The Moodscope Blog

16

June

Being close

Tuesday June 16, 2020


I wonder how you interpret being close to someone. We are asked, especially when someone dies “Were you close?” There are several ways of looking at it really. Sometimes I think I'm not close to anybody at all!

But if a distant friend has died, or a friend is grieving or in trouble, it can have such a huge impact on me, does that mean we were/are close?

I have always struggled with love. I loved (and will always love) my dogs, each and every one of them that I have looked after over the years. There are five in total. Losing the last two has hit me like a tonne of bricks.

I have two half-brothers, one from each of my parents. Being twelve years old when they were born, literally two months apart, I had (and still have) a very special bond with one of them. Like a second mummy, I nurtured him and adored him for six years.

But then I had to leave home for my own sanity at 18.

If only I could have taken him with me!

Mother and step father then left the country with him for six years. I missed out on his childhood but he used to record tapes and send them to me. We have kept that close relationship, me and my brilliant little brother. He lives away now (in this country but the place they ended up in before they moved again). He had no roots in this area but he made some friends in one place and decided to stay there.

So, I don¹t see him as often as I would like, yet that bond we have, will never go. If I wanted to save one person in the world, it would be him.

I ponder on this question of closeness when it comes to my parents. They are my parents after all. I moan about them and there is a lack of contact, real love and common sense, but I will miss them when they are gone. They divorced when I was eight and unfortunately this brought many barriers along the way. There was no need and there still isn’t, but that is the way it is.

Am I close to my husband? I guess I must be, I don’t think I could be without him!

What is your perception of being close?

Molly xx
A Moodscope member.

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


15

June

Essentially uplifting

Monday June 15, 2020


I love your nose-brain!

It almost sounds rude, doesn’t it? But it’s true, we have a part of our brain called the Nose-Brain!

Essentially, it seems, we’re all nosey!

OK, a couple of caveats. Firstly, I’m not a neuroscientist. Secondly, I’m not an aromatherapist.

Caveats aside, I can read, and I’m massively curious when it comes to ANYTHING that might make life better for all of us.

So, here’s what’s happened. My eldest son, Samuel, now works for ScentAir. This company specialises in influencing behaviour through scent. I’m really interested in Sensory Marketing or Neuro-Marketing as we might call it (if we want to sell books and courses!)

One of the earliest parts of the brain to develop, the Rhinencephalon (literally ‘Nose-Brain’) is associated both with the conscious awareness of scent, and more unconsciously with the emotional associations we make with those scents.

If you smell rotten eggs, your brain emotionally feels repulsed… so that you might live longer!
If you smell a fragrantly splendid rose, your heart may feel uplifted, making associations with health and beauty and spring and hope!

Life stinks… so let’s come up smelling of roses!

These 5 Scents have been recommended to me:

Lavender
Cedarwood
Frankincense
Chamomile
Grapefruit

Sounds like a bunch of rabbits in a Beatrix Potter story…

You’ll make your own mind up about what is good for you, but know that what you like may upset your pets or your partner (who could be the same!)

Here’s what these scents are supposed to be associated with.

Lavender = calm, easing anxiety. Lavender at bedtime is reckoned to help some of us sleep better and feel more energised the day after.
Cedarwood = stress relieving. It may even boost performance and productivity.
Frankincense = peace and comfort.
Chamomile = anti-inflammatory - and thus a rebalancing. May positively affect digestion.
Grapefruit = an energiser!

I conclude with an exciting invitation to explore scent.

We know for certain that scent influences emotion and thus behaviour.

We have Keyneston Mill near us, the home of Parterre Fragrances, and I have to say visiting there is exciting in many sensory ways.

Seems to me to ‘make sense’ to investigate how scent may help our emotional mastery, and I have a sense that many Moodscopers can comment from their own experience on this vital topic!

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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


14

June


Lately we have been encouraged to take on a hobby or creative pursuit that will challenge us.

I have no artistic bone in my body and my creativity is limited to words or arranging mandarins in a bowl.

So, I bought two visual diaries and one sketch book, coloured pencils, texts and water colours and pencils.

I bought a practical box to store them in and that is where they have stayed for two months.

What stops me from opening the  box?

Is it fear of failure, is it fear of the unknown, Is it all the voices from my childhood tell me I can’t colour in, I draw like a 5 year old, I have no talent, stick to words.

I thought I could try collage, so I saved up catalogues, and pretty paper, but even collage scares me.

People say there is no wrong with being creative, have a go, but all these people have skills and talent.

A friend and her niece had a drawing challenge and each night posted their amazing drawings. My crude stick figure art and animals look like a 5-year-old drawing compared to theirs. Do not compare I hear you say, but the reality is we do compare.

Art is personal, do you own thing, but I do not want ridicule. Sure, I can do words but why is it so hard to try a new creative outlet.

I wonder do we do things we are skilled at or are we skilled at the things we do?

In my experience people who enjoy art are talented at it, rarely someone like me with no talent attempts any type of art. If we feel it is difficult and do not enjoy being creative, then we often do not try.
 
I wonder did anyone try  a new craft or creative outlet in last few months. How did it go?

Did anyone like me buy the tools needed then for whatever reason never started. Why?

Leah
A Moodscope member.

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


13

June

Ferreting out the feelings

Saturday June 13, 2020

Which reminds me, all sorts of fur and fowl and sqiddley diddley, creepy crawly and slithery swimmy things are the happiest they’ve been for years and years and years. Maybe ever since people made the blind and arrogant assumption that this world is here just for us, for our pleasure, to use and abuse and waste and discard.

But, what I wanted to do is look at all the feelings ricocheting around in my house just now. And it’s just me here, so you’d think there would be little chance of conflict. But there is. There is because I cannot seem to stay in the same emotional state for any time at all and so, whenever I’m talking to myself, we disagree! I was going to start by saying, ‘on the one hand...’, but I don’t have sufficient hands for all the candidates in this emotional morass. Neither can I progress by saying, ‘firstly...’, and so on, because one emotion doesn’t seem to have dominion over any other.

And before I can even get to that, I need to share a bit of an embarrassing condition that’s developed very suddenly; lachrymose incontinence. Tears, at the drop of a hat and even when there’s not a hat in sight. There’s absolutely no warning. It can be set off by a voice, a song, a smell, a taste, pretty much anything. Just sudden tears. Not crying. Not sobbing my heart out just tears. I’m hoping it’s just a passing thing, another symptom of condition Bizarre. It’s manageable just now, while we’re all isolating in our little silos, but it’s going to be a bit of an issue if I haven’t got it under control by the time we’re let out of purdah; if I can’t ask the guy on the bacon counter for half a dozen rashers of streaky without crying all over the cooked meats.

But it’s made me think about when I was a kid of about 10 or 11 in the mid sixties, just before I went to senior school, and I was absolutely plagued by gushing nosebleeds. It was such a regular occurrence that I always carried a wadge of paper towels with me throughout the school day and I remember one teacher used to just put the classroom waste bin beside my chair as a matter of course. The GP, an old army doctor long overdue for retirement, brushed the issue aside and told my mother, ‘It’s just a safety valve, nothing to worry about, doesn’t do any harm.’

No idea if that was true from a medical perspective, but it did stop after about nine months and has rarely occurred since. And now, I’m wondering if all these tears are just the same thing, a safety valve that’s nothing to worry about? It isn’t doing any harm and I do wonder if it’s helping me feel less tight within myself. In all of this totally odd time I have that fluttery, slightly held breath, something’s going to happen that’s not within my control, edge of a precipice sort of feeling. So maybe, if the tears are a safety valve to release the build up of tension or emotional pressure, then it is a good thing, which I don’t have to add to the list of things to worry about at the moment. But I do need it to ease up before I need to talk to the chap on the bacon counter.

And then there’s the issue that I cannot seem to concentrate on anything for more than a couple of minutes at a time and it makes me wonder, am I just going to loose my marbles before condition Bizarre is over? And there we are, tears again!

Patricia
A Moodscope member.

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


12

June

I am struggling

Friday June 12, 2020


These past couple months have been a massive rollercoaster for many of us. Being separated from friends and family, being told not to go to work and to only leave the house for a few reasons have really taken their toll. Some day’s have been great, spending time with family, going for runs/walks and having more time at home has been nice. However, it has also been really difficult. Not being able to take the kids anywhere, cancelling plans and day trips we had been looking forward to, trying to homeschool them while working from home and not being able to see family and friends has been so stressful.

Mentally I am really struggling now. I feel on edge all the time wondering if the kids are going to erupt into a full on wrestling match or screaming session. They understand a bit why we can’t go out but they are still only young and can’t fully grasp it. All they want to do is see their cousins who live close by. Even with the lockdown easing it is still difficult. There is still no school for them or going to work for me. It is relentless, there is no break or relief from the daily battles we are having. Then you look on social media and see people wonderful photos of their family looking happy and having a great time, seemingly living their best life but I know it’s not like that all the time for them. Yet, it still messes with my head, makes me feel even more low about myself and family.

I know this will end and I know people are in worse situations than us but it is still hard. Everyone has their own battles to face, their own storms they are in. Give yourselves a break and don’t be too hard on yourself.

Rebecca
A Moodscope member.

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


11

June

The Passing

Thursday June 11, 2020


My Aunt Helen would have been 100 years old if she didn’t die eight years ago today.

My cousin Scott would have been 58 had he not died one year ago today after being hospitalised for heart problems and excessive bleeding.

My son, Kyle, and his wife, Melissa, have barely left their Chicago apartment in three months, afraid to do any harm to their first expected child, a boy, due at the end of July. Today, is their 3rd anniversary.

I have a hard time celebrating or crying anymore, feeling more shell-shocked than anything, by so many losses, by this virus that has killed over 100,000 Americans. Our lives have radically changed, from the deadly fears we faced in early March to the quarantines, our world is closed, Passover and Easter shadows of themselves, the constant search for groceries online, masks, hand sanitizer, thermometers, gloves, and toilet paper, as we just try to live and move forward safely and sanely.

We have adapted. My business is considered essential in Michigan though many of us work from home. Our sales are down 35% but we are still open for business, not closed nor bankrupt. We are doing our best to keep everyone employed as long as we can, hoping that our customers and our company can survive.

Three of our employees got Coronavirus in April. One of them was sick at home and his little boy also got sick but the boy’s fever broke in two days. A few weeks after, he and his wife had their second child. All of them are recovered and Monday, he is going back to the office to work, thankful that he is alive and has a new baby. His fears are gone for now.

I take nothing for granted. I wash my hands after every possible meeting with what I fear. I wear masks outside at stores and inside when I’m with others. I keep my distance, both physically and emotionally. It’s what we have to do to survive.

I am tired of those who think this is just another flu and masks are worthless and everything should open up again, just like before the virus came. I am tiring of the political name-calling, both sides disrespectful of each other.

I am worn out and yet, I am here. My wife is okay, my daughters and son are healthy, my daughter in law is expecting her first child, my oldest daughter and son-in-law are healthy and happily pre-occupied with their 28-month-old daughter and her new-born sister.

Why should I complain? I am very lucky. All of those who have families unscathed by Covid should be thankful. Yes, I am fearful and know that more deaths will come. And I realize the economic impact will be severe for a long time and will effect all of us.

We cannot predict nor should we. We should celebrate our lives and fondly remember those we lost and then put our hearts and souls into helping others and taking care of those we can.

Let us get past the pain of our loved ones and thousands of others passing into another world. We know this will all pass at some point and yet we will never forget this monumental passage of our lives.

Never.

Arnie
A Moodscope Member

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


10

June

A Thought is Just a Thought

Wednesday June 10, 2020


Right at the beginning of this lockdown period, one of my directors set up a Saturday morning surgery to support us, the franchisees.

She has twenty-five years of experience in Personal Development and is a powerful coach. But this wasn’t about coaching us to take action in our businesses: this was about enabling us to emotionally thrive in this challenging period.

Some of us have cried in these sessions; some of us have been angry. Most of us have experienced frustration.

In each case, she has encouraged us to let that feeling be. “It’s a feeling,” she says. “It isn’t right, and it isn’t wrong; it’s just a feeling.”

She has asked us where in our bodies that feeling resides. “Just allow it to be,” she says. “Don’t fight it.”

Being with that feeling, without judgement, allows us to process it.

So often, we judge our feelings, and judge them negatively.

My second daughter is struggling with German. She doesn’t understand why some nouns are masculine, some feminine and some neuter; she doesn’t understand the cases; she doesn’t understand the pronunciation. She feels utterly frustrated and her judgement on herself is, “I’m stupid.”

Is that thought true?

Well, I’m her mother, so I’m going to say it’s not true!

There are reasons why she finds reading difficult and why concentration is a challenge for her. She needs to find a way of learning that will work. She will often experience frustration; we all do.

We have thoughts about our thoughts too.

“I hate him/her!” Then, “Oops – I am a bad person for having that thought. I mustn’t think like that!”

But it was just a thought. I have the choice to fight that thought and sit in judgement on myself; to nurture that thought and allow it to poison me; or I can think it, acknowledge it, and let it go.

Is that thought true? No – it is a reaction to the hurt I feel over the behaviour of another person. The thought is a reaction to emotion, and emotions just – are.

Emotions tend to be felt in our bodies. We speak of our hearts being filled with joy; of a bubble of happiness welling up inside. Equally, we talk of a heavy weight on our shoulders and a lump in our throat. This is the physicality of emotion.

And our brains are packed with a complete tangle of thoughts. Many of these thoughts are wild fantasies; some are contradictory; few of them make sense.

Our biggest power in life and one that nobody can ever take away, is our power to choose.

Even in the utter darkness of despair and depression, when our thoughts turn in a sickening maelstrom of negativity, we still have the power, should we choose to exert it, to step away and see our thoughts as – just thoughts, and our feelings as – just feelings.

As my director says, “Acknowledge what you feel but don’t believe everything you think.”

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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


9

June


How hard do you have to battle to make things right? How often do you have to take people to task before they change their ways? How do you deal with bureaucracy that is unwilling to stray from its own dictates?

Our daughter Jackie (not her real name) was diagnosed with anxiety and depression before her GCSEs; her GP prescribed various drugs and her school tried to force her to attend exams. But that's another story...

In March 2018 she spent three weeks in a psychiatric hospital following severe depression. During two weeks of visits by the Home Treatment Team she was mostly incommunicative in bed, some visitors would not even come in, and six or seven different visitors made it hard to cement a relationship.

Jackie was transferred to the Recovery & Support Team, i.e. 'care in the community'. Throughout 2018 she suffered depression, suicidal thoughts, asked us to kill her, and tried do it herself. It was difficult to contact the Trust, the crisis line was unhelpful, and we received very little information about support for Jackie – or for ourselves as carers.

In April and May 2018, we complained to the Trust about Jackie's time in hospital and her treatment afterwards. Their response arrived in July (after it had been addressed to the wrong house). We challenged it in September, met them the following March (protecting your loved one takes precedence over complaints), and in August 2019 the Trust issued its final response.

Dissatisfied, we submitted our complaint to the PHSO (Ombudsman). We supplied 40 pages of evidence, 60 attachments, a detailed chronology, and a cover letter from our MP, who has followed our case throughout. We described the impact of events on Jackie, and events that affected all of us, increasing the stress on the whole family when Jackie was extremely ill.

Submitting this was exhausting, as was dealing with the Trust's continued incompetence: they failed to call and visit Jackie when promised; they lost letters we delivered by hand; they shredded a subsequent complaint we made; they criticised our home environment without evidence; we had to chase reports they should have supplied; they failed to send reports encrypted; reports contained glaring contradictions; it took nine months to get Jackie a Care Co-ordinator; communications were littered with typos (some potentially serious); I could go on...

The Ombudsman sided with the Trust. No surprise there. Perhaps we provided too much information. He refused to consider events later than March 2019, despite the fact that for two years we have questioned almost everything the Trust did. He also refused to consider the effect on the whole family – mental AND physical.

Having seen what our whole family has been through, we want to improve the support for sufferers of mental health conditions, especially those who don't have people to fight their corner. But how can we achieve this when incompetence and bureaucracy stand in the way of common sense and empathy?

Howard
A Moodscope member.

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


8

June

Feeling understood

Monday June 8, 2020


Consciousness is a strange gift. We are ‘blessed’ with an awareness of our thoughts and feelings, and with the bonus gift of imagination, we can attach meaning to this soup of sensory awareness.

Some gift!

We can use the same awareness to ascribe the worst possible significance to the tiniest event that crosses over the threshold of our senses.

But then, having danced with depression, you’ll know that only too well.

The physiological and psychological ‘truth’ is that our awareness is only ever a partial ‘map’ of reality, and, as the linguists say, “The Map is Not the Territory.”

I can demonstrate this within milliseconds. All I have to do is take off my glasses and my awareness of the ‘real’ world shifts dramatically. My glasses are a physical example of what psychologists call ‘filters’.

Change the frame through which you view the world (like glasses) and you’ll transform your experience of the world.

Change the filters through which you process the world (like a tint on glasses) and you may even end up with a rose-tinted view of ‘reality’.

Change your map of the world, and I promise you, your ‘world’ will change.

So what’s the message today?

The message today is a simple one because of one indisputable fact: I can’t promise you’ll ever be understood or that you will understand the beauty of this world.

Instead, for one day, I open up a challenge.

The challenge is that we would listen to someone else’s map of the world without thinking about how we could respond. We will listen to at least one other person with a single goal in mind: to understand more fully their ‘map’ of the world.

In practice, this will be how they view, see, or perceive a situation.

You’re allowed to ask questions! But you aren’t allowed to ‘fix’ them or give them advice until they ask for it!

This is from Stephen R Covey’s highly influential book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”
It is his 5th habit - to seek first to understand and only then to be understood.

Why am I sharing this?

Because consciousness is lonely.

When we finally feel listened to at least, and even ‘understood’ a bit better, some of that loneliness departs for awhile.

After all, we all need a jolly good listening to.

If we do that for someone else, who knows, maybe someone will reciprocate?

Here’s hoping.

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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


7

June


The challenges of lockdown have increased anxiety levels for many people including myself. Working from home in a space really not suited for working has created further challenges all of which increase my anxiety levels as well as deceasing my fitness levels.  

Pacing around the room and climbing up and down stairs has become my daily exercise and pausing to breathe when work pressures become too much is my daily medicine. Putting one foot in front of the other, metaphorically and physically, however limited, and taking breaks to breathe and centre myself (using Alexa to set timers for short breaks helps) is my new daily regime that keeps me keeping on when I feel like giving up.

And in the lonely isolation of ‘my office’ I’m reassured by the daily posts I receive from other Moodscopers reminding me that I am part of a community reaching out to others offering comfort, wisdom and a sense of connection, a view of different worlds and shared experiences, reminding me that we all have ways of coping and the means to learn from each other, especially in times like these. So let’s keep on keeping on and breathe.

Deb
A Moodscope member.

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


6

June

First day

Saturday June 6, 2020


I decided I want to get some routine and routine in my life and to help others, so I decided to volunteer at local charity shop.

It is a long process after ten pages, two referees and many chats I was allowed to work my first day.

For past 14 years I ran my own business so have not had to follow someone else’s instructions, but I thought how hard could that be.

I was hoping I could sort the books but too many people want to do that.

I was put in the clothes section which required sorting, folding, hanging, clothes. The first lady who was showing me the ropes was quite laid back and said there was no right or wrong way. Then an hour later a woman shouted at me because I had put a top on the rack which to me was a warm winter top but, I was told it was a summer top.
 
When I was given a thirty minute lesson on which hanger for which clothes. I was feeling quite ignorant by now.  Anyone  who has read my blogs know that tidiness, organisation and domestic skill are not in my repertoire of skills.

I will try to learn more about clothes and be more patient when people give me feedback.

I found changing from being in charge to volunteering and following instructions hard. I wonder how others have coped with a change in their work or personal life or both. 

Please share your thoughts in coping with change. 

Leah
A Moodscope member.

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


5

June

Sorting out the wheat...

Friday June 5, 2020


I love that old-fashioned phrase. Sorting out the wheat from the chaff. I think this is what lockdown has forced me to do. Without any social engagements I am seeing who I matter to in the interim. An email here, a text there, a What's App (either on a group or solely) or a messenger message, or Facebook. I came off Facebook for a week. Wondered what it might be like. I kind of liked it. No staged photos. No posing. No “Oh look at me, don't look at me, give me attention but I don't really want it”.

I huffed and I puffed the night before coming off Facebook, royally irritated by a “friend” garnering tons of attention about herself, the sort I have unfollowed but that remains on my list as we were introduced by a mutual friend because he was trying to be helpful. I didn't miss it. I un-apped it from my phone to avoid distraction and addiction (because, like tattoos, it is addictive, I know this as I have four and planning no 5 and 6 as soon as lockdown is properly over. It could be a long while.

I seem to have spent quite a bit of my time on the wrong people. Stressing over why they seem to have excluded me from invites. One friend does a special thing in her house each Christmas – an amazing art/snow scene and this is the third time I have dropped subtle hints. I realise she just doesn't want me there. I will never be invited in to the house. But she's hinted that I must come round before. I know other people have. It's hurtful as we get on but there you go.

This time, which forces us to look at more uncomfortable aspects has made me realise things about people. You then look back at some of their behaviour and realise they didn't have your best interests at heart whatsoever. I know it's a bit of navel gazing but after lockdown I am just not going to try any more, not with people who don't matter. I wouldn't mind but this friend has been round to ours several times but interestingly has declined invitations, one literally as she was about to come round because family suddenly appeared from nowhere. Another for a dinner party invite. Another for drives out in the car as she lives on her own, is older and has no car. But the confusing thing was she was engaged about it, and telling me what she would bring to the cocktail party I was having.

I realise that some people don't put as much emphasis on friendship as I do... like being on time and doing what you will say or being honest too about your feelings. I am, what you call, an empath which means that I soak up a lot of energy from other people, positive and negative so I am going to tune in my antennae much more carefully and make sure I can learn from this whole experience.

Liz
A Moodscope member.

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


4

June

A cause of mood change

Thursday June 4, 2020


Last Friday was my Grandson's 3rd birthday, so being in lockdown it was going to be a smaller affair than usual. Luckily lockdown had eased enough for a small socially distanced picnic in my son's large garden. 
 
The other Granny had made a huge chocolate cake in the shape of an owl. After we sang Happy Birthday to our grandson I was offered a piece, which I took and ate. Nothing unusual there apart from the fact that on the advice from a Dr, I've been on a sugar-free diet for over 2 years! (I'm not diabetic, but suffer with chronic fatigue.) As I was eating it, I said to my 30 year old son who knows about my dietary choices, "I'll get a sugar hangover tomorrow," but didn't really mean it. 

The next day however I had very low energy. I was also in a very low mood but I put it down to having a lovely busy time with my family the day before and now I was back home in lockdown by myself.

Later however,  I remembered my comment about having a 'sugar hangover', and thought that actually that's probably what is was. After enjoying eating the delicious cake - it was quite a big piece - the day later I felt terrible and it felt just like, or similar to drinking too much alcohol. I suppose when I was younger I would've reached for more sugary food to feel good again but now that a doctor has explained that sugar isn't good for my condition, I can be more resolved to stay away from it. I think my decision to eat the cake was the false promise that it would make me feel good - which it did - but the cost of it was as I predicted at the party - a 'sugar hangover'. By realising this I felt better, that somehow I wasn't just feeling sorry for myself. 

I'm no bio-chemist, but I am aware of chemicals in the brain such as dopamine, that can create sometimes intensely wonderful feelings, triggered by sugary foodstuffs and other pleasurable things but sadly, are feelings which do not last. I'm also aware, that the brain chemical that is responsible for longer lasting happiness is called serotonin - the contentment chemical. To achieve a serotonin 'hit' means being constantly vigilant of yourself, your aims and goals and be working towards achieving them. It's also about being aware of yourself and those around you, and being able to give and accept love and support from others. It's about being organised and disciplined. By eating the cake I was ignoring most of those important things, and found out not for the first time it simply wasn't worth it. 

with thanks

Jackie
A Moodscope member.

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


3

June

Failure and Onion Bhajis.

Wednesday June 3, 2020


I love to read and, naturally, belong to a book club. In fact, I belong to two book clubs.

The first is a group of friends for whom the actual reading of the allotted book is secondary to getting together to talk about everything that is going on in our lives and to support each other.

The other book club is a far more serious affair.

It is a business book club. We are expected to read the book at least once, to have analysed it and be prepared to speak about it. We have a form to complete before the meeting, detailing learning points and actions we intend to take as a result of reading the book. We meet in a delightful country pub and are served with a delicious selection of sandwiches, sausage rolls and – yes – onion bhajis.

Our most recent book is the best yet. In fact, it is our favourite book so far: ‘Black Box Thinking’ by Matthew Syed. It’s not just about business but has many lessons for life. I listened to it on audio, which was a treat, as the narrator, Simon Slater, has a wonderful voice.

The reason why I share this book with you, is that it has transformed my thinking about mistakes and failure.

I won’t detail the book here – you can find out yourself if you are interested – but I will share what I have learned.

You see, at the beginning of May, I wrote down a list of all the tasks I wanted to complete in the month. On Sunday, 31st May, I looked back at the list. There were nine tasks or projects: I had completed none of them!

Furthermore, I had not even started any of them. That’s a pretty big failure in my book. I didn’t even have a valid reason; I just hadn’t done them. I had done other things, of course, but I had not done what I really wanted to get done.

My normal modus operandi in this situation is to beat myself up; ‘You are lazy, disorganised, unmotivated and too easily distracted.’ I should imagine many of you can relate to that pattern of thinking.

None of those are true (except possibly the easily dis – oh, look – a squirrel!), and thinking like this is counter-productive.

So, I’ve set myself the task of analysing just why none of them happened. After all, this non-productivity is a repeating pattern.

I’ve come up with a list of things I can change in June. These changes might work, and they might not. If they do, then great. If not, I need to change something else and try again.

I mean to adopt the famous mindset of Edison. He is held to have said that he did not fail a thousand times to build a lightbulb, but that the lightbulb was an invention with a thousand steps.

I’m hoping to discover a method to be more productive in fewer than a thousand steps!

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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


2

June


In my experience, when it comes to PTSD and mental illness in general one of the first things to go is self compassion. That innate feeling of safety has gone and my brain has replaced it with hypervigilance and a truly mean inner voice.

I thought I'd recovered from the most acute symptoms of PTSD and until recently things have been pretty good on that front. Since the current pandemic and lockdown, I now find myself in the midst of a resurgence of all the worst symptoms I thought I'd waved goodbye to. This in itself has knocked my confidence and created a near constant state of fear: the mean voice is back with vengeance, I suffer from nightmares, panic attacks, muscle aches and some pretty epic anxiety to name but a few.

I remember when I was mis-diagnosed with Postnatal Depression for years and the relief that came when I was finally diagnosed with PTSD from birth trauma. It sounds funny to say that the diagnosis came as a relief. But what it gave me was an understanding that these symptoms I was experiencing made sense. I was not weak, I was actually very strong! I managed to recover the first time by showing myself a lot of self compassion and understanding. I had other tools for sure but self compassion was the most essential. I did my best and accepted the bad days and celebrated the good.

Feeling 'old' mental health issues returning is very scary and something which effects many of us. It starts in different ways for different people but for me, it's started with a lack of self compassion and a return of the feeling of 'surviving' each day.

The first time I felt these things and recognised them for what they are, I started my healing by showing self compassion and trying not to worry about the worry!! I think you know what I mean....

This time I will do the same.

If you are struggling with your mental health at this time, especially after feeling ok previously, you are not alone. This too shall pass. You will find the tools and the self compassion you need to make it through and out the other side. We'll find that safety again and we'll be stronger for it.

It's ok to feel the way you do, be as kind to yourself as you possibly can. And remember, you are not alone.

Jude
A Moodscope member


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


1

June

Now

Monday June 1, 2020

[To listen to an audio version of this blog please click here: https://bit.ly/2ZVKXOj and to watch a VIDEO of this blog please click here:https://youtu.be/GmhhyCZekPg]

There is a gift, a free gift, awaiting all of us. It is called, “The Present,” and what a precious gift it is… hence the cheesy quip, “That’s why they call it the “present”.

I rarely open it. Instead, I prefer to feed the Beast called “Anxiety” by catastrophising about the future. Or, I’ll turn my attention one-hundred-and-eighty-degrees around to the past and feed the Beast called “Guilt”. Happy little bunny, aren’t I?

The way out is here, now.

If, perchance, you suffer from similar future and past afflictions, here are three ways to find solace in the gift of the present, right here, right now.

1 Breathing
Yes, it’s a wonderful idea to keep breathing! It’s even more wonderful to become consciously aware
of your breathing. The Breath of Life is one of the great metaphors for living, so giving your attention
fully to your breathing is a great way to re-attune yourself to the Rhythm of Life.

What I love about this is that no Yoga or other PhysioPsychological discipline is necessary to learn (good though that may well be). No, it’s merely a question of paying attention to inhalation and exhalation… the rising and falling of your chest, or abdomen, or shoulders, or whatever your attention discovers!

We can make it complex but the easiest way is to put your hands together on your tummy, close your eyes, and notice your breathing. Ten in and outs is usually enough to ‘centre’ you in the here and now.

2 I Am Sensing…
“I Am,” is the definitive tense for the present… that’s why it’s called the Present Tense! Visions of the Future and the Past happen with inner senses, but the Present is safely external.

Say to yourself, “I am seeing…” and fill in the gap.
Say to yourself, “I am hearing…” and finish the sentence or sentences that will answer your statement.
Say out loud to yourself, “I am feeling…” then touch something. We aren’t talking about feeling emotions here, we’re talking about stroking wood - a table top, a counter, a cupboard, a tree.
Say out loud to yourself, “I am smelling…” then take a good deep breath in and notice what you can smell.
Finally, “I am tasting…” and lick your teeth, becoming aware of any tastes on your tongue.

Here’s a really cool truth - if you can’t smell or taste anything specific, you still have to have been here now to discover that!

3 I Am Listening…
When with other people, there’s a great technique I call, “The Slap-Back Echo.” It’s like a 1950’s guitar effects pedal that quickly echoed the note played. Think Surf Music! I find that if I rapidly repeat what people are saying in my head, this helps me focus both on them and stay in the ‘now’. There’s no space for me to be thinking about what I’m going to say next!

If you’re anxious about the future - come here, now!
If you’re feeling regrets or guilt about the past - come here now!

Now is a good place to be.
Right here, right now.

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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


31

May

When Love Is Not enough

Sunday May 31, 2020

I hoped my love for him would be enough for me to accept he was not going to reduce his drinking. I was now a cliché, a nagging shrew, a sullen woman who could always see fault in her partner. He felt if I loved him enough, I would understand he had no drinking problem.

I told myself every night a fairy tale that my love would save him, as I waited in bed for him to get back from a night of drinking.

Everyone gave me advice to leave him.

People only saw him being loud and rude when drunk but they never saw his soft compassionate side He had a brilliant mind and helped more people than others knew.

I loved him so much, but he doubted me. I never doubted the power of my love.

I was becoming rundown and exhausted. I was not giving up as I knew my love would get us through.

He was different, he would change, if only I loved him enough. For seven years I tried my hardest and managed to alienate my family and friends.

One day I packed my bags when I knew he would never change and I would never stop wanting him to change.

Within 2 years he had died, and his family blamed me.

Even my love was never going to be enough.

Have you ever experienced an example where love is not enough?

Or do you feel love is always enough?

Leah
A Moodscope member.

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


30

May


At times its a very useful tool, it’s nice to feel part of a community that understands, but mostly its a tool I don’t need anymore.

I am doing well now. I know how to manage my anxiety. I know that if I am stressed for any length of time I will become anxious and then depressed. I have learnt when to say no, not to take on too much, to exercise, and to drink moderately. I know when I’m not coping and I’ve had enough, and I pop my pills.

Learning these things has taken me the best part of 20 years. I didn’t want to be this person. I saw myself as weak. I was ashamed that I took medication, if I’m honest I still am, I just know I shouldn’t be. I was ashamed that I couldn’t cope with the things others found easy, anything I couldn’t control terrified me, and I’m talking to you honestly and I can talk to a few close friends about how hard I have found it at times to cope with life, but being honest with the World, am I ready for that even now??

The problem is that if I’d been honest and unashamed right from the start and people had been open and honest with me about their problems, so much could have been learnt, so much more quickly and without the pain and the fear. I wouldn’t have struggled in the dark, I would have got advice from people who’d been there rather than those who’d read about it, or professionals who just didn’t have the time to explain things to me in a language I understood however much they would have liked to. It could have saved so much painful struggling, so much confusion for me and my bemused family, and so many bad coping mechanisms that were established and have had to be painstakingly unravelled.

The truth is that the medical profession largely haven’t got the time and mostly not the same understanding as someone who suffers from the same condition.

The other reason we need to be honest about our mental health issues is that the longer problems are not addressed properly the harder it is to climb out of the pit and engage with the world again. Fear becomes the norm and fear builds on fear until everything has spiralled out of control, and patterns have been established. Often someone has struggled for a long time before they get any help.

So what's changed since I first had problems with my mental health? The world has changed for a start. People have started to talk about how they feel more openly, we have become more accepting as a community. There is still a long way to go, people often talk tolerance but still hold prejudice within them, these things take time, it’s unlikely to be us that benefit from us opening up but if my children or grandchildren struggle with mental health problems Id like the world to be ready to understand and accept them.

Jennie
A Moodscope member.

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


29

May

Dwelling

Friday May 29, 2020

I’m feeling low. Previously when I’ve had periods of feeling low I’ve been worried that my depression is coming back; but this time I’m not worried about that. Perhaps because I know life is unusual right now so there’s hope that when “things go back to normal” maybe I’ll go back to “normal” too. Regardless I’m struggling to keep it together and to keep positive.

I took myself for a walk this evening and was ruminating. I have poor eating habits and lockdown has made this hard. My eating has not been what I want it to be. In fact my eating has never been what I want it to be. But it has been better than this. And so, with my eating as it is, negative thoughts come, worthlessness sky rockets and I stop seeing myself with a neutral perspective.

I observed this on my walk and tried to CBT my way out of it. But the thing is, when I feel like this, I feel that  I don’t deserve to feel better. That I ought to dwell in the depths of self loathing. That I’ve brought this upon myself and should therefore be punished for it. I appreciate these are yet further unsubstantiated “truths” to be blasted apart by CBT but I just seem to end up in a cycle which doesn’t actually work.

This means that, as with other low periods, right now I’m struggling to get myself out of my funk.

I’m wondering if anyone out there has experienced similar personal refusal to see any positivity and if you’ve found any successful strategies that I might be able to try?

With love and hope

Shizzle
A Moodscope member.

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


28

May

Keeping a light shining

Thursday May 28, 2020


It may sound the extreme of pessimism, but I am already thinking how on earth I can avoid a winter as awful as the last one: very wet, and the sun never shone. I think it was Picardie where statistics showed there was not a ray of sunshine for 61 days!

I should think there is virtually nobody living who has not had repercussions to the world-wide lockdown, suspended animation a pretty good description. I had three exciting ‘firsts’. One, broadcasting, is still on ‘hold’. The other two, ‘twinning’ visits to Germany and Poland have probably gone forever. Morbid? Not really – lots of things, even the Olympic Games, have been deferred. But the twinning is every other year. Next ones would be 2022, I shall be 87; even if I were lucky enough to be fit to travel, don’t think insurance companies would be keen. So, be satisfied with what I have, take stock, and stop whinging.

The major problem is our town is moribund. When we came here, a generation ago, it was vibrant, near the Mont Saint Michel, and benefiting from tourists staying in hotels, restaurants and using shops in town. Then several things happened: the Mont changed perspective completely, at vast expense. Hotel and restaurant complexes were built nearer. A huge area was given over to camping cars. An excellent camp site on the edge of town had its own services and swimming pool.

Business dwindled very quickly for hotels and restaurants. Supermarket trade rose quickly, of course, easier to park your camping car. Public transport, never good, worsened. There is no education here for over 16’s, The young go and board in big cities and never come back. Church attendance, already reduced, is now mostly elderly. We have five new widows this year, our priest has died (he did not live here anyway) he has not been replaced. The census shows a reduction of 900 in 10 years, that is a lot in a canton of 4,500 to begin with.

We had a small, but excellent library, in the town centre. It is now much better, but out of town, you need a car or to be a good walker to get there. There were four doctors when we came, now there is one. Tourist season is a very doubtful prospect this year, usually a very bright spot for me. So, my ‘great’ plans for last winter did not come to fruition. I did spend Christmas and New Year in a commune, very successful, but not to spend 2 months.
Had a brainwave, I would love to speak Italian again. Looking at monastery type set-ups in Italy which take laic guests. Need to be able to afford it IF I find one. Then I have to get there. The logistics, now, of getting out of our benighted corner of France are staggering. But at least I am jabbering in Italian to myself, it’s a start.

Anybody else groping for light at the end of the tunnel? Or wait and see?

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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


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