The Moodscope Blog



Seeing things Thursday August 1, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Moodscope member.

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Cooking and Gratitude Wednesday July 31, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Moodscope member.

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Coping Techniques for Stress and Anxiety Tuesday July 30, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Moodscope member.

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

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Chapter and Verse Monday July 29, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Moodscope member.

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Letting children be children at a formal ceremony Sunday July 28, 2019

Recently I attended a graduation ceremony at a University.

This was quite a formal event with hundreds of students who had worked hard for years to finally have their degree conferred. The staff were dressed in the colourful academic attire and the theatre was full of families and friends and people of all ages.

At the start of the ceremony, the head of the ceremony addressed the audience saying how wonderful it was to see so many young children. He realises that children like to make noise and walk up and down stairs and sometimes to run so he told people minding children not to worry as it was family event and the ceremony could manage children moving around and babies crying.

He concluded by saying that those children may one day be students, so he was looking after the future.

You could hear all the parents and relatives visibly sigh with relief. I thought how wonderful when there is a formal acknowledgement that children can be children and not affect the formality but add to it.

There was no more noise than usual, but instead of lots of adults shooshing and chasing children people seemed more relaxed.

I was thinking many people need consideration at events: people who need to sit near a door, people who need to move around, people who need to be standing near a wall, and many other things that make the difference between being able to attend events or missing out.

When have you been impressed or disappointed at a special event because the needs of others have been considered or not considered?

A Moodscope member.

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Car Saturday July 27, 2019

Do you find evidence of yourself having done something, but no memory of how or why?

I will give you an example.

I was living around the corner from a Subway sandwich store. I got into my car, drove down the block, and went in. I waited in line. I ordered. I picked up drinks, and walked home. I ate, finished my evening, went to bed.

The next day, my fiance asked me where the car was as he wanted to go to work.

Well the driveway, of course.

No, it's not there.


In a panic I get out of bed. We called the police, we called him off work. We sat horrified in bed.

Someone had stolen our car!

His phone rings hours later. It's the Police.

He sighs and gets off the phone. "You drove it to Subway, didnt you?"


"Yesterday, for dinner... you drove the car to subway, didnt you?"

No, because I would have driven it back. Yet I clearly remember walking home. Yet I clearly remember driving there. Those were separate days, werent they?

Dissociative Amnesia Disorder is a debated diagnosis. But I can tell you first hand, it's unbelievable how dissociative you can become.

A Moodscope member.

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Snakes and Ladders Friday July 26, 2019

I had a blog germinating in my brain, to be called 'Emerging from the chrysalis'. That was a couple of days ago, and then I did not think I was ready. A lot of you perforce know my story. Briefly, five years living with my husband's Alzheimer's, his death, two houses, and no money. All these are regarded as top 'stress' producers. But, I thought, I've survived, time to live again. I would not have emerged from the 'chrysalis' as a beautiful butterfly, but as a rather dull and dusty moth who could not care what it looked like.

That blog idea was on a day of 'success'. Workmen finished, shop much admired, 10 window boxes installed, also much admired (lovely from inside the rooms as well), terrace flowers flourishing, ditto 'annexed' garden, iris in particular. So why slithering down a metaphorical snake? Daunted. 15 days without rain, lovely sun, desiccating winds and it dawned that I have got myself a physically exhausting watering job.

Then I am full of wondrous ideas for my shop, but it needs energy, enterprise, research and getting help. Which provoked: 'Am I any longer capable of galvanising people into action? I get tired very quickly; can I present a cheerful face to those who take up my offer? If I don't put my shop to use as a 'talking shop' what on earth am I going to do with it?'

Another potential 'snake' did not turn out as expected. I'd mentioned a friend, leaving for UK, stayed with me for 10 days. She'd always visited on her own. Her husband had been here previously for two long parties and had not spoken to me. His wife said he was addicted to TV, and was not 'social'. He also, according to her, has Alzheimer's. So I hoped we'd cope with 10 days. She said they never had 'regular' meals (she was always out). We had a big social life during their visit, and I love cooking. He was a revelation! Fed interesting food, fair amount of wine, he blossomed, and turned out to be very interesting. He started to chat to me in the office, and she yelled for him – others now say she is very possessive, but treats him as a dim child. As I say, it was a revelation.

Then, a phone call yesterday brought me 'out'. A school friend of my second son, a delightful 'boy', known him 35 years, not met for 25. He and his wife are coming for the afternoon Friday. He says it does not sound as though I have changed! So furious activity, up that long ladder, he is a creative furniture designer, and I want to show them both my new 'creativity'. A recent blog talked of 'light bulb' moments. Can you pin-point when something was exciting enough to jolt you out of the doldrums?

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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Confidence required Thursday July 25, 2019

Firstly, I would like to start by thanking Valerie who published her "Write that blog" post. Without it I would never have written this piece. You see, I have never thought highly of my writing style, sometimes it makes me physically sick, knowing that I have to write, especially in my job, where I feel I could be scrutinised.

I left school with no GCSE's many years ago, but went on to college a few years after, and following a decade of employment as an administrator, I earned a BSc studying part time and following that, an MSc eight years later.

Highly educated you may say, however that is not the way I feel inside. I seem to need constant reassurance from people to tell me I'm brilliant. I have a decent job, and I run a small business part time, both of which help me to pay my bills and go on trips and holidays. I am a single father of two kids, where again everyone tells me what a great job I am doing.

So why do I feel like there is a gap in my life. Could it be the loss of a child (stillbirth) in 2008, and the fall out with my best friend, and then separation from my children's mother in 2012, and the loss of my father in 2015, and most recently my mother in 2018. All this while keeping a smile on my face and telling people I'm good. Well I am not good at the moment, I just feel like I am existing.

I have so much more to say, but so little space to write in my first blog. I thank you again Valerie, as it has helped to get some of my thoughts on paper and hopefully some help.


A Moodscope member.

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A Strange Friend Indeed! Wednesday July 24, 2019

I think everyone should have a friend like Raz.

Well, perhaps not everyone. Not everyone would be prepared to put up with his eccentricities, but I think many of us would appreciate someone who challenges us, almost daily, to reach, to strive, to give more than we think we can and to achieve what we never would have considered for ourselves; someone who shifts us outside our comfort zone into strange territory.

We had a strange and silly conversation last year; a competition to see who could come up with the most "twelves". Twelve Days of Christmas, Twelve Dancing Princesses, Twelve Disciples and so on. Out of this, came my challenge: I was to write a series of twelve short stories, one for each month of the year. I took on for myself – or perhaps the stories dictated it to me - the themes of death and rebirth; endings and beginnings. Each story is exactly a thousand words, meaning the writing is succinct and tight and it's some of the best work I've ever done.

He's got me writing poetry again; he's got me reading Middle-Welsh Arthurian legends as I try to solve a certain puzzle; he's got me designing and drawing and painting. I even dressed up as the octopus witch Ursula from the Little Mermaid and filmed myself singing along to the song "Poor Unfortunate Souls!" Now, that bit of video footage will never be shown to a public audience!

Sometimes it's frustrating. Sometimes I tear my hair out and yell at him. "Why can't you be like normal people? Why can't we have a normal friendship?"

And the answer to that is, even if there were such a thing as "normal", Raz could not fit in that box, and I would not love him as I do if he did. Raz is not "normal". But then, neither am I – and neither are you.

People are just – people. We can categorise ourselves into Introverts and extroverts, hunters or gatherers, an ESTJ on the Myers Briggs scale, or a Type 9 on the Enneagram; but with each categorisation we merely further confirm our uniqueness.

You are here, reading this, probably because you self-identify as having depression, or bipolar disorder. But you are unique in the way you exhibit that depression or bipolar disorder – and unique in ways far beyond that.

We all want our "tribe", the people who are "just like us", the people we can identify with, who share the same interests and values, but we cannot expect the people in our tribe to be our identical twins.

Sometimes it is good to look beyond our immediate horizons and engage with the strangers out there. There are people out there we might view as very strange indeed; we might be nervous or even fear them, but they are just - people.

A stranger might not be a friend you have not yet met, but they might just, maybe, perhaps, become a very strange friend indeed.

A Moodscope member.

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Pressure Tuesday July 23, 2019

The last four weeks have been so stressful:

My father in law became ill and died... that's high on the stress factor scale.
Then my dog got attacked by two Rottweilers leading to an emergency trip to the vet to treat puncture wounds...
Then extra childcare whilst my ex was away...
Then work at its busiest...
Then getting ready for my most adventurous holiday ever...
Then abuse from the parent of one of my daughter's fellow school pupils. Not an unpleasant word. Really vitriolic hammering...

And lots of things fell to pieces. Planned healthy eating was replaced by daily trips to the supermarket. The fun planned things like a Book Group meeting with cake and cava got ditched.

And this morning Super Mum cracked. I couldn't stop crying.

So Queen's song 'Under Pressure' is the soundtrack for the last few weeks.

And what have I done? I have stopped. I have put my foot down and said 'enough is enough'. I cancelled a social engagement tonight and am snuggled with the dog watching an innocuous quiz show and drinking squash.

And it feels pretty damn good...

A Moodscope member.

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Crafting Calmness Monday July 22, 2019

I wonder if you are like us? When Penny and I are both feeling low – at the same time – we have a strong desire to shut the door and not go out. We don't want to mix with people as it often takes too much energy. That's not always true, though, because there are some sparky people out there, beyond the closed door, who give tons of energy.

We both love to create – to craft. Creating crafts is calmness for us. It brings us peace. For Penny it's very physical crafts like knitting and sewing. For me, it's making music, doing photography, or creating video productions (and sometimes all three!)

This weekend we were both low but decided to pop down to the Courtyard Craft Centre to see a predictably perky person at, "Not Just Wool," Serena! "Not Just Wool," is a good name for her shop because we always leave feeling uplifted and she never stitches us up but rather has us in stitches! Enough with the puns.

There was a double bonus this weekend, however, because Serena's got new neighbours – two other crafty shops run by equally perky people! First, we met Coralie – of Coralie's Crafts and Gifts. What beautiful names our crafty friends have... but get this, Coralie was taught the mystical arts of sewing by her auntie, "Enid Threadgold"! Now, there's a name for the writers amongst us to conjure with! Coralie gladly shared that she finds her peace when she's creating. She's a specialist in embroidery and her work is gorgeous. She also had amazing Money Monster bags... yes, I want one!

Most importantly, though, Penny, Coralie, and I all agreed that crafting and creating were paths to peace for us, ways to literally craft 'calm' in our lives. Thus, I was wondering how many Moodscopers turn to craft and art or music to create calm? And, if you don't, have you got a craft you'd like to take up as a means to finding inner peace?

Did you think I'd forgotten the second bonus? No way!

Finally, hard-rocking Hayley of HappyhayClothing! We walked into her store with Iron Maiden playing in the background. Within moments we were comparing notes on, "The Rocky Horror Show," and creating a new institution: "Tim Curry, Curry Night!" For this, friends get together, eat curry, and watch films with Tim Curry in! Hayley makes beautiful dresses and furnishings and the heavy rock backing was wonderfully incongruent... and yet perfect!

Next time you're tempted to shut out the world and close yourself off from people, find a craft centre to visit. They attract good people who can create calm and bring a smile to your day!

A Moodscope member.

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And...? Sunday July 21, 2019

I've come outside into my small suburban garden with my cup of tea. My cat has breakfasted and slipped out with me and we are 'taking the air' before morning chores.

I have the luxury, now, of being retired; that is to say I practice no profession, have no employer imposing on my time; but that being said, I have busyness aplenty and more in seeing to my everyday health and affairs and keeping abreast of all the changes that intrude into my carefully planned continued existence.

The sun is well up; just in shadows, still, the strip of lawn beneath the rambler hedge rose and blackberry briers and honeysuckle that scrabble along the fence between they next door and me.

Other side is in full sun and bees are competing for the deep blue geraniums flowering there.

Cat sits on the old concrete path absorbing the sun's rays. Thinking of what I wonder, or, more likely, just listening; and now with a slight lift of his nose he's caught some scent...

Very faintly I can hear morning traffic on the road out front, but intermittently, and at this early time my attention is, rather, caught more by birds chitter chatter and wind rustling the leaves on trees behind my plot.

AND...? The point?

(I'm still here...)

(and cat sits...)

A Moodscope member.

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Minding the mind Saturday July 20, 2019

I was inspired to write this blog after reading a piece by a fellow moodscoper on her experiences with mental health services.

Having been referred by my GP to see a pyschologist at my local hospital, I truly felt that maybe I was going to get some help other than the usual "Here's some tablets, come back and see me in a month" line that no doubt we have all heard all to often. (Not that medications don't work because they do help.)

After only half an hour of questions, many of which they already had the answers to, I was told that I was currently too sick (!) for the pyschologist to take my case and was referred to a local eating disorder clinic. (I don't have an eating disorder I have severe anxiety which leads me to be violently sick, this is due to past traumas that occurred at mealtimes).

As I expected the eating disorder clinic wasn't able to help me as they were concerned that the work they would do could make my other issues worse and they suggested I go back to the pyschologist.

Back to my GP I went. His advice then was for me to self refer to an organisation called Insight which I did, only to be told yet again that I really needed to see a psychologist.

It was then in desperation I contacted my local Mind group. I had a meeting with one of their wonderful staff and even though they agreed that I needed to be seen by a psychologist, they have provided me with support, a friendly face, and a shoulder to cry on when it's been needed.

I can honestly say that without their support I don't think I would have come through the last few years unscathed and functioning, even if it is with a malfunction.

A Moodscope member.

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Am I really worthy? Friday July 19, 2019

The talk today was about being worthy. The speaker stated that it is easy to say someone is worthy, it is harder to hear it and even harder to believe it. This really struck me as I question my worth a lot, in many situations.

Am I good enough? I'm not as intelligent, pretty, gifted, fortunate... as him/her. But is that true? I think sometimes the old voices from the past have a lot to do with this. It is easy to say let go of the past, but quite another thing to be able to do it. Those voices have become ingrained in my memory. When something is said enough to a person, it is believed and said to oneself. It takes a long time to overcome this, to recognise it in the first place, then to replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts.

The problem is, all the positive things ever said to me, have been drowned out by the negative things. It is a journey I am at the beginning of in learning to be kind to me, to recognise the negative thoughts in order to turn them around to become positive thoughts.

There are many sayings I could use, for example, "If you think you are too small to be effective, then you have never been in bed with a mosquito" - Betty Reese. "You can be the most beautiful person in the world and everybody sees light and rainbows when they look at you, but if you yourself don't know it, all of that doesn't even matter. Every second that you spend on doubting your worth, every moment that you use to criticize yourself; is a second of your life wasted, is a moment of your life thrown away. It's not like you have forever, so don't waste any of your seconds, don't throw even one of your moments away."
- C. JoyBell C.

All are great sayings in principle but taking them on board and making them part of my every day is quite another thing.

I know in my head that I have many great qualities which can make a difference every day but the heart does not always believe it.

I shared this on Facebook last year. It seems relevant to this blog. It is written by someone called Kristina Makeyava, it does make me think. "You may think that you are completely insignificant in this world. But someone drinks coffee every morning from their favourite cup that you gave them. Someone heard a song on the radio that reminded them of you. Someone read the book you recommended, and plunged headfirst into it. Someone remembered your joke and smiled, returning home from work in the evening. Someone loves himself a little more, because you gave them a compliment. Never think that you have no influence whatsoever. Your trace, which you leave behind with even a few good deeds, cannot be erased".

I will continue to practice kindness to myself. I AM WORTHY.

A Moodscope member

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250 Days Sober – What Have I Learnt? Thursday July 18, 2019

It was all getting too much. The stresses and strains were becoming unbearable. I was disappearing into alcohol-induced oblivion every day in an ill-judged desperate attempt to self medicate. I knew it was an unhealthy cycle but I felt powerless to muster the strength to escape from it. Inevitably, as is always the case when pressure is continuously applied to the weakest point, I broke and quite spectacularly so, resulting in hospitalisation.

For me, that was the game changer I had been waiting for and felt myself hurtling towards for quite some time. I observed that all my stresses and worries had been put to one side whilst I was incapacitated and concentrating on my recovery. Those all-consuming negative thoughts lost their prominence and led me to reassess my life. I haven't had an alcoholic drink since and recently celebrated 250 days sober; an absolutely huge, life changing achievement. Here are a few things, some more random than profound, I have learnt on my journey so far:

• Stresses only have the importance ranking that I assign to them. They can be demoted in favour of my health and wellbeing.
• I can function perfectly well without alcohol and hardly ever have a craving for it any more, apart from in times of acute emotional distress. Being sober enables me to dedicate time to easing the latter by reading around the subject and implementing new coping strategies.
• I have learnt the power of introducing regular tiny habits into my life. For example, with a couple of minutes of practice each day, I am now able to stand on one leg without wobbling all over the place.
• I am no longer resistant to or belittling of alternative therapies and supplements. I have found some to be very helpful and some less so. I know that the benefits will vary according to the individual and am prepared to try new things.
• Breathing exercises and meditation help calm my overactive mind and racing thought processes.
• A problem shared is more than a problem halved; communication has become my most effective tool in overcoming problems.
• A simple set of exercises and stretches actually makes a huge difference to my flexibility and movement. My back pain has almost disappeared by doing the exercises recommended by my physiotherapist – if only I had started them four years ago when he told me to!
• A non-alcoholic beer in an old country pub by the sea is just as soothing to my soul as an alcoholic one. Who would have guessed? Certainly not me.
• Downloading my thoughts onto paper before bed actually helps me to sleep better.
• Slowing down and listening to my body enables me to make good choices. I have discovered that many of my physical aches and pains can be alleviated by a simple hydrating glass of water.
• And, finally, I have learnt that it is ok to just be me. Before, I felt that I wasn't good enough if I wasn't perfect at everything all of the time. Now, I realise that it is perfectly acceptable to just be good enough . It is ok to be human and make mistakes along the way as long as my heart is in the right place.

A Moodscope member

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

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Delete Yesterday Wednesday July 17, 2019

A little while ago I signed up to receive emails from the Flylady. Yes, I've mentioned her before, haven't I? You can Google her if you don't remember.

She warned me, right at the start, that she would be sending me about four emails a day! Gulp!

She has a household task for every day, a special project for every day, a piece of advice or encouragement for every day and a testimonial every day from someone who has found her methods useful. Often there is a video too! I'm sure you can imagine how quickly these emails build up into an unmanageable mess!

I'm so busy, that sometimes I don't even read the emails, let alone accomplish the household task for the day. As for the project of the day, Nope! And – watching a fifteen-minute video? Forget it!

Fortunately, when you sign up, the Flylady gives another very good piece of advice. "Don't try to catch up."

Yesterday has gone. Yesterday's task has gone. Don't worry about it: repetitive household tasks come around again. Don't beat yourself up about yesterday, start from today.

So, I delete all her emails from yesterday. Yesterday is irrelevant – today is what matters.

I think this applies to more than emails about housework.

Very often we allow ourselves to become stressed by things which have built up over time. We know that if we did a little and often, we would not be in this place of overwhelm. So, in addition to the panic over how much we must do right now, we castigate ourselves over not doing that little and often. That's not helpful.

We tend to spend too much time dwelling on the mistakes of the past. While it is lovely to reminisce over old lovely memories, we spend our time now in the past, wishing we had done things differently, wishing we could change outcomes: wishing the "now" we are now in, were different.

If that's you, I want you to stop it, right now!

Because we cannot go back and change anything.

It's not only pointless, but self-destructive, playing the "If only I had..." game.

All we have is what we have in this moment.

In this moment at 6.30am in a generic hotel room in Cardiff, where my daughter and I are on a university visit, I'm writing this because I did not have time earlier in the week. Or perhaps I didn't make the time, or prioritise writing this over doing something else. Or maybe I forgot. It doesn't matter. I have promised Caroline she will have this blog by 7am, so I had better get a wiggle on!

There is a saying, "The past is history, the future is a mystery, today is a gift, which is why we call it the present."

We can only make our best future by giving all to the present, and not waste time, energy and emotion by regretting yesterday.

Although, learning the lessons from yesterday? That's another blog!

A Moodscope member.

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

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Unwanted antannae, pickle loving and overthinking Tuesday July 16, 2019

Does anyone else have this? When you are so low, somehow you unwittingly tune into others' emotions and then absorb their negative energy or emotions, leaving you impossibly drained.

Since our beloved dog died a few weeks ago, I have had possibly the worst month I've had in a long while. Not only have I battled with my own emotions, I have been considering my husband's and then the people I care for professionally in a paid capacity. Added to the mix has been a welcome upturn in my business in the funeral industry, again a chosen role but one which will mean that you have to be ultra professional even in times of your own personal stress. It has not gone without notice of the D-Day celebrations where I tell myself to get a grip as these wonderful veterans have gone through so so much to give us our freedom.

Yet I feel terribly guilty. For stressing about things that don't really matter. For not appreciating the life I have been given that could have turned out so differently had they not been so brave on behalf of us.

But thinking back to the antannae... this is something that really drains me and I don't know how to stop it. For reasons of pride, of forgetfulness, of concentrating on anyone but myself, I have been forgetting to take my medication, 20 mg of Citalopram which keeps me on an even keel... but there is always the other aspect - does it actually kill other things that may enhance my life? So not on the pills, that make me level-headed, I become susceptible to every little irritation that is directed towards me... and I take it on board. All the energy vampires are suddenly drawn towards me like a moth to a flame and I give myself up so readily. Why can I not have that healthy forcefield that magnetically repels such behaviour – no such luck. Every little irritation that is displayed by others is magnified.. a wrongly pronounced name due to a language barrier... but one that has never been attested to previously as annoying until now... until the very moment I don't need it. Or the helpful gesture which was taken as the opposite.Or my beautiful dog dying. Or my up and down finances. Or my up and down business. Or my attempts to get other part-time work which are proving seemingly futile.

Just recently, I have turned down four social occasions. I'm not exactly the social butterfly but I would not say I was backwards in coming forwards either. But because I've been down and not wanting to either answer the inevitable questions – how's work or where are you working now – I have avoided these. Probably because I feel that I don't want others to be miserable in my company.

And then I feel lonely. And that no-one likes me. And I absorb everything that I didn't intend to. What a pickle... any other pickle lovers or over-thinkers out there or am I totally on my own?

A Moodscope member

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

47 comments - Permalink



I Like Culture Monday July 15, 2019

The many ways that could be understood was written deliberately. For example, I DO like culture! However, the main idea I wanted to share today was the 'like' culture of Social media – 'I like it' culture – and why clicking on 'like' is good for us!

LinkedIn is relatively new to multiple response options to a post. You can 'like' the post, or you can click on 'celebrate' or 'love' or 'insightful' or 'curious'. What I 'like' about these is that they are all positive.

OK down to earth with a bump. Frankly, I don't know how some of my friends on this site keep going. You may or may not put on a brave face, but behind the scenes you may be dealing with pain on a daily basis, or what seems to be an endless stream of setbacks, or a family that doesn't understand or support you. It's all too easy for the reserves of resilience to become depleted, even exhausted. Where can we get a top up from?

How did that last paragraph leave you feeling? It was honest. It was true. But it wasn't 'energising'. I agreed with the content, but I didn't really 'like' talking about it. When we are knocked back by life, we want to escape and get a bit of relief. Well, help is near.

YouTube has two response options, 'like' or 'dislike'. These are with the simple icons: thumbs-up or thumbs-down. This immediately gives people permission to show their displeasure - and they do. Oh, and then there's Tripadvisor – a gateway to grief for those who want to have a moan. Again, the moans may be genuine – even helpful – but they don't give energy or leave us feeling uplifted.

I'm going to suggest we have a LinkedIn-style day today with only five positive options:

I like it!
Let's celebrate this success!
I love it!
Wow, that's insightful!
Hmmm, I'm curious, tell me more...

The household here has had the Summer cold that's been going around, and then, in addition, I'm dealing with toothache. It can be tough to find anything to be cheerful about, but just putting on my 'I like' spectacles yields an instant uplift. The things are tiny but they still work. For example, the bathroom here faces the sunrise, and the tiles are a sunshine yellow. If the morning is bright, the showering experience is a combination of light-show and showers! It is uplifting, warming, and invigorating.

Next, there's the soap. I'm a fan of artisan soaps – and whether the bar is from bees or from goats, there are treasures to enjoy every morning.

Finally, my towels. I've got a couple of cheap towels from ASDA. Years old but they must have bought a magic batch. These continue to feel fresh and absorbent and almost 'welcoming' when you are embraced by them after the shower.

This isn't Social Media, it's the other real world, but if I could click on 'like' I would. I like everyone of those aspects of the bathroom experience, and just thinking about what I like makes me feel better.

What do you 'like' today?

A Moodscope member.

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Sorry not Sorry Sunday July 14, 2019

I say sorry a lot. So does my husband. Sorry about that. We realised just how much we say it when one of our children started saying it all the time. "You've got nothing to say sorry for, darling" we said, but still she apologised.

So what? Sorry is a hugely valuable word. When we say it we lay ourselves at the feet of the recipient; acknowledging our error, misdemeanour or failing. It can soothe troubles between people and set ourselves jointly towards more positive paths. And for that it has an essential role.

But as someone who leans towards self deprecation and low self esteem, apologising (and over apologising) can push me further down. It reinforces feelings of inadequacy and failing, and in our household often manifests in a competition for who feels worse about things that didn't go to plan.

"Sorry I haven't put the dishwasher on yet"
Subtext: "I should have done"
Reality: "I've been flat out busy with other things"

"Sorry I finished the milk"
Subtext: "I should have put your needs before mine and saved some milk for you"
Reality: "I really needed that cuppa"

So now we're trying something new. Where we can (and we remember!) we're swapping "Sorry" for "Thank you".

"Thank you for doing the ironing when I didn't have time".

"Thank you for looking after the kids when I had to work late".

"Thank you for stepping to one side so I could walk past".

It's early days, but I think we all feel more positive and lighter.

So thank you for reading this blog, and maybe a similar swap may help some of you too.

With love

A Moodscope member.

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

58 comments - Permalink



School is in Saturday July 13, 2019

Handed down to me, I now realise, were some lessons I'd rather not have been present for. Fear, inhibition, harsh self-criticism and judgements of others to name a few. Its not a great list. It took me a long while to realise that, although ingrained, deep down these words were not me. This inner conflict is perhaps part of my reason for struggling with my mental health.

If conflict exists within us it's no wonder our minds take a battering. Like an invisible tug of war we run from end to end trying to cover both bases. I'm having to distance myself from a person who has made me feel this way. (I notice I can't even describe to you who this is, such is the hold I still feel and guilt for breaking free.) And I cannot distance myself. They are a firm part of my life and impossible to set free from. But I can distance my mind.

I'm practising. Noticing when they judge and scowl and attempt to control with passive aggressive behaviour. Then I only have to counteract this with my internal recognition of the occasion and its done, I'm free to make up my own mind. My own feeling. My own response. I'm sorry that it took so long. But when we learn from others we have trusted, it takes quite a length of time to undo a lesson and write our own.

Very slowly I am re-writing myself. Its hard work, sometimes awful, but interesting. Each step is one closer to freedom. And it feels good, so I keep going. I fear there could be casualties along the way if I'm not ultra-cautious and so I tiptoe still trying to get through leaving everyone unscathed. Yes, hard work.

And you... might it possible you have learned a lesson or a behaviour which is not really you? Something which is no longer serving you and needs to change. Are you acting out a scene from someone else's book or are you sure you are living your own? It's a deep question. And worthy I think.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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

52 comments - Permalink

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