The Moodscope Blog



Singing in the rain Thursday February 21, 2019

Singing in the rain

Our friend and Moodscope member Rachel Kelly has written today's blog for us. Rachel is a writer and mental health campaigner and has just published her latest book, Singing in the Rain: An inspirational Workbook, published by Short Books...

I remember the sense of elation I felt when I first started using Moodscope's tools to track my own mood around five years ago. And the reason was simple. I was in charge!

After years of waiting for experts, be they psychiatrist or therapists to assess the extent of my problems and state of mood, I could get cracking without waiting for permission from anyone else. This sense of my own agency, and that I had a role in my own recovery, was profoundly empowering.

This insight is the basis for my current approach to managing my own mental health. Every day I remind myself that I can make a difference. This begins as soon as I wake.

The first thing I do is to make my bed, the white duvet perfectly aligned and my pillows plumped. A small gesture to be sure, but one that reminds me that if I take control of small decisions in this way I will feel my own power to affect larger decisions.

In addition, I can take care with the language I use to myself and to others. Instead of saying 'I'm at the mercy of my depression' I might say 'I can choose how to respond to my low mood'. Or instead of saying 'I can't deal with this stress and worry', I might say 'I can't deal with this stress and worry yet.'

This approach has led to the creation of Singing in the Rain, a practical workbook of ideas and exercises for readers to complete. There is a place in my day for thinking and reflection, but I've found that while pondering often makes me sad, doing rarely does. With the help of mental health nurses, psychologists and psychiatrists, we have developed practical steps you can take to feel empowered, be it writing an appreciation letter, cooking with your mental health in mind, or composing a poem to process difficult feelings. And while the experts helped the devise the book, they don't need to be there for you to complete the steps within.

All well and good but some of you may be thinking - well, that's all very well but I don't feel up to completing a workbook. I understand. They were days when I too could hardly get out of bed in my long battle with depression.

With this in mind, the book is structured in four parts, the first thirteen steps being ones that are relatively easy to adopt and only gradually do the steps become a bit more challenging. In the first section you will find easy to adopt breathing exercises as well as ways to relax physically, while as the book progresses there exercises to lessen perfectionism and to help you find a sense of purpose.

It is for you to reject or adopt the strategies as you see fit, at the pace that suits you. I hope I never forget who is in charge.

A Moodscope member

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

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The Journey and the Destination Wednesday February 20, 2019

I was talking to my young friend Richard on Sunday, sitting in the house by the sea, waves dazzling blue behind me.

"I've found a great way to travel!" he said. "Totally carbon neutral! Did you know you can go almost anywhere by cargo ship!"

I looked it up: he's right. The website said: "Whether a Cargo ship has 1 or 101 passengers onboard, it will still sail and use just as much fuel, making your journey almost completely 'carbon neutral'."

More to the point, it's the old-fashioned way to travel. It takes not five hours, but eleven days to get to New York from Liverpool; it's a journey. For Richard, it's the adventure of it all.

I thought of my recent journey to see a friend in Antwerp. My husband had offered to take me to the airport, but I had declined. I enjoyed trundling my little case down to the bus-stop, taking the bus to the railway station, catching a train to the airport. Yes, it took longer, and it probably cost more, but it made the trip to see my friend much more of an event. I enjoyed the whole journey.

As a writer I must plan my books as journeys. After all, "once-upon-a-time-lived-a-beautiful-princess-she-married-a-prince-and-lived-happily-ever-after," is not a story. If you analyse almost every successful story, whether a book or a film or a play, it follows a journey. The hero has a life which is disrupted in some way. He receives a "call to action." Very often he refuses to act until forced to. He then embarks upon his adventures, meeting various characters who will help him or hinder him. He will meet the villain, gain a small victory, then find the tables have been turned and he is facing utter defeat, before the final triumph and his return to what was his old life – except he has changed, so it is a new life after all.

The journey is not just that time between starting place and destination. It is the development of character and preparation for what will be found at that destination.

We know, from the moment we are born, our destination is death. Our life is the journey; and the journey is all we can know.

We might choose to believe our life is a preparation for what happens the other side of death, and – while it does no harm to cover all our bases there – none of us can really know what is the other side of that dark door.

We cannot necessarily choose our method or speed of travel. We cannot necessarily choose the manner of our conveyance. We can however, choose what we look at, or at least how we see it.

You might think travelling by cargo ship would be boring. But – as one reviewer says on the website – "The most amazing thing is the ever-changing colour of the sea."

Today the mists rolled in and the sea was grey. Still beautiful, though.

A Moodscope member.

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

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All the things I never did... Tuesday February 19, 2019

My O/H and I were having a difficult patch. At the commune where I went for Italian weekends they had a course on 'Technique for solving difficulties'. Might help. They were all women (except my O/H). Half of them were successful business women bitter because they were childless. The others were married with families, who considered that their decision had blocked them from achieving prominence in their pre-marital chosen field. Some of them had been attending the course for years.

Here on Moodscope there have been a lot of posts on awful childhoods and the handicap that causes. But looking back on three generations of friends, I can point to some who have 'failed'. They had happy childhoods, a good education, state or private, access to university (in the good old days of student grants). When they should have been working they were out with pals, involved with sport, just did not knuckle down to 'A' levels, so did not get into university. They just did not aspire to the opportunity that was offered.

I did all this in middle age, when I wanted degrees and had the mind-set to work for them – no way would I have had the impetus, even if encouraged, to do it earlier. So what, if it had been possible, would I like to have done?

To be an archaeologist, scraping with trowel and little brush to find some shard of a pot 5,000 years old. In the sun, of course, not the Outer Hebrides.

To ride dressage horses. I had a suitable horse, but at the beginning of training he became difficult (though beautiful). Before he would probably have killed me we discovered he had a tumour on the brain, and had to be put down. So sad, and I never rode again.

I had a great yen to run a restaurant. My O/H was, rightly, horrified. You get the ambience, the food, the adrenalin runs, and nobody turns up. Then, suddenly, 20 people arrive, and grumble at the slow service.

I always wanted to be slim, 'svelte'. Short-waisted, if I wore anything with a belt I was top-heavy. I made myself frilly dresses – thank heavens it was pre-Facebook - avoided the remarks on how awful I looked.

I love interior design, felt another 'yen' to do it professionally, but the customers are: spoiled, don't know what they want, and don't pay.

I would have liked to be a modern 'Capability Brown' designing on a grand scale – another 'yen' to design French roundabouts; there are some super ones on a 'theme'. Design a garden on a Provencal hillside. Live by the sea, in a sunny climate – all too expensive. No sporting instincts, and sadly lacking in team spirit.

To be a famous author still a hope, bit late. People really like my books, and have liked the hundreds of articles I've written, but finding a publisher hopeless.

What are/were your dreams? Not pie in the sky, but achievable?

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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

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Magic Words Monday February 18, 2019

Words have power – if we allow them to.

I love words.

I love the reaction they can produce.

It's like a 'Sleeper' in Spy Movies – the code word awakens the sleeper – and the sleeper must awaken!

Hypnotists appear to use trigger words to awaken a planned response.

It would be way too easy to share with you the words that elicit a bad response from me, but that's not what today's blog is about. This is a 'feel-good-blog' so we are going to share the words that make us feel great.

"Joy" is one such word.

It gives me tingles.

"Happiness" doesn't do it for me, "Joy" does.

My Name(s) do too – since both my first name, "Neil," and my reduced middle name, "Lex," are deeply significant to me. If you remember the story of Rumpelstiltskin, there is power in a name! Adam and Eve were supposed to express their dominion by naming all the animals.

I know that if I meet someone who has one of my favourite names, I am unfairly prejudiced in their favour! How silly is that? But how common?

So, to "Joy" I add "Peace". "Love" is overused, but "Grace" and "Hope" and "Kindness" are big hitters for me too. "Thoughtfulness" and "Books" are hot words.

I was fortunate enough to be treated to a Burgundy Wine Dinner at the luxurious Hotel du Vin last week. This was lavishness way beyond my current budget, and I was deeply appreciative of the experience. The company was good, and the conversation drifted onto "Control Words". These are code words that deep friends use to trigger an action - covertly. Since my friend will remain anonymous, I feel at liberty to share his control word. "Banana!" is code between him and his partner for when they need to make a graceful exit from a scenario. The key is to use the control word naturally within a sentence. Hilarious and yet rather special.

My request is for you to share some of your magic words... or perhaps just one. And I'd ask that you give us a little insight into why your magic word works – why it is significant – what the secret of its magic is. Thank you!

My belief is powerful: good words can break evil spells. If you have been going through an evil spell of depression, there may well be a breakthrough today.

I'll kick us off with "Samantha" because I fell in love with Samantha from "Bewitched" when I was very young... but perhaps it was just a spell...

A Moodscope member

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

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How do you feel? Sunday February 17, 2019

We have lots of previous posts about how other people feel and many of you have responded to them.

Today is all about you. How do you feel today?

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

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Switching off and starting again Saturday February 16, 2019

I am not very good with anything electrical, but I do have one trick and that I use with the computer. If all else fails, switch it off, wait a few minutes and reboot. It usually works.

I was wondering when we are having struggles and problems can we just switch off and start again.

For me switching off is going for a walk or going to bed and watching an old movie or just watching tv and relaxing.

I find restarting the hard bit, especially if I have been tired and very upset. The thought of restarting again can be daunting and overwhelming.

If I was a machine, I would just hit my start button, but for me, facing my problems again, even after a short break, is not easy.

What do we need to reboot and start again?

I need a change of environment, a change of pace, chocolate and to try to work out how to cope with the problems that caused me to switch off. Sometimes it may be easier to be a machine and have a switch off button.

Overthinking is always a problem for me. People have told me it may be effective if I 'take a break' from worrying and re-visit my problems the next day. However, while a break is good, my overthinking and problems are still the same just a day later.

I have read that changing your attitude towards stress takes time, so it can take many attempts before you begin to notice any changes. I keep trying but with no change.

What do you do when you need to switch off and start again? Does it work?

A Moodscope Member

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

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What Moodscope means to me Friday February 15, 2019


A safe space in which to confide an anxiety or feeling that others in your world might scoff at.

A platform to air a view or try out an idea.

A powerful way of connecting, whatever my mood.

Socialising without the nasty bits. You can dip, dip out, read and absorb and learn. You can hide away and nobody will know how you're feeling unless you want them to acknowledge it, and then you write details, and can be sure of warm support.

A daily virtual embrace.

Belonging to a caring, sharing community with daily input. Taking from it what you need at any one time.

A backlog of blog titles and opinions to revisit when you feel the need or have the energy.

Comradeship, a sense of "We're all in this together", and knowing that you won't be let down or reduced.

Respectful observations and comments.

Frustration! When your comment deletes, and you've run out of energy to repeat the whole process!!

Some cracking ideas!

Some "Why didn't I think of that before!" moments.

Valuable insights into others' lives, so that you are taken out of yourself.

Fun elements! Opportunities to break into a smile or a burst of laughter.

Surprise. Never ending surprise at how nice people on here are and what diverse skills they all have.

Just some off-the-cuff realisations of mine. What does Moodscope mean to you?

A Moodscope member.

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

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The Comparison Monster Thursday February 14, 2019

Ahh here he is again... he can smell rotting self-esteem for miles around. Thanks for coming when I wasn't expecting you. Like the black dog, he sits at your feet or claws at your weary legs... you're not good enough... not like her. She's more successful professionally... her other half waxes lyrical about her on Fakebook. Doesn't post up photos of her looking silly or less than perfect like mine does. She's got bigger boobs and a bank balance that's bound to be healthier than yours even though she shared one of those tiresome memes that said “I wish my bank balance was as big as my boobs”... what's the first thing that people are going to look at in your pictures?!

I wish I could find my anathema to the Comparison Monster to take me out of that narrow repetive destructive beat-up-box of thought and hover me above the situation. To know that not all you see is real on Fakebook... that it's set up primarily for many unaltruistic reasons... to hoover information up about you surreptitiously whilst attempting to sell you more products you don't need and to have “friends” that p*** you off on a semi-regular basis. It's a stalker's paradise. Fakebook is a good friend to the Comparison Monster with its airbrushing and contouring of the perfect life. But like the worst drugs, it's addictive.

Sadly this monster has sat on my shoulders or at my feet for most of my life even before albeit a simpler time pre social media, mobile phones and more sophisticated make-up techniques. I'm not sure how I shoo him away permanently like the ugly destructive thing he his. He shares a lot of characteristics with another monster... jealousy. The strange thing is I'm personally never jealous of my true friends... I bask in their success... I hurt if they hurt. The people I am jealous of or I compare myself with I have no real connection with. I don't know about their lives other than what they present to me. So there perhaps is my answer to the monster. It's like a glossy play or a film... but without the realistic or unattractive bits that many people have in a real, breathing normal life. They won't tell you about a screaming argument or a car driven off in a rage... or clearing up mess... human or animal... or the dinner that was eaten by the dog (I have had this!).

I know the logical side of me knows this already but when you are feeling low... this is when the monsters slink in through the back door. Strangely enough because I shared when I was feeling low on my own Facebook page, my many mistakes or showed stupid photographs of myself clowning around, people warmed to me and said they could identify with my writing or thoughts... that I was an inspiration. Maybe fear is a motivator for the show-offs for their omnipresent glossy presentation of everything consumed in their lives. I'd rather describe my dinner than show it to you... before of course the dog or the monster eats it!

A Moodscope member.

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What if They Find Me Out? Wednesday February 13, 2019

I was fortunate enough to be in the British Library last Friday, attending the Exhibition of Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms.

I was unfortunate enough to be followed round by a group led by a "Mansplainer"

I don't know if you are familiar with this term. I wasn't. It is someone (usually a man), who explains to others (usually women), in a patronising manner, something which the listeners normally understand better than he. This man was loudly expounding on every exhibit with an attitude of confident expertise.

The only problem was that he clearly wasn't an expert.

I don't know if you have ever noticed that real experts tend to be quite hesitant to put forward their ideas, and they speak in low voices.

One such chap by my side was discussing the annotations made to the texts by scholars at dates later than the original. What he had to say was fascinating, but I had to strain my ears to hear.

Then we approached the Codex Amiatinus, the oldest single volume bible in existence. It was copied in AD710 or so and taken to Rome in 716. It has been kept in Italy for the past 1,300 years. As you might expect, given that it is hand-written on vellum, it is not exactly pocket-sized. It is approximately 150cm by 100cm by 50cm.

"That," said the mansplainer behind me, "Is a very big book. In fact, it is the biggest book I have ever seen."

I caught the eye of the friend who had invited me. She caught my eye. We had to leave the room fast, so our giggles did not overcome us. We could not wait to hear just why it was a very big book; we would have disgraced ourselves laughing.

That man was an imposter, and most of the room knew he was an imposter. Those women he was leading have my sympathy.

But I too, feel like an imposter much of the time. I have been doing my job for nearly twenty years. I know I am well-trained and keep that training up to date. I know I can give a presentation confidently to any number of people. Yet I am always waiting for that question which will catch me out and show to everyone the vast tracts of my ignorance. The more I know, the more I know I don't know.

I am supposed to be an expert, but I feel like an ignoramus!

I think many of us feel like that.

But we cannot all be experts on everything, and most people are happy not to try. We are happy to listen to a real expert.

You know the definition of an expert? It is one who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing!

We are all experts on something. The trick is to take pleasure and pride in that expertise. And unless you're a patronising bore, nobody will ever want to find you out!

A Moodscope member.

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

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Choice Tuesday February 12, 2019

One or two comments in recent blogs have made me think about choice, how we make choices and what the consequences are of our choices.

Some would say that we consciously make choices in the full knowledge of their implications long and short term and therefore we must accept the consequences especially the bad ones. To quote a saying that I don't like "You've made your bed so lie on it".
If someone says you've made your bed, now lie on it or you have made your bed and will have to lie on it, they are telling you in an unsympathetic way that you have to accept the unpleasant consequences of your actions or decisions.

I don't agree with this necessarily.

In my experience, I have made choices, which are based on flawed life experiences or situations I find myself in at the time. My choice therefore could be seen as a way of escaping a situation which I don't have the energy to extricate myself from in the way I ideally should.

Given ideal personal circumstances, my choice might have been very different.

I have said on this site that I don't place much importance on hindsight either. I don't mind looking back on past mistakes or choices I've made but I'm not sure I would have done anything differently.

I am sure I'm making the wrong choices even now and will look back in ten years' time and think why on earth did I do that. However, these days I hope my bad choices wouldn't be so self-destructive as ones I made in the past.

The last thing I want to say about choices, particularly bad ones, is that objectively they may look really bad but subjectively the only person they have harmed has been myself. I've made choices which ultimately protected my family but not me. One particular choice I made would seem horrific, stupid, selfish, immoral and cruel to many onlookers but it was a solution at the time which didn't harm anyone except myself although an onlooker would come to a very different conclusion.

I suppose what I am trying to say is that choice is not straightforward and we shouldn't castigate ourselves for what might be seen as disastrous choices or decisions made in the past. We made them for a reason, one that seemed the only choice at the time.

A Moodscope member

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

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You are an angel to someone Monday February 11, 2019

Yes, you are - in the literal sense of the word (though getting your wings may be a challenge... and unnecessary!)

"Angel" means "Messenger" - one who brings and shares a message.

There will have been dozens, hundreds, even thousands of times when you have unknowing been an angel - a messenger - to someone in your life so far. You shared the right word at the right time, and someone's life was touched by a positive change of heart, mind, or even direction.

You only have to have shared the right word at the right time once to win your status as an angel to someone. Even once is enough. A word of encouragement, a genuine compliment, or a perspicuous insight into someone's unique gifts or talents can work miracles, changing the course of their life for good.

If we flip this round the other way for a moment, what words, delivered by somone else, have had a positive impact on you over the years? Some of my own experiences have bordered on the 'spooky' to the point that I wondered if there are angels with wings involved! That's not necessary, though. This is about someone saying something to you that really helps you on your life journey - even if that is just getting through the day. Two examples I will give, and then I hope you'll feel free to confess your own examples too.

Decades ago, I was sharing in a group of people an opportunity to voice our goals for the year ahead. Saying these out loud deepens our commitment to our aims, dreams, and objectives. Personally, my goals were to do with training and development. A complete stranger looked me in the eye and said with authority, "No, you're an author." The words 'hit' me as if physically, and had a ring of truth as clear as a church bell. That was a life-changing moment.

Then, only last week, a friend who didn't know my ambitions, said, "You'd do well in Ireland - you'd fit right in." I nearly fell off my chair as I had only the week before bought a book on touring the West Coast of Ireland - a dream of mine. This was in response to a life-long pull I have felt towards Ireland. This pull is not based on any experience, it's just a hunch, an intution. My friend reflected that message back to me as a confirmation of my internal 'witness'.

You, Angelic? No, I'm not asking you to be a goody-two-shoes (whatever that is)... though goodness has its own unique intrinsic rewards. I'm asking you to become a conscious messenger. I'm asking you to knowingly and deliberately, purposefully and passionately to become a speaker of good words into people's lives. And I'm asking you to practice today.

Find someone to whom you can deliver a genuine message of encouragement, or gratitude, or direction.

I recognise the danger in the last one and also the 'vice' in 'advice', however there may be a talent or a gift you've seen in someone - a genius in them - that they may not see clearly for themselves. Drawing their attention to their genius may be just the word they need. It may give them the confidence boost to take courageous action.

Angelically Yours

A Moodscope member

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

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Three Cheers for Hope Sunday February 10, 2019

I take no credit for the words below, I simply share with you something I read recently which I really liked. It seems all authors are credited – phew – so no copyright breached. I have not read any of the books yet as only just found this so cannot comment, but food for thought and hopefully inspiration.

Hope boosts our happiness.

There is no doubt about it – hope has a feel-good quality.

Shane Lopez is the author of a book called 'Making Hope Happen' and he explains how hope buffers us from stress, anxiety and the impact of negative events in our life. To "look on the bright side of life" boosts our happiness, reduces feelings of helplessness and actually improves our mental health.

Hope prevents us from 'catastrophising'.

The opposite of hope is hopelessness and despair. Without hope there is fear. Hope may not always change the outcome but it can help us to cope with the journey – even enjoy it.
Author Marian Zimmer Bradley said, "The road that is built in hope is more pleasant to the traveller than the road built in despair, even though they both lead to the same destination.

Hope can help us heal.

It is well documented that feeling hopeful can have a positive physiological impact on us - the connection between the mind and the body is very real.

Jerome Groopman states how, "Researchers are learning that a change in mind-set has the power to alter neurochemistry." He believes hope can even ease our sense of pain: "Belief and expectation - the key elements of hope - can block pain by releasing the brain's endorphins and enkephalins, mimicking the effects of morphine," says Groopman.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Just how certain are you that the lifetime label placed upon you is correct? Saturday February 9, 2019

Labelled Bipolar in the 1970's...

I've stated before, that I believe that I literally 'Burnt Out'.

When first diagnosed, my doctor had no time to diagnose me properly and to establish the lifestyle to which I was exposed.

I had a huge mortgage, three growing children, my office equipment-Sales and Service business, a bridging loan on my previous property, which was at that time not sold.

My wife was operating an International Bed and Breakfast at our 5 bed detatched house, just built, and on top of that we were experiencing two recessions, which resulted in a 15% interest rates... This was just part of my problem.

The pressure upon me was tremendous. Because of the quietness of my business, due to recession, I was out knocking on the retail, commercial and professional businesses, on Industrial Estates touting for business... all this in a deep depression... scared was I, but my responsibility to family and debt, was that I had no option but to 'GET OUT THERE'... I developed the notion, that as depressed as I was, the first call was going to hit me for six... prepared for the worst... which never happened, I soldiered on regardless of my very low mental state...

Had my doctor known of these responsibilities at the time, I am certain that he would have put me to rest - to slow down, I'm sure the diagnosis would not have been Bipolar...

Why do I say this? Six weeks ago my Psychiatrist stated that neither she nor my CPN thought that I had Bipolar, she stated that I was doing too much for others and always having 'projects' on the go all the time.

You can immagine my relief.

Now, well aware of over exposure ('weary in well-doing') I choose what I do with my time and make sure it's mindfully managed. Still able to occupy my mind and stop the ruminating, I am still achieving all that is demanded from me.

Do you feel the same, are you going faster in your mind and body than your system can cope with?

In maturity I question so called professionals and others at all times and do not take no for an answer!

A Moodscope member.

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

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The Art of Being Happy Friday February 8, 2019

I've been thinking lately, about the happiness which can be found in learning to take things at face value, and appreciating them for what they really are, as opposed to building up unrealistic expectations for people and situations and therefore being left feeling disappointed, or cheated.

I mean, when I sit here in my bedroom and mull over my past experiences (as someone with an over-anxious brain like mine often does), I can't help but wonder how some of my experiences would have turned out, had I just appreciated someone or something for what they were at the time, rather than trying to mould that person or thing into what I expected them to be.

Happiness is a strange concept though - it's desired by all, achieved by some, but for the most part it's this existential ideology which has been theorised and contemplated throughout our history. What does being happy actually mean? How do we know if what we're feeling is true happiness, or if it's just a feeling that society expects us to feel, and so we convince ourselves out of our own will that we are happy, despite not being sure what happiness feels like?

It's definitely a baffling and mystifying, albeit appealing, notion, whichever way you look at it.

The one thing I'm pretty confident about is, we make our own happiness, whatever it means to us. I think I started to learn how to be happy, for example, when I learned it was ok to stop taking on other peoples' feelings and emotions, and just to make sure I was responsible for my own feelings and emotions. Taking on the emotionally-draining weight of the responsibility of how others feel and act is sure to impact on one's happiness.

It's okay to be selfish. I mean, I know the word 'selfish' brings about an array of negative connotations with it, but personally I think it's okay to be selfish sometimes. I think, above all else, there are some situations where being seflish is... necessary.

So, does selfishness equal happiness? I don't know. All I do know is that, maybe if we start learning to appreciate things for what they actually are and start learning to accept that sometimes things just have a natural ending point; rather than exhausting all our resources on striving to accord with societal expectations, people can take one step closer to feeling their own version of happy.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Fume, fume... Thursday February 7, 2019

This is not a diatribe against officialdom, but how dealing with other people's mistakes leads to stress, and there is absolutely NO redress, and no 'person' you can scream your aggro at. So I am asking Moodscopers, some, perhaps, in positions of authority, others from other countries, USA and Australia, if they have any mechanism to cope?

This morning was the culmination, and I lost my temper, luckily it only happens rarely, but it causes me stress. It is Census year in France. The buzz word is 'paperless'. A woman came round with forms, and asked me if I was familiar with using the Internet, affirmative. She gave me the necessary code numbers, I filled it in on line, and got an official receipt. This morning the lady turned up on my doorstep, they had not received my return, time was up. I was furious, and virtually towed her into the office and showed her the receipt. She said the 'Mairie' (local council) had not received it, some muddle. I said surely, given I had an official receipt, they could log in and see it was done. Apparently not, so, we sat at my kitchen table (I was already on my way out shopping) and filled it in on paper. What is so shattering is this is national, and they have made a mess of it.

I have four more on-going mistakes to correct. One, a goody. I informed our UK bank immediately of my husband's death. They gave me a reference number for the 'deceased' file. Four months after his death I have a request 'Dear Mr x, we need to know where you are tax resident'. If only I had a name. I could answer 'Grave x, row y, local cemetery' and let them get on with it.

My brother-in-law, an eminent scientist, said that years ago much valuable scientific data had been stored on the system of the time – it is not now retrievable. We had a £400 'tape streamer' because our data-base was too big to go on 'floppies'. Nobody managed to retrieve it. I see on my bank log-in that I can (will be able to?) use my thumb print on an 'app' to access my account. They must be joking, surely.

My husband had a pension with a multi-national company, I have a widow's pension. At the time of his death they changed administrators. They have overpaid his pension into our French account. They want it back, I said I would re-pay from UK, when I had funds. They have paid my pension into UK bank, but have taxed it, incorrect. The real crux is these sort of problems will arise mainly when you are elderly. You may not be computer literate, or, like me at the moment, exhausted by it all. If you cannot get children or grand-children to sort it out, you have to get a professional, however trustworthy, to probe into your private affairs, and have access to them on line. Scary.

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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

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Fifty Shades of Grey Wednesday February 6, 2019

"Sorry, what was that?"

I looked up from my minute taking. 'Practice manager to book community room and email members to confirm date...'

Trish looked at me encouragingly. "I said that perhaps you would be happy to take the lead on this educational event: Loneliness and Depression. After all, you are the mental health representative on the panel." She means the Patient Participation Group of our local GP surgery, for which I am Minute Secretary.

I mentally smacked myself around the head to remove the frozen-rabbit-in-the-headlights look of terror from my face and forced a competent looking smile.

"Yes – I'd be happy to take that on." I said, and surreptitiously felt my nose to make sure it wasn't growing. "I'll just draft up a flyer and send it out for you to take a look..."

Gulp. So – that's what I've been doing today: playing with text boxes and colours and fonts and trying to make an event on loneliness and depression sound enticing.

Trish didn't think much of my title, Loneliness and Depression. "But it does what it says on the box!" I protested.

"I think we need something catchier."

"Um – how about "Insert your name here is perfectly fine"? You know, after that Eleanor Oliphant book? Where she's so lonely she doesn't even realise she's lonely?"

I got a patient, understanding look. "I don't think many of our patients will have read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

"Well, they should," I grumbled. "Our book club read it. It's a wonderful book." I got the Look again. I know what she means: I must consider our patient demographic. Members of book clubs are in a minority in our practice catchment area. It may be a small market town, but for various historical reasons, we have inner city problems.

So, I thought about the reasons for loneliness and the ways that loneliness can lead to depression and feed off it, so that it becomes a vicious cycle.

Battling loneliness is not as simple as just saying, "Get out more! Join a few clubs. Make friends." We know that is just the equivalent of saying, "Pull Yourself Together!" and is worse than useless.

But – I am woefully short of ideas. I am lucky enough to have a loving family, good friends, a supportive network on Facebook, great colleagues. And – all the people in my head, who I'd love to spend more time with if only I had more time. So – I don't feel I can talk about being lonely.

But, maybe some of you are or have been lonely. How do you deal with it? Have you overcome it, or do you struggle still? And, how strongly is it linked to your depression?

So please will you help me to help the patients of my local surgery? Help me understand. Log in and leave a comment; I'd be so grateful.

At least I've got my title, Fifty Shades of Grey – Loneliness and Depression. What do you think? Catchy, eh?

A Moodscope member.

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

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"I don't deserve this" Tuesday February 5, 2019

Rifling through my wardrobe this morning, to choose what to wear, I felt super-rich. Excessively so. (Even though I have no designer clothes hanging there, just the run-of-the-mill stuff). But that's a feeling I've had for decades. Ever since I started earning. I recognise it for what it is, and it means "I don't deserve all this!"

Rightly or wrongly, I've always felt a tinge of guilt when I buy myself something new. That small but insistent voice in my head berates me again: "You don't deserve this!"

I think it began as a pre-teen, this feeling of being unworthy, undeserving of love, consideration and respect. I told no one, and turned the feelings inwards. If I am good, I reasoned, people will treat me better. But they didn't always!

Yesterday, I had a small but saddening example of this during a telephone conversation with a family member. They interrupted me, to change to a topic of their choosing. I felt unworthy of being listened to, of being heard. It caused me stress.

Now don't get me wrong. Perfection I am not, believe me. I can interrupt like the best of them. But going back to the clothes selecting, it boiled down to the same thing. Fear. Of being found wanting.

How often does it happen to you (if at all)? A lightbulb moment when, although you know the person is being rude to you, interrupting, dismissing your point as unworthy of their attention, it taps into your fear of being undeserving of people's consideration?

Nevertheless, on my New Year's resolution list was:

Be considerate to myself as well as to others. Eleven months left to practise!

A Moodscope member.

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

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The Day Before Happiness Monday February 4, 2019

How do we deal with mental torment? I am highly creative, and imaginative. These are both gifts and curses. I wouldn't want to be without them, but, when I turn them in on myself, they are highly destructive. It is very easy for me to imagine the worst-case scenario, to create a blizzard of despair that blots out all hope of happiness in the future. It's a good job I've survived so many of those blizzards, isn't it? I know they are not the truth.

Now is not a good season for me. My issues are still not resolved, and are looming large in the real world, not just the world of the imagination. There are moments of delight, like candles in the dark, but the overall prospect is... you can guess.

My imagination turned to the day before World War II. Did people realise it was all going to change the next day? Thankfully, the positive side of my creative imagination then kicked in and perked up with, "What if this is The Day Before Happiness?" What if, tomorrow, I am about to be surprised by joy – a transformation of circumstance, fortune, and attitude that changes everthing?

On that positive note, my thoughts travelled to revisit two songs. The first, "Hold On," by Wilson Phillips exhorts us to hold on for one more day.

You can watch and listen to it here:

The lyrics promise that things can change, and matters can go our way. What I like about this song is that there is no mention of life being unfair. In fact, the message is that the person being sung about has got themselves into their own mess. What they need is a change of mind, and to hold on for one more day. That rings true for me.

The message of hope is one of taking responsibility for playing a part in the change we want to see. There's always something we can do, even if that's determining to hold on for one more day.

The second song was written by Maria Grever, and is called, "What A Difference A Day Makes."

You can listen to a version of it here:

It's a romantic song, but if we were to swap the romance aspect for a strong sense of connection, it's relevant to all of us. The darkest times can be transformed by really connecting with someone else. When that happens, we too can reflect on what a difference a day makes, we'll be glad we held on, and we will realise that today might just be that day before happiness.

A Moodscope member

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

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Be gentle with yourself Sunday February 3, 2019

Today we are publishing a beautiful poem with the overall message - be gentle with yourself when things aren't going too well. It was sent to Mary and she thought it would great if we could share it with other Moodscope members.

If the mountain seems too big today
then climb a hill instead
if the morning brings you sadness
it's ok to stay in bed
if the day ahead weighs heavy
and your plans feel like a curse
there's no shame in rearranging
don't make yourself feel worse
if a shower stings like needles
and a bath feels like you'll drown
if you haven't washed your hair for days
don't throw away your crown
a day is not a lifetime
a rest is not defeat
don't think of it as failure
just a quiet, kind retreat
it's ok to take a moment
from an anxious, fractured mind
the world will not stop turning
while you get realigned
the mountain will still be there
when you want to try again
you can climb it in your own time
just love yourself til then

The Moodscope team

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

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Shining light onto the darkness Saturday February 2, 2019

Is there a point at which self-acceptance shifts itself into self-love, or is that change something I can do more to work on? Not forgetting the key component of course, self-compassion. The dictionary definition of compassion is "sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others" – flipping that to the self, is self-compassion where self-love and self-acceptance combine?

I think I have been learning how to accept myself more positively. The new year has seen a shift in my mood, reaching all-time highs in my Moodscope score and hovering consistently pretty far above my average for a few weeks now. Maybe January brought, like it can to so many of us, feelings of new beginnings; maybe working on the same stuff week in, week out for 12 months has helped to loosen some of my "stuff".

This week though there have been times when I have slipped into a more familiar form of acceptance. "You're just lazy and ugly and will be alone forever so you might as well accept it" – those recognisable thoughts. Looking in the mirror is hard; I know that if anyone can love and accept me it should be me. I want it to be me. And if I can't... why would anyone else? Of course, I then made it worse by looking through old photos going back 15 years and viscerally remembering feeling so unattractive and worthless in 90% of them. Some of them I see now through the eyes of today Lucy and think "Actually, she was beautiful. What a life I have wasted... or maybe I wasn't beautiful because no one else saw it or was in love with me then either". (Hello, familiar thought loops!).

This is more positive than it sounds, I promise!! I now know, understand and accept that these thoughts are my "brain-spam", not the "real me". But loving them... that feels different to welcoming them in. I'm not sure how far I am down that path to loving them.

I do know that self-love and self-compassion isn't easy (for some). I might have been terrible to myself over the years but that shouldn't mean I don't deserve love. That's the bit I'm working on believing. I might have been horrible to myself throughout the years but I want to believe I deserve love.

It scares me to think I do. But it scares me more to think I don't. This, now, is the darkness I've been afraid to be alone with. I've filled my life with things that do help to alleviate the sadness, but they don't give me what I now acknowledge I want... true love. From someone else. But also, from myself. I'm scared of the darkness. I don't know how big it is and I don't understand it. If it scares me this much how can I ever show it to someone else and expect them to love it? Maybe light really is the only way.

A Moodscope member.

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

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