The Moodscope Blog

25

September

I know what your Super-Power is. Monday September 25, 2017

Would you like to know what your super-power is?

OK, lean in closer.

Closer still.

'Cos this will be our secret.

Your super-power is the choice to build bridges or build barriers - this is totally within your power! And the two look VERY different. Bridges find a way to connect 'between' and barriers find a way to block that inbetweeness.

I've just offered to mow my neighbour's lawn again (for free). I like mowing. I pointed this out. I said ('cos they're a time-poor motivated seller),

"Adding stripes to a beautifully kept lawn will add £5000 to the value of this property."

Her response?

"I don't believe that."

And she didn't wrap that 'Empathy Blocker' in a smile or a joke. She was serious. What a joke (or something that sounds like 'joke'.) Result? I don't wanna mow her lawn for free no more!

Rapport or Crapport? That is the question!

Any idiot can break rapport (a state I call 'Crapport'!) It takes a master builder to build a bridge of empathy, of integrity, of authenticity, and of love.

I've decided to love my neighbour regardless (and, yes, I mowed the lawn anyway.)

Why? Because I'm supremely grateful. I got a blog out of it!

Next time you have an opportunity to disagree with someone or show 'n' tell them they're wrong - use your super-power instead. Choose to build a bridge of rapport instead of a barrier of crapport.

Love never fails.

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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

29 comments - Permalink


24

September

What's in a name? Sunday September 24, 2017

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose.
By any other name would smell as sweet;"

Shakespeare's quote implies that it isn't the actual name that matters or characterises an object or person.

Some years ago, when I worked at a till, a customer brought a book to my counter. He told me proudly that he was mentioned in the book, but one couldn't tell as the author had used a synonym!

Of course, he meant a pseudonym, which have been challenged lately in Moodscope comments. I think the consensus is that for Moodscope purposes; where many write so honestly about very personal or sensitive subjects, pseudonyms are used as a protective measure, either for ourselves or for our families.

There are some brave keyboard warriors, aka trolls, who hide behind pseudonyms on many social media platforms so they can anonymously spout vitriol.

My point is that they, and we, have chosen our alter-ego. It hasn't been forced upon us.

While we were in no position to choose our 'given' names, these were generally bestowed upon us at birth, and chosen out of love. I do acknowledge that there are exceptions.

Our names can very much be a part of our identity. Some people love their name, others intensely dislike them, and yet others are quite indifferent: it's just a name.

I always think my name is so 'of its time' and a bit ordinary. My mum is the only person who ever called me by the full version of my name and, even as an adult, I often felt like I was in trouble! Since mum died, even that unloved version of my name has taken on a certain poignancy.

But what if someone else decides we must address ourselves in the manner that they want us to? In a recent 'friendship', that I have now painfully emerged from, I was told that I was 'so sensitive', so felt I must acquiesce to prove otherwise and refer to myself in the suggested way. Because of the nature of this correspondence, which was ostensibly for my benefit, I did occasionally protest and was grudgingly addressed by my own name 'if I preferred'.

Nevertheless, I convinced myself that this form of address was one of endearment and friendship. This ultimately turned out not to be the case and was cited as a means of keeping a distance from me; not to become overly-involved. Even though there was much to suggest otherwise.

So along with losing my sense of self and identity in trying to conform, I felt as if I wasn't worth knowing as 'me'. I wasn't sweet enough by own name, and the alternative was a means of control.

The harshest of lessons that I have learnt from this is to be true to myself. No matter my thoughts on my name or my struggles with being me, these are not for anyone else to disrupt or determine.

With love

Dragonfly
A Moodscope member.

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

11 comments - Permalink


23

September

The dark wolf and the light wolf. Saturday September 23, 2017

My first boyfriend was called Jerry Hyde. He's a therapist now (that's the effect I have on people!) I recently enjoyed reading a self-help book he has written called "Play from the f***ing heart". In it was the following story, which touched me very much so I thought I would share it with my fellow Moodscopers (not verbatim as I can't lay my hands on the book, but here's the gist):

An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandchild about life.

"A fight is going on inside me between a dark wolf and a light wolf. The dark is evil; the light is good."

The child looked at him with solemn eyes and asked, "Which wolf will win?"

The chief answered, "The one you feed."

So remember: Feed the light wolf.

OK, you may, like me, wonder what the dark wolf likes to eat. Possibly some of these: Anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self doubt... Feel free to make your own list! But if you catch yourself indulging in any of them and feeding the dark wolf, stop!

And what does the light wolf thrive on? How about joy, peace, love, serenity, humility, kindness, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, faith, resilience and tenacity, hope...

So if you can find any of these within yourself, stay with it, build on them and keep feeding the light wolf. What would you have on your list? Can you add anything that would help strengthen the light wolf?

Marmaladegirl
A Moodscope member.

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

35 comments - Permalink


22

September

I never promised you a rose garden. Friday September 22, 2017



I have never read this book – for others who do not know it, a schizophrenic girl of 16 creates another world in order to escape. Her parents struggle with the stigma of mental illness, then she is lucky enough to meet a brilliant therapist who wins her trust and gives her the courage to fight the illness.

My life has been full of physical (as opposed to metaphorical) roses. A picture exists of me, just walking, under lovely rose arches. I still have roses, every garden has had roses, so that is eight decades of roses! But the path has been decidedly thorny at times, none more so than at the present.

I have just had an hour talking to my only niece. Her brother is schizophrenic (so they say) but his father never talks about him, and his sister is scared of him, he has been violent in the past, and now is scary – luckily, perhaps, for everybody, he has become very withdrawn. Her father, 91, is in hospital – she has had to cancel her holiday to be with him. He treats her in the same way as his brother treats me, like a servant. When his second wife had cancer, his daughter was there, propping him up in any way she could, although she was a full-time teacher. Then her own mother (the divorce was bitter, and the children suffered) had cancer, and off the poor girl went again, commuting by train at least every fortnight.

My friend who I have often cited here has been treated (for depression, in theory – she is also a true hypochondriac while being as fit as a fiddle) on and off for 30 years – she goes from GP to faith healer to devotion (she is Catholic), many charlatans, now she doses herself off the Web. She has drained the sympathy of most of her family and friends.

My husband goes to the excellent Alzheimer Day centre here. I am well known – my car, my shop, my chignon – and I have loads of 'pals' among the inmates/patients, I don't know what is politically correct. The unit is the last and most modern added to a hospital which started in 1347. It houses all types of psychiatric illness. My 'pals' are those who are out and about. They all have mental disorders. Do they, like the girl above, have a world to escape to in their minds? Peopled by fairies? An alter ego? Hobgoblins? I think of these people in the light of the Peter Sarsted song 'Where do you go to my lovely?'

In the depths of depression, is everything black? Or have you had your 'rose garden' dreams?

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

P.S. I lay no claim to the roses in the picture. The church is famed because it has had continuous colonies of bees for four centuries. It is in the Mayenne department, calm and beautiful.

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

35 comments - Permalink


21

September

The Pressure to get Motivated. Thursday September 21, 2017

Hands up if you are always reading or buying books about motivation, success, willpower, goals, productivity, in the hope you will be inspired to action. Are you often reading more lists and posts about how you need to be better?

Do you sometimes feel, if you can read enough articles and enough Facebook quotes, suddenly your brain will put it into action?

Keep your hand up if you have not read any of those books you have bought or borrowed.

My hand is up, I keep buying books but not reading them, finding articles, but not reading them, all in hope I can be motivated, find my true path and follow my dreams. I feel under pressure that I have not achieved enough. These books rather than motivating me make me feel I am not focused enough.

I know people who have read the motivational books, and gone to the "You can be a success" workshops and made endless notes and lists about achieving their goals. Most of them do not get motivated or reach their goals.

What is happening?

Why is the reality different from what books promise us?

Is it maybe that we change when we want to change? Humans cannot be programmed like a robot. I feel it is difficult to create motivation when there isn't any. Sometimes it is not the time to change.

Maybe the book you want to write is not able to be started since you have not worked out the idea for your characters.

Sometimes we are sad and can't motivate ourselves till we have made sense of the sadness.

Some of us use so many tools to be more productive and make so many lists that every minute of our day is programmed.

What about instinct and natural impulse and gut feeling?

Many of us want to control timing in our lives.

For many, unhappiness stems from the belief that our lives should be different than they are. All the books and workshops tell us we should be successful, we can be successful, if only we are determined and become more motivated and organized.

Self-loathing and self-hatred comes from this idea that we need to be able to change our lives, that we must be richer, smarter, or happier.

There needs to be less guilt around the notion that you're not doing your best.

Is it time to stop comparing ourselves to people who are in very different life situations and stages.

Is it possible to start liking who we are now and not thinking about we will be happy when: when we get more motivated, when we achieve our goals, when we realize our dreams.

Imagine what may happen then.

We may motivate ourselves when we are ready and the timing is right.

Do you find motivational books and speakers helpful?

Do you feel pressured by motivational books?

Can you motivate yourself in your own time?

Leah
A Moodscope member.

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

106 comments - Permalink


20

September

Getting it Out There. Wednesday September 20, 2017

[To listen to an audio version of this blog please click here: http://bit.ly/2w4RFzP]

I gave my friend an elephant.

He thanked me.
"Don't mention it," I said.

(Boom, Boom)

That was a joke, by the way.

The elephant in the room: I'm sure I can't be the only one who prefers to ignore him. I can't be the only one who lets stuff build up emotionally, who prefers to act as if in ignorance of issues I just don't want to deal with.

I don't want the confrontation. I don't want the anger. I don't want the answers I fear I might get.

So, I put the elephant in a (large) cardboard box. I can ignore him better that way.

Yes, I carry on in fear and worry and in denial which isn't denial at all. And it takes its toll. It's like a medical condition which won't get better by itself. It's something that time won't heal. It can really drag me down.

Experience tells me that, when I do finally face the elephant, he proves not to be so scary after all. He proves not to be that mad African bull elephant with enormous tusks, but a well-mannered Indian elephant; he's rather embarrassed to be found in my living room at all.

But it doesn't get any easier, does it?

Last Summer I had a family issue I had to bring out into the open and address. It turned out to be much, much simpler than I had expected. What I didn't know, was that for my long-suffering husband (who dislikes confrontation even more than I), the elephant was not only bigger, but multi-coloured too. In fact, so gigantic and hideous was his elephant, that we both ended up in slightly hysterical laughter, and banished it with giggles from our room.

Yet – recently, I wimped out of asking a close friend about our own personal elephant. I still haven't. I don't know if I ever can; I'm scared of the answer I might get.

So often our elephant is imaginary, however – a bit like the Heffalump in Winnie the Pooh.

The trouble is, we don't know if he's imaginary – or at least bigger in our imaginations than in reality, until we deal with him. A bit like Schrodinger's cat, we must open the box to find out his state.

I don't have any easy answers. I know that last Summer I had to make a plan and schedule the conversation. I had to choose a time for that conversation when we wouldn't be interrupted. Then – I just had to draw a deep breath and launch in. "I want to talk to you about something..."

In most cases, the other person is pleased to have the conversation. If you get met with a frosty, "I don't want to talk about it," then I suppose you just have to let that elephant be. If you force the issue, you might end up squashed.

But on balance, I think it's healthier to open the box.

And much kinder to the elephant.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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

28 comments - Permalink


19

September

Go with the flow – Part 1 Tuesday September 19, 2017

My previous boss was forever saying "Just go with the flow, Frankie" – and I never could...

Try as I might, I couldn't relax until I had ticked off all the items on my "To do" list, and knew what I was doing the next day, the next week (and preferably the next month too!) On the plus side, things got done, I kept the family going and life was busy. On the minus side I never put time into recharging my batteries which meant that I was often stressed, irritable and not very relaxing to be around. Another consequence was that when major family crises occurred, I simply rushed around even more frantically to fit everything in. Dropping anything to free up more time was simply not an option.

Why did I live like that?

Lots of reasons; lack of self-confidence, guilt and fear are the top three on the list.

1 Lack of self-confidence: I have long believed that everyone else is cleverer, more organised, more interesting, a better parent, a better colleague (this list is endless!) than me. So I was always worrying about whether I had done things "the right way" (whatever that is).

2 Guilt: I was top of the class with this! I always scored a "3" on this card. I never finished my "To do" list, you see.

3 Fear: I think my greatest fear was of losing control. How would the whole show keep going if I was no longer in control?

The trouble with this was that I lost sight of me, Frankie; take away Frankie, the mother, the wife, the sister, the daughter, the daughter-in-law, the friend everyone turned to, the supportive colleague, and who was left? Who was Frankie without all those hats? I had no idea... No surprise then that I had two nervous breakdowns in ten years, that my body decided to take over and said "enough is enough – you will stop, like it or not".

I have learnt the hard way; it is not selfish to take care of myself – it is essential. I need to have some "me" time frequently, preferably daily, so that I can support those around me more effectively. And, you know what? Doing so makes me more relaxed, so everyone else is more relaxed and life is much more harmonious as a result.

Today I will choose some music and sit down to listen to it properly.

What will you do during your "me" time today? (I would love to know!)

Frankie
A Moodscope member.

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

31 comments - Permalink


18

September

Are You Ready To Commit Your Next Offence? Monday September 18, 2017

Are you offended easily? I am.

Let's see just how easy it is to offend me:

• Not using your left-indicator
• Not saying 'Please' or 'Thank You'
• Not smiling back when I smile at you...

Actually, the list is almost endless. But taking offence never brings me pleasure.

I know that you and I are only offended when our 'Code' is violated. We have a rule book in our mind that defines what is good or bad, acceptable or unacceptable. Unfortunately, breaking the rules is only fun for those who do the breaking!

I want you to be happier.

You can be far happier than you have ever been before - starting today. How? By relaxing some of the rules. Specifically, by relaxing your own rules that you expect other people to play by. Trust me - they don't care - it's only you who is suffering.

Is it really the end of the world if someone cuts into my lane without indicating? If they leave enough space, and don't force me to slow down, I think I could let it pass, don't you?

And if someone doesn't say 'Please' - surely that's more a reflection on their lower evolutionary state, isn't it? I'll be content with being such a spiritual giant.

But what about not smiling back when I graciously offer my gorgeous grin? Who knows what sorrows they are facing. Let's face it - I can let them off, can't I?

Yes, all of the above is firmly tongue in cheek, but I know if I have a little voice in my head that says,

"Which rule are they breaking?"

...this gives me enough pause to regain my poise and enjoy the exhilaration of forgiveness instead.

I want to break free... wanna join me?

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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

50 comments - Permalink


17

September

A Moment of Calm. Sunday September 17, 2017

There's a beautiful bay tucked away in a corner of the world, surrounded by impressive, rocky mountains.

My favourite walk, along a wide paved cliff path, looks out over a panoramic view of nothing but sea.

Protected by a sturdy barrier, it's a safe path for me, who without one, has become anxious and panicky from vertigo if I even glanced towards the edge (I have been known to get down on all fours, even on a seaside sand dune!)

Gazing out at the vast ocean, I'd avoid looking at the dizzying sheer drop, on to the rocks and waves, as if it would somehow be tempting fate. A fleeting, irrational, almost superstitious glimpse of doom, enough to cause a sharp intake of breath and an about turn back to safety.

In the past, I'd enjoy this daily walk to the next town and back before the daytime heat set in.

On this trip though, I was encouraged to take a higher path.

The houses at the top seemed so distant. It had never occurred to me to even consider going up there.

So up for the challenge one hot afternoon, off we went.

It was surprisingly possible to stroll, one step at a time, discovering an abundance of unfamiliar and beautiful sights.

Teenagers had often scrambled beyond the path onto rocky slopes, to make their names in hearts out of stones.

My photographs don't seem to capture what is breathtaking about nature. Whether it's tiny white buildings deep inside a valley, magnificent, dark, mountainous rocks towering above them, the alerted face of a small lizard peeping out of it's rocky dry home at strangers passing by, or speckled sunlight glinting between brilliantly coloured tree leaves, shading it's delicate flowers.

A snapshot photo of a moment like that for me is both irresistible and futile.

Enthused by our achievement, we later explored the high path west of the bay.

Approaching the top, we realised that a wonderful stillness and silence had surrounded us.

It was truly serene.

I knew that if I visualised that place, above the sprawling buildings, in the peaceful open sunlight, with sea and mountains in the distance and the purest sense of nothingness, I'd be able to recall that soothing moment of calm.

The path flattened out onto arid, dry, dusty ground, offering weary souls the space and time to just be.

I did go back on that favourite walk.

Somehow I now found myself able to lean comfortably on the barrier and watch the waves washing over the rocks without a care in the world.

I also tried Tai Chi in the open air.

Eyes closed, I breathed in that sense of calm, as my hands lifted and drifted in unison. Peace and harmony from outside in.

I experienced new treasures about a special place, that I wouldn't have if I'd remained in the comfort of my routine.

Discoveries made about myself.

Having not returned to yoga or any kind of class for a couple of years, I'm looking forward to trying some more Tai Chi now that I'm back home. A new class has coincidentally just started locally. Thank you universe!

No commitment, just to see if it might be a way to find some peace and moments of calm.

Lillipet
A Moodscope member.

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

22 comments - Permalink


16

September

You have a boundary problem! Saturday September 16, 2017

"Sounds like you have a boundary problem."

This is one of the most useful things anyone has ever said to me.

In my thirties, every relationship that came along became, for the time being, the most important thing in my world. Yet another one had just come crashing down around my ears – only, even worse, it hadn't really, permanently, definitely finished. Instead, the guy involved was giving contradictory signals, doing the 'let's stay friends' thing, and in the small town where we both lived, it was inevitable we would bump into each other.

I wasn't coping. I couldn't think about anything else. I felt as if my world was coming to an end: no-one else would ever do; if I couldn't have this relationship, life wasn't going to be worth living – you know the sort of thing. Maybe not all that unusual in a teenager, but in my thirties? Not good.

Luckily, the counsellor I went to was wise and insightful. She listened to my tale of woe, at length, and finally said just that one phrase. Bullseye! Boy, did I have a boundary problem! I absolutely did not have the ability to think of myself as a separate, worthwhile, autonomous person independent of my lover. It did not remotely occur to me that there was a reality, a validity, to living outside of a relationship. I had not found anyone to settle down or have children with, it seemed to be getting too late, I feared missing the form-a-family boat, and I was in full panic mode. If truth be told, I had pretty much struggled to separate from my family of origin too, and there was a big part of me that wanted to find a parent-figure to bond with, rather than have to strike out on my own.

Twenty years on, I am still grateful to that counsellor. It was a painful lesson, and there were more painful lessons yet to learn, but it was a vital step on the path of growing up. Thank goodness she did not pour out sympathy, or join me in blaming the man who, let's face it, was probably very wise to save himself from such a predatory and dependent lover as me. Sometimes the truth hurts, but, like stepping into the proverbial cold bath, the shock can revitalise us and give us new energy, once we've towelled ourselves dry.

How about you? Have you had any problems keeping healthy boundaries? How have you developed them (if you have)? What, or who, has helped you?

Sal
A Moodscope member.

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

40 comments - Permalink


15

September

He is his father's son. Friday September 15, 2017

The Stormy Bears, August 6th Blog really hit home to me. But in a slightly different way.

My son is 20, about to hit 21 in a few days. His father, (that's me) is about to turn 68! This is a 2nd life child. He is absolutely beautiful in almost every sense. However, he is a mental mess!

Starting at age 6 he thought he would need to 'kill himself' to stop the pain in his legs. Social, school troubles followed for many years. While at the same time he showed an unusual affinity for math. At age 12, he announced he would be creating his own math theorem, the kind that take 300 years to solve!

At age 15 all hell broke loose with drugs, anger, misdiagnoses, treatment, medication, counseling, multiple suicide attempts, and incarceration for breaking a window.

We recently moved and in the process of finding a new psychiatrist and counselor I asked for a full psychiatric evaluation. It involved multiple tests and interviews with my son and his parents. The result was a good, but scary inventory of his issues: Anxiety (!), Personality Disorder, Suicidal tendencies... and on. It started the doctor testing him. We hope this will be a good starting place for new treatment and counseling. He is to start DBT therapy soon.

I watch his moods each day, with hope and frustration. I can tell when the day will start badly. Or when anger is about to explode. Or he is about to fall down a hole of despair for another day. But I do all I can to help him through another day. Hoping he will find some coping skills and a brighter future. After all, he has a theorem to write.

I have not decided whether my love and empathy for him are helpful. If, in the midst of his pain and anger, do I give him too much leeway. Or if guilt is a part of my allowances.

Because, he is very much, his Father's Son.

Ron
A Moodscope member.

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

26 comments - Permalink


14

September

What stigma? Thursday September 14, 2017

When I'm well I believe there is no stigma to mental health. Of course, I mean there is no stigma coming from me. Having battled for good mental health for nigh on 30 years I do not judge anyone who is tiptoeing their way in front, beside or behind me. But of course there is a stigma. I wave that flag myself. By being ashamed and hiding. And I do. I still do. I probably always will because in the hiding I offer myself a layer of protection. I need that layer for my health. Not unlike long johns. Who knows they are there? Who needs to know?

Our own attitude to this stigma is the important bit.

If we carry our mental health like a slogan t-shirt then others may flash their own t-shirts and smile that smile of connection. If we hold our mental health like cards in a poker game then others may recognise the face and respectfully admire your hand. If we wrap our mental health in tissue and place it in a small box others may witness our precious cargo and provide extra space in which to lay the box.

And if others do not wish to wear the t-shirt, witness the game or tolerate the box then let them. Their stigma does not need to become ours. When we are strong of health we might be part of the campaign. But whilst we are growing, building, nurturing and regenerating, there is little space to join the campaign. Stigma is there, may always be there in some form or another, it is our approach to it that counts.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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

27 comments - Permalink


13

September

How Much is Physical? Wednesday September 13, 2017

[To listen to an audio version of this blog, please follow this link: http://bit.ly/2xvjDJm]

I once read a story where everything changed and nothing stayed the same. What I mean is, that every day, when the protagonist awoke, things would be different from the day before. Some days he would have a wife, but never the same one. Some days he would have children, but they were never the same children. His house was different; the route to his work was different. Nothing was ever the same. Then one day, that all changed; everything did stay the same and he found he couldn't cope.

It used to be a bit like that for me, but in reverse. The world stayed the same, but I was different every day. Whether in a manic phase or in deepest depression, the days were never the same. I was never the same.

With this new medication, I wake up every morning feeling – about the same: fairly cheerful; moderately energetic and enthusiastic; reasonably alert. Not exactly the same – hey – human here, but – pretty much. After six months, I am just about getting used to it.

So, a little while ago, when, at a friend's house just before lunch, I was suddenly and for no reason, overwhelmed with a desire to weep, to crawl away into a dark place and hide; I was horrified. Was this the depression coming back?

The world retreated behind a thick plate-glass window and sound became dim. My thoughts started that cockroach skittering, that rat scrabbling, in the corners of my mind. The tide of foul darkness engulfed like floodwater, icily cold.

Depression.

Please, no!

Panic!

Then a lance of bright pain pierced behind my left eye and I remembered. Ah yes – migraine.

Some people get visual "auras" with migraine. Things blur, or zig-zig; one side of their sight might disappear. I get what's called a "neurological aura"; it affects my emotions. Oddly enough, the moment the pain hits, the aura disappears. It's almost a relief. I know that I must take painkillers and lie down for a couple of hours (sometimes more) and it will be over – all bar that floaty, head stuffed with cotton wool feeling, that is.

I hadn't had a migraine for years; I thought they had disappeared for good once I left my highly stressful job, but now they have reappeared as a side effect of the medication. I'll happily take that swap.

But it made me think. How many of the symptoms of our depression are the depression itself? How many may be attributed to physiological reasons?

If we are exhausted, if we have not eaten or drunk enough, if we are in pain; the mind will reflect this.

We know that some of the symptoms of depression are the overwhelming desire to sleep and a craving for carbohydrates. This is the brain decoding the symptoms of depression and effecting the "cure" it knows has worked for similar symptoms before.

But it's always worth thinking about the physical causes of depression.

Before you panic.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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

33 comments - Permalink


12

September

Please like me. Tuesday September 12, 2017

When I was 9 years old we had a student teacher who was trying to study the social dynamics in the classroom by asking us about who we liked in the class. A few girls decided they would do their own survey by seeing who was the least liked in the class.

They proudly announced to me that I was least popular girl in the class.

Now, before you start getting out the violins and suggest I need counselling, I really was not upset. I knew I was not popular, never was, never have been. It was just and still being my reality. I was never even nominated to be class captain. Even back then, I was ok because I had a few close friends who would always be there for me. The fact the rest of the class preferred other people to me, was fine.

Some may say but Leah you are remembering this some 50 years later so it must have concerned you. Not really, I find it a useful anecdote.

Today we seem obsessed with being liked - how many likes did you get? If something on YouTube is like by 10,000 people and something else only 450 does that make the first one better. Since when does being more popular make it of a better quality?

Of course, people who don't use Facebook, YouTube, twitter, etc are probably aware of the trend to want as many as likes as possible.

Going viral is something people aim for with their posts or videos. Why is popularity seen as being the main thing to aim for and a very desirable trait?

There is nothing new about popular movies, blockbusters, top selling books, achieving fame only on their popularity.

If something is popular should it be valued more than something that is not popular?

Have you ever been popular? What was it like?

Are we concentrating too much on whether a film clip goes viral than on whether it has a worthwhile message.

Leah
A Moodscope member.

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

84 comments - Permalink


11

September

The Flea in Me, who said, "That won't work!" Monday September 11, 2017

***You must watch this video before reading further***



I've never really had a 'happy' tummy. It's caused me much grief over the years (and I've given it a lot of grief too!) I know its limitations.

Or do I?

I'm attending a four day conference in London, travelling in each day. The journey is unpleasant and promises to be worse today - Sunday. My tummy is playing up. I'm dreading the journey and then the uncomfortable seating in a freezing and dark conference centre... not the most positive frame, is it?

Bizarrely, I found myself having a chat to my tummy! I told it it had 'proven' to me time after time that it wasn't to be trusted and I would have to take steps today to 'protect' myself against a possible meltdown. (Which has happen so many times before - and I know all the signs.)

Then I remembered the fleas.

Do I really want to think like a flea?

A parasite?

Whether the above video clip is true or not, the point is taken. These fleas have adopted self-limiting beliefs that are robbing them of opportunity.

Just because something 'hasn't worked' a 1000 times before, doesn't mean it isn't going to work this time.

Have you stopped trying?

Have you stopped trusting?

Have you stopped giving?

Jump higher, my friend, jump higher - the lid may have moved on!

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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

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10

September

Shadows. Sunday September 10, 2017

A shadow fell across the sun the other day and the world watched in wonder.
The earths light went out for a few minutes and the birds became very still.
When the shadow had passed people turned away and carried on about their business.
Scurrying here, there and everywhere!
Shadows furiously racing to keep up with them!
Scurrying madly cramming bags full of goodies.
Scurrying home to unload the contents then forget about them.
Designer bags put away in to the shadows of their silk protective shroud.

A man living in the shadows inside a ragged sleeping bag, slumped on a street corner, hand stretched out for pity, money, anything to get by.

Shadows of faceless people passing him by.
Shadows spoiling a sunny day drifting by and resting a while over the brightness.
Shadows of dark clouds reaching out, silhouettes in the fading light.
Stretching out to become the dark of the night.
Shadows in my mind swimming around, blocking out thoughts.
Shadows in the night making me lie wide eyed listening for a creak on the stairs.
Shadows in my dreams. Screaming jumping shouting.

Then out of nowhere light blinds the shadows, thoughts race.
A coin handed with kindness to the poor man on the street corner. His smile a beacon in my heart.
Words start connecting again in my brain and I am free of the dark thing.
The shadow that tried with stealth to drag me into the blackness has gone.

The day is good and long and the Shadows for now are sleeping.

Audrey
A Moodscope member.

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

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9

September

Warrior Training. Saturday September 9, 2017

Spiritual warrior that is.

My brain is wired differently than most people. This I have finally accepted.

For a long time I operated at two speeds. At my worst I was self destructive, enraged, paranoid, suicidal - a runaway train barreling down 100 miles an hour at anything in my path. This was usually followed by periods of shame, tiredness, loneliness, depression.

Luckily I have not experienced my worst in a long time, thanks to an arsenal of meds, an amazing therapist, and what I call my daily non negotiables - running, yoga, rest, limited drinking and meditation. Mindfulness meditation. I could not meditate for a long time. I couldn't sit still long enough to be alone with my thoughts. I didn't want to. The rage was too great, the depression too bleak, the shame too painful. But that was when I was trying to escape from myself. I didn't want to exist. I was ashamed of existing.

Through therapy - my therapist is also a practicing kundalini yoga teacher - I learned to sit with the thoughts and feelings. Not judge them but rather observe them and release them. When a particularly painful memory comes up, we use breathing and EMDR to help release the emotions behind the event.

I do my hardest work with her, but she has taught me a very effective technique for dealing with uncomfortable feelings on the spot when I'm alone. After a few deep breaths to settle myself, I concentrate on where in my body I feel the tension. Usually it's my stomach, but sometimes it's my heart, or my throat. I give the feeling a number from 1 through 10, 10 being the most intense. Then I give it a color and a shape. Usually red is the color that comes to mind, and sometimes it's a ball, other times a tight knot or even a knife. Then I just sit and breath and focus on the color and the shape and watch it change. It will change, from red, to perhaps yellow or green, to something else. The shape changes too. And then eventually I realize the tension is gone. Then I visualize the feeling floating down a chord or string from my spine into the earth, dissolving into nothing, hurting no one.

I like the term spiritual warrior because to me it means never giving up on myself. I can accept myself as I am, knowing that I am not perfect, that I have hurt others, that I have been hurt, and know that it is all part of who I am.

I can change my reality of myself, see myself differently than as someone who is just shameful and strange and unlovable. I have another speed now and it's becoming my norm - being calm and rational and dare I say happy. It's a daily practice - a lifetime practice - but it's worth it to me to be a warrior for my own peace of mind.

Lexi
A Moodscope member.

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

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8

September

Busyness and resting. Friday September 8, 2017

The following is a rough synopsis of a series of programmes broadcast in the UK on BBC Radio 4 last year entitled "Oliver Burkeman is busy". The five 15 minute programmes are available until the middle of September through BBC iPlayer.

• Research shows that, compared to the past, women are doing more paid work and less unpaid work, whilst for men it is the reverse. Overall, there has been no significant change in the amount that we do!
• In the "Knowledge economy" it is more difficult to identify what has been achieved compared to, say, working in a factory. At Microsoft, whilst young staff thought they were busy, constantly answering e-mails, etc. their managers were concerned they had lost control of their workload.
• In addition, in these situations individuals start dividing their time into ever smaller slices. This leads to a growing number of unfinished tasks. Again, research shows that we find it easier to remember tasks whilst they are still current. Consequently, the brain is trying to juggle more balls and this leads to things being missed and an increased difficulty in making even simple decisions. The brain becomes overwhelmed.
• Multi-tasking: when we are switching between two different tasks it takes about 40% longer to complete them and performance drops. A Harvard MBA performs at the level of an eight year old once they start "multi-tasking" so jobs tend to go unfinished as other priorities appear. The result is that the brain's to do list increases which creates more distractions.

As you might expect, the answers are all too familiar:

• Cluster similar tasks together, e.g. answer your e-mails, etc. between sessions focused on more important or demanding issues.
• If you are focused on something, like a meeting, and arrive early, don't check your e-mails as this is likely to distract you from the subject of the meeting.
• Don't fill your day with appointments as something unexpected will throw your schedule. Add a couple of short periods for "meeting with self". Use them for that unplanned event but if nothing crops up use them for thinking, revising priorities or getting a head start on tomorrow's agenda.
• Establish a closing down routine for the end of the day. Turn off laptops, phones, etc. and start cooking dinner. Anything that tells the brain "work is over".
• The human body is very good at coping with short bouts of stress but it is not a machine.
• The way to change is not to look for things to give up but to focus on what is important to you.
• Take time off. Really. Set aside time to rest and relax. Go for a walk. It is only when you stop and think that you will get the opportunity to change things and make improvements in your life.

I can relate particularly to feeling overwhelmed, most days there is at least one occasion when I just want to sit down and cry. Listen to the programmes and see if there is anything that helps.

Alan
A Moodscope member.

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

33 comments - Permalink


7

September

"A spot of D.I.Y." Thursday September 7, 2017

There's nothing like a bit of D.I.Y. is there? No, not the get-out-the-hammer-and-nails, off-to-B&Q kind of D.I.Y., (do I strike you as the sort of person who is going to build it myself?) I mean Do It Yourself in a Self Help kind of way.

The current trend for mental health is "Tell someone" - which I totally agree with.

"Don't keep it to yourself; ask for help" - yep, done that. Unfortunately, I have not had positive experiences. It has felt like that trust exercise where you fall straight back and somebody catches you - except that on every occasion they just let me drop, smack bang, flat on my back. Ouch!

Husband (now ex) told me to get a grip. Having 'shared' with my parents and siblings, they just pretend that they don't have such a difficult person in the family and hope (even after all these years) that I'll either grow out of it or (now that I am in my fifties) snap out of it. Professional help has proved to be incredibly difficult to access and then inappropriate and inadequate if I have got it. (No disrespect to all the effective and committed practitioners out there, unfortunately I didn't get sent to you.) So ultimately what I have learned is that if I want help, I have to do it myself.

When I am depressed I feel out of control and powerless; I panic because I think I can't cope. One of the ways that I seek to regain a feeling that I am in control is by searching for ways that help me to deal with the illness when it's there or, even better, prevent it from returning. Being part of the Moodscope community is one of those things and the few blogs that I have written for Moodscope are about things that help me that I hope might help YOU too.

All sorts of people write blogs for Moodscope and mostly they do not, to my knowledge, write for a living or have any professional background in advising on depression, bi-polar or anxiety (I say "mostly" because I know some do). What we all have is PERSONAL EXPERIENCE and this gives us a unique understanding; in many ways WE are the experts! Who is the expert on you? YOU are! Hopefully we are all on a journey to recovery, finding things that work for US as individuals to manage our conditions.

This is becoming a blog about two kinds of D.I.Y. Firstly the help yourself kind. Be your own project, the on-going aim of which is to bring about improvement. Secondly (and this has just dawned on me) if you find anything that works, put it out here on Moodscope. Don't just be a consumer of the blogs, write one! Do it yourself! There's a glorious range of contributors, with so many different styles and such varied approaches to life - but ALL of them are helpful in their way, and YOUR contribution would be helpful too. I am not good at D.I.Y. (the put-a-shelf-up kind) but I am trying to improve at the helping myself kind of D.I.Y., and I would really appreciate YOUR input!

Thank you.

Marmaladegirl
A Moodscope member.

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

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6

September

Letter to Bradley – Age 12 Wednesday September 6, 2017

[To listen to an audio version of this blog, please follow this link: http://bit.ly/2iX4FFE]

Dear Bradley,

Your mother phoned me last night and she is worried. You know she is worried and I know you don't want her to worry, but – let's face it, if you were your mother, you'd be worried too, wouldn't you?

She phoned me because she'd heard that my daughter, your friend from Primary School, has self-harming issues too. She thought I might understand.

I do understand, although not for the reason she thinks.

What I want to say to you, Bradley, is that you're not alone. You may think you are. You may think that you're the only one who feels like this. You may think that something must be wrong with you; that somehow, you're a failure because you can't cope. You might feel weak because you can't shrug off the bullying – or stand up to the bullies.

And because the darkness has overwhelmed you.

So, you cut yourself because the bright pain overcomes the dark for a brief time. And because this is a pain you can control, even if you cannot control the desire for this pain. You cannot control the hurt of the dark, but you can control the bright bloom of pain. It's all that keeps you going sometimes.

You need to know you are not a failure and you are not weak; you have the illness known as depression. Your mother says you call it the sadness. That's as good a name as any. Some of us here call it the black dog, although that's an insult to all dogs everywhere. For me it's a dirty grey monster that swallows me up whole, and cuts me off from everyone. I call my monster Leviathan; it's just a bit easier if it has a name.

I admire you so much for talking to your mother, for explaining to her how things are for you. For many of us that is impossible. We are dumb, and unable to confide in anyone.

I am sorry you are having to cope with the bullies; those monsters who just look human. They exist everywhere and take joy in hurting us; hurting us physically and emotionally – even spiritually. They steal our joy and stamp our energy into the ground. They carry the sadness with them and cast it over us like a net so we cannot escape and then they laugh at us as we struggle.

But I want you to know you are not alone. You are not alone and you are not friendless and there are people out here who understand.

We understand because we live in the darkness, the sadness, too. We know how it is to struggle every day to get out of bed because we dread the day ahead. We know how it is to grasp anything that promises a brief respite or escape from the pain – even if that respite or escape is more pain.

You're not alone in the dark, because we're here too, and we're fighting with you.

Welcome to our band of heroes, Bradley. You're safe here.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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

58 comments - Permalink


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