The Moodscope Blog



Medication Thursday January 23, 2020

When I first went on medication, I remember the moment. Sitting in a café, carefully reading through all the disclaimers, wondering if this was a moment of no return as I popped my first pill.

Would they make any difference?

Four years on, I still don't know. Each time I tell the doctor I want to come off them, he/she (there have been several) cautions me against it. Certainly, they say, do not try it in the run up to winter.

I am now much more open about my feelings. But trust them? Personally, I cannot let them have the final word.

When I was considering getting married 20 years ago, I fought tooth and nail against the commitment. It was only friends who helped me see my irrationality. Having proposed, and been accepted, I have never looked back and consider myself the luckiest man in the world. She is one in a million.

When I thought I should carry on with work and refuse help, friends gently said I was making a mistake. When I thought I was not nearly well enough to return to work, the doctor gently said that it would be a key part of my rehabilitation, so long as it was a staged return. I trusted him and he was right.

So can I trust my feelings? Not entirely. I have learnt to be more open, but I have learnt it is not wise to base all my decisions on them alone.

A Moodscope member.

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

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It Shouldn't Be This Way! Wednesday January 22, 2020

Sometime in the autumn term, my daughter was invited to take part in a university outreach scheme.

We all assumed this would be a visit to the university with a taster lecture and tutorial session.

It turned out to be rather more than that. She was given a scientific topic (science is her least favourite subject), required to research it, and submit a 2,000-word essay.

The timings were strict but badly communicated, so she was not aware of the correct deadline; neither had she assimilated that points would be deducted for late submission.

Last Monday night, when we realised the essay was due by midnight at the latest, and that it had not been even started was – shall we say – tense.

There was no point in being angry with my daughter. We could neither contact the school nor the university: there was nothing to be done – except provide comfort and a hug.

My own reaction was extreme: I felt I had failed. I had failed to investigate the scheme thoroughly before we agreed to her participation; I had failed to ascertain what work needed to be done and the dates by which it needed to be submitted; I had failed to encourage her to do the work; I had failed to support her as a good mother should. I had failed.

I was desolate. I was more upset than she was!

Fortunately, I saw my therapist that week and she helped me see things in a more balanced light; I was not responsible for the entire mess.

More than that, she helped me address the "It shouldn't be this way!"

The "right" way, of course, is that all communications are clear and precise; all instructions followed exactly and competently with a cheerful heart; all submissions are made fully, on time and (naturally) top marks are obtained.

Oh, what a lovely fantasy that is!

Have you watched the film Forrest Gump? Forrest brings a simplicity to life because he accepts everything as it is without passing judgement on it. It doesn't mean he is not capable of being deeply hurt, but that he doesn't resist the hurt. He can let go and move on.

It's okay to be disappointed that things didn't turn out the way they "should", but that was just a fantasy. Once I brought that fantasy into focus, I could laugh, because life simply isn't like that!

The next day the three of us talked. We agreed that, given her dislike of the subject and the necessity to give priority to her school-work, it would be better for her to withdraw from the scheme.

The world did not end, and her teacher is not angry. It was all a storm in a teacup.

We all have fantasies about the way things "should" be. Most of them shatter when they collide with reality – because they are unrealistic.

Of course, we can aspire to perfection, but – let's get real – it's never going to happen.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Life with CPTSD Tuesday January 21, 2020

My sleep is broken, I come to consciousness each time with clenched fists, a racing heart, and gasping for breath. My panic morphs the darkness in to terrible threats that I must escape.

Deep breathing, I calm myself as I plan my strategy to reach the kitchen. I must not wake anyone, so I move slowly in the dark, subjugating my need for light, to escape the formless terror, trading it for silence and solitude at my goal.

I greet the faint dawn light of the landing window with some relief, but the fear has seized my spine, and so to descend the stairs safely I shuffle sideways, wincing with each step, and with each creak of the tread. I reach the bottom and I release the breath I didn't realise I had dammed up.

In to the kitchen, I weigh up which light to flip on. Both could wake a sleeper in the next room. I'm frozen with indecision, I don't know how long I stand there.

Finding no answers I opt for a small light, closest to me, and fumble for the kettle. Can I risk filling it? Should I fill one cup as it uses less energy, or fill more so that the next person doesn't need to fill it, and it will still be warm? What would a good person do?

Again immobile, my mind whirling with fear and helplessness, I can move only when the ticking clock finds me and returns me.

I flick the kettle's switch without adding more water, the fear making the decision impossible. I stand again waiting, the boiling of the kettle making my heart race, and I cover my ears with my hands. I start to pace. Maybe I shouldn't have a hot drink, it's all too much to bear. And yet, the promise of the warmth and comfort of the hot cup in my hands drives me forward.

I watch the kettle's switch finally click off, and remove my hands from my ears. I'm so nearly there. I just have to spoon the granules in to the cup, but the chink of the spoon on glass catapults me away from the now.

Moving as an automata, I pour the hot water, and add milk, leaning hard on the knowledge that the shape and feel of the warm cup in my hands will ground me. The heat and taste will assure me that I am, in those few future moments, safe.

I take my cup and head for sanctuary, but glare of the kitchen light calls me back, rooting me to the spot while my mind weighs up whether I can switch it off. I can't leave it on. I can't turn it off. My drink is warm in my hands, but it is not enough to break through the barrier, nor to ease my distress.

Nothing is enough. And yet, I persevere. I persist. I jab at the light switch, action hopefully serving me better than inaction.

I find the sofa in the half light, and slump down, hugging my cup to me. I sip. The warmth permeates, and for a fleeting moment there is nothing other; no fear, no irrationality, no anxiety.

There will be more decisions, more terrifying indecision, more demons dogging my steps to delude me. But, for now, I am alone, it is quiet, I am safe.

A Moodscope member.

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

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"These Boots are Made for Walking..." Monday January 20, 2020

I know that because I am so tired most of the time and lack self confidence as a result, I allow people to walk all over me.

When I sleep well, I am much stronger mentally.

So I think over the years, some people close to me have got used to seeing me as a push over, albeit someone who will always try to help and to go to if help is needed, but someone who will take whatever life throws at her on the chin without speaking out in her defence, someone who is ready to blame her own behaviour for the bad behaviour in others.

Now this may seem a very negative picture of myself.

But this is how others see me or rather they must do. Not many I hasten to add but those who really do take advantage of me now and have done so in the past.

When I've slept I feel angry at how defenceless I have become and tell myself this mustn't continue but then I'll have a bad spell of insomnia and am back to square one.

I try to make others' lives easy and make allowances for their behaviour towards me. I know deep down that they are the weak ones but how can I show them without a terrible fall out?

It's a new year. I wonder if I'll be strong enough not to take anymore nonsense from those who choose to bully me. We shall see!

"... and one of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you"!!

Does anyone recognise themselves in my description of myself?

A Moodscope member.

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

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Free resources... Sunday January 19, 2020

Each experience is our own. Even those shared are not interpreted in the same way. The TINIEST of differences in how we perceive and react to things HUGELY influences how we feel. It fascinates me how something that does not bother one person, can be a major source of agitation for another.

A long 'to do list' might cause panic in one mind yet give comfort of being occupied in another.

The simplest of things can trigger my sudden sensation of feeling completely overwhelmed. It's like a heavy blanket falling out of the sky, dropping down on me closing out the light, the oxygen and the hope of me ever lifting it off. I do lift it off eventually and carry on mostly.

For me, good quality sleep, drinking plenty of water and even the gentlest of exercise, are my "free go to healing tools". They don't fix everything immediately and life can hinder your access to them, but like Moodscope and this amazing community they are always there to tap into.

A Moodscope member.

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

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A strategy for those tougher days... Saturday January 18, 2020

I have struggled with the ups and downs of my moods for many years. In the past, when things got really tough, I just tried struggling even harder to keep afloat.

The problem with this approach was that no amount of courage and determination seemed to break the grip of depression. Early morning runs, cold showers, endless meditation - none of this really made a difference. If truth be told, they all served to make me feel more miserable and defeated.

So I have now adopted a new strategy - I try and treat myself to a short bout of depression. I give myself permission to retreat to a dedicated comfy room where I will not be disturbed. Here I stock some of my favourite (unhealthy) food from the supermarket, light endless candles, listen to preselected music playlists and watch box sets.

Don't get me wrong, this approach does not take away the pain of depression. However, in a strange way I feel I can enjoy retreating into this safe space at least for a while.

So what are some of those special things that you would fill your own safe space with? Can you allow yourself time to appreciate them in those tougher times?

A Moodscope member.

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

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Detox Time Friday January 17, 2020

I think it's time for a detox and not just alcohol. I've read with interest about toxic people and how you can identify their behaviour. Eliminating toxins sounds quite harsh when you talk about people but can you recognise any of these... I've had some in my life and some I can't quite get rid of.

The family member that can never quite be happy for your successes and makes you feel like you are stuck right back "there" (the there where you don't want to be any more). You can go back into the mode that you were and it's almost what they expect from you so either wittingly or unwittingly, you find yourself reverting to type... the type they expect from you even though you know you are doing it.

You unsettle them because you change and they can't cope with the change so if they are really awful, they find your "Achilles heel" and they go for it. I'm one of the most defensive people on the planet because all I ever had for a while was myself to defend myself.

I was talked over as a young girl at the family dinner table. The men were more important and what they had to say and football was the order of the day. Perhaps that's why I hate football talk and the Grandstand theme to this day. I remember at a dinner party being asked by a stranger what I did and when I replied that I was a secretary his eyes glazed over and he proceeded to talk over my head to the bloke next to me!!

I remember the friend who said "Oh are you still a secretary" and berating me because I hadn't at that time managed to get out of that role... (the one who got gifted a house by her parents and then married a rich man and dropped out of training to be a chartered accountant – she got the certified instead – as she thought she was entitled to a life of ease!). Another friend who was gifted a house (again!) and her stock phrase was "It's alright for some"...!!

You know how I ended up realising it – I asked myself how I felt after I'd seen them. Always sh*t about my life, feeling sorry for myself, feeling small, worthless and envying them for what they had rather than realising what I did have myself that they would never have. Those people never want to give you a leg up if you are falling... they want you down there, not successful, not growing. So I said yes to a detox and the friendships gladly went to the wall. They may have changed or maybe not, but I have and I won't put up with it any more.

What do you want to detox from your life? Have you done it and how did you feel? Are you still wanting to do it? Have you identified the toxins? Remember this. YOU DESERVE BETTER.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Life stinks. And then you die. Thursday January 16, 2020

I have written some graphic things in my journal. It can seem like navel-gazing, but actually I have found it helpful.

Sometimes, as guided by my counsellor, I write out numbered fears. Then I counter them with a series of facts. This is sometimes called 'challenging'; confronting bad ways of thinking with some truths/alternative ways of thinking. I suspect this will be familiar to those who have had CBT – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Most days, this works. Not all, but most days.

My journal also helps me gain perspective. Does life seem particularly bad this week? Skip back 3 months, 6 months, one year, and what do I find? I was in a really bad place "back then", and guess what? I came through it. Wasn't I negative back then? Somehow I feel better about my supposed problems now. I am actually behaving roughly normally. I just have a tendency to be negative. And that is OK.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Accepting Help Wednesday January 15, 2020

A couple of weeks ago my sister in law broke her ankle.

Naturally, we were all very sorry for her. I empathised particularly: some of you may remember that I broke my ankle in February 2016; I would not wish it on anyone.

I texted my brother. Not my sister-in-law, because I remembered all too well how completely out of it on painkillers I was when I was in her position, but my brother; I knew he would be picking up the pieces.

"Tell me how I can help!" I said. "Can I cook some meals for you and bring them round? Do you need the children taken anywhere?"

He was grateful for my offer of help and asked me if I would pick up his daughter from the school bus one evening when he had a meeting and couldn't get back. In the end, he did get back in time and so my taxi service was not required. I felt almost disappointed: I would have liked to have helped.

They were inundated with offers of help. We humans are hardwired to offer help when disaster strikes – even for such a minor disaster as a broken ankle. (Just saying – when you're lying on the sofa with your leg elevated, unable to do more than use your crutches to get to the toilet – it doesn't seem so minor!)

When disaster strikes, we are automatically prompted to help; it's as if we're hardwired to do so. We really want to help and are distressed when it seems there is nothing we can do. So many of us are upset that we can do nothing for the victims of the fires in Australia. We are too far away to do anything but send money and prayers, and that hurts us deep inside.

When we have more long-term challenges, offers of help may be less forthcoming but they are still there, especially if we ask.

How do we react when we are the ones in need and others offer help?

I suggest that we are reluctant to take up those offers. We don't want to put anybody out. We don't want to be a nuisance. We do not want to appear "needy".

Yet, if we can offer help, we are hurt when that help is refused.

Community is based on give and take. It makes us feel good when we can give but we should also practice being gracious receivers as well as generous givers. We should practise asking for help.

In the depths of depression, in the belly of the great grey beast, we may not even be able to formulate that cry for help: everything is numb; we cannot even think of anything that could help.

So, the time to ask is when we are well – knowing (sadly) we will be ill again. Let people know what they can do for us when we are ill.

We would do it for others; let them do it for us.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Self-return Tuesday January 14, 2020

A couple of years ago, we installed a self-issue machine in the library – it allows our readers to return their own books – and it made me think of something...

In 2010, I lost the sight in my left eye.
In 2013, I lost my sight almost completely.

I am one of the lucky ones; because I have relapsing-remitting MS, my sight came back, or at least to what is described as 'near-normal'.

For every relapse there is nerve damage that will never recover. It may be minor damage and functions may return to 'near-normal' but when I'm fatigued or the weather is hot or humid my vision can fog. My eyes take longer to adjust to different levels of light, and brightness is particularly painful. They also do an amazing dance when I try to track anything that moves to the left.

Reading takes more time than it used to, and I find it more difficult to take in information through my eyes; bad photographs on small phone screens, disentangling all the sights in a busy place, or being in a room with more than a couple of faces at a time, for example.

When I lost my sight, I also lost the use of my right side.

As a reader, a walker/cyclist and a very independent introvert, I didn't know what to do with myself – I couldn't entertain myself with books, I couldn't escape the house, I needed other people to help me with tasks as basic as cleaning my teeth.

I had to ask for help and let other people in, I had to be patient, I had to spend time with myself, to sit and face myself without distraction and confront my own inner world.

It was terrifying.

But I noticed something important.

When I slowed down, I became calmer and more sanguine, more accepting and more able to respond rationally and reasonably to what happened around me.

As I recovered and returned to a not-so-near-normal life, everything became busier again and the rushing came back. And so did the inner critic, the irrational responses, and the inability to sit still and allow the thoughts to settle. Meditation helps, but it's the slowing down of life that made the difference.

Today, I have forgotten to bring my phone to work so I won't be able to listen to Radio 3 during my breaks or a meditation or text friends. I will have to sit with myself.

Very timely, given how active my inner critic has been lately.

The Librarian
A Moodscope member.

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

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Your Moodscope Monday January 13, 2020

Here's a physical challenge. Fret not, it won't require muscle strength, just mind strength. Moreover, the blog is not ruined if you don't have a go. It's just fun.

You'll need six sticks of equal length.

I use pencils, or pens, or chopsticks, knitting needles – but anything will work, even knives (blunt ones!)

Lay out three of the 'sticks' so that they form a triangle with equal length sides.

Now, I promise you it is possible to use the other three 'sticks' to add three further triangles of equal size. Yes, you will end up with four triangles of equal dimensions to the first triangle. I did not solve this problem, though I was wowed by its solution.

...more on this later.

The message is about four triangles. These represent how Moodscope can become an ever more significant source of strength in your life.

The first triangle I call "Connection". You can strengthen your experience by strengthening your connection in three ways.

Firstly, the frequency of interaction with the 'test'. The more you do it, the more you're connected to the benefits.

Secondly, the depth of commitment to the system – the paid for version gives you more data, and data shared and interpreted can bring you a breakthrough.

Thirdly, your engagement with the blog. You don't have to write one – it's not for everyone – but you can share it and comment. It's easy and it makes it 'yours'.

How did you get on with your six sticks and four triangles?

The only way to solve it is with higher thinking – you have to build up. In other words, you make a tetrahedron with the other three sticks – a pyramid with a triangular base. Clever, isn't it? I wish I was that clever.

Whatever happens next in the world, we are all going to have to create more options with less resources. Six sticks can make four equally-sized triangles. I was SO moved by Leah's blog, and she has inspired the naming of the other three triangles:


Let's deal with 'currency' first. Moodscope will only remain a part of your life if you get something from it – not cash perhaps but a pay-off in other ways. It's got to 'work' for you. I believe 'connection' is a currency. I have an ever-stronger sense of connection with you, my tribe. This keeps me going and builds me up.

Two other 'pay-offs' are the currencies of confidence and competence. Writing the blogs and commenting on others' blogs has boosted my confidence. Learning from your blogs has boosted my competence. Moodscope, for me, is an enriching experience. Thank you.

Collaboration – the next side of the tetrahedron – is a side I'd like to see more of, and it connects with Contribution too. Mental Health issues are everywhere once you know what to look for and what to say. We need to know what to look for and what to say. Guess what my next blogs will be on!

My point is that I want to become an ambassador for Moodscope – to represent 'us'. At a business networking meeting last Friday, I got talking to a Banker who was running a wellness day at Barclays Eagle Lab next Wednesday. I gave him a card with Moodscope's details on and he said, "Oh, do you do presentations?"

Guess what I'm planning to do!

I want to 'get' more from Moodscope by 'giving' more to Moodscope and 'getting' out there. If you're interested in this too – making Moodscope more 'Your Moodscope' – let's have a discussion here and think about how we could get the right tools to do this good work.

A Moodscope member.

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

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My 'Happy box' and my 'box of Burdens' Sunday January 12, 2020

I have a 'happy box' where I keep physical mementos from people who are and were vital in my life. That's the easy part. Recently I have struggled to find a way to 'contain' my fears, sadness and other burdens that seem to be increasing in my life, especially now that my family and I are getting older.

For many years I have had my 'Happy Box' on a shelf in my closet. It's a real box which originally held greeting cards. Inside I put special birthday cards, photos of family and other significant people in my life. I also have the last letters from my twin sister, before she passed away in 1982. I often open the box and can physically touch and see the photos, read the cards and letters. They are happy souvenirs and I cherish them.

Recently I have been feeling triggered by sad events. My mind goes over these sad thoughts, over and over again, and it is difficult for me literally 'put them aside'. So I thought about my 'happy box' and decided to create my 'box of burdens'. I found an old metal box and I put a post-it labeled 'my box of burdens' on the top. I have since written on a piece of paper the events that are triggering my fears and sadness and folded it in the box.

Now I can keep both my 'happy box' and my 'box of burdens' on the shelf and I really feel more balanced, calm and serene. I can open each box and add items to each of them. More importantly I can CLOSE the boxes and remember that every feeling now has its 'home'.

What's in your 'happy box' and your 'box of burdens'?

A Moodscope member.

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

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What's in a name? Saturday January 11, 2020

I have a black dog. Well, she has some white on her, too, but her predominant colour is black. She is kind, funny, protective and a constant companion that greets me with a smile. Tessa came to me when her previous family admitted they didn't have the time to train her or give her the affection she needs and I am so grateful to them for having the strength to do this. My life is richer for her presence.

Whenever I hear someone speak of their black dog, I wonder if they also have a Border Collie that brings them joy and then I realise that they speak of a different black dog... a black dog that follows them around and sucks the joy from their lives. How can this be? Is it not like claiming that a black cat is unlucky? Even when the evidence proves the lie? Is this a sign that we, as humans, try to hide something that we find uncomfortable to discuss?

These days, there is still a stigma attached to confessing (as if it is a dirty secret) mental illness. Depression; anxiety and PTSD are all too often whispered in conversation. We seek answers from distant friends or social media and seldom share the information with others.

We don't hide the fact that we need glasses to read, or a cane to walk, so why the stigma attached to mental illness? Why fight against treatment, be this medication or therapy, for a mental disorder? These are the very things that can help us best. A good therapist can help you make sense of the monsters that visit at night. A good doctor can identify a missing chemical and help provide relief (and release) in the form of medication.

Mental illness can't be cured, just as a gimp leg can't be cured. We learn to live with it and work around it. Perhaps it is time to see mental illness in the same way.

My name is Cyndi and I have PTSD.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Our glorious natural world Friday January 10, 2020

Nature was my rescue boat – it always has been. I hadn't realised just how much of a lifeline it threw me until it felt out of reach. Having that thing you do when you are worried, anxious or upset, that thing that without even noticing or trying, brings a sense of peace and focuses you on the present, that seems to me a vital ingredient for mental health. For some people that's running through the mud, sexy salsa dancing or yarn bombing their local lamppost. For me it was forests.

I've always loved being among trees, that feeling of walking in an old place, full of a sense of magic and the quiet rustling of leaves. I was always trying to work out where that squirrel just disappeared to or what kind of bird was making that odd noise. Then a year ago I was badly bitten by a dog and suddenly that all stopped. The walking was replaced with chronic pain, hospital appointments and at 35, a walking stick, and an uncertain future. Depression quickly followed digging its claws deep into me. Perhaps it was always lying dormant, kept only at bay by my "forest bathing" but it's here now and so much worse that the scars left by the dog.

I tried to find something else to release the stress - but banned from all physical exercise by my doctors nothing seemed to cut it. I tried reading more, baking bread, joining a choir, seeing friends – all those things people generally suggest but I remained flat and broken, raw on the inside from the sense of loss.

And then it hit me – having a fall back for your stressbuster is a great idea, but why not adapt what you love instead. So one day I switched from focusing on what was now impossible to a new possible. Taking my car I drove through the countryside – I had no plan, no route or direction but just being out of the house and seeing the trees was the first dose of my natural medicine. Tentative hobbled steps followed: finding woods with car parks where I could just get out and sit in the trees, getting to know all the benches in my local park, RSPB reserves with cafes overlooking water and finding nature in the urban – bird feeders bring the forest to me when the pain is too much. Of course there are days I still shed tears for my missed long walks through a forest but I can breathe better knowing I've new ways to get my nature hit now.

So my advice to you – try a daily dose of our glorious natural world and if you think you are loosing something maybe it's a chance to rediscover it another way. You are stronger and more resilient than you think.

A Moodscope member.

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

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It has only been 7 days Thursday January 9, 2020

7 days since my life changed for ever.

7 days since I went from hoarder to minimalist.

7 days in which learnt who my friends are.

7 days in which I have become closer to my family.

7 days in which I am grateful to be alive.

7 days in which I love my children even more if that is possible.

7 days in which I discovered that 4 tops, 2 bottoms and one pair of shoes is enough.

7 days in which I miss my shop everyday.

7 days in which I have gone from owning thousands of books to 4.

7 days in which I have never felt so lost.

7 days in which I have said thank you more than sorry.

7 days in which I have lost confidence to write.

That is a start. I want to know what happened in seven days in any time in your life when there was much change. It could be anything big or small you want to share.

Please, I have shared this but I don't want this to be about poor Leah. I want to start a discussion.

A Moodscope member.

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

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The Sorting Hat Wednesday January 8, 2020

(Warning: this blog contains spoilers for the Harry Potter Series. If you are not familiar with the story but intend at some point to read the books or watch the films, you may prefer to skip this one.)

"While you are here," says Professor McGonagall as Harry Potter arrives at Hogwarts, "your house will be something like your family within Hogwarts. You will have classes with the rest of your house, sleep in your house dormitory and spend free time in your house common room.

"The four houses are called Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin. Each house has its own noble history, and each has produced outstanding witches and wizards."

We find out a little more about the houses when the sorting hat sings its song. We learn that Gryffindors possess courage and daring, Hufflepuffs are hardworking and loyal, Ravenclaws are academics and Slytherins ambitious and ruthless strategists.

The sorting hat has a problem with Harry. He has lots of courage, a good mind and is determined to prove himself; he could go anywhere.

"Harry gripped the edges of the stool and thought, 'Not Sytherin, not Slytherin.'"
And, as we all know, he was sorted into Gryffindor.

There are some surprises in the sorting. For instance, why is Hermione, "the brightest witch of her generation," not in Ravenclaw? Why was Neville, scared of everything, sorted into Gryffindor? Newt Scamander, incredibly intelligent and courageous, was – in his day - sorted into Hufflepuff. We think of everyone in Slytherin as being self-serving but Professor Snape, while demonstrating an unpleasant character, played the bravest and most sacrificial game of all as a triple agent, ultimately on the side of good.

We tend to think of ourselves as being in one "house" or camp; we espouse a set of principles. Our family, our friends and the world sort us (maybe) into another house. While, rarely, that might be as a result of our purposeful deceit – we wish to fool the world into believing well of us - the dissonance between what we believe about ourselves and what others believe about us can cause distress. What's more, we can come to believe the sorting hat of outside opinion rather than the true north of our own internal belief. For instance, growing up at home, I was labelled lazy, volatile, forgetful and unreliable. As I didn't recognise my bipolar disorder (those who suffer rarely do), I couldn't understand the "volatile". I didn't want to be lazy, but I did (and do) get bored. I wanted to be reliable yet was (and am) easily distracted.

But – just as Harry thought, "Not Slytherin," we can choose not to be in the house others think we should be. I choose to be hard-working, dependable, honest and loyal. I may slip up sometimes; get distracted or fall out of integrity but that is what I aim to be.

I'm not a Ravenclaw dreamer, whatever others may think. I'm proud to be a Hufflepuff.

Which house are you?

(If you want to know into which house the sorting hat would put you, go to and set up your Hogwarts account. It's free but the sorting hat's decision is final.)

A Moodscope member.

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

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The Fires Tuesday January 7, 2020

We are in the middle of terrible bush fires here in Australia. The first ones broke out in September and since then parts of the continent have gone up in flames. The firestorms have led to loss of forests, loss of animals, loss of farmland, loss of property, and tragically loss of human lives.

Incredibly, some of the fires were deliberately lit, although most arose from lightning strikes on country left tinder dry by years of drought. We have cried many tears. So far Canberra has been safe but the danger is extreme and we have been asked to prepare for the worst. Canberra has been through all of this already, in 2003. We don't want a repeat. It is scary.

How can we avoid despair in this situation? Is there a positive in all of this? I think there is.

At times like this we organise to help each other, we stay in touch with loved ones, we share food, water, shelter, clothes. We do what it takes to revive our communities. We donate to charities supporting wildlife, farms, people who have lost their homes.

I am still fearful. Bags will be prepared in case we need to flee. But I know that the kindness and care of our community will get us through it, if needs be.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Bigger Windows Let In More Light Monday January 6, 2020

[To listen to an audio version of this blog post, please click here:]

There's a part of you that you show to the world and that the world sees.

That's the easy part.

Some people make a life's mission out of this, saying, "What you see is what you get." This, on paper at least, would be commendable, but it's not usually the whole truth because they don't know the whole truth.

Imagine yourself as seen through four windows. The first we've mentioned.

The second is WAY more interesting. This is the self you see but don't show to anybody else. When we 'come out' – we may open up this window to let in more light. And I'm not just talking about sexuality – I'm talking about anything you've been keeping under wraps but that you know fully well about.

If you're lucky or unlucky (depending on how they reveal what they see), you'll have some people in your life who see a side of you that you have never seen or accepted. They'll tell you. That's the third window. If it's the truth and it eventually resonates with you, you'll have more light in your life. It will most likely be an uncomfortable revelation, though.

Why do I say that? I say that because this is a part of you that you haven't yet faced. And you haven't faced it for very good reasons! I know, for example, that I am often my own enemy. I can review my life and point out times where I've clearly sabotaged my own opportunities, success, and happiness. There were always good reasons why I made those choices at the time, but they were not the best choices when viewed within a much longer time frame.

The fun or most fearsome window is the one you haven't seen yourself through yet, nor have other people. You have looked out through it, though. This is the part of you that you really can't stand! Carl Jung talked about this as the 'Shadow'. The shadow is often revealed in the intolerance you show towards characteristics and behaviours in others.

In my own spiritual tradition, we teach that we shouldn't judge others because in so doing we condemn ourselves. I have proven this principle to my satisfaction sufficient times to be convinced of it. Where I have judged others, I invariably find myself doing, thinking, or believing something similar eventually.

If you're up for the 2020 vision of yourself that lets in the most light, there are three things to begin doing.

Firstly, open up. Come out of the closet. Not to everyone, just to someone you trust. You've borne some burdens for far too long, and this is hurting you. Tell someone your truth. I had a dream last night that taught me a lot. In it, I held a complete stranger in a loving embrace. In my dream, I knew that this was what I want most at the moment, to be held, embraced, hugged, cuddled. Many of you know I lost my Mum before Christmas. She could never express her physical affection, so I grew up with a massive hug deficit. There you go, I'm out...

[I would be cautious what you share here. I felt safe enough to share that but there are deeper truths that are for the ears of the few!]

Secondly, listen to your friends and your enemies for they may see something in you that you haven't yet come to terms with.

Thirdly, watch what you judge and then ask yourself, "Do I do that?" "Do I think that?" But only when you're ready for more light and more truth!

Deeply yours, this Monday!

A Moodscope member.

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

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Half full, half empty, or neither? Sunday January 5, 2020

I remember a therapy session with a giant bearded Canadian in the group. I had carefully listed my woes but then, in a moment of self-perception for which I expected to be commended, announced that this was my 'cup half empty tendency.' I admitted I had a tendency to be negative, but said I wanted to see my situation as more 'glass half full'.

I loved the Canadian's response. "What do you mean, half full or half empty? Your cup is neither. Your cup runneth over!" He then rapidly listed a whole number of things I had chosen to ignore or overlook. He was right! A lot of people would like to have been dealt the hand of cards providence gave me, and has continued to deal me.

I have shared this story on numerous occasions. And now, a young male friend called Tom quotes it back to me when I display symptoms of negativity. It never fails to bring a smile to my face and my heart.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Nourishment Not Punishment Saturday January 4, 2020

For the last two weeks the nation has been encouraged to eat, drink and be merry. Then, as soon as New year is over the focus switches to cutting back, cutting out, dieting, joining the gym, getting back into shape and it all sounds very much like punishment at what can be a difficult time of the year for many people.

I struggle with SAD and find January my most difficult month. I switch the focus to 'nourishment' instead of 'denial'. More sleep, more fruit, more vegetables. There are many ways to nourish ourselves. Practice as many as possible, self care is essential if you live with any kind of compromise to mental health. Early nights, bubble baths and a good book from the library and a set time each night for digital switch off (stop scrolling)... what do you do to look after yourself?

Keep well.

A Moodscope member.

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

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