The Moodscope Blog



Learning never stops Saturday August 17, 2019

I have lived for many years between highs and lows. It was years before I identified these, thanks to good friends who had the courage to be honest with me. One once said "I find you easier when you're depressed any day" and I had always thought how being outward and energetic was so much easier for friends to deal with.

I learnt that some friends could cope whilst they were single but not once they had a family, my up energy disturbing the routine of their lives, already difficult with small children.

I've learnt that friends have their time with me and it's ok if they need to take space.

I've learnt to read my own behaviour and take myself to quieter places when my energy runs high.

I've learnt to phone the samaritans for support, not just on extreme days.

Through commitment to counselling I can reflect and make good decisions. I have learnt to take responsibility for myself and my illness.

A friend asked if I could take a pill that would take my illness away, would I. I replied "I don't know, because this is who I am, where I am and what I am and that is a decision I don't have to consider today."

For today I have learnt enough to get by, may be tomorrow will be quiet or have a new strong learning that the world and it's reality brings. For now I have learnt enough to get by today.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Hello everyone... Friday August 16, 2019

I've not had a laptop for a while and, that coupled with being silly busy has meant I haven't been doing much on here. But you know what? I've missed you all! I really have. Yet despite not coming on here and reading all your blogs (gosh I have some very interesting catch-up reading to do), I can honestly say there hasn't been a day that I haven't thought of you all.

An emotion or thought would creep in and some of your names would instantly jump to mind - with a few wise words that I'd expect to hear from you! Whilst milking the goats I'd find myself telling them about you and some of your past blogs (which seemed to amuse them...) Clearing out more of Mum and Dad's papers (yes it still goes on) I thought of some of the many kind words of encouragement I've received from you. The other day Hubby and I were carrying all the wood into the woodshed (I'm sure many of you will remember how emotive it was to go ahead with the felling of the trees...) Well, as some of you suggested, we have looked into getting a carving done and hubby is also turning one into a bird table. Whilst still on the subject of the trees, we were sitting having a brew the other day and admiring the view. I remarked to Hubby that, as pointed out by members on here, we are now able to enjoy a view that was before obscured from us, silver lining to every cloud eh?

I smiled a few days ago, I was reading out a joke to my OH and as he was laughing I said "Yes, I miss my daily Moodscope joke" and guess what he answered... "so do I" haha because I invariably read that out to him also.

Yes wise words, laughter and encouragement – that's what I think of when I think of this fabulous group. Everyone showing understanding and feeling empathy for each other in a way few other groups can achieve; all expertly navigated by the wonderful Caroline (et al) and yes Caroline, I have thought of you often as well.

Yes I've missed you lot, and I shall enjoy reading through all I've missed.

Off to pop the kettle on now and begin catching up on what you've all been chatting about... :)

A Moodscope member.

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

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Is it really a good idea to have any expectations? Thursday August 15, 2019

This is a question I posed to myself whilst waiting for my flight home. My sleep-deprivation undeniably sparked a pensive mood within me; a question that I asked myself after getting off the phone to my boyfriend.

What if we have a less-than-touching reunion? My anxious brain panicked. I had this idea, I suppose you could almost call it a fantasy, in my head of us reuniting at the airport. Would he give me a long, warm hug and a passionate kiss? Or would it be a quick hug and a peck on the cheek?

The thought of the latter happening filled me with dread, and despair. I didn't want that kind of reunion. Then again, if we set up idealistic, or even realistic, expectations in our heads, are we just setting ourselves up for failure?

The thing is, thinking about it made me worried. I knew that if he came to meet me and it was anything less than romantic and affectionate, that I'd be bitterly disappointed and possibly a bit resentful towards him. I don't want to feel that way; after all, it's not his fault if he doesn't meet the expectations that I set up for him in my head.

But... if not his fault, then whose? Is it mine for setting up any expectations in the first place? Or is it rather a case that no one at all is to blame?

On the other hand, surely it's good to have some expectations in life? Having hope for how something, or someone, will turn out enables us to have some awareness of what's coming. This way, we're not completely blindsided by that something (or someone).

And yet... we still get disappointed and frustrated when things don't pan out the way we hoped.

So... am I completely irrational? Or am I making a mountain out of a molehill?

I'm actually amazed at myself that I somehow managed to in-still a feeling of nervousness and dread in to our reunion. I didn't want it to be mediocre, or not special. I want the long bear-hug. I want the passionate kiss.

All in all, is it a good idea to set expectations?

A Moodscope member.

(foot note: our reunion at the airport was very sweet and affectionate!)

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

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Facing Loss! Wednesday August 14, 2019

"Mummy, I want an iPhone."

That was a year ago. My daughter's basic, "Going to Big School" phone had died, and needed to be replaced with something with something more sophisticated. An iPhone, however, was not in the budget.

So began the negotiations.

She is a good negotiator, my daughter. She found a reputable site selling reconditioned iPhones and we agreed we would contribute our original budget and she would make up the difference from her allowance.

So, she got her iPhone – which yesterday, she dropped into the harbour - into three meters of muddy salt water. There was no hope of recovery.

She is probably lucky that this is the worst thing that has happened to her in fourteen years, but that was no comfort; she was devastated. Not just at the loss of her phone – but at her own carelessness in so losing it. She had just forgotten it was in her pocket when she leapt onto the jetty. She was incensed with herself; so much so there was no point in lecturing her on the importance of caring for her possessions: she was far too busy delivering the lecture herself, and with far more invective that ever I could possibly have managed.

But what has come from this disaster has been wonderful. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and the "village" where we stay in the Summer has rallied round. As her mother I could not break through her bitter self-reproaches, but a family friend a few doors down was able to calm her with wisdom and common sense. Her godfather called to offer support and financial assistance. A couple of "early birthday presents" were offered, and an almost stranger offered a contribution. Her father comforted her with the thought that she has joined an exclusive club, as both he and an honorary uncle have both lost phones to the sea.

I was really proud of her. She was racing with the cadets yesterday morning, immediately after this loss. She and her crew got a terrible start and almost immediately fell foul of the wind and tide, going aground. Despite this, she was determined to enjoy herself and spent the rest of the race singing songs and sailing as well as she could – eventually coming in 15th of 19. I would have proud even if she had been last – as she sailed to the best of her ability and she had fun.

We all face disasters in life. If we are lucky, they are disasters of material loss only. Too often they are human losses – on Sunday the road to our community was closed because two young men had died in a car crash. That puts the loss of a phone into perspective.

Courage in facing loss is comparative. Real courage, whatever the loss, is accepting that loss, accepting comfort and assistance and singing songs into the wind as you trim your sails and sail as well as you can.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Decluttering Tuesday August 13, 2019

This week has been crazy. Delivering training for 3 days has put me outside my comfort zone and stretched me as someone who is naturally a complete introvert.

Alongside that I have had to juggle additional childcare for kids, doggie care for dog and try and keep up with the day job,

Along with making a massive faux pas which has rocked me to the core.

So I find that this has led me wanting to declutter. Something unusual as I am quite comfortable with a level of untidiness and junk that others would not tolerate.

I have had to pull on the resources I have to hand to get me through the week including my patient Mum and very kind listening ear of new partner.

I was picking redcurrants and weeding at 8.30am, tidying my cupboards out at 10.30am.

So why this frenetic activity? In the background my children's grandfather/my father in law is very poorly, work is ramping up and I am feeling the demands are just too much.

I seek solace in my garden, good friends, and pottery classes.

I have a tidier house and I am one step closer to dealing with this crazy life.

I could be hiding under my duvet...(maybe later) but for now it's a sunny day, I have coffee and I will let deal with what I can.

Do you ever find yourself rushing round? How do you slow yourself down?

A Moodscope member.

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

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You Are My Hero Monday August 12, 2019

Yes, I know most Moodscopers are going to think, "Yeah, Right!" So, I'm going to ask you to stay with this adventure for a few more minutes until you believe you're a hero too.

Heroes don't start out as heroes. They go on a journey to become what they could be. They are normal people who face great danger. Doesn't that sound a bit more like you?

Every hero-in-the-making has NEVER made it on their own. Every single one of them has been found by a Guide... and sometimes more than one guide! Luke Skywalker was a frustrated farm boy, wanting to get off-planet and have a life of adventure. He could see no way of doing this.

If you can see now way out of your frustrating circumstances, start looking out for the Guide – they are out there looking for you. You need a Guide with a map, a plan, some resources. Luke was found in one of his darkest moments by Obi-Wan, and Obi-Wan introduced Luke to his bigger destiny – to become a Jedi and get to know the resources of the Force. Obi-Wan gave Luke direction, as all good Guides do.

And Obi-Wan introduced Luke to the next Guide on his hero's journey: Yoda.

There are three more elements on the journey. No hero becomes the hero without something really painful happening – sometimes time and time again. Luke lost his guardians when they and the home were destroyed by the evil Empire. Something had to change. Now does this feel more real? You and I wouldn't be in this community unless the bad stuff had already happened. Bad stuff is still happening, and it could get worse.

The trauma is the trigger.

But we have a choice. Luke could have gone back to the farm and rebuilt it. It would never have been the same, but he could have gone back to the past way of being. If he'd done this, the Empire would have won, and the Rebel Forces crushed. Eventually, Luke would have lost the farm again too as the Empire destroyed everything.

For the hero in you, there is no going back. Luke went forward with the help of his Guides. He found his tribes (the Rebel Alliance and the Jedi), and even got help from unlikely strangers (Han Solo and Chewy). BUT he had to take action.

The results were amazing, but the journey was hard, painful, and with much loss. The end was better and ultimately worth it.

You are a Hero... almost. Moodscope is one of your Guides – a tribe of guides, in fact! You're in an amazing position because there's a different Guide every day through the blog. Your Moodscope score is the measure of the Force! Your traumas are real. And we all know that if we don't take action, it's not going to get better. Therefore, I want to stir us all up today to do three things.

1) To be open to new Guides in our lives – when the Hero is ready the Guide will appear.

2) To take the action the Guide suggests – trust the process, follow the plan.

3) To BE the Guide to someone else. You've been there, done that, survived. You know stuff – stuff that can help others. Blog!

And to finish with some final great news: the Hero is NEVER perfect; neither is the Guide. Just be yourself, stay open to becoming the Hero of your own story, and be the Guide for someone else's.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Have travel cot, will shower Sunday August 11, 2019

When my twins were babies, I'd often resort to popping them safely inside a travel cot with mesh sides, beside the bathroom door, so I could have a shower. It was the safest place to put them. Even when they were crawling, pulling up and beyond, it felt safer than the alternative. This evening that memory came back.

We've had a trampoline for some time. It's a good one and it was not cheap. It has been the best investment I've ever made. Lately, I made another savvy investment. A bench.

I worked physically hard today. (As a wee sideline, I notice the harder I work physically the less I spend mentally.) Before I came indoors to cook, I took ten minutes. Just ten. I sat on the new bench, wiped dry from the spots of rain with the arm of my garden jacket. Since there were real teenagers having a great time together on the trampoline, without arguing and without phones, I realised I needed to grasp that moment and enjoy it fully. And so I did. It gave me the biggest beaming smile to watch as I realised they were still exactly where they were as babies, inside a mesh sided contraption holding them safe. I had my chuckle. I watched, witnessed and replied where needed. I think I'm doing ok. Better than I think sometimes.

My own key seems to be to break life into tiny pieces and try to deal with those pieces one by one and its also in knowing when to sit in the rain and be thankful for the moment.

I'm going to log my scores. Let's see where we're at today. I will if you will.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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

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It's OK to not be OK 100% of the time Saturday August 10, 2019

I have never really considered writing about my experiences with anxiety until I started reading the blogs on Moodscope. These blogs have really helped me over the past twelve months to put how I have been feeling into perspective and that, "it's ok not to be ok".

I have always been a bit of a people pleaser, as seeing other people happy makes me feel happy. Having anxiety, I have found that this has been more and more difficult for me to do and if I am honest, that is probably not a bad thing. I have found that I think about how situations now affect me rather than how it will affect them if I don't go to a party or gathering.

As long as I can remember I have always suffered with low moods and a few years ago I had my first bout of depression. It was awful, especially as people who didn't understand told me to "pull my socks up and get on with it". Funny how those same people when going through a similar thing and their whole attitude changed. About twelve months ago, I had my second bout of depression but it didn't come alone, it had a new friend called Anxiety! I could cope with the depression, been there done that, but the anxiety feelings were dreadful – like someone giving me a bear hug or an elephant sitting on my chest. I kept it to myself, I didn't really tell anyone in work or family and friends. It has taken me a while to come to terms with the fact that I have anxiety, and I am a little more open about it and don't feel so ashamed, which I had done previously when it all had started. I put this down to being because I am the one that everyone comes to with their problems and I couldn't deal with my own never mind theirs.

I have been very lucky in getting through this, I have a good manager who understands that there are days when I am not good and that I may need to go for a walk or plug into music when things get a little overwhelming. My small group of friends know when to push me a little to go out with them and they do it in a way that I don't always recognise that they are doing it – it is like they go into stealth mode!! I think by having these positive people around, that may not fully understand how I feel, but accept that I feel anxious has definitely helped me, together with accepting that "it's ok not to be ok" 100% of the time.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Therapy Friday August 9, 2019

About 10 years ago, when the black dog was smothering me and all I could think about was running away, I finally took myself to the GP. He referred me for counselling. Six sessions later, and feeling no better, the counsellor looked at me sadly and said "You have a lot of issues. You need more help.". And then threw me back out into my very ugly world.

So I found a private counsellor. He sat, he listened, but he gave nothing back. This was his style. But after a few sessions I felt we were getting nowhere. So I stopped.

A year or two later, and somehow even lower, I found another counsellor. After a few sessions I could tell this one wasn't going to help either. So I stopped again.

"Counselling doesn't help me" I thought. "You're beyond help" said the voices. So I didn't try again.

Years later, I was confessing to a good friend how hard I was still finding things, and she encouraged me to try again.

This time I found a counsellor with a different approach. She listens, she probes, she understands, and she tells me back what I've just told her so I can hear it myself. Her approach clicked. We clicked. And so I kept seeing her.

With my counsellor's help I have realised things I would never have realised on my own; and I now know myself far better than I did before. It has been painful. At the beginning I was terrified of crying because I thought if I started I would never stop. But I did cry, and I did stop crying. That room has become my private space to say the unsayable, to feel the unfeelable, to stare my demons in the face, release their power over me and moved on. I have found clarity, understanding and peace that I never thought possible.

I tell you this, dear Moodscopers, in the hope that my story may encourage others who are considering help. Or those who may have tried it and found it not to help. It can be exceptionally painful, but I truly believe that with the right person it does work.

With love and peace

A Moodscope member.

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

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The state of the world Thursday August 8, 2019

I'm having a bad day. I haven't had one in a while and I had forgotten just how bad it can be. When you feel like everything in the world is awful and life will never be good again.

At the moment it's a mix of things bringing me down, I have a lot going on in my personal life which I can usually manage most days, but sometimes it's the wider world that makes it all so overwhelming.

I know these bogs aren't supposed to be political, but at the moment the state of the world is making me despair. I work in news so I hear every day about terrible things that are happening all over the world, and while you do become a bit desensitised to it, some days it just all gets too much. Today it was the shootings in America. I can't stop thinking about all those people who were killed and questioning how there can be such evil at all levels of society in every corner of this world.

It makes me want to curl up under my duvet like a little child and hide from everyone and pretend none of it exists. How can we go about solving the world's problems? Surely it's too big a task for one person – and yet someone has to do something about it or how will we ever get out of this mess? Should I be doing more to try and right the wrongs of the world? Or is that a job for someone else?

The way I try to look at things (and it's much harder to do this on days like today) is that there is only so much one average person can do. There have been people throughout history, and people alive today, who are forces for change and work tirelessly to make the world a better place. I am not one of these people. What I can do it try to make life easier and happier for the small group of people around me (and myself!) by bringing as much light to the world as I am able to. When my dog greets me at the door when I get home from a harrowing shift, it makes me realise I am making a difference and bringing happiness to one life at least.

Not everyone can change the world, and sometimes it's okay to be average.

Lucy H
A Moodscope member.

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

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Getting Good Wednesday August 7, 2019

I think, although please don't count and tell me I'm wrong, that this is the 350th blog I have written for Moodscope. That's 175,000 words. Okay, so it's not quite the 292,727 words of Game of Thrones, but it's a goodly amount nevertheless.

In the same period, I've written blogs on style and fashion and two – almost three – novels.

When you start something, you're not very good at it. My first novel wasn't my first novel at all. My first novel was written when I was twelve and floundered in chapter three. My second, third, fourth, fifth etc novels all petered out around chapter five. I don't know how many unfinished novels I have in the loft and I don't want to know. One day I will throw them all out, unread.

I even managed to finish that first novel without realising that I didn't know how to write! But I knew I wanted to be good. I want to be a good writer – and that meant learning my craft and practising it.

They say there are four stages of learning. The first stage is unconscious incompetence. So – for instance, before you learn to drive a car, you don't know that you can't drive. Then you have your first driving lesson and find that you absolutely cannot drive: that is conscious incompetence. You continue to take the lessons and pass your test, but still need to concentrate fully when driving: that is conscious competence. Then after some time, you will find that you have driven from your friend's house to your home and cannot remember a thing about it because you were totally absorbed in a radio programme. That is unconscious competence

There is a saying that you must spend 10,000 hours practising before you become a master. I don't know: I think some people have naturally more talent than others. For instance, I am very sure I could spend 10,000 hideous hours playing tennis and still have a hole in my racket where the ball goes through! I have no aptitude for tennis and no interest in it either!

It's the interest that drives you to keep getting better.

For those of us who suffer with depression, this interest can wax and wane. Depression takes away the desire for almost everything – it is emotional paralysis.

Then we berate ourselves for not practising our music, or our art or our sport or (yes) our writing.

But – we couldn't pay tennis with a broken leg – and nor can we be creative with a broken mind. We must heal, and accept the time that healing takes.

We can get good, we can master our sport, our art, our craft. But it might take longer for us to put in that 10,000 hours.

Let's not feel guilty. That sport, art, craft will wait for us.

As for my writing - there is always so much more to learn. So, most of the time – I'm consciously incompetent – and I practise here!

A Moodscope member.

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

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Why me? Tuesday August 6, 2019

What has caused my mental health problems that have blighted my life?

Was I born with a tendency to have mental health problems? If so why, because I am not aware of any history of mental health issues in my family. Then again, such problems were not spoken openly about and under diagnosed, so there could have been. My daughter also suffers, but is this nurture or nature?

Was it because I was shy. As a child I was clingy and I still don't like large gatherings. However, I did have a managerial role involving public speaking. My ability to cope with this role varied depending on if I was on a high or low. When low, other staff helped and when in the office left me alone to come out of it. When high I relished the public speaking and often interrupted colleagues when they were wanting to concentrate by chatting incessantly. Am I an introvert compensating with stressful effort to impress others?

Was it the lack of physical affection as a child. I knew I was loved but no cuddles. Was it the sexual abuse when I was 9 by a relative? I have had talking therapy for this but perhaps the damage was permanently etched into my inner child?

Will I ever be free? I have come to terms with the medication, rather like a diabetic accepts lifelong insulin. I do all of the self help strategies which I have found helps. Despite this, depression keeps creeping up on me like a black rain cloud that drifts over me, sometimes I can see it approaching, sometimes I just wake and it's there.

Do you have any theories about 'Why you' and like me, do you become angry about the unfairness of it?

Having said that, sometimes I think it's worth suffering the darkness if the cloud, to appreciate the glorious sunshine of the high.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Because Monday August 5, 2019

Yesterday, I caught my side against a chunk of rusty metal as I was bringing in the bins. My mind instantly instructed me that this was because I was 'clumsy'. "Interesting!" I thought.

Life is not the way I want, nor the way I thought it would turn out. My mind tells me this is because I am 'stupid'. It has also volunteered other unwanted reasons for my circumstances such as I am, in its opinion, 'lazy' and 'fat'! In fact, I can't remember the last time it said anything nice to me.

If my mind was a friend, it would soon be an ex-friend.

Let's be clear. This is MY mind. It's part of me and is the sum of the patterns of thinking I've practiced for 58 years. It is my problem, and, therefore, I am the solution. I can change my mind.

It's going to take time – a lot of time – but I am beginning with that one word, "Because."

Why did I hurt my side on the rusty metal? It was because I was carefully negotiating the passage of the bins through the gate and didn't see the danger. It was not because I was clumsy, it was because I simply didn't see. I was, in fact, being diligent and thoughtful because that's the way I am.

My circumstances are the way they are mainly because of poor choices I've made... and that's good news. I have a million choices ahead of me – better choices that I can make, and they will make all the difference. I'm not in control of everything, but I am in control of more than I realise or give myself credit for.

I will improve my circumstances because I have learned much over the years.

I have learned much over the years because I am becoming wiser.

I will become slimmer and more healthy because I will exercise more.

I will become even more wise because I am still learning, and learning is exponential.

And I will be kinder to myself because I am worth it.

"Because," means to 'Be' the 'Cause' – so be the cause of something better.

Be the cause of something wonderful in your life today. Be kind to yourself because you're worth it. Write in the comments some of the encouraging words you say to yourself so that we may be encouraged too. I want to see the good things you say about yourself.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Things people have said to me Sunday August 4, 2019

My cousin told me once I should never wear pink, I was pregnant at the time and loved the dress but have never worn pink since.(30 years ago)

At a workshop once, one of the evaluations was that one woman talked too much and took over. So I always try to be quiet at seminars and meetings because I thought the writer must have been talking about me.

Someone told me at a poetry workshop that my poems were banal and lacked any clever ideas. Firstly I cried in the bathroom then I decided I would never write any poems and I did not for over 20 years after that.

My father was told by a teacher that he could not draw a straight line and he believed that all his life.

A friend was told she was not academic and should leave school early. She believed this for nearly 25 years then she went back to study after one person said to her she would make a great teacher. She taught for a while then ended up as a school counsellor.

People can say things to us both positive and negative and their words can affect us for a lifetime or a short time.

What things have people spoken to you that have affected you in either a positive or negative way?

Has something been said to you that you have found hard to forget and/or forgive?

Maybe I will forget my cousin's words one day and be bold enough to wear pink.

Watch this space.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Paintbrush down Saturday August 3, 2019

Today I let a friendship go. In hindsight, it was over due. Being a bit of a "hope-junkie," or wishful thinker, I extended the course of this ill fated relationship. All the spectrum of an abuser was present, but maybe they were not having a good day I said to myself. Several times.

Growing up, counting on caustic, acrimonious adults for your survival still makes it a foreign concept to punt someone for their mistreatment. Maybe some good could be derived from this contact. Of course there were positives. Better the slap of a friend than the kiss of an enemy, the Bible says.

You can't talk about him anymore she said. Because I don't like to hear it. It only brings ME down. Yet she had asked how the court case was going.

It had happened before. Share what benefits ME. Let ME turn this into something about ME. You should handle life like I DO. You are so negative. You should not be like that. Blah blah etc.

Well today the child inside me stood up. Enough is enough. I deserve better and I won't accept less.

"Oh" she said. But it's just that you are like a daughter to me and you are so beautiful and it pains me to see you like this.

It pained me to be batted around like an emotional pinball, one day a topic was alright to discuss. The next day it was not, even as an answer to a question. Typical abuser I said to myself. Bait and switch. Shame and blame. Then the sweet talk. Manipulation.
A wise individual once said;" Once someone shows you their true colors don't try to repaint them."

Essentially, I am looking for a friend whose flaws and strengths compliment mine and vice versa. Authenticity and acceptance both need apply.

The list of friends has been shrinking, not growing as I grow older. I had imagined gathering social-circle momentum as life rolled me downhill. Instead it is becoming more evident that less is more. Less social contacts mean I tolerate less negatives and the ones I keep are more precious. And I can live with that.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Admitting you have a problem Friday August 2, 2019

It's December 18th – several people close to me have said they don't think I am coping. But I feel fine, at least I think I feel fine - because my feelings usually get processed by my brain not my body.

But I need to do something different, having been round this circle more times than I can count, 'pushing on through' - as the family saying goes - getting things done despite not feeling great.

So I see my Manager at work to say "I think I'm not coping", with my fingers crossed behind my back so the lie doesn't count and the voice in my head saying "... but really I am".

After four months off work, dealing with 'low mood', de-stressing and officially diagnosed with recurring depression, I was prepared to admit I had a problem. The evidence of new SSRI-induced mania, relaxing walks in the woods and daily morning Tai Chi showed me the old creativity and productiveness I used to feel so much more often.

I am now back at work full-time, taking a more relaxed approach to work, not making every minute of every work day count as 'billable' work. I am not eating at my desk, and I take time to chat to colleagues about whatever... and still count it as part of the working day.

But do I still believe I have a problem, or ever really had one? I have the feeling I am still in the first stages of grief... about not being able to do everything I feel I want to, and allowing myself to fail at somethings in life.

How easy is it for you to admit you have a problem?

Just some guy you know
Moodscope member.

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Seeing things Thursday August 1, 2019

I was discombobulated. A recent afternoon, Spock and I at the dog rescue charity... We took a dog into the woodland, unleashed to enjoy some freedom. Next task was to bring another dog in, to assess their reactions. Spock went to get the next one. They have to be on leads for introductions, so I watched out for his return. Then he appeared, walking down the,long track, bright blue jumper, baseball cap. I walked away to put the lead on my staffie, looked round, Spock was now coming through the gate behind me. I glanced at my dog, looked back, no one there.

The track was empty. He eventually reappeared, having been delayed.

My first fear was this was a premonition. The morning before my grandmother in Ireland had died, a lady came into my bedroom while I was playing, spoke to me and then disappeared. I was six, and had only met her once, when taken to Ireland as a newborn. I was shown a photo, and instantly recognised her. Later that day the telegram arrived.

Spock still very much alive next day, so then I started thinking - dementia, schizophrenia, brain tumour? I was due an eye test that week. No change to my prescription, healthy eyes.

I have tried not to brood on it, but a meeting last week gave me another possible explanation.

I was reading to a new blind friend Sid. He told me that his blindness was due to macular degeneration. I learned something new.

He has an associated condition, apparently experienced by a small proportion of macular patients, Charles Bonnet syndrome. He sees people and buildings that are not there, and geometrical shapes. The people are usually wearing Victorian dress, often mourning garments. The buildings are not famous ones, sometimes just the skeletons or scaffolds.

His background is electronics, he worked on the first independent television broadcasts in the UK. Using his knowledge of how television images are formed, he has trained his brain to fill in the gaps in his vision, enabling him to see more, and he can enjoy some television programmes again.

In his own words "As a young man I was interested in the experiments of Professor Theodor Erisman, using goggles with mirrors, using alien scenes to show how the brain adapts and reconstructs what it sees. It occurred to me that I could instruct my visual cortex to emulate digital TV circuitry, using elements of my sight microseconds before a gap in my sight. I now rarely have Bonnet images, but I "see" complete scenes."

I was expecting to see Spock that day, and I am wondering if something in my brain reacted to that expectation? Obviously I did not knowingly "instruct" my brain to conjure up this picture, and there was clearly some unusual, but not necessarily worrying, activity going on in my head.

Next time I meet Sid I am going to quiz him, how does he instruct his visual cortex? The possibilities are fascinating. But what about you, does your brain play tricks with you, have you had anything like this happen?

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Cooking and Gratitude Wednesday July 31, 2019

One of my first memories is cooking with my mother. We had been reading "Mistress Tibble Makes Mouse Pies" and I wanted to make mouse pies too.

My mother decided that Scotch pancakes (like American pancakes) would be the easiest thing to make, and so we mixed flour and eggs and milk and carefully ladled the batter onto the slow plate of the Aga, flipping them when the bubbles rose, and the bottoms were a delicious golden brown. Then we ate them hot with butter dripping off the sides: utterly delicious.

Scotch pancakes have been known as mouse pies in my house ever since – to the bemusement (and slight worry) of any guests.

Living on a farm, feeding three hungry men and three even hungrier children, my mother did a lot of cooking, and of course, being the eldest child, I cooked too. Then there was Miss Booth, my "Domestic Science" teacher, who taught me the arcane secrets of flaky, puff and choux pastry. Oh, and stuffed liver too, but that recipe is perhaps best forgotten!

My point is that I grew up cooking. My husband is still amazed when I can throw together a sponge cake and have it in the oven inside ten minutes and on the table – still warm and with the jam melting inside – in under an hour. But I don't have to think about it; the knowledge and muscle memory is in my head; the ingredients are always in the cupboard; it's easy.

Now it's summer again, and Activity Week for the sailing cadets. Every year there seem to be more of them along the sea wall. This year there are fourteen and I've offered to cook for them all.

Other parents volunteer with boats and games and herding the children from one activity to another. I'm not very good with that: I don't socialise well and get stressed in crowds, but I can cook.

More difficult than cooking is coping with the gratitude from other parents. "Look," I say. "You have ferried my child over to the sailing club. You have helped her rig the boat and dived in with the organisation of sixty-seven children. I've just had a lovely quiet day cooking."

Cooking comes easily to me, but it doesn't to everyone. I am learning to value the gift I give, because others value it.

We all have gifts to contribute to the world. We often don't value those gifts ourselves because they come so easily. My friend Helen can wrangle half a dozen toddlers with one hand tied behind her back, whereas I would run screaming. Eric can fix anything: he just has a knack for seeing what is broken and how to mend it. Judith can run a committee meeting so that everything is discussed, decisions are made and the meeting ends of time! I am in awe of all these skills.

You have skills too. Please value what you have to give and give generously.

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Coping Techniques for Stress and Anxiety Tuesday July 30, 2019

It's very easy nowadays to get overwhelmed. I know very well how paralysing anxiety, stress, depression can be. But I have learned many techniques through therapy, friends, meditation etc which have helped me to cope and I'm happy to share these with you now and hope they work just as well!

Just breathe - It seems a very silly and simple thing to say but taking deep breaths calms your body and mind and gives you something to focus on. Count your breathes in and out, making your outbreath a little longer and this will signal to your body to relax.

Meditate - Like breathing, meditation is a great way to practise calming your mind and taking yourself elsewhere. Yes, it's tough at first to empty your mind but try using a guided meditation app like Headspace or Calm to start out.

Do your times tables - Not talking an easy 2 times table, try 8 or 9 timetables. This will get you concentrating on something else, distracting you from negative thoughts. And maybe even improve your math skills

Puzzles! - Similar to step 2. Puzzles in particular are good as they work on your cognitive mind so all your attention goes to the activity and away from negative thoughts. Some of my favourites are Sudoku or Picross.

Exercise - It increases serotonin levels making you feel better and will make you a healthier person in mind and body. You don't have to slog it out at the gym, just a walk outside is good. Plus getting in more sunlight will help your mood.

Write it down - Like most people my mind seems to go a mile a minute when I'm trying to sleep. One great tip I highly recommend; have a notebook by your bed to write down any worries. That way you can put them somewhere and forget about them until the morning. Also writing down positive things that have happened to refer to in the future when you're feeling down or even doodling can give you a creative way to work out your stress.

Talk to someone - So very hard to do but so very rewarding. I believe everyone can benefit from at least one session with a therapist or counsellor. Even talking to a friend or member of the family will help unburden you.

Pamper yourself - Whether it's soaking in a lushly scented bath with a bowl of ice cream, painting your nails, soaking your feet or just spending time by yourself however you enjoy it, it's important to have me-time to relax. Down time is very important for health and you should never feel guilty about taking some time off for yourself.

I hope these come in useful and prove that there are many ways that you can take care of yourself, even when it feels impossible. Do you have any other methods? Tried any of the above? Please do share and take care of yourselves.

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Chapter and Verse Monday July 29, 2019

One of the small ways we oil the gears of harmony here in Penny's house is through consistent acts of kindness. Penny works for ASDA and rises at 4.15 am on work days for her shift. My simple service is to rise with her (trust me, I don't often stay up!) to make her my special coffee. It seems to be my forte. She calls me, "Barista Boy," and, as a tip, she'll leave a daily note of appreciation.

Since this has gone on for years, the creative challenge of leaving a different note each day is no mean feat. Mine is the easy part – to deliver consistently good coffee! Rinse and repeat. Mine has to be the same every day – no creativity necessary (or welcome!) She relies upon the reliable result of consistent coffee.

Rather than these notes taxing Penny's creativity, I've seen her creative genius grow over the years – like a muscle that has grown stronger with consistent exercise. A couple of weeks ago she drew her note of appreciation and marked it, "Penelope #:##," where the hashtags were a couple of significant numbers for her. I understood the numbers, but she realised I hadn't understood the full significance of the structure – [Name] followed by [number] [semi-colon] [number].

To help me have the 'Aha!' moment she was aiming for, she explained it was like a book of the Bible followed by Chapter and Verse. (Penny doesn't do the Bible thing, hence my not understanding the significance originally.) I suddenly had a much more massive 'Aha!' moment than she intended.

I said to her, "This is genius! Imagine writing your own book, with chapter and verse, to share the wisdom you've gained over life, at such high a cost!" Penny is very wise. I think the idea had been brewing for a few years because I've seen Penny's frustration at having family history photos that haven't been labelled. We've also lost family members before we could find out more about their life, their wisdom, their experience. We've lost vital information and insights.

What a GREAT publishing challenge! To take your life and write it out, chapter and verse! Chapters could be themed. For example, we've relatives that lived through at least the Second World War and experienced the Evacuation and Rationing. They learned stuff the hard way! Alternatively, you and I could take a theme like, "Relationships," as a chapter heading.

OK, let's pause for a moment because I know some of you are thinking, "Lex, that's far too big a task, and I don't have the energy... or the time." Relax. Penny is popping out one idea a day. Just one. She may never 'publish' these to the world but she's being creative, productive, and I appreciate every note.

Thus, my challenge is a deep one but a small one. I'm going to ask you to share just one gem of wisdom you've learned over the years. I'll share just one too: "Life is a package deal." I remember being envious of a friend's house, job, car, lifestyle... Then I looked at his kids (who needed 'attention') and realised that I couldn't have his life without the package that went with it. This set me free from the jealousy and envy. Nowadays, I can't imagine anyone wanting my life but I do – for better for worse – I wouldn't want to be anyone else.

Now, I'm curious... I'm leaning towards to the computer to catch your first gems to be shared today...

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