The Moodscope Blog



Just bumbling along Saturday January 12, 2019

This week when meeting up with relatives I was asked how I was doing.

"Just bumbling along", I said. And reflecting on this I wondered why I described myself and my life like that. It seems to imply to me that I was wading through, just getting on with it and surviving somehow.

Then at the end of the week as I reflect back I have to challenge myself why I came out with such a mediocre response. In reality this week I have:

1. Met up with relatives and helped my Mum entertain relatives with three little boys running round the garden
2. Taken no 1 son to a party
3. Taken both kids to a craft workshop
4. Met one of my old school friends for dinner
5. Done a couple of days of work
6. Organised for teenage daughter to stay with a friend in London for the weekend and revelled in her "grownupness" and mixed emotions as I put her on the train to Euston
7. Supported a friend who had flown back to Canada as she buried her Mum
8. Went out with my partner for an evening of Yoruban music
9. Persuaded one of my daughter's friends who had taken an over dose to tell her parents so they could take her to hospital
10. Booked next summer's holiday

None of this seems particularly out of the ordinary. This is the every day stuff of my life. It's the constant juggling of demands from all directions. I haven't even mentioned the two dog walks a day!!

Maybe I'm not "bumbling along"....maybe actually I'm doing a bit better than I give myself credit for. I am lucky as I am pretty well at the moment but sometimes it still feels all encumbering. Life has so many demands.

Look back over your last week, what have you managed to do? In moments of illness that achievement might just be to get out of bed and have a shower. It might be going for a walk...

But also ask yourself what have you done well? Maybe we should be kinder on ourselves. Maybe we need a pat on the back because we are managing better than we think we are and those bumbling, just doing days are better than you think they are.

"You can't make yourself feel positive, but you can choose to act, and if you choose right it builds your confidence."

A Moodscope member.

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

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Feeling different for the first time Friday January 11, 2019

I loved words, writing, making up stories, so when I was 9 my favourite school subject was composition. Every week one child from my class was chosen to go the Principal's office for a special award.

Each work I would try hard to write a story that was good enough to get an award, but other girls were chosen and never me.

One day my teacher whispered that I needed to stay back while everyone else went to lunch. I assumed she must have really liked the story I had written earlier.

I remember sitting down my feet nervously kicking the floor waiting for my teacher to tell me how wonderful my story was. When she finally started to speak, I felt the glare of her words.

"Leah what do you think you were doing? You were asked to write about a day at the zoo and while the rest of the class wrote about sunshine, delicious picnics and beautiful animals eating grass, you wrote about lions and tigers escaping, families running to escape the wild animals and a thunderstorm."

I agreed and kept waiting for the praise that never came, instead my beloved teacher thought I was making fun of the topic. Honestly, I wanted to be different and imagine what would happen.

In the 1960s creativity and imagination were frowned upon for young girls in suburban Sydney.

I felt so misunderstood and I couldn't cry as I was so upset and disappointed. The teacher promised if I never used my imagination again, she would not tell my parents. I never did, and she kept her promise.

That was the day when I felt for the first time how different I was from my other classmates, I mean I already felt different. I was a big girl with dark brown hair and untidy and loud, so I stood out in a sea of neat blond hair blue eyed girls who never ever used their imagination.

For the rest of my school days I keep to writing about sunshine and all the animals were securely locked up. I thought being different would feel good and I would be rewarded but I learnt the hard way I would always be different, and I should try hard not to stand out.

When was the first time you felt different or were made to feel different? What was it like? Did you embrace the feeling?

A Moodscope member

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

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Light at the end of the tunnel Thursday January 10, 2019

The last eight months have been awful. I had a Mental Health crisis and was admitted to an Acute Psychiatric ward for the first time as a patient, I had been in the ward previously as a Health Professional.

I was very agitated pulling my hair out and having suicidal thoughts. My family couldn't cope with me and I was deemed as a risk to myself. So I either went quietly to the ward - if I refused I would have been sectioned. I was given sedating medication and I went quietly to the ward.

The first 48 hours in the ward are a bit blurry, but it was a dreadful experience and at times frightening as I felt so vulnerable. At times there were scenes from One flew over the Cuckoo's nest! At other times it was like the song from Bjork, Oh so quiet. One minute ssh ssh oh so quiet then bang oh so loud.

My experience on the ward opened my eyes to the various mental health conditions that leads people to being admitted. I met some really nice people in the ward - some were regulars.

When I was agitated I would ask for medication to calm me down (Lorazepam). I would be told to sit outside in the sun and use my meditation app, or to do some crafts!! I was literally pulling my hair out and would return to the nurse to say I was no better, only then I was given medication (reluctantly).

I spent 2 weeks on the ward, my mood had improved but no two days were the same. I was discharged with a diagnosis of Agitated Depression and Abnormal Grief (My mum passed away last year). When home again I was still agitated, lacking motivation and mood very low. I would have duvet days, wouldn't shower or eat, just popping diazepam. No amount of coaxing from my family would motivate me, they thought that I wasn't trying, I just couldn't function. I could not see light at the end of the tunnel.

I was appointed a Community Psychiatric Nurse. She has been so patient with me and links up with my Psychiatrist. I now have a diagnosis of Bi-Polar type 3. My father had Bi-polar but as a family we could predict his mood swings, with Type 3 my mood fluctuated rapidly and eraticaly. I have always kept a mood diary and used Moodscope daily. When I looked back on my moods I could see the variability of my moods. I take them with me to hospital reviews.

After a lot of trial and error my mood has stabilised with mood stabilising medication and my graph looks good and I am looking at going back to work. I use my Headspace App and Moodscope cards daily, go out for walks with my camera. I have also joined a Soul Choir which is fun - good for the soul and encourages social interaction.

It has been a tough year and I thought my life was over. I know that I am still recovering. To anyone that can relate to my experience don't give up, things will get better, but it does take time.

When going through my mum's things I found a lovely tapestry with the quote 'Time and the hour will see us through the roughest day'.

Kind regards

Netty B
A Moodscope member

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

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Your Candle. Wednesday January 9, 2019

"Why am I here?"

All of us must have asked this question at some point in our lives.

For those of us who suffer with depression, maybe we ask it more frequently than most – screaming and howling and whimpering it out to the empty universe.

"Why am I here?"

"What am I for?"

"What's My Life All About?"

And, "Does it even matter if I am here or not?"

Well, I think it does matter. I think we all have something we need to give to the universe; we have a reason to be here. We have a purpose.

Some time ago I was lucky enough to win a personal development course with Richard Jacobs. It was a course on finding your purpose in life. It was an excellent, if challenging course, and I would recommend highly his book, "The 7 Questions to Find Your Purpose". His book is based upon the idea that to be fulfilled we need to understand our meaning, and that every single one of us has our own unique meaning that expresses our individual core values, talents and abilities.

My purpose in life is to create beauty and generate joy.

I can't tell you how much that has simplified my life and made some decisions easier. In considering any new project, I just ask myself, does this create beauty? Does it generate joy?

My work fulfils these requirements absolutely. My card-making does. I try to create beauty with my words when I'm writing. I know my stories bring joy, because that's the kind of stories they are. I hope that my writings here at least bring comfort, if not absolute joy.

But – when I was asked recently if I would take on a role for a national charity working with bi-polar, I refused. It was a role I could perform well; a needed role; but it doesn't fit with who I am and who I need to be in the world.

Knowing that I'm here to create beauty and generate joy however, is not enough on its own.

A telephone conversation with a business coaching friend showed me this.

"But why?" she asked. "What happens when you work with your clients, so they see their own beauty and take joy in it?"

I thought. "When my clients are confident in their own beauty, they pass it on. They are more easily able to give the gift of themselves to the world..."

"And what happens then?"

And we drilled down. And down. And down. Until I was in tears and shaking with the power of it.

Because if all the world were filled with beauty and joy there would be harmony and peace in the world. And it would be a very different place.

It is better to light one candle than to sit and curse the darkness. Yes – we have all heard that. But, it's much easier to light and tend your candle when you know where it is and how its light shines.

Even in the darkest of depression, we have our purpose still. I don't know what your purpose is; I only know you have one. You have a wonderful light. Find it.

Then, let that light shine.

A Moodscope member.

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

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The Science bit Tuesday January 8, 2019

I spent a very pleasant twenty minutes recently watching a video of a woman folding towels neatly, while giving instructions how to do this in a very soft whisper. "For pity sake, get a life you sad woman" I hear you cry. Bear with me, this was done in the pursuit of scientific research.

This came about as a result of the daily tutorial with Spock. Every Christmas among his presents I get him subscriptions to scientific journals. It truly is the gift that keeps on giving, as every morning over breakfast he imparts bits of information to me. I am so lucky. After the last bit of muesli has been eaten, he lays down his spoon, puts his fingers into a steeple, and he's off. Over the years, odd bits of knowledge have lodged in my brain, I could very possibly blag a brief conversation on Einsteins's Theory, provided the other party knew damn all. Generally I pretend to listen, thinking lovely thoughts about puppies gambolling with unicorns, while he witters on about black holes, string theory, gravitational waves etc.

For once though, something he said brought me out of my reverie. "...and they are typically very introverted and extremely neurotic, now who does that remind me of? HaHaHa!"

Have you heard about a strange condition known as Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR)? No, me neither. It seems these folk experience a deeply enjoyable tingling sensation that starts at the back of the scalp, going down into the shoulders, when appropriate triggers arise. It is described as being a fuzzy, trance-like state. The nearest experience I can relate to is the head-tingling, dizzy, sick feeling that comes with migraine - far from pleasurable.

Those who have ASMR tend to be introverted, neurotic and unreliable. I am easily two of these, so I was keen to find out more. Investigators found the four most popular triggers are whispering, receiving personal attention, slow movement and light sharp sounds, like tapping fingernails. Brain scans suggest that neurological pathways linked to emotional bonding are involved. One scientist likens it to the effects of mutual grooming among great apes. Indeed, one woman said she first experienced ASMR when she was a child, and her mother would brush her long hair, while singing to her.

This is where the towels come in. The video I watched has had 2 million viewings. People with ASMR who were shown this responded very quickly, even to the extent that hearing a description of the content will set them off. Another video of a man doing oil painting apparently has the same effect, with millions of viewings.

So I settled down to watch the American lady folding towels. I clearly don't have ASMR (I would have known long ago if I had) there was no obvious altered state or feeling pure bliss, but I did find it simply lovely to watch and listen to, very pleasurable in a strange way. I am obviously not alone, as more of these videos are appearing. It is A Thing. I certainly intend watching it again, and, laugh all you like, I might even fold some towels at the same time. I had hypnotherapy years ago for dental phobia, and this reminded me of those sessions, key words repeated, a quiet, slightly sing-song delivery. It could be described as mildly meditational.

Maybe you have ASMR, or know someone who does? Apparently most people with the condition are very embarrassed, feel like freaks. If you get the chance to watch one of the videos, I would be most interested to know if you felt anything unusual happening to your nervous system. In the U.K. scientists at Sheffield University and Cambridge are carrying out research, and could be interested to meet you. At the very least, your linen cupboard will never have been so tidy.

A Moodscope member

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

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Making Sense of Mood-Boosting Monday January 7, 2019

[To watch a video of this post please follow this link:]

In one sense, everything you see is irresistibly powerful in stimulating a feeling.

In another sense, everything you hear is equally powerful in triggering a mood.

In yet another sense, everything you smell is particularly powerful in causing you to recall the memories of where else you have noticed that scent – and the way you felt about that experience.

Yes, you guessed it – the same is true for the senses of taste and touch.

Every sensory stimulus stimulates your memory recall – not just for the associated events themselves but also the way we felt – and still feel – about each experience.

Experience and emotion are inextricably linked in our memories – otherwise we couldn't make sense of fresh stimuli. We understand each new moment by referencing how we felt about such matters in the past.

Herein lies an enormous opportunity for mood-boosting. How so? Well, you and I know what sights, images, movies, and pictures seem to make us feel good, don't we? If I watch, "Mama Mia!" I can pretty much guarantee I'm going to feel good. You've got a list of movies that will do that kind service for you too, I'm sure.

Whenever the scent of freshly mown grass reaches me, I feel refreshed and reinvigorated.

The sound of laughter works its mood-boosting magic deep down in my soul.

I love the texture on the bark of Prunus Serrula Tibetica – the Tibetan Cherry Tree. It is the smoothest, silkiest bark I've ever touched. In turn, the bark of this Cherry Tree reminds me of rubbing plasticine on the Formica table-tops at infant school and then putting the smooth surface to my lips. Does applying lipstick do that for some of us?

...and, finally, for me, the taste of crispy salmon sushi from Waitrose transports my taste buds into an elevated state of avocado-enhanced-consciousness!

Here's the opportunity. Three of my five mood-boosting sensory experiences are within my ability to deliberately seek out and enjoy. The grass, I may need to wait for! Laughter, I'm pretty sure I can find too. This means that I could purposefully elevate my mood this season with very little effort. Frankly, the effort to seek out these stimuli would be pleasant in and of itself.

I don't have to wait to see where my moods take me – I can switch them on for myself.

My warm invitation to you all today is to share one example of each sensory stimulus that lifts your spirit. One example of something you see, one of something you listen to, one scent, something you can touch, and one thing you taste that works its magic on you.

My belief is that we will piggy-back on your own delight when we imagine for ourselves what it would be like to see, hear, smell, taste, and touch the same things you.

Give yourself the gift of a mood-boost (or five) and share that gift freely with us!

A Moodscope member.

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

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Steps to take to manage bipolar episodes Sunday January 6, 2019

These are steps that I take when stressful events lead me from a 'normal/balanced' level to a more 'manic' state, due to my bipolar illness. Some of these events have been a parent's major injury, a close friend who has to move out of the USA due to his national origin, a sibling's divorce etc.

What I do:

1) Contact doctors/parent - I contact my psychologist, psychiatrist, my parents and few confidents (in and out of my immediate family circle) to let them know an event is impacting me emotionally.

2) Meds - Have back-up meds to take right away to ensure 8h of Sleep. Sleep is crucial the first night when I learn about the event, since it really helps prevent me from going into a manic state.

3) Support System - I contact a 'Listener', a trusted friend or family member who will listen, calm me down and support me.

4) Slow Down - I also limit social media ie facebook, watching the news on the TV... I usually take a day off from work (the day after I find out about the stressful event) since I do not want to act inappropriately at work while in a potential manic state. I do soothing activities: read a book, do a puzzle, listen to calm music, meditation tapes and eventually go back to yoga class...

What steps do you take to lower your manic state back to a normal/balanced state?

A Moodscope member.

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

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The spiritual side of life... Saturday January 5, 2019

Hi Moodscopers,

Happy New Year to all of you.

We have talked long enough about our physical and mental adversities, but I should like to place before you my opinion, with which you may or may not agree.

But to all sceptics, please do not comment until you have given this at least a 6 month trial.

I'm not asking you to agree, but just to try - nothing ventured, nothing gained. What can you possibly lose?

'The Spirit' of happiness and inner peace, is atttracted to those who will always do what is right in thought, word, and deed, in every place and in all situations.

'The Spirit' cannot withdraw without your permission...

That permission is given when we try to cheat, steal, are unkind, gossip or backchat, maim, kill or any other negative trait directly oppossed to our love for one another... We are all equal, in this earthly life.

We will know when 'The Spirit' has left us, no matter our circumstances, we'll feel bereft, alone, lonely, depressed, frustrated and angry, anxious, feeling unworthy of all that surrounds us each day.

But if we focus upon others in need, 'The Spirit' will return and be attracted back to those whose hearts are trained to look 'out of the box'.

Any very small, act of kindness, to family, friends or strangers will encourage this uplifting spirit into our hearts and minds... in so doing we will be 'lost' in the service of our fellow man, and our troubles will become 'diluted' as we discover that our adversities are very small compared to those around us...

We will also find through this Spiritual feeling answers to all our own adversities, trials and tribulations.

We will become aware of others and what is more we will attract likeminded folk who'll want to be near a happy countenance and a postive uplifting person that we may become.

Please do not dismiss this blog, it worked for me - I have counselled others and have witnessed the changes that have taken place before my eyes...

The choice is yours to remain, and do nothing, or to give it your best...

There is only one directive that I can give you, and that is to give... and not to expect anything in return...

You may take this blog as an atheist, a spiritualist, or any religious connotation...

Love to you all, may this be the start of a new life for you, and a new Chapter on your journey...


A Moodscope member.

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Our door's always open, please [don't] come in... Friday January 4, 2019

So by the time you read this the 'special' days will have been and gone... Not that there won't be more special days in the year to come but you know the one's I'm talking about.

First there's the build up to Christmas; lots to organise to make it all perfect (I did choose the word perfect with irony by the way), then the day itself, followed by my birthday then a few days until the big welcoming of the New Year.

Now even though I enjoy a lot of it (the laughs me and my hubby share) there are parts I really struggle with; mainly, having people round. My Mum was a fabulous host, the sort who welcomed everyone and was always genuinely happy to have people drop in on her - I don't possess that talent (or should that be desire?) I really want to announce to the world and his wife that our door is always open and there will always be a warm drink and a comfy chair, however when it comes down to it I'd prefer to keep that door firmly locked... But here's my problem, and I'd appreciate your help with it Dear Moodscopers, although I get terribly stressed even at the thought of visitors (a very dear friend told me she'd be popping in on Christmas Eve – she knows me well enough to know I needed prior 'warning' and even that got me in a pickle) ...I become deflated when no one comes or doesn't make contact also. I can't have it both ways, I know that, but I don't know how to reconcile the warring duo.

My other slight problem is that my hubby loves having people round and I know he would love for us to have more friends over or for us to go to them (yep, I find going to other people's homes too much too...) Hell on reading this back I wonder why on earth my OH stays haha...

Anyway, I'm hoping that now the holiday season is over it'll get easier. I miss the sparkle and freedom of the season and feel quite flat once it's finished, yet I do wonder if it's that very unpredictability and expectation that get me so on edge?

I'd be really interested on hearing your thoughts, and looking forward to any pearls of wisdom that could see our door a little more ajar even if not fully thrown open?

As a postscript I have realised on writing this that my main problem possibly stems from whether I am 'enough' - am I good enough company? is the place tidy enough? will it all go well and without a hitch? will people leave feeling happy?

Strange fears for one who works hard to live in the moment and practise mindfulness ...this is a hurdle I just need a hand to get over.

Thanks in advance

Rosemary xxx
A Moodscope member.

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

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May your New Year be a happy one Thursday January 3, 2019

We know for many, it may be far from it at the moment, but that's what we hope it will be for you.

We would just like to say that during the last year we have been inspired by so many of the posts our members have written for the blog and blown away by the comments - all the fantastic support you have given each other - considering most of you are not in a great place, it's something you should be really proud of. We now have a fantastic Moodscope community thanks to you.

We'd like to thank everyone who has written for Moodscope and we are always very happy to receive contributions, so if you've been thinking of writing a post, now is the time. Everyone has said that it's so rewarding when they see all the comments they get.

Here at Moodscope we are working hard on developing the App that so many of you made possible by contributing to our Crowdfunding Campaign. Again, we'd like to thank everyone who contributed. Hopefully, it won't be long until we can launch it and make Moodscope truly accessible to all.

Good luck for 2019, may it be a good year for you.

Best wishes.

Caroline and Adrian
The Moodscope Team.

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

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Do What Brings You Joy! Wednesday January 2, 2019

I frequently embarrass my children in church.

Not through any overt religious fervour, but because I sing.

I love to sing, and I love the hymns, but my children nudge me in the ribs, hard. "Don't sing so loudly!" they hiss.

After the service other people from the congregation will say, "Oh, thank you for singing. It's always so nice to hear your beautiful voice." Strangers will approach me and compliment my singing. And that's when it gets embarrassing for me.

You see, I know my singing voice really isn't that great. Not like my sister's.

You see, although my sister and I were both given nice voices at birth, she has really worked on hers. She has taken lessons since her teenage years; she has sought out singing opportunities. She sings with top quality choirs: choirs who make recordings. She's not a professional, but she is a top rate amateur.

I was chatting with her the other day. She sent me for Christmas a CD her choir has made; a recording of funeral hymns. It is a beautiful CD. I would love to sing with a choir of that quality, but I am nowhere good enough. If I were to invest in lessons and practice, then maybe I could be. But there's never enough time.

My sister is very wise sometimes.

"Look at it this way," she said. "We both write, but you are far better at writing than I. Because you work at it. You write every day, just as I sing every day. You have taken the time to learn your craft. You read just so you can write better.

"We both write and we both sing, but the difference between us is that your writing is the thing that gives you most joy in your life. Singing is the thing which gives me most joy. In the end, you have to choose between what is nice to do and what is essential for your soul."

She is right.

The world is full of opportunities and we cannot take advantage of them all.

My friend Richard loves languages. He spends time learning them and speaking them. For Raz, it is his work in Theoretical Physics. He did not work on Christmas Day, but Boxing Day – he was right back to his research. It feeds his soul and gives him joy.

There are many things in the world which are enjoyable, but only a few which give us real joy. Once we have found what brings us that delight, we should do more of it.

Sometimes we need to really think about what it is that is our special thing; what it is that is really important; but once we have found it, then we have direction and focus.

It may not be what we can do for a living, but it can be who we are.

Make 2019, if you are able, your year for doing what brings you most joy.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Easy like Tuesday morning Tuesday January 1, 2019

This week, our Tuesday wakes up with a vibrant smile and starts the brand new, shiny and squeaky-clean calendar year. No sooner have we said Happy New Year than we drag out the tome of resolutions. Quick, be perfect now! Your body is a temple, worship it with purity in all the ways! Your life is a blank canvas, mark it only with considered landscapes, no splatter paintings here! Drink only water from the sacred spring! Eat only food prepared by Tibetan monks! Read a library worth of self-help books before the second day of the year, rearrange the position of the towels and toilet rolls and there we have it, Bob's your uncle, life is balanced, it is whole and your aura dazzles with zen glow. Um. No. Please pass the sunglasses and turn down the lamps.

There can often be such pressure in this end and start of year and I'm coming to you today from Radio Doityourway. If you look through tax man glasses, you have another third of year to go before your turkey dinner. If you are a school then you've already popped one term in the bag. If you sail the good ship NHS then your brand new shiny year is merely a drop in an oceans worth of open days.

The phrase "be kind to yourself" is given to us mental health warriors frequently and is often misused. In the changing of the year, can we be kind to ourselves in the kindest way possible? By allowing ourselves freedom. Freedom to see. Freedom to release from shackles of expectation. Do you need to commit to resolutions that may dance on your head after they've hammered your stake into the ground? Or can you draw some parallel lines and say that within them lies you. You in all your wondrous differences. You in your way. Today you've got you. What can you give yourself freedom from to allow your lungs to breathe more easily? Do glance back and nod at what has served you, do turn your face forward and smile at what might be coming and do free yourself from feeling you must obey a resolution in order to count.

Hare bought the t-shirt and had ferocious drive but burned out trying to be. Tortoise kept taking half steps in the direction of destination. And he made it. You're making it! I salute you fellow tortoise. Creep on.

Love from the room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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

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For Today Only Monday December 31, 2018

Salespeople love the old, "For Today Only," ploy. It's a pressure ploy I don't enjoy, and so I rarely respond. However, if we were to transform that sense of urgency into excitement instead, there's a great truth here:

"Today is the only day you have to spend... today!"

This Monday is New Year's Eve – a natural day to think about the year behind us and the future ahead.

Suddenly, unbidden, a line from Kung Fu Panda comes flooding into my mind, "Yesterday is history; tomorrow is a mystery; today is a gift – which is why we call it, 'the present'." I've tweaked the words slightly because their origins, themselves, are clouded in mystery!

I don't know what the past months, or even years, have been like for you – though I know some of the events experienced by some of you who read this blog. On balance, all those yesterdays may have been good, or they may have been otherwise. Like most, you may have regrets. The fact is that those regrets are not worth today's time and attention unless the thought of them provokes some kind of useful change... today. Just for today, let them go!

As for tomorrow, and the future, many of us have a much brighter future ahead, but we can't 'spend' that time yet – we can't touch it – no, not yet. There's only today – for one day only.

Some let me share a word to the wise. Some of you are very wise. You are demonstrating the emotional intelligence that puts off pleasure now so that you may have a better future. You are deferring reward today so that you can have a bigger reward in some imagined tomorrow you are sensibly preparing for. I respect that. I wished I'd learned that lesson earlier (je regrette!) There is another, 'However,' coming, however! I believe it is unwise to invest all of today's time in building a better future. Let there be an element of today that is your gift to yourself for this moment in time – the present for this present. For today only let there be fun! Let there be laughter! Hey, if you like, let there be sparkling champagne, chilli con carne, music, and dance! There may be moonlight tonight, so let there be love and romance too, if you fancy that!

I don't know what floats your boat, but launch that baby today! Then, please, let us know how you have celebrated that special day that is called, "Today!" You don't even have to wait! You can share your plans, right here, right now!

Today, as long as it's called, "Today," make it special!

A Moodscope member.

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

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A Christmas poem Sunday December 30, 2018


It's Michael here.

When my eldest son (now in his late 30s) was small, we sat together one afternoon to watch The Snowman film.

At the end of it he burst in to tears and proclaimed how much he wanted it to be real. It told me a great deal about his inner world and how powerful the imagination can be.

I have to confess there is something about the loneliness of that little boy in the film that touches something in me also.

To this end I wrote the following poem which, given the warnings regarding global warming, may just become a distant memory of how winter could be experienced. It's my Xmas gift to our community.

A Place in the Sun

Crafted by frozen hands on an ice-cream landscape,
The snowman stands like Buddha, still and knowing.
A combed smile, coal black, fractures his round head,
His carrot nose guards satsuma eyes.

Like a precious gift, shrouded in tissue, he is kept warm
By scarf, buttons, and crooked, battered hat.
He shifts uneasily in the morning sun, shedding frozen tears,
By night he keeps his promise to 'be there' in the morning.

In the cold darkness, whilst the world sleeps warmly,
The snowman, rigid like an icicle sees and hears all.
His young maker, waking from a nightmare dream screams,
Breaking the frozen silence like a glass bell shattering.

Then stillness; as Orion and Gemini march across the sky
Dragging their black anvil of darkness towards the West.
The world turns as slow as an albatross
Raising a spectrum towards the jagged horizon and the snowman's eyes.

Daybreak, launching the siren sun, strains his frozen heart,
Dissolving his shape and will to survive and
Like the dreams of his maker, built upon a whispered promise,
He slowly melts and becomes one with their warm tears.

A Moodscope member.

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

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A weight in a manger Saturday December 29, 2018

For a while I attended a homeopath and I was neither blown away nor dismissive of the treatment. I liked it. The questions leading to a remedy were varied and interesting and one has stuck with me. The homeopath asked if I struggled to wear things close to my neck like shirts with collars or polo-neck jumpers. Yes! I'd always struggled to be comfortable in either of those things. The restriction was choking. Strangely though, I love a scarf. I wear a scarf in winter or summer, I wear a scarf in the house and out the house, I wear a scarf if I've dressed up and want to dress it down just a little and I wear a scarf with my pyjamas. I launder and press my scarves because they are important to me. I don't understand why I struggle with a collar and yet seek out a scarf. Anyway, not important, my point...

A scarf brings a sense of safety to me. A weight, a cuddle, an envelopment. With autism, and even as a support for Asperger syndrome and the related anxiety, a sense of calm can be brought with weighted blankets, beanbags to hold the body closer than a chair, and even with a weighted vest. I get something similar from a scarf.

In this season, whether it is the winter darkness or the Christmas frivolities which hurt, do you have a go-to physical thing to help bring you that safety, solidity and sense of being held onto? Maybe we could all benefit from some swaddling clothes.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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

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That after Christmas feeling Friday December 28, 2018

Oh does anyone else feel like this? You look at Fakebook – getting a glimpse of other people's Christmases and feeling happy that they have invited me in in some way to their world. But... there's always a downside.

Our Christmas is very different... there are just the two of us now where there were three (my stepdaughter) and we were round the corner from my brother who we would visit in the evening. But we now live 500 miles away from everyone and made this decision to come up to the Highlands which we love but I do miss many people.

Last night we went to friends and it was lovely – a good laugh. Tonight (Boxing Day) we were invited out to more friends but I'd been dipping in and out of a low mood all day, with only respite from a lovely sunny walk in the woods and Mrs Doubtfire on the TV – and I couldn't face going out tonight. Robin Williams never failed to make me laugh – but as we all know, he so had his demons, even with that sparkling talent and general awesomeness that gave so much to many.

You see, I had the perfect childhood, I really had. With all the wonderful Christmasses that I am so nostalgic for. But something changed. Perhaps it was England. Maybe my mum's alcoholism and eventual death from cirrhosis of the liver. Her father and brother were also in the same vein. And guess what, I too am fond of 'the sauce' but not in the tragically resplendent ways of my previous family. I say previous for now I have a new family, one I chose for myself.

So when I go on Facebook, all I see is a haze of people surrounded by their mothers and fathers, who look happy, who didn't go off the rails for whatever reason (and I still don't know the reason why my mum drank but I suspect my dad's constant infidelities were a seriously contributory factor). They also have happy looking children – I never had my own – my indecision and fear becoming my 'decision' - although I do have a fairly marvellous stepdaughter – lucky me indeed. That was a relationship I bumbling nurtured and boom! It worked, and we love each other dearly. But I miss her so much. I miss what my mum and dad might have been together, I don't miss her awful 'replacement', my ridiculous stepmother... and I miss my deaf father-in-law in Devon and my marvellous mother-in-law (sadly died).

So forgive me if the ugly jealous monster rears its ugly head but I AM jealous. For what I could have had... a baby, a normal mum and dad and a sibling that doesn't piss me off with his smugness, and a weird judgemental sister-in-law. I miss the lovelies in my life that are too damn far away – my stepdaughter, our old friends and my lovely second dad. As they say, a dog is for life, not just for Christmas. Thank god Christmas isn't for life.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Surviving my twin sister's death by suicide Thursday December 27, 2018

The anniversary of my twin sister, Catherine's death by suicide, is on January 6th. Since the end of the year and the new year is approaching, I'd like to share some thoughts on how I survived this life-changing event.

Of course I went through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. But you go through them in random order, and they come back over and over, not just once at a time.

I had to reconstruct my identity: as a twinless twin. I mostly felt shame that she was so depressed and died of suicide, and I didn't tell co-workers and very few friends. I was able to allow myself to feel happiness, worthiness, and gratitude in my life without her, through on-going counseling and taking meds for my diagnosis as having bipolar disorder.

Then there were especially significant events like our birthday. Being without her I had to find a way to include her on that day. Just by lighting a candle in her memory was helpful.

The anniversary of her death is the most difficult. She died on a holiday, called "Epiphany" where our family, with our grandparents and cousins got together, shared a special cake "la galette des rois" (the king's cake). We lost our Queen forever. However, she remains an integral part of our family on this special day.

To all those who have lost a loved one by suicide, let me just tell you that you can heal, you will heal, if you allow yourself to identify your feelings, accept them (don't deny or run away from them because they are there to be accepted as part of the healing process) and most important practice self-soothing. That can be by meditating, doing yoga, writing, any other way that you can consciously tell your brain to think positive thoughts about yourself, to come to terms with yourself and your suffering and see the joy in your life.

Lastly, Catherine stays in our hearts, in our memory and she will only truly die, when we forget her. That won't happen during my lifetime.

A Moodscope member.

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

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The Bane of Christmas (Just) Past. Wednesday December 26, 2018

Thank you notes!

Oh, the torture of thank you notes.

My Uncle (the one who brought me up) would say that, frankly, he'd rather not have had the present, if it meant he did not have to write and thank the giver for it.

Then, from my mother's generation, "And, you know, he/she didn't even write to say thank you!" Oh, what a wealth of condemnation in those words!

I have always made my children write thank you notes, but I have tried to make it easy for them. I write them a proforma they can just copy out, inserting the giver's name and the gift, as appropriate.

I tell my nephews and nieces that a thank you note is NOT required.

Debrett's Guide to Etiquette and Modern Manners says, 'The thank-you, although an endangered species, is one of the most delightful and effective of letters... it should be short and to the point. However, any attempt to enliven the bread and butter formula is to be recommended (such as) an observation about a gift.'

This is useful to remember, and also that thank-yous do have a short shelf-life and should be sent within a few days. The day after Boxing Day is the allotted day for ours.

The problem with these kind of thank yous is that it comes over as a transaction. Person A gives a gift to person B. B then sends a letter of thanks to person A. The transaction is complete.

There is a different kind of thank you, however and I received one such this week. Well, two, actually. The first was a gift from Caroline, on behalf of Moodscope. I am touched, thrilled and delighted with this gift. Honestly, writing for you all each week is a gift in itself. It's so lovely to be thanked and especially with a present (I love presents), but I never expect it.

The second 'thank you' was from some children for whom I cooked in the Summer. I cooked for sixteen sailing cadets for a week in August, in temperatures of 32 degrees. Again, it was a joy, even it was hard work. Everyone ate well and came back for second helpings – everyone from the young seven-year olds, to the sophisticated and worldly-wise teenagers.
To receive a Christmas card from these two children however, was unexpected and delightful. 'Thank you for the food', they wrote. 'It was yummy!' and they had decorated the card with hand-drawn reindeer.

To receive an unexpected thank you gives a warm fizzy feeling inside.

I'd love to pass this feeling on. So, I'm making a list of people I can thank.

I'm going to start with you.

When you read my blogs, you make me feel so wanted and needed and appreciated. Thank you for that. Writing for you brings purpose to my life and I never take it for granted.

So, thank you for reading. Seriously. Thank you so very much.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Merry Moodmas Tuesday December 25, 2018

Well the season has reached its peak. Christmas day is of course a little more memorable than other randomly plucked Tuesdays but, essentially, it is just Tuesday. It might be a day we give ourselves permission to eat or drink something slightly inappropriate at a random time of day. My mind has just catapulted back into being seven, wearing a nightie, with something brand new in my hand and feeling like the biggest man in the room to be eating (with gay abandon) the contents of a selection box, and without permission sought or given. Oh that celebration of rebellion!

Christmas itself is here. It may have arrived inside a grey truck full of weight, guilt and worry. Or it may have arrived on a polar express of twinkling lights and choral sounds. For me, both! Either way, it is here. There are elements I love. The silence of the house last thing on Christmas Eve when my young-adults-who-will-be-forever-my-little-ones are breathing quietly, perhaps asleep, perhaps not, and I lay out surprises (because Santa is real and real he will stay under this roof).

As I meet the door that is Christmas day I know it is, for me, a day to 'get through'. For all kinds of reasons. I search in my soul to see if I can feel the presence of those not here. If I can't, I look at their special ornament on our tree, my way of keeping them close. I think of you people, often pulling on a mask a bit like mine, some genuine moments of delight through the day and some genuine moments of "where is my hiding cupboard".

However, and wherever, you are this Christmas day know this, you are not alone. Never alone. We know, we nod, we don't even need to speak, we know. Use the blog to your advantage, say the things you cannot utter to another living sole, release them, or use it to leave a note of support to another. Things do not matter, feelings and memories matter. However this time feels for you, in a day or so it will be just a memory and you can decide now how you wish that memory to be. Take a little step back, know that you made it to this point and know that we can get to the next point together. Stay close. Moodscope is our stable. There is room. And nobody is turned away.

Sending warm wishes through the ether to you and yours from this fairy-lit room above the garage.

The Room Above the Garage
A Moodscope member.

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

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Hello there Monday December 24, 2018

So, here you are safe.

Here, there are plenty of people who understand completely how you are feeling and many will be dreading tomorrow, for different reasons.

You are not alone.

Relax for a few minutes.

Check your body over for any areas of tension – jaw, shoulders, hands...

You have chosen to check in with us and we are here.

Smile, if you can, or at least relax your facial muscles. I am smiling back.

Breathe deeply – inhale for a count of four, then exhale for a count of four. Repeat as often as you can throughout the day and feel your tension ebb away.

Choose a simple, comforting phrase and repeat it to yourself

"I am safe"
"This will pass"

Maybe just a word


I have candles burning – and one is for all you lovely Moodscopers – everytime I look at it I wish for peace of mind and heart for all of you.

Here's to peace: Peace in our hearts, in our homes, in our world.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Moodscope members seek to support each other by sharing their experiences through this blog. If you’d like to receive these daily posts by email, just sign up to Moodscope now, completely free of charge.

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