The Moodscope Blog



Receiving/transmitting Thursday October 18, 2018

I have often thought how easy it would be to switch off from others needs at times.

I am a carer for my partner with middle stage Alzheimer's, a dad to a newly qualified teacher setting out in her career and I work part time, look after the family spaniel etc...

You get the drift...

Always aware of others needs and wants sometimes wears me down, I am human and get tired and irritable.

Part of my nature is to be in tune to those close by, to receive their mood and act appropriately around it.

If I could only transmit and switch off from receiving for a spell...

Or getting a balance between receiving and sending would surely be better?

Would that change me as a person?

Having empathy is to me a part of being human and looking after those in need close by is instinctual and so rewarding.

I go to work to switch off from my home work, then sometimes wake up in the night in a swirl of thoughts of things to do, what ifs etc... trying to manage all aspects of life, then in clear moments I realise that whatever happens in the future is mainly out of my control and I can only prepare as best as I can.

These five words mean so much:

One day at a time.

Now if I could transmit my brain activity into physical exercise I would surely be at my target weight too.

What do you wish for?

Have you prepared for life's inevitable outcomes?

Then all that can be done is to enjoy the moment and savour special time together.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Action Stations! Wednesday October 17, 2018

Yes, I do love my system.

I love my system of scrappy bits of paper and a box to put them in. I know that nothing will get forgotten because it's corralled in the box. Everything is written down.

I love my two-box system – one is today/this week, and one is longer term projects.


Yes, there is a huge BUT.

There is still the problem that there is too much to do. Both boxes are overflowing, and I feel I am drowning in paperwork again. I just can't do it all. I feel overwhelmed and panicky.

So, yesterday, I emptied both boxes out onto the table and went through those scrappy bits of paper and made a list.

In some ways that list was even more daunting, as it covered two and a half sides of my A4 lined paper. It did mean however, that I could start going through those tasks with my coloured pens.

Some of those tasks are urgent and important: writing this blog, for instance. Some are important and fairly urgent, like getting a couple of tax returns in by the end of the month. Some are important because they contribute to my business goals: tasks like going through all the bounced emails from my newsletter and following those up.

And some of them... Well, as my husband would say, "Who will die if you don't do that?"

Sometimes we make work for ourselves. My daughter has an old tablet she no longer uses because it stopped working for her. On my list of things to do is to charge it up and perform a factory reset. But – she got a new phone for her birthday: she uses that phone for everything now. The tablet could sit in my in-tray for ever more and nobody in this family would miss it.

So, I've created another box. A box I've called, imaginatively, "My-can't-face-throwing-it-out-yet-but-it-can-wait-for-three-months" box.

That box has gone under my desk. Right at the back. And I've made a note in my diary to get it out again in three months. It's sealed up at present. And in three months it may well just go in the bin.

It might not, of course. In three months, January 16th, I might have time to reset that Kindle Fire and to watch that free DVD on selling techniques for small businesses. I might. Perhaps.

In the meantime – I looked at those items on my list marked in orange and red and started on them. I've written this blog now: that's one thing I can cross off the list. Even crossing off just one thing feels good.

Writing things down somehow imprisons the fear into those words. The list itself is long, but each task is manageable – even if it's not doable today.

Next is that tax return for my mother. It's a big job and I need to allocate time for it, but I can do it next week. On Tuesday.

Phew! I feel a lot better now.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Keys to the Kingdom... of Kindness Tuesday October 16, 2018

Liz's recent post about being kind to oneself and Mirjam's on aiming to increase the "pride" card, made me think...

When I first took on a new position as the nurse in an out-patient clinic, I was given a set of keys on a key chain. At the end of my first day, I accidentally took it home. They were keys for a linen cupboard, blanket warmer, and a row of wheelchairs and would be needed in the morning. It was evening and I was tired, but I had to drive back to the hospital to return them. But I wasn't alone: a voice accompanied me the whole way: "You are so careless... how could you be so forgetful?" and so on - you get the idea - all the way there and back home.

Unbelievably, a month or two later - oops, I did it again. (Thank you, Britney Spears.) After work, I swung my knapsack onto the kitchen counter and heard the little tinkle of metal keys. In my hurry to leave at the end of my shift, I hadn't taken the time to put them in their place. Once again, late at night, I had to drive back to the hospital to return the keys, these for lockers where our patients put their belongings during treatments. They wouldn't be able to get their clothes, which would surely add to their stress, plus the nurses would grumble about the inconvenience I'd caused. Embarrassed, I snuck in, returned the keys, and slunk back out.

Perhaps you won't be surprised to learn that recently, even after more than a year at this job, I did it again. What is it about keys? I know I'm capable and responsible: I've been a safe nurse for 36 years. (I am proud of that.) But about relatively trivial things, my mind drifts away, gets loose and sloppy. Alert and "on" and then I shift into dream mode, and go "off."

But I also know is that my ingrained, always-at-the ready negative self-talk makes any problem worse. When I'm anxious, I get distracted or preoccupied with worries. When I'm depressed, I don't have the energy to be organized or attend to small details.

So I decided a new decision. I can't always avoid making little mistakes, but one thing I can change is the way I treat myself when I slip-up. I'll try to stop the negative self-talk and find something to be proud of in these situation. Thank you Liz, and Mirjam.

Maybe those darn keys can unlock a new path toward letting go of self-recrimination. One day, keys for opening locks will probably be obsolete, but there will undoubtedly be new opportunities to lose or misplace things. My plan is to remind myself that I have a choice to put the key in whichever door I choose. The portal to self-recrimination or the one to self-love. The first has been my go-to, familiar, default stance for many years. The second is exciting and new, but I think, with practice, I can learn it.

Nurse Tilda
A Moodscope member.

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

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The Journey of 1000 Bridges Monday October 15, 2018

There's nothing I like more than mixing metaphors and conjuring with clichés! Clichés, whilst often over-used (hence 'Cliché'), all contain a nugget of what I'd call, "Folk Wisdom."

Today, I'd love to play with two very well know clichés. Firstly, "The Journey of one thousand miles starts with a single step," and, secondly, "Let's cross that bridge when we get to it."

I've looked into my imagined future. All I see are a thousand bridges to cross to get me anywhere close to back to 'normal'. It's an impossible journey, but I'm of a mind to make it an incredible journey... with apologies to Disney fans who may remember that series.

I'm not alone. So many amazing people have trod a difficult path, have crossed a thousand bridges – one at a time – and have taken those steps that led to something 'better' or 'brighter' or 'bigger' or just simply 'happier'. Oh, and they've faced bigger challenges than I have before me.

The key seems to be in the strategy that empowers their mindset. The strategy is in the blend of our two clichés.

Firstly, it's got to be one step at a time. Have you ever tried to step too far? Perhaps you've had one foot on a boat that's gently moving away from its moorings, and one step on the shore. There may be trouble ahead! Nope, the best strategy is to take tiny steps while they remain tiny!

Secondly, it is only physically possible to cross each bridge as we come to it. Honestly, I find it almost impossible not to think about all those other bridges and the vast distance that needs to be covered or the ground that needs to be recovered BUT I know that I know that I know that I can only cross one bridge at a time.

One bridge, one step. It's the power of one.

Here are my two questions for all of us: "What's your next step?" (And you're only allowed one!) Plus, "What's your next bridge?" (Yes, you guessed it, you're only allowed one.)

Let's take on the challenges just one at a time – anything else is impossible.

Be bold and courageous – but just one at a time.

"The Journey of 1000 bridges starts with a single bridge!"

A Moodscope member.

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

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And without a care in the world Sunday October 14, 2018

And without a care in the world, there you stood. In the middle of a busy road. In rush hour traffic. Too-fast cars, believing that the see saw of an impatient accelerator/brake is going to move them quicker than the line of metal in front, speeding then shuffling by you with barely a glance.

You held your own, you had the protection of a tiny traffic island. And a pair of summer shorts and a t-shirt. It was a cool Autumnal morning. Not quite able to see breath in air but still crisp enough to require socks and the heady possibility of a scarf with jacket. You stood tall and carefree on your island and threw your head up to the sky and sun.

I realised what you were doing. The sky could not have been more blue. The sun could not have been more resplendent. The trees on your right were flirting with both, like peacocks flashing their finery in time to a beat. And you had decided to plant yourself in the middle of rush hour, in a fairly dangerous place, dressed in very little, to stop, pause, and take a photograph of sky, sun and tree. I decided immediately you are wise fellow indeed.

As I headed onward it gave me a great pile of thoughts to accompany me on my journey. Would you send the photo onward? Would it hit your online social pages? Would it become the lock screen on your phone, popping up in front of your face countless times over the coming days? Would it be shown to someone unable to get out, to give them a taste of the season? Would it ever, maybe, be printed and placed inside an album?

I'll never know the answers. But I know this... your soul sang because of that sky, that sun and that tree and it made my soul sing to witness it.

Take that depression. I have tools you have never even dreamt of.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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

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The sun will shine again Saturday October 13, 2018

I received some news today that touched me deeply. It shouldn't have. Or perhaps it should. The fact is: it did.

I don't have anyone to share it with who would understand. Really understand. So I feel alone in my grief: isolated and lonely.

I think about a hug from my husband or a friend; one to take the pain away. But it never does. Friends support, listen, understand and comfort; and they are hugely valuable for that. But the pain remains mine to endure, to accept and to move on from.

So I turn to you my Moodscope comrades to share how much it hurts, how cruel life can be sometimes and how useless I feel to help.

But I do know this: the feelings will eventually pass. Pain and sadness are part of life. But we will heal, we will recover and the sun will shine again.

With love

A Moodscope member

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

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Feel the Force Friday October 12, 2018

I hadn't seen my therapist for two months. She texted me to enquire if I would like my slot again. My every-two-weeks-but-not-in-the-summer Wednesday morning slot. Every September for the last nine years when that text came, I sighed happily and texted straight back 'yes please'. But this time, my first thought was... 'Is it time to say goodbye to my therapist...?'

Of course, two seconds later, my brain went into a spasm of panic. I need her. I admire her. I want to be her when I grow up! She challenges me. She listens to me. She understands me.

What if my ex-husband scares me again? What if my anxiety reaches a peak again? What if my kids/ my mother/ my friend/ my job/ my poor racy head pull me apart with self-doubt again? How would I cope?

I need my therapist.

I don't buy fancy clothes. I rarely drink. I don't smoke. This is how I choose to spend my 'me' money. I allow my brain to breathe, my eyes to cry, my tongue to rant. I allow myself be a cursing, resentful fool but also be a witty, clever story-teller. But yet, it's not pretend. In that room, it's me. The real me. I'm not pandering to anyone. I like the me I am with my therapist.

I have never said those words before. I am going to say them again! I like the me who is in that room with my therapist. And I sense that my therapist likes me too. She doesn't judge me. I love my kids and my friends and my family. But they all judge. For goodness sake, I judge myself - why wouldn't they?

My therapist once said: 'You are a force to be reckoned with and I want you to know that, to feel that...'


Me? A force? I carried those words around for weeks. Dark weeks. You know what I mean. And when the darkness turned darker, I reminded myself 'I am a force' and my shoulders straightened and my head tilted higher and I put on my funky shoes and my berry lipstick and I faked the force until I felt the Force. (Yes, I am a Star Wars fan!).

I went to my therapist last week and she asked how I felt when I got her text. I told her the truth. I want to stay in this safe yet challenging space forever but I wonder am I... ready to leave? By asking the question, it certainly suggests I am ready to discuss it.

So, we are not going to rush into anything. It's been nine years. We are going to take it slowly. She said she needed time to say goodbye to me too which I take as a compliment.

I think this will be the only amicable break-up I have had in my life...

Salt Water Mum
A Moodscope member

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Watershed Thursday October 11, 2018

My husband loved photography, and we both loved to travel. This amazing sculpture is made of metal, in Lyon,France. (We liked it more than Paris). I've always been a people watcher, and since his death reminiscence really is the name of the game.

My neighbour is 92, very elegant, very polite, but I've never seen a sign of emotion. Then at Mr G's funeral on Saturday, as people filed past the coffin, she fell round my neck sobbing. It shook me, so I spent two hours with her this afternoon; she has spent more time in the last 20 years talking to me than with her husband, one son and two daughters.

Her husband was not very lovable, and the children paid rare duty visits, and never stayed in the house. He would not let her touch finance at all, and he would not touch a computer. Neither of the daughters can do the paper work, so the son has to do everything. I think the sobbing in church was seeing me surrounded by family, French and English friends, and my family taking part in the service.

This led me to thinking of our married friends. Some are very happily married, but take separate holidays in complete agreement, as their tastes differ. Then, among my 'sample' the holiday is dictated by the wishes of one partner. One of our most selfish friends (and I am not alone in this opinion) was mad on diving. The best diving is in fairly remote places – major resorts do not usually have good diving. His wife, who is subservient (and suffers frequent depression), loves resorts, pretty clothes, dancing. I gather that deep sea diving is exhausting, so even if there was any night life, he would have been too tired.

The 'Watershed' title presumes that you are married, for better or worse (or in a long-term successful partnership). Then comes death, you are free to do things you would never do with your O/H. Conversely you loved the same things, and, suddenly, you are bereft.

My eldest son's father-in-law was a very friendly man, but such odd ways. He hated travel, and would not go in an aeroplane. He ate no fruit or vegetables; in the May of the year he died he started to be very ill, but refused to see a doctor. By December he was taken into hospital, acute colon cancer. They operated, but he died of a heart attack shortly after. His wife was very sad, but within six months she had realised a dream, and gone to China.

I could cite several couples where one or the other hated travelling. We would say 'Well, come out with a son or daughter, why miss out?' But they were too loyal. When death, or care home, arrives, by the time they have their 'freedom' (by default, not wished for) they are too old, too ill, no money, or scared of travelling. The 'watershed' from being married to being widowed is far greater than the grief.

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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

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No Judgement Wednesday October 10, 2018

If you're reading this, then you've probably been there. Maybe you are there today. You feel terrible. As you think about doing the Moodscope test, your heart sinks further. How active are you? Zero: you can barely make it out of bed. How enthusiastic are you? Well, huh, is there a minus score anywhere on those cards?

Nope. Not doing that test. Not today.

I understand. And I sympathise. Because that's where I am today. I know my score will be down. Not right down – the medication keeps me stable – but not normal. I know when I do the test and that score goes out to my buddies, I will get a couple of anxious emails. I don't want to know how bad I feel. It's just like not wanting to go to my slimming class when I've been stuffing my face with chocolate and with toast spread with peanut butter and marmalade - my go-to when I'm feeling down. Guess what I've been eating over the last few days! No – I don't want to do that test.

So, here's my reasons for taking a deep breath and doing the test anyway.

1) The process of analysing how I feel about each score card gives me more information. I can start to address those issues which score low. I can feel better about the cards which have more healthy numbers. Rather than experiencing a general malaise, I have some areas on which I can act. The Shame card is high. Oops. Because I drank wine last night. I know alcohol is not good for me. I know that, once started, I can't control it. Two glasses last night could mean three or four tonight. Well, I can pour the rest of the bottle down the sink. The Active card is low. Well, duh, of course it is. Wine, plus late night, plus a business event which took a lot of energy. I won't beat myself up about not swimming this morning: I'll plan an early night tonight.

2) Looking at the low score gives me permission to be gentle with myself. Yes, some of the scores were self-inflicted: that doesn't matter. I still have commitments to fulfil today, but I won't ask more of myself than that.

3) If I do the test today, then that means I have a more complete record of my moods. If I only do it when I feel good, then I am like the sundial: "Telling of only sunny hours". If you want to know the time, a sundial is not the most accurate measure. A full and accurate (and annotated) record of my moods is of far more use when I go to my GP. She needs to know about the downs as well as the ups.

So, I did my test. It was low. I decided to make no judgement about it. Two buddies emailed to say, "Be gentle with yourself."

It was okay. Nobody died. Tomorrow is another day.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Fear of swooping Tuesday October 9, 2018

Nearly every day I go for a walk in the bush/countryside across the road from my home and shop.

It relaxes me and I enjoy looking at trees and hearing the birds chatter in the trees.

Last week I was swooped on by a bird. While it did not touch me it did come very close, then a minute later it came back again. Now in my country we are aware in spring of Magpies, a black and white bird that wants to protect its young by attacking people who walk near its nest. There are websites and radio programs about how to avoid being swooped on. I have never been swooped on in the last 12 years so this was totally unexpected and quite frightening.

I am not someone who is afraid of creatures, I don't mind snakes, spiders or even sharks. Ok, I don't see many sharks on my walk!

I blame Alfred Hitchcock for making me scared of swooping birds in his movie Birds.

For a few days I just avoided the place where the bird was. Then I thought, this is silly, so I started walking past where I saw the bird, but my fear levels would not let me go any further - I went an alternate way.

I could not believe I was afraid of a bird that none of the people living in its path had any trouble with. Many years ago I was attacked by a Magpie and had to have a few stitches in my head. People told me they must like my hair for their nests! I thought having hair that nine out of ten Magpies like, is no consolation for a bloody head.

I finally, after a week, went on my regular walk and had no problem.

I started thinking about fear of animals and where that starts from and how it can affect our lives.

Are you afraid of any animal (not a human!)?

How has it affected you every day life?

If you have managed to overcome you fear, how did this happen?

A Moodscope member

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

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I'm Possible, Impossible, We're Possible Monday October 8, 2018

How good it feels to be grateful for practical friends. I am 'lucky' enough to have many people who continue to be supportive in the bad as well as in the good times. They are not just fair-weather friends but those types of friends who stick closer than a brother or sister.

Over the positive years, I was one of those trainers who dished out platitudes without proper sensitivity towards other people's pain. Now that I have experienced more of the difficult side of life, I'm in a better position to realise trite words are sometimes unhelpful.

One such platitude is changing the word "Impossible," into the two words, "I'm possible," transforming the meaning though the insertion of a gap and an apostrophe. It's very clever, and I think it even inspired me the first time I saw it. It represents a breakthrough to action – moving from the seemingly impossible to the personal responsibility that says, "Hey, I can do something at least!" Why would I then accuse this of being a platitude?

I accuse it in those situations where it doesn't work. I've been faced with what seems like impossible messes to sort out (they aren't but they seem that way). Jumping to the "I'm possible," frame really hasn't worked for me in this situation. In fact, over time, I've moved from, "I'm possible," to "Impossible"!

Yesterday, however, I came to an awareness of a third option – one that I'd been in receipt of all the time but hadn't recognised the full power of it. It is, "We're possible."

I've got a "Pete" in my life. A really practical, no-nonsense guy. Pete gets stuff done. He came to help me with some of my mess. My point is that there was no way I could do some of the things we achieved on my own. It was genuinely impossible. No amount of psychological mind games of seeing myself as "I'm possible," would have changed it either. No, it was impossible until I got help. I got help, and the impossible became possible.

The messes remain, but some of them were sorted, and I realised like never before that we are not supposed to do everything in a self-sufficient way. "We're possible," is better than "I'm possible," any day.

Today, then, I'm going to suggest we share and celebrate those people in our lives who move us from, "Impossible," to, "We're possible." My thanks go to Pete for starters!

A Moodscope member.

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

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A Way To Freedom Sunday October 7, 2018

Sharing our past stories with each other helps us to be reconciled to difficult events in our lives. Having once made sense of these we can attain a level of freedom to live in the now.

This idea was inspired by Richard Wagamese [14 October 1955-10 March 2017] who was an Ojibwa Indian from Canada. This also encapsulates for me what happens on the Moodscope blogs and comments that we share with one another. Sharing my difficult experiences and emotions has helped me a great deal especially as I have been frequently supported by fellow Moodscope members.

I have frequently yearned for the inner freedom to be. Life can be very difficult and demanding sometimes. Writing about them on Moodscope or sharing other members' experiences by comments can be a liberating experience. There isn't a need to continue to be uptight or wound up about challenging or unpleasant experiences. As we share freely and receive the support we need we are empowered to grow and live.

Another thing that promotes my freedom is being forgiven. At the end of last week, I saw someone who I may have hurt dreadfully in Mid-May. I apologised for being so crass and asked for the person's forgiveness. Her response was that she didn't remember the episode and to forget about it. I felt as though a huge boulder had rolled off my shoulders and a huge sense of relief came over me. Having been forgiven I also should forgive someone who has offended me. But I find it very difficult to forgive someone who has hurt one of my children. It takes a long time for me to accept my need to let the issue drop. Has anyone else had this experience.

I think of Moodscope as a hub to which I come daily to be nourished, stimulated, encouraged and re-invigorated. I joined just under four years ago to see what it was like so that I could recommend this site to others. I have found it to be extremely beneficial. Thank you Moodscope for being there for me, for your encouragement and thought-provoking blogs and comments.

A Moodscope member.

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

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The boxing ring Saturday October 6, 2018

I drank to keep myself company when my partner was continually travelling and absent, in body and soul.
I drank to give me something to lean on during the 4-8pm intense hours of babies.
I drank to forget a pivotal life change.
I drank to provide the cocoon of a hug.
I drank to fill cracks and I hoped the liquid would set and smooth a surface.

I drank and he was still gone.
I drank and 4-8pm still took endurance.
I drank and the memory became stronger.
I drank and the hugger was busy searching for her own.
I drank and the liquid did not set. The cracks remained.

And so I tried without drinking.
Habits take time. Clarity began.
Everything hurt much more.
But now I had a chance to find the plaster box and begin to mend.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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

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"Have I finished with you, have I got Amy instead?" Friday October 5, 2018

This was our son speaking, who has severe autism and complex learning difficulties, a little while after he had moved into a residential care home from his home in the family for 19 years. We as a family were at the end of our tether, bless him, and strongly felt we could no longer meet his needs, which were extensive. Today he receives 1:1 sometimes 2:1 care,as he is ambulant, super-fast, exceedingly tall, and very strong. But a tiny child in his brain and bodily functions,alas! Very lovable for all this, needless to say, and so, it was the end of the road for us as a family as far as managing him at home was concerned. With deep regret, but totally united the three of us (we have an adult daughter) that this provision would provide the best answer for the four of us.

And it has. But "finished with you", a direct, almost cutting remark. Such as you might use for an object ("Have you finished with the newspaper?"), or a comfortable armchair. But I was non-plussed. Instead, I saw the question as affirming that he saw the transition from home to care home in those terms. Amy (see the first line) was a marvellous, gifted, intuitive support worker in the care team, who was in post for 13 years, and we thank our lucky stars she happened to apply for the job when she did, straight out of college! She was the same age as our son! And the care provision exceeded our wildest dreams, in that it provided both a safe haven and a place where our dear son was respected and valued for the adorable being he undoubtedly is, with the happy smile which, when he uses it, could melt the ice on a snow- covered mountain!

But... people as objects, albeit cosy, comfy ones? Well, maybe not. Maybe our son had used the language skills he had at his disposal and the sentence came out sounding strange, unfeeling. After all, I had been his Mum for 19 years, and had put many things on hold during that time, including my own career! (And would do it all again, no regrets there). As the weeks and months passed though, I began to see people in a different light. My son's words kept coming back to me, and became somewhat of a jokey expression, a form of shorthand in our immediate family! I did a sideways shift with this comment of his, "finished with you" and thought a lot more about people and their "uses" . I had perhaps expected too much understanding from family and friends about our home situation. They were never to know a lot of it anyway, how could they? Everyone leads a tramline existence, of some sort, and is ploughing their own furrow. Excuse the mixed metaphors!

I have come to an acceptance I think of the limitations we all have, especially my own. Thanks to our son, and his comment. Life is sweeter, and we'll go up to the care home today and fetch him out for a few hours. With any luck, he'll be wearing his huge, heart -warming smile, and even if he never speaks a word the whole time, it'll have been good to see him and be in his company. He gives what he can. As do we all I think.

A Moodscope member

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

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The inside of my head Thursday October 4, 2018

One of the things that's hard about any mental ill-health is trying to explain it to other people. Depression isn't just 'feeling a bit sad'. Anxiety isn't just 'being worried about things'. PTSD certainly isn't just 'being stressed'. And so on.

I recently read a Christian book about depression [When Darkness Seems My Closest Friend, by Mark Meynell] which used several metaphors that I found extremely helpful for describing experiences I've had, and helping me to understand more about other people's experiences: the cave, the blizzard, the invisibility cloak and so on. Mark is wonderful at finding words that help us to articulate the insides of our heads.

I love words, but I love pictures even more. So I've started to try to draw the inside of my head. After a couple of particularly bad days, I sat down at my desk and came up with the drawing above.

The books on the left represent my brain when it's working normally. All those every day things like 'How to Get Up', 'Leaving the House', 'Making Small Talk', and 'Friends' are easily accessible. And because I can access those thoughts and feelings and all that information and experience, I can act on them. Sometimes even without consciously thinking about it.

But when I'm depressed, my brain is like the picture on the right. The information is still there but it's whirling so fast, I can't read any of it. I can't grab hold of a single thought long enough to complete it. It's not that I've stopped processing, or that I'm processing slowly. I'm not thinking about nothing, I'm thinking about EVERYTHING. And it's utterly paralysing.

I loved drawing this. I loved the process of thinking about how to show what it feels like to be me and the contrast between my normal-functioning and non-functioning brain activity. I loved lining up the books and giving them titles of all the things that I can do straightforwardly on a good day. I loved creating the mess and movement which represent my brain on a bad day.

I also loved sharing this. I put it on Twitter and Facebook and was thrilled when other people said that this was their experience too, and when people commented that it helped them understand a bit more about depression.

So I'm planning to draw a few more pictures of the inside of my head. It seems to help me to process what's happening to me, and if it helps other people articulate more of what's happening to them, I'm delighted.

Have you ever tried to draw the inside of your head? What images would you use? What colours and shapes? Why not give it a go? You don't have to show your drawings to anyone if you don't want to, but you might just find you do!

A Moodscope member.

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

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Are you a Star? Wednesday October 3, 2018

When you were at school, did you ever get a shiny gold star for a good piece of work?

I was at my company conference this weekend. It was an amazing two days – it always is – and my head is overflowing with the different training we had, the ideas we came up with in brain-storming sessions, the way the company is moving forward...

But then came the awards. Consultant after consultant came up to receive their star awards, not me. Three of the top performing consultants are in my team – but I am not even in the top half of the company, let alone the top ten. I have been doing my job for seventeen years now, and I am still struggling. I feel so ashamed. There is no shiny star for me.

And then I took a step back and thought about it. Given my health issues over the last seventeen years, would it be reasonable for me to be in the top ten? Would it even be reasonable for me to be in the top half? When I look at the challenges my family has faced in the past couple of years, we are fortunate to be here and together as a family. I should thank our lucky stars for that!

Would I dismiss the child with learning disabilities because he never gets a gold star in his book? I would rather be pleased he wrote anything in his book. Would I criticize the person with a leg in plaster if she wasn't placed in the race? No! I would cheer her on for even entering. And if this race were a marathon, which any business should be, then I would cheer even more if she stuck to it, mile after mile, after mile.

I am fortunate to do a job I love; a job which contributes to the world. I have often thought about giving up; but, when I do, I invariably meet someone who says, "I want to thank you – you have transformed my life!" I may not make as much money as when I was an accountant, but – as an accountant – I never changed anyone's life.

So yes, I would love to go up to the front at the conference and get my shiny star. I would love to be applauded and recognised. But I do get individual recognition from the people I have helped with words (I'm red hot on the 60 second presentation) and whom I have encouraged in the past. I do contribute to the company, even if I am not the top performer in terms of the numbers.

So, I don't have that shiny star by my name on our company website. I don't have the glittering glass and brass award on my studio table. But I am a star.

You are a star too. Stop judging yourself by the wrong standards. Look at what you do give, not what you can't. You are a star!

A Moodscope member.

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

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The Healing Power of Pets Tuesday October 2, 2018

It's a year since we got our 8-week old Labrador puppy, Oscar. During that time he's morphed from a cuddle of cuteness into a much-loved member of the family. Having Oscar wasn't a decision I took lightly and I waited a long time, firstly, to find the right dog and secondly, for the children to be grown-up enough to help look after him.

We're a single-parent family and I was acutely aware (also because people kept telling me) that he would be a tie and a lot of work and I must be made mad to contemplate adding more stress to my life. I may have been mad and he is all those things, but on balance, having him in our lives this past year has been a positive thing, helping all of us deal with the ups and downs of life.

Having a dog gets you out the house and interacting with others. Oscar needs walking every day, twice a day, and we get to walk through such gorgeous spaces that I wouldn't otherwise visit. I've really noticed how the seasons change and I'm much fitter. Some days I don't want to go, but it gets me out of my head and you get to meet and walk with a whole community you never really noticed before – other dog lovers.

A dog can be a real mood enhancer. Oscar's happiness is infectious - he wags his whole body in excitement when he greets you so you can't help but smile however crappy you're feeling. As a mother of teens, lovely though they are, it's great to have someone whose needs are so simple and who is always pleased to see me. You can also learn a lot from him about being in the moment; as long as his belly is full and he's had his walk and a bit of petting, he's happy to just be.

I got the dog for the children too, because they need that unconditional affection as much as I do. They absolutely adore him and although they grumble, also walk and feed him. They like snuggling up with him on the sofa. Sometimes we go out, the four of us, playing hide and seek in the local park – Oscar helps keep us bonded.

There's only one of us who can't stand him and that's George, the cat, but even he is getting better. He's gone from refusing to being on the same floor of the house to sharing a double bed, although if Oscar gets too close, he does get swatted. George is very much the alpha in that relationship.

There are downsides, such as animal hair all over the house and Oscar is a real scavenger, while George does occasionally poo where he shouldn't, but whether it's stroking George or racing Oscar round the park, having them has greatly improved our home life and helps us celebrate the little things.

Do you have a pet? What does he or she bring to your life?

A View From The Far Side
A Moodscope member.

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

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I am going outside for a while Monday October 1, 2018

I have in mind nothing as noble as the famous sacrifice by Captain Lawrence Oates, who said, "I am just going outside and may be some time..." a man who gave his life for his comrades. No, I'm thinking of a different kind of survival.

Today's blog is for those of us who are more introverted – though my hope is that my extraverted Moodscope friends will also find value in it. As an extreme introvert, I am used to getting my 'energy' from inside. 'Inner strength' is something introverts understand well. Quiet, seclusion, ideally silent space, all these have previously worked well for me when I needed to recharge and replenish... when I needed to pause for thought.

But what happens when our internal world decays into chaos, noise, and, frankly, torment? What happens when our inner sanctuary becomes a place of mental torture one needs to escape from? What happens when our thoughts become enemies that steal energy and not friends that bring us strength and hope? In short, we need to go outside for a while.

During these difficult seasons, I have found comfort, release, and escape in movement. A walk through the local vineyard, a car journey through the countryside, a mowing of the lawn – all these have helped.

In a 'stuck' state, I've found the worst thing I can do is to stay still – to stay stuck physically. To move forward, I need to move forward. I also need to make sure my senses are turned outwards and not inwards. The Autumn hedgerows are a powerful tonic for my external senses. Blackberries and hazel nuts, chattering sparrows, and playful flocks of long-tailed tits – these can wrench me out of the hands of my tormentors and bring a few moments of peace. The mists, the fog, the moon... all have offered fresh friendship. The fruit on the vine has given me an image of hope.

If you are currently disturbed, upset, tormented, or even tortured by your inner dialogue, escape with me outside for a while. Deliberately turn your attention to the world outside, in the here and now, and notice what you see, what you hear, what you can physically feel, and even what you may be able to smell or taste. I've just mown the grass before writing this, and the scent coming through the open door is a rescue remedy like no other!

A Moodscope member.

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

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Smile, you're the best you've ever been... Sunday September 30, 2018

Today I looked at myself with a new set of eyes... well not new exactly, they're the ones I was born with but I saw something different through them today.

The extra pounds creeping on over the years haven't gone unnoticed, the wrinkles forming, the achey bits that didn't used to ache and I've bemoaned the fact that "I'm not what I used to be" more than once but then I saw it...

I am wonderful, there I said it. Not wonderful in a conceited way but because I've overcome so much; a breakdown and learning to live with all that brings, a stroke and consequent physical reminders that crop up when I'm overdoing it! I've lived with [often] crippling asthma, had to undergo regular steroid courses including one continual two year course resulting in 4 stone weight gain and bloating so I could hardly see though my eyes, I've been a long term carer for my 2 wonderful parents and then worked through surviving a broken heart after losing them both within 7 short months of each other, and undergone surgical procedures. I've held down more jobs at once than I care to count, looked after my animal family throughout and all whilst trying to be a good friend, wife and person (whatever 'good' means)

It's true I'm heavier than I should be, slower than I'd like to be and not as pleasing on the eye as I used to be but I've overcome so much I am at last proud of who I've become. The changes are just my little battle scars; my body's way of reminding me just how far I've come. The emotional blips I have to deal with are only like the scars of my physical body, but I have at long last accepted that I do need to be kinder to myself emotionally in the same way I would wear a bandage for a sprained knee or splints for my carpal tunnel. It's no different and I'm no longer ashamed of the fact that there are times I find things emotionally difficult. I now own my emotional wellbeing equally alongside my physical wellbeing.

In the past I'd be happy for people to see my broken leg and yet ashamed of the fact that some days I'd cry for most of it; often without even knowing why – but not having to know why is also part of the acceptance; if I need time out I no longer require a reason from myself.

The saying goes: "If ifs and buts were chocolate and nuts – every day would be Christmas."
Well I just made myself giggle by making this one up "If shoulds and coulds were flowers and buds – everyone's life would be a garden."

So take care of yourself - inside and out, and remember – you're the best you've ever been... because it's life's experiences that have made you the wonderful person you are today x

A Moodscope member.

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

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Holding open the door. Saturday September 29, 2018

Why is it always me who seems to be caught when a flurry of people appear just as I am going through a door, just stood there holding it open politely, yet the rushing crowd pushes through without a glance, without a word.

I am standing there wondering why I bother. Heading on out through the big building I am in I seem to be a magnet when I reach any door suddenly from nowhere people appear, all focused on the exit out, no time to say 'Oh thanks' 'That's kind,' I am intensely annoyed.

Is it me?

Has everyone forgotten the basics of courtesy, I am invisible to them a figure serving a purpose and when that is done a nobody. Forgotten in an instant.

At the next door I decide to join the busy people and surge through in the midst of them.

Caught up in the swarm of feet streaking forward no time to talk, shoulders braced, eyes forward, stepping quickly past the young man stood there smiling holding open the next door, he has manners I think, he has been brought up 'properly' as my mother would have said.

I find myself thrust out onto the pavement in a crazy whirl of squishing and squashing, perfume and sweat dispersing into the air as each person dashes off in different directions, separated by intent purpose to their next destination. I notice the flowers growing in the carefully positioned hanging baskets, lining the hectic streets.

Life seems very forced.

A horn blows loudly, a bird screeches, looking up I notice a pure white cloud drifting by in the bright blue sky. I breathe in and close my eyes.

Walking along the pavement I feel the warmth of the summer breeze on my face, hear above the constant din of the traffic a child's laughter, see a bright red balloon bobbing along in their little hand through the crowds.

These small things ground me, make me myself again.

I live in this artificial world but am grateful for the small things that can make me smile.

I see a woman with a heavy shopping bag struggling to open the door to a café where all she wants is a sit down and a brief moment of calm before starting off once more to her chores.

'Here let me help you' I smile, happy again to hold the door open for her. I am myself again.

A Moodscope member.

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

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