The Moodscope Blog

5

June

Sorting out the wheat...

Friday June 5, 2020


I love that old-fashioned phrase. Sorting out the wheat from the chaff. I think this is what lockdown has forced me to do. Without any social engagements I am seeing who I matter to in the interim. An email here, a text there, a What's App (either on a group or solely) or a messenger message, or Facebook. I came off Facebook for a week. Wondered what it might be like. I kind of liked it. No staged photos. No posing. No “Oh look at me, don't look at me, give me attention but I don't really want it”.

I huffed and I puffed the night before coming off Facebook, royally irritated by a “friend” garnering tons of attention about herself, the sort I have unfollowed but that remains on my list as we were introduced by a mutual friend because he was trying to be helpful. I didn't miss it. I un-apped it from my phone to avoid distraction and addiction (because, like tattoos, it is addictive, I know this as I have four and planning no 5 and 6 as soon as lockdown is properly over. It could be a long while.

I seem to have spent quite a bit of my time on the wrong people. Stressing over why they seem to have excluded me from invites. One friend does a special thing in her house each Christmas – an amazing art/snow scene and this is the third time I have dropped subtle hints. I realise she just doesn't want me there. I will never be invited in to the house. But she's hinted that I must come round before. I know other people have. It's hurtful as we get on but there you go.

This time, which forces us to look at more uncomfortable aspects has made me realise things about people. You then look back at some of their behaviour and realise they didn't have your best interests at heart whatsoever. I know it's a bit of navel gazing but after lockdown I am just not going to try any more, not with people who don't matter. I wouldn't mind but this friend has been round to ours several times but interestingly has declined invitations, one literally as she was about to come round because family suddenly appeared from nowhere. Another for a dinner party invite. Another for drives out in the car as she lives on her own, is older and has no car. But the confusing thing was she was engaged about it, and telling me what she would bring to the cocktail party I was having.

I realise that some people don't put as much emphasis on friendship as I do... like being on time and doing what you will say or being honest too about your feelings. I am, what you call, an empath which means that I soak up a lot of energy from other people, positive and negative so I am going to tune in my antennae much more carefully and make sure I can learn from this whole experience.

Liz
A Moodscope member.

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


4

June

A cause of mood change

Thursday June 4, 2020


Last Friday was my Grandson's 3rd birthday, so being in lockdown it was going to be a smaller affair than usual. Luckily lockdown had eased enough for a small socially distanced picnic in my son's large garden. 
 
The other Granny had made a huge chocolate cake in the shape of an owl. After we sang Happy Birthday to our grandson I was offered a piece, which I took and ate. Nothing unusual there apart from the fact that on the advice from a Dr, I've been on a sugar-free diet for over 2 years! (I'm not diabetic, but suffer with chronic fatigue.) As I was eating it, I said to my 30 year old son who knows about my dietary choices, "I'll get a sugar hangover tomorrow," but didn't really mean it. 

The next day however I had very low energy. I was also in a very low mood but I put it down to having a lovely busy time with my family the day before and now I was back home in lockdown by myself.

Later however,  I remembered my comment about having a 'sugar hangover', and thought that actually that's probably what is was. After enjoying eating the delicious cake - it was quite a big piece - the day later I felt terrible and it felt just like, or similar to drinking too much alcohol. I suppose when I was younger I would've reached for more sugary food to feel good again but now that a doctor has explained that sugar isn't good for my condition, I can be more resolved to stay away from it. I think my decision to eat the cake was the false promise that it would make me feel good - which it did - but the cost of it was as I predicted at the party - a 'sugar hangover'. By realising this I felt better, that somehow I wasn't just feeling sorry for myself. 

I'm no bio-chemist, but I am aware of chemicals in the brain such as dopamine, that can create sometimes intensely wonderful feelings, triggered by sugary foodstuffs and other pleasurable things but sadly, are feelings which do not last. I'm also aware, that the brain chemical that is responsible for longer lasting happiness is called serotonin - the contentment chemical. To achieve a serotonin 'hit' means being constantly vigilant of yourself, your aims and goals and be working towards achieving them. It's also about being aware of yourself and those around you, and being able to give and accept love and support from others. It's about being organised and disciplined. By eating the cake I was ignoring most of those important things, and found out not for the first time it simply wasn't worth it. 

with thanks

Jackie
A Moodscope member.

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


3

June

Failure and Onion Bhajis.

Wednesday June 3, 2020


I love to read and, naturally, belong to a book club. In fact, I belong to two book clubs.

The first is a group of friends for whom the actual reading of the allotted book is secondary to getting together to talk about everything that is going on in our lives and to support each other.

The other book club is a far more serious affair.

It is a business book club. We are expected to read the book at least once, to have analysed it and be prepared to speak about it. We have a form to complete before the meeting, detailing learning points and actions we intend to take as a result of reading the book. We meet in a delightful country pub and are served with a delicious selection of sandwiches, sausage rolls and – yes – onion bhajis.

Our most recent book is the best yet. In fact, it is our favourite book so far: ‘Black Box Thinking’ by Matthew Syed. It’s not just about business but has many lessons for life. I listened to it on audio, which was a treat, as the narrator, Simon Slater, has a wonderful voice.

The reason why I share this book with you, is that it has transformed my thinking about mistakes and failure.

I won’t detail the book here – you can find out yourself if you are interested – but I will share what I have learned.

You see, at the beginning of May, I wrote down a list of all the tasks I wanted to complete in the month. On Sunday, 31st May, I looked back at the list. There were nine tasks or projects: I had completed none of them!

Furthermore, I had not even started any of them. That’s a pretty big failure in my book. I didn’t even have a valid reason; I just hadn’t done them. I had done other things, of course, but I had not done what I really wanted to get done.

My normal modus operandi in this situation is to beat myself up; ‘You are lazy, disorganised, unmotivated and too easily distracted.’ I should imagine many of you can relate to that pattern of thinking.

None of those are true (except possibly the easily dis – oh, look – a squirrel!), and thinking like this is counter-productive.

So, I’ve set myself the task of analysing just why none of them happened. After all, this non-productivity is a repeating pattern.

I’ve come up with a list of things I can change in June. These changes might work, and they might not. If they do, then great. If not, I need to change something else and try again.

I mean to adopt the famous mindset of Edison. He is held to have said that he did not fail a thousand times to build a lightbulb, but that the lightbulb was an invention with a thousand steps.

I’m hoping to discover a method to be more productive in fewer than a thousand steps!

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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


2

June


In my experience, when it comes to PTSD and mental illness in general one of the first things to go is self compassion. That innate feeling of safety has gone and my brain has replaced it with hypervigilance and a truly mean inner voice.

I thought I'd recovered from the most acute symptoms of PTSD and until recently things have been pretty good on that front. Since the current pandemic and lockdown, I now find myself in the midst of a resurgence of all the worst symptoms I thought I'd waved goodbye to. This in itself has knocked my confidence and created a near constant state of fear: the mean voice is back with vengeance, I suffer from nightmares, panic attacks, muscle aches and some pretty epic anxiety to name but a few.

I remember when I was mis-diagnosed with Postnatal Depression for years and the relief that came when I was finally diagnosed with PTSD from birth trauma. It sounds funny to say that the diagnosis came as a relief. But what it gave me was an understanding that these symptoms I was experiencing made sense. I was not weak, I was actually very strong! I managed to recover the first time by showing myself a lot of self compassion and understanding. I had other tools for sure but self compassion was the most essential. I did my best and accepted the bad days and celebrated the good.

Feeling 'old' mental health issues returning is very scary and something which effects many of us. It starts in different ways for different people but for me, it's started with a lack of self compassion and a return of the feeling of 'surviving' each day.

The first time I felt these things and recognised them for what they are, I started my healing by showing self compassion and trying not to worry about the worry!! I think you know what I mean....

This time I will do the same.

If you are struggling with your mental health at this time, especially after feeling ok previously, you are not alone. This too shall pass. You will find the tools and the self compassion you need to make it through and out the other side. We'll find that safety again and we'll be stronger for it.

It's ok to feel the way you do, be as kind to yourself as you possibly can. And remember, you are not alone.

Jude
A Moodscope member


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


1

June

Now

Monday June 1, 2020

[To listen to an audio version of this blog please click here: https://bit.ly/2ZVKXOj and to watch a VIDEO of this blog please click here:https://youtu.be/GmhhyCZekPg]

There is a gift, a free gift, awaiting all of us. It is called, “The Present,” and what a precious gift it is… hence the cheesy quip, “That’s why they call it the “present”.

I rarely open it. Instead, I prefer to feed the Beast called “Anxiety” by catastrophising about the future. Or, I’ll turn my attention one-hundred-and-eighty-degrees around to the past and feed the Beast called “Guilt”. Happy little bunny, aren’t I?

The way out is here, now.

If, perchance, you suffer from similar future and past afflictions, here are three ways to find solace in the gift of the present, right here, right now.

1 Breathing
Yes, it’s a wonderful idea to keep breathing! It’s even more wonderful to become consciously aware
of your breathing. The Breath of Life is one of the great metaphors for living, so giving your attention
fully to your breathing is a great way to re-attune yourself to the Rhythm of Life.

What I love about this is that no Yoga or other PhysioPsychological discipline is necessary to learn (good though that may well be). No, it’s merely a question of paying attention to inhalation and exhalation… the rising and falling of your chest, or abdomen, or shoulders, or whatever your attention discovers!

We can make it complex but the easiest way is to put your hands together on your tummy, close your eyes, and notice your breathing. Ten in and outs is usually enough to ‘centre’ you in the here and now.

2 I Am Sensing…
“I Am,” is the definitive tense for the present… that’s why it’s called the Present Tense! Visions of the Future and the Past happen with inner senses, but the Present is safely external.

Say to yourself, “I am seeing…” and fill in the gap.
Say to yourself, “I am hearing…” and finish the sentence or sentences that will answer your statement.
Say out loud to yourself, “I am feeling…” then touch something. We aren’t talking about feeling emotions here, we’re talking about stroking wood - a table top, a counter, a cupboard, a tree.
Say out loud to yourself, “I am smelling…” then take a good deep breath in and notice what you can smell.
Finally, “I am tasting…” and lick your teeth, becoming aware of any tastes on your tongue.

Here’s a really cool truth - if you can’t smell or taste anything specific, you still have to have been here now to discover that!

3 I Am Listening…
When with other people, there’s a great technique I call, “The Slap-Back Echo.” It’s like a 1950’s guitar effects pedal that quickly echoed the note played. Think Surf Music! I find that if I rapidly repeat what people are saying in my head, this helps me focus both on them and stay in the ‘now’. There’s no space for me to be thinking about what I’m going to say next!

If you’re anxious about the future - come here, now!
If you’re feeling regrets or guilt about the past - come here now!

Now is a good place to be.
Right here, right now.

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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


31

May

When Love Is Not enough

Sunday May 31, 2020

I hoped my love for him would be enough for me to accept he was not going to reduce his drinking. I was now a cliché, a nagging shrew, a sullen woman who could always see fault in her partner. He felt if I loved him enough, I would understand he had no drinking problem.

I told myself every night a fairy tale that my love would save him, as I waited in bed for him to get back from a night of drinking.

Everyone gave me advice to leave him.

People only saw him being loud and rude when drunk but they never saw his soft compassionate side He had a brilliant mind and helped more people than others knew.

I loved him so much, but he doubted me. I never doubted the power of my love.

I was becoming rundown and exhausted. I was not giving up as I knew my love would get us through.

He was different, he would change, if only I loved him enough. For seven years I tried my hardest and managed to alienate my family and friends.

One day I packed my bags when I knew he would never change and I would never stop wanting him to change.

Within 2 years he had died, and his family blamed me.

Even my love was never going to be enough.

Have you ever experienced an example where love is not enough?

Or do you feel love is always enough?

Leah
A Moodscope member.

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


30

May


At times its a very useful tool, it’s nice to feel part of a community that understands, but mostly its a tool I don’t need anymore.

I am doing well now. I know how to manage my anxiety. I know that if I am stressed for any length of time I will become anxious and then depressed. I have learnt when to say no, not to take on too much, to exercise, and to drink moderately. I know when I’m not coping and I’ve had enough, and I pop my pills.

Learning these things has taken me the best part of 20 years. I didn’t want to be this person. I saw myself as weak. I was ashamed that I took medication, if I’m honest I still am, I just know I shouldn’t be. I was ashamed that I couldn’t cope with the things others found easy, anything I couldn’t control terrified me, and I’m talking to you honestly and I can talk to a few close friends about how hard I have found it at times to cope with life, but being honest with the World, am I ready for that even now??

The problem is that if I’d been honest and unashamed right from the start and people had been open and honest with me about their problems, so much could have been learnt, so much more quickly and without the pain and the fear. I wouldn’t have struggled in the dark, I would have got advice from people who’d been there rather than those who’d read about it, or professionals who just didn’t have the time to explain things to me in a language I understood however much they would have liked to. It could have saved so much painful struggling, so much confusion for me and my bemused family, and so many bad coping mechanisms that were established and have had to be painstakingly unravelled.

The truth is that the medical profession largely haven’t got the time and mostly not the same understanding as someone who suffers from the same condition.

The other reason we need to be honest about our mental health issues is that the longer problems are not addressed properly the harder it is to climb out of the pit and engage with the world again. Fear becomes the norm and fear builds on fear until everything has spiralled out of control, and patterns have been established. Often someone has struggled for a long time before they get any help.

So what's changed since I first had problems with my mental health? The world has changed for a start. People have started to talk about how they feel more openly, we have become more accepting as a community. There is still a long way to go, people often talk tolerance but still hold prejudice within them, these things take time, it’s unlikely to be us that benefit from us opening up but if my children or grandchildren struggle with mental health problems Id like the world to be ready to understand and accept them.

Jennie
A Moodscope member.

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


29

May

Dwelling

Friday May 29, 2020

I’m feeling low. Previously when I’ve had periods of feeling low I’ve been worried that my depression is coming back; but this time I’m not worried about that. Perhaps because I know life is unusual right now so there’s hope that when “things go back to normal” maybe I’ll go back to “normal” too. Regardless I’m struggling to keep it together and to keep positive.

I took myself for a walk this evening and was ruminating. I have poor eating habits and lockdown has made this hard. My eating has not been what I want it to be. In fact my eating has never been what I want it to be. But it has been better than this. And so, with my eating as it is, negative thoughts come, worthlessness sky rockets and I stop seeing myself with a neutral perspective.

I observed this on my walk and tried to CBT my way out of it. But the thing is, when I feel like this, I feel that  I don’t deserve to feel better. That I ought to dwell in the depths of self loathing. That I’ve brought this upon myself and should therefore be punished for it. I appreciate these are yet further unsubstantiated “truths” to be blasted apart by CBT but I just seem to end up in a cycle which doesn’t actually work.

This means that, as with other low periods, right now I’m struggling to get myself out of my funk.

I’m wondering if anyone out there has experienced similar personal refusal to see any positivity and if you’ve found any successful strategies that I might be able to try?

With love and hope

Shizzle
A Moodscope member.

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


28

May

Keeping a light shining

Thursday May 28, 2020


It may sound the extreme of pessimism, but I am already thinking how on earth I can avoid a winter as awful as the last one: very wet, and the sun never shone. I think it was Picardie where statistics showed there was not a ray of sunshine for 61 days!

I should think there is virtually nobody living who has not had repercussions to the world-wide lockdown, suspended animation a pretty good description. I had three exciting ‘firsts’. One, broadcasting, is still on ‘hold’. The other two, ‘twinning’ visits to Germany and Poland have probably gone forever. Morbid? Not really – lots of things, even the Olympic Games, have been deferred. But the twinning is every other year. Next ones would be 2022, I shall be 87; even if I were lucky enough to be fit to travel, don’t think insurance companies would be keen. So, be satisfied with what I have, take stock, and stop whinging.

The major problem is our town is moribund. When we came here, a generation ago, it was vibrant, near the Mont Saint Michel, and benefiting from tourists staying in hotels, restaurants and using shops in town. Then several things happened: the Mont changed perspective completely, at vast expense. Hotel and restaurant complexes were built nearer. A huge area was given over to camping cars. An excellent camp site on the edge of town had its own services and swimming pool.

Business dwindled very quickly for hotels and restaurants. Supermarket trade rose quickly, of course, easier to park your camping car. Public transport, never good, worsened. There is no education here for over 16’s, The young go and board in big cities and never come back. Church attendance, already reduced, is now mostly elderly. We have five new widows this year, our priest has died (he did not live here anyway) he has not been replaced. The census shows a reduction of 900 in 10 years, that is a lot in a canton of 4,500 to begin with.

We had a small, but excellent library, in the town centre. It is now much better, but out of town, you need a car or to be a good walker to get there. There were four doctors when we came, now there is one. Tourist season is a very doubtful prospect this year, usually a very bright spot for me. So, my ‘great’ plans for last winter did not come to fruition. I did spend Christmas and New Year in a commune, very successful, but not to spend 2 months.
Had a brainwave, I would love to speak Italian again. Looking at monastery type set-ups in Italy which take laic guests. Need to be able to afford it IF I find one. Then I have to get there. The logistics, now, of getting out of our benighted corner of France are staggering. But at least I am jabbering in Italian to myself, it’s a start.

Anybody else groping for light at the end of the tunnel? Or wait and see?

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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


27

May

Those Constant Little Niggles

Wednesday May 27, 2020


I have a confession to make. I am not a good housekeeper.

No, very far from it. If any of you were to choose to eat your dinner from my floor, you would necessarily ingest a large quantity of dust and some few cat hairs. My children, both neater and tidier than I, have been known to look at the kitchen and expostulate, “Mummy – you could catch Ebola in here!” When I told them that you cannot catch Ebola from a dirty kitchen floor, the response was, “Well, Chlamydia, then!” I gave up the argument at that point and gave thanks that neither of them is considering a career in healthcare.

There always seems to be something far more interesting to do than housework. After all, it will still be there tomorrow. I haven’t quite got the stage of my Quentin Crisp, who famously said, “There is no need to do any housework at all; after four years the dirt doesn’t get any worse,” but I have considered putting a sign up with the words, “You may write in the dust by all means, but please don’t date it.”

One of the most glorious aspects of this lockdown is that I do not have to consider, “What if someone visits?” Nobody will come calling. I can have the house chaotically untidy and nobody outside the family will know anything at all.

Except you, of course. I’ve just told you.

There is, however, a problem with this philosophy. Even though I am not good at housework and become easily distracted from it, I find it vastly preferable to have a clean and tidy house.

My elder daughter has taken on the job of cleaning the bathrooms and my younger does the vacuuming, but everything else is still down to me.

I have been walking through our living room for weeks now and noticing the dust on the TV table. Every time I walked past it, I felt a twang of annoyance, but I didn’t do anything about it.

Until yesterday.

What prompted it was nothing to do with the dust; it was putting on my dressing gown and noticing, for the four-hundredth and seventy-second time, that it could really do with a tie on the inside to keep it from sliding open, even when belted.

This thought came together with a piece of wisdom from a team meeting last week, “If you just accomplish one thing every day, no matter how small, you can feel pride in that one thing.”

It was only a little thing, but I sewed a ribbon into my dressing gown. It won’t slide open now. One recurring petty annoyance in my life – gone.

I dusted the TV table and it’s shiny now. I feel happy when I walk past.

And I washed the kitchen floor.

All of those were small things and none of them took very long. But the niggles they presented have gone.

And it feels good.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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


26

May

Lockdown

Tuesday May 26, 2020


So over 8 weeks in to lockdown here in the UK I wonder when life will return to normal and what normal will be.

 I have hopes for a world where people still respect others personal space and carry on to show love and respect for strangers they pass. Maybe I'm dreaming that society will have learnt a few lessons of life, I'm not talking about complicated things - simple steps like washing hands frequently , not going out if you are feeling slightly unwell, respecting others personal space when out ( how many times in shops has someone pushed into your space or hit you with a trolley when queuing) .

What I have seen is clean streets, blue skies birds and butterflies everywhere and bird song to be heard all day long .
 
Lockdown is hard on all of us but with any luck positive things will come from this . At least I hope .

Mandie
A Moodscope member.

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


25

May

Boo

Monday May 25, 2020

[To listen to an audio version of this blog, please click here: https://soundcloud.com/lex-mckee/boo]

I hope you didn’t jump… for I mean, “Boo…” as in, “Boo hoo,” - crying, not as in, “Boo!”
 
When was the last time you had a really good, unrestrained cry?  A proper sob?

I’ve read the unwritten manual for, “Men in the West,” and the invisible entry is very clear on this topic: “Big Boys Don’t Cry!”  Like stealing a look at my Sister’s Jackie Magazine’s problem page growing up, I then stole a look at the unwritten manual for, “Women in the West,” and it said almost the same: “Big Girls Don’t Weep!”  (I made that all up, there are no manuals, and our culture on the subject of, “Crying like a Baby,” is equally all made up.  It’s all invented.  Babies cry because it’s the authentic response to distress.)
 
Whether you ever saw yourself as a, “Mummy’s Girl” or a, “Mummy’s Boy,” we are all, psychologically at heart, a Mummy’s Boy or Girl.
 
Mum’s have many roles but one of the best is just to be there when the weight of our young world becomes just too much to process and we have a little breakdown.  The hug and the comforting words, “There, there…” are enough to see us through to a new equilibrium.
 
Truth is, Mum never was much of a hugger, and I don’t ever remember her saying, “There, there… this too shall pass.”  However, I do remember, vividly, when Penelope, as a mature, sensible, adult woman, got so low as to simply mouth the words, “I want my Mummy…”  Her Mum died young and my Mum passed on last year, so today I’m talking about the generalisation of what, “Mum,” could mean to all of us, and recommending the power of sobbing to help our authentic inner child.
 
Eastern Philosophy has the figure, Guanyin.  Described by Alain de Botton as a saintly female figure associated with mercy, compassion, and kindness.  Adults go to her shrines and feel perfectly at liberty to burst into tears. 
 
Have the needs of childhood really disappeared?  Diminished, they maybe, but I would suggest each of us still has within that three-year-old child in occasional need of comfort.
 
When faced with unconditional kindness, or deep sorrow, or even the overwhelming enormity of life’s complexities and capriciousness, we need a moment or more of release.  I’ve never been a Catholic but listening to the Beatles’ song, “Let It Be,” I’m reassured that, “Mother Mary,” offered them some similar non-judgmental comfort, like that of Guanyin.
 
So, “When we find ourselves in times of trouble, may Mother come to you and me, speaking words of wisdom… Let it be.”
 
As for me, I’ll be bunging The Carpenters on the music machine, running a bath – complete with bubbles, candles, privacy, a glass of red wine, and a good long sob. 
 
No guilt.  No shame.  No hesitation.
 
Do you need permission to do the same?

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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


24

May

The Rainbow Children

Sunday May 24, 2020


I saw this touching poem by a mother who was concerned about any lasting impact the lockdown could have on her children. I thought it might be good to share it here during this difficult time.

The history books will talk of now,
That time the world stood still.
When every family stayed at home,
Waved out from windowsills-
At those they loved but could not hold,
Because they loved them so.
Yet, whilst they did they noticed all the flowers start to grow.

The sun came out, they can recall,
And windows, rainbows filled.
They kicked a football in their yards,
Until the night drew in.
They walked each day but not too close,
That time the world stood still.
When people walked straight down the roads,
That once the cars did fill.

They saw that people became ill,
They knew the world was scared.
But whilst the world stood still they saw,
How much the whole world cared.
They clapped on Thursdays from their doors,
They cheered for the brave.
For people who would risk their lives,
So others could be saved.

The schools closed down, they missed their friends,
They missed their teachers so.
Their Mam’s and Dad’s helped with their work,
They helped their minds to grow.
The parents used to worry that,
As schools were put on hold,
Their children wouldn’t have the tools,
They’d need as they grew old.

But history books will talk of them,
Now adults, fully grown.
Those little boys and girls back then,
The ones who stayed at home.
They’ll tell you that they fixed this world,
Of all they would fulfil.
The RAINBOW children building dreams,
They’d dreamed whilst time stood still

By Gemma Peacock

I hope you enjoyed it.

Shona
A Moodscope member.

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


23

May

Plotting some pleasure

Saturday May 23, 2020


I’ve had a lovely couple of days, pottering about in the garden, doing this and that, tidying up and weeding, of course. Trying to mend things and make things and just being generally happily grubby. And I thank whatever saints or fates or fortunes decreed that I’d be blessed with this little space of my own to play in.

I have spent a lot of today plotting some pleasure for next Spring. All the bulbs I grew in pots and troughs and planters have died off now and so, because I want those pots for my summer plants, they’ve all been tipped out, cleaned up and put into trays to finish drying off.

So, with half my mind I’ve been planning potting up the lovely fresh lettuces and tomatoes and peppers, runner beans and maybe even cucumbers, that I’m hoping to enjoy this summer, fingers crossed.

With the other half of my mind I’ve been visualising how I’ll replant the bulbs this Autumn, perhaps with some new purchases to fill gaps in colour, type or time. I’ve been daydreaming about how I’ll enjoy the glorious miracle that Spring bulbs are in those short days of February and March and April, when the sun’s light is low and a chilly bright day is as invigorating as a lick of a lemon sorbet.

So, for today, I’m not trapped in lockdown, in uncertainty or anxiety or resentment at the curtailment of my freedom. For today I’ve been in the future. I’ve been in a new year, dazzled by the glory of my Spring bulbs, with that low sun so bright in my eyes that I’m blinded by beauty.

Patricia
A Moodscope member.

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


22

May

Suicide

Friday May 22, 2020


I write this having read the blog by Lizzie (27 February 2020) detailing her experience of feeling suicidal.

I am a retired frontline paramedic having spent thirty plus years on frontline duties. I took early retirement due to post traumatic stress disorder for which I am currently having ongoing counselling.

During my thirty years I was involved with untold numbers of both attempted and successful suicides, some by traumatic means and some by drug overdoses. I understand the pain and anguish someone goes through to consider such an action. I hope this will help.

1. Taking your own life doesn't end the pain and anguish; it merely passes it on to your loved ones.

2. When you reach rock bottom, the only way is up. If you take your own life there is no chance of going up.

I hope this gives solace and food for thought.

Dennis
A Moodscope member.

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


21

May

True Essentials

Thursday May 21, 2020


Governments around the world have restricted our movement and availability of services to the bare essentials. In some countries, e-commerce sites are selling only essential products, neighborhood shops selling non-essentials are shut down indefinitely. Feels like our days and choices are acutely restricted now. People across societies feel suffocated because of this lack of choices and options. Our news feeds are getting flooded with ideas of "things to do/learn/watch", so that we can get through this phase devoid of choices. Human life has indeed been stripped to its bare essentials. 

We all scrambled through the initial weeks of lockdown in a state of panic, trying to secure the basics - safety, well-being, supplies etc. Now that we are weeks/months into quarantine (based on each country's trajectory), we are finding ways to rebuild our lives with just the essentials. Is it such a bad thing though? Are we living a severely constrained life or an unadulterated version of it? There are days when I feel that I am living an absolutely no-frills version of my past life, filtered out of toxic distractions, meaningless pursuits and obligations. The other day I read the blog "Metamorphoses" by Lex, and it got me thinking. Is this a Chrysalis stage for me? "Everything Feels Out of Sorts, but in Motion. I Am Transforming from the Inside Out" yet again. 

It's as though life has given me a chance to declutter my head and give myself more space to breathe and just live. "Live" as in just be the human I am, not run endlessly, not do stuff because I must do something, not present a socially approved version of myself. Yes, these restrictions have forced us to depend only on the essentials. But it's also making me think hard about what truly are the essentials? Did I really need to spend time and money on everything I used to do in my past life? I seem to be surviving well enough now without so many of those things. What do I really need to live and what truly gives me joy and meaning?

• Losing access to malls and other shops has forced us to move away from the mindless cycle of consumption, albeit for a few months. It feels quite refreshing for a change, thinking less about "things I must have", not having to choose from so many options when I buy. In the next Amazon sale my only priorities are fresh linens and towels. Perhaps I'll allow myself the indulgence of peanut butter and coffee beans. I do love and want a few paperbacks from my Goodreads list. A smartphone upgrade? Eh, who needs that!

• Game nights and video calls are a pretty decent way to be in touch with once close but now long-distance friends. I have run out of all excuses of busyness!

• Home cooked food is actually cheaper and healthier than eating out. It took me a global pandemic to acknowledge that! And turns out cooking can be quite a calming activity too. I probably don't need craft beer to survive! Definitely can do with fewer happy hours and brunches.

• The need of the hour is to help our communities. But why does it have to be only now? Why have I not done that more often earlier, in whatever small way possible?

I do acknowledge that this crisis is only about pain and suffering for most people. It has been extremely challenging for vulnerable groups like the ailing, frontline workers, the elderly and more. Some of my friends with a history of mental illness are finding it harder to cope because they have lost access to their essential support system. I guess I can afford such musings only because I have the cocoon of safety and comfort. For some, the daily wage earners and employees in unorganized sectors, securing the essentials is a struggle in itself. 

Sagnika
A Moodscope member.

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


20

May

Making Sense of the Senseless

Wednesday May 20, 2020


I remember as a child, the lavatory in my grandparents’ house was outside. Not quite outside; there was another door before you reached the open air, but beyond the scullery – outside the house proper. I didn’t like to use it, but sometimes I had to. It had a high seat which I needed a stool to reach and then a pull chain with an overhead cistern that made a terrifying noise and flushed with the whirlpool power of Corryvrecken.

Sitting there – sometimes for ages – I would look at the lino on the floor and find faces in the random splodges; dark grey on light grey, with dashes of navy and occasional dots of darkest Carmine. There was a poodle, and an Eighteenth-Century lady with a high powdered wig. There was an old man brandishing a stick and a pig with a wiggly tail. Finding these familiar objects in the chaos of the floor covering gave me comfort in that cold isolation.

Many of us do this. In fact, it’s so common it has a name, pareidolia.

I think it can be taken further than this, however. We humans seek pattern in everything. If there is a pattern, then we can create a structure. If there is structure, we can predict what might happen and begin to find some rules. If we have rules, then we have the illusion of control.

Since our earliest times, humankind has sought these patterns and rules. We created gods out of the natural world and made sacrifices; praying for a good harvest or rain, or healing, or good fortune. We still have the country sayings: a heavy crop of holly berries means it will be a hard winter; rain on St Swithin’s day means another 40 days of inclement weather; things always come in threes.

Last year there was an excellent crop of holly berries, but we had a mild winter; 15th July 2019 was sunny, but rain set in before the end of the week; yesterday I spilled my coffee only twice.

If you have watched the film Forrest Gump, you will have noticed that his content in life comes from a simple acceptance of how things are. He does not judge his conditions or try to make sense of them: he just accepts things the way they are.

It is the job of medical statisticians to make sense of this virus named Covid 19. The high-level mathematics involved is beyond the comprehension of most of us and changes every day with improved and increased data. We ordinary people cannot predict or make sense of it.

I am not saying that we should shrug our shoulders and accept everything fatalistically – because I think we should certainly exercise our power wherever and whenever we can. But there are things in the world which are random or beyond our understanding, and we must accept this. Doing anything else is a recipe for madness.

Sometimes we must let be what will be.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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


19

May

The Trolley Part 2

Tuesday May 19, 2020


Remember my blog about the trolley? Well, it ended up working out. However, only after three prior failures. At one point I wanted to take a chainsaw to it – I was that fed up. I don't know if there is a moral to this story. Don't give up perhaps? Don't always see that things are your fault – it's often trial and error this art lark. Don't take it personally. Don't feel like a failure. I felt like all of these things at one point, all vying for top dog in my head. The beat-up bitch inside me was strong. She wanted to win. But she didn't. And I succeeded.

What did I learn.... that 3 ply napkins (peeled off to reveal only 1 ply) don't work on diamond embossed metal unless you really like that sort of thing... the reindeers I used just weren't having it and wrinkled and tore and although the effect was interesting, it just wasn't right. Then I tried some beautiful Marilyn Monroe style wallpaper (which was put at the back of some lovely second-hand cabinets) so I thought to myself nice matchy-matchy. More like messy-uppy. I can't tell my husband I have ruined the remainder of the last part roll. So then I got some metallic sticky strips in 10 different colours... we worked out that I had enough to do about three quarters of one tray. Two more trays to go and online it's not available. So I picked up two colouring books, one on Audubon's birds and one on kew garden botanical illustrations of flowers. One side black and white and the other colour. The paper is perfect for sticking to my bloody awkward old fashioned trolley. And I love it.

I've gone off on a bit of tangent about decoupage disasters but I can now see it as a positive. I came through it better off by just cutting myself some slack. Next time I attempt something I will try and learn from this. I guess what I am saying is keep trying. Keep getting back up. Don't stay down too long.

I learnt to be patient with my own failures which ended up being a good learning process. I'm not as good as I thought I was at craft, or rather some craft, purely because I didn't consider all the potential pitfalls. I just went ahead blindly and stumbled along. Next time I will be a little more prepared but still able to potentially free fall into something and for it to either be good enough or a disaster to remodel into a success, on my terms. It's not perfect but it's perfect for me and it will definitely do.

Sometimes your best is the very best and if you are at your worst, you can't forgive yourself for those little mistakes. I scrubbed out what I did not once, twice but three times and then on the fourth attempt I succeeded. And I couldn't be happier with my weird little three-tiered old-fashioned but very individual trolley.

Liz
A Moodscope member.

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


18

May

Playing Tag

Monday May 18, 2020

[To listen to an audio version of this blog post, please click here: https://soundcloud.com/lex-mckee/playing-tag

I’m told it is Mental Health Awareness Week. I smile at this because for me every week is Mental Health Awareness Week. Perhaps they’ll begin selling Greetings Cards.
 
Putting my cynical self to one side for a moment, anything that raises awareness of the most enduring plague ever to afflict humanity is welcome. Most welcome. Maybe there's some relief to be had.
 
Last week, I was fortunate enough to hear a presentation from Kay Harrington – a Rapid Transformational Therapist. She mentioned the metaphor of tagging, where our younger selves have uncritically accepted the tags people have placed on our personality and performance and potential over the formative years – 0-7 years of age.
 
I have a vision of a child in a formerly beautiful duffle coat, now covered with tags that say things far worse than, “Please look after this bear.”
 
They say foolish and inaccurate things like, “Lazy,” and “Ugly,” and “Stupid.” I know, this doesn’t sound like a positive blog but it really will become one! Stay with me!
 
You and I, without our knowing consent, have accepted a whole plethora of tags in our most suggestible years. Many of these tags were ‘gifted’ to us like ‘gift tags’ from the best of intentions. Nevertheless, they were inaccurate and unhelpful. After all, the only people who can really know and define ourselves are… well, ourselves.
 
The well-meaning authority-figure who innocently suggested we’d make a great nurse, or fireman, or counsellor, or accountant, or teacher, or bricklayer, or surgeon… knew very little of what we’d really be great at.
 
Thus today, as we enter Mental Health Awareness Week, I offer you a pair of spiritual scissors. With these scissors, I offer a suggestion: “Feel free to snip the strings holding any tags to your beautiful and delightful duffle coat!
 
Am I lazy? (“Snip!”) – no, I’m one of the hardest working creatives I know.

Am I ugly? (“Snip!”) – no, I have a beautifully repaired soul, brought back to wholeness through the golden threads of kindness and unconditional love knitting me back together (‘Kindness’ being the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week.)
 
Am I stupid? (“Snip!”)  Are you serious? I think about everything! If the unexamined life is not worth living, my life is most definitely worth living! I could be the most considered soul in history!!!
 
Take the scissors to the strings that still hold your own limiting tags and labels in place.
 
Sever them.

Snip!
 
And share with us the limiting programmes and beliefs you are becoming free from.
 
My favourite ridiculous belief is wasting my life waiting for ‘the One’ – that soulmate who completes me – heals my loneliness. What a crock of sh…
 
Instead, I’m now enjoying those friends who kind of partially get me! No one could ever understand this level of complexity!

Snip and be free my friends!

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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


17

May

We are not in the same boat

Sunday May 17, 2020


I read this piece online. It moved me and I would like to share it with you:

I heard that we are all in the same boat, *but it’s not* like that. 

We are in the *same storm*, but not in the same boat. 

Your ship could be *shipwrecked* and mine might not be, or vice versa. 

For *some*, quarantine is optimal – a moment of reflection, of re-connection, easy in flip flops, with a cocktail or coffee. 

For *others* – this is a desperate financial & family crisis. 

For some that *live alone* they’re facing endless loneliness. 

While for others it is *peace, rest & time* with their mother, father, sons & daughters. 

Some are bringing in *more money* to their households. 

Others are working more hours for *less money* due to pay cuts or loss in sales. 

For some, not getting on with family, *domestic abuse* is rife – we never know what goes on behind closed doors. 

Some were concerned about getting a certain *candy* for Easter while others were concerned *if* there would be enough bread, milk and eggs for the weekend. 

Some want to go back to work because they *don’t qualify* for unemployment and are running out of money. 

Others want to kill those who break the quarantine. 

Some are home spending 2-3 hours/day helping their child with online schooling while others are spending 2-3 hours/day to educate their children on top of a 10-12 hour workday. 

Some have experienced the *near death* of the virus, some have already lost someone from it and some are not sure if their loved ones are going to make it. 

Others *don’t believe* this is a big deal. 

Some have *faith* in God and expect miracles during this 2020. 

Others say the worst *is yet* to come. 

So, friends, we are *not* in the same boat. 

We are going through a time when our *perceptions and needs* are completely different.

Each of us will emerge, *in our own way*, from this storm. 

It is very important to see *beyond* what is seen at first glance. 

Not just looking, actually seeing. 

We are all on *different ships* during this storm experiencing a very different journey. 

Please *Realise* that and be kind. 

Question is *what boat* are you in?

Mark
A Moodscope member.

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


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