The Moodscope Blog



Keeping my head above water Tuesday December 17, 2019

I am just about keeping my head above the parapet at the moment. I am in work, just about, drudging through, ticking each day off.

The domestic daily routines are the actions that flow. I recently described them to a friend as 'domestic drudgery.' However, actually those actions are secretly keeping me going along with daily dog walks. I now understand why the action of providing food is for some the gestures of love. Whilst my recalcitrant children lie in bed to a disgustingly late hour at the weekend, I prepare pancake batter ready for their wakening, accompanied by the Archers Omnibus. (I was most put out the other week when the time was changed to accommodate the commemorative service at the Cenotaph)!!!

These regular routines seem to keep me going. My routine was disrupted when the Monday night Pilates class was cancelled indefinitely. Maybe if I was feeling more robust I would have not felt so disgruntled but it unsettled me. It's been an achievement when so low on energy that I have researched a new yoga class and forced myself to go. The fast paced class left me aching all week.

This morning I walked the dog around the boating lake in my chocolate producing suburb. Old men bring their remote controlled yachts to race competitively around the lake. The sun shone through the blustery wind onto my still wet hair. I felt a tear slipping down my cheek. My inner voice said to myself, 'It's alright, darling. You will be alright.'

I blunder through. Right now if there is food on the table, clean sheets on beds then I feel that is good enough.

May the time come soon when life is no longer about just existing but more about living..."

A Moodscope member.

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

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Christmas Past and Christmas Present Monday December 16, 2019

At this time of year, my mind always turns nostalgic for my Christmas Past.

I think this was when my life was simpler, then there was a move then a large middle bit and I then jump to Christmas Present and life has become, once again, simpler, more from my choice rather than accident.

Early life and now life are different, yet very similar. Let me explain.

Pre 1977 from our move to England from Scotland, Christmas honestly was magic. Mum's little marzipan fruits (orange with pits and a clove on top), apple and banana. Dad and I only liked them. Satsumas and walnuts in a real stocking – oh the excitement. The smell of Scotch tape which was always used on presents. The little blue cottage with the frosted sparkling roof that my brother and I would fight over to put up on the tree. The tree going up in the lounge on 1st December. Greg Lake (I Believe in Father Christmas). The excitement of the advent calendar. And drum roll for my favourite bit... going to Grandpa and Nana's and counting the Christmas trees on the way back in the back of the car.

Jump to Christmas Present. This year I am going to make marzipan fruits and I will probably do them at my art group's annual Christmas lunch instead of the cake I iced last year (still great fun with a Christmas "snow dog" on top). We are getting a real tree again as we have done as it is the place for Christmas trees! I love to sing carols so I try and find local events to go to. I'm trying to get tickets for the local panto. I watch Kirsty's Handmade Christmas. I love to read The Willows at Christmas and watch certain Christmas films and watch old Top of the Pops where they show classic tunes (not a Mariah Carey in sight!!) I go to lots of wee church and local craft fairs as opposed to the advertised commercial ones to do the bottle stalls and buy bits. I craft my own wreaths. I scout the charity shops for presents. I will put up the same decorations (rotate them as there are so many... well over 100!) and put up the rest of the bits in turn. I will decorate the top of the fireplace. Two of the Christmas lunches I am going to (art and writing) will be our own affairs where we bring our own food and make our own entertainment. On the day itself there is only three of us – two adults and a dog. There will be a Christmas walk on the beach.

Yet I look at all these perfect TV adverts where there is a large group of all the generations and somehow I feel a bit like mine falls short although I know it's perfect for us. It's just that you feel like you 'ought' to be doing things a certain way but reality is that some family and friends are 500 miles away. We made this decision for a simpler way of life. It feels like salvation. I'd love to know about your celebrations...

A Moodscope member.

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

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Farmer Barleymow Sunday December 15, 2019

I overheard a farmer talking. Asked what he wished he'd been told right at the start he replied "Never run after the runaway lamb. It will return once it realises its going the wrong way." My thought patterns work at speed and, after I'd run through a couple of cartoon versions in my head of how he'd come to this, I had a wee laugh and realised it was appropriate to my journey with depression.

The fastest and most productive parts of journeying through, for me, have been when I have witnessed my depression and acknowledged it, and then calmly pushed through in the times when I've not been held hostage. In other words, when parts of me have felt like the runaway lamb, I've relied on other parts of me to hold. However basic you may think they are, the daily shuffle up the path, the daily look to the horizon, the daily shower, the daily fresh shirt, the daily eggs and tea, they are stalwarts in being your calm reassurance and guide.

Don't fear the score. Use it as binoculars to see where the lamb is. Then together we'll carry on.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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Advice and criticism - accept or resent? Saturday December 14, 2019

A local woman, my kids' age, came in yesterday and almost accused me of living in too big a house. Odd, she lives in a big modern house with her husband, her mother lives alone in a big house, they have a big shop (shut) in the high street, with two flats above. They have other properties, let, they are rumoured to be 'grasping' landlords. I was pushed into this place by circumstance, it was empty for 7 years, I can't let it, share it or house refugees, for many reasons. There is loads of empty property in the town, because there is no work to draw people, and the infrastructure, what there was, is collapsing (station shut now). I'm still happy here, because many of the problems of old age will not affect me living in the middle of the town.

But the remark led me to wonder what it is about me that seems to draw criticism. My first garden (done when I was 20) was great, designed as 'fun for all'. We got more land, and put in a tennis court. I did a Wimbledon on it, then I made cakes, friends poured in over the weekend, had a great time, ate all the cakes, and thanked me nicely. I don't think I ever played on the damned thing. We did a school rota. One of the fathers had been dreadfully shot up in the war, but he was so critical and cynical that if neighbours saw him approaching on his bike they all hid. Even he could not criticise my garden, but never would he praise it. My last garden, 'open ' ever week, often bought almost aggressive remarks 'It's a lot of work', the tone of voice was pitying that I should undertake such a task.

My mother-in-law could criticise for England. I did not feed my husband properly, my kids were badly brought up, my housekeeping was dreadful, I wore 'tarty' clothes, and put on too much make-up. She did all she could, with a like-minded crony, to stop our marrying, but she was out-manoeuvred. Luckily father-in-law was a darling, one of nature's 'gentlemen'. He'd suffered in WWI, I always spoiled him on visits, probably did not add to my popularity.

My mother was pure Mrs Grundy. She was included in all family occasions; I was a nervous wreck at the end of her visits. As a family we went to town on entertaining – Mummy would sit and glower – 'What do you want to go to all that trouble for?' Cooking, food presentation, table laying, flowers everywhere, fireworks at weddings if I could get away with it. And, always, the disapproving force in the background.

I have been feeling guilty about having had super houses, much travelled, and having a big family. It was watching the Ken Loach film 'Sorry we missed you' (before that,' I, Daniel Blake') and hearing all the election promises for a Utopian world that's got to me. I expect I will recover.

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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

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Navigating the ups and down Friday December 13, 2019

I started to reply to a recent blog and soon realised that the response was a blog in itself.

Acknowledging difficult days, sticky situations, turbulent times, exasperating emotions etc. is a great start and like all journeys, they start with a single step.

As a long distance walker, let me compare thee to a summer day - I jest, let me instead liken our journey to that of an actual walk. How do you navigate the ups and downs, because for sure, there will be ups and downs, unless of course you chose a canal path to follow. Nothing wrong with canal paths, but my bet is you will still encounter obstacles of sorts, if not exactly ups & downs. So how best to navigate them?

Preserving your energy and taking it steady and surely on the uphill climbs is a good start. Pausing to catch your breath if you need to and perhaps even stopping for a thirst quencher may be required. Speedily racing to the top in one go is not necessarily the best way to get there unless you are in peak condition and have spent some time training to do so (during which you would have had to take it more slowly, so you can't get away from the theory!).

Knowing and accepting the climb can't be rushed is a good approach.

You cease ascending and reach the top, you are appreciating the view, seeing the landscape from a different perspective, enjoying the clear blue skies and cooling breeze. The climb is behind you and has led you to this moment. It meets with expectation, exceeds it even, or not, perhaps it disappoints.

You walk a while along a ridge, or it may be an immediate descent. Can you let yourself go and simply enjoy the soft mossy cushioning underfoot? No guarantees that this will be so, it could well be rocky terrain requiring much concentration and careful footwork to avoid a fall.

I'm not necessarily talking peaks and troughs, some climbs are gentle, a rolling landscape, and can be taken at a leisurely pace and require little exertion. Not all views at the top are the hoped for clear blue skies, some are completely overcast obscuring the longed for view entirely.

Accepting the twists and turns without knowing what the road ahead looks like, is a good place to be on this journey however far in to it we are. A bigger, faster engine may help on the uphill climb, but who knows if it will conk out with the pressure when it reaches the top? Slick body work might look good, but it's what is underneath the bonnet that really counts is it not?

Looking after both - mind and body - will serve us all better in the long run. Some would say there is a third essential element to introduce, the breath. The third leg of the stool without which, you have no seat. Mind, body, breath.

A Moodscope member.

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Accept or change? Thursday December 12, 2019

"I can't be myself around you."

"When I'm with you, I always have to tread on eggshells."

"I'd like to be able to speak freely with you but I don't want to upset you."

What do you do when most people you encounter bring up the same aspect of your character? You know, the thing you find most difficult about yourself?

It seems I've rarely reacted to the world according to norms, and that I am somewhat over-sensitive. I've been having therapy since I was fourteen in an attempt to address the causes of my sensitivities but they are still surfacing thirty years later.

It's taken me nearly all that time to realise that although I can tweak some of the ways I react to the world and that I am capable of growth, who I am is not fundamentally going to change, despite how much I would like to.

At what point do you accept yourself as you are, and stop seeking change?

If you have made changes, how have you gone about it?

What has worked for you? And what hasn't?

How do you see acceptance? And what is it for you?

The Librarian
A Moodscope member.

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Deliverance Wednesday December 11, 2019

So must a prisoner feel when his sentence is unexpectedly commuted, and he walks through the open prison door into the sunshine; a free man.

On Saturday, my black dog left me. Tracking back on my Moodscope graph, I can see he arrived on 4th November, so he was with me for just five weeks – but it felt longer.

For many people, depression is something that lifts incrementally. For me, the change happens in an instant. I've written before (although I can't find the blog now) about the change. It's like standing in a quiet and dusty water mill, then feeling the sluice gates lift, hearing the stream rush in and the wheel begin to turn. Suddenly, there is the fecund scent of water, the steady and powerful churning of the wheel, and the mill stones begin to grind. The mill is productive again.

At some point on Saturday afternoon, my black dog ceased to blow his fetid breath into my face, lifted his head, sniffed the air, and with one bound, was off! I could breathe again; I had energy. The world has sharp edges and bright colours. Even shades of grey are distinct. Scents are sharper and sounds are in their proper place. Most importantly, I can be with people again without being overwhelmed by their energy.

I know many of you might be reading this and thinking, "Well, it's alright for her, but I'm still here in the dark; my great dark beast is still with me. Please bear with me though, because there is more of a point to this than just asking you to celebrate with me.

The thing that strikes me most, coming out of depression, is that I never know how ill I am with it until it leaves, and normality is restored. I think, when in that dark place, that the darkness is normality. I cannot accept that "normal" has a smile on its face and a bounce in its step. I cannot perceive that "normal" is happy, or sad, or bored, or excited – or any and all emotions. When I am locked away in isolation – for depression is an illness of solitary confinement – I think that's all there is.

So, my message of comfort to you today – using the meaning of "fortify and strengthen", is to tell you again that depression is an illness and that you will recover.

You may be in that state of illness where you cannot get out of bed. You may be at that point where you can sit on the sofa and watch daytime TV. You may be at the stage where you can do a little work but must watch your energy levels. You may even be in the situation where you can carry out all your duties, but with no joy in your heart. You are still ill.

The illness can last days, weeks, or months. For some unfortunate souls, years.

But you will get better. There will be sunshine again. Even in winter.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Trust your feelings? Tuesday December 10, 2019

Is the answer to everything to trust your senses and do what feels right?

I find the opposite. When I was first diagnosed as having a problem with my mental health, I was in denial. I was terrified of being handed over to the doctor chosen by my employers. I felt like a Jew in the hands of Nazi doctors! (In hindsight, the ready way these analogies came to my mind, as someone in modern Britain probably were further evidence that all was not well.) It was my brother who persuaded me the feelings were irrational and it made sense to have a consultation.

When I first went on medication, I remember the moment. Sitting in a café, carefully reading through all the disclaimers, wondering if this was a moment of no return as I popped my first pill. Would they make any difference?

Four years on, I still don't know. Each time I tell the doctor I want to come off them, he/she (there have been several) cautions me against it. Certainly, they say, do not try it in the run up to winter.

I am now much more open about my feelings. But trust them? Personally, I cannot let them have the final word. When I was considering getting married 20 years ago, I fought tooth and nail against the commitment. It was only friends who helped me see my irrationality.

Having proposed, and been accepted, I have never looked back and consider myself the luckiest man in the world. She is one in a million.

When I thought I should carry on with work and refuse help, friends gently said I was making a mistake.

When I thought I was not nearly well enough to return to work, the doctor gently said that it would be a key part of my rehabilitation, so long as it was a staged return. I trusted him and he was right.

So can I trust my feelings? Not entirely. I have learnt to be more open, but I have learnt it is not wise to base all my decisions on them alone.

A Moodscope member.

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

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On Velcro and Teflon Monday December 9, 2019

Have you ever been enjoying a relatively good day and then one tiny thing goes wrong and... Boom! Boom and gloom, boom and gloom... If you're naturally 'human', your mind will seize upon the one thing that went wrong and 'worry' at it like a dog trying to get marrow from a bone.

In a book I've had recommended to me but haven't yet read, "Buddha's Brain," by Rick Hanson, he says that our thoughts stick like Velcro to the negative interpretation of events, and work like Teflon when it comes to the positive stuff. Bad thoughts stick. Good thoughts slip away and have no staying power.

Phew! All of a sudden, I don't feel so alone – nor do I feel so weird. After all, it's only human to have what is called a 'negative bias'.

That said, what on earth can we do about it? Is there hope?

Traffic lights!

Red – Amber – Green

Red – stop the sticky negative thinking with a challenge, "Stop! In the name of hope! I know you're the natural way to think but STOP IT!"

Amber – like the golden Sun – shift your attention to something full of light: gratitude. Find three things to be grateful for – especially tiny things. Be as quick as changing traffic lights. (You can have a quick go now: three things you're grateful for.)

Green – break your programming! Go against Nature!! Swim upstream!!! Evolve consciously!!!! To do this, you purposefully and deliberately programme in a Positive Bias. It won't feel natural because it isn't natural, but it is entirely possible – and may just be the greatest achievement of the human race. With the new programming – 'You 2.0' – you intentionally force your focus onto the positive in every situation.

Your first thought becomes, what is positive about this? What can I learn from this? What can I gain from this? How can this serve me?

If you persevere long enough, you will transform your experience of life's events – positive and negative. You will amplify the positive until it sticks like Velcro, and you will coat the negative in Teflon until it slips away from you like the proverbial water off a duck's back. If that doesn't work... hit it with the frying pan!

Quackers, I know, but worth a go!

A Moodscope member.

[Velcro and Teflon are, of course, Registered Trademarks – used here with respect!]

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

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Three boxes Sunday December 8, 2019

My illness means I live in dread of chaos/lethargy taking over. In both states I lose things, lose track of money, lose my presence to the state where I lose touch with reality. So this last time I've emerged determined to set things in place to support me through the next time, (my hope is there won't be one, my experience... there usually is), so with this in mind I have bought 3 boxes.

They are cheap, wooden and practical. One lives in the kitchen, one in the living room and one in my bedroom. Everything goes in them at the end of the day, all those bits of paper, bills, hair ties, dead tissues, everything swept into the boxes, on Fridays I clear them.

Everything back in its place. If I am down, that Friday maybe two weeks away but still everything goes in at the end of the day, well most days! In 2 months this has meant I have lost track of very few things, my stress is reduced, my home not so overwhelming and having 3 Clear boxes does wonders for my confidence. No, not fool proof but a good game to play.

What do you do to prepare for the next time?

A Moodscope member.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Salt Water Mum
A Moodscope member.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Moodscope member.

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Nihilism or not? Thursday December 5, 2019

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

What's the point?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Moodscope member.

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

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Anchorage Wednesday December 4, 2019

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

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

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

This is the method:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Moodscope member.

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

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Sticking to the point Tuesday December 3, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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

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Batteries Not Included Monday December 2, 2019

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

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

Life's a bit like that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Moodscope member.

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

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Magical thinking Sunday December 1, 2019

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

What is it you want?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Moodscope member.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Moodscope member.

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

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Associations Friday November 29, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Moodscope member.

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

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Feeling like a fraud Thursday November 28, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am interested in what you think.

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

What were the circumstances, and how did you cope?

A Moodscope member

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

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