The Moodscope Blog



The Natural Health Service

Sunday July 12, 2020

I’ve just finished The Natural Health Service by Isabel Hardman, a book about how the great outdoors can do for your mind.

I’m so interested in this, having made my own version of a routine that involves observing nature and the change of the season as this has affected my mood in the past.

Firstly, Isabel can write. You may know her as the political correspondent for the Spectator magazine-and indeed this may inhibit you from reading – which frankly, would be a mistake. Isabel is upfront and unashamed about her Surrey upbringing – think ponies, flute playing, learning ballet – you get the picture. If you can forgive her that, she talks frankly about her wrestling with her own mental illness – PTSD and indeed refers to herself at times as quite mad which I relate to.

But, perhaps more importantly, I’ve been following Isabel’s exploits in the digital and journalistic world for a while. She set up #WildflowerHour on twitter which is a delight of mine on a Sunday night. She gardens, wild swims AND she studies the ups and downs of Westminster – an aspiration I once held. So, she’s someone I want to follow; want to find out about and so forgive her some of her home counties ways.

So, her book talks about her own mental illness but also each chapter addresses a different antidote – gardening, mindfulness in nature, the therapeutic benefits of pets, running, cold water swimming – all of which have worked to help her – not all the time and not a ‘cure’ but a means of managing her illness.

So, what do I think as someone whose been sectioned five times and am not yet 45? I was impressed, inspired and for the first time, felt empowered to ask my psychiatrist and GP (who btw I haven’t heard from throughout the entirety of lockdown) why these activities weren’t socially prescribed to me.

I can’t wait for my new activities to start. I will be heading to the Munros and Corbetts, the lochs and all that is beautiful about Scotland. I have the means; a car, wetsuit and a bobble hat which I will wear in honour of Isabel on my first ice cold dip of the season.

The last two nights, I have made the effort to leave the house after work and visit a small plot of land in the middle of the city I live in. it’s wild and as a result, buzzing with wildlife. I’ve filmed bees, taken photos and effectively, documented my time, learning about some of the flowers and fauna I’m not au fait with. It’s been wonderful.

I also intend to get an assistance dog.

In all, this book has the ability to change lives – and for the better. There seems to me to be no better way to ease out of lockdown than to consider my habits and patterns previously and assess. This book has certainly assisted me in finding a new roadmap – a code – and one that I hope will keep me well, stable and perhaps most importantly, happy.

Isabel, I salute you. From one mad woman to another, bravo.

A Moodscope member.

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



How much do you share?

Saturday July 11, 2020

Like it or not people assess you based on what information you give them. So, how do you judge how much of your past to share with people?
When I was diagnosed with bipolar, not only did I struggle to come to terms with it but my family did too. They couldn’t quite comprehend the illness, or the implications. 
First time round … My mistake was naively sharing my diagnosis with a partner at a firm that I worked at [some years later]. The following month I was asked to leave said employment. At that point I realised that there is a time to share and there is a time to keep your trap shut. 
Having been ousted from a company you begin to doubt your capabilities… I left the shared house I lived in and moved back to the folks to re-group.
Second time round … Fast forward several months and I started again, joining a graduate scheme for the second time. Lower pay this time round - so less stress I presumed [wrongly].
I disclosed bipolar on my application form, which the company would then manage to lose [god knows where it ended up]. After my last experience, I chose not to disclose my bipolar to line management. All well and good, until I ended up in a toxic relationship, which combined with stresses at work, triggered the onset of another episode. 
I tried to broach the subject with my line manager, to mitigate the risk of falling ill. Instead he ended up confiding in me, telling me his wife was an alcoholic... at which point I felt unable to ask for the support that I needed at work. I felt out of my depth and worried I would relapse - which I did a few weeks later.
I ended up being signed off work and taking several years out.
Third time round… I not only mentioned bipolar on my application form but I also plucked up the courage to tell my immediate line manager a few months into my employment.
Turns out that it was the best thing I could have done. He is patient, listens and is genuinely interested in my wellbeing at work. I could not ask for a more understanding person to be my manager. I know that regardless of what happens he has my back and is on hand to support me.
So, what is the moral of the story?
1)   Follow your gut
2)   Be discrete
3)   Only confide in characters that you trust
In summary - lived experiences are valuable things - be sure that you share them with the right people at the right time.
It’s taken a lifetime [20 years to be exact] to get to a stage in my life where I am secure enough in myself to open up to those I trust.
What about you - are you there yet?

Stay Well, Stay Safe. 

A Moodscope member.

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



Smell my depression

Friday July 10, 2020

My friend used to say she could smell when a depression was coming. It was not because she had not showered for a while, it was a certain smell that she found hard to describe and a sour taste in her mouth.

I once met a woman whose husband suffered from depression. She explained she knew he was in a depressive mood prior to it happening because she could smell it and she recognised when it was over because the smell was no longer around.
I have not experienced this, but I have read about others who could smell their depression.
Dogs I have heard can smell depression in their owners.

Many people believe their dogs can sense depression and may try to cheer up their owner. Dogs use their well know powerful sense of smell to take in their surroundings.
Dogs can smell when we sweat more and respond accordingly. The dog may put their paw on you to comfort you. Some dogs may even cuddle their owner more and lean into you to show they support you.
I was thinking are they smelling depression or noticing you may not be as active?
I was wondering what the Moodscope community felt about smelling depression by humans and dogs.

I am really interested in your thoughts and examples with yourself, your friends, and your dogs.
So, can you or your dog or another pet smell depression? What does it smell like?

A Moodscope member.

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



It’s a win from me

Thursday July 9, 2020

Have you heard the phrase If you win the morning, you win the day”?
I have varying feelings about mornings.  If they are unrushed then I welcome the new day feeling, waking naturally and using sound as my first exploration of what might come. If they are rushed then its dive in, shake off the chill, get it done, but most times with the added lure of a mid to late morning breakfast which is a precious gift to self.
Either way, I try to live by the phrase ‘win the morning and you win the day’.  Since I heard it, it has helped me a lot. 
Procrastination takes the back seat whilst I achieve something. Some days it’s great, I do things that help in a big way (exercise early/raise the mood from the outset,  cook dinner early/remove pressure from the entire day and evening) and other days it’s celebrating bed-making as a much larger achievement than it is at other times, but I’m happy to take every little thing as quality achievements.
I now look forward to banking something early on which seems to set the day off on a good spin. Later, if I’m low in mood or energy I don’t add guilt to my burden because the morning has been won.
Would it help you if you won the morning? Do you already do this? Feel free to share for us all to benefit from the inspiration!
Love from

The room above the garage, standing on the full laundry basket acting as Olympic platform
A Moodscope member.

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



Requiem for a Guinea-pig

Wednesday July 8, 2020

It was my daughter’s tenth birthday – six years ago now.

What she really, really wanted for her birthday was a guinea-pig.

She had been asking for the last eighteen months; she had presented to her father a six-page document on why she should have one – with detailed research on breeds, housing, costs, husbandry routines etc. This was not a passing whim; our animal-mad daughter really, REALLY, wanted a guinea-pig.

And yes, for all you who know about guinea-pigs, you know she had asked for two, not just one: guinea-pigs are herd animals – they need companionship.

So, there we were, almost six years ago, peering into a sawdust-filled cage at four baby guinea-pigs. Three of them were brown and white and one of them, smaller than the others, slower than the others, was a ball of soft golden fur.

Oh, we tried to get her to choose the matched pair of harlequin patched boys, but no - her heart was set on the little gold one.

So, we took Nugget home, And Patchy – because you must never keep just one guinea-pig.

It soon became clear that Nugget was a “special” guinea-pig. One eye bulged more than the other and he was obviously blind in that eye. One ear was limp and floppy, and he couldn’t hear on that side. He grew slowly and had poor muscle tone: he was a learning-disabled guinea-pig. We took him to the vet, who smiled with sympathy. “He was probably starved of oxygen when he was born,” she said.

“So – what should we expect?” we asked anxiously.

The vet kept a straight face. “I don’t think you should expect him to learn his ABC,” she said, “And higher mathematics will probably be beyond him.”

It took us a moment, and then we got it: Nugget was a guinea-pig – it didn’t matter that he was “special”; he could just be a guinea-pig and we would love him all the same.

And we did; for nearly six years.

Last Thursday we had to say goodbye to our special boy. He had a stroke in the night and the vet said there was nothing she could do. The only thing was to let him go in peace and with love. Guinea-pigs live for between five and eight years; he had done well – especially for one with his condition.

We buried him in a corner of the garden with honour and with tears. He may have been “just” a guinea-pig, but we loved him.

And, life goes on. Patchy, his hutch-mate, misses him. As I said above, guinea-pigs are herd animals and so we need to find a companion for Patchy. Of course, the new guinea-pig will not be a “replacement” for Nugget, but we will find a new place in our hearts for him or her.

I think this is the message Nugget has for us: life goes on. Patchy needs another hutch-mate. We need another guinea-pig to love.

We go on.

And we love.

A Moodscope member.

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



Topsy Turvy

Tuesday July 7, 2020

My feelings are all topsy turvy at the moment. I’m trying really hard to live in the moment but it’s so hard with all the concerns and unknowns. What do we look forward to when we don’t know what we’re going to be allowed to do and when we can do things? How do I deal with these feelings when I can’t do my usual rituals?

I would be looking forward to having a hot chocolate and teacake in the cafe in Waterstones, on my own, people watching and occasionally dipping into my book or the paper, or jotting down ideas for my novel. But this is hard to look forward to now... will we be able to go to the cafe? Will I feel guilty picking up books that the staff will then have to clean? Will I even feel comfortable going back onto a shop?

So really, it is better to try and stay in the moment. I’m trying really hard to observe my feelings, sit with them, acknowledge that they are feelings that will pass and they are not me, try not to get sucked into the familiar place of self criticism. I am trying but there’s no release. The world seems so crazy at the moment. I’m questioning my own thoughts and motives. I always try to be good and do the right thing, I’m told that the best way to deal with this virus and the unclear rules is to use your common sense, you’ll do the best with the knowledge you have. But when you are used to questioning yourself so much and assuming you’ve done or said the wrong thing, this isn’t the easiest motive to follow.

I’ll keep trying, using the tools that work to calm me... my yoga, walking, reading, listening to music, mindful breathing, writing, sleeping, talking and allowing a slow and steady meet up for walks with friends again.

A Moodscope member

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



Location and Vocation x 3

Monday July 6, 2020

[To view a video of this blog post please click here: or to listen to an audio version of this blog post please click here:]

“Location, location, location,” is a mantra bleated on and on about by Estate Agents and Marketing experts. Whilst I am a fan of neither, there is deep emotional wisdom in “Location, location, location.”

Yesterday, I filmed Emotional Mastery author and coach, Kim Searle. We went on location to West Bay and Bridport in Dorset. My heart, seat of emotion, danced for joy as I drove the long way to Bridport along the Jurassic Coast road from Abbotsbury down to Bridport. The views are breathtakingly spectacular.

Filming on the beach at West Bay with soaring cliffs behind us and roaring waves and winds in front, I felt more alive than I have felt for the last long three months of lockdown. I know we are not all the same, but there has to be ‘Sea’ in the location-equation for me to have a happier future. What are the locations, which, for you, hold a special magic?

Relocation, relocation, relocation…

Environment makes a world of difference to our emotional health and wellbeing. Choosing to shift or relocate our environment always has costs and consequences, but maybe they are well worth it - especially after this extended opportunity we have had to re-examine what is important to us. “There’s a feeling I get when I look to the West, and my spirit is calling for leaving…”

Whilst I have the motive to move West, there is no visible means or opportunity at the moment… but that doesn’t stop you or me visiting these magical locations. A change of scenery is one of the most positive, intentional ways to enjoy or even provoke change.

Vocation, vocation, vocation…

I spend a lot of time with businesspeople and some fascinating insights are emerging from lockdown. Resentment and envy seem to have slipped in between members of some companies where a portion of the team have been furloughed (= enjoying a paid holiday) and where others have had to continue the hard work. Even more interesting is the fact that many furloughed staff are feeling left ‘out of it’. This season of change will have an emotional impact, but once again we can be intentional in what we choose next. Is it time to re-evaluate our values and our vocation? If I’m called to the West, I’m also called to write, to create podcasts and other voice audio, to compose, and to produce video. Any step East or away from these heart-driven-desires brings sorrow and frankly doesn’t work. So what are you feeling ‘called’ to?

Let’s have a frank discussion about what our hearts beat for.

Perhaps if we put first-things-first, life will find a way.

A Moodscope member.

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



Still I rise

Sunday July 5, 2020

Still I rise by Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

I like this poem of Maya Angelou‘s, who I first came across some 30 years ago when a Bookclub member suggested we read “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings”, which I found unputdownable then, and still today I regard Maya as having been a tremendous influence on women, and men, of all creeds and races. I should like your (varied always!l which is great) opinion on this, and comments on any other important figure whom you think has influenced how we think about others. And influenced you in particular.

Oh, and with my sister, it’s become a bit of a mantra to say: ”And still I rise” when things challenge us in life!

A Moodscope member.

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



What “therapy” suits you?

Saturday July 4, 2020

There are so many different types of therapy that have been used over the years with talking therapy, water therapy. colour therapy. aromatherapy, cognitive therapy behaviour therapy, sound therapy and art therapy

There will probably a lot more 5that I have forgotten to mention.

I remember when retail therapy with a big joke that made fun of usually women who loved to shop.

They would say let us go retail therapy go to an expensive shop buy lots of things and of course all one’s cares would be washed away.

This year I have found that retail therapy means that that to me buying things from op shop, so it does not cost me much.

It really does help me maybe me through a little time.

It is hard to explain when I come back from volunteering in the 4 hours with my backpack and the three bags full of books and soft toys.

I am not trying to replace what I lost but I take pleasure in secondhand items.

My partner isn't very impressed but honestly I know one day soon I'm going to have to really cut down as we won't have enough room in the house and in the meantime if it helps me it can’t be that bad.

I like to hear from anyone reading this to tell me about something that helps It may be a therapy mentioned or something unusual or really anything that you do that helps you through a hard time.

I would love you to share and tell me how it helps you.

For this blog therapy is loosely defined as anything that helps you. It does not have to have any psychological basis. I keep thinking of more pet therapy, garden therapy, dancing therapy.

I would like to know how you are helped and why you think it works.

A Moodscope member

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



Battling on a Daily Basis

Friday July 3, 2020

Earlier today we were walking across the fields in the pouring rain.

My OH wanted to turn back and cut our usual walk short. We were getting soaked.

But I wanted to battle on and fight against the weather. I didn’t want the weather to beat me.

On Sunday I decided to go for a run in the gale force wind. I got very angry with the wind as it almost brought me to a standstill but I battled on. When the wind came in strong bursts, I decided to run even faster to get the better of it. I was exhausted.

I was thinking today that this is what I’m like with my low moods, depression and insomnia.

Every day I battle with them, try not to give in to a low mood. I soldier on despite feeling tired and fed up. I’m probably not easy company and not nice to live with 24/7 but it’s almost a feeling of I will win, you won’t.

I know we can’t control the weather; in some ways we can control low moods. We can take anti depressants and have therapy for example. However I’ve tried all those and feel now I can’t control my low moods and insomnia either but I can carry on and not give in to it.

I’m not sure I’m doing the right thing always fighting. I don’t really accept any of it, so it’s not acceptance, but I look at it as the enemy, an enemy not to be defeated (as I don’t think I can defeat the weather or my moods), but not to give in. To run and walk into it each day and not give up.

A Moodscope member.

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



I wake up most days and wish I could sleep forever. I wouldn’t say I’m suicidal - just very low. It’s more a feeling of not wanting to carry on anymore. I find life so hard. I was born a worrier. Anxiety is my middle name. Added to that is a gnawing loneliness that lies deep inside and a crippling fear of a bleak future of more of the same. Each worry, anxiety or fear is simply replaced by another…

It’s almost a year since my husband died. I’ve just marked the first wedding anniversary without him. It would have been 23 years. I feel tearful, sad and so very alone. Just when I was starting to make some tentative connections with people again – the coronavirus pandemic struck and lockdown was imposed on us all. Now I feel truly isolated and all options seem firmly closed.

I’m ashamed to say I feel jealous every time I listen to the news. All the talk about ‘families’ and ‘households’. The vulnerable and over seventies must take extra care. I can’t help wondering where I fit in. I’m a 60 year old grieving widow, living alone and have Bipolar Disorder. The latter is well controlled with medication. Some days when I am so weepy or depressed with no energy, I tell myself it is back and I’m so scared.

I feel forgotten and I’m angry that this pandemic has steam-rolled my grief aside. Sometimes I want to yell out that I lost someone too!

Actually, I feel like I’m drowning in a tsunami of grief. I lost my mum in March 2017, my brother-in-law in December 2017, my brother in July 2018 and then my husband in June 2019. Oh yes and my cat was run over and killed 6 days after my mum died. Throughout all these deaths I was caring for my husband. He had a rare neurological disorder affecting speech, balance, breathing, swallowing etc. It was 24 hour care 7 days a week. As a carer I was invisible and as a widow I still feel invisible.

There wasn’t time to grieve any of these people because I was busy caring for my husband and I’m so angry that I missed that time. Now it feels too late. I don’t blame my husband. I was happy to care for him just as he’d cared for me throughout years of rapid cycling mania and depression.

The problem is this. I realise I don’t know how to take care of myself. This is the first time I’ve lived alone. I find it so hard to keep myself motivated. To keep going - day in day out. I can’t stick to anything and I don’t know what I want in my life. I have no role. It’s easy to get paranoid when there’s no-one to bounce off against. I can’t imagine living like this for the rest of my life and feel guilty for feeling this way when so many people are worse off.

A Moodscope member.

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



Nothing is Ever Wasted

Wednesday July 1, 2020

In my third year at university everything took a dive. I realise now I was suffering one of the depressive periods in my bipolar pattern but, at the time, I didn’t know I had bipolar disorder and, quite frankly, it wouldn’t have helped much if I had known.

So – I tanked my finals: they were kind enough to give me a 2:2 anyway. I also made my career choice that year. With a degree in English, there was – teaching. I knew I didn’t want to teach so what could I do? I had a maths A level and so I plumped for accountancy. Why accountancy? It begins with A and was the first career in the book. Yes, it was literally that simple.

So began fifteen long miserable years of doing a job to which I was almost totally unsuited.

The thing is, that, very often, you don’t realise how miserable you are until the burden is lifted and you are released from the thing that is causing the misery. You don’t know you are in a cage; you just know you cannot fly, and you wonder why. You do everything you can think of to be free – other than unlock the door and fly away. The cage is safe, even if you are trapped. You work harder and harder and it just gets worse.

In the end, it was my courageous Director of Finance who took me aside and gently explained to me that I was totally unskilled at being an accountant and that I just didn’t have the talent for it. It was hard to hear, but she gave me a valuable gift and I will forever be grateful.

I look back at that time and it would be easy to see it as almost completely wasted and to be bitter about my choices.

Yet, nothing is ever wasted. Every experience is positive if you view it in the right light.

I think of all the friends I made in that time, the listening skills I learned when managing a culturally diverse team, the different places I lived.

Most importantly, if not for that time, I would not be here now. I met two of my best friends in my last but one job. It was one of those friends who introduced me to my husband. Moving to take a new job gave me the opportunity to sing with a wonderful choir. I was introduced to the concept of personal development. It was through taking one of those courses I stumbled across my new career which I love.

Life really is a journey. There are rocks and desert and thorny places. I think the point is that every step gives us an opportunity to either add to or hone our life-skills. Everything in life does end and there is a new doorway to walk through. Then there is a choice; do we take bitterness or good memories? I don’t think we can take both.

A Moodscope member.

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



Who is in your support network?

Tuesday June 30, 2020

I have four major support networks:

My psychologist and my psychiatrist. My immediate family. My trusted friends.

For me, the Covid‐19 shutdown started on March 13. For the past 14 weeks, I asked my psychologist and psychiatrist to be the pillars of my support network.

I asked each of them to contact me once a week, so I could lean on them to regain my balance and to navigate through the new reality we are all facing.

Most importantly, my psychiatrist fine‐tuned my medication so my sleep is back on track... ESSENTIAL for my wellbeing.

Meditation, yoga and breathing exercises have grounded me and bring me back to the present moment. I learned that while I cannot control what happens around me, I certainly can control my anxiety.

The best advice they gave me is this: unplug. Turn off the TV, stop listening to the constant, daily stream of “breaking news …

Instead, in the evening I bring out the puzzles, the magic markers and coloring book... and for a few hours I focus on a reassuring, simple and creative activity that brings me joy. And in the background, I chose a YouTube video with the sound of ocean waves... bringing me tranquility amidst the storm.

Who are your pillars?

A Moodscope member.

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




Monday June 29, 2020

[To view a video version of this blog please follow this link - we recommend it, it's a very touching video:]
I wonder how many of us would benefit from a bit of Reparenting? 
All of us, I suspect.
We may have had loving parents and a loving home, but for many of us that wasn’t the case. A roof over our head and food on the table meets only the most basic of human needs. We all need to FEEL loved.
I’m still suffering, and Moodscope is a community for those of us who could be described as “a work in progress”! May this blog help at least some of us.
Mum’s death last year has opened access to a lot of unexamined, repressed feelings. She was deeply damaged by her own childhood traumas and was not easily able to express love to most people. Animals? Now that was another matter! She poured out love on animals.
As I have worked through some of my deep issues with an excellent therapist, we’ve got down to the possible root of why I have loathed myself for so long: I never felt loved. Never.
Mum told me many times that she loved me, but it seemed incongruent with her lack of affection, and very at odds with the attention she gave to the animals in her life. A dog had a better chance of being ‘loved’ in any of the embracing ways I’d have liked. I’d have gladly swapped places with a dog.
Dad was absent much of my childhood – for many reasons. It is not surprising that I felt abandoned, unwanted, unloved, and not the right person. On this last point, Mum wanted a girl and I was thus ‘wrong’ from birth. My sister and Dad also have often ‘joked’ about bringing the wrong baby home from the hospital. Unsurprisingly, I never found that funny.
My life-long quest for love (in all the wrong places and ways) has caused chaos, so I am needing to go back to basics: self-acceptance.
Each night, when I have trouble sleeping, I cuddle into a pillow and wrap my arms around it as if embracing my younger self. This is my reparenting mantra: “Neil (my first name), I love you unconditionally. And I forgive you.”  We’ll leave the forgiveness for another blog. The point is I systematically go through my life and parent myself. I start in the womb, “Neil-in-the-womb, I want you to know that you are wanted and are loved unconditionally.” Then I say the same to the Neil-at-birth, followed by every age up to where I am now. It’s as if the Lex of today goes back to every point on the timeline to reassure and rebuild the Neils of yesterday.
What’s the result? It’s early days. I’ve recognised the potential source of so much self-destructive behaviour and started to reconstruct my psyche. Most importantly, it’s an amazing way to get to sleep! Way better than counting sheep.
Is it time for the current you to go back to the younger you and let them know how much you love them?

A Moodscope member.

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



Music to My Ears

Sunday June 28, 2020

I was in the car with my 13 year old daughter the other day, coming back from the vets with a poorly cat and she’d put her music on in the car stereo. An old Crowded House song came on and I commented that music is the most evocative thing for memories from past moments for me. Not just a time but actual moments, I can feel how I did at that particular time instantly.

She doesn’t have as many years to look back on as me and felt smell was more of a memory aid for her.

We started talking about music that brought back different memories, many of hers were happy, times with friends at parties or singing in school.

I’ve now got many different playlists that I use for different moods. I’ve got my happy songs to sing along to in the kitchen, car or when I’m cleaning. But I’ve also got my sad playlists, I’ve got my songs that make me tearful, not because the words meant anything to me at the time but because of the memories that they evoke.

I’ve got a playlist of my black dog songs, the ones that I feel really express how depression makes me feel and it’s a comfort to know that I’m not alone when I listen to them if I’m in that familiar place. I’ve also got my chilled out tracks that make me feel serene.

I hardly listen to the radio now and fear that my music taste will stagnate although with three children into their own stuff I’ll perhaps keep finding new bands.

These are some of my favourites from my ‘Down in the Dumps’ Playlist:

You’re Not Alone - Embrace

Three Little Birds - Bob Marley

River - Joni Mitchell
Landslide - Fleetwood Mac

What More Can I Do? - Jack Savoretti I could go on and on...!

How does music help you and your mood or memories?

A Moodscope member.

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What fruit is not your friend?

Saturday June 27, 2020

I like finding out more about Moodscopers and that is why I find the comments on the blog fascinating.

Sometimes I like to be a bit light hearted and ask a question just for fun.

What fruit do you find ridiculously hard to eat for various reasons, so you avoid it?

I heard a woman from the passionfruit association complaining that only one in 3 people like to eat passion fruit so her task was to entice people with new ways to eat passionfruit.

I cannot think of a fruit I do not like except for custard apple but I do not consider it a fruit. If you do like every fruit maybe mention a vegetable, you avoid.

Also, I find it it interesting to find out how you may have disliked a fruit or vegetable as a child but now like it. I could not eat beetroot, maybe as I thought it came in a tin till, I was 20!! I found it stained everything.

Did you have a bad experience the fist time you ate a persimmon like I did and ended up with a furry tongue!?

Is it the texture, the look, the flavour, the seeds, the smell that puts you off? Do you think the way we approach a new fruit reveals thing about a personality? As I said a bit of fun, but I find food preferences interesting.

I eat fruit when I am feeling ok but only fruits like mangoes, mandarins, watermelon, and then grapes when I feel down. I particularly like mangoes when in season and grapes that can cheer me up.
What fruit do you try to avoid or makes you feel queasy? What fruit or vegetable did you not like as a child but do now and vice versa? Are there certain fruits that affect your mood, or you choose when in a certain mood?

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The first step…

Friday June 26, 2020

I have had bi-polar for many years, officially diagnosed in 2003. I have been on various tablets, none have really worked other than to lead to weight gain which has caused another stress but that’s a different story. I have been refused counselling twice, however I am lucky enough to have a brilliant wife without whom, well who knows, but my life is far better with her.

The problem with bi-polar is that you can talk to experts, friends, fellow ‘sufferers’ but at the end of the day you have to come to terms with it yourself and find the right coping mechanisms yourself.

I teach for a living. I train people with their own horses and thoroughly enjoy my job. I am reasonably successful which means I can be busy.

So how can someone, who has been in some very dark places be busy and successful with work. Its two fold: The love of my wife, my best friend, who I would do anything for. She gives me a reason. The second I have found is that the more I teach it almost makes the brain tired and the effects of the bi-polar diminish. When I have driven say 1 hour each way and taught for 6 hours straight my mind, more often than not is more at peace.

On the dark days, when it would be easier to hide, I know I have a reason and a mechanism. I cannot just tell myself it’s going to be ok, just like you cannot tell your mind to relax – you have to think of something that is relaxing. So in the case of bi-polar, you will have depression, mania and some degree of normal time. In that quiet time find a reason, find a mechanism and then on the dark days take that first step...

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Morning is broken

Thursday June 25, 2020

The sun is shining. The blackbird is singing, gloriously. Here comes my little black and white cat, paying her morning visit to greet me in bed, which often involves her creeping under the duvet and lying across my legs. But she goes and I have no more excuses. I have to get up. But I lie there inertly like a dish of cold custard, perhaps with Radio 4 on quietly, willing myself to get out of bed, summon up some enthusiasm and get going. It’s my worst time of day.

Why am I like this? Think biological – psychological – social, as mental health workers do when they try to work out why something happened. It’s not difficult to reach the conclusion that, biologically, I’m an owl not a lark. I’ve always enjoyed evenings, not got tired, got things done which some other people would leave until the next morning – edit a report for my husband, read that article, finish the last bit of ironing, fold all the clothes to put away when husband (a morning person) is not asleep.

The other biological aspect is that feeling dreadful in the morning is a symptom of (bipolar) depression. This is diurnal variation, which means the day starts dire and gradually lightens up. I’ve had this on and off for my whole adult life. I used to find around 3pm was my watershed when things were bad. It often goes with early morning waking. However, I can remember being decidedly unenthusiastic about getting up as a girl, prior to depressive illnesses. Going back to school was always difficult and I can attach a fair bit of psychology to that, thanks to my parents.

For social factors look no further than lockdown, where life seems to have been put on hold and so many former activities are curtailed. In fact, I can tolerate lockdown reasonably well. As a long retired person with a comfortable home and lovely garden I’m used to being here all the time and I’m not gregarious. But I’m beginning to feel aimless and useless.

Despite everything, I have never actually ‘given in’ (as it seems to me) and stayed in bed. First of all, I have a routine. I think that’s helpful, although sometimes it seems having to go through all those steps adds to the effort required to get out of bed. There are all the self maintenance things: bath (my husband has gone to work and left me the bath water) application of unguents and jewellery, deciding what to wear and dressing. Then make bed and tidy bedroom. Next, mindfulness meditation if there are no distractions, and then breakfast, during which I read the paper and linger over it for ages until after 10am and I force myself to act.

The other ingredient is willpower. I’ve practised exerting this for many decades and it serves me well. ‘Do it – NOW!’ cuts out a lot of introspection and rumination. It helps to be organised and know what the priorities are. Of course, it’s much more difficult to use in depression.

Yes, mornings are worse than usual for me at the moment, but that’s lockdown for you. Isn’t it?

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Wednesday June 24, 2020

Unless you live in a house or flat just big enough (or possibly too small), most of you have “that room.” “That room” is where everything that doesn’t have a home finds a “temporary” resting place until it is put on Gumtree or taken to the charity shop or put up into the loft – never to see the light of day again.

In our house it’s the dining room. The last time it was even semi-cleared was at the end of March when my daughter’s eighteenth birthday celebrations were abruptly circumscribed to our nuclear family circle and we held a formal black-tie dinner in her honour.

On Saturday I decided to spring-clean. I had ignored the increasing grubbiness for too long. The spiders were building skyscrapers while campaigning for more space and the dust-bunnies were breeding like – well – rabbits!

Armed with vacuum-cleaner, cobweb brush, mop, dusting cloths, furniture polish and kitchen sink – well – washing up bowl of soapy water – I began. I evicted 22 spiders and sucked up more. I brushed down enough cobwebs to make a parachute for a spy. I operated a recovery mission under the sideboard where a colony of woodlice had established a graveyard; lying thick as if their goal were to become limestone in a million years, once the polar icecaps melt and East Anglia is again under the sea. I dusted the bookcases. I polished the table and chairs. I extracted all the homeless objects from the corners and piled them up for later permanent rehoming. I vacuumed and mopped and dusted, and at the end of it all I felt accomplished but physically exhausted.

Yesterday I had the horrible but morally unavoidable task of telling someone the person she considers a friend is a sociopathic child sex offender: today I am emotionally exhausted.

Alison texted this morning to say she has been doing a lot of self-examination in connection with a personal development course. She is spiritually exhausted.

We will both recover. Sunday was a day of rest for me. I lay in the hammock and read. A friend visited for a socially distanced cup of tea in the garden and I went to bed only tired, not drained.

Today I will be kind to myself. Writing everything down expresses my emotions externally, so they leave my body. I shall do a little gentle crafting without demanding from myself a paper-engineered masterpiece. This will nourish me.

Alison will spend some time in meditation and go on a nature walk. Her soul will be refreshed.

When we expend all our energy, we need to rest, to recover and to replenish. It is easy to expect too much of ourselves, to go day after day draining ourselves of everything and not giving ourselves what we need to recharge. I am guilty of this – but I’m learning. Slowly.

My challenge to you today is to think about what you need to recharge. And then to spend some time doing it.

A Moodscope member.

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Who am I?

Tuesday June 23, 2020

Well, I’m just a regular person, full of the ‘usual’ insecurities. Am I too fat, too ugly, too loud, too annoying, too quiet, too anything? I am all of them, I am bi-polar after-all and able to shift between states at an alarming rate of knots.

Do I like that I am bi-polar? Not sure.

Did it interrupt my life just as it was getting interesting? Yes.

Would I be happier if I wasn’t ‘afflicted’? Yes.

Did I have problems answering that last question? Yes.

Why? I hate the rawness and pain of being ill, however at the same time I appreciate the absolute awareness it affords you when well.

I overthink - a lot. When there is not much to take your mind off things, that is a dangerous habit to have. When I work, I think about how nice it would be to kick back and relax and not do anything; whilst when I have those sought-after days off I am consumed with thoughts about what is outstanding at work. Like an unwanted guest, work always creeps into the foreground of my thoughts. I worry if I have too much work on and get agitated if I have too little to do.

I did have a ‘break’ from office based work for a while – a bad relationship and stresses at work caused me to relapse and bolt home to live with my parents, to heal and build myself back up to something resembling human. Because that’s what bi-polar does to you, it makes you feel in-human, in-capable of functioning around others, questioning yourself, as well as others. It hollows you out and makes you ready for the next chapter of your life, in whatever form you wish to personify. Talk about re-invention. You always catch yourself thinking - maybe next time it will be different, maybe I’ll be able to stay well. Or, maybe like the other times, stress will accumulate, catch you unawares and you’ll crash [again].

After finding a home for myself and my dog, which I managed to live in for nigh on seven years - I find myself back living with my parents again. I moved in soon after the coronavirus pandemic took hold under the insistence of my brother. I don’t know who he thought needed supporting - myself due to previous bouts of illness, or my parents because they are getting on a bit now and I cook for them every evening. To summarise, we are co-dependant.

I know for certain, that if I were left to my own devices I would not last. I have gone from one extreme to another, living in flat shares with people, to living alone, and now living back with the ‘folks’. In my heart of hearts I know that I am lucky since I am safe and I am loved. Am I content? I guess. Am I well? Yes, thankfully. Do I wish I had another life? Sometimes but then who doesn’t daydream?

Stay Well, Stay Safe. 

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