The Moodscope Blog



Three Cheers for Hope Sunday February 10, 2019

I take no credit for the words below, I simply share with you something I read recently which I really liked. It seems all authors are credited – phew – so no copyright breached. I have not read any of the books yet as only just found this so cannot comment, but food for thought and hopefully inspiration.

Hope boosts our happiness.

There is no doubt about it – hope has a feel-good quality.

Shane Lopez is the author of a book called 'Making Hope Happen' and he explains how hope buffers us from stress, anxiety and the impact of negative events in our life. To "look on the bright side of life" boosts our happiness, reduces feelings of helplessness and actually improves our mental health.

Hope prevents us from 'catastrophising'.

The opposite of hope is hopelessness and despair. Without hope there is fear. Hope may not always change the outcome but it can help us to cope with the journey – even enjoy it.
Author Marian Zimmer Bradley said, "The road that is built in hope is more pleasant to the traveller than the road built in despair, even though they both lead to the same destination.

Hope can help us heal.

It is well documented that feeling hopeful can have a positive physiological impact on us - the connection between the mind and the body is very real.

Jerome Groopman states how, "Researchers are learning that a change in mind-set has the power to alter neurochemistry." He believes hope can even ease our sense of pain: "Belief and expectation - the key elements of hope - can block pain by releasing the brain's endorphins and enkephalins, mimicking the effects of morphine," says Groopman.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Just how certain are you that the lifetime label placed upon you is correct? Saturday February 9, 2019

Labelled Bipolar in the 1970's...

I've stated before, that I believe that I literally 'Burnt Out'.

When first diagnosed, my doctor had no time to diagnose me properly and to establish the lifestyle to which I was exposed.

I had a huge mortgage, three growing children, my office equipment-Sales and Service business, a bridging loan on my previous property, which was at that time not sold.

My wife was operating an International Bed and Breakfast at our 5 bed detatched house, just built, and on top of that we were experiencing two recessions, which resulted in a 15% interest rates... This was just part of my problem.

The pressure upon me was tremendous. Because of the quietness of my business, due to recession, I was out knocking on the retail, commercial and professional businesses, on Industrial Estates touting for business... all this in a deep depression... scared was I, but my responsibility to family and debt, was that I had no option but to 'GET OUT THERE'... I developed the notion, that as depressed as I was, the first call was going to hit me for six... prepared for the worst... which never happened, I soldiered on regardless of my very low mental state...

Had my doctor known of these responsibilities at the time, I am certain that he would have put me to rest - to slow down, I'm sure the diagnosis would not have been Bipolar...

Why do I say this? Six weeks ago my Psychiatrist stated that neither she nor my CPN thought that I had Bipolar, she stated that I was doing too much for others and always having 'projects' on the go all the time.

You can immagine my relief.

Now, well aware of over exposure ('weary in well-doing') I choose what I do with my time and make sure it's mindfully managed. Still able to occupy my mind and stop the ruminating, I am still achieving all that is demanded from me.

Do you feel the same, are you going faster in your mind and body than your system can cope with?

In maturity I question so called professionals and others at all times and do not take no for an answer!

A Moodscope member.

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

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The Art of Being Happy Friday February 8, 2019

I've been thinking lately, about the happiness which can be found in learning to take things at face value, and appreciating them for what they really are, as opposed to building up unrealistic expectations for people and situations and therefore being left feeling disappointed, or cheated.

I mean, when I sit here in my bedroom and mull over my past experiences (as someone with an over-anxious brain like mine often does), I can't help but wonder how some of my experiences would have turned out, had I just appreciated someone or something for what they were at the time, rather than trying to mould that person or thing into what I expected them to be.

Happiness is a strange concept though - it's desired by all, achieved by some, but for the most part it's this existential ideology which has been theorised and contemplated throughout our history. What does being happy actually mean? How do we know if what we're feeling is true happiness, or if it's just a feeling that society expects us to feel, and so we convince ourselves out of our own will that we are happy, despite not being sure what happiness feels like?

It's definitely a baffling and mystifying, albeit appealing, notion, whichever way you look at it.

The one thing I'm pretty confident about is, we make our own happiness, whatever it means to us. I think I started to learn how to be happy, for example, when I learned it was ok to stop taking on other peoples' feelings and emotions, and just to make sure I was responsible for my own feelings and emotions. Taking on the emotionally-draining weight of the responsibility of how others feel and act is sure to impact on one's happiness.

It's okay to be selfish. I mean, I know the word 'selfish' brings about an array of negative connotations with it, but personally I think it's okay to be selfish sometimes. I think, above all else, there are some situations where being seflish is... necessary.

So, does selfishness equal happiness? I don't know. All I do know is that, maybe if we start learning to appreciate things for what they actually are and start learning to accept that sometimes things just have a natural ending point; rather than exhausting all our resources on striving to accord with societal expectations, people can take one step closer to feeling their own version of happy.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Fume, fume... Thursday February 7, 2019

This is not a diatribe against officialdom, but how dealing with other people's mistakes leads to stress, and there is absolutely NO redress, and no 'person' you can scream your aggro at. So I am asking Moodscopers, some, perhaps, in positions of authority, others from other countries, USA and Australia, if they have any mechanism to cope?

This morning was the culmination, and I lost my temper, luckily it only happens rarely, but it causes me stress. It is Census year in France. The buzz word is 'paperless'. A woman came round with forms, and asked me if I was familiar with using the Internet, affirmative. She gave me the necessary code numbers, I filled it in on line, and got an official receipt. This morning the lady turned up on my doorstep, they had not received my return, time was up. I was furious, and virtually towed her into the office and showed her the receipt. She said the 'Mairie' (local council) had not received it, some muddle. I said surely, given I had an official receipt, they could log in and see it was done. Apparently not, so, we sat at my kitchen table (I was already on my way out shopping) and filled it in on paper. What is so shattering is this is national, and they have made a mess of it.

I have four more on-going mistakes to correct. One, a goody. I informed our UK bank immediately of my husband's death. They gave me a reference number for the 'deceased' file. Four months after his death I have a request 'Dear Mr x, we need to know where you are tax resident'. If only I had a name. I could answer 'Grave x, row y, local cemetery' and let them get on with it.

My brother-in-law, an eminent scientist, said that years ago much valuable scientific data had been stored on the system of the time – it is not now retrievable. We had a £400 'tape streamer' because our data-base was too big to go on 'floppies'. Nobody managed to retrieve it. I see on my bank log-in that I can (will be able to?) use my thumb print on an 'app' to access my account. They must be joking, surely.

My husband had a pension with a multi-national company, I have a widow's pension. At the time of his death they changed administrators. They have overpaid his pension into our French account. They want it back, I said I would re-pay from UK, when I had funds. They have paid my pension into UK bank, but have taxed it, incorrect. The real crux is these sort of problems will arise mainly when you are elderly. You may not be computer literate, or, like me at the moment, exhausted by it all. If you cannot get children or grand-children to sort it out, you have to get a professional, however trustworthy, to probe into your private affairs, and have access to them on line. Scary.

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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

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Fifty Shades of Grey Wednesday February 6, 2019

"Sorry, what was that?"

I looked up from my minute taking. 'Practice manager to book community room and email members to confirm date...'

Trish looked at me encouragingly. "I said that perhaps you would be happy to take the lead on this educational event: Loneliness and Depression. After all, you are the mental health representative on the panel." She means the Patient Participation Group of our local GP surgery, for which I am Minute Secretary.

I mentally smacked myself around the head to remove the frozen-rabbit-in-the-headlights look of terror from my face and forced a competent looking smile.

"Yes – I'd be happy to take that on." I said, and surreptitiously felt my nose to make sure it wasn't growing. "I'll just draft up a flyer and send it out for you to take a look..."

Gulp. So – that's what I've been doing today: playing with text boxes and colours and fonts and trying to make an event on loneliness and depression sound enticing.

Trish didn't think much of my title, Loneliness and Depression. "But it does what it says on the box!" I protested.

"I think we need something catchier."

"Um – how about "Insert your name here is perfectly fine"? You know, after that Eleanor Oliphant book? Where she's so lonely she doesn't even realise she's lonely?"

I got a patient, understanding look. "I don't think many of our patients will have read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

"Well, they should," I grumbled. "Our book club read it. It's a wonderful book." I got the Look again. I know what she means: I must consider our patient demographic. Members of book clubs are in a minority in our practice catchment area. It may be a small market town, but for various historical reasons, we have inner city problems.

So, I thought about the reasons for loneliness and the ways that loneliness can lead to depression and feed off it, so that it becomes a vicious cycle.

Battling loneliness is not as simple as just saying, "Get out more! Join a few clubs. Make friends." We know that is just the equivalent of saying, "Pull Yourself Together!" and is worse than useless.

But – I am woefully short of ideas. I am lucky enough to have a loving family, good friends, a supportive network on Facebook, great colleagues. And – all the people in my head, who I'd love to spend more time with if only I had more time. So – I don't feel I can talk about being lonely.

But, maybe some of you are or have been lonely. How do you deal with it? Have you overcome it, or do you struggle still? And, how strongly is it linked to your depression?

So please will you help me to help the patients of my local surgery? Help me understand. Log in and leave a comment; I'd be so grateful.

At least I've got my title, Fifty Shades of Grey – Loneliness and Depression. What do you think? Catchy, eh?

A Moodscope member.

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

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"I don't deserve this" Tuesday February 5, 2019

Rifling through my wardrobe this morning, to choose what to wear, I felt super-rich. Excessively so. (Even though I have no designer clothes hanging there, just the run-of-the-mill stuff). But that's a feeling I've had for decades. Ever since I started earning. I recognise it for what it is, and it means "I don't deserve all this!"

Rightly or wrongly, I've always felt a tinge of guilt when I buy myself something new. That small but insistent voice in my head berates me again: "You don't deserve this!"

I think it began as a pre-teen, this feeling of being unworthy, undeserving of love, consideration and respect. I told no one, and turned the feelings inwards. If I am good, I reasoned, people will treat me better. But they didn't always!

Yesterday, I had a small but saddening example of this during a telephone conversation with a family member. They interrupted me, to change to a topic of their choosing. I felt unworthy of being listened to, of being heard. It caused me stress.

Now don't get me wrong. Perfection I am not, believe me. I can interrupt like the best of them. But going back to the clothes selecting, it boiled down to the same thing. Fear. Of being found wanting.

How often does it happen to you (if at all)? A lightbulb moment when, although you know the person is being rude to you, interrupting, dismissing your point as unworthy of their attention, it taps into your fear of being undeserving of people's consideration?

Nevertheless, on my New Year's resolution list was:

Be considerate to myself as well as to others. Eleven months left to practise!

A Moodscope member.

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

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The Day Before Happiness Monday February 4, 2019

How do we deal with mental torment? I am highly creative, and imaginative. These are both gifts and curses. I wouldn't want to be without them, but, when I turn them in on myself, they are highly destructive. It is very easy for me to imagine the worst-case scenario, to create a blizzard of despair that blots out all hope of happiness in the future. It's a good job I've survived so many of those blizzards, isn't it? I know they are not the truth.

Now is not a good season for me. My issues are still not resolved, and are looming large in the real world, not just the world of the imagination. There are moments of delight, like candles in the dark, but the overall prospect is... you can guess.

My imagination turned to the day before World War II. Did people realise it was all going to change the next day? Thankfully, the positive side of my creative imagination then kicked in and perked up with, "What if this is The Day Before Happiness?" What if, tomorrow, I am about to be surprised by joy – a transformation of circumstance, fortune, and attitude that changes everthing?

On that positive note, my thoughts travelled to revisit two songs. The first, "Hold On," by Wilson Phillips exhorts us to hold on for one more day.

You can watch and listen to it here:

The lyrics promise that things can change, and matters can go our way. What I like about this song is that there is no mention of life being unfair. In fact, the message is that the person being sung about has got themselves into their own mess. What they need is a change of mind, and to hold on for one more day. That rings true for me.

The message of hope is one of taking responsibility for playing a part in the change we want to see. There's always something we can do, even if that's determining to hold on for one more day.

The second song was written by Maria Grever, and is called, "What A Difference A Day Makes."

You can listen to a version of it here:

It's a romantic song, but if we were to swap the romance aspect for a strong sense of connection, it's relevant to all of us. The darkest times can be transformed by really connecting with someone else. When that happens, we too can reflect on what a difference a day makes, we'll be glad we held on, and we will realise that today might just be that day before happiness.

A Moodscope member

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

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Be gentle with yourself Sunday February 3, 2019

Today we are publishing a beautiful poem with the overall message - be gentle with yourself when things aren't going too well. It was sent to Mary and she thought it would great if we could share it with other Moodscope members.

If the mountain seems too big today
then climb a hill instead
if the morning brings you sadness
it's ok to stay in bed
if the day ahead weighs heavy
and your plans feel like a curse
there's no shame in rearranging
don't make yourself feel worse
if a shower stings like needles
and a bath feels like you'll drown
if you haven't washed your hair for days
don't throw away your crown
a day is not a lifetime
a rest is not defeat
don't think of it as failure
just a quiet, kind retreat
it's ok to take a moment
from an anxious, fractured mind
the world will not stop turning
while you get realigned
the mountain will still be there
when you want to try again
you can climb it in your own time
just love yourself til then

The Moodscope team

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Shining light onto the darkness Saturday February 2, 2019

Is there a point at which self-acceptance shifts itself into self-love, or is that change something I can do more to work on? Not forgetting the key component of course, self-compassion. The dictionary definition of compassion is "sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others" – flipping that to the self, is self-compassion where self-love and self-acceptance combine?

I think I have been learning how to accept myself more positively. The new year has seen a shift in my mood, reaching all-time highs in my Moodscope score and hovering consistently pretty far above my average for a few weeks now. Maybe January brought, like it can to so many of us, feelings of new beginnings; maybe working on the same stuff week in, week out for 12 months has helped to loosen some of my "stuff".

This week though there have been times when I have slipped into a more familiar form of acceptance. "You're just lazy and ugly and will be alone forever so you might as well accept it" – those recognisable thoughts. Looking in the mirror is hard; I know that if anyone can love and accept me it should be me. I want it to be me. And if I can't... why would anyone else? Of course, I then made it worse by looking through old photos going back 15 years and viscerally remembering feeling so unattractive and worthless in 90% of them. Some of them I see now through the eyes of today Lucy and think "Actually, she was beautiful. What a life I have wasted... or maybe I wasn't beautiful because no one else saw it or was in love with me then either". (Hello, familiar thought loops!).

This is more positive than it sounds, I promise!! I now know, understand and accept that these thoughts are my "brain-spam", not the "real me". But loving them... that feels different to welcoming them in. I'm not sure how far I am down that path to loving them.

I do know that self-love and self-compassion isn't easy (for some). I might have been terrible to myself over the years but that shouldn't mean I don't deserve love. That's the bit I'm working on believing. I might have been horrible to myself throughout the years but I want to believe I deserve love.

It scares me to think I do. But it scares me more to think I don't. This, now, is the darkness I've been afraid to be alone with. I've filled my life with things that do help to alleviate the sadness, but they don't give me what I now acknowledge I want... true love. From someone else. But also, from myself. I'm scared of the darkness. I don't know how big it is and I don't understand it. If it scares me this much how can I ever show it to someone else and expect them to love it? Maybe light really is the only way.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Does practice make perfect? Friday February 1, 2019

When I was child adults used to say this to me all the time. I used to try to practise all the time whether it was my illegible handwriting, diving, any sport, art, or singing but it did not matter.

However much I practised my writing was still hard to read scrawl, I still did belly flops, I could not draw or paint and I still sang loudly and out of tune.

I became frustrated because Practise did not make me perfect or at the very least not even make me adequate.

Why do we keep using this saying? I feel if you already have a natural talent for singing, sport, art or diving to name a few areas, then practising a lot will improve your talent. I understand that the more you practice a skill the more you will improve but I still think you must have some talent to begin with.

Instead of making me feel good about myself doing more practise, the saying made me feel more frustrated by making my low self esteem go even lower. I felt that even with all the practise I still could not be good enough.

Maybe you find saying Practice makes perfect, has helped you and can tell me how.

Do you find that saying annoying?

Is there another saying that you have problems with?

A Moodscope member

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

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Addictions Thursday January 31, 2019

I am addicted to video games. Not the complex treasure hunts, nor killing all those who step in my path, but the mindless free ones, such as 2048, Minesweeper and Tetris.

I delete them from my phone, and avoid them for months or even years. Then somebody mentions one in passing.

My evil voice entices me:

"Ooh! You used to enjoy playing that. Downloading and playing for a few minutes won't do any harm"

"It'll take my mind off things. A bit of Me Time."

And I succumb. But it isn't a few minutes. I can play this rubbish for hours. I waste the day. I have other, much better and more enjoyable things to do. But I can't quite stop.

"I'll just finish this game"

"Oh, that was a terrible score, I'm sure I can do better than that..."

Even when I force myself to do something else, I am haunted by the shapes and numbers trickling across the screen in my imagination. My brain won't switch off.

I'll stay up playing till 1am, sitting in the cold kitchen as the central heating has turned itself off. I can't quite pull myself away.

Eventually I come to my senses and delete the app off my phone. Cold turkey is the only method. I have to apply myself to more meaningful pursuits.

Unlike many other addictions, the only person who is affected is me. It doesn't cost money, nor is it illegal or exploitative. But it is wasting my life. I feel guilty that I haven't done chores or treats or worthy past times.

Each day should be precious and used wisely. I know this because I have friends who regularly post such homilies on social media, usually over a picture of a butterfly or country scene. It implies that they use each day wisely, but they don't. I know this because they are wasting their lives posting nonsense on social media.

I'd appreciate your tips and ideas to help me control this urge to waste my time...

A Moodscope member.

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

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When You’ve Tried EVERYTHING! Wednesday January 30, 2019

There was a blue cloud of invective roiling from my study this week. There were muffled screams of rage and howls of frustration. When I emerged, at periodic intervals, for food and (yet) more coffee, the family cast me wary looks and tiptoed around in silence. It was obvious something had gone badly wrong.

What had gone wrong was my printer. I had asked it to print some photographs and it had, figuratively speaking, stuck its tongue out at me and blown a big fat raspberry. It then hunched a shoulder and sulked.

Oh no – it didn’t just go totally quiet: it would occasionally spit out half a page of printing and whirr meaningfully to itself. I didn’t have to speak “printer” to know what it was saying. Apparently, I was utterly unreasonable in my demands and so I was being punished.

I switched it off and back on again and restarted my computer. I ran the printer trouble-shooter. I found a YouTube tutorial and did technical stuff with the printer spooler, deleting all the files and restarting it again. I removed the printer from my computer and reinstalled it. And then I did it all again. When the printer decided it wasn’t going to talk to the WiFi either, I connected it up with a cable and – (sigh) did it all again.

Oh, it sounds so simple and quick when I list it all in one paragraph, doesn’t it! Let me tell you I spent hours on that blasted thing: HOURS!

I looked up replacements and talked loudly about their attributes, but my recalcitrant printer merely whirred at me again. It wasn’t dead, just sulking.

I was utterly stumped. I shut everything down and went to bed.

No bright ideas occurred to me overnight, but I did go onto my favourite Facebook group to express my frustration.

Several of the group came up with suggested solutions – all of which I had already tried. They came up with alternative solutions: feed it wine; take an axe to it; kick it around the room a bit (I didn’t try any of those, although the last was tempting). Then someone suggested I download the latest printer driver from the manufacturer and try reinstalling it from ground up.

“Aha,” I thought. That’s something I haven’t tried yet.

So, I tried that, and it WORKED! My printer is now printing again.

I tell you the story because, this morning, another friend was asking for advice regarding her insomnia. As I did, she received many replies: some sensible and some very silly. She thought she had tried everything, but some of our ideas were new to her. She now has more ideas to try. They may work, they may not – but at least she can try them.

We can often feel we are completely stumped. We have run out of ideas and are at the end of our resources.

But there’s always another thing to try. We just have to keep asking.

A Moodscope member.

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

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I am worth it. Tuesday January 29, 2019

I am learning to put a price tag on my own head. Yes. That is correct.

As an abused and otherwise neglected child from a poverty beleagured farming household; the "not good enough," message seems to have been singed deep into my spirit. Just like the cattle branding process.

Changes are occuring. Today, if you talked to me the way I sometimes talk to myself, one of us would have to leave. I am on the worthiness journey. The damaged child inside is realizing that she is valuable and deserves better than maltreatment.

There is a mixture of wounded pride and indignation that kicks up a fuss when something or someone insults me. How dare you. How dare it. I don't accept this. Do better by me or else!

Then when I am blessed by an event or kindness of another I am in a more difficult place minus the anger, still struggling to accept. It is hard to receive goodness. I want to. I might be worth it. I AM.

At fourty almost three years old, self esteem is overdue and one of my multiple battles. No one can perform this in my stead or hand me something to assauge the lack of positive self image. It has to be sourced from deep within myself, where the scars are.

I am worth rest when I am tired and friendship when I am lonely. I deserve respect and I will walk away from anything else. Self esteem is still such an unfamiliar concept that I ask myself what someone would do or say if they really cared deeply about me? And then I try and emulate their kindness. A sort of personal "W.W.J.D?"


A Moodscope member.

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

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Life in True Colours Monday January 28, 2019

This is a blog about you. It's about you being true to yourself – to your true colours. It's not really about individualism – more about letting your natural personality shine through. If you know the song, "True Colours," you'll know that they are beautiful when they show.

By the time you read this, I will have had another birthday. My colour period is what I call, "The Age of Beige!" What I aspire to, however, is, "The Period of Purple!" This is out of respect to Wendy Joseph's poem entitled, "Warning!" []

The first line is, "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple," and has other lines that include, "And learn to spit." I'm not so keen on the spitting, but the poem is a call to bold action. It is about growing older not disgracefully or outrageously but courageously.

Whatever our age, we are all getting older, and too often we can conform to what we think we are supposed to wear, constrain our behaviour to what we believe we are expected to behave, and even believe what we're told to believe. I would like to challenge and change this... just a little bit.

My question to all of us is to do with permission. If we were to allow ourselves permission to do or be or believe something now that we currently deny ourselves, what would it be?

I wonder if you would share? What are your true colours that are currently hidden or denied to you? Personally, I know I've toned down my own outrageous humour just to keep some key people in my life happier. My Tigger-like bounce has lost its pounce! I realise this is not being true to myself. I would therefore give myself more permission to 'play' and to be silly. I also love a cowboy jacket with tassels! Oh, and I'd love to be brutally honest with some people! (I've always been such a chicken when it comes to uncomfortable conversations and potential conflict!)

Over to you – let's share – they tell me it's good for the soul.

A Moodscope member

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

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What is 'IT'? Sunday January 27, 2019

My first blog (and only one so far) for Moodscope was in June 2018. In that blog I had acknowledged the return of 'IT'. 'IT' is the name I give to my depression symptoms. My relationship with IT has changed over the years. IT comes to visit on and off and although I'm not so angry with IT as I use to be, I find IT does affect my interaction with others, my motivation and my energy levels. Do you have your own version of IT?

IT visited in June because I'd taken a break in my medication from the start of spring, with the intention to restart them in the October. I'd noticed that IT always liked to visit around the time that the clocks go back in October. Last year that medication regime worked, this year it didn't!

It's taken me a while to get me back on track, hence the limited involvement with Moosdcope since June, par for the course when IT is around!

I'm always bouncing the boundaries with IT, observing what IT can cope with and what IT cannot. As a visually creative being I imagine IT in many forms, IT is like a shape shifter! IT is a cantankerous cat; a black dog; a black turbulent sea that drags me to its depth; a black worm of uncertainty that pulls me into the deepest, darkest pit. 'IT - the blackest of creatures', is how, in one of my early poems, I've imagined IT:

IT-The Blackest of Creatures
To everything there is a time and a season
A time to be born and a time to die
So the Biblical saying goes

The blackness-IT-has been born
But when will it ever die?
IT creeps amongst the jungled tendrons of a mind:
Black; sleek; cunning and ruthless to its prey

I've been told IT's a man eater
I've been told IT's cunning trick is not to kill the prey
I've been told IT instils so much fear and distress
IT's prey sometimes kills itself

I heard that a man fell in front of a stampede
I heard that a woman fell from a high rock
I heard that a teenager fell from a tree-
Found with creeper tendrons
Around his neck

This blackest of creature -IT- waits for the next victim
Then IT begins IT's cunning chase.
I must find out all about IT
I must find a way to stop IT
I must, because I realize,
IT is beginning to chase me.

I have found writing down my thoughts and feelings about IT really has helped me on my mental health journey. I have found that in my writing down about IT, to my surprise, my writing came out in a visual, poetic and metaphorical way.

I find describing my feelings, associated with IT, in a visual form easier too. Being trapped in a grey bubble; being trapped under a glass bell jar-watching/hearing everything from a distance; wading through dark black treacle; spiralling down into a black pit and plodding through eternal grey, are some images I've used in my writing.

Do any of you Moodscopers define your mental health condition and the feelings/symptoms associated with it in a visual way? If not, give it a go, see what comes up.

Love & Light

A Moodscope member.

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

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My To 'Done' List Saturday January 26, 2019

Last year I kept a diary, it was a monumental year for us in many ways. Some were very big 'firsts' ...most good, some not so, but I think I already knew it was going to be a year that I needed to document in some way, we knew we'd want to look back on it for lots of reasons.

So as I opened the new diary for 2018 I was ready to record everything that was coming our way.

I didn't want it to feel like a chore, like I had to keep it (as diaries so often made me feel) but I did try to be fairly consistent. There are a cluster of days here and there that have remained blank; health or life must have got in the way, not the end of the world though.

Anyway, it got me thinking. I've realised the thing that's made me jittery about diaries in the past, is how they have the ability to make me feel on the days that have been left blank. I think that [in my mind] a diary is closely related to a 'to do' list ...and they have the ability to leave me feeling guilty if I don't manage to cross off every last task (and more!)

So with this in mind, this year I've gone one step further and I have a new book. It's a pretty little notebook with blank pages. No diary format just a little box at the top to write in a date (if needed). The beauty about this little book is that it will simply document all the things we achieve over the following months but, and here's the big thing for me, as the pages do not follow on in dated format, if there are days when I do not need or feel unable to add anything it won't leave blank pages shouting "you missed a day you missed a day you failed!"

I have called it my To 'Done' List as it will only include a list of our [completed] achievements and NOTHING negative. I'll include the day to day jobs which normally go unnoticed but are nevertheless still achievements in their own right (especially some days!) but will all add up to be a quick reminder of how much was achieved, without the need to write an entire page (just because 'that happens to be the size of the diary') No, this is a smaller relation, content with just half a page, or just as happy if one day spills over a couple of pages. It's been nearly a month now and I have to say I haven't felt the pressure I've felt with traditional diaries.

Only a small thing I know but I wanted to share it with you all.

Do you keep a journal or would a To Done List be gentler for you?

A Moodscope member

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

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We are only human Friday January 25, 2019

I have had, like a lot of you, a tough few weeks.

Christmas never brings out the best in me, what with the enforced jollity and need to keep everyone happy, or so I felt. My focus at Christmas was my kids and my widowed Mum facing her first Christmas without my Dad.

In all this I thought I was getting depressed. And maybe I am but actually on reflection I may just be really sad. I had done that all too frequent thing of being a people pleaser. I was so concerned about other people that my needs didn't get much of a look in, and then to add insult to injury when I did try and plan a few days away my boyfriend wouldn't commit....

Unfortunately this was the final straw and so he is now my ex and I am a little bit heartbroken and a little bit annoyed as well.

A long time ago a lovely friend gave me a fridge magnet which said "Be gentle. Feelings are everywhere".

It has taken me very many years to have the emotional intelligence and wherewithal to acknowledge that my feelings matter. I too am bereft of my Dad who this time last year I was busy visiting in hospital. I am also feeling sad the man I loved let me down.

The difference is today I have been kind to myself. After an awful night's sleep I am accepting that it's OK to be human. I have cancelled a few appointments and am trying to take things a bit more gently. I have not yet cried properly about the heartbreak but I am sure that I will have a moment when I snuggle up with the dog and accept it's not what I had hoped for.

My stiff upper British lip means that I don't wear my heart on my sleeve. I always felt it was wrong to feel sorry for myself but now I know that it's ok to feel a bit down. It's understandable to be grieving... I am only human.

Are you ever too hard on yourself?

I think many of us are. I am learning that it's OK not to be OK, whether that's because I am depressed or just upset by things that anyone else in my shoes would be upset about.

What is wonderful about Moodscope is we have a safe space to be completely human. However upset, angry, depressed or hyper we are, we can all take the test and assess our mood and read the blog.

So dear Moodscoper, you are only human. Don't be too hard on yourself...

A Moodscope member.

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

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Invitations to peoples' houses Thursday January 24, 2019

This might appear to some of you as a selfish topic for a blog but it's something which has been bothering me recently.

It's about being invited to peoples' houses for a meal and having to say yes to an invitation but when the day arrives, not wanting to go.

But lately it hasn't just been on the day when we are supposed to go for the meal, but while I'm being asked, I know I don't want to say yes, I know I won't want to go and I know I'll either have to go or will find a lame excuse and then feel guilty.

But should I feel guilty?

I have explained to one friend that I don't like socialising like she does. I told her I admire her for all the drinks etc she invites people to her house for but I couldn't do it and rarely enjoy it. Then what does she do? She rings me up and invites me and my OH to a meal at her house. She went through all the dates in the calendar until eventually I had to agree on one. MY OH works away so chunks of each month are no go socialising areas thank goodness but I can't spin his trips out for ever.

I have another friend/acquaintance to whom I've actually explained I'm not always good company in company and don't really enjoy it and he is always inviting us to join them, even on holiday!

I've actually laid myself on the line revealing my worries and anxieties to the two people who insist on ignoring all I've said.

Truth be known, I'm actually quite a social person given the right circumstances. I like meeting friends for a coffee or a drink but find sitting round a dinner table for hours on end trying not to drink too much, feeling tired and anxious and not being able to leave when I want to, exhausting.

I do wonder whether these invitations are meeting the host's needs more than those they invite. I mean why do they do it? Some of you may say. "To be kind" but I'm not sure. I think some people have a strong need to have people round frequently, to be seen to be entertaining. In that context I feel used but don't know what to do about it which would be socially acceptable.

I've tried to explain how I feel to friends and been quite open and honest about my inadequacies saying it's not them I don't want to see but it's the occasion but they seem to think they know better or ignore it.

How do you get out of an invitation? Is it better to say yes at the time and then make an excuse? I am now committed to go to this person's house in a week or so. I guess I'll go but very reluctantly.

A Moodscope member

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

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Just in Time Wednesday January 23, 2019

I was going to write a blog on procrastination, but I think I'll do it tomorrow...

Ah, well, if you're reading this, it is tomorrow (one of those paradoxes which make your head hurt if you think too much about it) and yesterday I did write a blog on procrastination.

Except it isn't really about procrastination – because, if you're like me, you have read all about procrastination and realise that pretty much all there is to say about it has been said already.

At least, it's not a blog on overcoming procrastination.

You see, I am always a last minuter. Every week I say to myself, "I will write my Moodscope blog on Sunday." And every week it is Tuesday. Occasionally Monday if I am really disciplined!

It's not just unpleasant jobs I put off – and, honestly, writing this blog is never a chore. I put off giving myself treats; I put off writing my novels; I put off making my cards; I put off baking – all until the last minute. And then, of course, the task is done under pressure.

I have a work-related task to do, straight after this blog. I must create a vision board for my business. I must produce it tomorrow at my coaching meeting. And – of course – I've already had a fortnight in which to prepare it.

The ideas for the vision-board have been churning in my head, but none of them coalesced until this morning; possibly because they needed that pressure of urgency to bring them into focus. One of the reasons why the current novel has stalled is because there is a sex scene coming up and I didn't know how my characters would handle it. Now I do know, and I can't wait to start writing again. Of course, the fact I have agreed to give a talk in June on "Being a Romance Author", might have something to do with that urgency!

Then there's the tax return...

I think I have accepted, however, after fifty-five years, that I am just a last minuter. I can't work without pressure. I have also recently realised that I do always get things done – and done to a reasonable standard. Because I do leave enough minutes.

It's Tuesday morning now, not Tuesday evening. Caroline will get this blog by lunchtime. It's January 22nd, and the tax return will be in well before 31st. The vision board for the business will be done by the end of the day. There are enough minutes. Just.

There is no slack, such as my husband likes to put in; I don't actually schedule my procrastination as my daughter does (yes, really), but things are done, just in time. And on time.

So maybe it's time to stop beating myself up for being a procrastinator, to treat it as a personality trait and stop apologising.

We all have things that we could do differently, but – just maybe – it's okay to do them the way we do.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Fractures, friends and healing Tuesday January 22, 2019

I broke my leg a couple of weeks before Christmas walking on The Sussex Downs, ironic really when GP's (in Scotland anyway) are now dishing out the open air and walking as medicine! (I actually agree with this prescription and the outdoors has helped me enormously, but that's another blog).

I'll do anything to get out of Christmas! And I did – get out of Christmas.

Friends rallied round, picked me up by car, drove me to their house, cooked, entertained and delivered me back home. Friends did my shopping, and when I was able to hobble around, drove me to the supermarket. Friends cooked for me or brought me food and reading material, dropped by to say "hello" to keep me company, texted, phoned and one way or another, looked out for me and looked after me.

I had to learn to ask and I had to learn to accept. I did both and I feel that my already fabulous friends have become even more incredibly so.

This was going to be a blog about friendship and gratitude.

Or a blog about how a crutch helps someone who is physically "broken" to get around and how the aid is welcomed without embarrassment or shame.

Writing this blog though, I have only just made this connection with my mother dying at Christmas time 5 years ago.

It has been a rough ride over the last 5 years to make a gross understatement.

The first Christmas after she died, I went for a long walk on my own, it was a beautiful sunny (but sharp) day and I was doing exactly what I wanted to do (really?). There were plenty of other walkers around and I did not feel alone, many people had chosen to enjoy the winter sunshine, working up an appetite for the family feast ahead - who knows? Loneliness though, that was another matter, but as long as I was walking, I could keep it at bay, there was much to see and stimulate afterall.

I look back on the last five years and I have absolutely no idea how I managed, yet here I am - friendships again having played a huge part in my surviving the stormy waters. Following my mother's death (my father died several years earlier), two of my three siblings categorically told me never to contact them again and so I have not. The other did not say so exactly, but we have not had any contact. All three siblings see each other, travelling from the UK to the USA to do so, as seen on social media sites (pictures of my sister's wedding posted with my other sister and brother present, sit alongside pictures of siblings and their family in black tie, celebrating milestone birthdays.) I knew of none of the events until sometime afterwards. I can't tell you how much it hurt.

A broken bone takes 6 weeks to mend and I am told, will be stronger than before. How long broken relationships? Can fractured relationships too be knitted together stronger than before?

I'm walking really well unaided and am hoping the x-ray booked in a weeks' time will tell me that the bone has healed and I'm good to go! I'll be back on The Downs in no time and am again planning to walk The South Downs 28 mile marathon early summer if I can, with a renewed appreciation for the intricate workings of how the hip bone connects to the thigh bone...

For me for sure, the physical body heals faster than the mind.

A Moodscope member.

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

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