The Moodscope Blog



Irrational Fears Saturday November 24, 2018

I suffer from a myriad of irrational phobias, despite my knowing they are irrational, they still appear larger than life. Perhaps they are my way of coping and distracting me from my health issues and having to live life in 6 month blocks awaiting results of the next scan.

Going on holiday that involved an early morning flight from an airport on the other side of the M25 gave me the ultimate challenge of keeping my fears in check. The crazy thing is that it's not actually the flying that sets me off, but all the other things. This was our first family trip with 2 almost new grandsons - a truly special occasion.

My long suffering wife continually panders to my foibles in an effort to quell my fears, and we decided to travel to the airport the night before and stay at an airport hotel.
So what do you ask was there that I could possibly worry about? Well get this - our room was located in a new extension that involved an intricate series of three left turns, a lift and then finally a right turn to our room. As we had to be up before 5 am I was determined to get off to sleep as quickly as I could. Perhaps this was not the best way to relax. I tried all the deep breathing exercises that I know before my mind kicked off thinking about the story of Hansel and Gretel where they left a breadcrumb trail to help them find their way out of the woods. The journey to our room was so circuitous that I started to worry how we would ever find our way out... had I not already undressed I would have recced the exit route.

As you can expect I woke up well before the various alarms that I'd set. We found our way out of the hotel without even one wrong turn, went through security and found somewhere to grab a coffee and a quick something to eat.

We were so relaxed that we left ourselves a little short of time to get to the departure gate, but we made it. All was going well until we discovered that we were at the wrong gate as there were 2 flights leaving for the same destination that morning. Fortunately the correct gate wasn't too much further and we made the flight.

It seems that I always have to have something to worry about. I don't enjoy worrying and would like to put a stop to it rather than building an arsenal of coping skills. I also believe that worries and anxiety can lower the immune system and make you more susceptible to illness.

I love keeping fit and enjoy the mundaneness and security of the treadmill... the exercise and mental effort at keeping me on the straight and narrow seems to keep the demons locked away. So maybe instead of travelling to the airport the night before I should have just gone to the gym!


A Moodscope member.

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How do you push yourself – in a good way? Friday November 23, 2018

And does it make your rabid dog go quiet? What do you feel?

In the YMCA after my eviction, I take the steps two at a time going up. (You know... exercise helps with stress response).

What about going down? I try it. Unsteady on my feet, one cautious hand on the hand rail. More certain now - hands off - focus on being fluid. Try to make the impact on my knees less. Try to make my footfall as I climb two at a time more quiet. Speed more consistent. I will be 60 next month. I am learning to dance through the obstacles the universe presents. Perform in the present. One huge benefit, it shuts that dog the hell up.

As a child and young adult I only had the present, really. The fear and pain of the past is miniscule, a lot less than I learnt to endure as I lived the consequences of my adult choices. Some children are not so lucky but I remember the wild freedom of living in the present as a teenager and young adult. Dancing through the universe in the present, all pain and joy in the instant lived.

In middle age I remember the intense pain of a failed affair (don't judge - I am being honest here so you understand my conflicted-ness) driving my Saab 9000i on the motorway at 90mph finding each concrete bridge support flashing by was inviting me to twitch the steering wheel towards it to end the tear-blurring pain I was feeling. That pain was in the present. My rabid dog had me by the throat and was trying to rip it out. But here's the thing. It was a past event – recent I grant you – but a past event.

My daughter is cycling in front of me on our outing that she has moved heaven and earth to force me to come along on. With her implacable 8 year old logic she was trying to cheer me up. My rabid dog was in charge. She was trying to ground me in the present. In the cycle ride I ignored the wisdom of children, my glorious child. I trace the beginning of the crack that is now an un-crossable gulf between us to that moment that I gave up. I hit the cycle brakes – forcing her to turn for home so I could nurse my past rather than to exist in the present with her. Her protesting tears ignored, to my shame.

Existing in the present seems to me to be a huge step in the right direction. I am not inviting you to take steps two at a time going down. Perhaps I am inviting you to choose to push your envelope in whatever way you find shuts that effing dog up if only for a minute.

More startling than anything - as I push it and take the steps down two at a time - I feel young again.

A Moodscope member.

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I am not your stress ball. Thursday November 22, 2018

Read it.

Read it again.

I am not your stress ball.

Now say it.

"I am not your stress ball."

Say it again.

"I am not your stress ball."


"I am not your stress ball."

Feels good doesn't it?


Does it not?

Then keep reading it. Feel it. Connect to it. Say it until it becomes comfortable.

You see sometimes we have been so used to allowing ourselves to take on, and try to fix, the stresses of others that it feels less comfortable to not allow them! Sometimes we are so afraid of the conflict that might come from not allowing them we just take them on anyway, even by the time we have gained the consciousness that it's actually not comfortable for us.

But we all start somewhere.

At one point we didn't take on the stresses of others. It doesn't matter if we started to do it because depression or PTSD or another form of mental illness began to distort our view of ourselves. It doesn't matter if the methods of our parents - or the lack of them - pushed us into a conflict averse state. It doesn't matter if an abusive relationship of some sort crushed our self esteem. It doesn't matter if we've only just noticed this trait emerging in ourselves and wonder why we do it.

It does matter that we don't ignore it. That little uneasy feeling you get when you question that thing you agreed to, or didn't speak up about, or are dreading later, is a tiny bit of strength willing you to make a better decision for yourself. That tiny bit of strength is willing you to use it, to positively reinforce it, to build on your prioritising yourself.

That prioritising yourself is one of the hardest yet most beneficial things you can do for yourself.

Yes, for yourself.

So the next time something or someone is asking of you a little more than is comfortable to give;

Repeat after me.

"I am not your stress ball."


Lolo xx
A Moodscope member.

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Anger Wednesday November 21, 2018

Anger came to me and I embraced her;
I held her to me as a lover.
Then she turned from me and in her face
I saw a thousand sorrows.

Have you ever been angry? By angry, I don't mean a bit miffed; a trifle peeved: I mean engulfed in a tsunami of white hot, incandescent rage; feeling it explode from you like lava and rocks forever changed by the force of your volcanic fury. Have you been there?

I have. I experienced that anger a couple of weeks ago. It was Sunday lunchtime and we were talking about a task we needed to do as a family the following weekend. I had been planning this activity for months: I had tried to do it for the previous two years. Finally, we had it scheduled and organised. And my husband said, "You do realise I'm not here, don't you? I'm going out with the lads from work..."

I have not experienced anger like that for more than twenty years. I yelled – no – screamed. I stomped around the kitchen. I picked up the big carving knife and then, not trusting myself, I threw it onto the floor, where it broke. The children quietly left the table and then the house; terrified of what their mother might do. I slammed doors; I flung myself out of the house and into the car. I had to get out!

And, as quickly as it had come, the anger drained away. I drove the car up to the nearest roundabout and came home. The problem still needed to be resolved. My husband greeted me with the words, "Would you like a hug?" (there are reasons why I love that man), and we sorted out the practicalities of how we could still get the job done.

Not the least advantage of my wonderful medication is that it stops the feelings of guilt; it enables me to analyse my actions and behaviours in a dispassionate way rather than just beating myself up about them. So, I was able to think through all this.

Anger is the other face of sorrow and grief. It is one of the ways we deal with hurt and pain. In this situation I was hurt that my husband had ignored something he knew was so important to me and had chosen to accept a social engagement. This time my anger took an outward form, but so often it turns inwards, and I choose self-destructive behaviours. When angry, I eat chocolate; I drink; I spend money on things I don't want or need.

But I'm not angry: I'm sad. I (subconsciously) choose anger because it is easier to deal with – because it doesn't hurt: or rather, it defers the hurt. The hurt and the sorrow and the grief are still there, and I must still deal with them. And, often, I must also deal with the outcome of that angry behaviour. My husband has forgiven me: my children have not.

The funny part? As I was dropping off to sleep, my husband said, "I've looked at the diary. It's not next week I'm out with the lads: it's the week after. I'm with you next Saturday..."

And we laughed.

I still regret breaking that carving knife, though, but better that than the alternative.

A Moodscope member.

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Role-ing with the punches Tuesday November 20, 2018

A recent post got me thinking about the roles that we all undertake in our life... and how some of them ebb and flow and others are always constant.

For now here are a few of mine... the ones that stay are Wife, Stepmum, Dog-Mother and Friend (although some of the ones made in England have not stood the test of time following a move 500 miles away).

The Stepmum role has been fully invested in since the daught was 3.5 (and is now 23) but in 2016 we moved to Scotland and she didn't want to uproot herself from all that she knew. Now I am more of a friend but I will always be a (albeit geographically far) parent. That will never change.

Wife is a nice role, occasionally challenging as most marriages are. I am lucky enough to find someone that gets me, is thoughtful, funny, intelligent, creative and my soul mate as we have negotiated life's at times, rocky road.

Dog-Mum is interesting... part door-person (one comes in, the other one goes out), separator-of-fights (with minimum collateral damage, to me at least), dog-egg-picker-upper (an egg is a polite word for poo), walker, soother, stroker, feeder, water-er, calmer-of-the-waters (one dog is mentally challenging as we are convinced he is on the spectrum... is there such a thing for dogs?).

I am also a sister, but not a daughter any more (both parents are dead, mum has been dead since I was 16) and an aunt to my wonderful nephew, as well as an in-law.

Other roles are as follows in my professional working life are currently PA/Carer and Civil Funeral Celebrant. Both involve a high degree of caring, an element of counselling, a good degree of mental energy, reliability and a massive amount of focus on others and at times at the expense of your own wellbeing. But it's part of both jobs. I ditched the Housekeeper role as on the three occasions I did it after we had moved, they all proved to be fairly miserable experiences – picky supervisor, horrid hotel and mildly deranged titled employer. I'm self-employed and also in other paid employment so at times will have to be a juggler too – of three jobs.

As for the home, I'm full-time chef, part-time cleaner, DIY'er, gardener and account manager (of our jointly managed bill account). I'm also a budding artist/crafter, writer (attempting a novel), poet, aspirational singer and Moodscope contributor.

Moving forwards to 2019, I intend to have some new roles – part-time singer in a band, artist who sells stuff (instead of makes it to gift to friends or stack up in the house) and more successful business woman (more of the celebrancy please) which means that I must get better at marketing and promotional affairs and set aside the time to do so. Another one will be personal trainer – to myself – with a big push on getting fitter.

How about you? What roles do you have?

A Moodscope member.

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I Know You Don't Know But... Monday November 19, 2018

Are you willing to play a thinking game? I hope your mind said, "Yes!" This is a good one!

When we feel 'stuck' in Life, there are a couple of phrases that will often be first on our lips. The first one is, "I don't know!" The second one is, "I can't!"

I've added exclamation marks because these are declarations. They are not very empowering statements, are they? Feeling like we don't know and that we can't do anything really aren't great states of mind to be in.

Here's the game.

We add a 'but' and then a little bit more.

Are you ready to play?

When you have "I don't know!" on your lips, add this: "I know you don't know, but if you did know the answer, what would it be?"

When you have "I can't!" ready to burst forth, try this: "I know you can't, but if you could, what would you do?"

Your mind, if it's like most people's, will then resist like a limpet resisting the sea as the tide changes. I'm certain an example will make this clearer.

When the children were smaller, they would often have trouble making a decision when feeling under pressure. We might be queuing for what seemed like hours in a café and they couldn't quite make up their minds. The exchange would go like this...

"What would you like to drink?"

"I don't know!"
"I know you don't know, but if you did know, what would you like?"

[Cue resistance!]

[Cue patience]
"I know you don't know, but if you did know, what would you like?"

"...Pepsi Max!"

If I was a betting man, I'd be prepared to put money on all of us banging up against barriers in our lives at the moment where we don't know the answer, and where we feel like there is nothing we can do. My invitation is to keep grounded in reality ("I don't know," and "I can't" are statements that believe they are telling the truth) and yet push our thinking by playing the thinking game.

I won't promise a dramatic solution or turn-around, but I can promise that your mind will often offer up more ideas than when we initially close our minds with the definitive "I don't know!" or "I can't!"

If you're feeling brave enough to share, would you please share your own stories of where you've transformed not knowing into knowing, and can't into can!

Oh, and by the way, the limpet may seem stuck in its position, but time-lapse photography reveals that limpets move a long way... just not when we're looking!

A Moodscope member.

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A.D.H.D. Sunday November 18, 2018

I came across this poem, not written by me, the author is anonymous. I feel it is so true for those on the autism spectrum. I believe it can apply to other mental illnesses as well. It really touched me and I felt I wanted to share it.

A.D.H.D. (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)

Take my hand and come with me,
I want to teach you about ADHD.
I need you to know, I want to explain,
I have a very different brain.
Sights, sounds, and thoughts collide.
What to do first? I can't decide.
Please understand I'm not to blame,
I just can't process things the same.
Take my hand and walk with me,
Let me show you about ADHD.
I try to behave, I want to be good,
But I sometimes forget to do as I should.
Walk with me and wear my shoes,
You'll see its not the way I'd choose.
I do know what I'm supposed to do,
But my brain is slow getting the message through.
Take my hand and talk with me,
I want to tell you about ADHD.
I rarely think before I talk,
I often run when I should walk.
It's hard to get my school work done,
My thoughts are outside having fun.
I never know just where to start,
I think with my feelings and see with my heart.
Take my hand and stand by me,
I need you to know about ADHD.
It's hard to explain but I want you to know,
I can't help letting my feelings show.
Sometimes I'm angry, jealous, or sad.
I feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and mad.
I can't concentrate and I lose all my stuff.
I try really hard but it's never enough.
Take my hand and learn with me,
We need to know more about ADHD.
I worry a lot about getting things wrong,
Everything I do takes twice as long.
Everyday is exhausting for me...
Looking through the fog of ADHD.
I'm often so misunderstood,
I would change in a heartbeat if I could.
Take my hand and listen to me,
I want to share a secret about ADHD.
I want you to know there is more to me.
I'm not defined by it, you see.
I'm sensitive, kind and lots of fun.
I'm blamed for things I haven't done.
I'm the loyalist friend you'll ever know,
I just need a chance to let it show.
Take my hand and look at me
Just forget about the ADHD.
I have real feelings just like you.
The love in my heart is just as true.
I may have a brain that can never rest,
But please understand I'm trying my best.
I want you to know, I need you to see,
I'm more than the label, I am still me!!!!

~Author Unknown

A Moodscope member.

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Calming oneself. Saturday November 17, 2018

We were on a bus and the man in front us was very loud and chatty with other passengers and was somewhat agitated.

He asked me to spell a word that he needed on a form. My partner whispered that I should not talk to him in case he got more agitated.

For a while the man just sat and sang quietly.

Several minutes later he was looking for a $2 (one pound) coin and started screaming at the driver telling him he stole his money as the money must have dropped behind the drivers seat.

The driver remained calm but the passenger was becoming louder and was swearing. I was worried he would cause an accident by annoying the bus driver.

I could not watch was happening and was worried that this man was becoming out of control.

I looked up and the man was smiling at the driver. He returned to his seat and managed to calm down and get back in control.

I was so impressed that this man who could have become very violent and maybe cause an accident on the bus, was able to practise self-control and calm down.

I think we have all been out in public and become agitated or anxious to the point we feel we are losing it, but somewhere sometimes we can stop, take stock and regain control.

I am wondering if you can share a moment where you calmed yourself down when you were losing control and what strategy you used that helped.

A Moodscope member

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The Middle Way Friday November 16, 2018

In three short months I will turn 50. I have not really been thinking about my age in terms of a number, but regardless so much is changing. The business that I started 10 years ago is coming to a close. It has brought me joy, tears, a little money, some recognition, and a lot of stress. My 11 year marriage - with almost a third of it living apart - will be ending officially soon. My daughter turned 10 recently and the realization that her loving parents are not in love with each other has hit her hard and it has broken my heart. My body is changing. I haven't had a lengthy conversation with anyone in weeks for fear that I will burst into tears.

I am tired.

I know that now is the time to change course. Turning 50 is a milestone. Nothing lasts forever. But I don't know where to begin. I don't know where the strength to continue will come from. I spent the first half of my life just trying to survive. A childhood with little love and a lot of fear. A marriage I only said yes to because I was afraid to be alone. A business of feeling like I was never good enough. Making plans and then making endless excuses to get out of them because I didn't have the strength to be judged for my inadequacies, perceived or otherwise.

I was thinking the other day how I wish I had a shield around me to protect me from the world. A bubble gum colored ectoplasm that would extend off my body about 10 feet in every direction. I could exist in the world and not have my energy sapped each time I left my room. I know this is a gift I can give to myself. Each morning I can choose to wake up and meditate and visualize that shield around me. Rose colored love. But instead I wake up depressed and tired from a night of drinking because I couldn't bear to feel the weight of the day's thoughts and conversations and terrible news upon me. I could begin the day with meditation and stretching and feeling calm from a night of drinking tea instead of alcohol. I know life is not without suffering; I am not hoping to live a life free of pain. But I want to live more proactively? Purposefully? Whatever the opposite is of hiding from pain and shame, because it is exhausting and not the way I want to live the next half of my life if given the chance to do so.

But I'm afraid and I am exhausted. How do you make the change when you feel so defeated? I would love to hear how others have changed the path they were heading down.

A Moodscope member

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Staying present Thursday November 15, 2018

I have been a little anxious these past few days, after the loss of my parents I have found it very difficult to let anything go that was either theirs, their gifts to me, or anything that they loved or reminds me of them – that doesn't leave a lot!

Anyway I digress...

There are four trees so close up against our house that, although once safe (...and loved by Mum and Dad!) they have now become unsafe and my hubby and I have had to make the decision to have them felled. It was not an easy decision but one that with time (and more than a pinch of patience from my very supportive OH) has indeed seen the phone call made. So for a week we have been preparing everything in readiness for the tree surgeons' arrival tomorrow.

Now throughout that time my emotions have been up and down more times than a fiddlers elbow. I have agonised at length about whether we are doing the right thing (I mean we can't change our minds once they're felled) will we miss their presence? (even though there are few windows we can actually see fully out of now) will the trees feel anything? (I read somewhere only a week ago that they have heartbeats…) would Mum and Dad approve? (I'm sure they do, I keep finding feathers so believe they are watching over us) not to mention all the other little thoughts going round and round in my head.

Anyway, it was building up into a crescendo and my OH warned me not to let it make me ill. I must stay present, live in the moment and not let my thoughts run away with me. Then I got the text "Sorry can't make it tomorrow, tractor's broken down, it'll be next week now. Apologies for any inconvenience" I didn't know whether to laugh, cry, feel relieved or deflated. But then I realised something, I had allowed myself to get caught up in the 'what ifs' and 'overthinking pit' for DAYS. All the worry building up to tomorrow had been for nothing (I mean the emotional volcano that was bubbling not the practical stuff – that [as always] kept me grounded) and it reminded me of some of my favourite words:
You can't suffer the past or future as they don't exist – you can only suffer your memory or imagination!

... And I had indeed allowed myself to suffer my thoughts rather than run with them. Good memories are something to be treasured and being excited about something you are working toward is what keeps most people going, but these thoughts and memories must not be allowed to become destructive to us.

There is no point in living anywhere but in this present moment – so our task must be to make that moment as good as we can (but if it falls short – let it go) and move toward your new present moment.

How do you live in the now?

Kind regards

A Moodscope member.

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Grief, misery, overwhelm and depression. Wednesday November 14, 2018

I should have known better: I really should.

It was 6am on Sunday morning. I had awoken cold, shivering and aching, with a dry mouth and a throat filled with red hot chilli peppers and broken glass. The previous day, I had exhausted myself (and my poor family whom I had dragooned into helping) in performing a heavy-duty gardening task which should never have been ours, but for which I had final responsibility. It was still only half done. I couldn't remember where I had left the keys to my mother's house, and – it was 11th November and there is one veteran who has come back physically whole, but emotionally disabled, and who is very special to me. 11th November is an emotional time.

So, why I thought it would be a good idea to do my Moodscope score right then, I have no idea. Stupidity: that's what it was; sheer stupidity! I sat in the kitchen, with a comforting lemon and honey in my hand and tapped those cards.

Of course, it came out low. I'm only surprised it was a mere 15% lower than normal! And I knew my buddies would be concerned.

So – I wrote them an email. I hoped that none of them would be up at 6.30am and so they would get my low score and the explanation simultaneously.

"I have a cold," I started, and proceeded to record the litany of my woes.

It's surprising how just writing everything out makes you feel so much better. After a whole blog's worth of moaning I finished, "But – mostly – I have a cold."

Sickness brings our score down.

"I am sorry to tell you that my beloved brother died last night," wrote a friend. Grief brings our score down.

In January something happened which cast me into utter misery. That brought my score down.

The overwhelm of this current responsibility (above) brings my score down.

It's important to realise that it is not only depression that influences our scores. And this is why tracking our scores over a period of time and annotating them is important.

"I had a dip there because I had a stomach bug."

"Oh yes, that was the weekend my mother in law came to stay; that's always a difficult time."

"That long dip there? My pet died."

It is those periods where there is no reason for the low scores, where there is no recovery from grief, or no surfacing from the overwhelm: those are the ones to watch out for.

In life, there are always griefs and sorrows. There will always be challenges which seem too much, responsibilities which weigh too heavy. There is illness and injury and hurt.

Depression is more than the natural reaction to these things. I am not making light of any of these, because they are hard, very hard to deal with.

But - depression is an illness, not just part of being human. We need to know the difference.

A Moodscope member.

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Whistle while you work Tuesday November 13, 2018

Today was thick and white outside as I eyeballed the day. I brushed my teeth and I couldn't see the hill I know is there in the view from my bedroom window. It was cool but not cold as I walked into the day outside on the school run. On return I was talking myself into another day of avoiding more than the bare minimum of contact with people who are not my children, by using the walls of my home as armour.

And then I committed publicly on here to going for a walk. It would be a rare occasion for me not to follow through on my word. The argument going on inside my head about whether to go or not was like two bickering children. I stuffed an earphone in one ear and played Harry Potter on an audiobook. Stephen Fry's voice was unusually not what I needed but he was very good at being louder than the bickering. And I left the building.

I don't think there is anything that cannot be made just a little better from a walk. I thumped to the supermarket and back. A varied but short walk, say 20 minutes each way. Some woodland, some quite places, some roads and a main road. A school, a hospice, another school, many houses, trees everywhere, each one eager to smile.

From being 'I'm grey, I'm cross, don't rattle my cage, let's get this done' I somehow turned into Snow White with each step as creatures came to greet me. A heard a magpie's feet as he walked along close by. I got a fright and then smiled as a squirrel really did walk with me at my ankle for quite some way and the best part... I turned a corner and tiny birds were flying into my face! I considered being a bit scared, but it was lovely to see them change direction at the last minute and whack the hedge. They were shopping for red berries and in doing so were shaking the bush creating a little mist of water as their movement in the hedge unsettled the morning dew and yesterday's rain. It gently hit my face.

I came home happy, new and came here to write. A white butterfly has since kept me company sitting with a cup of coffee outside, as did the thick wedge of banana loaf. It didn't matter that it was dry on the edges and undercooked in the middle, I made it and so I declared it perfect (this is a nod to Sally and her 'untidy' house, it too is perfect!)

And now the day looks wildly different to the one I was shown at the start. I'm saved. Again. And now to get some work done with vigour. No Snow Whites were impersonated during this morning. Other Snow Whites are available.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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Mind The Gap Monday November 12, 2018

Every time I hear, "Mind the Gap!" or see it written in a station, I smile. Here is why...

If you are like most people, you'll often wonder why your mind reminds you of something you needed when it's too late. Typically, for me, I'm on the journey to somewhere when, out of the blue, I recall that I meant to bring something with me. Thanks brain!

I believe this happens because the unconscious mind – which is always busy – has been waiting for a 'gap' in the mental-traffic to pop a thought into our conscious mind. When I ask people where they have their best or most creative ideas, it's always the same three places, with an occasional fourth shared by some personality types. How would you answer that question? Pause before you read on if you want to have an Aha! experience.

The three shared by nearly everyone I ask are: in the bathroom (shower/bath/loo being cited), doing a routine physical task like travelling/commuting/gardening/
ironing/exercising, and at the gateways of sleep – such as just as they go to bed or middle of the night or just before arising. It's as if the unconscious mind has been waiting for an opportunity...

So what? Forgetting things is something I find stressful. Remembering things too late I find even more stressful. I would like to avoid that stress, and I'd relish the opportunity to help you avoid it too.

One solution for our mental well-being is to create more gaps. It's about giving the diligent unconscious mind – that part that is working so hard to help us – giving it space and time to have its say.

My friend, Shelina, has a company called "Press Pause." I love that concept. When we press pause by having a bathroom break, or have a beverage break – free from distractions (i.e. leave your smartphone outside the bathroom and away from your tea break) – we provide the time and space to get a thought in edgewise. We mind the gap.

What are your favourite ways to press pause, and thus, to mind the gap?

A Moodscope member.

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

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The power of touch Sunday November 11, 2018

It was a small gesture, repeated on separate occasions by two people at the art society where I paint. Just a touch on the lower arm, a pat. But it lifted my spirits, and, I believe, has aided my recovery.

For weeks I'd felt way under par, all positives turned negative, low energy, low motivation, low self esteem, no organisational ability. I had missed a number of weeks, talking myself out of going, unable to face people. On that day, I suppose the mask might've slipped, and revealed, through my body language or general demeanour, that actually, I was feeling quite low. I could well be imagining this. Nevertheless, the point is that just when I needed it, two of my fellow painters had seemed to pick up on this mood. And responded through touch. Touch that was not forced, or patronising either.

I think touch is one of the most overlooked of the five senses, but highly effective for giving reassurance and support. Or so I have found. To my surprise.

Has anyone else had this experience of feeling acknowledged and supported through this one simple act? For it has had the power to set me on the way back to enjoying life fully again. Hurray for that!

I should be interested in your views and comments.

A much happier Sally
A Moodscope member.

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Emotional Blueprints and Home Improvements Saturday November 10, 2018

I am eleven months into my journey of understanding my own mental health. I started therapy at the beginning of the year, joined Moodscope two months later and started medication six months in. I have said to friends many times that if someone had told me quite how tough it would be – understanding how harmful my thinking had become, coming to terms with the idea that I have something to get better from before even setting out on the road to a hopeful recovery – I don't know if I ever would have gone to that first counselling session. Despite many, many, moments of frustration I am just now starting to feel, nearly one year in, proud of what I have achieved so far and positive about where I might move to in the future.

I am the child of one of those relationships where everyone would have been better off if the parents had been brave enough to divorce. Now in my thirties and carting around the impact of growing up in a household where love was incredibly practical but never emotional, I have never had a relationship. My therapist and I are working hard on my non-existent self-esteem to get me to a point, we hope, where one day I believe that actually I do deserve to find love.

One of the things we have been stuck on since Day 1 (we are now on Day 302) is the notion of a blueprint. I have been given an emotional blueprint about romantic love and relationships from my family that doesn't function, for me at least. I asked desperately in my first session how could I ever find love with this damaged original blueprint underpinning everything I believe. "Simple", he replied. "Get a new blueprint".

Since then I have struggled to understand this concept – fine, you can get a new one but the original is always there. How is it possible to change the actual original blueprints of a house without tearing it down and starting again? I got to thinking today that yes... an original blueprint will look the same forever, short of starting from scratch – tough to do with life. But you're not the blueprint... you're the house. And you can change a lot of things about a house without that original blueprint being altered. You can paint the walls a different colour; hang new pictures; change the carpet; fit a new bathroom. Some people pop in a loft extension without needing planning permission, others knock down a wall (perhaps illegally!) without changing that original blueprint. The point is - that the house can end up looking very different to its' original plans, and it is that house that is the reality you create for yourself. Yes, the original blueprint remains – but it merely shows us a reflection of a past reality. It shows us where you started from. We only need to look at the house that you have built for yourself today to see how far you have come.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Project ME Friday November 9, 2018

Like many within the Moodscope community, I live with conditions, both emotional and physical.

As you all know, managing conditions means managing plans, and indeed managing life. Any proposals have to first be inspected and analysed as to what impact they may have on you. Amendments have to be made to accommodate needs, to avoid overwhelm, to minimise pain, and committing to things can prove difficult; sometimes impossible.

But I try. Behind the scenes, I do all manner of things to "help".

I meditate, despite finding it hard some days; I persevere.
I listen to positive affirmations, despite sometimes wanting to tell the orator where to shove his suggestions that I have all the resources I need within me...
I track my mood here on Moodscope.
I track what I eat; aiming to make positive food choices, and I attend Weight Watchers, to support that process.
I enjoy regular reiki and massage treatments.
I practice yoga.
I read, and immerse myself in other worlds.
I see a counsellor, to explore feelings and gain perspective.
I go outside, into nature; I feel the sun, the wind and even the rain.
I walk.
I swim.
I keep a journal to reflect on positives and acknowledge achievements.

Yet I feel a sense of disconnect from much of this, because it feels as though I am doing them just to stay afloat. That I have to get these tasks done; to tick them off a list. And I am angry - really angry it seems - at having to constantly "manage" myself, and my life. At having things I must "do", rather than feeling able to simply "be" and enjoy things for what they are, rather than as part of some bigger project.

Project Me as I have decided to call it.

I've tried to reframe this anger and embrace the relish of a real project. I accept that just like a real project, I have a desired outcome – to improve (and positively sustain) my overall wellbeing, which is an obvious benefit. I accept that all the things I am currently doing contribute to this goal, and could be classed as research, development and analysis. But I'm not sure how Project Me moves forward, or ends. Most projects are temporary, and Project Me is something I'm going to be working on for the rest of my life. (Fans of the SMART acronym would doom this project to failure.)

So, I've decided to recruit.

Volunteer team members required; immediate start.
Homebased; unmonitored flexitime; unlimited annual leave.
This is an ongoing position offering varying levels of support to the (ill equipped) manager of a new and exciting project of self development.
Role includes (but is not limited to) removing the stick from the manager's hand that she beats herself with regularly (HR); highlighting the positives and achievements of the manager (Marketing); and locating the manager's elusive will to live and motivation (Procurement).
No qualifications or experience necessary, however the role is well suited to an individual with high levels of sarcasm, humour and patience.
Please apply within the comment section, stating clearly how you feel you meet the (vague and ambiguous) job and person specification.

No, of course there isn't a closing date...

Welcome to Project Me!

A Moodscope member.

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

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By any other name Thursday November 8, 2018

It began when I heard of someone who was going under 4 different names, this got me thinking; what's in a name. We're told that a name can define us yet we rarely get the chance to choose (although sometimes we can). We are told that certain names promote success whilst others are prone to failure – now that's a thought... that we could be given a name at birth that could [possibly] define our future selves? The man was purposefully going under different names to evade capture but did I really have a different reason?

We moved when I was in my late teens to a place using a language I didn't speak in a time that was trickier to integrate into than now. I still had some time left at school which brought its own challenges; a confused teenager trying to work out who to befriend and who to avoid whilst the language barrier raged on... I decided, overnight, to go by my middle name.

My parents were confused (as was I), my brother thought it strange (as did I), my relatives forgot (as did I) and all in all it was a very strange couple of years but I soldiered on never fully understanding why I'd chosen to do it. It only came to me later; I had chosen a pseudonym, a mask to hide behind, a different person who could be stronger, funnier, more able to cope than Rosemary was!

A couple of years after I'd left school and embarked on a career path I decided the time had come to invite Rosemary back into my life. I was there all along of course, sitting quietly, patiently, waiting to be trusted enough to come back to the fore.

There was still some confusion for a few years; I'd bump into people who only knew me from my school days. I gave up trying to explain, an explanation wasn't needed anymore, not for me anyway, so I'd just smile and say "Oh I felt like a change for a while" I'd reconciled that I'd felt the need to hide my true identity (I also altered my appearance to try and fit in more) I was finally ok with it. The guilt at rejecting 'me' and pretending to be someone else had lifted.

There are a couple of things that intrigue me though.

The man at the beginning of this was avoiding capture – I believe I was doing a similar thing, I felt like I was quite cornered in some ways (even though I'd been in full [excited] agreement about the move) but I felt the new school situation had put me in a dangerous place emotionally and I just didn't know how to deal with it. I don't blame anyone, it is what it is.

The other thing I ponder is whether that was the pivotal point at which I could have altered my future health issues? Had I realised they were even an issue.

A Moodscope member.

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

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No Man is an Island Wednesday November 7, 2018

I don't know about you, but I sometimes feel isolated.

I hear the statistics saying that one in four of us will have a mental health problem at some point in our lives: I know many, many people who fall into this category, but I still feel I am the only one. The only one in my family; the only one in my company; the only one of the parents of my children's friends...

It's not helped when people out there in the public eye, people just like me, are dismissed by members of my family, or my friends, as "People who just can't cope with life."

Surely life is the same for us all?

"You're so emotional about everything!" say my husband and elder daughter. "You can't take on the problems of the whole world: people have to look after themselves. Their problems are not your problem."

Is it wrong to want to scream at them? Because, if I have compassion, their problems are my problems!

My problems are, after all, their problems! If I am so ill I cannot get out of bed and function, then that becomes a problem for my family. If I am not well enough to meet with or engage with friends, then that is a problem for those friends. If I cannot work, then that is a problem for my clients.

If I cannot cope with life, then that affects everyone I know.

This is where compassion comes in.

If, when someone we know "can't cope", do we withdraw? Do we leave them to sink or swim?

Some will answer "Yes. Not my circus, not my monkeys. Nothing to do with me; just walk on by."

And, when it's me lying on the sofa, shaking, unable to do anything or go anywhere, engulfed in the slimy grey fog of depression, then I do want people to walk on by: I can't cope with people: I can't cope with kindness; I can't cope with life.

I want to be left alone – forever.

In recovery, however, when I start to feel better, that's when I remember the kindness, the support and the strength lent to me when I had none of my own, and I am grateful.

So, now I am well, I want to be that person who offers kindness and support and strength. I don't want to walk on by or to dismiss the fallen brother as one who just can't cope with life.

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

John Donne

A Moodscope member

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

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Just a moment Tuesday November 6, 2018

I love postcards, especially old postcards, the beautiful pictures, the short space where well chosen words describe a special moment, a moment in time.

There is something so wonderful about holding a vintage postcard in ones hand and feeling around the lovely edge and reading the old fashioned writing by an inky pen. The words take me back, sometimes a 100 years, to someone telling about a holiday or just describing what is happening at home.

I like the idea of a postcard as it describes so succinctly a time, a small picture, and a few words that captures a feeling.

I was hoping you would share a postcard moment with me. It maybe from a real postcard that was sent to you or even you sent, and you can share the words and or describe the picture. Evoke a feeling we can all share.

Or you can make up a postcard, it could be from your kitchen or your garden or your imagination or anything that inspires you.

You can just write a few words - it could be what is happening right now in your life or share a memory from your past.

It could be something fun or a serious postcard.

The writing on the card in the phototgraph is as below:


Very pleased to hear from you.
I thought you had forgotten all about me,
which I had not about you and never will.
Wish you were back in Seymour.

There is more that I could type out if people can't read it.

Why had the writer thought she was forgotten? These words have so many questions.

I would like to receive your postcard moments.

Have a go and send me a moment in time.

A Moodscope member

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

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Melancholy Lane - No Through Road Monday November 5, 2018

I kid you not - this is a real road in a village called Stoborough, near Wareham in Dorset, UK. It must have a history to have such a dramatic name, though I've not found the reason yet...

I've seen it so many times and have thought to myself, "I really must stop and take a picture." Eventually, I did! The road was covered in fresh cow dung, which somehow seemed wholly appropriate!

Melancholy means a feeling of thoughtful sadness - often without any obvious cause. Many of us, I believe, have walked down Melancholy Lane. However, there may be a message in the text that followed: "No Through Road."

If my Melancholy Lane is the road to nowhere, what is the alternative?

My first thought is to try another way - another route - another road - even a completely new direction. This means that, if we have already begun walking down Melancholy Lane, we will need to do a 'U' Turn and walk up it again to where we started.

Too deep? I hope not. The message I took from the sign was simple - my current plodding down life's Melancholy Lane was not serving any useful purpose. Today, I turned. Some of the reasons were outside my control, and others were my own choices. Changes were made, losses were taken on the chin, and I feel... much better.

There's no going back now. Deeds have been done! What isn't so obvious is which new direction to choose. Do I really want to walk the ways which in the past have been successful? Or do I want to pursue complete change? What about a mix? Is my comfort zone a friend or foe?

So, I throw this over to you to comment. Many of us have made life-changing decisions where new directions have been followed. I'd like to hear a message of hope that your bold choices have paid off in the longer-term. I'd appreciate honesty about the pain too because I know significant change can feel painful at first.

Who will be first to share?

A Moodscope member.

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

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