The Moodscope Blog

28

May

Mirror, Mirror. Sunday May 28, 2017

Years ago,when I was a mere slip of a girl (around 50 say) I vowed that if I reached a certain age, I would Let Myself Go. I would stop having my roots done, go out without a face full of slap, stop squirting on a bit of perfume to go shopping.

Most of my planned surrender was based around food. Having once been very fat, I have maintained a slim, some say skinny, body by exercising iron self-control, and walking a lot. I've served my time for many years.

I decided I would continue with the walking, as I enjoy it. But the new diet-oh boy! Instead of spending many of my waking hours thinking about food, I would be stuffing my face with forbidden treats. This would be potent self-medication for anxiety and depression. Instead of gloomy ruminations, I would be busy planning the next feast.

The Gods have dealt me a cruel hand, very greedy, but self-conscious about my looks. Rich puddings, toast dripping with butter, and chocolate would join the daily Prozac. Instead of waking each morning with that vague sense of dread, dragging downstairs to breakfast on fresh fruit, I would spring out of bed, celebrate my Celtic roots, and get the pan out. After all, who cares if an old lady is rather portly. I could save a fortune on fillers and Botox, my own lardy padding would fill out the wrinkles very nicely, nature's own dermafiller.

When I ceased to care about appearances, became invisible, stopped getting the occasional glad eye from the opposite sex, I would feel liberated. My partner once failed to notice when I had a foot of hair cut off, so no problems there. He might moan that there was less room on the sofa, and wonder who this big grey-haired woman was who had moved in, and why his stash of biscuits had vanished, but he would soon adjust.

Then I reached the deadline, and found that even if nobody else cared, I did. Give it a few more years, perhaps I could stretch it out a bit longer. I blame mirrors, you can't get away from them. I blame Helen Mirren too, but mostly I blame mirrors. Years passed.
I gave myself an extension, no need to be too hasty. Just another year, then Wahay!!

So,forward to the present day. Off to get the highlights done, cursing the huge mirror at the hairdressers, composing my face before I look up. My neighbour is gardening in shorts, absorbed in the pleasure of her plants, varicose veins galore, bingo wings flapping. I am avidly reading the beauty blogs, counting calories, combing my hair and putting on blusher before signing for a parcel. I just can't let this wretched woman go.

Valerie
A Moodscope user.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

7 comments - Permalink


27

May

Sing a new song, Chiquitita. Saturday May 27, 2017

It's been an interesting week for me. Thoughts turned to suicide far more often than usual (and worry not, they were just thoughts). Such sadness in the news, coupled with family and friend issues (mostly imagined) took their toll. Mix in a portion of tiredness and stir the mix vigorously with negative imagination... well, most of us know all about this... the results were pretty predictable. A deep low.

So, on my way to yet another meeting, I decided to take some ABBA in the car to lift my spirit. Except, ABBA's lyrics are full of sadness too, if you really listen. And really listen, I did!

The result is that I have a new personal theme song! Chiquitita!

I'll have to change the Spanish to the male equivalent, but the message remains sound.

Chiquitita, tell me what's wrong
You're enchained by your own sorrow
In your eyes there is no hope for tomorrow
How I hate to see you like this
There is no way you can deny it
I can see that you're oh so sad, so quiet...

[So far, that's a perfect description of both how I feel and what I do when I feel like that. So what can we do?]

Chiquitita, tell me the truth
I'm a shoulder you can cry on
Your best friend, I'm the one you must rely on
You were always sure of yourself
Now I see you've broken a feather
I hope we can patch it up together

[First thing is to find Moodscope-friendly, friends! Thankfully, you're here. And then comes the breakthrough...]

Chiquitita, you and I know
How the heartaches come and they go and the scars they're leaving
You'll be dancing once again and the pain will end
You will have no time for grieving

Chiquitita, you and I cry
But the sun is still in the sky and shining above you
Let me hear you sing once more like you did before
Sing a new song, Chiquitita
Try once more like you did before
Sing a new song, Chiquitita

Sadness will pass and I will find a New Song to sing.

I hope you will too.

And then, I'll be more sure of myself again, but doubly-sure of those friends who are that shoulder to cry on, and that catalyst for hope.

Thank you... you know who you are x

Lex
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

62 comments - Permalink


26

May

Show me the menu. Friday May 26, 2017

When depression chooses you it can feel like someone is holding a blade to your throat. You might feel you have very little on the menu to get you well. But if you stay open minded there is a never-ending list of things to try. I'm going to list some and it'd be great if you could add what I've missed on to the blog spot. For those who have just found themselves held hostage this could be the start of something good. For those who need a change this could be the start of something good.

Medication
Counselling

There, both top of the list. They are valuable and there are heaps of other things out there which may enhance them, or replace them:

Volunteering
Painting with or without an art group
Singing with or without a choir
Running. Cycling. Any exercise. With a group or solo. Even better with a trainer (I made huge progress this way and boxing was a revolution inside my head!)
Writing a blog or even just writing for nobody to see
Sitting at the beach with or without people (the sea is full of energy you can borrow)
Reading
Learning
Cooking
Sleeping
Overhauling your diet
Overhauling your alcohol intake
Meditation ('Headspace' is far from the frumpy misconception)
Returning to the thing you dreamt of when asked the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
Being alone
Not being alone
Looking back at photographs (if they bring tears then perhaps you need it!)
Music. All. Any.
Silence
Overhauling your friends, family, colleagues. Do you still wear the shoes you wore thirty years ago?
Taking the type of break that can bring perspective and clarity.
Trusting someone with yourself. But be choosy, you are vulnerable.
Committing to something you know you need and is good for you, however small, and doing it... Every... Single... Day.

Perhaps you can add more to the blogspot, otherwise known as the Centre of Excellence.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

50 comments - Permalink


25

May

Labels, traits, illness, syndrome - whats in a name? Thursday May 25, 2017

Recently I commented on a blog about HSP, highly sensitive person, that I saw it as another label. The writer, AVFTFS, explained that she didn't see HSP as a label but rather as a trait... She sees it as a trait she was born with, like having blue eyes. Something that is neither positive or negative in itself but just is.

I found this fascinating and wondered what is the difference between a label, a trait, a characteristic, a personality type, an illness, a temperament, a disorder, a syndrome, and what difference each word makes or if each word is treated the same by individuals or society.

"This notion - that mental illnesses are largely inborn personality traits that get pushed into extreme territory by life experience - has just gotten some high-tech confirmation from researchers." Melissa Healy

I think the above research that mental illnesses start as personality traits may remove the stigma that a mental illness has. I have noticed people seem to be saying more often they have a depressive trait, a personality type, a unique character rather than using the word mental or syndrome or disorder or illness.

So if you a have a characteristic, trait or any personality quirk not described as an illness, it seems there is less stigma as people have more confidence in gaining help even if the help would be similar if it was labelled as an illness.

Does it matter what we name things as long as we get help? I think that it does. I am sure if I had been told I had a personality trait that meant I had big mood swings I think my life would have been different. Would it have been better, who knows? I think I would have suffered less stigma and sought help much sooner than I did.

What do you think?

Does it make a difference having a medical label rather than a personality type?

Should we treat people's symptoms and not label them at all?

What do you see as the difference between the different words - illness, trait, syndrome, characteristic, personality type etc?

Leah
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

122 comments - Permalink


24

May

Courage, mes braves! Wednesday May 24, 2017

[To listen to an audio version of this blog please click here: http://bit.ly/2rNwFft]

When I was at school, my favourite hymn (I have never sung it since), went like this:

When a knight won his spurs in the stories of old
He was gentle and brave he was gallant and bold
With a shield on his arm and a lance in his hand
For God and for valour he rode through the land

No charger have I, and no sword by my side
Yet still to adventure and battle I ride
Though back into storyland giants have fled
And the knights are no more and the dragons are dead

Let faith be my shield and let joy be my steed
Against the dragons of anger the ogres of greed
And let me set free with the sword of my youth
From the castle of darkness the power of the truth

In my mind, I could see clearly that young knight galloping through the sunlit and verdant countryside, in search of giants to kill and dragons to slay. I pictured his white horse gaily caparisoned with a scalloped harness in scarlet and gold, his armour polished to a platinum gleam. In my imagination, he galloped blithely on forever; he never actually came across those giants and all the dragons stayed safely hidden from his sight.

So, the words of that third verse held for me no more reality than the first. If I did think about them, the dragons and ogres were something external – separate from myself – easily slain and with no blood spilled to sully my shining view of my own immaculate ego.

Real-life isn’t quite like that, of course, because the monsters live inside us, and they’re jolly difficult to kill.

So, my idea of courage, valour, bravery – all that, has changed. Courage is no longer charging over the barricades, or even steeling yourself to perform that single difficult act. Courage is demanded and found every single day.

Courage is finding the strength to get out of bed, to shower and to dress. Courage is getting the children’s breakfast, seeing them off to school with a smile and a wave. Courage is stepping outside your front door, to work or to shop; to meet people and face the world. Courage is seizing every drop of joy in that darkness and treasuring it as if a diamond found in a coalmine. Courage is just - keeping on keeping on.

I know many of you Moodscope users are housebound; not because of physical infirmity, but because of mental ill health. For you, the dragon guarding the door is ever watchful; opening one glinting eye and rattling his scales if you even get near. If you get past him, the ogres just beyond your garden path are legion. Just because they exist only in your mind, does not mean they are not real.

I want you all to award yourself for your bravery. You may not be that charging knight; but you are infinitely more courageous: you fight your dragons every day.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

23 comments - Permalink


23

May

No regrets. Tuesday May 23, 2017

No, no regrets (apologies to Piaf)

Our UK vet, recently deceased, said 'If you don't learn something new every day you have not lived'. He was passionate about Percheron horses and the local Agricultural Show, but had acquired a wide knowledge of the most esoteric subjects. He always admired my articles for the local 'Rag' and the local church, so I miss him.

Another friend, said, often 'I wish I had done so and so (piano playing among them). She had time, money and opportunity, and although she worked diligently for the church I don't think she ever attained any 'personal' objective.

With my husband we went to a 'Commune' for a course on 'Technique for solving difficulties'. I've never met such a discontented lot – all women (except Mr G, who could not wait to go down the pub). Half were married, and convinced that their husbands and kids had deprived them from being financial wizards, great artists etc. The other half were single professionals who bemoaned the prospects of old age without children. A local farmer's wife (in UK) said if she had her life over again she would never have married him.

So, am I content?

I would not mind having a little less hassle at the moment. I would have liked my books to have been read by a wider audience – they are liked (in English and French) but cannot face the trauma of marketing them.

I have been much inspired today (19th May) by Radio 4 'Book of the Week', Henry Marsh, a famous neuro-surgeon, whose enthusiasm for life encompasses still doing operations unpaid, keeping bees, walking 25 miles a week, trying to keep dementia and Alzheimer's at bay (even he does not have the answer, just follows perceived wisdom).

And, I have a dream. The unit where Mr G goes daily is light, bright, and well-staffed. It is built round a courtyard, full of weeds. I want to build a 'garden of peace'. What do I need? More years, money, volunteers, permission, generous plant growers.

My 'fame' is in the photo – colours changed every year, photos world-wide, but I can't sign a wall of flowers, so will go un-sung.

Is there anything you regret?

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

29 comments - Permalink


22

May

Moodscope in One Word. Up for a challenge? Monday May 22, 2017

[To watch a video of this blog please click here: https://youtu.be/5E6LeyvXRZk]

How excellent are you at responding to a challenge? For this research to work, I need to ask you a favour. The favour is to decide on your answer before you read what anybody else has written. So, what's the question?

The question is: if you were to describe Moodscope in one word, what would that word be?

Of course, Moodscope is founded upon 20 key words.

Here they are in the order they were randomly presented to me when I wrote this blog"

Jittery
Excited
Irritable
Attentive
Upset
Inspired
Scared
Alert
Afraid
Strong
Ashamed
Determined
Nervous
Interested
Hostile
Enthusiastic
Guilty
Proud
Distressed
Active

These are all powerful words when scoping our moods and how they shift day-to-day. None of them, however, are what I associate with what Moodscope means to me personally.

I can't really say any more, can I, until we all start to share?!

So, if I may echo the question again, what does 'Moodscope' mean to you?

Can't wait to read your responses!

(And in case you're wondering why I'm asking for your response, the answer is simple. Moodscope is an important part of all our lives, and it would be great to spread the word. In order to spread the word, it would help to understand what Moodscope Users like you and I think and feel and value about Moodscope. This could then influence how Moodscope is promoted to new audiences.)

I'll share my word about 7pm UK time...

Lex
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

182 comments - Permalink


21

May

It's the Only Thing to Make Sense. Sunday May 21, 2017

I admit it: my family life is in chaos!

I won't bore you with details; the details are too distressing, but – things are, shall we politely say, challenging.

I didn't send a Christmas letter last year. When all that could be said was that: nobody had died (it was close); my steadfast rock of a husband and I were still together; we were not financially destitute: well, there didn't seem much point.

2017, I thought, could only get better.

And it has.

Mostly.

I think...

Of most personal note (you could hardly have missed this), my terrifyingly violent mood-swings of the latter half of 2016 sent me back to the Mental Health Team and the wonderful Dr Samar (not his real name, which has 101 syllables and challenges even the most cosmopolitan of linguists). Dr Samar asked all the right questions, listened in the most proactive way and involved me, as an intelligent individual, in the prescription of the medication I now take. This medication has resulted in me becoming really rather boring in respect to the mania and depression (so far: it's early days yet). I now understand why many people with bi-polar stop taking the tablets... (Don't worry – I won't stop. I love and care for my family and friends too much to stop being sane).

Tom, my adopted son, moved out. This was upsetting for me. It was a relief to my husband, and a mixed blessing to the girls. While they loved having their big brother around, they hated the friction between him and their father – even when they considered Daddy was being dictatorial, unreasonable and altogether WRONG!!!

The challenges of 2016 made my husband and I talk as never before. I was shocked at some of the things he was thinking. He was challenged by some of my ideas. A full and frank exchange of ideas/opinions resulted in a stronger foundation for going forward. This was good.

Mostly.

But life, always challenging, moves on.

Life sometimes presents itself as shifting sands, where things and people you thought you could trust prove to be false, or at least, unreliable; where people you never noticed much step forward, take centre stage, and star in the soap-opera that is your life.

As I look around, there seems to be no logic; no basis on which to anchor the lives of my family and me. I love my husband and biological daughters. I love my adopted son no less. I love my darling friends Richard (another son) and Raz (a relationship far too complicated for me to even understand, let alone explain). I love my Moodscope buddies and I love you, the wonderful Moodscope Readers, to whom I write but never meet.

But unless I have some higher faith, we all are but flotsam and jetsam on the stormy oceans of life.

Forgive me if I cling to faith.

When nothing makes logical sense, it's the only thing to make ineffable sense.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

35 comments - Permalink


20

May

Learning from comments. Saturday May 20, 2017

I know Moodscope is best known for its test and charting of moods, but the thing I find most helpful is listening and learning from others through comments.

There is such a diverse range of experiences and ideas so I am always eager to read what people have written. I have been so touched by the honesty in comments and the raw emotions, I have been in tears as I read them. I am also touched by the kindness and compassion for others.

Some people have commented that they don't know what to write because they feel it has already been said and they don't feel confident about expressing their ideas or worry no-one is listening or interested in their ideas.

It is our inner critic trying to undermine our confidence. Everyone can express their thoughts and share their ideas with others.

I see blogs as just the springboard for so many ideas and sharing of so many stories I know many people are happy to read and that is great.

I am always curious as to why someone who has never commented or rarely comments decides to reply. It so good to hear from new voices.

I wonder how we can encourage more people to comment - if they want to of course. Also, what makes people want to comment a lot. I know I like to give feedback to the blogger because I know I appreciate it.

Do you have any ideas of how to encourage someone who wants to comment but is unsure and worried?

What do you find helpful about comments?

Leah
A Moodscope member

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

103 comments - Permalink


19

May

Recovery Colleges - a new concept in mental health care. Friday May 19, 2017

Recovery in mental health terms is not seen in the same way as physical health. There, staff think of it in terms of a cure. For mental health staff, recovery is a concept of a journey through life not a 'cure'.

Health education is being seen as the way forward in mental health care and being provided by Recovery Colleges. (These colleges are only available in the UK - if you know of any similar services in other countries, please add a comment to this blog.)

Recovery Colleges provide courses about all aspects of health and well-being with a mental health slant in the community. You do not have to have a diagnosis or even be under the care of mental health care teams or other Doctors to access. Family members and carers are also eligible. It's self referral and provided free by the NHS.

Courses cover living skills like confidence and self esteem as well as specific mental health conditions. As the number of courses grow they will cover health topics from birth to death and address mental health issues of physical illness.

I'm a volunteer tutor for my local Recovery College, I am that 'Someone with Lived experience' with nearly 40 years of experience to comment on, what's worked – or didn't and why, for me.

The philosophy behind these courses is radical in health care terms, as they are being co-developed and delivered by a 'Professional' and equally by 'Someone with Lived experience". That uniqueness of 'equal but joint' reflects a slow acceptance that we, the 'Persons with Lived Experience' have a lot to share and teach each other.

Moodscope is a great example of this. Developed as a result Jon's 'lived experience' he developed a beneficial tool to track mood, it helped to raise mood. Yet in class, I've not meet another 'Moodscoper' but I know it helped me gain insight. Professionals I meet say they've heard of it but haven't used it. I advocate it strongly, every opportunity I get. Hoping my experience gives students another tool to gain insight.

My Recovery College is less than two years old. I have co-facilitated and been a student. Combining theory with reality, it's often the sharing 'this has worked for me' ideas that I have learnt most from.

Maslow's theory - Hierarchy of Needs, discusses how to get 'added value' from life. To achieve a good life, you need to strive for the top of the pyramid (self actualisation). Recently I heard a colleague talk passionately of his own experience - that he can only live well when he concentrates, on the often over looked base of the pyramid - sleep, food, exercise etc. It was for me a 'lightbulb moment' - the relevancy of theory and reality.

Insight empowers, helping you on your journey of recovery. Education is one route, it's the balance of theory with reality is what is empowering about Recovery College courses.

For more information about your local Recovery College search your Mental Health Services Trust website, if they don't have one, email their PALS office and request one.

Karen
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

11 comments - Permalink


18

May

Living the Life..! Thursday May 18, 2017

I just received an email asking: 'Are you living the life you love?'

I laughed. Out loud. Of course I'm not. I am living though. I get up and fight every day. The moment my eyes open, I battle the voices in my head that tell me I can't do this. That I am not a great mother. That I am not good at my job. That I am not organised. That I am not a house-owner. That my kids will leave and I will be alone. That my friends tolerate me. That my ex-husband is relieved to be free of me. I battle those voices.

My therapist suggests I say a mantra each morning. I can't decide on the wording so she tells me hers. I like its simplicity. I ask if I can borrow it. She smiles. She smiles a lot. And laughs. And cries too. She is real.

Her mantra is: 'I am happy and healthy.'

Of course, it is not the truth. I have happy moments but I am not happy. Thankfully, I am mostly healthy. But mantras need to be positive or it sort of defeats the purpose! I add my kids in because it feels disloyal not to. My therapist says that's okay - as long as I put myself first.

So, that's what I do each morning now. I wake. I suppress the demons. I say:

'I am happy and healthy.

My kids are happy and healthy'.

It steadies my mind. I wake my warm, sleepy son (who wanders into my bed most nights). I call my daughter, go downstairs, am greeted by the bonkers puppy who tries to eat my slippers. I turn off the house alarm (on every night since the horrible robbery), switch on the radio, stick on the kettle, run back up to get dressed and call them for the eleventh time. Once breakfast is eaten and lunches made and packed, it's out the door, drive to school, wave them off, get stuck in traffic on the way home.

Clear the breakfast things and put on a wash. Start work. Twelve work emails, a big and a medium deadline looming and a meeting to prepare for. A form to be filled in about my son's football registration and fees required for my daughter's dance class. I notice the date - it's my dad's birthday, he'd be 86 if he was alive. I'll ring mum, see how she is. An email from the school - is it about the parent-teacher meeting? No... the primary school is riddled with head lice. Please de-louse your children tonight.

And it's only 9.10 in the morning.

So, no, I am not living the life I love. I am anxious, sad, frustrated and yes, angry a lot of the time. I am also kind, funny, clever and doing my bloomin' best. But I struggle. Daily.

'I am happy and healthy.

My kids are happy and healthy.'

Salt Water Mum
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

28 comments - Permalink


17

May

There's Probably a Word for It. Wednesday May 17, 2017

[To listen to an audio version of this blog please click here:http://bit.ly/2qpnnYu]

Oh, I've known I'm a bibliophile for some years now. I blame a long series of illnesses I had as a child. Stuck in bed for weeks, months at a time, can very easily drive a sensitive (and, dare I say, intelligent) youngster into this kind of escape.

I must be honest and say that it has caused problems. There are times this addiction makes me late, leave tasks undone, drives me away from company to seek solace in solitude.

Well, not exactly solitude. I saw a blanket the other day with the words, "Bibliophiles never go to bed alone."

Yes, my pile of unread books on my bedside table regularly gets snow on its upper levels!

But, I didn't realise I was also a logophile until just the other day. That's a lover of words. Well, I knew I loved words, I just didn't know there was a word for it.

Turns out there are words for a lot of things.

We know words have power. In fact, the mere act of defining something into language enables it to be understood. Understanding is knowledge and knowledge is power.

I've always prided myself on my vocabulary (it comes from all those books) and so, yes, I know wonderful words like crepuscular (active at or relating to twilight) and serendipity (happy accident), and tarradiddle (a story based around an untruth or lie). But what about a word for that sharp scent of rain falling on dry earth? It's petrichor. That strange wistful feeling you get inside a good second hand book shop (especially if one has inadvertently stepped into L-Space*)? Vellichor. The sense of time speeding up as we get older? That's zenosyne.

You won't find these words in the Oxford Dictionary. At least, not yet – because they are not real words. They have been imagined by one John Koenig and published in his Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.

The wonderful thing about the English language however, is that it is infinitely elastic and flexible. It grows by theft from other languages, by acronyms, by the conversion of proper names to common nouns and yes, by the adoption of entirely new words. Shakespeare was particularly good at this. It is from him we get the word addiction I used above, for instance.

So now you can use these words to describe your emotions:

• Clinomania – the excessive desire to stay in bed.
• Monochopsis – the subtle persistent feeling of being out of place.
• Nodus Tolens – the realisation that the plot of your life makes no sense.
• Altschmerz – the weariness of dealing with persistent problems and unwanted emotions.

Or – you can make up your own words. After all, if you've got a word for it, that's the beginning of power over it.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

*Terry Pratchett defined L-Space thus: Books = Knowledge = Power = Mass x Distance²/Time³
- such that, essentially, all bookstores are potentially infinite in extent; gateways into literary hyperspace: "[a] good bookshop is just a genteel blackhole that knows how to read."

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

13 comments - Permalink


17

May

There's Probably a Word for It. Wednesday May 17, 2017

Oh, I've known I'm a bibliophile for some years now. I blame a long series of illnesses I had as a child. Stuck in bed for weeks, months at a time, can very easily drive a sensitive (and, dare I say, intelligent) youngster into this kind of escape.

I must be honest and say that it has caused problems. There are times this addiction makes me late, leave tasks undone, drives me away from company to seek solace in solitude.

Well, not exactly solitude. I saw a blanket the other day with the words, "Bibliophiles never go to bed alone."

Yes, my pile of unread books on my bedside table regularly gets snow on its upper levels!

But, I didn't realise I was also a logophile until just the other day. That's a lover of words. Well, I knew I loved words, I just didn't know there was a word for it.

Turns out there are words for a lot of things.

We know words have power. In fact, the mere act of defining something into language enables it to be understood. Understanding is knowledge and knowledge is power.

I've always prided myself on my vocabulary (it comes from all those books) and so, yes, I know wonderful words like crepuscular (active at or relating to twilight) and serendipity (happy accident), and tarradiddle (a story based around an untruth or lie). But what about a word for that sharp scent of rain falling on dry earth? It's petrichor. That strange wistful feeling you get inside a good second hand book shop (especially if one has inadvertently stepped into L-Space*)? Vellichor. The sense of time speeding up as we get older? That's zenosyne.

You won't find these words in the Oxford Dictionary. At least, not yet – because they are not real words. They have been imagined by one John Koenig and published in his Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.

The wonderful thing about the English language however, is that it is infinitely elastic and flexible. It grows by theft from other languages, by acronyms, by the conversion of proper names to common nouns and yes, by the adoption of entirely new words. Shakespeare was particularly good at this. It is from him we get the word addiction I used above, for instance.

So now you can use these words to describe your emotions:

• Clinomania – the excessive desire to stay in bed.
• Monochopsis – the subtle persistent feeling of being out of place.
• Nodus Tolens – the realisation that the plot of your life makes no sense.
• Altschmerz – the weariness of dealing with persistent problems and unwanted emotions.

Or – you can make up your own words. After all, if you've got a word for it, that's the beginning of power over it.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

*Terry Pratchett defined L-Space thus: Books = Knowledge = Power = Mass x Distance²/Time³ - such that, essentially, all bookstores are potentially infinite in extent; gateways into literary hyperspace: "[a] good bookshop is just a genteel blackhole that knows how to read."

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

1 comments - Permalink


16

May

Honestly Ungrateful. Tuesday May 16, 2017

Some days it's damn hard to be grateful. To be truly grateful for small things is life changing, it is scientifically proven. Think of three good things right now:

1. A good thing that has happened today, no matter how small.
2. Something that is going well in your life.
3. Notice something you really appreciated recently.

Go on, I challenge you to.

If you have done that, there is a shift in your brain that has occurred and you have become part of the positive psychology revolution. If you carry on doing this over several days it becomes a 'Happiness Habit'. The frontal cortex of your brain actually changes shape, the muscles become stronger and you are literally training yourself to be more aware of the good things in your life.

I know all this. I believe it. I live it. I study it. But. Some days I am so flat I cannot stand. Even the word grateful is too heavy to hold. On those days, shutting my eyes can make my head spin on it's internal roller coaster. So I stare at my discarded books, sweat stained washing and try to find the small voice under it all. Buried under successful Facebook statuses, or triumphant Twitter announcements. A persistent tapping of: 'I'm tired.'

Gratitude has to be authentic. It needs to come from a place of connecting with what is happening in my real life and not my life in comparison with others. I know I should be on my knees grateful for every damn day I live. I live in a city free from war. I have opportunities at every street corner. I do not worry about having food on my plate, or in my children's mouths. I know I live in a society that is materially rich.

On the days my mind is taken apart by my body's inability to move, it's important to remember to listen to the hidden voice, amidst the should, could and must.

The smell of a perfume that brings me into the present moment. The time I took to savour the drink I was able to swallow before beginning my day. An authentic moment to connect to the freedom I have to think my own thoughts. These are the things I am grateful for.

On the days when I truly cannot bear to acknowledge these things, it's time to rest. Delegate. Get help. Notice. Trust there is a difference between giving up and knowing when I've had enough. I'm not a rule follower, I'm not always grateful. Trust me though, it's essential to pack a working torch when you go on an adventure into the dark.

Anita
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

20 comments - Permalink


15

May

Daisy and the Lawnmower Man. Monday May 15, 2017

I love to mow our lawns. Given half a chance, I'll mow the neighbour's too! The results are so clear, so tangible, so satisfying.

Except for the guilt.

I hate to mow the daisies.

Daisies are such cheerful, robust, happy, smiley plants. They are Sun-worshipers, folding up their petals when it's night or cloudy, and opening up in delight when the Sun shines again. I hate chopping their heads off.

I've just mown the lawns.

I've just decapitated the daisies.

Except for some.

Some survived.

Do you know which ones survived?

They were the ones that I crushed with my feet as I walked with the mower. They are still smiling, heads intact. They'll be back again tomorrow, as if nothing happened. Stronger than before.

The other daisies will grow back too, but not their original heads.

This struck a chord with me. If you're suffering at the moment, if you feel down-trodden by life, if you feel in danger of being cut-down by circumstances - maybe it'll be a Daisy-Day for you. Being down-trodden, you'll miss the blades that catch those who stand tall and arrogantly expect these things just to happen to other people. Stuff happens. If you're bowed down, you will rise again. The Sun will shine again on you, and...

...you will live to see another day

...you will live to love another day

...and all this will have passed.

You'll be OK.

Lex
A Moodcope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

37 comments - Permalink


14

May

Spring - Coming out of the Shadows. Sunday May 14, 2017

Don't you think that coming out of a bout of depression is very like the transition from Winter to Spring? Do you ever feel like a new Spring flower bursting with startling colour?

I've always liked snowdrops best, they're so graceful, a lovely nod towards Spring with the subtle white of the previous season's snow. But sometimes I feel like the crocus or aconite, startling myself with a new brightness. Of course there are times when the bout doesn't lift so easily and I'd rather stay under the depths of snow.

When the darkness is lifting from my mind and body I can be taken by surprise by a feeling of love or happiness. It floods my body and reassures me that I'm feeling well and that some better times are on the way. Starting to feel something again, some days better than others, a creeping back into brighter times and a leaving behind of the numbness of Winter cold and blank mood. Like the weather, a string of good days can be broken by a sudden dark day too.

Last weekend, we had two days of sunshine and warmth. We could feel Winter creeping away and start to look forward to better weather and longer days. Myself and my family were pottering in the garden, spring cleaning the garage and the shed, the children were reacquainting themselves with their forgotten outdoor toys and their bodies, stretching out and running around the garden like Spring lambs.

I took myself off for a little run as the afternoon was coming to an end. Men were out in their gardens, clearing up hedge cuttings, washing their cars; re-marking their territory. Some were lighting their BBQs (a bit premature I thought as the wind was starting to pick up and the temperature dropping rapidly!) to send smoke signals out to their neighbourhood, bringing friends together. Washing hung out on lines like flags to show people are home and up and out and I felt the hopefulness of a new season taking over me.

As I start to feel better, I too come out of hibernation and start to signal to friends that I'm coming back, it's a new season, the darkness is lifting and I'm looking forward to some better days. The days too will feel longer and maybe I'll accomplish more each new day. And what comes after Spring? Summer. There is always hope of even brighter days.

Lizzie
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

15 comments - Permalink


13

May

How do you ride the wave? Saturday May 13, 2017

I rang my son recently because he had blocked me on Facebook messenger.

I was surprised, but soon discovered this was just the tip of the iceberg as far as his fury and frustration was concerned.

He said, if I don't take my mental health seriously, I would never be invited to his home, or to see his as yet hypothetical children. He said everyone could see I am bipolar, including the people who stopped to speak to him or his sister in the street about it, everyone in my little town, and even the guests who come through my Airbnb and leave such glowing reports about their stay.

I came off the phone furious, and hurt. The conversation has replayed itself endlessly in my mind and I have reevaluated my whole summer in light of his comments. I have become withdrawn, mortified, and wonder seriously about the future.

This is not unusual. I charge on in my life, sometimes saying and doing absurd things, acting impulsively, busy with a myriad of unspoken thoughts and beliefs until a blast from a loved one brings me up sharp.

This is the end of what I suppose is a manic ride, and the beginning of a depressive one.

Now I hide. I sleep, I rise, I shower. I eat just enough to get by. I down pills and watch my hair getting thinner and whiter. I worry about the state of my house. I feel lonely, frightened and old.

Have I always been "bipolar"?

I remember as a child the delicious wave of creativity coming over me on cold winters days. The fire would be lit early and I would feel a sudden urge to make. Drawing, writing, painting, making scrapbooks or dolls house furniture from match boxes, cardboard and beads. I loved this moment.

As a documentary maker I became comfortably familiar with the ebb and flow of creative inspiration. At times the world was bleak and dull, and I would slog away in the editing studio. At others there was a story at every turn and I collected, planned and went out gathering audio. I learned to ride the wave.

Now the job is gone and the children don't need their mother. It is too easy to overbalance.

How do you ride the wave?

Deb
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

17 comments - Permalink


12

May

Let the bakers bake and the butchers butch. Friday May 12, 2017

I live in a big house that has never been without a problem. The last eight years has seen a steady and constant stream of all the trades all lending their hand to this beautiful but troublesome place. Today a wall needs to be built and it is the turn of a joiner and an electrician. Finally, I think I have a little team who are masters of their craft and do a job in a traditional and learned way. I still hear how this or that has not been done the way it is meant but I also know I have trusted people who can help and push us another step forward.

As I boiled a kettle and set a tea tray (I strongly believe in keeping the workers happy) it came to me that we must approach this illness in the same way. Would I have a go at the electrical work needed in the new stud wall? I believe I could learn but I would not touch that job on my own. Electric shock? Nah. One hideous perm in the eighties was more than enough thank you much!

Please do not think of having one more day struggling onwards alone. Take advice. Trust someone. Take recommendations. Learn about different ways of approaching recovery. I've had to work through a few tradesmen. None were awful but plenty were more interested in doing a job rather than doing a good job. This is true too in our search for help with our mental health. Just because someone is qualified in their field does not mean that field is the right one for you. You can be choosy. It's just that when we are low we are both vulnerable and have far less energy to be choosy.

Having a trusted someone who is neutral can be the scales you need to help you get to the treatment most suited to you. In my opinion that is the hardest bit. Once you have taken that leap of faith, learned (sometimes the hard way!) and found something that works for you, it simply becomes a battle of keeping going at the times you least feel like it.

No home perms please. Learn from an electrician.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

21 comments - Permalink


11

May

Listen to me. Thursday May 11, 2017

I went to a conference on Patient Experience recently where people told their patient stories. The main message was that people wanted to be heard, they wanted to feel someone had listened to them.

It seems such a simple thing - listening, we do it from the womb to the tomb yet it is often very difficult.

How many times a day do you say or hear someone say: "Just listen to me" or "What do I have to do to make you listen" or "I feel no one ever really listens to me."

It seems so easy, you just stop talking and listen. Then why does it seem so difficult?

Why do so many people feel that no one listens to them.

Why do so many people feel so alone because there is no one who listens.

Some researchers say that that the average person actually remembers a fraction of what is said to them. So much time is spent mastering other skills, but little time is spent practicing essential interpersonal skills. Listening is one of them.

What does it take to become a good listener? A lot of hard work. You need to make a conscious effort to listen to a speaker.

Listening is not easy. You're constantly trying to stay focused. When you take the effort to really concentrate and listen you maybe surprised what you learn.

I admit I had a tendency to interrupt, but I saw it as enthusiastically joining the conversation. I try very hard to focus on the talker.

Has there been a time when being listened to was very important to you?

Do you have tips of how to be a better listener?

Do you feel frustrated you are not listened to by your friends and family?

Leah
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

31 comments - Permalink


10

May

Out and Aloud, If Not Proud. Wednesday May 10, 2017

[To listen to an audio version of this blog please click here: http://bit.ly/2pwN9a1]

Hands up: who's out?

No, darlings, I couldn't care less about your sexual orientation. I mean, are you out regarding our mutual black dog? What's his name now: Rex, Fido, Hades?

And where is he now? Is he sitting by the back door, waiting to be taken for a walk, just when you need to go out to work? Is he importuning you right at your feet, drooling on your slippers? Is he sitting on your chest, all eight stone of him (50kg), breathing and drooling into your face? Or – has he disappeared for one of his expeditions: you are so glad he has left you for a while, you never ask where he has gone?

(And – all the above with apologies to those of you who own Newfoundland or St Bernard or Pyrenean Mountain dogs and know intimately the wonder of such glorious doggy delights).

My real question is, does your family know about him? Do your work colleagues ask about his health? Does your boss factor him into your work plan?

Yup, thought so. You do your best to hide him away, don't you? Because you are ashamed.

Just consider for a moment, if that black dog were tangible...

Let's consider he has his teeth clamped around your intestines (or, in extreme circumstances, your throat). Let's consider if everyone could see him...

Do you not then consider you might be due some additional consideration? A little more understanding?

As it's ‪#‎MentalHealthAwarenessWeek‬, are you making people around you more aware?

Do you make them aware of Moodscope?

I mean, if you are reading this, you must find it useful, right?

But, do you tell anyone?

I am frequently shocked by the number of health professionals I come across who have not heard of Moodscope. I sometimes feel I am on a one-woman mission to educate the whole country. I tell everyone (when appropriate, of course). I wax eloquent; I tell them about the daily twenty questions. I show them my graph. I tell them I write the Wednesday blog. I tell them about my buddies and the way buddying works. I tell them the basic Moodscope is absolutely free!

(Okay, so that's when I'm well. When my own black dog sits on me I can't tell anyone about anything.)

Without exception, everyone I speak with is intrigued and enthusiastic. They can immediately see how it could help their patients, their friend, their Uncle Trevor.

And nobody looks at me with that condescending pity we all fear.

It's taken time, but gradually the world is beginning to see that depression is an illness, not a moral weakness.

I won't say it's your duty to come out; it must be your own choice, and you may have your own reasons for staying so far in that closet, you pay your taxes in Narnia.

But to help all those suffering, who do not know about Moodscope, please get the word out.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

21 comments - Permalink


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