The Moodscope Blog



Messages that save me. Thursday September 27, 2018

About four years ago I opened up to friends and family and started to talk freely about my own struggles with my mental health. And yes, I've lost a few friends who couldn't hack it but those who have stayed with me have been wonderful.

If you write for mental health blogs and sites, you know how valuable sharing is. There are many, many people out there who can't speak out yet but hearing another voice saying they feel the same might just save them on that one lonely night.

So, here are some of the messages that save me, they are from friends and family...

"You fit more than you can imagine and do the right thing more than you can imagine."

"These thoughts and feelings will lift at some point and you are doing all the things to keep yourself safe while you wait for the time to pass and these feelings to change sit tight lovely and keep yourself safe."

"You are definitely heading in the right direction x x"

"How are you?? xxxxxx"

"There's no timing requirement for being better so try not to be too hard on yourself if it isn't happening as quickly as you'd hoped."

"I know there is nothing I can say to make you change your mind about yourself, that's something only you can do, but yes it is tough and so don't be hard on yourself on the bad days and enjoy the good days."

"My life would be a hell of a lot emptier without you in it, so you need to be here every day for me even if you don't feel you deserve to be. Love you buddy, be kind to yourself and shout if you need me."

"Love you whether your happy L or sad L, and still want to see you."

"I hope you feel a bit more upbeat today."

"I know a lot of people and amongst the a-holes some really good ones. But you top the pile as a great human being. You're an amazing mum (you really are!) and amazing at so many things, many that touch other peoples lives and make them better... just pause and remember this. It's true and it matters."

There are others and some words people have said that stick in my mind and will do forever.

Be kind to people, you never really know what others are going through until they open up to you.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Overwhelm and the Common Cold Wednesday September 26, 2018

A friend and I were discussing our migraines. Horrid things; they totally wipe us out for the day.

After the pain has gone, we still have what is called a "migraine hangover." We feel weak, lethargic and shaky, with heads stuffed full of cotton wool. Thought processes seem to take twice as long as usual, and everything in the world seems distant and slightly unreal: we feel totally disconnected from everything.

What does that remind me of? Oh yes, it feels like having depression!

The difference with a migraine is that I know this has a physical cause and not a mental one. I know that the next day (hopefully) I will feel fine.

We think we can separate the mental and the physical, when the two are so closely interlinked as to be one entity. For those of us who acknowledge a spiritual dimension, I would argue that spirituality is linked to the mind and the body also.

So, where does the common cold come in?

A therapist friend of mine maintains that a cold is caused not simply by a virus, but by emotions. Cold viruses are, after all, ubiquitous, yet we do not always succumb. Sometimes everyone can drop around us, but we will remain healthy. Mothers often notice that they are the only ones in the family not to get a cold – although sometimes they will go down afterwards, when everyone else has recovered.

My friend holds that we succumb to colds when we feel damaged by a lot of small hurts, or when we feel overwhelmed by life. I cannot say about the small hurts, but I do know that I have noticed that I will have the thought, "I feel overwhelmed!" and that twenty minutes later I will feel that ominous tickle in my throat.

We all know how a cold makes us feel: tired, lethargic, miserable and yes, depressed…

I flew back from the States on Friday – a long haul flight with recycled air, which is an ideal breeding ground for viruses.

I came back to an overflowing in-tray, a pile of messages and a family who had obviously missed me (judging by the pile of laundry and the empty fridge and freezer); I feel overwhelmed.

Sure enough, there is a tickle in my throat and I have already sneezed three times.

But, there is hope. My therapist friend is an EFT practitioner. She recommends "tapping" to stop a cold in its tracks. She's even published a video about it and here's the link .

The nice thing about it is that she says you don't have to believe in it for it to work. Which is just as well, because I am hugely sceptical.

But – I've done it in the past, and it has worked. When I haven't tapped, I've got the cold.

So, excuse me here. My fuzzy head and I are just off to do some tapping.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Can you set boundaries? Tuesday September 25, 2018

People always say we should set boundaries when we are dealing with other people's problems, or just dealing with other people in general. It helps make us care for ourselves, so we can help others. If we did not have these boundaries the theory goes we would probably do too much and make ourselves sick and so not be able to help others.

Boundaries seems like a good thing; the trouble is how do you set them. It seems good on paper. When advising others, I always say yes have boundaries, but in my own life it's much more difficult to do.

I think most people like me want to help everyone. If someone is in need we will want to help them. We will often go out of our way to help and sometimes put all our energy into helping them because often there is no one else willing to help.

This happened to me recently when a good friend became quite ill. For various reasons I was the person chosen to communicate with doctors and carers. I really wanted to help her and tried to look after myself but there were many demands on me daily.

It soon became apparent to my friends I was very stressed, and they said I must set a boundary, but no one told me exactly how I could do it without letting my friend and her family down

Eventually she came home, and my friend is a different person. No longer down she is now full of life, doing her crafts, cooking, going shopping and doing gardening. She has blossomed and is very creative again.

For a while I felt I was now empty because I had filled up my friends tank but left nothing for myself.

I was so happy for her of course but I was exhausted. I hear people saying you should have set boundaries but if I had she may not be back in her house.

I am ok now and pleased my friend is back in the community.

I would like some ideas.

How do you set boundaries when you want to help others and if you don't, no one may help them?

How do you give from your tank but still leave some energy for yourself?

A Moodscope member

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

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Remember Me Monday September 24, 2018

Wow, have we had some moving stories recently on Moodscope, haven't we? I've always appreciated the blogs, especially the ones where we really get to understand what we each are going through, but recently the sharing seems to be even deeper. This may be because I'm listening more intently...

I would like to say that we ALL have stories that become more valuable as we share them and listen to one another. Each story makes each of us more 'real' to the others... especially when we cannot see each other face-to-face.

Allegedly, I am rather memorable when you do meet me! Yesterday, in the span of just one day, I was described as, "The Character," by my accountant's wife, and as, "Looking like a Hitler Youth," by a teasing male friend! (I had on a black T shirt, braces and tan trousers with big boots as I was sorting out the messy job of moving stuff.) I know which description was my preferred one, and yet in both instances I'd clearly made a memorable impression.

Most of us will never meet face-to-face so that we can get a sense of one another through what we see. However, I want you to know that I remember you through what you write. What you write in the blogs and in the comments 'shows' something of your story to me – and I value that.

My encouragement, therefore, is to write more and more often. Share your story, share your insights, share your perspective and become involved in the exchange of heartfelt words within our trusted community. I want to know you better through what you write.

I'm also going to encourage you write and to 'publish' what you write. Writing is good for you, but you won't be remembered until you press 'send'! Seth Godin is my favourite business author, and he has had a huge impact on the action I take. One of his key messages is that we must 'ship' our 'art'. 'Art' for Seth is any output we create. He says it doesn't count until we 'ship' it – publish it – make ourselves open and vulnerable to the world out there. He also acknowledges that, while we're learning our craft, much of it won't be a masterpiece. His advice is keep writing until we produce something we love... and then keep writing. That's one reason I believe Moodscope's daily blog is essential. It gives you and I a voice, a canvas, a stage – and the show must go on!

A Moodscope member.

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

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Sunday Blues and contemplating THE Recipe for Life Sunday September 23, 2018

Does anyone else get this? That feeling of "meh" even though the day starts with good intentions and instead of Mary, there's something about Sunday, there really is.

My second in a row where I've been in tears, frustrated and totally unhappy with myself. A simple disagreement over scrambled egg (yes really) was what how it started. Calligraphy then threw itself into the mix, along with menopausal hormones and what came out was a very unattractive mix of poor me, I'm so stupid and why did I take this on? How come disagreements with other halves and the way they speak to you can escalate into depression. I should have known better.

Taking on this job when I have never attempted calligraphy was sure to be a challenge at the very least. Not having the right equipment didn't help and even sourcing it proved a problem. Then the paper... oh the paper... and on the fourth attempt (going well) I f***ed up a word. This was of course after attempt no 2 where I wrote "come" instead of "be" so I ended it with a f*** it before I binned it!! I can't change any words because it's a family poem handed down.

But it's not about calligraphy. It's about how you take on stuff that you shouldn't really (to be nice and also to be good at another thing hopefully). You see I LOVE compliments about my artwork but I hate failing, I hate not being in control and I hate not being perfect. So in a sense, like the calligraphy attempts I'm f***ed with this attitude. But I've had it since I was a stroppy teenager and habits are hard to break.

Logic tells me kindly "Liz, this is your first go". The idiot sits there for two hours in her dressing gown desperately trying to get it right. I have 3 weeks for my deadline but as I usually leave it to the nth hour, I didn't want to do that. So, off in a strop I went, beat myself about the head a bit (the odd slap here and there yes really, I told you I was hormonal) and then I made some chutney.... as you do.

Here's the other odd thing. When I start feeling meh, I go on Facebook and look up someone who isn't a friend (a few out there!) and pick someone who always looks amazingly happy and all the rest... and compare myself to her. The logical side of me says that a lot only put their best photos up but I'd love to know what you do if you get the Sunday Blues – are you a Facebook checker-outer (I know it's not good for me but it's addictive) and what is your recipe for life because mine sure isn't tasting good at present :0(. Oh, and could you do some calligraphy for me pretty please ;0)

A Moodscope member.

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

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A change is gonna come Saturday September 22, 2018

All my life I have suffered with depression and anxiety partly due to a dysfunctional childhood with no dad and a mother who drank.

I had no home and was never in one place at any one time I went to numerous schools and ended up with 3 O levels. During my twenties, thirties and forties I worked as a secretary and sought solace in partying and picking the wrong kind of guys. Please do not think I am seeking sympathy I am not.

What I am trying to say is that you can turn your life around.

Through lots of soul searching, counselling and input from a great mental health nurse, I have found my calling in life. I am now a care worker giving crucial care and love to vulnerable elderly residents. I love my job; it is something that makes me feel so good by doing something that gives me satisfaction.

I have conquered my demons and at last, after many years of suffering, I am finally at peace with myself. Life can change for the better so all of you out there remember Sam Cooke 'A change is gonna come' :

Miss Happy
A Moodscope member.

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

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Tigers Friday September 21, 2018

I have a recurring dream. In the dream there are random tigers that I'm afraid of and I do everything to avoid them. But no-one else is concerned about the tigers. The Tigers never hurt me or seem aggressive.

It took time and a fair amount of therapy over the years to understand what these dreams were all about. As I understand it dreams are reflections of your inner self - the good and the bad. People, animals, buildings etc. are all parts of me. The Tigers were a reflection of my anger. Unexpressed anger that I had stored up for years. Anger towards my Father, the bully at school, the teacher, my 2 wives... but ultimately anger towards my self! My dreams were symbols of the 'wild' emotions in me that I was afraid of.

Interestingly, unexpressed anger can lead to depression and anxiety. Think of the word 'de-press(ion)'. Keeping all that anger inside is toxic to the whole body and takes a lot of energy (tension) to keep it there.

As you can imagine, I wanted to purge myself of these negative emotions that had built up. There is no easy way to do this because, as I see it, I need to process the feelings, get in touch with them, in order to let them go - and it's hard! Over the years I've accumulated a whole library of books devoted to releasing unwanted feelings. I've had different forms of massage, Reiki, Tibetan breathing, Yoga, Feldenkrais, Shiatsu, etc...

I conclude that the mind-body will release old emotions when it's ready and not before. I can't force emotions out that have been stored for years partly because there was a reason they were not expressed in the first place. It was how I survived at the time.

What recurring dreams have you had and have you thought about what they might be symbolising?

Have you found helpful ways of letting go of unwanted 'old' emotions?

Be lucky,

A Moodscope member.

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

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Breaking Childhood Habits Thursday September 20, 2018

Last week my mother had a significant birthday.

Mother wanted to spend it with all her children and grandchildren - a party of 9: the guest of honour, my two sisters, four nephews and nieces, my partner and me.

I find a fabulous hotel, near to both an amazing gallery and brilliant sculpture park in a massive country estate. The hotel can put on a murder mystery dinner for the birthday evening. It all sounds perfect.

But then there are my sisters. Let's call them E for eldest and M for middle. M is kind and thoughtful, usually mediating the path between E and me. I rarely see E. More than two hours in E's presence and I am ready to slap her. Of course, I never do hit her, but the desire is most definitely there.

I chose the activities carefully. The sculpture park is vast: E and I can set off in different directions; we need barely see each other. The Murder Mystery is intended to be fun and to give us all roles and activities to stop E and me from descending into the usual arguments.

These couple of days are all about Mum. I worked hard to make sure that everything is perfect for her.

Everyone knows that the Murder Mystery dinner is just a bit of fun, to make the evening more special. E is fussing about needing a script and not having an outfit. She moaned on the phone to M that she's terrified. She isn't terrified; she needs to be different. I had already requested an extended vegetarian menu, so E asked for the gluten free menu. She doesn't keep gluten free elsewhere. Everything is about her. She doesn't realise that this event is all about Mum.

The Big Birthday arrives.

At breakfast E asks me what options we have for the day.

"We go to the sculpture park" I reply firmly.

E still hasn't understood that this is about us all being together, for Mum.

We agree to travel to the estate in two cars. The niece and nephews pile into one: the kids party bus. This leaves the interesting situation that my partner is driving, with Mum riding shotgun and the three sisters in the back seat: just like family holidays 50 years earlier, with my best beloved in Dad's place. M has to sit in the middle: I won't sit by E because she'll pinch me. Yes, in 10 seconds, we had reverted to our primary school ways.

E continued to be a pain at every step of the way, while M and I were firefighting to stop her from sabotaging the event.

Mum had a wonderful trip. Her true desire was for us all to be with her. She got her dream.

How can I break this pattern with my big sister? Have you had similar experiences? Advice and ideas are welcome.

A Moodscope member

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

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The Ghost of Judgement Past. Wednesday September 19, 2018

I hate tattoos: they disgust me!

Oh, I have so many judgements about tattoos and the people who disfigure their body by wearing them.

You don't want to know what I think of people who have tattoos; especially women who have tattoos! You really don't want to know if you're a woman with more than one (discreet) tattoo.

At least, that was my position in the past.

These days, while I choose personally, at present, not to ink my body, I find tattoos fascinating. Every tattoo has a story. Every tattoo means something – usually a profound something - to the person wearing it. Every tattoo is a statement. Tattoos are no longer just tattoos for me: they are art; and tattoo artists are exactly that, artists.

My change in attitude did not happen overnight. There was not one event, or one conversation which altered my way of thinking. It was not any one book I read or one person I met. It was a combination of many things over time.

There are other issues on which I have changed my opinion over time. Most of these changes in attitudes have been reflected in (are a product of?) changes in society's thinking, but not all: my attitude towards the use of medication to control the symptoms of bipolar, for instance.

But, I don't want to talk about my judgements then, and my judgements now; but what happens when I meet something about which I used to have negative thoughts and feelings.

Because the ghosts are still there. There's still this whisper over my shoulder, "Tattoos – disgusting!"

It's absolutely not what I think now, but a cold shiver runs through me, because I am ashamed of the way I used to think. I feel the weight of guilt about my past self.

But, let's think. We tend to judge history by our modern values. I am visiting friends in Virginia right now. Fredericksburg was the home of George Washington; where he lived and where he kept slaves. Slavery is abhorrent to us now. We think it should always have been abhorrent to every right-thinking compassionate person. But three hundred years ago, if we were white, we might have thought differently. We might have thought the right thing to do was to treat slaves decently and fairly: to look after them and care for them. Freedom might have been outside our paradigm of thinking.

Our past ways of thinking are in the past. Hopefully every change to our thoughts and attitudes produces more love and acceptance. Hopefully every change means we embrace more closely ways different to ours. We are not who we were, and we cannot change who we were. We can, however, accept who we were without guilt.

I used to hate tattoos.

You know what? These days I think they're really cool. And one day, perhaps, I'll get that semi-colon tattooed on my wrist.

(And - you may have to google that one!)

A Moodscope member.

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

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On Pride and Fairness Tuesday September 18, 2018

Pride is a problem. We get taught that it's wrong to be proud, that you should be modest etc. And yet, pride can be a huge mood booster, it can support your feeling of self-worth.

But I am much better at being critical of myself. Oh boy, I can be so harsh to myself! Even about the simple things. Especially about the simple things.

Usually I work from home. But sometimes I have to go somehwere else, which requires packing. What will I need? Do I have to take my computer? How about extra clothes for rain, cooler evenings etc.? I want to bring everything I need, but I hate carrying stuff that ends up being unnecessary weight. And of course it's quite difficult to tread that line.

Sometimes, I take my computer with me and end up not using it. Silly me! Why did I pack it and make myself carry all that extra weight! I should've known better, says that critical voice in my head. Other times, I decide not to pack it and then I would've needed it. How foolish of me! Of course I might've needed it. I should have planned better.
(For all who know think 'oh, just buy a lighter, smaller computer already' – yep. That would help with that specific problem, but not with all the other decisions about books, clothes, umbrellas, lunches. And anyway, that's just one example of my being super-critical. There are others.)

Some years ago, I noticed this pattern. And I noticed somthing else: I am being terribly unfair to myself! I am noting all the instances when I am doing something 'wrong' (or, rather, not perfectly right – but that is another topic for another blog). But how about all those other days when I actually pack just right? Did I notice them?

Of course I didn't. So I made a project out of that. Whenever I did something right, I noticed it and gave myself a small pat on the back, a little nod. I needed the computer and I had it with me – well done, me. It rained and I had an umbrella? Well done. I remembered the cold air conditioning in the trains and brought a scarf? Smart thinking!
And all that was not being „unduly proud", it was just being fair.

And guess what – the 'well done!'s quickly outnumbered the 'how foolish!'s.

And that made me proud. Proud of all the little things that I do right, every day. It's a pride that builds up, that gets more each day.

How about you? How about all the 'normal' things that you get right?

Care to start a mental list and give yourself a pat on the back for each one of them? You deserve it!

A Moodscope member.

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

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The Washing Machine Monday September 17, 2018

A friend has used the following phrase so many times recently that it's got me thinking. She says that her mind, at night, often goes round and round, like a washing machine. This is so disturbing that she sometimes has to get up.

The metaphors and similes we choose can often become part of the transformational process to move us towards more of what we really want in life. Our own stories can help us move forward. In this case, her mind was not being a great friend, running over and over the same old cycle. I wonder, could she change the cycle?

Milton Erickson is famous as one of the most influential people in getting hypnosis taken seriously as a therapeutic technique. It is claimed that Milton healed someone of troubling tinnitus by using stories and metaphors where the sufferer learned to re-tune their ears so that they didn't hear the ringing anymore. The concept is similar to the phenomenon of clearly hearing our name used in a loud party where we can't seem to hear the person next to us. We have selective hearing. Milton helped the sufferer re-select what they heard.

So, if you have troubling thoughts that go round and round like a washing machine, could you change the programme? Could you add fabric softener to make the thoughts more gentle on your mind? Could you advance the programme to spin (thereby exaggerating the thoughts to high speed so that they sound funny?) I've heard the spin cycle can be fun! Could you turn the machine off?

Personally, I'm not always conscious of the metaphors I use. Sometimes, it takes a friend to notice the patterns we are repeating to describe our experiences. However, if you were aware of the metaphors and similes you use, what would they be? I've heard people describe life as dealing them a poor hand (as in a game of cards). In that case, learning to have a poker-face could still win the game even if the cards are terrible!

Once you get the storyline, you can often tweak it and change it for the better. So what's your story?

A Moodscope member.

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

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Running In The Air Sunday September 16, 2018

It may sound impossible to you but I do run in the air.

I go to an aqua class at least three times a week in the mornings. It sets me up for the day, I get up with a purpose, organise what needs to be done at home, then set off out. I really enjoy water aerobics - the whole class following the facilitator's clear instructions, listening to the beat and singing to the words of the music which belts out. We feel like we are dancing in the water, whilst exercising and moving around at the same time. Everyone does what they can - there is no competition here.

I have done aqua aerobics for many years. I am not a fan of high impact exercise or many sports, and in fact am not very good at them to be honest. But I do enjoy aqua, and so I want to go to the class, and that is a great motivator.

Recently I have graduated onto using gym machines for strengthening exercise. I started with the stationary cycle - a few minutes then rested. Now I do 5 or 10 minutes at a stretch, and I try to do little 20 or 30 second bursts of harder pedalling. I may even go on to a few of the other machines afterwards. I particularly like the leg press which helps me firm up and strengthen my legs ready for walking. Some days all I do is the aqua class.

It works for me. I get out, meet people, have coffee regularly with friends there, chit chat, and I exercise. So I am doing my absolute best to keep as fit as I can, and age a little bit gracefully! It goes without saying, I know from personal experience, the difficulties of movement and gaining extra weight when on medication. But I am pleased to announce formally that I have just lost one whole stone, and intend to keep it off.

So, one of our aqua exercises is like running in the air. We hold the weights in either hand and suspend our bodies in the water, simulating the leg movements of running in the air. Backwards and forwards our legs go, breathing gets faster and we get fitter. And the added bonus from all this movement in the water, is that dreaming at night I can visualise myself as a light aeroplane about to take to the air from the runway. Or I might even be a long jump athlete, calmly and peacefully floating and running through the air. What fun!!

A Moodscope member.

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

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The importance of being kind to yourself. Saturday September 15, 2018

I have struggled against anxiety and depression for my whole adult life. In fact, it started when I was still a teenager so I have spent more of my life dealing with it than not. I tried everything from antidepressants to talking therapy and meditation, and anything in between I thought might help, with varying success.

I'd love to say I'm completely better now, but I can't. I won't lie, it's hard living with mental health conditions – to me it feels like I'm in a constant war against myself, and any time I feel like I'm winning my brain pops up with an unfriendly reminder that I'm never going to be happy and that I don't deserve to inflict myself on anyone, least of all the people that do actually care for me.

I realised I needed to start being kinder to myself and start fighting back against these thoughts. It started with something I read somewhere, or heard somewhere and I can't remember exactly where, but the concept is very simple: what would you say to a friend who was going through the same challenges?

This little seed grew in my mind until I felt able to challenge my own thoughts. I know many mental health professionals advise that we should recognise and acknowledge unhelpful thoughts and then let go of them but I found that didn't work for me. I needed to fight back in order to regain some control, so I started doing just that.

When my brain said "You're not good enough" I asked myself why not? I don't think any of my friends would say that I'm not good enough. It was that new angle on things – the "What would my friend say?" that helped me tell my own brain to shut up.

It's not the only tool I have used to combat and re-frame my brain's unkind thoughts with, but it was the one that finally clicked with me and made me adjust my perspective on things. Since then I've developed another tool for positive thinking and adjusting my outlook.

When I am faced with a negative situation I don't allow myself to look at the negatives first. They're not going to disappear just because I don't pay attention to them first, so now I challenge myself to find one positive thing about the situation. The thing is, there's nearly always a positive element in every situation, even if you have to perform some mental backflips or dig deep to get there.

Armed with one positive angle I had a weapon to fight the negatives with, and you'd be amazed at how much stronger your resolve is when you're equipped with something positive.

Slowly, and with a lot of practice these two things have really helped me deal with negatives, real or perceived, and they've helped me become kinder to myself every day. Try it, you might be just as surprised as I was.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Do we ask too much of the medical profession? Friday September 14, 2018

Over the years on the Moodscope blog we have read not only of the prime motivator, depression, but bi-polar, PTSD, Autism, Aspergers, ME etc. The picture is not a joke.

These baboons were in Singapore Zoo, thus immune to predators. In the wilds they would have been a bonded pack – dominant male, the old sent off to die in the forest or be killed, mothers would have the babies attached to them; at signs of danger they would have headed for the high branches. They groomed each other, reducing illness. They ate well. Being extremely canny, when natural food ran short they came into town – I have seen them virtually hi-jack a banana lorry, denude a mobile canteen from the back, and attack room service trays in hotels. Being our forebears, did their genes carry the foundation of our mental sufferings today?

I have a neighbour, a young man of 24, who exhibits all the symptoms of Aspergers. I know his history, without spying, our houses had been divided, with thin dividing walls, and from our bedrooms we could see into each other's gardens. His parents had both divorced previous spouses, and married each other. She had custody of her 4 year-old son, he had grown up children. They then had a son and a daughter between them. The tension between stepfather and stepson was appalling, hysterics from mother and son, shouting from stepfather.

After 7 years, by which time the eldest boy was having psychiatric treatment, the decision was taken to send him back to his natural father. The younger brother was bereft, only word, they were buddies. Sixteen years later he walks with his head looking at the ground, talks to nobody, has never had a friend, never goes into the garden, does not listen to music (his bedroom is next to ours), has failed two lots of university courses, now out of work.

I've been lucky with truthful doctors. Treatment for manic depression was hopeless, would have wrecked the remaining kidney. Lithium drove me frantic. Doctor said WE would have to cope, the WE was vital. I could use Vallium, and Mogadon. We got a new doctor – first visit, what did I want? Repeat prescription for Vallium, please. Why? Well, I always have Vallium. Well, you are not having any more, you are totally dependent.

I have two crumbled vertebrae; orthopaedic surgeon said no surgery possible. He made me do all sorts of exercises, said I was very supple, and gave me 20 sessions with a physio. After 15 Jean-Luc said he could do no more, I was on my own, every sort of activity possible, and build up the muscles. So, for me, doors are shut. But now, if a Doctor refused the modern Vallium, would I have been able to get it on the Web? I know so many of you are really suffering, but if we are looking at a dearth of doctors and money, are we going to start having to take risks? Like self-help?

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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

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Every day Thursday September 13, 2018

I am far from my home country now, with its cool, colourful autumns, low gray skies and rude people. Here, in Shanghai, there are a lot of rude people too, but there's no Autumn. It's still muggy 33 outside, and the weather is not getting any better.

I was almost home when I heard this familiar song's opening in my headphones.

Every Day by Mujuice.

I remembered the time when this song was oh-so important to me.

Wake up, brush your teeth, wash your face. Look at yourself in the mirror. You are you, that's your face, your lips and your eyes, your body and your pose. Not your depression's, not your father's son's, not unlucky student's, struggling with the non-mutual love and pressure from the family and at school, not your demons'. Yours.

Go to the institute.

Study steadily and conscientiously - and as much, as you can. Remember: People don't know about your demons, and they don't have to. That's not because they are bad; the world is not very good in general; and that's ok, too. We are currently working on making it better. So you should get better, too.

But if no... just get through it, please.

Be simpler and stronger.

Every day.

Yes, I know - "I am not ok". Don't forget to get lunch. Relax when you have a chance. Take care of yourself, because nobody else will.

It's not your fault that the world is not fair; not your fault that you have it so difficult. It's nobody's fault, actually; and even if it is, there's no sense in pointing fingers. Go on, walk home, listen to music, cry a bit on the way, let it out. Relax. No, you are not a meaningless piece of s**t.

It's getting better, I promise.

But you have to do it every day.

Every day.

If you wanna get out alive.

I don't count my life by days now and I don't have to remind myself that it's me in the mirror. I am not my demons. I am okay.

But I know what to do if I fall into my old patterns again. And I do know now - it's getting better.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Pool Rage. Wednesday September 12, 2018

You know, some people can really annoy you!

It started the moment she walked in.

This time of morning, the pool is quiet. When I had entered, there was only one other swimmer – over on the far side, in the most coveted lane; the one where nobody gets in your way.

So, I choose the near side, set out my length counters and water bottle, and began to swim.

Five lengths in, she came in. She was wearing perfume – a heavy perfume which combined with the chlorine to create a miasma which stuck like acrid smog in the back of my throat. Honestly, perfume at 7.30 in the morning! Who does that?

Then she started swimming between me and the near side. For goodness sake – there was the whole width of the whole pool between me and the only other swimmer! She could have easily gone in the middle.

I gritted my teeth, and at the end of my next length, moved my length counters along a meter or so, to give her room.

At the end of the next length I moved them again. And again, as she edged me out still further – and then kept brushing me as she swam by.

It was sheer, arrogant, rudeness!

I fumed. Single-handedly this woman had ruined my morning's swim. I use that time to pray, to meditate, to write. Instead of doing any of those things, I was using up emotional energy in annoyance.

I took a moment at the end of the next length to drink water and to glare as she swam slowly up and down in my lane!

"Either say something or let it go," I told myself. But I shrank from the confrontation. "Excuse me, but your perfume makes me choke and you were inconsiderate in your choice of lane: you forced me to move over when there was more than enough room on the other side." It seemed petty when I rehearsed it in my mind. She would be upset, and I would be more uncomfortable than if I had said nothing.

With grim determination I set off again. I wanted to splash her, but that would have just been passive aggression and, as such, beneath me. But – oh, I was still really annoyed!

"Let it go," I told myself. "Don't let her actions spoil your swim." But it was easier said than done.

Then I had a brainwave. There is a saying; don't offend a writer: they will kill you in their next book!

So – this unfortunate woman has died in several very creative ways, some of them quite gruesome. It afforded me great amusement and I ended up enjoying my swim very much as I killed her again and again.

My favourite weapon was the elephant which catapulted into the pool, straight on top of her. The elephant looked most surprised...

Call me petty, if you like, but it worked for me.

What methods work for you when dealing with annoying people?

A Moodscope member.

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

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How to Think Straight Tuesday September 11, 2018

I have never heard a better description of the torment depressed people suffer than that shared in a blog by Adrien: "A rabid dog is chasing its own tail in my head. Corrosive unhelpful circular thoughts go uselessly round and around."

Then Becca shared these simple words that, with Adrien's blog, provoked this blog: "I was so mentally unstable I could not think straight."

How can we think straight when, in our minds, there is a rabid dog chasing its own tail in useless circles?

Adrien's tip was to get exercise – and this got me thinking about using all the senses to 'think straight' – thereby breaking out of those destructive circles. Adrien's first strategy is a physical one – to walk briskly. So, there is our first sense – the physical sense of liberation we get when we walk. Walking means 'freedom' to most of us.

Not being able to think straight is also a visual challenge. We may have experienced a sense of not being able to see clearly. The future seems 'foggy' or 'unclear'. This is all about focus and clarity – almost impossible resources to tap into when there are clouds obscuring our thinking.

Following Adrien's lead, I would recommend going 'outside' visually too. By this, I mean writing down thoughts rather than letting them run ungoverned round and round in our heads. This gets the thoughts 'outside' our head instead of keeping them 'inside'. Writing a list of the first three things that need to be done may help us focus more clearly on just three simple steps. Adrien's examples serve us again: write that letter, wipe down the shower, do the shopping list.

What about the sense of hearing? Thoughts, for most of us, are words. They are like mental static, noise in the mind. This is where music has come to the aid of the mood of so many Moodscopers. Given that the conscious mind can only 'focus' on one thing at a time, providing a pleasant focus through music – even as a backdrop - can help bring everything else into more clarity. Why do we sing to distressed children? Simply because it works. It shifts their attention onto something pleasant.

Scent has similar benefits for me. I've become a fan of artisan soaps – soaps made with loving, thoughtful care and attention. When the **** hits the proverbial fan, you can almost smell it. For me, then, having a shower with an invigorating fragrant experience of beautiful soap can ease the situation, at least temporarily.

Taste may be last in my list but it is not least. I have a 'taste' for strong flavours, especially Umami – the Japanese named flavour beyond sweet, bitter, salty, and sour. I buy it as paste, and when I need to jump outside my mind away from the torment inside, Umami can bring my awareness out!

In conclusion, when there is torment 'inside' and we can't think straight, using our senses to bring our awareness 'outside' can give us those precious moments that can restore peace, clarity, and focus.

What are your sensory strategies?

A Moodscope member.

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

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Today is World Suicide Prevention Day Monday September 10, 2018

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, organised by the International Association for Suicide Prevention.

Every year, suicide is among the top 20 leading causes of death globally for people of all ages. It is responsible for over 800,000 deaths, which equates to one suicide every 40 seconds.

Every life lost represents someone's partner, child, parent, friend or colleague. For each suicide approximately 135 people suffer intense grief or are otherwise affected. This amounts to 108 million people per year who are profoundly impacted by suicidal behaviour.

You can make a difference – as a member of society, as a parent, as a friend, as a colleague or as a neighbour. There are many things that you can do daily to prevent suicidal behaviour. You can raise awareness about the issue, educate yourself and others about the causes of suicide and warning signs for suicide, show compassion and care for those who are in distress in your community, question the stigma associated with suicide, suicidal behaviour and mental health problems and share your own experiences.

There are probably Moodscope members that have had or are having suicidal thoughts. As we're an online community, we don't know unless you tell us - we can't see the signs, so if you are suffering and don't know where to turn, please reach out to the other Moodscope members on this blog. They are an amazing group of people with big hearts, a lot of experience, advice and love to give.

Dragonfly, A Moodscope member has written the post for today which touches on suicide, it's impact and how difficult it is to tell if someone is suffering. The blog will follow shortly.

If you want to find out more about what you can do to help, please take a look at the WSPD web site:

Thank you.

Kind regards.

The Moodscope team.

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

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Serendipity Monday September 10, 2018

After my last blog I basked in the warm glow of the comments; so happy it had brought about joy, upliftedness and my favourite word: Serendipity, with all its connotations of calm and serene chance.

Please don't turn away. I can't pretty this up, but stay with me. All is not despair.

Yesterday I returned from another trip across the Pennines; another difficult visit to see my Dad. Shortly after leaving the station I heard the train driver sound his horn. We then braked heavily as we came to a sudden and unscheduled stop. Just beyond a charming country station with its stone-built bridge and bucolic anonymity, somebody decided to take their own life.

Amid the eerie calm that followed, the tactful announcement in a most British way, sanitised the truth. But we knew. I made a tearful phone call. I heard the young woman behind me complain on her phone that she couldn't get off for a fag. I felt angry at her selfishness but after a while realised that she didn't yet know as her headphones had muffled the commotion. I also overheard her tell that her phone battery was running low. Something made me want to override what I felt, and I offered her my phone-charger from my suitcase. She thanked me gratefully.

The emergency services arrived and worked efficiently whilst we sat in a strange limbo, by the little stone-built bridge.

After asking the conductor how she might get home, I heard the young lady with the blue hair speak from the seat behind and realised she was talking to me. I turned to look through the seats and a conversation like no other unfolded itself. She was struggling with anxiety, she told me, had suffered from depression and her own life had been touched by suicide.

Far from being self-centred, she tried her best to be there for others who might be struggling. Her seeming insouciance belying her experience and caring soul. I said such events are all the more reason for us all to help one another on this life's journey. She agreed and told me that she tries not to judge as one never knows what another person is going through. Yet had I been quick to judge?

Our conversation deepened and we connected. She asked if she might tag along at the next station where we would eventually have to change. Again – me providing an anchor in uncertainty?

After a couple of hours of sitting in that quiet little valley, beside the stone-built bridge, all those who must tend to such situations finished their work. A replacement driver made the 10-minute walk along the track and we continued our journey.

At the next station, my fellow traveller and I negotiated unfamiliarity together and boarded the next train. We stood mostly in companionable silence; occasionally talking. I told her how proud she must feel of herself for coping as she had done. She said she would never have managed without me. I think she would have and replied that probably we're all more capable than we give ourselves credit for.

I could tell she was having trouble quelling her anxiety as we reached our destination and she rushed off down the platform, but not before turning to me and thanking me so much for everything today.

I haven't completely processed all that happened yet. The driver must be devastated. The emergency services were magnificent. The loneliness and despair which some poor soul felt - I wish I could have helped them. The vulnerability we just don't see behind words, actions or appearances and the depth to which people can connect.

Thank you for not turning away.

With love

Dragonfly x
A Moodscope member.

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Little things Sunday September 9, 2018

On Wednesday this week, my other half and I went to a local nursery to buy some plants for our hanging baskets.

It was a beautiful sunny day and so, rather than travel back in the car, I decided to walk the four and half miles to home. I enjoy walking; I like being lost in my thoughts whilst, at the same time, taking in my surroundings.

I live not far from the South Downs in Sussex and so this walk allowed me a wonderful backdrop of blue sky and green, wooded downs, with clouds scudding across the horizon. Had I been in the car I would have missed the differing hues and colours of nature – the deep red rosehips, a redcurrant bush, the dusty blues on a blueberry bush and in a moment of serendipity, a kingfisher careering at crazy angles; startled by my inquiry as to whether the stream I was looking into held any fish.

I like these small moments; like Sunday last week when, sitting in my back garden, drinking tea, listening to my neighbour training his new dog, an adult fox (no doubt hungry or thirsty), casually wandered around the garden.

I'm sure I read somewhere that happiness is not about the 'big' things, it's about the small moments that go to make up a life.

What small, but important things, have made your day?

A Moodscope member.

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

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