The Moodscope Blog

6

February

The Big Issue

Thursday February 6, 2020


What's the Big Issue?

Here in South Africa we have a monthly small-run magazine issue called 'The Big Issue' which addresses issues of the day in a manner which touches base with the man on the street. It probably wouldn't have much meaning at all to the more affluent society, but to people like the middle-to-lower class society, it has real meaning and touches the heart and purse-stings. It always calls for involvement from the individual reader and there are multiple ways one can get involved in the community or broader society. Whether it be though financial involvement or giving of your time, possessions or skills, there is always someone needy.

Furthermore, the vendors of these magazines are usually found at robots (traffic lights) or walking around outside shopping malls selling the magazine – the proceeds of which they receive a proportion. The individuals are vetted by the publisher and all the vendors have an identity badge which permits them to sell the magazine for a set price.

Why the long introduction and what has that to do with you me you ask? Well, let me put this into perspective: in SA we have a statistical unemployment rate of 30% and if you take into consideration the number of people who have given up looking for employment who are no longer on the 'seeking employment' register, the figure is probably closer to 35%. Where does that lead? What have you got that the next person doesn't have? Think for a moment, about what you have and have been blessed with – whether or not you think of it as a blessing - and then spare a thought for the unemployed/homeless/in dire straits through retrenchment maybe - and then do a comparison.

Suddenly things become very clear – you either have sufficient – or you don't. Everyone aspires to more, and there's nothing wrong with that, but some will never have that opportunity. The Big Issue – if you consider yourself one who 'has' - is how about doing something for those who 'don't have'? I'm not talking about random handouts to street dwellers, but choose an individual who you see regularly whose life you might change by sharing positivity as well as a hand-up.

Mental health does not discriminate between race, culture or class, but anyone who has experienced mental health issues no matter how mild or severe will attest to the fact that they wished they never had been afflicted. You don't know the background or circumstances maybe, but I can assure you – it is more blessed to give than to receive.

The feeling of having blessed someone with something they never had before is a remedy that medicine can't provide. Suddenly your 'big issue' isn't so big! Yes, you will have down days but things could be way worse. If staying in touch with your local homeless person/retrenched friend from a position of one who 'has', then suddenly your position of a mentally affected person becomes almost nullified – trust me – I've tried it.

Mental health issues are no longer snubbed (hopefully) but you can do a lot for the next person albeit from a position of perceived disability.

I hope this motivates you to test the idiom – it is more blessed to give than to receive! The Big Issue – not mental health – help others who need your help!

Stephen
A Moodscope member.

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


5

February

Icebergs

Wednesday February 5, 2020


I think we've all been there. We look back and think, "I really wish I hadn't done that." Even if there are no consequences to our words or deeds, we still regret them.

But, have you ever thought about just why it is that we have these regrets?

It's all to do with that fact that we are icebergs.

No, not great lumps of ice lurking in the North Atlantic waiting to sink unwary luxury passenger liners, but icebergs in the fact that nine tenths of what we are is underneath.

Only our actions and behaviours can be observed. The drivers of those actions all lie beneath.

The reason why we have regrets and remorse – even when we "get away with it", is that we are acting in a way at odds with that nine tenths. There is a fracture in our iceberg.

The first level underneath is our skill set. We all have different skills. Some of them we are proud of, whereas others we take for granted. If, however, we produce a poor result in an area in which we have skills, we feel embarrassed or ashamed. For instance, I make a pretty good cake. If, one day, my cake was rubbery, or tasteless, I would feel ashamed and almost humiliated. New skills can be learned, however. I am still trying to learn how to make a good Yorkshire Pudding!

The second, deeper level, is our beliefs. Our beliefs are not just political or religious – they are beliefs about the way things are. My husband believes that Volvos are the safest car on the market and because he values safety (see values below), he will always drive a Volvo. Any other make would be a betrayal of those beliefs. Beliefs can change however, in the light of new evidence. Just think, very few of us now believe in Santa Claus...

Our values are deeper still; the product of our upbringing, education and natural inclination. Values are harder to change than beliefs, yet we can still betray those values, through fear, or anger, or hardship. Sometimes we compromise, and then feel uncomfortable. If we value loyalty but betray a friend; if we value hard work, but illness forces us into unemployment; if we value honesty but lie through fear: a profound, if subtle, unhappiness will result.

Last, and deepest, there is identity. This is the deepest part of us that we cannot change. If we are straight-talking, we may learn diplomacy; but underneath, we will always long to tell it how it is. If we want to win, then we may learn to be a gracious loser, but our competitive streak remains. Not trying will always feel wrong.

Sometimes it's worth analysing these uneasy feelings of regret, to see where the dissonance lies. As Polonius says, in Hamlet, "This, above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man"

True words, those.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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


4

February

Self worth

Tuesday February 4, 2020


I last wrote back in April, about juggling motherhood and work. I was working in a charity with an incredibly unsupportive boss and I was fired from this job just before Christmas. I fought them with a solicitor up to the point that I couldn’t bear it anymore - I felt it was unfair on so many levels.

My confidence took a further knock and my self esteem was in bits, I thought about all the things I might have done wrong. I certainly wasn’t perfect, but I was good at my job, I was passionate and I made so many good things happen.

I’m now working in a temporary job, and I’m starting my recovery. This experience has pushed me to do something I’ve wanted to do for a while. I’m retraining to be a therapist. I took part in my first night class last week and it feels so right, I’m using my own experience to hopefully be a help to others.

Let’s make a pact together to stop others make us doubt our self worth and to stop them chipping away at our self esteem and confidence. We have power and we are strong, we are resilient at times - despite our experiences and our difficulties. We are deserving of love, and support, kindness and the life we want to lead.

Who’s with me?

Jenny
A Moodscope member.

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


3

February

Our Space

Monday February 3, 2020


Wouldn't it be great to feel safe, to trust that you and I have a sanctuary from the storms of life, and a secret snug even in the best of times – our space?

One of the great mercies of human consciousness is the sense of a fresh start to each day. Sometimes it may be a rough start if we've had a bad night, but it is always a new start. We can begin again.

For my own personal wellbeing (and I'm certain I am like many of us), I need rhythm, ritual, and routine. Not too much routine but enough to feel safe and that the day is building upon a firm foundation.

Moodscope starts the day for me: first the test, then the blog... and often a retest after the blog when it significantly shifts my thoughts and feelings. Jul's blog did that for me last Monday. It was like turning a page at the end of a chapter to open a much better chapter ahead. The publishing of the blog was timed to absolute perfection: my birthday. I left reading it, and the comments that poured in, a changed man.

I'm pretty sure that was a once-in-a-lifetime moment, thus I am keen to learn and respond with enduring gratitude.

Here is what I'm learning that I hope is good for you too.

Firstly, Moodscope works best in threes. There is a proverb that says, "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up their companion; but woe to the one who is alone when they fall and doesn't have another to lift them up. Again, if two lie together, then they have warmth; but how can one keep warm alone? If the black dog prevails against one who is alone, two shall withstand the attacker; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken." (adapted)

The Black Dog of depression sounds quite cute. I usually see a black Labrador when 'the black dog' is mentioned... but the black dog is not cute. It is vicious. With help, we can withstand the attack, and if we fall, we can lift one another up. We can keep one another warm when life chills our bones.

The chief learning, however, has been 'a threefold cord is not quickly broken'. I love the assessment. I love the blogs because they are the voice of my companions. That's a twofold cord – a plait that doesn't quite work! The third strand is our dedicated buddy system. Here's the truth... I'd stopped using it well over a year ago... because I didn't want to be a nuisance.

When we let go of our buddies (and I know mine will forgive me for this stupidity), we then have to look elsewhere for intimate support. The blog comments aren't the best or most appropriate vehicle for that!

The 'Our Space' that is Moodscope's magic works in threes:
The Daily Assessment
The Daily Blog
The Daily Buddies – watching, listening, ready.

We need routine, we need ritual, and we need rhythm. Having buddies keeps me safe and warm. Thus, I give thanks to all our buddies too for the years of rhythm and routine and ritual that allow each one of us to thrive.

Lex
A Moodscope member.


2

February

The power of positive feedback.

Sunday February 2, 2020


I signed up for a 6 week beginners Yoga Class. It worked out at £5 per session, I am fortunate at this time in my life I can afford it (it's not always been the case).

It's at the church hall opposite my home so very convenient to get to (which isn't always the case). It's my third week and although I don't really know anyone, it doesn't feel awkward as we are all focused on doing our personal best.

The teacher comes round is encouraging and positive (which in everyday life - isn't always the case - it can be damaging to be criticised constantly) so to hear her say Beautiful - Maria that's great, and hear her mention others in the class by name and give positive feedback has left me with a glow of wellbeing and a prompt to be mindful of adapting this to my everyday in as many ways as possible.

Keep well,

Mrs Mahoo
A Moodscope member

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


1

February

My Wallet is locked in my Fridge...

Saturday February 1, 2020


... So with a packet of pate in one hand I went downstairs to Security in the YMCA and asked to be let in to my communal kitchen. As he let me in I said to him "Do you want a laugh?" and he watched as I unlocked the fridge and swapped the pate in my hand for the wallet in the fridge. One of my rabid dogs chasing its own tail had been front and centre in my mind.

This is a process thing.

I was lucky enough to have Sir Chris Hoy present on how an ordinary guy like him can achieve Olympic gold. "If you want to dream, dream big." Okay – nothing new. "Break down how you are going to get there into achievable steps." Yup – heard that, doesn't help me. "To execute on achieving each step you need a process. And you need to focus on the process not the outcome." Now THAT is something new. My responsibility is to choose, execute and tweak the process and the result takes care of themselves.

Sir Chris goes on "When you suffer from FUD (Fear Uncertainty Doubt) focus on the process."

Whenever I think of the outcome I hear the voices in my head saying "not good enough" "don't make me laugh" because I have to continue the criticism of other people in my life and especially my childhood, of any effort I make even before the outcome is apparent. Focussing on the process liberates me from that litany of self-criticism.

And "When you fail, then change and improve the process."

So I decided to hydrate in the morning drinking two pints of water with half a lemon squeezed in each pint. I went to do that after porridge and it was a lot harder than first thing when I get up before porridge. A small improvement to my morning process. Drink lemony water first.

I am all about tweaking my processes to realise the outcome I want.

I think process is the "what" and "how" I do anything. I also know it as "being present in the moment" – yes but present with the purpose of the goal and the plan. I also know it as "behavioural activation" in CBT where the goal is to not be depressed.

So what about that wallet? My new process is to be present in the moment as I go to the kitchen, not because I don't want to lock my wallet in the fridge again, but because that is what I have decided is my process, and I am focussing on that process and ignoring the outcome (and the critical voices). It should also help keep the wallet in my pocket and pate in the fridge, but will also bring other benefits.

The security guard laughed when he saw my chilled wallet in the shelf in the fridge door. I hope it put a smile on your face too.

Adrien
A Moodscope member

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


31

January

Difficult times

Friday January 31, 2020


I know many people go through difficult times in their lives.

This is how I feel 21 days after my difficult times.

In 21 days, I have learnt my life will never be the same and I may never accept this.

In 21 days, I wonder who I am now without my shop that gave me purpose and routine.

In 21 days, I worry more about how I may upset people.

In 21 days, I have now divided my life into before the fires and after the fires.

In 21 days, I have learnt more sad things can happen in my life.

In 21 days, I forget names, I am afraid my memory is worse, I am confused and often vague.

In 21 days, I find shopping centres overwhelming and the plethora of items to be verging on the obscene.

In 21 days I am surrounded by a quilt of comfort and support.

In 21 days, I have not recovered, I am not better, I am not often ok, so please don't ask me if I am.

In 21 days, I like to get lost in the laughter and chaos of a toddlers delight in dancing with scarves.

So what has helped or hindered you on your journey during hard times.

Leah
A Moodscope Member.

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


30

January

I've come a long way!

Thursday January 30, 2020


Manic depressive illness (when did it change to bi-polar) according to Butterworth's Medical Dictionary is 'A person suffering from a psychosis, classified as an effective disorder, in which excitement and mania alternate with periods of depression, delusions are prominent and suicide is a relatively common termination'.

'The pain is too much. A thousand grim winters grow in my head. In my ears the sound of the coming dead. All seasons, All sane, All living, All pain. No opiate to lock still my senses, Only left, the body locked tenses.' Spike Milligan, 'Manic Depression'.

'When my brain gets heated with thought it soon boils, and throws off images and words faster than I can skim them off'. Percy Bysse Shelley.

These were all chapter headings for a book I wrote on 'Manic Depression'. (No advertising, never published). In fact, my first blog was possibly May 2015, another chapter heading, my own poem on depression.

This was over 40 years ago. I had been suffering severe mood swings; culminating in an emergency dash to Westminster Hospital, ambulance, bells jangling, on a Friday afternoon.

I emerged clutching a piece of paper allowing me to leave, just a stark 'Mania', Then the fun started. Perceived wisdom, try to 'turn the mood'. I was put to bed for a week, husband instructed that every time I woke up I was to be thrown another couple of Mogadon. But moods got worse. Medication never lasted long before side-effects stepped in. I think Lithium actually made me violent. Then the discovery of only one working kidney stopped all meds - too dangerous.

I had five children, participated fully in our farming business, and swallowed thousands of Vallium. A different GP took over, 'You don't need those'. Panic – but we managed, I was so used to them they had little effect.

Ten years later, at University, in the second year I just could not cope, decided to give up. My personal tutor begged me not to give up before seeing the Student Advisor. She sent me to a nutritionalist. My story from then on is the reason for the title. I had a lifelong intolerance to dairy products, although I had managed to feed three babies. But huge advances in medicine showed that lack of calcium 'locked up' my magnesium, provoking stress, mood swings, and even suspected heart attacks.

Balanced minerals cured the problem in weeks; I was never manic depressive in the first place. Life started. Got my degrees, wrote loads of articles, started life in France, and with husband got into historical research, exhibitions, conferences and books. We followed a geologist son round the Far East. We started sponsoring children in India, and got in deep with social problems there, nine visits in all. My 'gardening' in this town got many plaudits, and thousands of photos.

This story is, maybe, a message of hope. Don't accept ANY label, look at your life and health holistically and see if, perhaps, there is something simple in the background that nobody has thought of.

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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


29

January

Part of the Pattern

Wednesday January 29, 2020


Every school day now, for the past six years, my daughters - first just the elder and then the younger too - have been leaving the house at 7am and walking down the road to catch the school bus. I used to go with them, but now they prefer to go alone.

Every day we would pass (they now pass) the main bus stop and would see a young man standing there waiting for his 7.05am bus.

We would nod and he would nod, and we would pass by. I think, about year three, we started to say, "Good morning."

Last year my elder daughter left school and started sixth form college, which meant she did not take the school bus, but instead caught the 7.05am bus from the main bus stop; the same bus as the young man. She would nod and he would nod. She would say, "Good morning," and he would say, "Good morning." Then they would both get on the bus and take separate seats without another word.

Last week she bounced in from college, eager to tell me that she had, for the first time, spoken to this young man and had a real conversation!

She had realised she had known him by sight for six years but knew nothing about him. She also realised that, unless she spoke first, they could spend another six years just nodding at each other.

"Mummy, he's lovely!" she said. "His name is Samuel and he's married, and he has a little baby and he works in the science park. He's an absolute G!"

(I had to look that up. It's a slang term – short for "Gangsta" but I think my daughter uses it to mean "Cool". Her favourite teacher is "An absolute G," and he is most definitely not a "Gangsta"!)

I think most of us have people in our lives we see on a regular basis, but to whom we never speak. It a peculiar kind of relationship. We would miss them if we no longer saw them and wonder why they disappeared.

A friend of mine had two Great Pyrenean Mountain dogs – those giant fluffy white things that you could mistake for a polar bear. When one of them died, she found that people stopped her and asked about the missing dog. One person driving past drew up to speak. "I always see you with the two dogs. What's happened to the other one?" My friend found that she was a part of the pattern in other people's lives.

I suppose I am a part of the pattern in your life. I drop into your in-box on a Wednesday and – although most of you have never met me and do not know me – you care. I am part of your pattern and you might miss me if I were not here.

And you too are a part of the pattern in the lives of more people than you know.

Mary
A Moodscope member.


28

January

Still feeling lost...

Tuesday January 28, 2020


It's been a while since my last blog. I've been away on holiday. Now you all probably think, wow that's great! But you know what, I found it quite stressful and a big reason for this is I spent a lot of the time with my partners family abroad... they are great but I'm overwhelmed with it all as I'm not fluent with the language and can't really communicate that well, I just sit and watch and my mind wonders to the negative as to what is being said.

I don't know how to relax about it all, it just seems hard work trying to fit in... well it's all in my head! On top of that since starting a new position at work, suddenly a much higher position has come around in the team and I feel it's created competition to the point where people are trying their best to stand out and just making things awkward. Also being away for 10 days and coming back, a lot has changed so it seems like I've been a little left behind.

Can't stand the way my mood changes quickly from day to day, I just can't explain it. I can be okay with things in general one minute and then something small can easily upset me and then it seems I can go into a spiral of self doubt, worry and general depression.

Will I ever feel like myself again or even normal...

Hope you are all well.

Hugo
A Moodscope member.

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


27

January

Where's Lex?

Monday January 27, 2020


No! I'm not your new Monday morning blogger. No one can replace Lex long term. Maybe we can put up with a few weeks but our souls will start to wilt and we will suffer from No Lex syndrome. NLS.

We all say things we regret and sometimes I have said things which I haven't had a clue at the time had hurt someone.

We are only human after all.

The problem with writing a possibly inflammatory or hurtful comment on Moodscope and I have written them myself in the past, is that we don't really know the person we are directing our comment to.

This of course happens with Twitter. It's so easy to sound off on Twitter to an anonymous person or someone we think we know from their celebrity status or whom we've read about in the media.

But our comments can hurt. Sounding off at someone might fill a need in us and I am constantly criticising people to my OH. Of course, I remind him that just as we take a swipe at someone, at the very same time, they're probably taking one at us.

We think we know someone whom we've never met! How daft is that. We think we can tell from what they write that we don't like them but that just isn't logical.

I have made mistakes on Moodscope in the past and often (or maybe only sometimes) I am terribly tempted to write a sarcastic comment even now. However, I try not to as

A) I hate the repercussions and am a coward when it comes to reading what people have written in reply and

B) I must not make a personal comment or even an impersonal comment which implies I know that person deep down and I must be right. Because I don't and I am not.

I totally understand the need for others to criticise. It's human nature and the critical person might actually think they are being helpful.

I for one am very sorry Lex isn't writing for us. I liked what he said and although sometimes it wasn't for me, more often than not I took something from his words. And definitely his replies to my comments always cheered me up.

So when you are ready Lex, please come back! I don't like this NLS. And also I am not you. I don't belong on a Monday blog. You are Mondays for me. It makes Sunday evening worth enjoying! And Monday morning a good place to be.

Baby Come Back!

Jul
A Moodscope Member.

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


26

January

My box saga

Sunday January 26, 2020


As some of you know I use boxes. This is about my newest box.

I am having art therapy. My aim is to become more self caring.

For me it is very helpful to use images combined with a therapist who observes and asks questions. But... it is very expensive, so we agreed I should start reducing my visits. I came up with the idea of a maintenance manual and out of that came my latest box.

In it I have put things that may help keep myself in balance. I try to use it regularly. I've written actions on lolly sticks and I draw one each day. I try to carry out the task. It maybe dance, so I jig round the kitchen; write, paper and pen from the box; draw, crayons there ready. So far it is helping. I go away next week and my box goes with me.

What might you put in a box to help?

You know what I don't have chocolate! Hmmm, Can I express myself in chocolate?

Dido
A Moodscope member.

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


25

January

Regression therapy

Saturday January 25, 2020


It is time for me to check in with myself and sort out what's been ruminating around my head for the last few months, that and depression knocking at my door, trying to find room in my headspace again and push the blackness back in, as I push my foot in the door and try to stop it gaining entry.

So I made a decision to go back to therapy, but to find a new therapist. I did really like the last one, but didn't feel challenged enough, maybe that's my personality. I tend to like intellectual rigour and I felt I was just doing an emotional brain dump - which did work after my parents died, I felt as if I just needed to vent my upset and disgust at a life which seemingly had treated me so badly - but I need a bit more now.

So now I'm on a journey with another therapist, he's a man, which is different for me. He does clinical supervision and seems to like explaining things... but he's pricey which is a little more difficult, as it means I'll probably do a month and then have to cut it down quite dramatically. He also does hypnotherapy, as part of the armoury for treatment... so today is the first day I'll be hypnotised to try and look back at the reasons why I only fall in love with a certain type of man, the one who is as he put it a 'Byron type'...

It's the thing that's upsetting me the most at the moment. I spent about four years staying single, I was happy in the last few years, I'd manage to control the grief of my parents dying and the fact I was truly alone and in the words of the Moodscope test, I felt extremely Strong and Proud (both 3).

Then I fell in love, with obviously Lord Byron (apparently a jungian archetype, although needs more research), the great love I had always sought landed in my lap. It was fast and lovely and deep and amazing, so connected and delightful, we loved each other intensely... and then it unravelled, mostly when I kicked back and wasn't the 'in love' passive lovely girl any more. I became the slightly more difficult woman, who's needs weren't being met and I articulated it, gently then with more voice... THE END was nigh, the damage was done, the ghosting, the selfishness (both mine and his) and my childhood came back and I reverted.

So now I'm back in therapy working out why the damage from my schizophrenic mother and loving, but slightly controlling father, still affect and help me to damage myself (or save myself) who knows... So with a sense of trepidation I'm trying to stay calm and walk into hypnotherapy. I know it's not going to give immediate answers and I know it's just a tool in the psychotherapists bag of tricks. I wonder if anyone else has had hypnotherapy as part of their treatment? I know it's personal, but wondered if you felt it helped in anyway? I was also considering talking to him about Carbohydrates whilst I was under, see if I could get value for money :-)

Andrea
A Moodscope member.

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


24

January

Young Dog, Old Tricks

Friday January 24, 2020


My step son "M' – let's call him 'M' because it sounds more James Bond-like, doesn't it? – my step son 'M' won't change the toilet-roll. Not, "Can't," but, "Won't."

I find this irritating. He's nearly 30 and will, almost without fail, leave the toilet-roll holder empty when he's consumed the last resource! The replacement is on a spike less than two feet away from the holder. Does the spike have his name on it?

Am I wrong to find this irritating? After all, one of Moodscope's 20 cards is 'Irritable'.

What is definitely wrong is my attitude and desired response. I can be quite sarcastic. I want to give him a training session in how to change the toilet-roll... but I know that he knows full well how to do it. He just expects the toilet-fairy to do it. Clearly, I am Tabitha, the Toilet-Fairy!

I hold my tongue instead of biting him.

I'm not really sure what's happening to me at the moment. I'm not hearing voices. I don't believe in channelling. But I'm picking up thoughts.

Bathed in irritation, I sat down and the thought came: "Look around the room and notice the objects that are red."

"Now, notice what is green. Are there more green objects than red? Or is it the other way around?"

Two colours were enough for me to get the point. The thought 'said', "You are choosing to use selective attention."

"Yes," I responded.

"Do 'M's virtues outweigh his vices?"

"Yes," I answered.

"Then choose to pay selective attention to his strengths, his gifts, his character, his virtues!"

Result? Irritation evaporated. It's a toilet-roll, for goodness sake!

End of blog? No.

I then realised that the irritation was within me – not 'because' of what M was doing or not doing. The irritation in me was looking for a target – a reason to express itself. Now that I know where the real problem lies, I've changed... and M has noticed.

Who knows, he might even put a fresh toilet-roll on the dispenser without having to be nagged.

Even young dogs can learn new tricks 'cos this old dog certainly has.

Tabitha
A Moodscope member.

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


23

January

Medication

Thursday January 23, 2020


When I first went on medication, I remember the moment. Sitting in a café, carefully reading through all the disclaimers, wondering if this was a moment of no return as I popped my first pill.

Would they make any difference?

Four years on, I still don't know. Each time I tell the doctor I want to come off them, he/she (there have been several) cautions me against it. Certainly, they say, do not try it in the run up to winter.

I am now much more open about my feelings. But trust them? Personally, I cannot let them have the final word.

When I was considering getting married 20 years ago, I fought tooth and nail against the commitment. It was only friends who helped me see my irrationality. Having proposed, and been accepted, I have never looked back and consider myself the luckiest man in the world. She is one in a million.

When I thought I should carry on with work and refuse help, friends gently said I was making a mistake. When I thought I was not nearly well enough to return to work, the doctor gently said that it would be a key part of my rehabilitation, so long as it was a staged return. I trusted him and he was right.

So can I trust my feelings? Not entirely. I have learnt to be more open, but I have learnt it is not wise to base all my decisions on them alone.

Zenas
A Moodscope member.

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


22

January

It Shouldn't Be This Way!

Wednesday January 22, 2020


Sometime in the autumn term, my daughter was invited to take part in a university outreach scheme.

We all assumed this would be a visit to the university with a taster lecture and tutorial session.

It turned out to be rather more than that. She was given a scientific topic (science is her least favourite subject), required to research it, and submit a 2,000-word essay.

The timings were strict but badly communicated, so she was not aware of the correct deadline; neither had she assimilated that points would be deducted for late submission.

Last Monday night, when we realised the essay was due by midnight at the latest, and that it had not been even started was – shall we say – tense.

There was no point in being angry with my daughter. We could neither contact the school nor the university: there was nothing to be done – except provide comfort and a hug.

My own reaction was extreme: I felt I had failed. I had failed to investigate the scheme thoroughly before we agreed to her participation; I had failed to ascertain what work needed to be done and the dates by which it needed to be submitted; I had failed to encourage her to do the work; I had failed to support her as a good mother should. I had failed.

I was desolate. I was more upset than she was!

Fortunately, I saw my therapist that week and she helped me see things in a more balanced light; I was not responsible for the entire mess.

More than that, she helped me address the "It shouldn't be this way!"

The "right" way, of course, is that all communications are clear and precise; all instructions followed exactly and competently with a cheerful heart; all submissions are made fully, on time and (naturally) top marks are obtained.

Oh, what a lovely fantasy that is!

Have you watched the film Forrest Gump? Forrest brings a simplicity to life because he accepts everything as it is without passing judgement on it. It doesn't mean he is not capable of being deeply hurt, but that he doesn't resist the hurt. He can let go and move on.

It's okay to be disappointed that things didn't turn out the way they "should", but that was just a fantasy. Once I brought that fantasy into focus, I could laugh, because life simply isn't like that!

The next day the three of us talked. We agreed that, given her dislike of the subject and the necessity to give priority to her school-work, it would be better for her to withdraw from the scheme.

The world did not end, and her teacher is not angry. It was all a storm in a teacup.

We all have fantasies about the way things "should" be. Most of them shatter when they collide with reality – because they are unrealistic.

Of course, we can aspire to perfection, but – let's get real – it's never going to happen.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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


21

January

Life with CPTSD

Tuesday January 21, 2020


My sleep is broken, I come to consciousness each time with clenched fists, a racing heart, and gasping for breath. My panic morphs the darkness in to terrible threats that I must escape.

Deep breathing, I calm myself as I plan my strategy to reach the kitchen. I must not wake anyone, so I move slowly in the dark, subjugating my need for light, to escape the formless terror, trading it for silence and solitude at my goal.

I greet the faint dawn light of the landing window with some relief, but the fear has seized my spine, and so to descend the stairs safely I shuffle sideways, wincing with each step, and with each creak of the tread. I reach the bottom and I release the breath I didn't realise I had dammed up.

In to the kitchen, I weigh up which light to flip on. Both could wake a sleeper in the next room. I'm frozen with indecision, I don't know how long I stand there.

Finding no answers I opt for a small light, closest to me, and fumble for the kettle. Can I risk filling it? Should I fill one cup as it uses less energy, or fill more so that the next person doesn't need to fill it, and it will still be warm? What would a good person do?

Again immobile, my mind whirling with fear and helplessness, I can move only when the ticking clock finds me and returns me.

I flick the kettle's switch without adding more water, the fear making the decision impossible. I stand again waiting, the boiling of the kettle making my heart race, and I cover my ears with my hands. I start to pace. Maybe I shouldn't have a hot drink, it's all too much to bear. And yet, the promise of the warmth and comfort of the hot cup in my hands drives me forward.

I watch the kettle's switch finally click off, and remove my hands from my ears. I'm so nearly there. I just have to spoon the granules in to the cup, but the chink of the spoon on glass catapults me away from the now.

Moving as an automata, I pour the hot water, and add milk, leaning hard on the knowledge that the shape and feel of the warm cup in my hands will ground me. The heat and taste will assure me that I am, in those few future moments, safe.

I take my cup and head for sanctuary, but glare of the kitchen light calls me back, rooting me to the spot while my mind weighs up whether I can switch it off. I can't leave it on. I can't turn it off. My drink is warm in my hands, but it is not enough to break through the barrier, nor to ease my distress.

Nothing is enough. And yet, I persevere. I persist. I jab at the light switch, action hopefully serving me better than inaction.

I find the sofa in the half light, and slump down, hugging my cup to me. I sip. The warmth permeates, and for a fleeting moment there is nothing other; no fear, no irrationality, no anxiety.

There will be more decisions, more terrifying indecision, more demons dogging my steps to delude me. But, for now, I am alone, it is quiet, I am safe.

Robyn
A Moodscope member.

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


20

January


I know that because I am so tired most of the time and lack self confidence as a result, I allow people to walk all over me.

When I sleep well, I am much stronger mentally.

So I think over the years, some people close to me have got used to seeing me as a push over, albeit someone who will always try to help and to go to if help is needed, but someone who will take whatever life throws at her on the chin without speaking out in her defence, someone who is ready to blame her own behaviour for the bad behaviour in others.

Now this may seem a very negative picture of myself.

But this is how others see me or rather they must do. Not many I hasten to add but those who really do take advantage of me now and have done so in the past.

When I've slept I feel angry at how defenceless I have become and tell myself this mustn't continue but then I'll have a bad spell of insomnia and am back to square one.

I try to make others' lives easy and make allowances for their behaviour towards me. I know deep down that they are the weak ones but how can I show them without a terrible fall out?

It's a new year. I wonder if I'll be strong enough not to take anymore nonsense from those who choose to bully me. We shall see!

"... and one of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you"!!

Does anyone recognise themselves in my description of myself?

Jul
A Moodscope member.

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


19

January

Free resources...

Sunday January 19, 2020


Each experience is our own. Even those shared are not interpreted in the same way. The TINIEST of differences in how we perceive and react to things HUGELY influences how we feel. It fascinates me how something that does not bother one person, can be a major source of agitation for another.

A long 'to do list' might cause panic in one mind yet give comfort of being occupied in another.

The simplest of things can trigger my sudden sensation of feeling completely overwhelmed. It's like a heavy blanket falling out of the sky, dropping down on me closing out the light, the oxygen and the hope of me ever lifting it off. I do lift it off eventually and carry on mostly.

For me, good quality sleep, drinking plenty of water and even the gentlest of exercise, are my "free go to healing tools". They don't fix everything immediately and life can hinder your access to them, but like Moodscope and this amazing community they are always there to tap into.

Jo
A Moodscope member.

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


18

January

A strategy for those tougher days...

Saturday January 18, 2020


I have struggled with the ups and downs of my moods for many years. In the past, when things got really tough, I just tried struggling even harder to keep afloat.

The problem with this approach was that no amount of courage and determination seemed to break the grip of depression. Early morning runs, cold showers, endless meditation - none of this really made a difference. If truth be told, they all served to make me feel more miserable and defeated.

So I have now adopted a new strategy - I try and treat myself to a short bout of depression. I give myself permission to retreat to a dedicated comfy room where I will not be disturbed. Here I stock some of my favourite (unhealthy) food from the supermarket, light endless candles, listen to preselected music playlists and watch box sets.

Don't get me wrong, this approach does not take away the pain of depression. However, in a strange way I feel I can enjoy retreating into this safe space at least for a while.

So what are some of those special things that you would fill your own safe space with? Can you allow yourself time to appreciate them in those tougher times?

Nick
A Moodscope member.

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


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