The Moodscope Blog



Fancy writing a blog for Moodscope? Friday April 26, 2019

We are currently looking for members who would like to write a blog for the Moodscope web site.

If you have a story to tell, some advice to give or an experience to share, please start writing! Send your contribution to

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

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

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

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

Time to start writing…

Kind regards.

Caroline Ashcroft
The Moodscope Team

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

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Words... Thursday April 25, 2019

Are the words we use helpful or unhelpful, harmful or useful? Do we think about what we say before we speak? I have thought a lot about this lately since I was challenged about something I said on Friday. What I said could have been phrased more positively. I generally do think about what I say, but not this time. I have respect for the person who corrected me and she was absolutely right. I had, albeit without thinking, spoken of someone as if they had no identity. What I wanted to do was make her aware of two people I had seen sleeping rough, but I gave the information as "One over there and one over there". My intentions were good but I had forgotten their "identity".

I have many times in my life struggled with fighting for my identity, as a woman, as someone with a disability for example. I have been just given "labels" rather than someone who happens to ride a mobility scooter due to having a disability or that I happen to be a woman. I have been insulted many times because of this. One that really hurt was "White bitch on a scooter with a dog". Referring to my beautiful assistance dog. (This was sorted. The security guard escorted the insulter from the shop.) But nevertheless, it hurt a lot. This is not who I am. I am so much more. I may have a disability, I may need to use a mobility scooter, have a beautiful dog to assist me. But I am so much more. It reminds me of a poem I once read - Look closer, see me. If I am correct, it was written by a lady in hospital about the nurses and wanting them to see deeper. Well worth a look. We never know someone unless we try to look closer. Words and labels are not always helpful, identity can be lost.

My Mum would say, "If you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all". She is so right. I remember someone coming to give a talk at a school I once worked at. He brought in a knife and cut up some fruit. He used the knife to show that it could be used for good or (as we have seen of late) for terrible things. He associated this to words we use. They can be helpful. They can also wound. Names hurt far more in bullying as they stay with you. I still hate the name I was called at school - fleabag. It still hurts. But, there are positive things people have spoken to me that I still remember. We will not always remember what people say or do to us but we will always remember the way we felt as a result, so it is better to leave people with positive feelings.

A final thought - Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are endless. – Mother Teresa.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Talking About the Weather Wednesday April 24, 2019

The BBC weather app showed a smug 20 degrees.

Ha! In the shade, maybe. On the sea wall the heat was intense. The brilliant sun slapped the waves and shattered, so a thousand shards of light ricocheted off the water and onto skin. We wore our sunscreen like Kevlar. The air shimmered so violently one almost expected a mirage of camels to come swaying through palm trees sprouting from the sand.

Easter, and it felt like late July.

And, from the pub garden behind the beach houses, the sound of Karaoke. Someone was singing "Baby, it's Cold Outside."

It made me think of another song.

"The sun is out, the sky is blue
There's not a cloud to spoil the view
But it's raining, raining in my heart."

This Easter, thankfully, I am not suffering with depression, but there have been many, many times, when everything on the outside has been sunny, but inside, it was as dank and grey as February.

If you're reading this, then the likelihood is that you have been there too.

I still remember the feeling of immense relief when my doctor explained about depression. "How can I be depressed?" I had cried. "I have nothing to be depressed about!"

But depression can and does act independently from circumstances. Everything in the garden can be rosy. The sun can be shining, and the sky can be blue and we, on the inside, are living in Winter.

But how to explain?

We can fix a bright smile on our face and pretend – and the less observant will take that smile at face value. The more empathic will see right through the sunny grin and ask us what's wrong.

My friend, with whom I met for lunch today, did just that.

"You're not alright: I can tell!" she said. "And I could hear it in your voice on the phone."

Actually, I'm not depressed right now (thank you, mood stabilising medication). She had picked up that I was in the early stages of a migraine. Sometimes my friends and family can spot it before I do; it exhibits similar symptoms.

But, if it is the Black Dog come for an unwelcome visit and spoiling everything, what can you say?

After many years I've found the best thing to say is, "I'm not very well at present, and – do you mind if I don't talk about it?"

We need to be clear that depression is an illness and that talking about it with well-meaning people who do not understand is exhausting and can be counterproductive.

We may be taking our tablets, we maybe talking with professionals who can help, we may just be hanging on until the black clouds lift and the sun shines again, but we don't need to talk about it if we don't want to.

Your weather on the inside may be different from the weather outside. If so, don't feel guilty. It's the depressive illness which makes you feel cold.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Do you need an expert? Tuesday April 23, 2019

I'm sitting here at my laptop listening at this very moment to someone trying to start their car in the car park next door. The engine is just not quite turning over despite repeated attempts. I've been listening to this for around 15 minutes now and what is clear to me as a bystander listening in, is not only are they going to run down the battery with their repeated efforts of turning the key in the ignition, but doing the same thing over and over again that is not working, and expecting a different result, must surely be overly optimistic or blissfully ignorant and I don't use the word 'ignorant' in an unkind way, I use it in it's original sense, as in, simply a lack of know-how.

I'm sure you all see where I'm going with this blog and the metaphor is not lost on you!

One of two things need to happen here, but first of all the person has to realise that what they are doing is not working and stop doing it before it does any more damage......................... great big pause left here for this point to land......................... then they either need to open up the bonnet and have a look to see if they have the skills to fix the problem themselves, or call in an expert to get them up and running again and back on their journey.

We cannot possibly know everything, whether in our field of expertise or not and every now and again, we simply need to call in an expert to help us on our way. Better still if we can learn from the experience and equip ourselves with the tools and knowledge to deal with a similar issue in the future.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Joining the SAS Monday April 22, 2019

On my way to write this this morning I crept through the house and down the stairs in moves the SAS would be proud of. On toes and then the balls of my feet, I use the edge of the stair as it has most support and is less likely to creak. I take my time, feeling it out to know if a creak is imminent. I know how to open drawers, so the cutlery doesn't give me a crescendo of percussion fitting in the last scene of a passionate opera. I know how to close drawers so hushed you'd never know they'd been opened. I can ease door stops out from underneath doors in such a way that the wood on wood doesn't squeal. I can silently remove and replace the kettle lid with the canny assistance of a tea towel, muffling the shrill shout of the metal so nobody would know the SAS were having early coffee.

I'm good at being quiet. (Admittedly there is a down side to this too but that needs no further explanation here today.) I'm really very good at being quiet. In the game of giving each other a fright with one up-manship I can sneak into my son's room just after we've said goodnight, so I can say goodnight again without him hearing me come into the room, sometimes even getting close to his bed so my voice just appears in the dark. (Done true SAS style by creeping in on belly.) He loves it. After he's calmed down. He gets me back. Often with a creepy voice he does that chills me or with black things that look like spiders.

So, there we are. I am making a confession of a different kind. I am good at something and I am being proud of it and I am sharing it. When did you last praise yourself? Have you ever? Do you ever utter the words "I'm really very good at..."? Its not showing off. It's changing the mindset of self-loathing, self-doubt, self-esteem and it's changing the record. Enough of the other one. Let's play something new.

I'm really very good at... [insert own words here]

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member

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

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Alchemy for Pain Sunday April 21, 2019

I have been interviewing counsellors this week.

Not for myself, this time, but for my daughter who is being badly bullied at school. The school has recommended that she speak with someone. Not just about what has happened over the last few months, but about much, so much more.

I won't give more details. She's happy for me to tell you about the bullying, because she now sees that it's all about the bullies, not her – but the rest is personal. Fair enough.

We've decided to go with the woman with whom I spoke this morning. She used two phrases which resonated with me. She said, "I will teach her to be truly herself, and to be true to herself," and "I will teach her how to turn her pain into strength."

My husband is baffled by this counselling business. After all, our daughter has a loving family – surely, she can talk to us (and yes, she does). She has her Godparents who love her – surely, she can talk with them (and yes, she does). Why does she need a professional? He's rather hurt.

The way I look at it, there are some DIY jobs that are, if you have the time and inclination, DIY. There are some jobs which – just aren't. The trick is to know which ones you can tackle yourself, and which ones for which you call in a professional. Even I (total klutz that I am) could probably apply new mastic to my shower tray. Fitting a new bathroom suite? For that, I'd call in the professionals.

This is a job for a professional.

Back to the phrase, "Turn her pain into strength."

This week is Holy Week in the Christian calendar. I know I need to be wary about talking about religion here, but please bear with me for a moment.

I follow the teachings of a Franciscan Friar, Father Richard Rohr. In his meditations in this Holy Week, he has written about how the pain and sufferings of Christ on the cross are transformed into love, acceptance and compassion: his open arms an embrace for the world.

This is truly turning pain into strength.

My daughter needs to understand herself and to understand her strengths and to then be true to those strengths.

She also needs to take her pain: the pain of betrayal and persecution, abandonment and loss, and turn it into strength, compassion and a passion for ministering to the world.
I have faith that she will do that.

It is so easy, it's natural, for pain to become bitterness and for betrayal to turn in on itself. It takes courage and faith to transform that hurt into beauty and strength. And often the help of a professional.

I know my daughter, with that help, will turn her pain into strength.

And, I ask you, what pain do you have? What can you turn into strength? And do you need the help of a professional?

A Moodscope member.

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

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Pop wood inth door... Saturday April 20, 2019

As time goes on, I'm better able to remember Mum and Dad with a smile and reminisce the happy times, I'm grateful for this. Another very interesting aside to my journey of accepting what is and moving forward, is that my memory is coming back... I'm very grateful for that too.

When my parents first passed I was aware that my memory, even of things that were [I thought] fixed firmly in the forefront of my mind, was poor. I couldn't remember names of friends who were close to us as a family, and I would panic if they too had passed; meaning I would never be able to remember them again, and it felt like I was losing even more of Mum & Dad...

Anyway the upshot is, as I'm healing, my memories are returning, and I couldn't be more chuffed.

Which brings me on to the reason for this blog ("at last" I hear you cry :o) )

One of the things I love to remember are all my Mum's sayings – she had many bless her. I thought I would share a few with you; I hope you will share yours too.

How many do you recognise?
How many do you use?
How many would you like translated? haha

Chin up chuck, the sun's always shining, even if it is above the clouds
Pop wood inth door
Going round the wreakin
Stop chunttering
Got to eat a peck of muck before ya die
Daffy drops & snow dillies
Aye, I reckon so
Where there's muck there's money
You know what thought did?... followed a muck cart & thought it was a wedding
Stop ditherin'
By 'eck it's black over our Bill's mothers
Creaking gate lasts the longest
Don't meet trouble half way
Oh it's early yet, sun hasn't had time to warm the road
What ya werritin' about?
There's enough blue up there to make a sailor a pair of trousers
It'll be ok as long as the wood worm keep holding hands
I'm not a green as I'm cabbage looking

... to name but a few!

And finally: Mum used to regularly call in on many elderly neighbours, she'd chat or shop for them; generally be that someone they always looked forward to seeing. One of those ladies had the most amazing window boxes which she took such pride in. Every year she'd ask Mum to "Keep an on her Perculiars" she loved her colourful Perculiars (petunias) bless her.

I feel quite passionately that, wherever possible, we must keep these wonderful sayings alive. By so doing, it means our loved ones never die...

As a post script to my Mum's gems - on Mothering Sunday (how poignant) my hubby found a note written by her, in some old papers. It said "To live on in the hearts of those we leave behind is not to die"

I would like this last message from Mum to be our 'thought for the day' if I may...?

A Moodscope member

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

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I know how you feel Friday April 19, 2019

A neighbour's dad had died only a few months after being diagnosed with cancer. He was 50.

I knew my neighbour struggled and I wanted to tell her that I understood as I really missed my dad. I was sitting next to her as she stared into space and was about to tell her all about what I had learnt, when I recalled how tired I became of people telling me about when their father died when I was grieving. I knew they were being helpful but I just wanted someone to listen.

I listened to my friend. Some days we just sat in silence and other days she tried to explain through tears how she was feeling.

I think there is a fine balance between letting someone know you have some idea of what they are going through and that they are not alone, to taking over and making it all about your experience.

People use these words in many types of situations, not just grieving. I have had people say to me when they find out I have bipolar, I know how you feel, I am often moody.

I can see it is a natural human trait to want to relate to another person, but I don't think you have to know how they feel to show some compassion.

I realise not everyone will feel like this and may welcome those five words - I know how you feel.

I am interested in how people react to the words I know how you feel, do you use them or do you have a problem with them?

What words would you prefer people use? Or do you think silence is better if you are unsure of what to say.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Looking back Thursday April 18, 2019

Looking back can be rewarding.

During the last few years many people have stressed that however grim the present, dwelling in the past is no answer. Lolo's powerful blog on loss, coming on Mothering Sunday, caused me acute misery (not Lolo's fault; unfortunate juxtaposition of circumstances).

I took my best friend here out for her belated birthday lunch (milestone 60). On the way back, the elderly man opposite asked us in for coffee. A total stranger to her, but in we went, he diabetic, wife handicapped, they were delighted with our visit. I'd already had rather a moan on Moodscope about the estrangement of our first-born son. Nothing on TV, so I watched most of 'Portrait of a Marriage' (Vita-Sackville West and Harold Nicolson) good, not cheering. Then despair struck, I was desperate to talk to somebody, anybody, but not at 10 p.m on Sunday night. So I resorted to old blogs. I don't know if anybody else does this?

One was in July 2018, illustrated by glorious tulips, fearing I was heading for depression. I decided was not, because I was planning to plant hundreds of tulips for the next year – you can NOT be depressed if you are planning for next year. There were pages of replies, many long, sympathetic and forward looking. They came from Orange Blossom, Sally, 'Room', Oli, Nicco, Hopeful One, Mary Wednesday, Jul, Tutti Frutti, Ach UK, Dolphin, Valerie, 'Bear', Molly and Lacey. I even got a request from ratg on growing bulbs – I wrote a 'treatise' via Caroline which was printed. My tulips are now coming out in glorious profusion.

The next blog I read was in January 2018 on 'Comfort Blanket' illustrated by Indian children in the refuge we support wearing shawls I knitted for them. This, too, had loads of lovely replies. A post from 'Hopeful One' does, I think, speak for us all. 'Moodscope was instrumental in lifting me up when I was down in the dumps'.

The need for help in depression seems to have reached crisis point. Radio 4 has had 2 weeks (on PM) on the subject. It seems that coming off medication can have some of the same effects as 'cold turkey', but staying on Prosac for life is not an answer. One GP says she won't prescribe anti-depressants at all, too much risk. GP's say they need 45 minutes to diagnose depression, they get 10 minutes on average. ALL drugs should be regularly monitored, to see if they actually work and that the dosage is right.

Statistically, numbers of sufferers is rising – due as much to uncertainty, unhappy relationships, personalities in the work place, and allied social problems. It is mpossible to know how many depressive states are due to these things or to real, medical bi-polar or the centuries old 'melancholic state'. When I was 'manic depressive', decades ago my GP tried all sorts of drugs, some with horrific side effects, then we ran out of choices, I only had one kidney, and that would not have stood the strain. So, go it alone? Or hope your 'prop' works.

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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

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Our Lady of Paris Wednesday April 17, 2019

I stared down at my phone in stunned horror.

"The Notre Dame is burning down!" I said to my husband, who scoffed.

"That's just a stupid prank someone is pulling on you," he said.

But it was true. We watched the live stream, the flames leaping in a sinuous ballet up the spire and the raging ball of fire above the nave. We gasped with the crowds when the spire fell onto and through the priceless and irreplaceable medieval roof. When we went to bed it was still burning.

This morning, listening to the six o'clock news, we heard a reporter say, "My feeling is one of relief. She's still there. She's still standing. The fire is out."

President Macron said, "The worse has been avoided."

Much was saved, and nobody died, although a fire fighter has been seriously injured.

The devastating damage and near destruction of this symbol of the Christian faith becomes more significant in Holy Week. The Notre Dame is not just an icon of Paris, but of its Catholic heritage – a faith which has lasted down the centuries, even though Paris, like all cities, is now blessedly multi-cultural. The Christian Faith holds that Christ died, but then, three days later, He rose again, bringing hope and joy.

This lovely Cathedral is only a symbol. A beautiful symbol, but not the thing itself. She is a part of the city, but not the city itself. The city is the people and the Church is the people. Buildings are only the habitation for people and the storage for the art that people create.

A much smaller incident happened last year at my daughters' school: the art block burned down, destroying all the art and textile projects that were part of the GCSE submissions. Special provisions had to be made for those students affected. My elder daughter's friend was in tears over the loss of his artwork. He had poured himself into those paintings and drawings – they were the best he could do – and now they were gone.

But the human race is an art-making animal. We cannot help but make art: it's what we do. This friend is still creating; he is still drawing and painting. Maybe he has not recreated the works he lost, but he has gone on to do something different and something even better.

The Notre Dame too will be rebuilt; rebuilt differently, as she must be, but rebuilt with beauty and with joy.

And, in Holy week, we have another symbol of the triumph of hope over destruction. Our Lady of Paris is down, but not out. And, while it will take many years and not just three days, she will rise again.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Social Hibernation Tuesday April 16, 2019

Does everyone feel like this at times when you just want a holiday from people and life in general?

I would describe myself as fairly sociable and I enjoy going out and am not worried about being at a party with strangers. However, now and then I will not be able to go out due to anxiety.

I feel pressure to be always up, bubbly and especially so that people won't ask me pressing questions. I was at the hairdressers and someone who was supposed to just cut my hair started to ask the intrusive questions they feel they have to ask – where do you live, are you married, do you have children... yes I have a stepchild... yes she lives with us, no her mum doesn't not want her it's just the arrangement (cue the "Oh it must be so hard looking after someone else's child" - when will it STOP!!.

Some people seem to find me endlessly interesting because my life does change a lot of the time – not always by choice I have to add. I have many interests but I am ricocheting from one thing to the next – a sort of creative ADHD. I can't sit still for long although I am getting slightly better at it. At these times when I feel like it's a cross examination (even of the well-meaning sort), I do get stressed although I don't always show it, I don't know what to say, I feel I should be the life and soul of the party, and if I am quiet, people don't know how to handle me and I don't know how to handle it. It then starts to feel really pressurised and I get myself tied in knots.

It is exhausting trying to keep a charade or be the most polished version of myself so I've started not to wear make up all the time, and go quiet and if people ask I just say I'm tired and leave it at that.

Why do I feel I owe everyone such a detailed explanation or maybe I'm just a detail queen or maybe I just think too much. My racing mind won't often give me a rest. Or occasionally I have got (accidentally, never on purpose) almost paralytic on alcohol at social occasions and then have got incredible anxiety the next day (did I offend someone, why haven't they replied to my apologetic text, did I swear too much, have I pissed off my husband yet again etc)... or sometimes even before I go I'm doing a "mum and dad" on myself – don't get drunk, don't swear, don't wear the wrong sort of clothes, don't say the wrong thing etc. Easier to stay in!

So I recently have had a social hibernation with two hobbies of mine and I don't do the coffee meet-up for one of them afterwards. I've not been for two months and concentrating on the other main hobby which is writing and even done a performance at a local theatre with my fellow writers. A bit nerve-wracking but a total success which was fabulous. But by my non-attendance with the other hobbies, I've felt as if I've been forgotten. What a daft self-imposed quandary.

A Moodscope member.

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

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The Joy of the Endgame Monday April 15, 2019

Four people outside my family have had an enormous positive impact on me. Two were teachers; two were trainers. I say 'were' because two have passed away, but their legacy lives on in their students.

On Saturday morning at 3am, Tony Buzan, creator of Mind Mapping as a coherent discipline, died peacefully. Author of more than 17 books, translated into many languages, Tony has reached people all around the planet with a positive 'can do' message of how to study, memorise, and speed read.

What has touched me most is the realisation of all the friends I have come to know through my connection with Tony. My life would not have taken many beneficial paths without first reading his book, "Use Your Head," and then beginning to work with his organisation: Buzan Centres. This is where I met another of the four most influential people in my life: Vanda North. Vanda took me on as her apprentice, and I became a Buzan Master Trainer of that particular era of the Buzan storyline.

I vividly remember my first meeting with my 'hero'. He lived very close to me and invited me over. The first thing we did together was build the fire in his lounge (fireplace)! I don't remember what we spoke about, but I'll never forget how cool it was just to build and burn together!

Mind Mapping is the single most useful technique in my armoury of thinking, learning, leadership, and emotional management techniques. Whatever you can think of can be thought of more effectively and efficiently with a mind map.

Students around the world have aced exams with the technique. Executives have produced more, of higher quality, in less time. People have got married because of mind mapping. Other folks are behind bars. Aid has got to the right people. The stories are manifold.

So why share this in a Moodscope blog? I think mind mapping is a very powerful technique to help with improving mental health. This was not an intended application or planned benefit of the technique, but it is nevertheless a very tangible result of learning to use the process.

Why is it beneficial for our mental health? As we become increasingly pressurised by issues that magnify the effects of depression, one word frequently is expressed by those who suffer: overwhelm.

The tiniest of extra inputs can push us too far. Even as I write this, I'm ready to punch someone – there's just too much going on at the moment, and too many inputs, and too little time. The washing machine is too noisy. I might need to break something before I break myself.

Does this sound familiar?

One major way I cope is to get everything down on paper – to externalise the 'noise' on the page. The most effective way to do this in the shortest amount of time is to use the 'spider diagram' technique of mind mapping. It just uses key words – and even pictures wherever possible – all connected with a web of lines. will teach you how.

However, my point in writing this today is to salute those in our lives who influence our personal history for the better. Tony always had the joy of an endgame in mind: to create a more tolerant, empowered, and mentally literate world. That bigger vision carried him through the bad times and benefited so many millions – yes, millions – of people who read his books and saw his presentations.

He's run his race but the baton has been passed on to so many of us who remain grateful. He and I had unfinished business – good work we could have done together but didn't get around to it in time. Vanda is still with me. I'm going to get closer and act on my good intentions.

Who can you draw closer to today? Who can you say, "Thank You!" to for being a positive influence in your life?

A Moodscope member.

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

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Keep Smiling Sunday April 14, 2019

'She doesn't talk much does she?'
'She's shy - not like my others'
I smile.

'Don't be a sissy, big girls don't cry'
'You are too old for cuddles'
I smile.

'This is our secret time - you are so pretty'
'Let me touch you - it won't hurt'
I smile.

'Can I have a lock for my door? '
' You don't need one silly. You are not up to anything you shouldn't are you?'
I smile.

'You are a great mum - you don't need me. I'll only be gone a week. '
'I'll stay if you really need me'
I smile.

'You do a good job, but you wouldn't know how to deal with Management. Leave it to us'
I smile.

'We don't have any pressure relieving mattresses in stock'
'Perhaps your mum would be better in a hospice'
No smile. 'I need to speak to your Manager, now. Please. '

Wearing a smile can help lift your mood. If you wear a smile to make you feel better, which I often do, that's great. Wearing a smile for the benefit of others, that's often not so good.

What do you think? Social reciprocal smiles develop early in life and help bonding throughout life. It's just if smiles hide your true feelings and you don't let others close to you know how you really feel ... I think that has been at the root of my problems.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Who am I? Saturday April 13, 2019

In my life my experiences have taught me it is not wise to tell strangers everything about oneself. They may use what you may disclose to further their own aims, and/or to cause harm or mischief to you. I found to my cost I was too trusting of people and so now I try to be careful with my information. I dislike that this is so, but there we are, life does things to us and shapes us.

You don't really need to know who I am, not my real name, nor my birthplace, my gender or my race. I am not of any great significance, I have garnered no fame or notoriety and no-one in my family has come to any public attention, and I prefer to keep that so if possible.

But, I belong amongst you; I have an affinity here, believe you me.

Over the past few years I have sat quietly and listened to the conversations you have had. I have heard the stories you have told. I have absorbed your pain and marvelled at your resilience. I have laughed and cried, with you and for you and for myself, and I have read and reread your blogs and responses.

I have learnt from you: from your triumphs and mistakes, from your differing ideologies, ways of living, coping strategies, alternative theories and treatments and remedies. I have taken nurture from you and you have given me strength to better accept all that I am.

I am the better for having stepped through your doors.

I have offered, and will offer, my own comments, empathy and (hopefully) advice; for I have a lifetime of my own experiences and from them perhaps something useful can be learned.

Is it time to try a blog or two . . .?

A Moodscope member.

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

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High as a kite Friday April 12, 2019

Until last week I was low as a stone in a pool. Buried under a layer that held me there. It was not where I wanted to be. And I'd been there for quite a while.

This week, I am as high as a kite. Impatient to enjoy and put to use every second, not to miss out, to maximise the sensations and bottle them.

I'm rediscovering joys I'd forgotten, music, amusement, interests I thought were gone for ever whilst in the pool.

But no, this state is not right either, for being high as a kite, I risk being untethered. I imagine a strong gust of wind whisking the kite off, and then pitching it headfirst into the sand. To land face down.

For my kite is on the seafront, facing out to sea. The wide expanse of the horizon is before me, with views that are mine and mine alone for the moment as I gaze out to sea, and seeming eternity. Choices to make, as yet unknown. Multitudinous ways of being and reacting. I see the writing on my grandmother's jug : Time and tide wait for no man". It intrigued me, always, from being a little girl.

I can choose to embrace this new state and grow, but the pitfalls are those of overdosing. Like in Alice in Wonderland.

I must walk the emotional tightrope of emotions and try to gauge how much cord to let out. I must rein in flights of fancy, impulse, that are all part and parcel of the high. It's a balancing act, that I suspect others on here will know this all too well. I am confident...but wary too. I must put some safeguarding measures in place.

I have been replaying The Byrds' Turn, turn, turn, which always appeals to me when I'm switched on ( and can appreciate music). It goes:

"To everything, turn, turn, turn
There is a season
Turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose
Under heaven."

It makes me think about life and its vicissitudes, but mainly about the feeling of being alive and open to all that the world has to offer.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Love Potions for Ourselves Thursday April 11, 2019

Here I am in retreat again. My reasoning is always the same. I'm not really that good at this. Someone else would do this far better than me. I'm a fraud. I'm taking up someone else's space. The rightful place of another.

The problem with this is of course that the upshot is that I leave myself with no place for me at all, anywhere – except under the duvet in a miserable lump of self-pity and self-loathing. Leading to yet more self-pity and self-loathing because I am allowing myself to be self-pitying and self-loathing. And so on. Any Moodscopers relate to this?

I wish I had a set of answers to suggest for such times. A kind of recipe for self-loving. A love potion for oneself. I'm working on one (mine definitely involves dark chocolate), though I imagine each person's love potion will be different – as unique and beautiful (and flawed and faltering) as themselves. This is why, though they may give us pointers, and the idea for an ingredient or two, I have come to the conclusion that no pathway to self-love composed by another person will be exactly right for us. We have to find our own. Which is hard. At least for me.

It's taken me a while to work out that when I don't love myself, not one, but two bullies come into play – Contempt and Fear. Together they feel insuperable. Taken together I am ground down by contempt into fearfulness – and the fearfulness makes me feel contemptible. Taken apart though, like most bullies, they feel a bit easier to confront. I refuse to be governed by fear, and I refuse to accept contempt. It's still hard facing up to them, and right now I have a counsellor helping me fight my corner – but at least I've pulled apart some of the black shadow. And in pulling apart that shadow I'm finding a part of me that (shock, horror!) quite likes myself. Even the part of me that sobs under the duvet. May be even especially that part of me. I'm not amazing, but I'm alright.

Dear Moodscopers, what are the ingredients for your love potion for yourself?

A Moodscope member

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

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The Cost Wednesday April 10, 2019

I don't care anymore. It doesn't hurt.
She rubs her eyes as if they ache.
I just laugh at them now.
She wipes the lie from lips gone dry.

Snitch. Sneak. Snake.

The counsellor waits, creates

A space

To speak

The words, forced by torture;
Events told by heated irons
And names drawn out by the rack.

Snitch. Snitch: we'll get you, bitch!

The rumours set about and fostered;
Lies like thick manure round hemlock;
Screamed abuse on the bus;
The cruelties following her home on her phone.

No Escape.

Sneak. Sneak: you're so weak!

No place free from
The stench of the rotting
Corpse of friendship.

Snitch. Sneak. Snake.

I saw what they did to the others;
I never thought they'd do it to me.

The counsellor waits, creates the space.

It's been months now.
I tried to kill myself last week.

Snake. Snake: we'll make you break!

But now, now I must tell.
They've started on my sister now.

A Moodscope member

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

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Let's bake a cake Tuesday April 9, 2019

I'd like to throw something in the mix if I may.

Are you living with, suffering from or battling against? Do you dance with, play along, or witness from afar?

So many descriptions, and I've used them all over time, but then I got thinking about just how powerful our choice of words can be; the correlation between inner dialogue and mental health fascinates me.

If we 'live with' does that mean we are not attempting to improve the situation and have simply accepted it? If we are 'suffering from' does that sow the seed that 'it' is stronger than we are and there is no point in trying? If we are 'battling' does that not make it an external, exhausting, possibly unwinnable fight? Or are we not simply dancing between all [and more] every day?

I try very hard to be mindful of the words I choose, I do understand how they can be so powerful in either elevating us or dragging us down (whether spoken or thought).

Titles we give or are given can also trigger opinions. When my parents were alive I was their carer, a medic, cleaner, admin, also a wife, a friend, a colleague, work - a trainer. There were more but you get the idea; so many caps so many occasions. And I could see how not only did I often act differently when in different roles, but there were times when people Reacted differently toward me too. Isn't that interesting? Staying congruent to your true self whilst working with these different titles can be a struggle in its own right. (but that's another blog!)

Anyway, back to my baking...

When you look at these 'job descriptions' individually they can feel daunting, almost unachievable, but what if we looked at them as the ingredients of a cake? Some of the individual ingredients can be pretty unpalatable if eaten alone. If we were offered just one we'd no doubt decline; salt, baking powder, fat, even flour can all make us think the final result will be tasteless at best and inedible at worst, yet looking at the light sponge filled with cream proves that all the ingredients are needed; working together to make the final masterpiece.

So maybe if we could gently embrace the days that we feel we are 'battling against' ...sit with it a while and then let it go, enjoy the moments that we can 'dance with it', and accept the times that we are 'suffering from', we could begin to accept all that is, because all that is, is what makes us who we are – one big (sometimes messy) but beautiful cake!

My cake includes 2lb patience, 1lb resilience, pinch of irritability, 2lb each of both strength & weakness (equal amounts) 3lb humour, glass half full water, all neatly iced with gratitude & magic sprinkles.

I'd be interested to hear how you move between your roles.

Are you ready to bake your own cake..?

A Moodscope member.

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

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Could You? Would You?? When??? Monday April 8, 2019

Many years ago – decades in fact – way back in the times when cassette tapes were the dominant media, I bought a very expensive training programme called, "The Sedona Method."

The claims were amazing. With this method I would find, "Freedom Now."

The freedoms on offer were emotional, relationship, even financial. I would be free from fear, free from guilt, and free to be me.

You can well imagine my frustration when the 15 or so tapes all had the same method on every tape! Did I become financially free? Nope! But I did get value from the technique, and it's stayed with me ever since. I don't believe the claims made for the method, but I do believe in the worthwhile nature of a very simple approach to letting go of stuff we don't want.

To share this effectively with you, I need you to play along!

You'll need a pencil or a pen – something you'd be happy to have clatter to the floor.

Let me give you an insight into what's to come. I'm going to ask you to squeeze the pencil tightly in your hand – as if it was a stressor that you were stressing over... even though it's just a pencil.

Then I'm going to ask you three very simple questions:

Firstly, COULD you let this go?
Secondly, WOULD you let this go?
Thirdly, WHEN?

OK, let's do this.

Squeeze the pencil.

Ask yourself the first question: COULD I let this go?

(Your answer is going to be, "Yes!")

Then ask yourself the second question: WOULD I let this go?

(I'm no mind-reader, but I'm going to take a wild guess and suggest your answer is again going to be, "Yes!" After all, it's just a pencil! You don't NEED to hold on to it, do you?)

Finally, ask yourself, "WHEN?" If your answer is, "Now!" DROP THE PENCIL!

I've had some minor upsets recently that have preyed upon and weighed on my mind. These upsets have damaged my energy, and I wanted to let them go. I wanted to be rid of them. Then I remembered the Sedona Method from all those years ago.

The upsets were far more emotionally charged than an inert pencil.

I pictured the offending party and asked myself, "COULD I let this go?" The answer, by the way, is always, "Yes!" to this question. Its purpose is to remind you that you have a choice.

The cross-roads is the, "WOULD I let this go?" question. The answer, here, can legitimately be, "No!" And here's the key point. If you WON'T let something go, get real and forget about doing anything else of any quality until you've confronted and dealt with the situation. Until you get to the point where you genuinely WOULD let this matter drop (like a pencil), it will consume your energy and drain you of passion.

I'm hoping for better things in our cases though; I'm hoping that we'll say, "Yes!" and when we move on to the, "WHEN?" question, we'll say, "Now!"

I did this with the emotional damage I'd received. It took a few attempts, but I succeeded in letting it go eventually. Then I deleted them as my Facebook friend and LinkedIn contact – that was really letting go!!! Let's not be naive, there are some people we are better off not having in our lives!

I don't believe in the spooky woo-woo claims for the Sedona Method, but I know it works well enough for me to be glad to have learned it, and well enough for me to use it time and time again.

I hope it will serve you well too.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Tolerance for imperfection Sunday April 7, 2019

I was speaking with a friend recently who works freelance. She is currently out of work awaiting the next contract and was working on her own project, as was I. She mentioned she was feeling a bit low, so I suggested that she came to stay for a few days for a break from her surroundings and that she brought her project with her. To my delight and surprise, she accepted and turned up a few days later.

For four days we laughed, shared stories, worked creatively and productively during the day and in the evening, we cooked for each other and ate together continuing our conversation. Overall, we had a relaxed, fun and productive time.

The day she was leaving however we had an unexpectedly strange heated exchange over a parked van in a petrol station. It was simply a mis-understanding or language failure – who knows, I certainly don't understand what happened. Her first language is not English and I think she mistook what I thought was a helpful suggestion, for interfering (my back seat driving maybe?). I tried to explain that I was just trying to help at which point she exploded.

Suffice to say, we parted company politely but frostily and I can't help but reflect on the fact that 4 days of getting on really well together was undone in 4 seconds at an "out of order" petrol pump with both of us parting company with a slightly bitter taste around the visit.

Of course clearly the heated exchange wasn't over the parked van at the petrol pump, there must've been more to it. Was anxiety setting in about the drive ahead or of going back to being on her own after 4 days of company, or of the stress of living in the City that she wants to leave, the neighbour that she doesn't get on with, or of the waiting for the phone to ring with a new contract?

I don't know, but I am left reflecting on the fact that for 99% of our time together we had fun, we laughed and were generally very at ease with the other, yet what we are both left with is the 1% - the slightly starchy feeling towards the other.

I am being balanced around the incident and hold no ill feeling, I see it for what it was, a mis-understanding and unimportant on the scale of things but it's made me think of a beautifully hand painted china mug. One day the rims gets a little chip and so the 99% of intricate hand painting stops getting noticed while the attention now goes to the tiny 1% of imperfection. Why?

Why throw away a mug because 1% of it is less than perfect? Why focus on what is not right about the mug especially when the rest of it is functional and beautiful? Are we really saying that things are only worth having if they are perfect, have we no tolerance for imperfection? And does the same apply to friendships, relationships, the working environment, are we judging it all too harshly, focusing on the small chip meanwhile missing the overall beauty?

A Moodscope member.

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

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