The Moodscope Blog



So this is Christmas... Saturday December 7, 2019

Tradition says we put up the tree on 8th December.

Usually my kids are full of enthusiasm and encourage me to untangle the lights and dig out the decorations. But this year feels different.

It will be our first xmas without my mum, their gran. Their first xmas with no grandparent left at all in fact.

It's their first xmas where I have stepped back from making arrangements for them with their father. They are teens, they have phones, they are now in contact with him themselves.

It's our first xmas in this house and it will be our only xmas here.

This time last year I had a month to find us somewhere to live and it's been a lovely home but I am done paying rent (and other people's mortgages!) so 2020 is the year when I will buy our own house, our own home.

That is my new year's resolution. I am determined.

This time last year my mother was alive but angry with the world. I wish I could put my arms around her right now and say 'mum, please, we are all on your side, we all love you, take a big deep breath and let it go...'

If she had known she only had six months left, I wonder how different our lives would have been last year, last xmas...

I haven't bought a present, not even a card. But I'm not a grinch! I will get into the festive mood. I will slap on a smile and a silly xmas jumper and a santa hat and I will wrap presents and make mince pies (okay, it'll be frozen pastry and mince from a jar but I'll be putting them in the oven so it's mostly the same thing!).

My dear auntie who I loved used to say 'I hate Christmas' and I never understood it when I was younger. How could anyone hate the most glorious time of the year? It took me a while to realise that my aunt suffered from depression. It was never understood. She was of the generation (and from a family) who thought 'a brisk walk' would 'sort that nonsense out'.

If she was alive now, I'd give my auntie a big warm hug too and I'd say 'I'm here, I know how you feel, let's have a chat, I'll make us a cup of tea and look what I brought, 'home-made' mince pies...'

Salt Water Mum
A Moodscope member.

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

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Isn't the brain wonderful or is it?? Friday December 6, 2019

I recently attended a workshop for self-development, it was to provide tools on how to cope when you feel overwhelmed and dealing with negative people or situations. Another topic that was also discussed was self-limiting beliefs.

I have never really heard of this before and it was put in a way that I got. Basically we tell ourselves things every day," I am ugly, I am fat, I don't deserve to be happy or loved" and over time our brain believes these nuggets of self-doubt. When you get a compliment you dismiss it, for example, "Your hair looks nice" and instead of saying "Thank you" we say "It's because I've washed it". Your sub-conscious brain attacks the positive in you so you still believe the negative and these are the things that have held us back.

I know not everyone will believe that if we start telling ourselves positive stuff that it will change our lives, but being grateful for what we have in our lives and telling ourselves that we are good enough will help on the step to feeling better about ourselves.

One of the exercises we had to do was write down the one thing that we didn't have/deserve and why. I was at the workshop with a friend and she couldn't believe what I had written and we both sat there in tears. She didn't see in me what I saw and sometimes we have to look at these self beliefs from a different perspective. What if your friend said to you the things that you are thinking? You would tell them how you saw them and that's what we need to do. We need to be kinder to ourselves and think how our friends see us.

One of the things that the coach does, and she has been through a pretty rough time herself these last few years, losing her husband from a brain tumour at a young age and bringing up two young children, but her attitude is amazing. Every day she says three things that she is grateful for and three affirmations, she even gets her girls to do the same.

There will always be bad stuff in our lives that we can't get away from, grief or a trauma, but it is about making the rest of life happier so that these things do not feel as big or as overwhelming.

I have been suffering with depression and anxiety and it turns out going through the change at an early age, but I am going to try and do these two things to see if I can turn those negative self-limiting believes into something a bit more positive and be able to say "I am enough"!!!

A Moodscope member.

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

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Nihilism or not? Thursday December 5, 2019

Here's a question most of us have probably grappled with. Not just us Moodscopers, but people in general.

What's the point?

What does it mean? Whats my purpose? What's the purpose of anything?

It's tantalising; if we can figure out 'why' then it should be a quick hop to the other, less abstract, answers. Armed with a purpose surely it's just clean logic to figure out 'what' would achieve the goal, 'how' you can bring it about, 'when': now! 'Who'? You! Get to it!

When I was at my lowest, a common question from concerned parties was if I'd 'figured anything out'. It's a valid question: I'd put my life on hold because I didn't want to do anything (or couldn't do anything, a fine line and not one I'm confident with yet), and my issue was seemingly mental: so motivation! Figure out what's meaningful and then do that thing. Fixed and back on track!

This sounded like a good outcome, so I heeded the advice and searched for meaning.

I saw psychologists, brushed up on my philosophy knowledge, made lists, identified values, practised "noticing" my thoughts and feelings and responses in the moment. Yet the more I explored, and read, and delved, the more I became convinced that nothing mattered. This wasn't full-scale nihilism, I believe things can be meaningful on an individual level; beliefs, experiences, sensations, emotions are all real, and it fully makes sense to pursue some, avoid others, and try to cultivate a life for yourself accordingly.

But a purpose? An objective meaning that I should spend my life pursuing, that is somehow true and relevant beyond me, my family, my culture, my world? It just doesn't make sense to me.

As you can imagine, the "concerned parties" from earlier weren't exactly thrilled. Some were worried. Despite trying to assure them that my view was more absurdist then nihilist, "nothing matters and that's okay" is apparently not an okay view.

I have tried to explain; how the world is chaotic, and from a universe-wide scale a lot of very important things just happen. No rhyme, reason or intent except the labels we slap on. Religion aside, most people agree on a chaotic universe to some extent, but that nothing really, inherently matters? An extended bout of depression is just the simpler explanation.

One final point: I don't view this ultimate meaninglessness as bad, or hopeless, - there's enough immediate value and meaning in the everyday course of life and living. In fact, untethering yourself from a story with universal purpose leaves you free to just... be.

So, I throw it to you. What matters? Do you feel as if you have a purpose - personal, or otherwise? Any odd ducks like me who have gone to 'the dark side'?

Of course, I don't know you, or what is meaningful to you, what you're struggling for or against, but you're doing it. You're here. And that means a lot to me.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Anchorage Wednesday December 4, 2019

Last Wednesday I wrote about my panic attack in church. On Thursday a dear member of our Moodscope community sent me this idea. I am very grateful for this – and for her – and thought I would share it with you.

Some of these things I do unconsciously, but not as a structured response to the overwhelming sensations which accompany severe anxiety – the anxiety that has no logical root and is therefore immune to reason.

This method works by anchoring you to reality – the physical world you can relate to with your senses. It forces you to concentrate on the external and physical, rather than on the thoughts which are churning around in your mind. We all know, when we are calm, that these thoughts are often distorted by our imagination; but when we are in what seems to be a waking nightmare, calm is hard to reach.

This is the method:

1. Find five external things you can see. Notice details about them. I can see my pot of pens. It is orange with a gold looping pattern. There is wording in a diamond, "The Writer's Companion", and around the diamond, pens and ink. It contains nine pens, pencils and a letter opener with a ceramic marbled handle. I can see my mug with butterflies; my diary with its terracotta cover, my phone where my friend Raz is texting me on Whatsapp, and my clock; It is two minutes to eleven.

2. Find four things you can hear. For me this morning, it's the nature sounds I am playing as a background to writing; the sound of my keyboard (I have one of those "clicky" keyboards many writers prefer); the clock ticking and, if I listen hard, the sound of my cat snoring in the next room.

3. Find three things you can feel: not emotions, but physically feel. I can feel the keyboard under my fingers, the fact that my legs are a little cold (I hadn't noticed that before) and that the seat is hard under my bottom. I suppose I had better wriggle a bit to get comfortable.

4. Find two things you can smell. I have a diffuser and am using essential oils of geranium and ylang ylang. If I lean forward over my cup, I can smell camomile and spiced apple tea.

5. Find one thing you can taste. I have a slight cold today, so have an unpleasant taste at the back of my mouth, but I'd rather concentrate on the taste of the tea.

The idea is, once you have gone through this exercise, you will have brought your mind out of the turmoil and back to the balance of the real world.

If I had known of this a couple of Sundays ago, I think it would have helped. It would have been useful to have had a pattern and method to follow.

So, thank you again, dear Moodscope friend. I will use this, if I need to, in the future.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Sticking to the point Tuesday December 3, 2019

I have written before about how interesting/comforting it is to read my old blogs and the replies. Often a blog can be on a specific point, (the day I write this, 14th November, Fathers and Sons, somewhat poignant as it was Prince Charles's birthday, and one gathers his relationship with 'Dad' was not easy).

Coping with widow-hood, no longer responsible for another, long nights, dark days, make the hours drag, and the need to do something, anything positive is vital to fight off 'winter blues', whether the SAD syndrome or real depression.

My grand-children, bless them, are very interested in my welfare, and, bizarrely, they are mirroring my Dad in finding me things to do. Also, they ignore any bleating about age. About 30 years ago I was referred to as a 'cool' Granny, then, in an article in a French paper as a 'cinquaintaine distinguee' (distinguished 50–year-old). These are the sort of things you stick on the fridge door and try to live up to.

So, what is the 'point' of this pre-amble? A grand-daughter introduced me to 'Future Learn' part of the Open University, a short, inter-active course on line. Students are all ages and world-wide. My first course is 'Global Water Security'; I DO try and concentrate, but every item gets me into 'déjà vu', or, more, with 40 years of travel and 60 years in agriculture one thinks 'Why has it taken so long for people/governments to become aware of the damage we are doing?' Off at another tangent, I got a book out of the library (French) on 'Climate fluctuations of 1,000 years'. Mind flies off to the terrible floods in the North of England. Then, coincidence, a film on the land and agricultural discussion afterwards tomorrow night here. Right up my street. And the weather forecast for this week-end is cold and wet way below the seasonal normal.

Like all old people I am always cold and worried about heating bills. Could provoke another diversion on best ways of heating, keeping circulation going by exercise, or, just don't get up. Not practical, however tempting. I remember as a war child, no heating of course, taking clothes for the morning into bed with me the night before, and dressing as much as possible under the bedclothes.

Back to my course. We were in Malaysia, at a World Heritage Site. A typhoon had funnelled down acres of plastic bags and bottles, way before the emphasis on plastic in our seas and re-cycling. There, also, when going to look in a rock pool, a large python came out of the forest. The fact that I am writing this means it did not eat me and I did not die of fright. And I am now a science freak. Forensic scientists are using modern methods to find out how Saint Louis (French king) actually died.

I am able to stick to the point, two degrees and endless articles, 400, 800 and 1,000 words to prove it. A prize if you can find a thread in this!

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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

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Batteries Not Included Monday December 2, 2019

[To listen to a podcast of this blog, please click here:]

Have you ever bought the wrong batteries? You opened up the battery casing only to find you needed AAA batteries and not the AA batteries you purchased? "Batteries Not Included," was a common warning on packaging in the 1980s when I was buying toys!

Life's a bit like that.

We all have the potential to be Energiser Bunnies (albeit, some of us in the mildly excited manner of the British!) Yet, for most, if not all of us, there comes a time when it feels like our batteries are either flat, or, worse, someone's knocked them out of us entirely.

My recent bereavement has left me bereft of both feelings and energy – "fog and fatigue," as someone accurately described it. My batteries have dropped out. Since I still need to function, I got to thinking about what would charge, recharge, or even replace my batteries.

In the good times, I know what energises me. For that reason, I'm going to invite you to play a word-game with me.

In your own happiest of days, which of these words or phrases appeals to you most? Choose up to six of the words (or add your own in the comments...)

Security, Influence, Innovation, Stability, Belonging, Prosperity, Freedom, Friendship, Mastery, Meaning, Recognition, Relationships (fulfilling ones), Significance, Expertise, Creativity, Self-Determination, Social-Esteem, Stability, Control, Respect, Stability?

According to motivational expert, James Sale, there are three main zones in which we can enjoy being motivated – three general types of batteries: Relationships, Achievement, and Growth. Unlike the toys that needed batteries, you can mix up these three types! For example, you may be primarily energised by fulfilling relationships and yet have a dash of satisfaction from knowing that you know your 'stuff' – an expert in your field. Or, you may be more interested in making money – money that brings you security and stability... and that security brings you freedom.

The big mistake, of course, is trying to ram your batteries into someone else's battery compartment! Don't do that! It doesn't work! Not even for husbands and wives!

Creativity and doing something I believe is worthwhile are the twin poles of my batteries – I need both. Most relationships I find exhausting and I don't give money any positive attention (although I notice when it's lacking – a sure sign that it is not a motivating factor for me.) To survive the current dip in power, I'm composing music and photographing beauty – both in Nature and in Interior Design. But this message is not about me... I'd rather hear about what would energise you today...

You may even be able to simplify this down to one of the three main headings: Relationships, or Achievement, or Growth.

[And if you're in the pits at the moment, I know that nothing would energise you. In those circumstances, jump in your time machine and let us know what used to energise you in your happy days.]

A Moodscope member.

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

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Magical thinking Sunday December 1, 2019

I've written a lot of late about treasure – and please bear with me while I explore yet more on the subject. There is much to be worked through as I peel back the layers of destructive behaviour to discover my true self, my essence.

What is it you want?

I can honestly say that I don't know, I haven't got a clue but I know I am looking for something. Something is missing, there is a void I am trying to fill and when I find this elusive "thing", all will be well in the world. No more pain, no more sorrow, no more loneliness, no more destructive behaviour towards myself and others.

That is a lot of pressure I have just piled on myself to find this "thing". Clearly if I don't find it, I am destined to a path of destruction and misery, taking others along with me whether they wish to accompany me or not.

So I keep digging, I must find this treasure, which I have now accepted is not a trunk full of sparkling jewels and gold coins, but rather a missing piece of the jigsaw that will complete the picture after which everything will fall into place. Happiness will flow, success will follow, as will confidence, social invitations...etc.

Who am I trying to kid? Is this not just more of the same?

Only when I let go of this magical thinking and enter the real world, as opposed to one of fantasy and fairy tales, do I begin the real journey of exploration.

I am likening myself to an archaeologist at the moment, slowly and carefully feeling my way as I scrape away at the layers of dirt and mud. Sensing that I am going to find something but not really knowing what it might be, but trusting the process.

Seek and you shall find. If I don't look, I will never find and I have started looking so will keep going until I find this elusive "thing". Of course it is possible I am looking in the wrong place for the wrong this, as I eluded to in an earlier blog. So accepting that there will be mistakes, there will be disappointments, there will be flurries of excitement, there will be moments of pure joy, there will be revelations, there will be victories, there will be destruction, accepting it all as part of the journey, I think is key.

Or should I say "the key" to the trunk of treasure filled with pearls of wisdom and jewels of awe and wonder, trust and acceptance, friendship and kinship, kindness and curiosity.

Thank you for staying with me while I journey along my road of exploration. I too will walk with you while you navigate turbulent times. I shall laugh with you, I shall cry with you and I will be here for you.
I am listening to you.

A Moodscope member.

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

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I'm only human after all Saturday November 30, 2019

A song by 'rag-and-bone man', also known to a friend as 'dog-and-bone man', it is something I have to remember. The realisation is both liberating, and, if I am honest, causes some small sadness.

I was brought up to believe I was someone special. "From those to whom much has been given, much will be required." I suspect this could be even more of a problem for the next generation, as we run out of superlatives to praise our children, making up for the deficiencies of austere Edwardian parenting. My wife and I frequently praise our children, but we tell them our love for them is not dependant on their being perfect. We love them just as they are, with their weaknesses. Even when they are a little bit naughty.

When I was 18, I admitted to my dad that I had made a mistake at my work. I was doing a gap-year at his old solicitors firm where he had found me a job. His response? "Solicitors don't make mistakes." What a bozo thing to say! Wasn't I allowed to be human?

To be honest, part of me wants to be special. To be above average. Even to be perfect.

When I first had counselling, I told my counsellor of a moment of crisis on a foreign holiday. I was trying to read a German newspaper, some 25 years after I stopped studying German and was horrified with how little I could remember. At the same time, I couldn't master something on my smartphone. Was I useless? No. Just human after all. These things, while frustrating, were normal for someone of my generation. Why did I think I would be different?

A Moodscope member.

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

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Associations Friday November 29, 2019

At almost 44, I thought I would be far better established in friendships and social connections by now. Instead I am finding that as I become a better friend to myself, others have to go.

As a handicapped person with a mental illness, socializing is hard. Most life activities are; but social settings are by far my biggest challenge.

Someone once said to me; "People will always tell you who they really are, you just have to know how to listen." Sometimes the truth is in the absolute statements: "I am soooo honest..."(Can turn out the biggest liar).

"Never get mad at someone who is being exactly who they are," I have heard. Yay for authenticity, I guess.

Recently a long term friendship is taking a hit and I am noticing it seems to be over my ruminating an event to death. It takes me a long time to process things that trouble me and to be sure; in midst of it my rants and ramblings probably seem incessant and non directional. Then once I am done, it's DONE. I have beaten the topic to death. I appreciate that she is weary of the same, repetitive conversation. And my regret is that I haven't saved the processing for my therapy sessions. After all, isn't that why they get paid the big bucks?

So while I don't want to take only anothers inventory and never my own, it is time to move on once again.

Another wise person told me; "All relationships have a shelf life," and that notion saddened me. Ah, the truth may set one free but not necessarily make one happy.

I have written about this friend flaunting her wealth while insisting we travel anywhere together in my car, while complaining about the condition thereof. A friend who flashed photos of her yearly vacations with her engineering husband with zero regard for the fact that I had never been on one. (Not even my honeymoon to an ex husband was a vacation but that's another story best left alone). Who bragged about her savings accounts to someone who barely gets by. Who stole empty bottles and cans from a homeless man, no less. Who has recently been degrading people who don't work full time and over time like her. "Bottom feeders," she calls persons on social assistance and disability pensions. People like me.

So it is time to get off the ruminating wheel and make a decision. This and a few other over-thought stories of mine need rest. I know what I have to do and it isn't because I am faultless; but this friend needs to become a memory. Someone has to pull the plug on this and put us all out of its misery.

I dislike starting over AGAIN but that is also a plus in life - you can reinvent yourself anytime you feel the need to. As Marilyn Monroe put it: "Sometimes things fall apart so better things can come together."

A Moodscope member.

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

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Feeling like a fraud Thursday November 28, 2019

Have you ever felt you don't belong? Have you ever thought everyone else knows what they are doing, except you? Are you worried someone will find out you are just faking? Do you have a voice in your head, your inner critic saying you are not worthy, you shouldn't have your new job, your new baby, your partner?

You may be in a new job, you may be in a new relationship, you may have a new role as wife /husband, or you may have moved to a new place and everything seems fine. Other people would say you are coping, you seem happy and you keep smiling.

Inside you feel you don't belong; you feel like a fraud and it is just a matter of time till someone finds out how incredibly hopeless you are.

I wonder if you can relate to this behaviour and if you recognise it in yourself. Feeling like a fraud can be common at the start of a new job or career but can happen at any stage of life.

Some people have an impractical idea of what an achievement is, and impossible expectations, so they will feel let down when they can't reach these goals.

There are those people who have insecurity, lack confidence because they never think they are ever good enough.

Feeling like a fraud can happen in relationships and not just in workplaces.

I remember when I was a new mum, I thought one day someone would work out I had little idea of what I was doing with a new baby. I had everyone fooled but I knew the truth.

Have you ever worried that if someone gets close and really gets to know the real you, they will not like you.?

Do you listen to any criticism, but do not believe any positive feedback?

I wrote a blog years ago about my inner critic and I think it is the inner critic who makes me feel insecure and as if I don't belong.

How do you stop feeling like a fraud and try to believe in ourselves as others believe in us?

I am interested in what you think.

Have you ever felt like a fraud, or a fake?

What were the circumstances, and how did you cope?

A Moodscope member

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

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This is not real Wednesday November 27, 2019

It's Sunday and I don't want to go to church. I can't deal with many people today.

But – I promised Philip I'd take him, and I can't let him down.

Philip is delightful. He is 89 and not steady on his feet; it is always a pleasure to take him to church.

It is Morning Prayer today, and a smaller congregation. I think I can cope. I get Philip settled in his usual pew and slip out to the kitchen for a glass of water.

The organist fetches her own water and gives me a hug. Her daughter suffers with depression too and she knows how it is. The church warden suggests I sit in the smallest pew at the back, next to the door. I can easily slip out if I need to, she says. I am touched by her consideration.

All is well to begin with. It's not until the third hymn it happens.

Without warning my stomach clenches and I feel sick. My heart beats like a thrash metal drummer. Niagara roars in my ears and Laufrey the Frost Giant squeezes my chest tight in his fist.

Staying in my pew is impossible and I stumble out, grateful that someone has left the door to the church room ajar.

Inside the church room it is cool, and I can breathe again. I get another glass from the cupboard, carefully, so it will not slip out of my hands, and fill it with water to one centimetre from the brim. The water is cold and tastes silver grey on my tongue.

The churchyard is green, and two birds fly down from the yew tree and peck on the pathway outside. They are sparrows; chestnut and fawn and tan, with eyes that are black and bright. They do not see me.

People come in for tea and coffee. Someone brings me a cup of tea, puts a hand on my shoulder for a moment and then leaves me alone. The tea is hot and draws a note from a cello in my mouth. Middle C. I hold it with both hands so it will not spill.

I stand, balancing on knees with tendons fragile as light-bulb filaments, and take my empty cup back to the hatch. I push it over the mile of counter to the smiling ladies on the other side.

Philip guides his walker back down the path and I put him and it in the car and drive him home; concentrating hard because my arms and legs are twice the length they should be, and every movement takes a long time.

Philip is concerned: I can see that he does not want to go back into his flat and leave me. I hug him gently, feeling his fragile bones and the soft suede of his cheek.

"It's only chemicals," I say. "It's not real." And I smile.

I must remember that. This is not reality; this is just the way I feel.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Are you brave? Tuesday November 26, 2019

I am not brave. I wish I were. Otherwise I would have the courage of my convictions and tell the world at large about Moodscope. On a train, in a shop, in an eatery, whenever the opportunity arises, I should really spread the word. Shouldn't I?

But maybe it's a bit like spreading a religious conviction, or political allegiance. You pick and choose who you disclose to. Why? Is it out of fear, embarrassment, or even a desire to keep the Moodscope community a closed shop of kind, caring and sharing people? Or actually something else? I haven't reached a conclusion yet.

But I do know that I don't want everyone to know my business. I don't trust everybody. I have to have verification that the person I'm talking to is on the same wavelength, shares an interest in, and sympathy for mental health issues. And that includes people I know well.

Over the five decades that I've experienced depression and anxiety, there has been a huge shift in thinking about people with mental health illnesses. If I think back to fear of schizophrenia, when I was in my twenties, when we visited a friend's schizophrenic landlady, I am appalled now at my fear, lack of knowledge or appreciation of the condition then. When my sister-in-law recently confessed that she felt unable to travel in our car if our autistic son were a passenger in it, I knew the fear among outsiders still persisted. There is still far to go along the path of acceptance and understanding.

How much do you share about Moodscope?

Who do you tell, and why them?

And are there people you deliberately withhold your membership of Moodscope from, and can you say why this is?

A Moodscope member.

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

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Celebrating Freedom Monday November 25, 2019

[Lex wrote this blog on Friday 22nd November 2019. Sadly, his Mum passed on the morning of Saturday 23rd November 2019. He wanted us to still publish the blog as a tribute to his Mum. If he doesn't reply to comments, please understand. Our love and best wishes go to Lex and his family at this sad time.]

Which freedoms do you value the most? I'd love to celebrate those with you today. This is an unusual blog for me in that this fresh focus on freedom comes out of a situation where freedoms are being lost. This is creating a fierce contrast and a renewed sense of gratitude for what freedoms I have. So, what's up?

Most of us have faced the loss of a loved one. My turn has come with my Mum now in palliative care. Spending hours by the bedside of this elegant lady, and understanding a little of her fears, I have come to appreciate anew the gifts of freedoms that I have – and Mum still has. Mum still has a freedom of choice and the say in how she wants the next moments to go. I am in awe of the compassion and skill of the palliative team leader, leaving me in no doubt that we are doing exactly what Mum chooses at this time.

Freedom of choice, thus, is way up on the list of freedoms I am grateful for. I would, however, love to see Mum experience freedom from fear. This is where we can make a contribution, adding regular reassurance. Is there someone whose fears you could help reduce today? Could we help reduce your fears?

A practical freedom that is manifestly obvious has been my time freedom. Being able to almost drop everything and travel to Mum's location to spend time with her is something I'm so grateful for. I haven't had to ask permission, and whilst there are consequences from having to drop everything, the freedom to just be with Mum is worth far more.

I am acutely aware that in talking about freedom, this will bring to mind freedoms we Moodscopers wish we had and don't. Let me encourage us all today to shift focus onto celebrating the freedoms we are grateful for.

For this reason, I'm asking you specifically to share the freedoms you choose to be grateful for today. Let's celebrate a list of one of the aspects of life that humans hold most dear: our freedom.

A Moodscope member.

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

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And so I think Sunday November 24, 2019

I sit quietly, alone
Thinking about it all
What's the purpose
What's the aim
Is it happiness
Is it pain
or let it just 'be'

I sit quietly, alone
Thinking about it all
Is it action
Is it stillness
That's the key
To unlock it all?

Will I ever know
Maybe one day
I sit quietly, alone
Thinking about it all

A Moodscope member.

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

39 comments - Permalink



Re-drawing my boundaries Saturday November 23, 2019

I have re-drawn my boundaries.

Last year two people I thought were my friends, whom I had held an open door for, just bailed out of my life. The shock was long-lasting, the pain deep.

With help I cleared my home ready to move, buyer found I didn't have the mental capacity to follow through. I stayed, made changes and committed myself to the place where I live.

Time moved on. Both people have asked to come back into my life, one with tears for himself, one with questions of what went wrong between us. My heart, normally loving and forgiving, is wary. So I am sticking to my boundary, my rules, for me, for my stability, for my sanity. I will share a drink or catch up but I won't be drawn back into the listening for hours whilst they work through their problems at my table.

My point is that I can find nothing that I did that caused all this other than I held too soft a boundary in the first place. Too keen to be kind to everyone but myself. It's hard to toughen up.

Now I am more realistic, I hold back more to consider how my decision may affect me. Will I be happier, more settled? Who knows, but I will be clearer, more sure of my position and hopefully stronger and saner in my dealings with the world.

As I say to all my friends on their journeys, Go well! And its ok to have a boundary, just be aware that I have one too.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Good neighbours Friday November 22, 2019

Most of us will have neighbours at some time in life. There they are, over the fence, long after children have left home, marriages ended, partners died.

This connection has been in mind lately, as a sad vignette of human frailty played out.

I have mentioned Anne, she of surplus marrows, binoculars focused on my kitchen. When I moved here I was warned she was a busybody. Within days I found her going through my bins. When Spock painted our porch, she called out, "About time you did that". I have seen her peering through neighbour's windows, rooting in back gardens when no one is home. She is the local Neighbourhood Watch, there's always a handy excuse.

She's endlessly mowing and strimming. It matters nought that others want a lie-in. "Bone idle, still in bed at 8 a.m."

I detect some autism, certainly OCD. She loves animals, cares for injured birds, that is how we have found an accommodation over 25 years. I am a sucker for anyone who makes me laugh or is kind to animals. She is pretty humourless, but she baby-talks her rescue cats.

She's in a maisonette next to my house. Five years ago a young couple moved in adjoining her. She has made their lives hell, with numerous provocations. She blocks their car in, tips their bins over, pours weed killer on their garden, watches their every move. You have seen cases like this in the paper, ending up in court. They are nice people, and have not retaliated.

Her best friend lived nearby, a lovely woman who was scared of Anne. She died recently of cancer, I assumed Anne would be upset. It turns out she had accompanied her to chemotherapy sessions, shouted at her for being nervous, making her cry, then stopped calling.

I took a magazine round last week, stopped dead outside the shared veranda. Anne was swinging a large sledgehammer, surrounded by piles of wood and smashed crockery. The woman neighbour was filming on her phone. They moved a dresser Anne placed over their storage area. She went mad, fetched the hammer and proceeded to smash her own furniture and ornaments into smithereens.

We got the hammer off her, and she stomped into her flat. I phoned later to see how she was. Unrepentant, she said she hated them.

Further revelations have emerged. The 30-year estrangement from her children and grandchildren, following divorce, was not of their making. She refuses to see anyone who speaks to her ex-husband. A previous neighbour gave her keys for emergencies, only to find clocks and ornaments missing. An allotment holder herself, she has been stealing and damaging tools. " Retirement" from her nursing job was after warnings, and numerous complaints from patients.

Today the For Sale sign appeared. I can no longer defend her, make light of her conduct, yet it gives me no pleasure to see her go. I should be delighted, but I feel such sadness. For 25 years she has been there, living her life yards from mine.

We baked cakes for each other, took in parcels, exchanged books. She will, with her eavesdropping habits, have overheard some spectacular arguments from our mad household over the years.

She has seen me with a face-pack on, hair in rollers, vomiting when ill, probably, through binoculars, seen me starkers. Like it or not, some intimacy exists. I never thought I would say this, but I will miss her.

A Moodscope member.

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

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You CAN make a difference Thursday November 21, 2019

A title for a recent blog wound me up before I had even began reading. The blog was very well observed incidentally, but the title troubled me.

First thing for me to reflect on is the bonus of writing for moodscope, (in addition to reading of other peoples' experiences and perhaps getting involved by responding), as the act of writing down my reactions and observations helps me identify triggers and allows me to question my values and unpick and examine my (sometimes destructive) thinking patterns and behaviour.

Being able to at least consider another point of view is a great strength - I don't have to agree but neither do I have to stand my ground and hold fast to my views, after all, it is very possible that my thinking might just be skewed and flawed by negative life experiences and/or early childhood influences.

I digress from making a difference to extolling the virtues of moodscope - but maybe not. If I look back at the title, this blog started out as one thing but has taken a different route, I shall trust myself and see where it goes (I can always delete!). Have I not just demonstrated that we can make a difference? By considering an alternative point of view, by listening to someone else's experience, by expanding our curiosity with flexible thinking rather than rigidly reinforcing our own long held beliefs, we can make a difference. When we let others have their say, we are saying, "I hear you", "I acknowledge you", "I value you/your opinion". This is a gift for someone who has perhaps not necessary been listened to.

Many of us have been "shut up" for years, one way or another.

I was shut up aged 5 years when my mother washed my mouth out with salt when she heard me say something she didn't like and I have unknowingly shut myself up ever since. Then subsequently berated myself for not speaking out when I thought I had something valuable to contribute to the conversation or discussion. This annoyance made me interrupt others when they were speaking – (or more likely, silently fume, while saying to myself, "ill-informed rubbish"). The subconscious self was saying, "If I can't have my say, I'm not going to allow anyone else to have their say either", ie. I'm not going to listen to anyone else, no-one knows what they are talking about.

Very harsh! – on both myself and others.

I've just worked this out as I write, so dear moodscopers, you are sharing this moment of discovery with me right now as I uncover years of subconscious, limiting, debilitating and destructive behaviour.

I am on a quest for self knowledge and this little nugget of self discovery is priceless for me, treasure itself.

Perhaps the little discoveries we make about our self, is the crack where the light to self knowledge floods in, so the more self knowledge, the more light. The more light, the less darkness.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Constant Vigilance! Wednesday November 20, 2019

One of the things I most hate about having bipolar disorder is the way it robs me of my self-awareness.

Yes, I've known something was wrong. You people here knew something was wrong, because I share (nearly) everything with you. My family and friends knew something was wrong.

But it wasn't until my annual check-up at the GP surgery that I realised what it was.

"Hmmm," said the nurse. "I think you need to see the doctor. Can you come back this afternoon?"

No – I couldn't. "Then Monday morning?" This was Friday. Given that GP appointments are about as easy to get as an audience with the Queen, I began to realise she was serious about this.

Then things got even worse.

On Saturday I was sick and shaking before I led my workshop – my favourite workshop: one I've led dozens of times - and exhausted afterwards. On Sunday I had a panic attack in church and had to walk out. The disturbing dreams I'd been having every night got terrifying.

So, first thing on Monday, bright and early, I saw my delightful GP. She smiled at me with genuine warmth and asked how I was – and I burst into tears. Literally in tears on her shoulder – because she's that kind of GP.

And out it all came. At the end of twenty minutes she said, "Let's look at your medication, shall we? Because I don't think the current dose is quite doing the job."

There was a stunned silence from my chair.

You see, after two and a half years on my current medication; having become used to the wonderful effect of "normality", it had never occurred to me that the medication would need changing.

Then I started to do the maths.

Every person who has bipolar disorder has their own pattern. Moodscope is brilliant at enabling us to spot the patterns. And my pattern is to have several small episodes annually, a bigger one every two years and a massive one every four years. When the dose was set, I had just come out of a big one, and I was put on the minimum dose. For two years it has smoothed everything out beautifully. But – I now realise - that dose is not effective against the bigger swings.

When you are taking an effective medication; when you are following a regime that helps you manage your condition; when you take every bit of good advice and see the results; it is very easy to forget that you're still dealing with a dragon, and that the dragon can fight back.

It's not just bipolar disorder; we all deal with the monster of depression.

So, my message to all of you who find the medication works, who do all the right things to manage your condition; don't ever take your eyes off that monster - that dragon – because, believe me, it will never take its eyes off you.

In the words of Professor Moody, Constant Vigilance!

A Moodscope member.

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

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Go outside Tuesday November 19, 2019

I was watching a programme about wellbeing and it was interviewing couples about exercise. One of the participants said 'I don't understand why people get so het up about exercise. It's simply a matter of going outside and drinking water. Have you found this to be so?

Going outside
Even on my worst days, I always try and get out of the flat. Just a short walk can help change my mood. A couple of years ago, I started to meditate when walking as I found it easier to focus and concentrate on my breath. That provided me with the practise I needed and some kind of routine to fall into when out and about.

I haven't been exercising as much as I should but walk to work everyday. It's now built into my routine and takes half an hour. I walk through two parks-and the centre of my city. Before it all appears too idyllic, the parks are beautiful but the high street, usually with the occasional person sleeping rough reeks of urine.

Drinking water
This has proven more difficult to crack. Still finding myself often with a dry mouth, headache and general dehydration. Why oh why don't I remember every half hour to drink a glass of water! I try but instead drink tea by the bucketful. I only drink on special occasions and this has helped enormously with staying well.

In all, I'm well at the moment but often reflect on the basic, small things that help me along and particularly to cope with the bigger issues I face. What small things have you incorporated into your life that help you?

The wee one
A Moodscope member.

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

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Making Your Marvellous Moodscope Mixtape! Monday November 18, 2019

Did you ever make a Mixtape for someone you loved? If you are below a certain age, you may not know what I'm referring to, so let me paint in the background. For most of the Record Industry's history, albums were recorded first onto magnetic tape before being cut to other media such as vinyl. Part of this evolution had a span of years when cassette tape was the most convenient way for folks to do home recording. Many of us would have a cassette-recorder, half the height but similar in size to a shoebox. We'd get this as close to the radio as possible to capture the tunes played by our favourite DJs. Devotion drove this delicate and diligent work!

More importantly, one of the greatest tokens of love you could do for a friend would be to make them their own Mixtape. It took hours and a lot of careful planning. Being such a personalised gift, this thoughtful present could even 'make' a relationship...

The dominance of magnetic tape even influenced some of the ways psychologists described how the brain works. A neurosurgeon called Wilder Penfield made amazing discoveries when he stimulated the temporal lobes of some of his patients. With their consent, he applied electrodes to the exposed brain as a prelude to brain surgery. The outcome was that some of the patients re-lived memories in full multisensory detail. The concept was seized upon in the famous book, "I'm OK – You're OK," to explain that our memories are like tapes which record everything we experience. These tapes influence the way we feel and act even if we do not re-experience the memory in the same vivid detail experienced by Wilder's patients. Something in an external event reminds us of an earlier experience (often unconsciously) and all the associated feelings come flooding back.

Whilst the brain is far more complex than this description, there's an action we can take as if this was true enough: making Mixtapes for ourselves. I know for a fact that I have some horrible recordings in my head and heart! If I make a mistake, the self-loathing statements that come flowing out of my mouth indicate a poor self-image. Those horrible words are simply a recording I've replayed far too many times – coaching myself into a low state. It's time for a new recording!

Affirmations are a powerful way of recording a new and more loving Mixtape for yourself. I've just recorded Martine Bolton talking about the publication of her first book, "Your Thinking is Your Superpower." One of Martine's favourite affirmations comes from Louise Hay, author of much loved works such as, "You Can Heal Your Life." The affirmation is:

"This situation is quickly and easily resolved for the highest good of all concerned." Another is like it, "All is well. Everything is working out for my highest good. Out of this situation only good will come. I am safe."

Not only am I recording and playing new Mixtapes for my faithful brain to play, I'm looking for suggestions! What affirmations would you recommend? Is it time for you to record a loving Mixtape for your mind to play?

A Moodscope member.

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

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