The Moodscope Blog



Ommmmm Thursday May 24, 2018

This evening I went to my first yoga class in years. It was wonderfully relaxing and nourishing. I have known the teacher for a long time and she is always so wonderfully calm and joyous. She constantly smiles: so full of love for the world whilst also being exceptionally sensitive and compassionate. To me, she seems to exude Zen.

I know life isn't like that though. I'm sure she has days where she feels cross, lonely and stressed. Yet I still put her on a pedestal. I dream of walking on fluffy clouds, reacting calmly to all situations, never raising my voice, never acting on a negative impulse. I fantasise about immersing myself in nurture and healing and love. And as I walked back from the class this evening, I promised myself (for the millionth time) to bring more calm and peace into my world.

The problem is, the second things get hard or stressful or I feel down, the thought to nourish myself goes out of the window. I don't even see the thought: it has run away long before. Autopilot has already kicked in and before I realise it, I'm engaging in the same self-destructive habits as always. And once I'm there, damaging myself once again, it's ten times harder to drag myself out and to more positive things.

I've tried meditation (sends me to sleep), exercise (great for working off stress but not relaxing), watching TV (strangely stimulating) and more. Actually, the best thing for me is just sitting silently with my eyes closed. But with two small children it's nigh on impossible to find the space, the pause, the breath, which will calm me down and keep me from taking self-destructive actions. I also mostly just don't remember to do it when I need it most.

So I have a new idea. I'm going to try listening to calming music. It won't stop me running round after the children and my jobs list and it won't stop the stresses from coming. But I can play it in the background and perhaps it will keep me grounded enough to stop my subconscious taking over before I've given it permission. Singing is good for the soul after all.

I'd love to hear others' successes with finding peace and intercepting negative patterns of habitual behaviour. Also any music suggestions would be great!

But for now, I'm off to find my gong and incense sticks, and of course some calming music.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Who Are You? And What Have You Done With Mary? Wednesday May 23, 2018

I'm in charge now.

My brother is too busy: he has a demanding business to run, with never enough staff to run it. My sister is more than a hundred miles away. She's busy too.

Well, yes – I'm busy. But my business is flexible and I'm on hand and so I am now in charge.

In charge of selling my mother's house.

What's different now is that I don't recognise myself. From nowhere an efficient and business-like person has emerged. I am brisk on the phone. I am making appointments in a timely manner. I am unapologetically expecting people to do their jobs.

It's spread to my own business. I am following up enquiries and then chasing payment.

I'm a different person and – being totally honest – I'm not entirely sure I like her. It's certainly not comfortable being her.

I'm used to the charming, diffident and (let's face it) ineffectual person I've always been. But there's no doubt this new Mary is getting things done.

And – of course – there is a worry that this is not really me. This maybe the medication or, even more scary, this is the mania breaking through that medication.

Before, when the mania came, I felt I could do anything! I could achieve anything! I was invincible! And the rest of the world was too slow and too stupid and just plain dull.

So, is it mania again? And – if not – what is it?

Well, part of it is being trusted. If it were not for the medication, neither my brother nor my sister could afford to entrust me with this. Things would go wrong because they always did. I would forget appointments, fail to complete paperwork, and make irresponsible financial decisions. The medication means they can trust me and that means a lot. I don't want to let them down.

Part of it is getting back into Personal Development Training. Taking the time to work on your life, rather than just living in your life makes you reassess things. It makes you realise what is important to you. It means you spend less time on those things which are meaningless and more time doing those things you love, or working on achieving the things you want. (You can call them goals if you like. I won't, because I dislike goals on principle.)

Part of it is reaching 55. Heck – if I can't have authority and maturity now, then when is it ever going to kick in? Haven't I earned the right to tell it how it is? With courtesy and consideration, naturally; but without prevarication.

So, no, I don't think it's the mania. I'm not sure what it is, but I don't think my family and friends should be worried.

But, if you don't mind, I'll carry on being a little worried myself. Until things settle down, at least. Until I've become used to this new person and got to know her.

And hopefully, to like her.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Another day. Another death. Tuesday May 22, 2018

A beautiful soul takes his life in a moment of... we will never know. Will we say 'it', that menacing shadow, had become too much to tolerate and this was the only option or will we recognise that to hold yourself up through many years of holding yourself up is not unlike doing constant gym pull ups, hour by hour, day by day. And it really is.

Living with moving mental health can be like walking around doing all the things that life needs whilst wearing an over-sized coat made of heavy weight chain mail. You can operate. You can smile. You can present your best self. You can work. You can be honest with people that it's there. You can cope. But all the while you do so wearing this giant's coat made of metal and it covers your hands, tangles at your feet, it pulls and it snags, it cuts and its hot and its sore. Sometimes you want so desperately to Take Off The Coat.

Young men are the biggest casualty. Some women seem to have a little tap and can sometimes depressurise just enough to hold safe. But young men often seem to be built without that gauge. It's hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on, gone.

How do we care for those who are battling mental health on an half hour by half hour basis. Well, this is not long enough to go into detail so I will say this... we often struggle to tell you we are struggling because we can't deal with admitting it to ourselves let alone someone else. We need you to know us well enough to see. We need you to recognise the subtleties of our words, our movements, our habits and we need you to perhaps dial in your care. Yes, dial in. Those who battle this war can tend towards being gentle souls. We can't always cope with how you want to help. The orderly doctor appointment or cheery phone call checking in on us might do little except make us pull on our Eleanor Rigby faces that we've kept in our jars for these moments. We need you to watch. We need you to blend in. We need you to think how help would be helpful. A gently placed "I really want to be more of a support and I would like you to tell me how" could be a breakthrough moment. Even "I have no idea how to help but I want to and I want you to teach me and if you can't I want to just sit with you".

We are difficult to help. Admittedly. But that doesn't mean we don't want to be helped. It means you may have to recognise that the help you want to give isn't always the help we need. Phone numbers are just numbers. Be subtle, be gentle, be honest and don't stop. It means that you become part of the fabric not part of the solution. The solution may never come but the fabric is here right now. And to those mourning a loss, there might be just a little comfort in lifting your sore eyes with admiration at how someone pulled up, how hard, how often, how long, how many and know that we witnessed a warrior.

Love from
The room above the garage.

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

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Hostile Henry. Monday May 21, 2018

[The next in a series of childlike stories based around the 20 Moodscope Cards. "Hostile," is described by Moodscope as, "Feeling unfriendly towards others." Here, then, is the story of Hostile Henry.]

Henry was a rescue dog.

His new family loved him, but he had learned not to trust humans, nor most other dogs, so Henry growled a lot. Sometimes he snapped at both dogs and people.

His new family were at a loss to know how to help Henry learn to know, like, and trust again.

Then the daughter in the family, Rachel, had a brilliant idea. "Let's get a kitten!" she said over the dinner table. Mum asked what was her thinking behind the idea and Rachel said, "I've noticed the neighbour's cat is treated well by their own two dogs. I wondered if Henry could learn to protect a seemingly helpless kitten, and begin to build his trust again?"

"That's brilliant!" declared the rest of the family as with one voice! And so, "Tiddles," came to play!

Tiddles hadn't learned not to trust anybody and everything. In fact, Tiddles hadn't learned anything! She pounced on the vacuum cleaner, climbed up the curtains, tiddled everywhere, fell down the stairs, and 'cuddled' Hostile Henry without remembering first to retract her claws. Henry growled quietly at first, but didn't retaliate. The old-fashioned word for his behaviour was long-suffering.

And 'long' was a good word for the first day Tiddles came to stay. By the end of it, Henry was exhausted by the enthusiastic 'attention' he'd received from Tiddles. He gruffed off to his basket doggy bed and lay down with one eye on the room in case of another 'encounter'!

Tiddles came across and jumped into Henry's basket... and then laid curled up by Henry's warm tummy. Henry huffed as only dogs can huff, but looked secretly smug. Within moments, a tiny purr began, like the sound of the engine of bliss. Tiddles, the Monster, was heading towards sleep...

Henry said, under his breath, (btw, you do know that dogs can talk, don't you?), "Goodnight Tiddles... I'm glad you've joined the family." And, safe at last, Henry joined Tiddles in Sleepisville Dreamland.

... I wish I could say the story had a happy ending, but the truth was that Henry never really got to trust everyone. Perhaps that's a good thing. But Tiddles and Henry became inseparable. And the lovely thing was that Henry opened up to the family too – in fact he was fiercely protective of them and Tiddles – but that's OK, isn't it?

Years later, when Tiddles asked Henry what the secret was to his long and happy life, he sighed contentedly and said, "Find a few special friends, and be loyal and kind to them. Everything else then finds its own place." Ah, nice one, Happy Henry!

A Moodscope member.

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

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I'm Game... Sunday May 20, 2018

I've been pondering and saying in the comments section about writing a blog as requested recently from us, the readers of Moodscope.

I like writing; a letter or card with positive, careful scribblings are my preferred method of contact. Nothing is as exciting as receiving an envelope through the letterbox (that isn't brown of course!). I love to read poetry however not sure if I could write one. (Haiku anyone?)! Maybe something to put on my bucket list for another day!

My daughter is a Storyteller with her own business and presenter of blogs. I am SO proud of her achievements. Quite shy until put under the spotlight (or on the stage!) and she comes to life basking in the applause and enjoying her success. A New Year's resolution was for her to write a blog a day, every day for a year. And she is doing very well. Thoughts become blogs that become points of interest to her clients and followers and some are stirring up some interesting discussions in social circles up (eg. in the pub!!) and down the land!!

Here's the thing; she has said that I really ought to try blogging online. I might really enjoy it(?). I begged to differ, however, as she is very passionate about her work I decided to follow her on her daily blogs and thought, actually, maybe I would enjoy it.

So...I'm game.

I'm going to attempt to write a blog a day for Moodscope and see where it takes me. Down a country lane where I have to time to listen to nature, watch the flowers grow and admire the view or jump on a Harley Davidson and roar off into the sunset leaving all cares and woes behind?

How would you deal with a small challenge when/if it arose?

Would you be the Hare or the Tortoise?

Take care everyone and drop me a line.

A Moodscope member.

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

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What I learnt from my shop. Saturday May 19, 2018

People often write about what pearls of wisdom they have learnt from school, university, famous people, famous books, philosophy and travelling. I was thinking what I have learnt from my shop.

I have learnt:

# That if a child does not behave before they come into my shop they will not instantly start to behave the moment they enter the shop.

# That nearly every customer is an expert in retail and are very keen to share their expertise.

# That not only do customers expect me to have read every book in my shop but to have read or least know the title of every book ever published.

# That if you give a toddler one of our teddy bears as they enter shop and expect them to give it up when leaving the shop, there will be tears and tantrums, and the toddler will be upset too.

# That people will say in loud voices negative things about my shop, just ignoring me.

# That people will assume all I do all day is read books and say how they wished they had a booksshop so they could read all day.

I am thinking you will have learnt something from your work, your garden, volunteering, public transport and many other places where by simply observing you will have learnt something interesting.

So please share what knowledge you have gained and where you have gained it from?

Can be simple or profound or both.

A Moodscope member.

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

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More Worries. Friday May 18, 2018

Worries seem to be a common theme to Moodscope members to a lesser or greater extent. It is interesting to me how worries can change their size depending on the situation. Sometimes worries can appear to be huge insurmountable mountains and at other times they appear as small obstacles that can easily be negotiated.

Worries for me can also take on physical shapes and colours. Mountains are a frequent example where they appear as a range of worries where even if you manage to scale the first one there is always going to be a bigger one right behind and no sight of the green and pleasant valley to motivate you to get over the climb. Mountains are grey and menacing just like worries. I don't think I've seen and green or yellow worries! Maybe if they took on a more appealing colour they wouldn't appear quite as big worries.

So perhaps thinking more rationally about worries is part of helping to cope with them. Accepting that no one has a magic wand to make them disappear, maybe a little creative thinking by recolouring and reshaping the worry in to a more friendly object might make them a little easier to deal with. After all black jagged mountains are quite threatening where as a pleasant rounded green hill seems to me far more manageable.

Another technique that I find useful is to break things down into bite sized chunks. When I cycled from Lands End to John O'Groats, I covered the country in 20 mile rest stops – I did not worry about getting over the next steep hill or where I was going to stop overnight I just carried on to the next break and low and behold I eventually arrived at John O'Groats! My cycle ride also taught me the importance of having a clear goal.

One of the things about having goals or a focus is that it enables other issues to be "parked "if they are not central to your goal. "Parking" these issues does not mean that you can ignore them it's just a way of dealing with them when you can and I guess also giving them less importance. After all you cannot deal with everything and everything in life cannot be all important. Goals definitely help in dealing with life – they give focus and they help prioritise things.

For my cycle ride I had to train and fit everything around work and family commitments. I was lucky having a supportive wife and also working within a commutable distance so managed to swap a boring drive into two valuable training sessions. If only everything in life could be rearranged to turn an obstacle into a bonus!

A Moodscope member.

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

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Facing Challenges and Feeding my Inner Lioness. Thursday May 17, 2018

So, how do you define a challenge?

Over these past few years, some of mine have been tangible and specific. Here are three for you.

With a crippling fear of heights, I challenged myself to do Go-Ape and completed the whole course! The certificate of completion made me SO proud.

Starting my own civil funeral celebrancy business 4 years ago, as a person who was previously terrified of giving presentations in front of others and could barely say my name and the dreaded "what I did" around a large table of new colleagues. I have stood in front of anything from 1-350 people at a hugely important and never-to-be-repeated occasion to manage the whole ceremony.

The final challenge was to move 500 miles away from Cambridgeshire to the Highlands, bringing fresh challenges. The crippling missing of loved ones and a new and strange house that needed to be brought back to life with love and care (uninhabited for two years, full of the reminders of nine cats and their detritus) with more than a few problems of its own.

18 months later and my business hasn't taken off so I've had to challenge myself with new work that makes me happy (still a work in progress), we have made some lovely new friends, precious visitors still come and stay with us and the house has come on leaps and bounds.

The biggest challenge I face constantly is the management of my own mental health. An aspiring writer, I have challenged myself to write a best-seller and have entered myself into a national competition.

I've tried (and failed) at some new positions but been brave enough to go for them in the first place and give them time. I've joined new clubs and still trying new things - Scottish Country Dancing and Pole Dancing sadly didn't work out but I am still doing art, badminton and writing.

Within the next five years, I'd like to have another business and also sing in a band (even if it's just for one gig).

As for my mental health... well that's another story. However I have learnt that the power of positive thinking for myself is a bit of a battle... but then I go back and think of some of the stuff I have overcome and I feel very proud. And then it can take me as little as trying to learn how to make a bed properly (with hospital corners) and I'm back to the person who feels anxious, stupid and totally out of her depth in my new role. Waiting to jump ship like the frightened and bedraggled little rat that I feel deep down inside. And then my inner lioness growls a reminder that she's still there... licking her wounds, ready to face the world again with just the merest hint of a swagger... and I give in to her.

Liz (part rat/part Lioness)
A Moodscope member.

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

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Small Pleasures. Wednesday May 16, 2018

It was the culling season in the Wednesday household.

My second daughter stared in agonised indecision. "Mummy, it's so difficult to choose," she said. "Whichever four I save, two have got to go..."

I stood there; supportive, but refusing to make the decision for her.

Eventually, she took a deep breath, and separated two from the herd. "I'm sorry," she told them. "I'm so sorry..."

She stroked them one last time before, gently, I took them away.

"Mummy," she said. "Mugs have feelings too."

Yes – we have just one cupboard for mugs. It will hold sixteen mugs, which - for those of you who can do the maths – is four each. Now, mugs don't exactly breed, but they do increase, mostly because mugs are such a good gift. Everyone likes a nice mug for their coffee,* right? This means that every now and again, the mug herd becomes too large for its habitat, and spills out onto the window ledge; meaning numbers must be thinned.

But this last time made me think. I too had to cull, but which should it be? Not the lovely big mug with a peacock on it which my sister gave me. Not the mug with the green frogs on it which my sister gave me. Not the lovely big soup sized one with the butterflies, which my sister gave me. Not the one with cows on which – no, you're wrong – my mother gave me just last week because I admired it so much and she had too many mugs for her new home. Two others went out. Two I had bought for myself because I quite liked them.

Quite liking is not enough, there must be love. It is that love which makes my morning coffee a joy. Oh, and the coffee itself: I adore good coffee.

These small moments of joy are not confined to mugs and coffee. I love scented candles. I have one burning as I write this: Melon and Spiced Pomegranate; my daughter gave it to me. I have a beautifully soft turquoise blanket I wrap around me when reading or watching television, and scented handmade soaps in the shower. Yes, I am an unabashed sensualist.

It's easy to dismiss these little things. My coffee, after all, would taste the same from a plain white mug; even a chipped one. I could write without scent and music playing in my headphones. Any old rug will do to keep me warm and I would be just as clean with plain old carbolic soap in the shower.

But – yes – but...

I think we all recognise how small privations can build up to make us feel deprived and depressed. So – looking at it from the other side, what small pleasures can we build into our lives to help protect us against the onslaught of the black dog?

A coffee mug with a silly and happily grinning black dog, perhaps?

A Moodscope member.

*or beverage of your choice.

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

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Walking on air. Tuesday May 15, 2018

I came out of the counsellor 's room at the doctor's surgery walking on air. I felt like a new woman. I shall remember that feeling for as long as I live. Tissues were used, it had been difficult to get the words out, but out they had come, like an avalanche. I didn't know whether what I was saying was proper, but I said it anyway.

The counsellor had looked at me in an empathetic way, unblinking, and said something to the effect that I had been very brave. I was amazed. Bravery hadn't come into it, I didn't think. I had not gone in to that room expressly to discuss an issue harking back to when I was seven, and a 14 year old had sexually abused my twin sister and me, in turn, in the windowless bathroom of our apartment, whilst my 10 year old brother held guard by the door. I really hadn't. But there was something about the counsellor that I felt I could trust, as I hadn't trusted anyone since that shameful, abhorrent event, that had preyed on my mind for over three decades. I had never discussed it, but it had had a profound and devastating effect on my entire life. It had rocked my confidence and I know for a fact that I was never the same after that day. I lived daily with shame.

To return to the counselling session and the two years of weekly sessions with the woman who represented for me my saviour. I gradually began to rebuild my identity, my sense of "me "as a valid and lovable person, and to put aside "that event". Some may think this an exaggeration. I can only speak for myself when I say that I saw that the lifting of the veil, the unburdening of the soul on that and subsequent days and months was like being reborn with power. Power to confront evil, bullying, abuse. I had previously not felt I had that permission. It was, and still is, exhilarating. Shame leads you down dark alleys, and into the pit of depression. To be free of it is simply wonderful.

A Moodscope member.

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When In Rome. Monday May 14, 2018

I thought that today would be a great day to celebrate our Moodscope buddies!

Last Sunday, I preached up a storm at my home church – a storm based on a famous passage about the armour of God. The bit that made me think about our buddies is something called 'The Shield of Faith.'

The Apostle Paul, himself in captivity and under oppression, had ample opportunity to look at the armour his Roman guard was wearing. Paul then used this as an object lesson for his own 'blog' – the letter to the Ephesians!!!

Paul believed in a literal devil. This same devil was thought to fire fiery arrows at believers, causing them mental torment, sickness, and dis-ease. Whether you believe in a personification of evil or not, I'm sure you can see the relevance. Personally, I don't care if there's a literal devil or not – I've met some pretty evil people – and I've seen what was done to the Jews and other persecuted peoples. Furthermore, I've experienced enough mental torment to make the metaphor work regardless of belief systems. There is evil that we need protecting from.

Back to the message: the shield of faith/belief/confidence can quench every fiery dart that comes at us from wherever, whoever, whenever. And that's where the buddies come in. You see, the Romans were box clever! Their shields were designed to slot together, like the lid of a box, keeping them safe inside. There was a groove that enabled this to happen – similar to roof tiles. Once the 'tortoise' had been made, a whole group of soldiers would protect one another from anything that was thrown at them – even flaming arrows.

My buddies have been like that. When I've been too weak to hold a shield up against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune (Hamlet, Act 3; Scene 1), my buddies have slid their shields into the grooves on mine, and together, have lent me their strength, carrying me through the battles I no longer had strength to fight. I too, in my season, have been a shield bearer for others.

So, I say, "Hail to the Shield-maidens and Shield-men who have loaned their strength and kindness to us all!"

How could you say, "Thank You!" to your buddies today?

For whom could you be a buddy?

Your buddy, NeiLex MMO - Moodscope Morale Officer!

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

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I will if you will. Sunday May 13, 2018

Please may you take a physical step forward wherever you are at this very moment.

And now another step, you choose the direction this time.


You did it.

Yet another achievement.

Repeat. Repeat!

We seem to be dancing!

Thank you for dancing with me, it's been a while.

What's next?

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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

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Fluffy white bunnies, crawling spiders and rainbows... Saturday May 12, 2018

I have had a diagnosis of depression and anxiety with good and not so good periods for nearly 25 years. This last year I have had numerous attendances at ED for stitches for self harm and an overnight stay after an overdose. Yet I had no idea I was so ill. Feeling so low and unable to do the most basic things was the norm for me. For me, starting sessions with a psychologist recently was the straw that finally broke the camels back. After 3 sessions of history taking, we weren't even half way through what has been a traumatic life at times and my mental health was deteriorating rapidly.

My doctor of over 20 years has been my rock during this time and I was shocked and confused when he said, "Enough is enough, I want you admitted to hospital." Even though he was fully aware that I absolutely hate hospitals. A four week stay in an acute psychiatric hospital and a primary diagnosis of severe depression with psychosis, with secondary diagnosis of complex PTSD and personality disorder followed.

Scarily I had no real understanding of how poorly I was, seeing fluffy white bunnies made me feel comforted and happy. Beautiful small rainbows dotted all across the sky including when it was night time have also brought me joy. Crawling spiders all over my body scared me so much I was reluctant to go to sleep. Staff in hospital spent time supporting me, including an awesome student nurse. How to keep the spiders at bay, especially night time was a challenge. We tried a cooler bedroom environment, medication to stop me scratching my body till it was raw and staff talking through what they could see especially when I was given night time medication. Even now the spiders are problematic and I become frustrated when my husband says they aren't there.

I am now out of hospital and have been receiving home treatment and crisis care for the last few weeks, but this will sadly end in soon. It is hard to even contemplate revisiting sessions with the psychologist when it was a significant factor in my admission. I am genuinely scared I am not strong enough and that I will end back in hospital.

Any thoughts on how I can overcome this fear, as I know more horrid stuff will be dragged up, would be very much appreciated.

Happy hopping bunnies.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Choose your battles wisely. Friday May 11, 2018

I was married to an abusive man for 15 years. Why, you may ask. I wouldn't bother asking as I don't know the answer!

Well, I do in a way - needing someone, shame of more failure, needing to sort other aspects of my life first etc.

I am reminded of all this as I help care for a 2 year old. Adorable, delightful, a great joy but... choose your battles wisely comes top of the list with this age group.

The reason for my tale of woe is that, in an abusive relationship, I found you have to choose your battles wisely otherwise there is a continual row going on and if you aren't an aggressive person this sort of life is awful. He did beat me down mentally in this way as I was always backing down or scared of him so often chose not to fight. It's extreme control in all it's nastiness.

Pondering this line of thought I realise it applies to life in general. Which match can I cope to play in, which people can I cope to be around, which clubs to join. All a battlefield for me as I lack self confidence and am horribly shy although no one has ever believed me. I had to learn very young to hide it. My physical appearance hasn't helped. Tiny women get looked after and are allowed to be nervous. Tall women aren't. Life has been a battlefield of fighting my corner or running away when I can't cope anymore.

I nearly lost my wonderful son to his mother in law. We had always been so close. With great patience, lots of tears in private on my part and no arguments he has come back to me. A battle won.

Depression... a constant battle, but one worth fighting every inch of the way.

By the way, I won the final battle with the Evil Ex. Despite him not wanting it, I divorced him :-)

A Moodscope member.

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

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My sink is full. Thursday May 10, 2018

My sink is full. The washing up has erupted out of the sink, spread all the way across the counter and broken over the hob with a small space left for making coffee. Netflix is a bad friend that keeps me occupied with mostly pap. Settlers – another bad friend that keeps me occupied. Curtains drawn. Pyjamas on.

Another CBT course this Thursday. All about stress management. Angry. Don't need that – I can sit in my pyjamas on the Sofa for days not moving except when I need to - hiding from the world.

End of CBT course. Googling it. Was originally designed for treating Low Mood and Depression. Okay. What's it really about? Behavioural activation. Posh words for something really simple. What activities make me feel rubbish. What activities make me feel better. Then start making myself do the stuff that makes me feel better. That. Now that I get.

Opening the curtains makes me feel better. I now try to make it the very first thing I do when I know I am not going back to sleep – even though it is stupid O'clock and it is dark outside - I throw the bedroom curtains open.

Exercise makes me feel better so I then get dressed into yesterday's clothes (no decisions about what I am going to wear – just what I took off yesterday). Set the timer on my phone for 10 minutes. I stomp out of the house trying to pick a new direction to go. When the alarm goes off I turn around and go home. (My daughter can walk to the leisure centre next time she wants a lift. It's only a 7 minute walk away!)

Showering and shaving off my stubble makes me feel better so when I get back from my walk I lay out my clean clothes to wear for the day and have a shower and a shave.

Talking to my friends and family also makes me feel better. I make myself call at least two every day and talk to them.

All I have wanted to do since it was stupid O'clock is make myself a cup of coffee, then get back into bed or sit on the sofa and check my email (which nearly always makes me feel rubbish). It's ALL I have wanted to do. But I open curtains, get dressed, go for a walk. I get showered and shaved, dressed into clean clothes and stand looking out of the window with a coffee in my hands.

What makes you feel better?

When is the best time for you to do it?

I force myself to wash the pots before I sit down to eat what I have cooked. Easier to wash them then. Motivated. I have food I want to eat. I will never wash them after. Not until the sea of washing up has broken over my hob again.

A Moodscope member.

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It's Got to be Perfect. Wednesday May 9, 2018

I had a birthday on Saturday; a special one.

Oh, it didn't have a zero at the end – I don't tend to celebrate those ones much, but it was special to me, and I wanted a party. I mean – why not?

But I have learnt a few things over the years.

You see, I love to give parties. I love the organisation, the cooking, the preparation, the hosting – I even like the clearing up afterwards – but it has been brought to my attention that my family don't like my parties because they don't like the person their wife/mother turns into when she's under stress.

So, I decided that this party was going to be stress free, and that whatever happened, it would be perfect. Even if it didn't look like what I would normally describe as perfect.

There wasn't a guest-list, I just invited everyone on Messenger. When most people were doing something else already, I decided a smaller party was perfect.

When I managed to burn both my birthday cakes, I just used more icing to cover up the black bits and they were perfect.

I opted for simple food and when I didn't have quite the right ingredients, deemed my variation on the recipe, perfect.

When I wasn't ready in time and my guests arrived, it worked perfectly to ask them to blow up balloons and to deck the room with birthday banners. I asked some of them to prepare salads while I went upstairs to change.

Unexpected guests? Perfect.

Hijacking a friend's spare bedroom for those unexpected guests who unexpectedly needed overnight accommodation? Perfect. (At least, my friend said it was perfectly okay and I think she meant it!)

That Saturday morning my husband had turned apprehensive eyes on me. "I feel a bit worried that I haven't done anything to help you with this party," he said.

I smiled serenely. "You don't have to do anything," I said. It's all perfectly under control.

And it was – because I didn't try to control it; I just let it happen.

So, yes – it was a low-key party. It worked because everyone had a chance to talk to everyone else, and found out they rather liked them. Apparently, I have "really interesting friends". Or so these interesting friends kept telling me; citing the other interesting friends they had talked to...

All I had to do was keep the food coming and open another bottle of prosecco every now and again.

Hand on heart? Yes, I did miss the organised schedule of my former parties. I did miss the elaborate and themed food, the table decorations, party entertainment and games.

But it was rather fun to relax, sit back, and watch it all unfold.

It wasn't anything like any other party I have held.

But – it was perfect.

I wonder what else I could find in my life that is perfect – just the way it is.

(And – the earworm:

A Moodscope member

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Worries. Tuesday May 8, 2018

I am a long term floater in to the black hole although my forays are fortunately short and perhaps they are more shades of grey rather than black.

It seems to me that some of us are born worriers. My Mother was a worrier and sadly I have now passed some of these genes onto one daughter. It also seems to me that most worries are so big that they block a lot of other stuff that I could also be worrying about so maybe the bigger the better.

Another curious thing that I have noticed is that the size of the worry does not seem to correlate with the importance of the situation. So for example rather than worry about a new major health issues aka a meningioma (a type of brain tumour) I focus on work stuff which in the BIG picture is pretty minor in scheme of things.

I am definitely better with structure. Meditation definitely helps to quieten the mind and I am making an effort to find more time to meditate – there are some great Apps that I find provide the guidance to keep me on track, make the time more interesting and keep my mind engaged!

Another thing is that having been on the medical treadmill for the last 20 years and acquired frequent flyer status with the wonderful NHS, I discovered that another log term survivor has set up a site set up for people who share my condition. I also discovered that they have a Facebook Group which I have joined.

As we all know Social Media is a bitter sweet thing... I was really interested to read the posts of other people with their story of medical experiences and their various medicinal issues. When you suddenly discover that your body has lost one of its important parts and you need life time medication suddenly these things become very important. My morning pill taking ritual is a salutary reminder that I am fortunate to be where I am and to enjoy the day ahead.

Unfortunately my symptoms have recently changed which probably explains why I was searching the internet for some answers. The web site I discovered had lots of relevant information but it was the Facebook group that it pointed me to that made me appreciate what I have as there are many less fortunate people – as I said a real bitter sweet moment.

Looking at photos is a great reminder of happy times and despite my medical challenges over the last 20 years I am still firing on most cylinders. I have pictures of many family holidays, epic cycle trips and a recent Lands End to John O'Groats cycle ride that put my meds truly to the test. Celebrations have been many, a 60th birthday, 35 years of being happily married to my wife and now 2 grandchildren really underline the true meaning of life.

Despite the size of your worries it definitely pays to look at the big picture and to keep looking at the ones you have taken!


A Moodscope member.

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Count to Ten and Grin. Monday May 7, 2018

The blog by Jay Harrington of Life and Whim offered 10 ways to live a happy life. The original version is here:

This abbreviated version is bound to give you an idea or two on how to give your happiness a Spring perk! Would you please let the list stimulate your own tips to share in the comments.

1. Tiny changes in your routine – get 30 minutes more sleep, join that exercise class, enjoy nature.

2. Books, books, books! Life-long learners live longer lives – or so we've learned!

3. Get into your flow both in your professional activities and your personal relationships – harmony of task and team works like a dream.

4. Say 'Thank You!' Send that card. Visit that old friend. Keep a jar of blessings (as we've heard about here on Moodscope).

5. You're winning when you're grinning – even when you don't feel like it. Putting a grin on your chin tricks the brain into a happier state.

6. Collect 'moments of truth' – small experiences to treasure – like the blackbird who sings his heart out, the bluebells, the sunrise.

7. Be kind – focus on other people, other causes, other solutions – it's like a love potion.

8. Go for experiences not 'stuff' – the immaterial has a bigger emotional impact than cluttering your life with what the marketing world says you need.

9. Say 'No!' to comparisons – not with any other person or anyone else's standards.

10. Commit to your tribe – a small, intimate group you can trust – and nurture those connections.

How about that for a 'Count to Ten and Win'? Can't wait to hear your suggestions!

A Moodscope member.

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

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It's a goal. Sunday May 6, 2018

Are you sometimes overwhelmed by the feeling that your life is directionless, that you're drifting rather than heading anywhere in particular? It's as if you are wandering without aim rather than focusing on a journey to a specific destination.

Thinking about your goals - or lack of them can be very helpful.

People are goal-driven animals. When we are hungry, our goal is to find food. When we are hot our goal is to get cool. For the most part, we are not aware of these everyday goals and our responses to them. But nevertheless they drive our behaviour.

There are also goals that we consciously set (like getting a certain qualification, moving to a different part of the country or taking control of our anger). Behavioural scientist have studied goals for many years and here's some advice which may help you.

As a rule, stretch goals (ones that are at the limit of your capability) are more likely to be achieved (and be more beneficial) than easy goals. It sounds paradoxical, but if a goal is too easily achieved, it's hard to get motivated. On the other hand, there's no point is setting yourself up for failure by picking a goal that's over-ambitious. So your aim should be to choose a goal that's possible but still a significant challenge.

To be effective, a goal needs to be concrete and specific. You need to know when you've succeeded. There's a saying a business that if you can't measure it, you can't manage it. So aiming to get fitter isn't a genuine goal but an intention. On the other hand, aiming to be fit enough to run 5 miles in say 40 minutes is an authentic goal. You can plan for it and measure your progress. Managing your money better isn't a goal, whereas cutting your expenses by £100 a month is a genuine target.

In a similar way, goals need a deadline. So your fitness target should be 5 miles in 40 minutes by, say, within 3 months. Goals needn't always be long term. It's sometimes useful to set yourself what might be called "now" goals - targets you can achieve quickly in order to boost your self confidence and help you on your way to achieve a more substantial target. For your fitness programme, for instance, a now goal might be to acquire a comfortable pair of jogging shoes.

The moral is, success breeds success.

A Moodscope User.

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Men in Lycra. Saturday May 5, 2018

If you thought this was a further expose of the sex lives of Moodscope bloggers, sorry to disappoint you. No, I am writing about MAMILS. For those unfamiliar with the term, it stands for Middle Aged Men in Lycra. Cyclists who take it very seriously indeed.

This was triggered by hearing a radio interview with Australian film maker Nickolas Bird. His film Mamils is on release. It is safe to say I will not be rushing to see it.

If I want to observe the habits of shiny-clad men on bikes, I only need look out of my window. Several years ago, 10 miles of old railway track which leads off the local common was turned into a combined cycle track and ramblers path. I live just yards away, so the cycle route starts by my house.

It is not an easy combination, bikes, dogs off leads, toddlers on scooters, walkers. There were some skirmishes in the early days, there was one hit-and-run, resulting in a dog being killed. Nonetheless, most people, myself included love going there. There are badger setts, bat boxes made by local volunteers, and some lovely views. For dog-owners it is an enjoyable opportunity for a gossip.

Most cyclists are cheerful and considerate. The students on their way to the nearby university usually ring a bell or call out. Groups of older people shout thanks if we stand to one side to let them past. Families, with young kids learning how to ride, will tutor their offspring to say thank you politely. To be fair to Mamils, some of them who travel in a pack will show a bit of good-humour. The ones to watch are the solo ones, the lone wolves who take no prisoners. They will have all the gear, and I'm told it is not unusual for a fully-kitted road bike to cost an eye-watering £30,000.

The filmaker interviewed male cycling fanatics from all over the world. He concluded that for many, getting out on their bike is a coping mechanism, triggered by loneliness and depression. One man told him he would have taken his life if he had not discovered cycling. A desire to get away from wives and children was mentioned frequently. Another common pleasure comes from the nostalgia for childhood, being a carefree young lad again, out on his bike.

When I was small I used to enjoy putting doll's clothes on the cat, and taking her out in a little pram. If I decided to relive this simple pastime from childhood, I wonder how long it would be before the authorities intervened? But then, boys will be boys...

Hearing this, I felt a bit guilty, dismissing them as arrogant blokes in dodgy gear. I would try to be a bit more understanding as they hurtled past at 30mph. This new attitude lasted just a few hours. Chatting to a dog owner, we stood well to one side, her little Westie on his lead. There came an almighty roar of outrage, "Don't you ******* slow me down!". We leapt out of the way, my pal snatching up her dog.

Another friend told me a Mamil had aimed a kick at his well-behaved German Shepherd, for no reason whatsoever. The dog reacted quickly to guard his human, pulling at the cyclist's shoe. Off he came, into a bed of tall nettles. Luckily there were witnesses, so his screamed threats of legal action cut no ice.

If they are lonely and depressed, surely this sort of behaviour can only reinforce those bad feelings? I suspect many of the wives and children back at home are rather relived when Dad takes his bike, and his bad attitude, elsewhere.

I have learned something else that might shed some light on it. They wear leather jockstraps under their tights. Just saying.

A Moodscope member.

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