The Moodscope Blog



The Sorting Hat Wednesday January 8, 2020

(Warning: this blog contains spoilers for the Harry Potter Series. If you are not familiar with the story but intend at some point to read the books or watch the films, you may prefer to skip this one.)

"While you are here," says Professor McGonagall as Harry Potter arrives at Hogwarts, "your house will be something like your family within Hogwarts. You will have classes with the rest of your house, sleep in your house dormitory and spend free time in your house common room.

"The four houses are called Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin. Each house has its own noble history, and each has produced outstanding witches and wizards."

We find out a little more about the houses when the sorting hat sings its song. We learn that Gryffindors possess courage and daring, Hufflepuffs are hardworking and loyal, Ravenclaws are academics and Slytherins ambitious and ruthless strategists.

The sorting hat has a problem with Harry. He has lots of courage, a good mind and is determined to prove himself; he could go anywhere.

"Harry gripped the edges of the stool and thought, 'Not Sytherin, not Slytherin.'"
And, as we all know, he was sorted into Gryffindor.

There are some surprises in the sorting. For instance, why is Hermione, "the brightest witch of her generation," not in Ravenclaw? Why was Neville, scared of everything, sorted into Gryffindor? Newt Scamander, incredibly intelligent and courageous, was – in his day - sorted into Hufflepuff. We think of everyone in Slytherin as being self-serving but Professor Snape, while demonstrating an unpleasant character, played the bravest and most sacrificial game of all as a triple agent, ultimately on the side of good.

We tend to think of ourselves as being in one "house" or camp; we espouse a set of principles. Our family, our friends and the world sort us (maybe) into another house. While, rarely, that might be as a result of our purposeful deceit – we wish to fool the world into believing well of us - the dissonance between what we believe about ourselves and what others believe about us can cause distress. What's more, we can come to believe the sorting hat of outside opinion rather than the true north of our own internal belief. For instance, growing up at home, I was labelled lazy, volatile, forgetful and unreliable. As I didn't recognise my bipolar disorder (those who suffer rarely do), I couldn't understand the "volatile". I didn't want to be lazy, but I did (and do) get bored. I wanted to be reliable yet was (and am) easily distracted.

But – just as Harry thought, "Not Slytherin," we can choose not to be in the house others think we should be. I choose to be hard-working, dependable, honest and loyal. I may slip up sometimes; get distracted or fall out of integrity but that is what I aim to be.

I'm not a Ravenclaw dreamer, whatever others may think. I'm proud to be a Hufflepuff.

Which house are you?

(If you want to know into which house the sorting hat would put you, go to and set up your Hogwarts account. It's free but the sorting hat's decision is final.)

A Moodscope member.

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

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The Fires Tuesday January 7, 2020

We are in the middle of terrible bush fires here in Australia. The first ones broke out in September and since then parts of the continent have gone up in flames. The firestorms have led to loss of forests, loss of animals, loss of farmland, loss of property, and tragically loss of human lives.

Incredibly, some of the fires were deliberately lit, although most arose from lightning strikes on country left tinder dry by years of drought. We have cried many tears. So far Canberra has been safe but the danger is extreme and we have been asked to prepare for the worst. Canberra has been through all of this already, in 2003. We don't want a repeat. It is scary.

How can we avoid despair in this situation? Is there a positive in all of this? I think there is.

At times like this we organise to help each other, we stay in touch with loved ones, we share food, water, shelter, clothes. We do what it takes to revive our communities. We donate to charities supporting wildlife, farms, people who have lost their homes.

I am still fearful. Bags will be prepared in case we need to flee. But I know that the kindness and care of our community will get us through it, if needs be.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Bigger Windows Let In More Light Monday January 6, 2020

[To listen to an audio version of this blog post, please click here:]

There's a part of you that you show to the world and that the world sees.

That's the easy part.

Some people make a life's mission out of this, saying, "What you see is what you get." This, on paper at least, would be commendable, but it's not usually the whole truth because they don't know the whole truth.

Imagine yourself as seen through four windows. The first we've mentioned.

The second is WAY more interesting. This is the self you see but don't show to anybody else. When we 'come out' – we may open up this window to let in more light. And I'm not just talking about sexuality – I'm talking about anything you've been keeping under wraps but that you know fully well about.

If you're lucky or unlucky (depending on how they reveal what they see), you'll have some people in your life who see a side of you that you have never seen or accepted. They'll tell you. That's the third window. If it's the truth and it eventually resonates with you, you'll have more light in your life. It will most likely be an uncomfortable revelation, though.

Why do I say that? I say that because this is a part of you that you haven't yet faced. And you haven't faced it for very good reasons! I know, for example, that I am often my own enemy. I can review my life and point out times where I've clearly sabotaged my own opportunities, success, and happiness. There were always good reasons why I made those choices at the time, but they were not the best choices when viewed within a much longer time frame.

The fun or most fearsome window is the one you haven't seen yourself through yet, nor have other people. You have looked out through it, though. This is the part of you that you really can't stand! Carl Jung talked about this as the 'Shadow'. The shadow is often revealed in the intolerance you show towards characteristics and behaviours in others.

In my own spiritual tradition, we teach that we shouldn't judge others because in so doing we condemn ourselves. I have proven this principle to my satisfaction sufficient times to be convinced of it. Where I have judged others, I invariably find myself doing, thinking, or believing something similar eventually.

If you're up for the 2020 vision of yourself that lets in the most light, there are three things to begin doing.

Firstly, open up. Come out of the closet. Not to everyone, just to someone you trust. You've borne some burdens for far too long, and this is hurting you. Tell someone your truth. I had a dream last night that taught me a lot. In it, I held a complete stranger in a loving embrace. In my dream, I knew that this was what I want most at the moment, to be held, embraced, hugged, cuddled. Many of you know I lost my Mum before Christmas. She could never express her physical affection, so I grew up with a massive hug deficit. There you go, I'm out...

[I would be cautious what you share here. I felt safe enough to share that but there are deeper truths that are for the ears of the few!]

Secondly, listen to your friends and your enemies for they may see something in you that you haven't yet come to terms with.

Thirdly, watch what you judge and then ask yourself, "Do I do that?" "Do I think that?" But only when you're ready for more light and more truth!

Deeply yours, this Monday!

A Moodscope member.

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

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Half full, half empty, or neither? Sunday January 5, 2020

I remember a therapy session with a giant bearded Canadian in the group. I had carefully listed my woes but then, in a moment of self-perception for which I expected to be commended, announced that this was my 'cup half empty tendency.' I admitted I had a tendency to be negative, but said I wanted to see my situation as more 'glass half full'.

I loved the Canadian's response. "What do you mean, half full or half empty? Your cup is neither. Your cup runneth over!" He then rapidly listed a whole number of things I had chosen to ignore or overlook. He was right! A lot of people would like to have been dealt the hand of cards providence gave me, and has continued to deal me.

I have shared this story on numerous occasions. And now, a young male friend called Tom quotes it back to me when I display symptoms of negativity. It never fails to bring a smile to my face and my heart.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Nourishment Not Punishment Saturday January 4, 2020

For the last two weeks the nation has been encouraged to eat, drink and be merry. Then, as soon as New year is over the focus switches to cutting back, cutting out, dieting, joining the gym, getting back into shape and it all sounds very much like punishment at what can be a difficult time of the year for many people.

I struggle with SAD and find January my most difficult month. I switch the focus to 'nourishment' instead of 'denial'. More sleep, more fruit, more vegetables. There are many ways to nourish ourselves. Practice as many as possible, self care is essential if you live with any kind of compromise to mental health. Early nights, bubble baths and a good book from the library and a set time each night for digital switch off (stop scrolling)... what do you do to look after yourself?

Keep well.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Time to write a piece for Moodscope? Friday January 3, 2020

Happy New Year to all from the Moodscope Team.

We are currently looking for members who would like to contribute a piece to the Moodscope blog.

If you have a story to tell, some advice to give or an experience to share, please write about it and send it in to us. Contributions should be sent to

We don't have many rules, but we do ask that your blog is 500 words or less and we prefer to steer clear of political or religious blogs!

If you have an idea and are not sure whether it's suitable, just ask us to take a look and we'll let you know.

All contributions will be reviewed and may be edited if necessary before publishing.

We'll let you know when we're sending your blog out so that you can reply to member's comments if you wish.

If you have already submitted a piece for publication, don't worry, we will be sending them out soon.

Time to start writing...

Many thanks.

Caroline Ashcroft
The Moodscope Team

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

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Is this it? Thursday January 2, 2020

As you have already seen from my previous blogs, depression has pretty much latched it's tentacles to me like a an octopus, so I'm not really sure exactly how to either resolve it or even make my life a little more meaningful.

I'm stuck, finding meaning to it all but never getting anything meaningful back. I've tried exercise (still continuing), got a new job with a higher salary, paying off my debts and should be debt free very soon, have a wonderful girlfriend, my family is still alive... so I should be happy... Right?

But I'm totally the opposite! My mindset can't seem to shift towards the good things in my life, although not perfect! What am I doing wrong? Why do I seem to be afflicted with this negativity and continuous self doubt! It's ruining my life... but I don't know what else to do to feel like my normal self again... I'M STUCK :-(

What is this lesson I need to learn? Not entirely sure to be honest!

However, I've taken further steps to ask for therapy... even though I've done this a few times. So something doesn't seem to be working after all these years but I'm open minded... let's see!

A Moodscope member.

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

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Change Wednesday January 1, 2020

What is it with the turn of the year, that flicking over of a page in the calendar, that makes us want to change?

We make "New Year's Resolutions," as if somehow this one day, more than any other day, will signify a new direction in our lives.

So, what will it be? The favourite "Lose weight and get fit," "Learn to Meditate/Play the Piano/take evening classes in conversational Chinese Mandarin;" or how about "This is the year I will get my CV in order and find a new job?"

One thing many of these resolutions have in common is that they are not kept.

If that sounds negative, let's just think about it for a moment.

Our whole system dislikes change. That's because it knows the status quo has kept us safe up until now. Any change is scary; any change might not be safe.

That clutter in the loft? It's a minor irritation; we'd like to get rid of it. But is it dangerous? Not as dangerous as getting rid of something and finding, six months along, that we really needed what we've irrevocably thrown away. Eating the way we've been doing for years is comfortable (did I hear comfort eating?) and changing that might make us hungry; we might starve! Learning a new skill takes us out of the house on Thursday nights – and everyone knows that dragons prowl the neighbourhood on Thursday nights!

Yet change can and does happen. It just doesn't necessarily happen on the first day of a new year.

The biggest change in 2019 occurred for me on 17th April. I attended a business network meeting where the guest speaker was a nutritionist. This passionate woman, vibrancy emanating from every pore and radiating passion, strode up and down the room. "Hands up, all of you who feel constantly tired?" she demanded. "Constantly tired and constantly hungry?"

My hand went up. Three times in the past month I had been nodding off at the wheel, too exhausted to drive, yet driving because I had to. It had become a joke among my friends, "Oh, it's been two hours since food; we'd better feed Mary!"

In the next twenty minutes this woman turned everything I thought I knew about diet on its head. I went away and did more research, but the moment of change had come at 1.30pm that day. That was the moment I changed my diet and ditched the grains and sugar forever. Eight months on, a stone lighter, with no food cravings and much more energy, I will never go back to bread, pasta, rice or sugar. I love what I eat, and I love the way it makes me feel. This was a change for good in every way.

Change does not come about because of a "I really should" or "I know I ought." Change can only come about in a moment of inspiration.

Inspiration cannot be limited to a certain date; nor can it be manufactured; it just is.

I wish you at least one moment of inspiration in 2020, and a lasting change for the better.

Happy New Year!

A Moodscope member.

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

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Auld Years Night and Hogmanay Tuesday December 31, 2019

An ever-increasing phrase I hear is "what are you doing for New Years?". It seems synonymous with glitz, fizz, sequins and noise, the aim to be bigger and 'better' than ever before. The next day, we are to sanitise it away and reinvent ourselves. Here in my little bit of Scotland I cling to the old way. The last day of the year is still referred to in some snugs as "Auld Years Night" and more frequently "Hogmanay". Traditionally, we would visit family and neighbours, really only those within walking distance. Nobody did more than tidy up a bit and put out some shortbread as everyone brought their own bottle to carry from home to home, sharing. We would visit 'before the bells' and stop in the house as midnight strikes or stay at home until 'after the bells' and await the 'first foot'. If there was a newly moved in neighbour, then they especially should not leave their house after midnight. Someone had to be the first foot inside the new year to cross their threshold and give a lump of coal (so their fire would always burn) and a thick wedge of black bun a rich, black, heavy fruit cake (so their larder would never be bare). If it was brought in by a tall, dark, man it was best luck. The sharing of nips (a measure of whisky) from carried bottles would go on until dawn. Even now, I still shove my willing son outside the front door at five to midnight, where he stands chittering with a box of mince pies or similar so he can knock the door, be our first foot and bring the luck.

I adore these traditions. I adore the fairy lights. I adore the thoughts of curling up with a good film in daylight hours and a doze on the couch. But as a child I would often wander from the room of grown ups' ever rising volume of voices, layers of noise, cigarette smoke and drinks and think I was just too young to understand the fun. As a teenager the same. As a twenty something I felt I should be part of it. As a thirty something it was endured. Now as a forty something I have long since given myself permission to step aside. I'll dip in fully and then I'll dip out and no longer feel guilt for needing a different kind of experience.

Guilt. It can be a big one for those of us who wrestle with keeping our wayward mental health inside the lines. Do you need any more guilt? I've said it before with different words and I hate to repeat myself. But I will. Unless it is truly what you need and truly what works, resist the pressure to become a new you overnight. Resist the marketing of brand-new habits, split sharp routines and zippy kit to get you wired for... well, to become more you. Surely you are pretty grand precisely the way you are. Perhaps you have a few bits here and there which you tend to, or know you need to tend to when the moment is right, but otherwise you are just exactly as you are meant to be.

They can stuff their "New Years" jiggly schmiggly lights, cameras and action fitness maxi-micro consummation and they can accept a gentle fare thee weel to the year gone and a gentle welcome to the one dawning. They won't take me prisoner. I resolve only to do it just the same as I ever will. Walk with me?

I'll enjoy walking it with you. My hand as ever is yours. And I thank you for being my steady.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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Joy Juice Monday December 30, 2019

[To listen to an audio version of this post, please click here:]

Joy to Your World.
Joy is your strength.
Joy is your birthright.
Joy is your normal state of being - naturally.

So, what's all this darkness then?
It's an invasion, and we need to repel it.

With three sons and now five grandchildren, I have a lot of opportunity to watch 'natural' states in the wild! There are many:


I'm sure you can guess which of these lead towards freedom and which steal our liberty, which bring us pleasure, and which cause us pain.

Joy has a cousin called happiness – but happiness is from out-of-town. She comes from outside. Joy is part of the inner circle of the tribe. Or, to speak plainly, happiness (in my narrow definition) is a state that is dependent on what happens to us [extrinsic], and joy is an inside job [intrinsic]. Therein lies much hope for those of us facing dark days.

Honestly? I'm dancing with linguistics here – since Joy can 'come' from outside. For example, good news can bring us joy. A desire fulfilled can bring joy... but for the limited purpose of this blog, let's focus on the aspect of joy that is an inner force that can light our way through darkness. If we were talking Star Wars, Joy is an aspect of the Light Side of the Force!

My own spiritual tradition believes that 'Joy' is a spiritual force for change – an aspect of the fruit of the spirit. It is said to be 'full' when in God's presence. Knowing that this blog must resonate with all belief-systems, let's consider where and when and with whom you feel most in touch with the 'divine' – or something 'bigger'. If I share first that is only because I am writing this – I am far more interested in what your fuel-for-joy is – your recipe for Joy Juice!

Nature is the BIG ingredient for me.

The joy I feel in seeing a flock of Long-Tailed Tits or a Nuthatch or Treecreeper!
Laughter – especially of children is another huge component of Lex's Joy Juice!
And Music... so much power stored in associations with various compositions.

These are my celery, carrot, and onion for the best Stock!

I hope you'll share your ingredients for Joy Juice.

However, there is a much deeper purpose to my focus upon joy today. Those who follow in my tradition also believe that joy is strength. When we go through the valleys of darkness, we need strength to continue. I want you to be stronger as a result of reading this today. How? By making up a batch and then taking a good dose of your own recipe for Joy Juice.

What's it going to take for you to feel injoyment today?

A Moodscope member.

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

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Is it possible to overshare? Sunday December 29, 2019

When I was young, I remember one day when my dad and my brothers were at the beach. My dad didn't have his watch, so he asked people nearby for the time.

He started chatting and then he went through stories about us, his children, and my brothers and I are starting to bury ourselves in the sand as we were so embarrassed. He just kept on talking and we found out later the people did not have a watch either!

Many years later I was introduced to my new boss. Without giving me a chance to say hello, she told my colleagues that she knew all about me as a few weeks ago she had heard me telling someone on the bus, in a loud voice, my life story. I felt so embarrassed, I had become like my father and I was only 22!!

I want to ignore social media for this discussion, and just focus on our relationships with our family, our friends, our partners and look at what is too much information to share and what is under sharing.

I once had someone who I thought was supportive, say that I talked too much about my feelings and she was tired of it. I listened to her and her needs but apparently, I overstepped the mark. I never spoke to her again about anything.

Is there a limit to what we can tell others without over burdening them?

What do you feel about oversharing? Does it annoy you?

Or are you an oversharer?

Is there a boundary where you wish people did not share at all?

A Moodscope member.

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

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My Time Saturday December 28, 2019

I was recently visiting family and friends where we used to live and whilst in town I was envying some very glamorous and much more sheened than I was as a teenager/twenty somethings, I asked my best friend if she'd seen them to which she replied that "we've had our time". I felt utterly sad, frumpy and totally past-it. Meantime, sleep-deprived, bereaved, menopausal and shoe-horning myself into clothes, pouring with sweat (the hottest day of the year down there) and that's after a shower, I wasn't exactly feeling it myself. My first thought was "hell no I haven't had my time yet! I'm only just beginning". Why should age put a barrier on fun? Why should only young people be viewed as beautiful? Why must everything be judged on the way we look (as guilty as I am of that). Must I be put out to pasture just because I'm 54?

As a teenager, I really was plug ugly or so I thought. One of my dad's friends used to ask jokingly after "his ugly teenager". You see I thought that after this unfortunate spell, and wanting to be like my second cousin or rather actually be her (look for earlier post on my perfect 2nd cousin), I decided it would be a good idea to put everything into the way I look. Because I also felt I had an awful inside (personality) too. When you have poor self esteem this is what I did. Started to put too much emphasis on the outside. Even started taking selfies for God's sake and putting them up on Facebook when I felt low but fishing for compliments only increases one's sense of poor self worth.

These days I put more into my personality than I do my looks. But I will tell you this. I'm going to "mermaid" my hair, I'm going to cover my thread veins with pretty tattoos and get those legs out which I was always complimented on, I'm going to continue to rebel against the hair brush because I like these wavy locks (I've hung the hair straighteners up for now). My hair I think is telling me what I should do with the rest of myself saying "it's fine, leave me alone for now, put the fingers through it, don't dye the hell out of it as toner is your new friend, wash it once a week and let it do it's thing". I don't think my hair's ever looked better, even though I've only had it cut twice in nearly 3 years of being here (in November). I realise I don't want or need the Kardashian contouring – I've got cheekbones you could cut butter on but you know it's not an idle boast. I've also got unwanted rolls here and there that I'd like to push up and move around but I plan to eat better, drink less alcohol, have more water and tone up.

My point in summation is this... there is never a "time" that people have had. The time is now. To be fitter, stronger, less concerned with what others think, to be beautiful your own way inside and out.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Standing Alone Friday December 27, 2019

I have always said: "I would rather be rejected for being real than accepted for the games I play."

Recently I was cyber-slandered in the midst of a deep depression and discovered a gift in two of my labels. Several actually. When you are in the depths of a "life sucks," cycle, and energy is low, one more straw doesn't break the camel's back. One more brick in the proverbial packsack is not that much heavier a load. And when I am in the fog I am not rushing around breaking things; another blessing.

Years ago, before the internet, people used to say: "Well, if they are talking about you they are leaving everyone else alone." As if that helps! And while everyone readily agrees there are two sides to every story and that a lot of things are not as they appear, they accept one sided appearances and run with them.

In Canada, the moment someone talks to the police, a file and a number are created. So the tale about me came complete with a file number, making it believable. I had cleaned a house and hauled away the garbage as directed. Now there were items missing and I was the alleged thief.

A symptom of PTSD is to always feel distant from everyone to some degree and now I welcomed the feature. Social media opinions could be whatever they were about me, whoop whoop! I know who I am and what I am. It is different and distant from the story she made up. There is a wonderful book out there entitled "What you think of me is none of my business." I want that as my next bumper sticker.

While disappointed yet again in the human nature around me that laps up negative 'information', I chose to use it as a vehicle to become better than I have been and let opinions fall where they may. The next item of drama will arrive, and my social media account won't even exist to help circulate it.

I don't last long on Facebook nor do my brief accounts. I long for the day it loses its pathological power, it's so called validity as a narration for narcissists. It is nothing but another tabloid in a world where the truth is once again subjective to perception. The best lie has some truth to it and I daresay the most skilled liar knows to use some element of truth.

I would rather stand alone than sit in the company of the fickle and the flippant. At least I can trust me to be exactly what I am; what you see is what you get: dark shadows around my eyes from oversleeping and mentally ill from both environmental and biological factors. A house cleaner, not a petty crook. Rigorously honest with myself, my higher power, and my Moodscope friends. You.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Telling the cards Thursday December 26, 2019

There is often discussion here about the use of the cards and regularly taking the test. I think for many it is the blogs and dialogue with others which are the most important. Somebody said they were 'scared' if their score was high, I presume, if bi-polar, they feared mania. Statistics: I have been with Moodscope an unbelievable 7 years, done the test 1,800 times, lowest score 7% highest 95%. I tried to find the actual days to see what provoked those extremes, but no luck.

I seldom read the remarks about scores (call it a 'homily') because I know why there is a slump or a boost. What is fascinating, and of such help, is going back over the years and seeing the 'patterns', and how helpful it was to analyse just why the graph stayed in the blue section (or the 'sunny' bit) for a long time. Then, either at the time, or looking back, could one have done anything about it? Lessons to be learned for the future?

Long periods of low scores were always tied to stress, worries about the state of my husband, always aggravated by lack of sleep. I think this is at the bottom of so many depressions, just not getting enough or good 'quality' sleep. A continuous 'high' was this July. Although extreme hot weather was rare (and worrying, tied to climate change fears), I was in my element. Sun makes me feel good. It was light (and warm) till 11 p.m. Our tourist town 'comes alive' loads people around, evening entertainment, just fun. And my garden and window boxes were at their best, a continual joy. There is no way I can repeat that situation without emigrating.

When I am lucky enough to have the blog my score 'shoots' up, might get the occasional critical response, but it is like having the postman call all day long, checking to see who has 'called in', and their reaction. Particular 'fun' ones were 'A Good Read' and 'Sunday Bloody Sunday'. The last few months had excessive low scores; endless rain, Brexit and the family row which obsessed me for most of the year. I can also get hit by 'waves of sadness'. One was caused by a blog from Millie, January 22nd in fact, about the sadness of lasting family ruptures and difficult relationships.

On 23rd August this year I had my second highest score ever. No particular reason, except perhaps reaction. I had been worrying how I would cope with a family wedding, the first meeting with my eldest son since last Christmas. He spoke, the rest of the family were marvellous to me, and I coped with a journey (by car and boat) from North West France to Sussex, with unimaginable problems. 2nd September also very high – note 'Visit from Moodscopers, completed papers to get an Irish passport, and a tax rebate'.

For those who do not do the test regularly, I should start, might learn something about yourself!

Happy 2020!

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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

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It's Only One Day Wednesday December 25, 2019

Well, here it is then, Merry Christmas!


Now, I don't know what you're doing while you're reading this, or how you're feeling, or what kind of day you have coming. For all I know, the day may be over and you're reading this at midnight.

Maybe it's 4am, another wakeful night and you're online again because you can't sleep and it's one way to distract yourself from all the negative thoughts crawling in your head.

Perhaps these words reach you in that lull between the kids bouncing all over the bed gloating over the things Santa brought, and the moment when you must get up, make breakfast and start cooking Christmas lunch for the family, his mother, your never-can-be-pleased sister and her whiny offspring, and Uncle Roger who is loud and boisterous and tells off-colour jokes. You're wondering if 8am is too early to start on the sherry.

This Christmas you may be on your own. It might be the first Christmas you're on your own, or this may be normal for you. Some friends have kindly invited you for lunch; which is nice of them, but you're still on your own.

I suppose however, more important than the kind of Christmas you are experiencing, is your mental state in which you are experiencing it.

I feel so fortunate in having come out of my depression a couple of weeks ago. I can face cooking and entertaining and having the whole family round on Boxing Day. I can be with people and relate.

But not every Christmas has been like that. There have been Christmases where I could barely get out of bed and Christmases where, while able to function, I watched the children unwrapping gifts as if through the wrong end of a telescope. Somehow, I went through the motions, but I wasn't really there. If that is you this year, I can empathise.

But we get through it somehow.

It's only twenty-four hours.

Yes, there's the rest of the season, for those of us with families and/or friends who wish to make the most of it. There's the expectation that we will stay up to see in the New Year; but I think Christmas Day is the worst.

I hope this day is wonderful for you. I hope it is filled with joy and human connection, and if you have a Christian faith, a deep spiritual satisfaction. I hope you have a very happy Christmas.

But, if your Christmas cannot be happy, then I wish for you strength, endurance and hope.

Wherever you are, whatever time it is for you, whatever you are doing or have been doing today, I would remind you, in the words of my favourite meme, your record for getting through bad days to date is 100%.

You can get through this one too.

I promise.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Merry Moodmas Tuesday December 24, 2019

In my head, I've always seen Moodscope as a small park. Dotted with trees and marked out by a fence. It has a central tree around which sits one of those fancy benches connecting in a circle. I see us wandering in, some jogging through, some sitting a while, some walking with purpose, some wandering, unsure. Sometimes we leave notes hanging in the tree for each other, sometimes we just read them. Mostly, we don't visit the park at the same time and mostly we don't know anyone in the park much more than just a passing nod. But still we gather. It gives us a place to be, in whatever form we have.

Today, the park is our Christmas church. The tree stands ceremoniously with a mixture of frost and damp and it twinkles with fairy lights. It is winter-bare of leaves, but I see our words to each other hang there for encouragement and strength. It is a great tree. Our place to be, in whatever form we have. Our haven. Another Christmas is dawning.

There are often good bits and there are often awful bits. We can't change that. We can say "Its what we've got" and we can smooth the pinny, adjust the brow and go with it. Mary might have hoped for a memory foam mattress and she accepted the straw with thanks. Jesus might have preferred ear pods and said Myrrh was lovely thank you very much. Joseph might have felt daunted with what was ahead, and he trusted it would be ok. Let's do that.

Maybe this will be one of your best Christmas days, maybe your worst, perhaps it will be something mulchy in-between. Either way, we can walk through it together and there will be a note, a wave, a something and a someone if you choose to keep expecting it. I like being in the park. The place we can be, in whatever form we have. We are a park gang to feel proud of! Yes, proud. We choose to keep expecting change, and to keep pulling each other onwards. That is everything Christmas is about. May your Moodmas be steady and, on behalf of each of us to each of us, thank you for your gifts of kinship to all who attend the park. Merry Moodmas to one and all.

Much 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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Permission Granted Monday December 23, 2019

Very young children and very pushy people share a behaviour in common – they act without asking permission. I don't approve of rude people, but sometimes our polite 'reserve' can go too far.

As the Holiday Season descends upon us, give yourself permission to... Well, why don't you share with us all, by way of the comments, what you'd like permission to do?

I'd like permission to sleep properly and relax – in any order!

Truth is, I think we've all been programmed. We were told as a child so many times to 'ask' or even 'ask before...' that it has become a part of the automated script we run. It's a bit like me learning to put the lid down on the toilet and flush – it's on autopilot so I don't have to think about it. In a similar way, I look both ways before crossing the road. My signature is an even more powerful example of programming.

Most of our programmed autoresponders are good!

But what if we decided to tinker with our programming?

Penny said to me, years ago, "You bring out the 'Me' in 'me'!"

I love that!

Something I did or said or both 'allowed' her to be herself. I gave her permission to be Penelope.

This initially puzzled me. After all, who was I to tell her what or what not to do? It turns out that her husband crushed her free spirit. Some gentle inquiry led to a string of memories where significant people in her life had crushed the 'She' in 'her'.

I keen to discover whether you'll let me be an influential authority figure in your life. If I said, "Be yourself... you have my full permission and blessing!" would that help?

If not, find someone who you do respect, and get them to give you permission to do whatever it is you really want to do this Christmas – what a great gift!

And as 2020 approaches, may your 2020 vision include being the full version of you that you desire to be!

Now, who do you want to be?

A Moodscope member.

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

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Loneliness at Christmas Sunday December 22, 2019

Christmas is a tough time for me, I have no family, the phrase is 'adult orphan'; no children of my own, no parents, no siblings, no cousins, aunts, uncles, apart from very distant ones in Australia. So I've particularly loathed Christmas for many years (not that I was a big fan before my parents died).

This year I thought I was going to love it a little more, I'd met a man and he had two young children, so we were planning a festive day all together. I'd had my head and heart turned by him and this odd future, one that I'd never anticipated... I mean I'm 53, when would I have ever considered having two 'stepkids' under the age of 7! But I'd come to love the idea, maybe wanting my loneliness to end and the bah humbug hatred of the the day to abate finally.

I'd been single by choice for a while, but it was so lovely to find someone to love and connect with. Unfortunately, it wasn't to be, we couldn't make it work and a month ago we split up, leaving me grieving the end of a relationship and missing a future that I never thought I could have.

So the tears of depression start to creep again and I keep batting them back, doing my Moodscope test and trying to stay positive. But the relentless obsession with a sparkly christmas makes me feel pain every day and I just want it over as fast as humanely possible. I'm lucky that I have a great bunch of friends that have scooped me up and added an extra chair to the already groaning table of family and friends. So I'm incredibly grateful, so grateful to have good friends who can see my pain, help me to dust down my tears and cheer me up.

I am acutely aware of the loneliness of this time of year, so hopefully there will be many empty chairs filled, as good people open their hearts and homes to people like me.

A Moodscope member.

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

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What does it rob you of? And some other questions... Saturday December 21, 2019

I've been thinking about this lately, what does depression rob my life of? One word that comes to mind is 'Joy'. It robs me of joy in the conversations I currently have with people, joy in the efforts I put into my self-improvement, joy in my day to day activities, joy in my family life and close relationships, joy in just being 'me' and being okay with that.

So yes it robs me of a lot of 'Joy'. I know life is not easy (I'm not that naive) and at times it will be difficult but this feeling of being a constant failure in everything I do is hurting my chances of being the person I want to be and surely this is not how life should be...??

Had a conversation at work about performance, all good... nothing to be concerned about! You are doing a great job! Then why the hell do I feel miserable most of the time? I just don't get it! And the most depressing thing is, it's probably all in my head... it's sad.

So what does your depression/mental illness rob you of?

Another major worry is concentration, it doesn't seem to be there anymore which again causes anxiety and confusion etc, which again leads to feeling worse about myself... do you experience or have experienced this before?

I have another question, do you think after a long period of time on medication, the effect is not longer there (i.e. your body gets tolerant to the medication) and you just get the horrible side effects (i.e. your depression seems worse.) Has anybody experienced this and what did you do about it? Does a change to a different type of medication help?

A lot of questions I know but interested in everybody's thoughts/experiences.

Kind Regards,

A Moodscope member.

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

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Seeing Stars Friday December 20, 2019

I have been in alot of therapy over the years. Some terms are with me by memory now; closure, processing, realizing, and "acting as if." Or in other words: fake it til you make it.

My daughters both left home at age sixteen along with most of my good linen, good dishes and good intentions. The empty nest came far sooner than I ever expected and the visits home grew to be less and less. I miss the holidays where Barbie and Ken were the nativity couple with a playdough infant in the plastic saucecup manger and the heralding G.I. Jane and Joe brought tidings.

Depression at this time of year settles over me almost literally like someone has dropped a wet wool blanket on my person from somewhere sunny above me. I have S.A.D. on top of major depression and complicated ptsd and several phobias.

Medication is key but this last fall I got caught up in the black spot on the white wall and decided to change a med that worked but caused peprspiration. Down I went like a historical ship and life activites became exhausting. I spent twelve hours a day in bed and had to push to get the slightest task done. I who would normally be the one to silently scoff at someone who couldn't rise shine and fake it or meet a deadline, who could not punch a clock if it punched them first. Now I was the bedridden slave of fatigue for no reason, the hapless hack of hypochondria- after all there is nothing visibly wrong with my mirror image.

I got back on medication that works - different but effective, vowed not to change it again if it meant weaning off one to get to another and having a drastic lull in between.

Before the med fully activated I dragged myself out to the shed to drag my Christmas stash of decorations in. I didn't want to put them up I thought: what's the use, no one will see them but me. Ah - but I will see them. Seeing last years finery perked me up and reminded me of better times behind me and certainly hinted of better to come ahead. I wound up the musical Santa Claus figurine and listened to the carol tinkle merrily as I placed flickering and stable lights on the tree, mostly color... some solid and some in motion. I also put out white lights that looked like tiny stars on a dark night.

"Depression feeds on inactivity," someone told me once. Its true. And while the accompanying fatigue still robs me of some actions I would like to take, I am cheered up since the initial tumble down the unmedicated well of sadness.

Maybe I will host a "Blue Christmas," party this year for other loners. After all... misery shared is halved. The blackest night holds the prettiest stars.

Happy Non-Denominational Festival Occasion everyone!

A Moodscope member.

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

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