would magically be dosed with LSD. Let’s be real, no one would be that generous with their stash.

(That episode ended after I finally got the help of a new therapist after not having seen one for more than a decade).

It’s not uncommon for people with well-controlled OCD to experience a small lapse in compulsive behaviors when under great pressure or stress, psychiatrists find, though for many people, full-blown relapses are, as in my case, rare after successful treatment.

Still, the pandemic has been challenging for a lot of us.

Cases of COVID-19 began to spring up in Idaho, where I live, in mid-March. Since then, thousands more cases have appeared.

As we learned the details of how some patients died — alone, gasping for air, choking on fluid that fills their lungs like a lock system in a dam — I could feel my anxiety rise.

I’ve been lucky enough to be able to work from home. But I’m suddenly finding my cleaning regimen taking up a not-so-insignificant part of my day.

In the home I share with my girlfriend, I take every precaution I can to maintain a contamination-free zone in the house, just as CDC guidelines recommend, though sometimes I go a little overboard.

High-touch objects such as door knobs, light switches, remotes, faucets and countertops are all disinfected multiple times per day. When a package gets delivered, I handle it like a live grenade. It, too, must be zapped of any trace of this disease that could sneak into our house.

I know where every object in this house has been, whether I’ve touched it with a finger that’s grazed a doorknob that was nicked by the grocery bags that were left on our doorstep, and whether I’ve recently doused that surface with rubbing alcohol to kill any possible trace of the coronavirus that might have crept in while I wasn’t paying attention.

If the gallon and a half of hand soap doesn’t run out first, the hand lotion will.

I worry that, to my girlfriend, I look like a frazzled conspiracy theorist — as though I’m tracking links and clues on a corkboard filled with pins and ribbons, meticulously tracing every step.

That’s not how she sees me, she says. But for her own mental health, she’s been leaving the cleaning up to me.

It’s stressful for her, too. She knows I don’t trust her to decontaminate any delivery or package we receive (and I feel guilty admitting that’s true).

While her mind is consumed with concern over the rising global death toll and whether there’s any end in sight, my mind is also managing dozens of little internal clocks ticking down the hours, minutes and seconds until every microbe will die on the mail pile or on the cloth seat in my car.

There’s a thin line between being hypervigilant and succumbing to my deeper obsessions and compulsions — so far I’ve managed to stay on the right side of that line.

My therapist, who will tell me if I’ve crossed it, is still accessible by video call, thankfully. I’ve taken up exercising on our back porch to burn off some of my anxious energy, and that helps.

I’ve planted my garden full of lettuce, spinach, arugula, fancy purple carrots and radishes. Smelling the rich soil and seeing the vibrant colors of my vegetables transports me away from the day’s news and body count.

Heading back inside, I’ll think about how delicious all these things I’ve grown will be to eat in a month or two. But sometimes another thought breaks through, with a slight sense of dread: “Did I wash my hands?”

James Dawson is writer and reporter for Boise Public Radio.

Source: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/06/13/872466613/obsession-or-just-good-hygiene-keeping-the-coronavirus-and-ocd-at-bay?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=news

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The Briefing: RVShare raises over $100M, Google disputes charges, and more

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Here’s what you need to know today in startup and venture news, updated by the Crunchbase News staff throughout the day to keep you in the know.

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RVShare raises over $100M for RV rentals

RVShare, an online marketplace for RV rentals, reportedly raised over $100 million in a financing led by private equity firms KKR and Tritium Partners.

Akron, Ohio-based RVShare has seen sharp growth in demand amid the pandemic, as more would-be travelers seek socially distanced options for hitting the road. Founded in 2013, the company matches RV owners with prospective renters, filtering by location, price and vehicle types.

Previously, RVShare had raised $50 million in known funding, per Crunchbase data, from Tritium Partners. The company is one of several players in the RV rental space, and competes alongside Outdoorsy, a peer-to-peer RV marketplace that has raised $75 million in venture funding.

Funding news

  • BrightFarms closes on $100M: Indoor farming company BrightFarms said it secured more than $100 million in debt and new equity capital to support expansion plans. The Series E round of funding was led by Cox Enterprises, which now owns a majority stake in the company, and includes a follow-on investment from growth equity firm Catalyst Investors.
  • Anyscale inks $40MAnyscale, the Berkeley-based company behind the Ray open source project for building applications, announced $40 million in an oversubscribed Series B funding round. Existing investor NEA led the round and was joined by Andreessen Horowitz, Intel Capital and Foundation Capital. The new funding brings Anyscale’s total funding to more than $60 million.
  • Klar deposits $15M: Mexican fintech Klar closed on $15 million in Series A funding, led by Prosus Ventures, with participation from new investor International Finance Corporation and existing investors Quona Capital, Mouro Capital and Acrew. The round brings total funding raised to approximately $72 million since the company was founded in 2019. The funds are intended to grow Klar’s engineering capabilities in both its Berlin and Mexico hubs.
  • O(1) Labs rakes in $10.9M: O(1) Labs, the team behind the cryptocurrency Mina, announced $10.9 million in a strategic investment round. Co-leading the round are Bixin Ventures and Three Arrows Capital with participation from SNZ, HashKey Capital, Signum Capital, NGC Ventures, Fenbushi Capital and IOSG Ventures.
  • Blustream bags $3M: After-sale customer engagement company Blustream said it raised $3 million in seed funding for product usage data and digital transformation efforts for physical goods companies via the Blustream Product Experience Platform. York IE led the round of funding for the Worcester, Massachusetts-based company with additional support from existing investors.Pillar secures another $1.5M: Pillar, a startup that helps families protect and care for their loved ones, raised $1.5 million in a seed extension to close at $7 million, The round was led by Kleiner Perkins.

Other news

  • Google rejects DOJ antitrust arguments: In the wake of a widely anticipated U.S. Justice Department antitrust suit against Google, the search giant disputed the charges in a statement, maintaining that: “People use Google because they choose to, not because they’re forced to, or because they can’t find alternatives.”
  • Facebook said to test Nextdoor rival: Facebook is reportedly testing a service similar to popular neighborhood-focused social Nextdoor. Called Neighborhoods, the feature reportedly suggests local neighborhood groups to join on Facebook.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

Venture investors and leaders in the fintech space can visualize a future where such startups will move toward again rebundling services.

Root Inc., the parent company of Root Insurance, launched its initial public offering and is looking at a valuation of as much as $6.34 billion.

Clover Health posted rising revenues and a narrower loss in its most recent financial results, published in advance of a planned public market debut.

Crunchbase News’ top picks of the news to stay current in the VC and startup world.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/briefing-10-21-20/

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Syte Sees $30M Series C For Product Discovery

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Online shopping has become the norm for most people in 2020, even coaxing traditional retail brands to up their presence to stay competitive. However, now that shoppers can’t see and touch products like they used to, e-commerce discovery has become a crucial element for customer acquisition and retention.

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Enter Syte, an Israel-based company that touts creating the world’s first product discovery platform that utilizes the senses, such as visual, text and voice, and then leverages visual artificial intelligence and next-generation personalization to create individualized and memorable customer experiences, Syte co-founder and CEO Ofer Fryman told Crunchbase News.

To execute on this, the company raised $30 million in Series C funding and an additional $10 million in debt. Viola Ventures led the round and was joined by LG Technology Ventures, La Maison, MizMaa Ventures and Kreos Capital, as well as existing investors Magma, Naver Corporation, Commerce Ventures, Storm Ventures, Axess Ventures, Remagine Media Ventures and KDS Media Fund.

This brings the company’s total fundraising to $71 million since its inception in 2015. That includes a $21.5 million Series B, also led by Viola, in 2019, according to Crunchbase data.

Fryman intends for the new funding to be put to work on product enhancements and geographic expansion. Syte already has an established customer base in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and will now focus expansion in the U.S. and Asia-Pacific.

Meanwhile, Syte has grown 22 percent quarter over quarter, as well as experienced a 38 percent expansion of its customer base since the beginning of 2020.

“Since we crossed $1 million annual recurring revenue, we have been tripling revenue while also becoming more efficient,” Fryman said. “We can accelerate growth as well as build an amazing technology and solution for a business that needs it right now. We plan to grow further, and even though our SaaS metrics are excellent right now, our goal is to improve them.”

Anshul Agarwal, managing director at LG Technology Ventures, said Syte was an attractive investment due in part to its unique technology.

“They have a deep-learning system and have created a new category, product discovery that will enable online shopping in a way we never had the ability to do before,” Agarwal said. “The product market fit was also unique. We believe in the strong execution by the team and the rapid growth in SaaS. We looked at many different companies, and the SaaS metrics that Syte showed are the strongest we’ve seen in a while.”

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

Venture investors and leaders in the fintech space can visualize a future where such startups will move toward again rebundling services.

Root Inc., the parent company of Root Insurance, launched its initial public offering and is looking at a valuation of as much as $6.34 billion.

Clover Health posted rising revenues and a narrower loss in its most recent financial results, published in advance of a planned public market debut.

Crunchbase News’ top picks of the news to stay current in the VC and startup world.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/syte-sees-30m-series-c-for-product-discovery/

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GenTech Proudly Secures Deal with TruLife Distribution to Drive Growth in SINFIT Digital Sales

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Denver, CO, October 21, 2020 – OTC PR WIRE – GenTech Holdings, Inc. (OTC PINK: GTEH) (“GenTech” or the “Company”), an emerging leader in the high-end Premium Coffee (www.secretjavas.com), Hemp Wellness (www.hakunasupply.com) and Functional Foods (www.SINFITnutrition.com) marketplaces, along with its SINFIT Nutrition brand (“SINFIT”), is excited to announce that the Company has signed a new marketing, sales, and distribution agreement (the “Agreement”) with TruLife Distribution (“TruLife”) (TruLifeDist.com), a leader in marketing, distribution, compliance, e-commerce, and advisory services in the Functional Foods marketplace. The main focus of the new Agreement will be to accelerate the growth of e-commerce sales of SINFIT products, particularly over the Amazon.com platform.

TruLife provides direct access to sales on Amazon, Walmart, Rakuten, Wish, TopHatter, and other top e-commerce platforms, allowing clients to instantly list, ship, and sell products through any major platform, with an experienced team of experts and a proven track record of success in brand placement and digital sales strategies.

“We have already demonstrated a significant & expansive growth curve since taking control of the SINFIT brand in June,” commented Harold Vaca, VP Domestic Sales of SINFIT. “But the vast majority of that growth has been driven by large purchase orders from major distribution partners, both domestic and international. We are also committed to aggressively pursuing end-market consumer direct purchases through our e-commerce footprint, which will provide additional growth and diversify our cash flow ecosystem, making our overall strategy less dependent upon any one source of demand, while driving further growth in total sales.”

Management notes that e-commerce sales represent a sizeable portion of overall retail sales growth worldwide, with more than $3.5 trillion in online sales accounting for over 14% of total pre-pandemic global retail sales. Since the onset of the global health crisis, that ratio has shifted decisively further in favor of e-commerce sales, which is not likely to entirely revert back upon the advent of a viable and widely accessible vaccine.

Vaca added, “We have seen an epic process of market penetration for e-commerce platforms this year as major online retailers have begun to reach a much wider base of consumers – people who haven’t ever shopped much online, but have been forced to during recent months out of personal health concerns. Many of them will almost certainly continue to make use of e-commerce now that they have tried it out, at least to some extent, making e-commerce an essential sales channel for SINFIT products. TruLife has the network, team, experience, and resources to dramatically augment our e-commerce performance.”

SINFIT branded products registered over $2.2 million in global sales in 2019, and are now approved for sale and available for purchase on the Walmart.com and Amazon.com e-commerce platforms as well as in over 2,500 GNC locations in North America and over 10,000 global physical and e-commerce stores across more than 10 countries around the world.

SINFIT products as well-positioned relative to peers and to the long-term macro tailwind defining the functional foods market, which saw sales top $267 billion in February of this year on a global basis, with sales in the US reaching $63 billion, according to Euromonitor 2020. This trend is part of a larger supportive momentum in the general category, with global sales of organic food and drink topping $105 billion in 2018 (Ecovia 2019). U.S. organic food sales also reached $47.9 billion, up 5.9% in 2018 (OTA 2019). In 2019, 77% of U.S. adults used dietary supplements, an all-time high (CRN 2019). U.S. supplement sales are estimated to have reached $49.3 billion in 2019, up 6.2% (NBJ 2019).

About GenTech Holdings, Inc.:

GenTech Holdings, Inc. is a publicly traded company under the symbol GTEH. The Company launched a high-end Coffee Subscription service in early 2020 called Secret Javas, owns a Functional Food company, SINFIT Nutrition and recently closed its acquisition on Products-Groups’ “Hakuna Supply”.

Forward-Looking Statements
This press release may contain forward-looking statements, including information about management’s view of GenTech, Inc.’s future expectations, plans and prospects. In particular, when used in the preceding discussion, the words “believes,” “expects,” “intends,” “plans,” “anticipates,” or “may,” and similar conditional expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Any statements made in this news release other than those of historical fact, about an action, event or development, are forward-looking statements. These statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, which may cause the results of GenTech, its subsidiaries and concepts to be materially different than those expressed or implied in such statements. Unknown or unpredictable factors also could have material adverse effects on GenTech’s future results. The forward-looking statements included in this press release are made only as of the date hereof. GenTech cannot guarantee future results, levels of activity, performance or achievements. Accordingly, you should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. Finally, GenTech undertakes no obligation to update these statements after the date of this release, except as required by law, and also takes no obligation to update or correct information prepared by third parties that are not paid for by GenTech.

Corporate Contact:
invest@gentech.group

www.gentechholdings.com

Source: https://otcprwire.com/gentech-proudly-secures-deal-with-trulife-distribution-to-drive-growth-in-sinfit-digital-sales/

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