The Moodscope Blog



Hall of Mirrors Wednesday May 29, 2019

She came out of the changing room wearing the dress with golden roses and both her husband and I caught our breath. She looked absolutely gorgeous! The colours lifted her, the style embraced her curves and the skirt flirted innocently with her legs. The dress was perfect.

Yet, as she twisted and turned in front of the mirror I could tell something was wrong. She was obviously not in love. And my rule is that, unless my client is in love, the dress or jacket or shoes stay in the shop and the money stays in their pocket.

"You must buy that dress!" said her husband (he is that rare husband who enjoys clothes shopping with his wife).

"I don't know..." she said and twisted again.

I walked over and stood by her, looking in the mirror with her.

"I feel frumpy," she said.

"Well - the hem needs to come up a couple of inches," and I knelt down and held it, so she could see. "See, that's better, isn't it?"

There was a further silence.

"Okay," I said. "Talk me through it. Tell me why you feel frumpy?"

I won't reproduce the whole conversation here, but what it came down to was that my lovely client has been going through a bad time recently, had gained a few pounds and had gone up a dress size. When she looked in the mirror, she couldn't see the lovely curvy woman both her husband and I see – she could only see the overweight woman in her mind.

We live life in a hall of mirrors. The mirrors are never objective, and we usually see a reflection of what we feel inside. The only time we might really see the "truth" is if we catch sight of ourselves but do not realise we are looking in a mirror.

I know when that happens to me I am always pleasantly surprised. Maybe you are too.

The mirrors in the hall of life reflect only our perceived faults and imperfections. If we feel fat, then that is what they will reflect – just think of those suffering from anorexia. If we feel our legs are short, we will see the human version of a dachshund. If we feel our stomach is taking over the world, then a hot air balloon will appear in the glass.

I won't tell you to ignore mirrors, or to ban them from your house. After all, I don't want you to go outside with misbuttoned coat and a smut on your nose, but I do want you to be aware that the mirror lies. So too does the camera, but that's the subject of another blog.

So maybe we shouldn't pay too much attention to what we think we see. Maybe we should listen to those who love us.

My client listened to her husband and me, and she bought the dress. She looks gorgeous in it and I hope she will soon see that too.

A Moodscope member.

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

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5 Ways to Wellbeing – Learn Tuesday May 28, 2019

The fourth of the New Economic Foundations Ways to wellbeing is learn. Something I for one, spent a lot of time doing as a younger person. First there was school, then university, then a Post Graduate Certificate of Education. The 'trying to stay one step ahead of the children' I taught, making sure I was equipped enough to teach them whatever new topic we were learning the next week or term or whenever. I even went back again to formal education and studied for a Masters level qualification too. So learning has always been in my life.

What I have learnt has always been similar though; the formal kind of learning with tests, exams, qualifications and late night studying and essay completion! But no longer, since leaving teaching and the world of formal education behind, I'm looking for new ways and new things to learn.

'Learning new things will make you more confident as well as being fun'. That's one of the phrases on the leaflet I found about the 5 ways to wellbeing. It's stuck with me as I'm definitely experiencing low confidence and have little self-compassion and would really like a bit more fun in my life!

So what am I going to do about it, well I'm not sure because as I've probably said before anxiety about new things and new people has often held me back from having experiences which I would probably find fun and beneficial if I would only let myself!

I have recently found out about the recovery college where I live. The recovery college is offering educational courses as a route to recovery from mental health challenges. I've submitted my application and am now waiting to see if I am accepted onto my chosen courses. I am hoping by gaining greater insight into my mental health difficulties, I might find new and more effective methods to support myself and continue my journey to better mental health.

I'll keep you posted about what I learn and if you've a recovery college near you, do have a look and see what they are offering. You never know, you too might find that you can learn something more about yourself, or develop a skill you didn't realise you had!

Good luck on your road to recovery and I hope you find your street to success. I'd be interested to hear what new things you have learned to support your mental health and wellbeing or perhaps you've had to learn as a result of these difficulties.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Enhanced Reality Monday May 27, 2019

Some of the bright young things I occasionally mix with are getting excited about 'Augmented Reality'. This is where computer technology is used to add something (hence the 'augmented') to the reality they are perceiving.

The easiest is a heads-up display on some goggles where you can look at the world but also read data about what you're looking at.


I've been living in an Augmented Reality for decades – and without the aid or need for technology's help! I've also been reading a lot more into it than was really there!

Sitting beside my desk as I type this is a piece of art that lights up. Most of the time, I feel it is gently mocking me, but I know the artist's intent was positive. It is a phrase:

"Live the life you have imagined."

When life is sad or hard going, this motivational piece of artwork feels more demotivating, but it has got me thinking: "Could I use my imagination to enhance my 'reality'?"

Like so many of us who read the Moodscope blog, I'm really creative! Creativity is an expression of imagination, and I have had my share of using 'Dark Imagination' to make reality even worse than it is!!!

Perhaps we could all learn to flip that tendency. What if we could use our imagination, our creativity, our story-telling skills, to tell a happier story to ourselves?

For example, it is time for our 'Alpine Sunset' roses to begin blooming... and blooming they are. This is my favourite rose – beautify and scented. I visit the bush each day because the beauty is extremely fleeting, and I want to make the most of this Spring.

Frankly, the reality is beautiful enough, but could I enhance it with my imagination?

Of course I could! And my pleasure is all the more so because of my engagement in the moment of bliss that is my reflective time with the rose.

For me, the imagination is around architecture and fashion design – with the rose as my muse.

How do you use imagination to make the real world a better place?

A Moodscope member.

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

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Half the World Away Sunday May 26, 2019

I've been thinking lately about something my mum often says to me when I'm a bit grumpy or out of sorts – "Come on snap out of it! You can't keep moping about – you need to cheer up!"

I'm sure most of you have heard similar 'advice' when you're feeling a bit down, and if you're anything like me it won't have helped one bit.

But I still find myself sometimes thinking "I wish I could cheer up a bit!" when I'm feeling low.

So what is the answer? For me, if I am simply feeling a bit melancholy for no particular reason (which is sometimes the case) allowing myself to 'wallow' a bit does help me feel better.

One thing in particular I like to do at times like this, is listen to music with sad lyrics. I find it easiest to connect to songs I heard a lot as a child – whether it's those my parents used to play or ones I would put on as a teenager when I was convinced I was the most misunderstood person in the Universe.

Some lyrics just resonate with me, even if they are a bit corny or nonsensical when you truly listen to them. One of my favourites is 'Half the World Away' by Oasis. They're certainly not the greatest band on Earth but that song always makes me feel emotional – probably because it reminds me of my younger years and takes me back to a time when I was discovering what it was to feel 'depressed'.

I've even created a playlist of 'wallowing' music, full of songs with sad messages about life, love and many things in between. If I'm feeling low I like to sit on my own and listen – and I mean really listen – to every note and word, and I find that it helps me come out of my 'bad mood'.

I wonder if any of you have a similar method of coping with your 'dark times' or is there something else you do instead?

Miss Happy
A Moodscope member.

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

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Be Like Barney Saturday May 25, 2019

I recently spoke about looking for that little light – the positives in your life that might just keep you going when all around feels so dark and lonely. Well we had a little light in our lives and now he's gone.

What lessons can I take from his short life, just short of five years in October with him, and just under four months of his 16th birthday.

Barney is a simple soul. He loves his food and cuddles but follows his own path. He doesn't get bogged down with worries but he can be quite stubborn and mouthy at times. He cries at fireworks and is stroppy with Timmy, his brother from another mother. He's a stranger to a brush and loves the water. He has a happy swishy tail and a little skip in his step. He loves life.

Barney was our eldest dog. I 'healed' him when he was desperately ill in May 2017, some six months after we took the plunge to move from Cambridgeshire to the Highlands of Scotland. He started off quite chubby when we first got him... but by then, he was skin and bone, no interest in anything, could not eat, suffering from diarrhoea and going out into the garden and just sitting forlornly by the pond. I almost imagined I would go out to see him lifeless on the grass at any moment. I sat with him on a really hot day and laid down on the grass, praying to the angels to take him if it was time and sobbing my absolute heart out. We were one day from having "that conversation" and taking him to "that place". We were both distraught. I sat down with him and placed my hands on him. I prayed that we would have longer with him and in the process healed my breaking heart at the prospect of something worse happening. He improved, with medical input (drugs) and, I like to think, positive thought. I thought that somehow maybe I was willing the dreadful event to happen before it was properly "that time" so unwittingly perhaps I reversed the process.

Fast forward two years and he is gone, unexpectedly, but quietly and gently in his sleep, only eight days ago. My little sea-otter is now buried in the garden where we can go and talk to him but so many emotions are going on inside of me. Each day a new memory pops up on Facebook with photos, constantly reminding us of this most painful loss, the loss of our eldest furry son. For he was like a child to us. However I know in my heart he went the best way, in his own bed, in his own house. He even had his own fabric leopard house, his little escape room. I loved putting my head in it and smelling it if he was "home" or not... it smelt of biscuits, gentleness and calm. His brother used to sit on top of it and flatten it so over time it collapsed sideways but he'd still heave himself in, little liquorice nose poking out of it. When we buried him, it was in his own bed, with the purple blankie over him and then gently laid the folded leopard house on top of him. Our little scruffy rapscallion, the keeper of the "estate" finally looking after his little land.

A Moodscope member.

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

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A watched kettle never boils Friday May 24, 2019

At the young age of 9 I read an Idiom in a book wedged amongst many other dusty books in my Grandmothers spare room. It said 'A watched kettle never boils' and from such a young age I was able to understand what it meant, not taking it too literally of course.

I remember being so enlightened by it and felt proud of myself for understanding it without help that it has stuck with me. I genuinely applied to every day life. I translated it to time perception and that if I focused too much attention on one thing that time would go by slower, and of course if I distracted myself and didn't focus so much on it that time would go by faster. When times got tough I always knew not to dwell and be consumed by whatever was happening around me as time would pass quicker, and it always did get better.

A couple years ago I was truly tested mentally and emotionally. I endured something that I wouldn't wish on anyone and for the first time in my life I had spiralled into depression and I found it extremely difficult to focus on anything else and control my emotions. On top of that everything else in life I had been through came back to haunt me, all of a sudden I was upset about things I thought I had dealt with. I hadn't, I had just got on with life and let time pass. The idiom wasn't working for me anymore, and I felt helpless.

Through my partners advice I sought help and gradually I got better and spoke to someone about past experiences that were obviously bothering me and I learned that they all played important roles in my life now and helped me understand myself more. Time passed and I feel better but I also dealt with the problems rather than just letting them be so far in the past I forget about them. I now embrace everything I've been through and now I am stronger than ever!

What I'm trying to say is whatever you're going through, no matter how big or small, try not to focus all your attention on it, time will pass and you will feel better and be in a better situation but don't forget to deal with it. Talk to someone, help yourself get over it by seeking guidance from friends, family or professionals.

There are more people willing to help you than you realise. So will you accept yourself and the troubles you're facing so much so you get help? Will you accept time will pass and life will get better? Our thought of the day should be to look back at what you've been through and reflect on where you are now in comparison. If you don't feel there is a difference then pick up the phone and talk about it.

A moodscope member.

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

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Maybe Nietzsche was Right... Thursday May 23, 2019

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger", famously said philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.

While deeply traumatic experiences can of course be damaging, scientists are now confirming that small amounts of trauma can indeed make us more resilient.

For example one study showed that people with chronic back pain who had experienced some serious adversity were more mobile than those who had encountered either a lot or none at all.

Researcher Mark Seery (1): 'A lot of ideas that seem like common sense are not supported by scientific evidence. Plenty of research shows that having miserable life experiences is bad for you.

In fact the best way to go through life is having nothing ever happen to you. But not only is that unrealistic, it's not necessarily healthy.'

'Of course negative events have negative effects. But I look at this as being a silver lining. Just because something bad has happened to someone doesn't mean they're doomed to be damaged from that point on.'

Those who go through difficult experiences are given the chance to develop an ability to cope with such situations in the future. 'Negative life experiences can toughen people, making them better able to manage subsequent difficulties'.

A Moodscope member.

(1) Report on adversity and resilience - in Current Directions in Psychological Science.

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What Happened When She Smacked Me! Wednesday May 22, 2019

A couple of weeks ago I said something which hurt a business friend who is also a client. It was in a professional context and my comment was unprofessional.

I felt uneasy about it straight away, but the meeting had moved on and anyway, I didn't quite know what to say or even if I needed to say anything.

It turned out I did.

The person to whom I had made that unfortunate comment did me the great kindness in letting me know how much I had hurt her and how badly she felt my comment reflected on my business. Her text, while polite and totally professional, was the verbal equivalent of a hard smack.

I say kindness in all sincerity.

Because of her courage in contacting me, I was able to apologise and she to accept my apology.

I'm sure each one of you can understand how I felt; how I wanted to beat myself up for hurting her and for letting myself down.

But my Lenten discipline was to stop beating myself up, and I've tried to continue with that; so, having indulged in a few lashes – because I couldn't help it – I forced myself to step out of that self-destructive spiral and to think what I could learn from the incident.

I had an epiphany.

I realised that, professionally, I had been trying to control my clients. My job is to give them more confidence – but I wanted them to follow my rules. I wanted them to follow my rules because then I would feel validated.


No – I didn't beat myself up again: I just decided that, from now on – I'm letting that go. If my clients feel confident enough to break the rules, then that's just fine – my job is done.

Going back to my friend who wrote me the text. What a hard thing it is, to say, "You hurt me. I think your remarks were out of order." When we say that, it makes us feel vulnerable, and nobody wants to appear weak. We'd rather stay quiet, move on and pretend nothing happened. If we do that, however, the relationship is not the same: there is an inevitable coolness and distance.

If, when hurt, you can find that courage to say something, you are doing a great kindness. The other person may not have realised or, if they did realise, may not know how to say sorry. If you can risk being vulnerable, then you allow the relationship to heal. Or – if your dignified statement is met with, "Then that's your business!" you can choose to walk away and let the relationship cool. You cannot be the friend of someone who does not care if they hurt you.

As for me, I bought my friend some flowers and wrote her a thank you note. Her courage in letting me know I had hurt her gave me freedom. I am grateful to her for that hard smack!

A Moodscope member.

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

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In Remission Tuesday May 21, 2019

It used to be the other way round. A few days of depression and it would ease off. It would last a few weeks, at the worst. These days it's months of depression and a few days off here and there... if I'm lucky.

I am now in remission. It's been five days and yes I'm counting. It feels like a mini high. I just felt I wanted to share the extreme difference it makes for me personally when coming out of a depression and I am hoping others will be able to relate.

I'm looking at my house that I detested, I was repeatedly worried about how I would keep on top of all that needed doing. Now, out of depression, I think my house is not so bad after all and I will be able to do all of those things that need doing in time.

This is a big one, I don't feel I need to drink alcohol to numb the demons in my head! I had started drinking in the daytime, as it was the only thing that helped. Well that has broken the vicious circle as we all know alcohol doesn't help depression.

My appetite has improved. This is a real plus as I am underweight and I have missed food (for a long time) this was also due to physical health reasons but I am sure the depression played a big part and I am just hoping it is all coming together.

Recently, I mentioned I couldn't listen to music. I'm now listening to music and it's not affecting me, I am enjoying it, this is a real relief for me as I had stopped enjoying anything.

Might sound strange to some, but commercial adverts, I couldn't tolerate them, I think it was the jingles mainly. They now don't bother me. Well they are still annoying, but not to the same extent. Many other things irritated me so much...

Positive suggestions, on here or elsewhere, were impossible for me to carry out, when in the depression. I now feel that I can try these suggestions, hopefully to help maintain this state of mind.

Who knows how long it will last. It just intrigues me, this illness. Nothing happened, nothing changed. I still have the same problems, with the same circumstances.

But right now, I'm embracing every living moment. I feel like I am alive again.

I would love to hear from members with their own experiences of depression and whether you know what causes it or whether it just comes and goes for no apparent reason.


Molly xx
A Moodscope member.

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Self Esteem Monday May 20, 2019

One of the greatest defences again the wild dogs of depression is to hold on to and strengthen your self-esteem. Self-esteem a form of self-respect, and both phrases mean exactly what they say: we hold ourselves in high-esteem and we respect ourselves.

This can be tough when life doesn't seem to be working. However, there is a powerful way to maintain your self-respect and to esteem yourself: hold strong to your values and principles.

I love Eurovision. I know, I've probably lost a lot of you with that one statement, but for me, Eurovision is a fun, joyous occasion where we can, "Dare to Dream." Whilst it is a competition, it is also a massive collaboration with input from an audience of 200 million people. To me, it is force for good and for unification.

The biggest highpoint for me (and there were so many of them) was the Israeli group, The Shalva Band. In fact, I cried watching them perform the beautiful song, "A Million Dreams," from The Greatest Showman movie. The Shalva Band are made up of a group of musicians, all of whom have a disability. Their delivery was the best of the whole event – and they would, I believe, have won the competition if they had chosen to compete.

Aside from the pleasure their performance brought to millions, my joy was in their integrity. The authorities refused to adjust the rehearsals on Friday to respect the beliefs of some of the participants. Many of the Shalva Band are passionate about their faith, and they wanted to honour the Sabbath. When it came to the choice between potential victory and staying true to their principles, they chose their principles.

This reminded me of Eric Liddell's principled stance celebrated in the film, "Chariots of Fire." Eric, too, chose his principles over the potential to seek and enjoy victory. My purpose here is not to comment on the beliefs of either Eric Liddell or The Shalva Band. My purpose is to celebrate their integrity, their unwavering commitment to what they esteem.

When we hold fast to our principles, we maintain and nurture our self-respect and self-esteem. Others may not agree with us – they may even see us as foolish – but they will often respect our strength.

You and I can resist aspects of depression by being firm in what we are prepared to stand up for. This strengthens our identity and sense of self-worth. For this reason I thought I would throw this open to comments because I would love to know what principles are, for you, non-negotiable.

A Moodscope member.

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Come, journey with me Sunday May 19, 2019

As the sun bathes all in liquid gold
I feel the softness of grass under bare feet
Stopping, eyes closed, I drink in the freshness of the day
My arms so relaxed; all heavy burden relinquished
I smile and know it pleases her...
...for me to feel at peace and whole.

Lowering myself to the grass I soak in all around me
Lying now, I rest my head amongst the pasture
Watching the bee land nearby; I look in wonder as she drinks in the nectar
The fly flits about searching his bounty
A dog barks in the distance
Causing the crows to fly off en masse.

Listening to the trees sigh, as their leaves are caressed by gentle breeze
The Robin skips from branch to branch
A Song Thrush stops close by to serenade my soul
The sweet, sweet smell of blossom
- making me laugh like a drunken jester
The kite swoops, searching to nourish his newly hatched future
And all around me life smiles
I feel embraced by its support.

I stand once more, time to leave now
Walking away from my oasis I'm thankful for all I have
I feel the inner warmth
Nourished by all I have been offered
I turn to walk my new path
The one that holds an exciting new life
Like coming out of hibernation
I see all with fresh eyes now.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Dear Yvonne Saturday May 18, 2019

Have you ever written yourself a letter? I haven't, but I thought I'd give it a go!

"... I hope this finds you well, I know you are doing great and wanted to say, well done, congratulations, go you! You've had a lot to deal with over the years Wow! What an adventure you've had so far, and it looks like you're still thriving on your experiences.

I remember that little girl who enjoyed her own little world, who found things to do by herself and I would like to say thank you. I know you felt sad sometimes, but you built foundations for me to stand alone now and know that I am an independent, strong woman.

You started my love of art and I still enjoy those sketching moments in my free time. I don't think I have the same imagination as you did, but I still love it.

I know the name calling hurt from early school to early adult socialising days and I'd like you to know that you got through it. I'm here, still overweight trying to be as healthy as I can but loving myself in the process. You got the rough end of that deal...

I'm sorry, but again, thank you for being so strong. I think maturity makes our peer group a little kinder... you will be meeting some fascinating people and developing deep friendships in time. You're going to love your two best buddies.

You have endured, tolerated, struggled grasped each opportunity and tried many different things to bring you here today. You have laughed and cried and laughed again so many times. You have memories to fill a million diaries and photos that capture those precious moments. Then there's our daughter... she makes our heart burst.

You made some mistakes had some difficult decisions to make along the way, maybe some, with hindsight, could have been different, but... I listened and learnt, thank you. Well apart from the bad afro perm in the late seventies... that really wasn't cool, and you've barely been forgiven!

Anyway, I want you to know that you're a nice woman, a proud Mum, a good person, a loyal friend, a hard worker and someone that I like being around. I enjoy your company, as do many others, you make me laugh... most days!

We have so much to look forward to together... I love you.

Yvonne xx
A Moodscope member.

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

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Could your moods be menopause-related? Friday May 17, 2019

Has the menopause had an impact on your mental health?

Hello again! A few days ago I wrote about body image to tie in with this year's Mental Health Awareness week and I mentioned that it's particularly common to suffer from poor self-esteem in adolescence. It set me thinking how it's often when we go through major physiological changes that we are particularly vulnerable to anxiety about how the rest of the world sees us, and another time women can find themselves especially uncomfortable with what the mirror reflects back is during the menopause. Certainly I found it hard to love the changes my body went through: I gained weight, I was more lethargic and felt less attractive to the opposite sex.

However, by far the most distressing way that I suffered at this time was mentally: my anxiety skyrocketed. Since then I have learned that as well as more commonly documented physical symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats, many women in the run up to the menopause feel more sad and tearful, whilst other women report becoming moody and prone to outbursts of anger. Increased anxiety seems particularly common and in rare instances the menopause can lead to clinical depression.

There are many reasons for this but, put simply, as our hormones decline, it can impact brain chemistry along with the rest of the body. Yet because many of us are embarrassed to talk about the menopause and GPs don't always make the link, women are often unaware that their changing hormones might be a cause. Certainly when I started experiencing menopause-related symptoms, I didn't realise that is what they were. I thought I was going to feel anxious forever. To understand that a lot of what I was experiencing was a result of my sex hormones shutting down and was temporary made a massive difference, which is one reason I've written a book about the menopause and spoken widely about the subject since.

If you're suffering with menopausal symptoms, and are after some guidance and support, you might find it helpful to download Making Friends with the Menopause and join the Facebook group of the same name. The book is 99p to download on ( throughout Mental Health Awareness week and aims to provide an overview of symptoms and treatment options. The group is 'closed' so only members see posts and you can ask to join here - If you're going through the menopause, I hope you find one or both of these helpful, and many thanks to Moodscope for allowing me spread the word.

In the meantime I wish you well, and have a good weekend.


A Moodscope member.

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There is always a way forward Thursday May 16, 2019

So, this time a year ago I was being made redundant. I felt sorry for the guy who'd made a career of coming into companies and telling folk they were losing their jobs. I mean, who can choose that as a career path, and go home pleased with their day's work? Wonder what targets they get set?

It seems to be part of the professional HR world that I find dominates business. Smaller companies that would once have had no truck with this world, now seem to be taken over by their hurried upsweep to conform.

Of course, it does all have to be done. I struggled to adapt and change. From when we could joke at work and everyone had a light hearted banter, that seems to have passed and the snowflake culture is well and truly embraced.

I found myself reported to HR for swearing. I wasn't swearing at anyone, I was letting off steam at a situation that had arisen, but was overheard. That one person was offended and I went through the full disciplinary procedure. I was utterly humiliated by the crass way I was dealt with, and the circumstances I found myself in. That night I tried to take my own life.

To their eternal credit, the company did pay for counselling, and quickly we identified the issues. And you don't need to be a rocket scientist to guess that the problem was work. We didn't get on any more.

I struggled on for another year or so, up and down on medication, funny how I didn't change, but everyone else seemed much nicer! Fast forward and I was actually pleased to be made redundant. Yes, I was worried about work, money and everything. But deep down, I was so much happier without that stress of a job that no longer worked for me. Within a month I took the decision to stop my meds, and I haven't touched them in nearly a year.

So what is the message? I started out again as a self-employed consultant and yes, I do worry sometimes, but not in the same way. I used to scream at Moodscope when it said "Don't forget, you have the power to get yourself out of this." I used to think that was soooo wrong, and if I had the power, do you think I would be there?! I'm sorry Caroline for messaging you when I was struggling with that concept.

But now I can see that I have managed to get myself out of that situation, that I am now better. For me, it's been removing that which caused me harm.

So there is good in bad. There is always a way forward. I realise my ramble may not help everybody, I often used to read posts and go "Right..", but for me it was finally identifying what was causing the issue and then finding a way round it.

Maybe that is the message here? It's a first ever post, be kind!

With best wishes,

A Moodscope member.

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

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Keeping Up Appearances Wednesday May 15, 2019

In our house we have a simple rule: if you don't have a fever and you have not vomited in the past twelve hours, then you go to school. Or work – except that my husband and I have both gone to work with a fever and I did once work with the Norovirus, carefully not eating or drinking anything and obsessively washing my hands: nobody else got it – phew!

This has meant my children have sometimes gone to school when maybe they shouldn't, but at least it means nobody thinks they can pretend to be ill just to get out of a test.

It's never quite as simple as that, of course, and sometimes you can be ill without a fever and without vomiting. We here know that, because we know our depression does not register on the thermometer and any vomiting is usually related to accompanying anxiety rather than infection.

So, we have another house rule: you get up, you shower, you dress, and you walk to the bus-stop. If you are halfway to the bus stop and you realise you just can't go any further, then you can come home and go back to bed, but you must at least try.

I think we'd all agree that we feel better when we're clean. A shower revives and invigorates. Getting dressed gives us more sense of purpose than staying in pyjamas and dressing gown – although I do have great respect for Arthur Dent – of Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy - who travelled the whole universe in his very English checked dressing gown! Stepping out into the fresh air is more energising than staying inside.

I do know that this is not always possible. One of the measures health professionals use is a patient's physical presentation. Has that person washed? Have they shaved? Are their clothes clean, appropriate and put together? If female, are they wearing makeup? If you're severely depressed it may not be possible to achieve those markers.

Even in my darkest times, I think I managed to shower. There were days, however, when I did not get out of my pyjamas: there didn't seem much point as I was sleeping for seventeen hours a day. There have been weeks when I have not left the house. As for walking to the bus stop – it was as much as I could do to walk from the sofa to the bathroom!

One of the receptionists at my local GP surgery once commented that the whole team knew when I was ill with depression, as my clothes were less colourful. I had not thought of that before, but I realised she was right: when depressed, I could not bear bright colours.

I do know however, that, if I can shower, dress in cheerful colours, put on my makeup and step outside, I feel physically better and mentally stronger.

Keeping up appearances can be more for our own benefit than for the opinion of others.

A Moodscope member.

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

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TFP Tuesday May 14, 2019

Recently I started commenting on Moodscope blogs, or replying to comments. Just a few tentative messages sent, but such a warm response from fellow Moodscopers! It felt so good. I mentioned how transformative my NHS Transference Focused Psychotherapy had been for me, and it was suggested I blog about it.

I really want to do this and am making a start here... But for me it's a gigantic topic, because it was the culmination in many ways of lots of treatment for depression and anxiety. Have any of you glanced at your GP records online? I glanced at mine yesterday, as I was signing up to book appointments on the Patient Access website. There's not much information on there, just a brief snapshot. In fact my medical history was summed up in about twelve headings. Most of these referenced my mental health issues. I felt sad to read the duration of my treatment, and the severity of symptoms.

But, but, but. I'm new now. As of the last three years, I'm completely new. And this is down to the Transference Focused Therapy (TFP) that I received for 15 months. I'm not 'cured', and I don't think I want to be. And I'm not a different person either, I'm the same person, but a better version than there's ever been of me. Better for me means stronger, clearer about who I am, more adjusted to what life is like and lots of other things that I hadn't foreseen. To be honest it was like magic... A magic which is still ongoing.

But the magic came after some serious non-magic. The start of therapy jolly well hurt. In fact, the first ten weeks nearly killed me. I had to allow an hour after therapy to sit in the car crying. Tears would have blinded me otherwise, it wouldn't have been safe. A couple of times I got a friend to drive me. I felt unsure I'd be able to drive back. When I got home I'd often have to sleep the whole afternoon, perhaps longer. I could barely speak, I was so drained.

My suicidal ideation increased. Other bad stuff increased. My care co-ordinator suggested I stop therapy. I fought tooth and nail to keep going. It was my lifeline, I knew. Yes, it was causing my life to spiral downwards, it seemed. But I needed it. Without it I had no hope. Thankfully my therapist agreed. We should not give up.

So that's how the therapy began. But to get to the point where I was ready to have that therapy and the NHS were ready to give to me... That's another story. So many things had to happen before the magic could start.

And of course there's the story of how the therapy progressed, and what it achieved, which I'm very willing to share, if you think it might be interesting.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Mirror, mirror on the wall... Monday May 13, 2019

... who has the worst inner critic of all?

Today is the first day of Mental Health Awareness week and to mark it Moodscope has a special offer for members, details of which I'll come back to. But let's kick off with a few words about body image, the focus of this year's campaign.

Yesterday a friend took a photo of me for a work project, for instance, and I hated it. This set me thinking about my own physical appearance and how self-critical I can be. My nose looks like a witch's, I thought, and that turkey neck – ugh! As for the rest of me, I've bingo wings, my tummy sticks out... the list of defects went on, and in seconds I'd hit delete.

It's rare to find anyone who is completely happy with how they look, but in a world of selfies and Instagram, we are more focused than ever on appearing perfect. Celebrities like Kim Kardashian have access to an army of stylists, photographers and retouching experts so it's no surprise they are flawless in every shot. The result is the widespread promotion of unrealistic beauty standards which wouldn't matter, except these constructs influence our self-perception and self-esteem. In this respect body image is not simply about our size or shape; it is the product of peer, social, cultural and familial values. What led me to believe, for instance, that my nose is awful? Somewhere along the line, I learned that if you're a woman, a pert little one is better.

Body dissatisfaction can affect anyone at any age, but in adolescence it is particularly common. A recent study of 11,000 14-year-old girls showed that girls spend far more time using social media than boys, and also that they are much more likely to display signs of depression linked to their interaction on platforms such as Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook. Yet whilst the issue is particularly prevalent among teenage girls – 8 out of 10 are unhappy with their body image - 45 per cent of adolescent boys want to change their weight or body shape too.

I'm no teenager but I'm not immune either, so how can we stop ourselves from getting caught up in such negative beliefs? I can't quite bring myself to look in the mirror and go 'Sarah, I love you' without wincing, but what I can manage is to be kind to my body. This, according to Mark Rowland of the Mental Health Foundation, can help us 'guard against the individual, family and cultural influences that can lead to a gnawing and sometimes debilitating sense of dissatisfaction with our bodies'.

Here are three ways I'm going to #bebodykind this week.

1. I'm going to try to quieten the inner critic who always wishes my body were different. I'm going to accept my body for what it is. Yes, I've got wrinkles and cellulite, but it's my body that gives me life, and for that I am grateful.

2. I'm going to listen to my body's needs. Sometimes my body needs to stretch, at others to exercise. Sometimes it needs to be nourished, and it needs to rest, too.

3. I shall take time to be in nature. This will allow me to connect with every living being and shift my focus away from human perfectionism.

How might you be kinder to your body this week? I'd love to hear.


A Moodscope member.

PS Here's news of that offer I mentioned. To mark Mental Health Awareness week, you can get 70% off my little book, Making Friends with Anxiety. The book started life as a series of blogs on Moodscope five years ago this week, which makes it doubly topical! The ebook is 99p on Amazon today. To take a look, just follow this link:

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

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That little light... Sunday May 12, 2019

You know that light... the one that shines a beacon of hope in your heart, or maybe a gentle little sideways flicker to catch your eye, or a tiny flash of inspiration.

Maybe you're in the darkness at the moment... at the end of a too long tunnel with no hope for respite, or you feel like you are down a well with no way of shinning up the slippy sides or you are bog-snorkelling through murky moods that feel like viscous treacle from which there is no escape. You acknowledge that it's a part of you at times... and you know as well that you can shed it like a snakeskin when you are brighter... renewing yourself in the process. The skin might build up in time but you can shake off those shackles that bind you.

When you get those moments, look for that little light. It can take a multitude of forms and is completely personal to you, but it's there for you if you look carefully. It could be a chat with a friend, a blog that resonated with you on Moodscope, bird song in the morning heralding the dawn of a brand new day, the sweet perfume of bluebells as you walk in the woods or a literal, physical, visible light, guiding you away from the dark.

Never lose hope for that little light and if you are struggling to find it, reach out to others to help you. They might know where it is, or where to help you find it... words are cathartic and reading others' stories can resonate the upbeat drum in your heart.

Life can feel like a never-ending battle or a game of mental snakes and ladders... up up up and then... bang right down swirling and whirling to the bottom again faster than your feet can catch up with the motion. But you know this feeling only too well. With knowledge comes power. Power over the dark side of you. Rise up to it, dust yourself down and look for that little light.

Here are some of my little lights – a heartfelt email to a friend, watching a nature programme, Gardeners' World on Friday night with Monty Don, nature walks with my husband and dogs, a scented bubble bath with a chilled glass of white wine then fresh clean pyjamas on into a cold bed with a good book, the gentle light of a candle, staring at the Christmas tree with its twinkling lights, decorations and breathing in the scent when all is quiet and dark in the house, that first cup of hot tea in the morning, spraying a new perfume on and watching the spring flowers bloom.

Never forget that you might just be that little light for someone one day. Let me know how you get on finding your light.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Good Vibrations Saturday May 11, 2019

There's something about a great soundtrack. My perfect day would always involve music, preferably with the top down on a great drive out in the sunshine.

Although, that doesn't happen often... Two reasons really, firstly, I'm in Scotland. Secondly, I don't have a convertible!!!! I do, however, have a car and love getting out and about with my tunes on.

I know my selections fit my mood and my playlist is extremely long and varied but I'm always surprised at the teleportation effects of those notes and lyrics. They can transport me to places I've been, people I've met and dreams of what lies ahead in an instant.

Once again I can be with my Granny for a wee moment as I hear her sing "Grannie's Heilan Hame", once again I can "Dance with my father again" or I remember looking at my daughter's face the first time I sang "Brahm's Lullaby" to her.

I can smile as I "Shang-a-Lang", I can laugh as I "Dare" to recall my Human League obsession or the exhaustion as I danced for hours to some great Northern Soul tracks.

I'm also very aware that when I feel alone or sad that my choice in music can either lift me up or keep me down. If I've gone for a long walk along the beach and stop to listen to Albatross (one of my favourites), I can feel thankful for everything in my life and get a great sense of calm. On another day, I can play the same track and hardly notice the tears running down my face.

Those are the days I now recognise as being Non-Albatross days, I don't mind recognising my sadness, but I know that music can take me somewhere else. My choice is whether to stay where I am or let my playlist transport me. Those are the days "I Can See Clearly Now" with Jimmy Cliff and those are the days when The Beatles sing "Here Comes the Sun" ... and it is definitely alright!

Recognise your playlist potential and don't be afraid to change the track!

"Gotta keep those lovin good vibrations..."

A Moodscope member.

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

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Fear and anxiety Friday May 10, 2019

At the moment, my anxiety levels are within normal parameters - for me. It is Spring, and Spring is a good, positive and energetic time for me. Unlike some other times of year. I have learnt and accepted, (after all I've just turned 67!) that I must not make important decisions when in a state of anxiety. That might seem like a statement of the ruddy obvious, but believe you me, for me, it isn't! You might agree that when distorted reality becomes your everyday, decisions are harder to make sensibly!

Negative phases and low moods occur and develop insidiously where I am concerned, so that the morphing distorts my reality. I will make comments that contradict what my OH has heard me proclaim. So it's very confusing for him, understandably! I know it would drive me crackers!! I am fortunate, indeed blessed, that he is long-suffering and grounded in reality, and not given to the impulsive behaviour which is then my everyday!

Fear, abject fear, I have experienced, but luckily, not for years. It is something that springs from a deranged mind... or else from real threat of danger. The danger I felt way back in the bad years was the fear of annihilation, of the "Me" disintegrating, of just not being able to ever cope with life's challenges. Attacked by my own negative thoughts and the harmful critic in my head, I could imagine no escape. Ever. All hope extinguished.
Fortunately, I recovered, brittle, but little by little I rebuilt myself.

What are, or have been your fears and anxieties?

Abject fear: have you known it?

And did you recognise it for what it was: False Evidence Appearing Real (=F.E.A.R.) I like to remind myself of that acronym from time to time.

Best to you this morning,

A Moodscope member.

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

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