The Moodscope Blog



The trouble with families Saturday April 6, 2019

I had a flying visit from a close family member this weekend, but despite feeling very under par from a cold, we did our usual welcome. And then the box of old photographs came out... and there were a few questions and then... a statement which was as obvious as it was heartbreaking... to me. "Mum f*cked you up". That was it. Four words. I could not hold the tears back any more. It was like I was transported back into teenage hell, despite being as I am now, an accomplished, brave and extremely resilient 53 year old female. Because I knew. But I did not need it said. And it wasn't from a position of nastiness but it brought back a tsunami of painful memories.

Later that night I went to bed with a lump so large in my throat it hurt. Earlier apologies ensued... too many wines and a loose tongue were apparently the culprits. My husband, ever the mediator, said it was from the position of an older brother who had seen and heard stuff... but like my dad in all honesty had done nothing about the emotional abuse I had suffered as they both did their disappearing act. And I had issues with men – is it any wonder?

I was told that as a teenager, I looked like a slapper, and a tart and even in front of my friends, "Are you going out with her looking like that?" My phone calls were eavesdropped on, a cackling going on in the background and then the obvious click as she got bored with the conversation. I had the wonderful comment about my second cousin "You can't compete"... as well as jibes about being anorexic, wearing too much black... you name it.

Arguments in shops with her screaming at me because I had dared to want to go back to the shop to buy the thing I had seen in the first place (she would say "Oh we can look at the other shops and then if you still like it we can go back".. and then the "If you'd liked it that much you would have bought it there and then" or that I was a bit late for the final meet-up before we went home.

Another thing was mentioned about an incident with an "uncle" (neighbour) who took me upstairs when I was barely a teenager – or I may have been younger and tried to kiss me inappropriately – the excuse was "I've got something to show you"... The first time I recalled that memory it triggered a flood of tears and a questioning in my own mind if anything else far worse had happened. This was the same man who babysat every Saturday night and bought me chocolates and sat as close to me as a boyfriend would with his arm around me.

I developed body dysmorphia as a teenager from probably all the negative comments and experiences with boys at school – my arms were pinned back in a break one time and I was assaulted. I told no-one. I was followed into toilets. But the dysmorphia, although triggered by a photograph initially, haunts me to this day.

The strange thing is I have forgiven my mum but the hurt will never really go away. It's a scar that doesn't need to be opened however... but it often is, unwittingly by others... and I'm brooding again...

A Moodscope member.

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

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Whistle a Happy Tune Friday April 5, 2019

The title comes from a song from The King and I.

The inspiration for the blog comes from some members who have written here about their loneliness, feeling disconnected. Google the song, I think psychologists would approve the sentiments.

"When I fool the people I fear I fool myself as well".

Years ago I used to say hello to a young man who seemed new to the area. He would mutter a reply, staring at the ground, but did not seem unfriendly. One day he wore a Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy t-shirt. I pointed, gave the thumbs up, said "Bit before your time", and he smiled.

After weeks of this, I spotted him in the supermarket one day, and waved. As I was leaving, he appeared again, with a big bunch of flowers. He introduced himself, Hari, from Greece (with a thirst for knowledge!) Doing postgrad studies in a branch of maths that made my brain hurt. He said how much he had valued my efforts to be friendly, how he looked forward to seeing me.

After that we would chat, walk along together. He started to appear with others of his own age. One day he was with an American girl, there was some laughter and banter. He spotted me, and I gave him a big wink.

He went back home after a year. He must be in his forties now, maybe a family man. I doubt if he was abnormally reserved. He was a stranger in a foreign land, not sure how to fit in. He found the natives were not too bad, and felt able to respond. Maybe that's how some people feel all the time, like outsiders in their own home town. It must be so hard for them.

When he gave me the flowers he said some very kind things, said I looked cool, a happy person. By this time I had just gone onto Prozac, and did feel better. However during the first months I was at rock bottom. I was way too skinny, hair thinning, scared to meet people I knew, in case the tears came. I must hide my crazy really well, because life meant nothing to me. All he saw was the smile. I felt so pleased that I had made the effort to speak to this nice lad.

We can so easily become immersed in our own thoughts and troubles. We lose sight of the humanity and kindness around us, dismiss the chances to connect. It takes two to tango. We should not make assumptions. Keep an open mind, give other people a chance. If you are shy and reserved that does not have to be a handicap. Many people find those qualities attractive. Hari was a self-confessed geek, but a bit of practice worked wonders. Like the song says "Make believe you're brave, and the trick will take you far".

A Moodscope member.

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Five ways to Wellbeing - Be active Thursday April 4, 2019

Not long before Christmas I saw an ad on the 'Book of faces' for a beginners yoga class, literally 2 minutes down the road from where I live. Now I'd never done yoga before but I've often read articles espousing its benefits in developing strength, coordination and inner wellbeing.

So I noted it was a community, pay-as-you-feel class and as it had no long term commitment and sign up, I wondered if it might just be something I could try.

What did I have to lose? If I went once and hated it there was no need to go back ever again, no expectation to be good at it either as it was a beginners class. Hopefully everyone would be as bad at it as me!

All I had to do was message the teacher on facebook to tell her I was interested. You cannot imagine the angst I went through that evening when she messaged me straight back saying yes there was a class running and it was tomorrow and to come along.

In the past anything like this has usually taken me weeks to summon up the courage to message back let alone go along, and I usually talked myself out of it by the time the event comes along. So inevitably I spent the whole of that night waking up wondering how to get myself out of going.

Well, all kinds of excuses came to mind that night but by the morning I didn't think any of the rather fantastical stories I had created would really be worth admitting to. I had nothing better to do and a sneaking suspicion that it might not be as bad as I thought.

When I arrived at the class my worst nightmare was realised - I was the only person to show up. Apparently another couple of people who had been the week before weren't able to make it that day. So I asked if she wanted to cancel (I was looking for any excuse to get out and fast because the spotlight was going to be on me it seemed - eek!) No of course not the lovely teacher replied we've both made the effort to be here so let's practise yoga together.

From thinking that that hour would probably be the longest of my life, over the course of the next 60 minutes I realised that with yoga it doesn't matter how good you are, how flexible, how toned or how motivated, once you are doing it you just get wrapped up in the movements and balances and the time rushes by.

I've just signed up for a 6 week yoga beginner's course as a result of those drop ins, so being active is now a weekly part of my life. I know when the 6 weeks ends I won't want to give it up, I'll be back at the drop in and delighted if I'm the only one there.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Therapeutic Hugs Wednesday April 3, 2019

"Mummy, Daddy, can I have a hug?"

Thank goodness, that's a phrase often heard in my house.

We don't by any means get everything right, but one thing I think we do okay at is hugs. Every weekday I get the children up at 6am (the school bus goes at 7am) and start the day by giving them a hug. We usually end the day with a hug too. They get a hug when they come home from school. My husband gets a kiss as he leaves for work and a hug when he returns. Hugs transfer love and make us feel good.

It's not always easy. Sometimes I must inflict hugs on my children. For quite a few years my elder daughter did not want hugs, but I kept on hugging. When our lovely young friend Richard first came to stay with us I had to teach him how to hug, as he had not experienced any hugs in his home.

To receive a hug is to, for a moment, be vulnerable in another's arms and to receive their love. Even when it is friends who mutually hug, it is a shared lowering of defences. If you do not become open in that moment, your body feels stiff and unyielding in the arms of the person giving the hug. That hug is undeliverable and is returned to sender.

Sadly, many of us do not have family or close friends with whom to share hugs. Some of us do not have a hugging history. We did not hug in my family, and it was not until I went to university that I learned how to hug. I attended one church where hugging was banned for fear of inappropriate sexual contact!

Oh yes – how do we deal with that one? We've all seen the way men hug each other: the "manly" hug, maintaining a distance of at least six inches between crotches and involving much back-thumping. I'm sorry, chaps, but it does look a bit ridiculous. I compare it with the way I have seen my husband hold his elderly father in a strong but gentle hug. An automatic misalignment – disalignment rather – coped with the crotch issue and the love demonstrated brought tears to my eyes.

A good hug must be strong, even if frailty or illness mean it must be gentle. Height differences must be accounted for. The day my daughter stepped back, grinned at me and said, "Mummy – I'm taller than you now – I think you must go 'under'," was very special. And a good hug must be long – at least five seconds; studies recommend ten. That doesn't sound long, but – if you think about it – most social hugs last only two seconds. That's not enough time for the endorphins to generate.

And – we must accept that sometimes a hug is not appropriate. Sometimes a gentle hand placed on the upper portion of the arm is all we can do to give comfort, support and to show we care.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Gender stereotyping in mental health Tuesday April 2, 2019

Recently I raised the subject (I hijacked someone else's blog) of me making snide jokey remarks about my husband and I asked if it offended the males on this site and of course other women but I was mainly concerned about the men. I didn't get much response and none from any men although I was grateful to those who did see my comment and replied. Hence my blog today.

My remarks were intended as harmless. I expressed irritation with some of my husband's reactions or behaviour and frequently did this in my comments and also in blogs.

However, the other day, I begun to feel bad about it, not so bad for my husband, but bad for male Moodscopers reading such stuff. I thought to myself, if the men joked about their female partners in the way I felt entitled to do with my husband, how would I feel?

Now I know women have been the butt of male jokes for hundreds of years and yes we have suffered as a result. However let's for the purpose of this blog, forget about (if possible) the historical subjugation of women by men and focus on present day mental health which affects the genders equally. Depression is no respecter of any demographic.
Also men take their own lives as a result of depression and mental health issues more frequently than females. We all know the statistics on this or if we don't, can look them up.

I guess the point of my blog is to ask men what they think? I mean why don't the men (and some women of course) ever make fun even remotely of their partners?

Are they afraid to?

I know many of us here on this site do not have a partner and I apologise if they feel they can't relate to any of this. But actually the points I am making do have significance more widely than just husband and wife or partner relationships.

I was worried that my comments about my OH might not in fact be quite as harmless as I thought; in fact if the truth be known I didn't give it a thought when expressing them on Moodscope. Now I am thinking maybe they upset some fragile men and made them feel even worse. I apologise if I did.

I have always considered myself a feminist. I am one and will always strive for equality of the sexes in all areas of life. I have been one for years and will never give up. But why is it OK for women to openly jest about their male partners and not men and/or why don't men do it more?

A Moodscope member.

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Can You Feel It Springing Up? Monday April 1, 2019

For our members in the Northern Hemisphere, Spring is making her presence felt – in every blossom bursting forth, in every green leaf unfurling, in every birdsong heralding brighter, warmer times to come.

For those of our members in the Southern Hemisphere, Autumn's mellow fruitfulness can be seen, smelled, touched, tasted.

The times, they are a changing.

Can you feel it?

Sometimes, when we're low, feelings become dulled by the weight of what we are facing. But there is hope... out there.

Today, I'm going to invite you warmly to look outside. To listen. To smell. To touch. And even to taste.

If Autumn is your season, Winter is not here yet. If Spring is your season, Winter is behind.

Now is the time to embrace Nature's goodness, her fruitfulness, her promises.

I'm springing into a fresh season of joy, powerfully aware that what looked hopeless, what looked dead, what looked defeated... wasn't. The life couldn't be seen but it was there nevertheless.

There's life in you yet. You may not feel it, but Spring and Autumn won't be denied. Winter has its time, but now is not that time.

Share with me, with us, what you see, hear, feel, smell, and taste today that proclaims positive transformation is happening.

It doesn't have to be about you – I know what it's like when times are tough – I'm talking about what's happening 'out there'. And you know what? What's out there is calling – calling you to come and join in. Come out to play. To celebrate. To dance.

A Moodscope member.

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"Another time, another place... But not now." Sunday March 31, 2019

Deep breath.

I've listened to those 4 songs and felt sad before.
But I never thought I'd be listening to them having lost you.

Just keep driving.

The man at the petrol station scared me.
And the realisation that I can no longer use you as an excuse.

Nearly there.

I can hear children playing football.
The wind rips through the wool and slaloms up my ribcage.

Oh no. Your boss is there. He saw me before I could turn. Funny.
Funny how we use humour in difficult situations.
But your female colleague knew. She could see it in my eyes.
And in the cuddly panda fallen on the desk.

I had to come here, I couldn't risk seeing your mother.
Although she may be happy, now, that I'd finally given her what she wanted.

But what do I want?
I want you.
But I can't have you, can I?

You're ill, you can't cope, you need space.

I need you.

I'm so angry.
I'm talking.
Are you even listening? Yes. I can see the pain in your eyes. Those eyes. I love them so much. But I can't look at them now can I?

It's cold. Shall we go inside? Yes.
This is the worst thing to wear. I know. But it's the only thing I can't give back. Why? Because you gave it to me at the start. Before you knew.

Do you still want to talk?
A look.

I prayed I wouldn't see a fox on the way because I just knew it would - tears.

Hold me. One hand on the back of my head. Holding my mind together. What happens when you let go... don't think about it. Head in your chest. You're so much bigger than me. Nose in your coat. I can smell whatever was fried for dinner. It always makes me - tears.

Head up.
Those eyes again. They are burning. Let me hide from them where your neck meets your t-shirt.

Stay still.
I can hear karate upstairs.
I think you're crying too. But I don't know.
I never know.
Can I buy you a milkshake?
Humour again.
I smiled - for you. It's always for you.
Another time, another place
... But not now.

Oh, here's my car.
I need to hold you. I can't let go.
I can't I can't I can't.
Fireworks. As if arranged. As if we would.
Warm, salty cheeks. Soft lips - don't leave.

You were doing that silly wave when I drove away from your sparkling eyes.
Shining with the light that was in me.

A Moodscope member.

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Speedos and bikinis optional Saturday March 30, 2019

Hello tropical island! You are never too hot, never too cool, never filled with people, never empty, food appears by magic and it takes no time (or stress) to get there. You are abundant in stunning vistas and all the things we favour. Um. Nope. Not happening for me either.

Holidays tend to be filled with stresses of all kinds for me and so its not that which I'm talking about today. It's having a holiday from the feelings. The low mood. The high mood. The grey, the dark, the pressure, the "I cannot see anything out there for me".

I'm back to wading through a treacle lake. Its not unexpected, I will return, this time of year is repeatedly hard for me and in that there is comfort. A little like meeting an old neighbour, one you were kind of relieved to move away from.

So how do we get a little holiday from the feelings? Its different for each of us. Can you think about making a tiny space in your day. Every. Single. Day. No matter how short or how long. But just making that space appear every day to do something, ANYTHING, which allows you to be consumed and thus be unable to think about being low, or high, or anxious or stressed in any way. It's important it is all consuming.

Sometimes that is easy to find, sometimes its not. But it will give you a holiday of a kind. A space to experience something that is not the rest of the day. And within that holiday you are free.

When troubled, reading leads my mind to wander, yoga can get me angry, even showering still allows the spool of thoughts to function easily. So, for me, there must be a different angle. When I walk fast, with purpose, perhaps in a rush, I can find that freedom. When I sit with the student I support I must give all my attention to his work, and I can find that freedom. To be honest, there are not many others for me. But it can be found. We may need to work at it a little, but it can be found. Find your thing. Get in a little holiday daily, no matter how short, you will unravel even just for a short time. And there is magic in that. Things will grow.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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Life is a Balancing Act Friday March 29, 2019

I recently attended a yoga weekend given by my favourite teacher. She reminded me of the importance of balance, and it got me thinking...

We are constantly told to eat balanced meals. Occasional treats are fine and can be very enjoyable, but we try to avoid them becoming ingrained habits. A piece of delicious homemade birthday cake is wonderful. Eating a whole Victoria sponge every day for lunch isn't a great plan.

Balance isn't just about standing on one leg – or on your head. It's about the balance between the mind and the body, the mental and the physical. They complement each other. A balanced mind can help you towards a balanced body, and vice versa.

Balance is also about keeping your body even, avoiding unbalanced habits.

So, I invite you to try a little experiment. Don't worry if anyone is watching.

Cross your arms across your chest, as in a defensive "that's that!" pose.
Now, uncross them, and try re-crossing your arms with your other arm on top.

The first time it's really awkward, and might give you the giggles. This gradually changes to the "this feels weird" phase, till, eventually, perhaps after many years, it start to feel quite normal, and you forget which is your "natural" cross.

You can try crossing your legs, sitting on the floor or a chair, putting the other leg on top or in front.

And now, your hands: interlink the fingers, making steeples with your thumbs and little fingers – now try interlinking the fingers with the other index finger in front.

Don't worry if you find this tricky. Give it a go, and to do what you can, with the body you have today.

Which foot do you put in your trousers (or pants) first? Which arm do you put in your jacket first?

These are all habits.

Focussing on balancing your body, might help to steady your mind, on difficult and on good days.

I wish you all a well-balanced day.

A Moodscope member

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How do you know you are sane? Thursday March 28, 2019

Age, my husband's illness, much attendance at a care home and a nasty scare of my own have made me, perhaps, hyper-aware of my mental state.

I was reminded by watching, again, a film called 'A Private Function'. It is set in 1947, and the town worthies wish to give a dinner to celebrate the Royal Wedding, but what to eat? They decide to clandestinely fatten a pig. A naïve chiropodist (Michael Palin) and his bossy wife (Maggie Smith) decide to steal the pig. Her mother is played by Liz Smith. Her constant fear is being 'put away', if anybody official comes near she gives the name of the Prime Minister and recites her 'times tables'.

My husband had regular check-ups at the geriatric clinic, usually having to give the name of the Prime Minister, names of his children, and being given a paper of a few words or pictures to memorise. The last time he went was by ambulance, he was so terrified he did not know his own name when he got there, harrowing.

Do you test your memory/faculties by joining MENSA, doing crosswords, SUDOKU, putting names to old photos? I have a photo of my form at grammar school when I was 11 (72 years ago) I can virtually name all the girls. When I wrote my last blog 'Sunday b****y Sunday' I found I could remember most of the people in the village cited. But I cannot remember poetry, music or dance steps.

I have four computers at the moment, and they are bending my mind. I use one lap-top as an internet radio, fed up with actual radios breaking down. I am a fast touch typist, but kept getting the wrong programme when I typed in a change. Lots of swearing later, I found the thing had, for some reason, turned the keyboard from English to French. But I had to work it out, quite pleased.

Tomorrow I am going to resume my historical research, by topping up my data-base for the town from the censuses, starting with 1851. The lap-top I use for this is older, with a different opening, and start-up. I have forgotten how to 'save' from data-base to USB - instruction books, even if any use, are buried under mountains of stuff while major works proceed.

A real 'scary' thing is I will sometimes speak to the electricians in Italian – we are all surprised. Scary, because people with dementia can 'speak in tongues'. I don't know whether it is a deep longing to visit Italy again, or that, stuck for the French for some highly intricate technical vocabulary my brain offers up Italian as a substitute.

A friend, quite a bit younger, admits that she will check several times before going to bed that everything is secure. She lives in a near comatose village, but lived many years in Zimbabwe, perhaps it became a habit.

I am trying, by following a rigid routine, to avoid this habit, too disturbing.

Does depression provoke these fears? Or just the misery.

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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An Invitation Wednesday March 27, 2019

"The Perfect Choral Piece," said my friend Raz (and with his background, he should know).

I was telling him about the invitation from my sister to go to listen to her choir sing Bach's Mass in B Minor in her local cathedral.

How could I refuse?

True, I had to reschedule some commitments for the weekend. I had to plead with my family for yet another weekend away, but – I could not refuse the invitation.

There were two reasons - no, three – for this. The first is that, as Raz says, this is a sublime piece of music, and the chance to hear it live in a beautiful cathedral is not to be lightly turned down. The second is that I love my sister and know that her own family is not at all musically inclined; without me she would have no near friend in the audience. The third is more complex.

Yes, I love my sister and know that she loves me too, but the relationship is something we both work at; it is not always easy, as it is always easy with our brother. It seemed important that I demonstrate my love for her by accepting this invitation.

So, I drove half-way across the country (for you in the USA, that's across into the next State; for the Australians here, it's just next door) to hear her sing.

And it was a sublime experience. True, the seventy-five meters of nave between the orchestra, the singers, and me rather muddied the mathematical precision of the music. But the atmosphere more than made up for it. The chill of the air and hardness of the seat were more than adequately dealt with by the cushion and blanket I had the foresight to bring, and the delightful conversation with people in the seats around was an unexpected bonus.

The real reason I had accepted though, came after the concert, when we sat, a bottle of wine between us, Jonathan Ross on the disregarded television, and talked; really talked.

There is more than fifty years of shared history and our lives have taken different paths, but we both bring to that life an appreciation of the metaphysical, for the spiritual interpretation of science and intellect. It is fortunately not as if we need to work through an utter dissonance of interests.

Family dynamics are frequently complicated, and although our family dynamic is probably more complex than most, I'm sure most siblings have "stuff" they have to work through.

I think the difference for us is that we have both decided we will love each other, whatever comes, and have a good relationship – even if that relationship takes work.

And, it's worth it; it's so worth it. Even without the Bach it was worth the journey; it was worth the time away from my family; it was even worth the two-hour hold-up on the M6 on the way back.

Because I love my sister and I cherish that time with her.

(And the Bach.)

A Moodscope member.

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5 Ways to Wellbeing – Connect Tuesday March 26, 2019

Since my last blog I've done some investigating following all your excellent advice. Thanks to all of you who read my blog and to those who added comments - I felt really appreciated and now feel I have a whole new set of friends or friends in the making too!

I was standing in the pharmacy last week waiting for a newly prescribed anti-anxiety med. As the minutes passed inordinately slowly, I felt panic rising. You may well know the signs - sweaty palms generally rising temperature, the thud, thud of my heart beat echoing in my ears, the overwhelming sense of a need to run. I looked desperately round for something to distract me, and there it was, an uninspiring rack of curled and slightly sun bleached leaflets promoting immunisation against the flu, attending cervical cancer screening and so on.

So, you like me have probably heard of the 5 ways to wellbeing, but I'd never really considered how significant all five are in ensuring my own wellbeing day to day. At the bottom of the rack, a still quite colourful leaflet from my local CCG about the 5 Ways to Wellbeing. So this provided an immediate distraction and then a longer term intention to think more about what the actions might mean for me. As it says on the leaflet, 'The 5 ways to Wellbeing are simple actions you can build into your daily life.'

Back in 2008 the New Economics Foundation was commissioned by the Government's Foresight project on Mental Capital and Wellbeing to develop a set of evidence-based actions to improve personal wellbeing. From this research they developed the 5 ways to wellbeing.

Today, and over this short series of blogs I invite you to think about each one: its presence or absence in your life and to consider how you might embrace each more fully.

The first of the 5 Ways to Wellbeing is connect. So here I am connecting with all you Moodscopers! You may already be great at this one, but I know I've a little way to go with it. The leaflet suggests that we think of our connections with people around us as cornerstones of our lives.

It was that phrase that got me thinking - can you ever have too many cornerstones? I don't think I've got enough, so I need to invest time in developing them.

What am I going to do about it? Well tiny steps are all I can manage at the moment so whilst I know making new connections is vital to me in my current situation, I'm going to firstly strengthen the ones I already have. I've invited a good friend out for coffee and we can put the world to rights over a flat white first thing tomorrow.

What are your ways of connecting and have you any further suggestions for me and other Moodscopers about how we can do more of it?

The next of the 5 ways to wellbeing is being active so after my coffee I'd better walk home...

A Moodscope member.

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Stretch Sprint Pause Monday March 25, 2019

OK, it's not exactly "Eat, Pray, Love," but it might work just as well! Following on from my recent blog on, "How To Get More Energy," I'd now like to explore a rhythm to our day that could make a huge difference to how energised we feel.

Your Body Clock can become a good friend... especially when our daily activities are synchronised with the Body Clock (and not vice versa.) The Rhythms of Life include Ultradian Rhythms – and I will generalise by saying we seem to biologically embrace 90-minute cycles. This is an especially accurate assertion from sleep research, but also appears to be valid in a healthy waking state. If you are happy to accept that, I have a cunning plan to suggest!

I know that many of us are musicians, and some are guitarists. One of the most delightful sounds we can generate on a guitar is a harmonic. When the string is vibrating, a subtle touch in just the right place creates a clear, chiming, tone.

I'm going to suggest we do the same with the 90-minute-cycle: to create harmonic harmony in life by touching the 90-minute-cycle at the half-way point to create 45-minute periods in our activity. Now, doesn't that sound like school?

This approach is so successful in my day-long workshops that we now call it "Club 45." A timer goes off every 45 minutes to allow for what we call a, "Fluid Adjustment Break!" Many participants have given feedback that this micro-break-cycle has helped them stay engaged all day.

Muscles benefit from gentle s-t-r-e-t-c-hing, followed by a sprint of activity, followed by restorative rest. It now appears that this too works for developing emotional, mental, and spiritual energy. My suggestion is that we get a timer! We then set it to 45 minutes.

The change that I'm now adding from my Club 45 approach is to focus on what I'm going to do in the pause at the end of the 45-minutes. I'm now focusing on developing each energy in turn. For example, I may go for a brisk walk around the field (physical). At the next break, I may ring my Mum or other family member (emotional – and something I don't do often enough). Then try a memory technique or play a mind-stimulating game (mental). Finally, read inspirational literature (spiritual).

If you think this is too rigid, trust me, I'm a creative! I don't do rigid! I do, however, let the timer do the work for me. It tickles my memory to encourage good new habits.

Will you join me in this energetic experiment?

What will you do in the breaks?

A Moodscope member.

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Halfway Down Sunday March 24, 2019

"Halfway down the stairs, is a stair where I sit. There isn't any other stair quite like it. I'm not at the bottom, I'm not at the top; so, this is the stair where I always stop."

AA Milne has a remarkable way of framing life's important things with the solid wisdom of childlike vision. Halfway is often an exceptionally important point. I may be well out of childhood physically but mentally I like it there and try to keep it close. Have you noticed children often have more wisdom in one thumb than they are given credit for?

Halfway Down is a beautiful little poem and it tenuously reminded me of something I used to do as a child. I loved reading and I shared a room with two brothers. In general, space in the family could feel limited and so one of my favourite things to do was to find the sunny patch in our bedroom (which was also right beside the radiator and so it worked as my space whatever the season) and lie in it and read. At the end of a chapter I'd sometimes roll onto my back and stare upwards letting the book be absorbed. Then, the same daydream always took place... I'd look at the ceiling and imagine it was the floor. I'd imagine stepping into the room and having to lift my legs over the deep threshold. I'd look at the expanse, vast compared to the filled room below, and imagine running across it and how that would sound. I'd rearrange the room according to the space I saw. I've tried it as an adult and I can still enjoy it although, admittedly, not for quite as long or as intensely as I liked to dream as a child.

I could play this daydream in any room in the house when I found myself lying across the floor. I'd even do it on holiday. Did you daydream as a child? Would you ever consider, just for a short time, having a go again as an adult, particularly with a daydream you may have long forgotten about? Dare you to visit there. Take a rest within. And, as always, I'd love to hear about it...

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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My eureka moment Saturday March 23, 2019

My plants are thriving now because I take care of them. I am present in all my interactions with people, not wishing I was home in bed all the time. Volunteering at the local soup kitchen makes me feel useful. I go to night school and keep my IT skills up-to-date. I no longer get a surge of adrenaline each time I hear a phone ring or the ping of a text message. My body is ridding itself of years of toxic build-up.

Rewind 12 months and I was in a job which was slowly suffocating me. The psychological pressure of dragging myself through each day, month, year was taking its toll. My job was restructured without consultation and my already fragile relationship with co-workers and senior management deteriorated. I was at rock bottom, having panic attacks, and getting pains in my chest. Once, in early 2018, I woke up in the throes of a mild seizure. I spent the night in hospital and a few days later I made the decision that my job was not worth the loss of my mental, or my physical health. I threw in the towel and quit after 11 years as a private school secretary.

Emotionally I am in a better place, but admittedly, looking for a job in the 21st century has its challenges. It takes hours to craft the perfect job application, to create online profiles, upload links to CVs, and social media pages, and the reward for all this effort? A bog standard "donotreply". There is virtually zero human contact anymore. Your life history is reduced to the mechanics of cold hard data-crunching, processed like a Tinder algorithm.

I was prompted to write this blog because the expression "Arbeit macht frei" popped into my brain, out of nowhere. Roughly translated, "work makes free" didn't make a lot of sense, so I tried forgetting it; but it kept popping back into my head, so much so, that eventually I started turning the phrase round in my mind and looking at it from every possible angle. Also, intrigued as to why it had wriggled its way into my consciousness, I went onto Wikipedia. It says that the expression was first coined in 1845 by Heinrich Beta in Geld und Geist (Money and spirit):

"[...], but it's work that makes you happy, because work makes you free. [...], it is a general law of humanity and the sine qua non of all life and aspiration, all happiness and fulfilment".

After reading this, a lightbulb went off in my brain, hence the eureka moment. "Arbeit macht frei" epitomises the emotional turmoil I am going through. Deep down, what I really yearn for is a sense of purpose, belonging and meaning in my life. Being unemployed I have a lot of free time at my disposal, as you can imagine, but I don't feel free, I feel the exact opposite, trapped; and filling my days with stuff only seems to exacerbate the void.

Love from

A Moodscope member

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

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How did you meet Moodscope? Friday March 22, 2019

I am often interested to find out how people first met their partner, and am fascinated how often chance plays a part in our lives and how first impressions sometimes can be wrong.

I was thinking about how Moodscope members first discovered or found out about Moodscope.

Also what were people's first impressions of Moodscope.

For me, it was several years ago when I heard a radio interview about a woman who had written a book about how charting her mood everyday helped here when she was struggling with her moods.

I decided to search the internet and came across promotions for the book but also came across Moodscope. I had never heard of the organisation before.

I liked the idea of charting my moods and started doing that daily. I remember wondering why I was getting personal emails. I did not realise they were blogs. I felt as they were addressed to me - it was personal!!

I originally joined for the charting and ignored the blogs but now I read and sometimes write a blog and read the comments and have not recorded my score for a long time.

So how did you discover Moodcope? What were your first impressions of Moodscope?

Has the way you use Moodscope changed over the years?

A Moodscope member

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

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Criticism - can 'bad' criticism be good? Thursday March 21, 2019

Recent activity on Moodscope got me thinking about my own need for approval.

I'm about to launch a new product (but will I ever actually do it?) and have been busy of late making the product, photographing it for a website, designing labels and publicity material, researching, etc.

The photographs are great, I'm really pleased with them, as is the product. If I was looking at said photos on any other website, my first thought would be, "I love it, great product, clever", quickly followed by frustration that I hadn't had such a great idea that I have the skills to execute just as well. Silly me, another missed opportunity, deflated, disappointed me.

I've been sharing my idea and photos with friends and the feedback has been great, really encouraging and positive, everyone loves what I'm doing and is telling me to keep going, I'm onto a winner.

So what is the problem?

My inner critic is telling me I'm wasting my time and money, have got no idea what I'm doing, don't have a serious business plan (I do, I think!), etc., relentless self doubt.

I start arguing with this doubt;

Me (to Self Doubt): "But the feedback has been great, what's your problem?"

Self Doubt: "Of course the feedback is good, you are only asking people you know will give you good feedback! They are your friends after all, do you really think they are going to tell you it's a bad idea/don't like the product? They are encouraging you, this is great, this is what you want and need to hear to keep going, but it doesn't mean you'll be able to carry it off."

Me: "Fair point, SD, you win this argument."

SD 1 : Me 0

Which led me to asking myself how I would deal with 'bad' feedback. Actually I'm open to it (I think!), and feel that there would be a certain honesty in it, that it would actually be more helpful to hear why people don't think the product will work, or isn't quite right etc. Positive feedback is comforting to hear, but is it as helpful as more critical feedback?

The issue perhaps is not so much whether feedback is good or bad, but how it is delivered and for whose benefit. Is it delivered with kindness, with genuine interest, with experience and knowledge shared for success or is it with overly harsh judgement, bitterness or jealousy from someone disappointed that their own inner critic got the better of them and stopped them from reaching their potential and tapping into their creative self?

Of course we never know what drives other people, the only constant we have is our self, and the ability to get to know, love and respect all of our self, the good, bad, yes and the downright ugly side too, with acceptance, familiarity and humour!

SD 1 : Me 1
(not that I'm keeping score!)

A Moodscope member.

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

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Stepping Back Wednesday March 20, 2019

"And coming up for re-election we have Des and Muriel," said the churchwarden, looking round the table. "We have Cheryl who has expressed an interest in joining the PCC (Parochial Church Council), and I assume that all of you here are prepared to serve another term?"

I swallowed hard and cleared my throat. "Erm..." I said. "Erm – I'm going to have to resign. I'm so sorry."

I expected frowns and silent disapproval. Instead I received sympathetic glances.

"Yes," said the churchwarden gently, "I've been thinking you looked a bit frazzled lately."

After the meeting, our Lay Reader (who conducts most of our services, since the vicar is on sick leave at present) engulfed me in an enormous hug.

"You've not been managing yourself again!" she said. "You need to look after yourself better!"

I have been a member of All Saints Church for nearly twenty years. Our two daughters were baptised at the old stone font and confirmed at the altar; my husband ran the Sunday school for ten years, and we have both sat on the PCC. The church is an integral part of our lives and we wish to serve it.

But I have too much on my plate. I am feeling overwhelmed and something has to give. I am making some hard decisions and giving up some roles.

I wrote a little while ago about finding your life purpose (Your Candle, 9th January). My purpose is to create beauty and generate joy. I'm not doing that by serving on the PCC. I'm not doing it chairing meetings at my bi-polar group; I'm not doing it taking minutes for the Patient Participation Group at my local GP surgery.

There are some duties I cannot give up: duties concerning my family. Not just my immediate family, but the wider family. As my mother grows older, she needs more help. To give that help is both a duty and a joy. I am lucky in having a close family; we're all nice people and we love each other. My mother lives just ten minutes up the road. But – it still takes time and energy.

There are only 24 hours in the day. We only have so much energy; both physical energy and emotional energy. There is a saying that you must put your own oxygen mask on first. It seems selfish to take time for ourselves when there is so much need out there: yet, if we don't, we will inevitably become one of those needy.

We must look at what feeds us; inspires us; gives us the energy to perform those tasks which must be done.

This is even more important when we suffer with depression. Our energy levels are already compromised, and we may need more emotional sustenance.

It may be a useful exercise to look at all the areas of our lives and all the hats we wear. What gives to us, and what takes from us?

And how do we balance that equation?

A Moodscope member

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

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Spring clean Tuesday March 19, 2019

"I find myself spring cleaning this morning. Well not exactly cleaning but decluttering. Two boxes under my bed have been sorted and books set out for the charity shop.

I have found many things of sentimental value: photos from my student days over thirty years ago, childhood books which I had hoped my kids would read (Arthur Ransome, CS Lewis, Laura Ingalls Wilder) and letters from family members no longer with us.

Now this is progress. It's not the actual cleaning itself but the act of sorting and clearing out seems to indicate the start of a new phase in my life.

The last months have been grim and I have not worked for most of this year. This has left me waking every morning with a day without much structure. If it weren't for the dog I am not sure I would have bothered to get up or get dressed. Fortunately she has made me do that!!

But finally with time, increased medication and a belief that I can and will heal, I am starting to come to terms with some of the things that have made me sad and plan for a different future.

I'm not going to say all is rosy. Things are still up in the air with work but I can see a little more clearly.

My "spring cleaning" has allowed me to work our what's important to me, face some really difficult issues like the fact I hate my current job and start working out what on earth I must do.

So try it... just a bit of cleaning or decluttering... how's it make you feel?

A Moodscope member.

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

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Affirmatively a Moodscope Member Monday March 18, 2019

I have a bold vision... though it may not be ready in time for this blog! Watch the comments to discover more.

You see, you and I can switch on a mindset-state by using modern technology. By listening to certain sounds via headphones, we can help our brain trigger a highly helpful mindset and state. This is a phenomenon called "Entrainment".

Music with specific beats-per-minute, tones, and audio signals can be harnessed to help our minds feel better in the shortest possible time-frame.

I'm working on just such a recording for us. However, the positive language that goes with the forthcoming recording is already available. What do you think of these empowering statements? Each one is based on a Moodscope 'card'. Even the 10 unresourceful states I have switched, turned, and transformed to our advantage...

How do you feel when you say these out loud?

1 I am not ashamed – I am neither my behaviour, nor my past. What's past is past. The past has gone. I have remained.

2 I am excited and energised by what is to come today and how I can make each experience meaningful.

3 I will not be irritable any longer, but instead have chosen to be tolerant and joyous, recognising that any irritation can be transformed into a pearl.

4 I am proud of my progress, my resilience, and the way I am growing over, above, and beyond my circumstances. My potential is limitless. I am no longer 'under the circumstances' – no, I will rise above them.

5 I choose to let go of all hostility recognising that people make the best choices they believe are available to them at the time. It takes time for them to realise the truth that they can change and that they were wrong.

6 I am inspired - ready to be creative, productive, and constructive. I have found my flow and Life feels energised as a result.

7 I choose to let go of feeling distressed and choose calm instead; I am calm, I am becoming calmer.

8 I am extremely interested and engaged, actively looking for ways to make this day work for me.

9 I face my fears and I am no longer afraid; all my fears in the past have passed; so also, will all current and future fears pass; I love who I am and who I am yet to become. The past is not my potential.

10 I am strong; I am becoming stronger.

11 I let go of the past, move on, and no longer feel guilty; the mistakes of the past belong to a 'me' that I am longer the same as; I have changed and am still changing.

12 I am active and full of energy – physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually.

13 I choose to let go of all feelings of upset, choosing, instead, calm inner-peace in the face of all storms giving me deep inner-stability.

14 I am extremely attentive, paying close attention to others and to the tasks I wish to focus upon – one at a time. I follow one course of action until complete.

15 I am no longer scared – I have faced my fears, they have passed, I remain; they are temporary; I am enduring. They are weak; I am strong.

16 I am determined to pursue my purpose and desires with passion and vigour.

17 I have chosen peace rather than to allow myself to be jittery. I speak peace into my heart, into my mind, into my thoughts, into my relationships, into my home, into my environment, into all my experiences and situations.

18 I am alert – noticing everything that will move me forward, remaining open to new opportunities. I mentally rehearse how Life can turn out for the best.

19 I am no longer nervous since I now have faith that everything will work out well and to my advantage. I am therefore courageous and of good cheer.

20 I am extremely enthusiastic – in fact, you could almost say my enthusiasm is contagious.

Whether the recording is available in time or not, I sincerely believe just saying these words will give you an amazingly positive frame for the day ahead.

To infinity and beyond!

A Moodscope member.

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

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