The Moodscope Blog



Kindly, interrupt me Monday January 21, 2019

If you're like me, you'll have few patterns of behaviour you'd be glad to see the back of this year. Me? I talk to inanimate objects. Yes, I do. I exhort objects that have no power to change to, "Come on!"

These objects are always in rebellion against my will or my schedule. They might be a froward pair of socks that 'refuse' to go on right. It might be a door frame that bumps into me, which I then command to, "Shut up!" as if it had done this deliberately. The really weird thing is that I know this is ridiculous. I know it's daft when I do it.

I'm working on changing silly behaviour patterns like these. They never make me feel good – in fact, they make me feel cross. The phrases, "Shut up!" and "Come on!" – when said in an irritated tone - have a bundle of negative emotions associated with them for me. The best way for me to calm down and get better is to interrupt the pattern.

We've all experienced a pattern of behaviour being interrupted – often when we are angry. If you are having an argument with someone who then does something to make you laugh, you'll know you can't go on playing that pattern of behaviour the same way. Once you laugh, the game is over! You can't stay angry. You might think you're even angrier as in, "Don't make me laugh, I'm being serious!" but it's too late.

A pattern (of behaviour) interrupt can be as simple as a word. My word is, "Adapt!" If something isn't going the way I want it to go, I give myself the command – usually out loud – "Adapt!" This morning, the towel wouldn't go back on the towel-rail the way I wanted it to. The towel had no way to change its behaviour – it's a towel! I said, "Adapt!" and instantly changed the way I was trying to put it on the rail. I got the result I wanted.

If we keep on doing what we've always been doing, and expect matters to work out differently, we're as silly as I have been. Saying, "Adapt!" out loud might work for you too if you find yourself talking to things! It's interesting that the Commandoes use this word too. They have a code where they aim to be first in three areas: to understand and then to adapt and then to overcome.

Am I the only one, or does anyone else have behaviours they'd like to change? How will you interrupt the behaviour pattern so that you create something new? Do you and a close friend or member of the family have an agreed way to interrupt unhelpful behaviours?

If you catch me being silly, kindly, interrupt me!

A Moodscope member.

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

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Legacy Sunday January 20, 2019

Where was it that I was reading about that very thing yesterday, legacy? The writer had lamented that no one outside the family sphere would remember him when he died, and that THAT would only be until further generations of the family supplanted him and his memory.

Legacy, what is left behind.

During a two hour walk recently, my sister and I had returned to a well-worn topic in our family: our father. Whilst an eminent man in his field, who will be remembered for his contributions to science, we have always considered it very hard being his children, something our brother agrees with entirely too. The man was tyrannical, impossible (our mother's adjective to describe him!) and harsh on us all. He did not understand confidence-giving, preferring to find fault and deride. We felt he drove our mother to an early grave. And that's a terrible admission to make.

This may simply be our way of seeing things, but there we are. I have never met any one else so contrary, so clever and yet so merciless to those you'd think would matter most. I wondered then, and I wonder now: is that what is called flawed genius? If so, we were the fallout at the epicentre of the larva flow. His gain, in terms of scientific legacy, was our loss, in purely psychological terms. A friend once commented that it was a wonder we children had actually turned out so sane, subjected to the fatherly tyranny and wrath we undoubtedly were for many decades. She failed to detect the emotional scars beneath the façade of normality! For whilst it may be true that " What doesn't kill you strengthens you, " in our case, it has come at great cost.

Three individuals and their mother each deeply affected by the taint of genius, the unrelenting search for perfection which was carried over to the personal. Reins only to be held by The Head of The Family.

Legacy? For my part, an enduring interest in what makes people tick, as well as a desire to promote the sort of kindness which was in short supply when he was at home. Ironically, that's probably his greatest legacy to me: The desire not to be like him! Sad, or what!!

At the risk of sounding maudlin , what would you like your legacy to be?

Apologies to those of you not in your seventh decade of life!!

A Moodscope member.

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What have I learnt this year? Saturday January 19, 2019

Well... lots of things... that I am an awful housekeeper. That just because it says on the tin that she's a Lady... she might have money and a title but she ain't got any class.

That people can surprise you... with their lack of contact after you move 500 miles away... or despite regular and caring emails they dismiss you with one word and others whom you saw more infrequently become warm, closing and caring friends who are really there for you, rain or shine.

That you know when something isn't working out... such as a job and no matter how many people tell you things might get better, you just know that it isn't working out. That if a job sounds too good to be true, and they lie to you about seeing 20 other people to interview and then offer you a second interview the next day and people warn you about that person, you can still be blind and accept it because it sounds sooooo good on paper.

That I should take more care of myself physically and love my body more instead of hating it with a vengeance as it becomes more rounded and mature... but I know it will take lots of work to harden the lines but that's what I want. My idea of sexy is more muscular and toned and I will get there.

That I probably can sing in a band one day because if I can stand up in front of several hundred people and take a funeral service, I can probably shape-shift as long as I strengthen my vocal ability and hone my stage presence – the raw goods are there, they just need more oomph.

That I must build in more fun to my life – of late I have had what my brother called a sense of humour bypass, especially on myself – and my fun side was always what kept me going through the dark hours.

That I need to dance more – alone in my lounge, along with friends and in my heart. That I hated being on a minimum wage working in a hotel that did not care for its staff one bit knowing that I could earn in one service what I earned in a whole week.

That things take so much time up here in the Highlands – friendship, work (and the subsequent self-respect that comes from doing something that is important, that you are good at, and that you love).

That you need a mighty load of resilience to cope with such a huge culture change and geographical distance. That you will find your friendship tribe but may have to cope with a few knockbacks.

That anxiety will follow you like an unwanted stalker wherever you are unless you learn to deal with it in your own way.

That you will miss dear family and friends like crazy at times like Christmas, New Year and birthdays and that never goes away. That your life will never be the same again. And that fact is terrifying and liberating at the same time.

A Moodscope member.

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Write that blog! Friday January 18, 2019

Ever attended an event where everyone brings food for a buffet? For someone as pathetically eager to be liked as I am, it is not just a case of setting down the plates, and walking away to enjoy the company. Oh dear me no. I quickly scan the other offerings, weighing up the competition. What possessed the man (surely it was a man?) who contributed a bag of raw sausages, is he mad?

I glance over. My Nutella brownies are going well, lots of lip-smacking. But it's an hour into the party, and no one has sampled my lemon drizzle. I should have sliced it; no one likes to be the first to cut a cake. I saunter over, slice it, move it closer to the booze. Last time I made this it was scoffed. I tell myself to get real. No one knows who made what. Even if they did, no one is going to come over "Was it you who made that horrible lemon cake? What were you thinking?". Some of my cakes have been enjoyed, recipes have been requested. We are here to talk and laugh together, no one is being graded, on the quality of the baking or the craik. I am among friends.

You can spot the tortuous analogy. A common comment on Moodscope is that someone thought of writing a blog, joining in, bringing something to the table. Something stopped them.

"Who would be interested in my life?" Me for a start, being incurably nosy.

"What if someone is critical or nasty in their response? ". Well, that is possible. You can accept their reaction, respond or ignore it. My favourite is have a go back, but that's just me. Caroline will not tolerate offensive posts.

"It's all very personal, I feel ashamed". Understandable of course. Your secrets are your own. You might be surprised at the number of Moodscopers who know a lot about guilt, shame. You could end up feeling better.

"I don't think I write very well". I promise you no one is checking your grammar, or creative writing skills. This is not the Booker Prize, or a scientific paper for Nature, seeking peer approval. Your Moodscope peer group is a motley crew indeed.

You can be certain that whatever you write will strike a chord with some. They may tell you so, and that feels great. You know those self-help books "Reading this will change your life", surely no one still buys that? I recall however, blogs that have affected me deeply, brought change. Some made me feel better about myself, some made me examine my own destructive behaviour. I know that everyone who writes has wanted to reach out, be heard, connect, as one imperfect fallible human soul to another, making it a bit easier. I am so grateful to them.

Just supposing you did a blog, what would you like to tell us, what would you like to hear back? You don't have to bake a Showstopper gateau, just a bite-sized nibble.

A Moodscope member.

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Strategies for (Temporary) Relief Thursday January 17, 2019

I was due to fly out to a friend in Europe last Friday.

On Wednesday she texted me that she had received some distressing news. Naturally, I offered to reschedule our weekend, but she said that she would prefer me still to go.

We had a wonderful time together. We explored her local medieval town; we ate local food; we met up with other friends; we cooked together, and we talked. And I spent some time waiting in her car while she visited the hospital and did what she had to do.

"Thank you for being with me," she said. "Without you I would have had nothing to do but be miserable."

This morning I texted another friend. "Are you well?"

"Unfortunately, no."

I would send flowers, but he too is in foreign parts. I was in the supermarket at the time and I sent a photo of the flower area. "Help me choose flowers to put in the vase you gave me," I said. We turned it into a game. We both love Shakespeare and together chose flowers based on those mentioned in his plays. Turns out, old Will loved his roses, lilies and violets. Roses and lilies were easy enough, but we had to cheat a bit on the violets!

It distracted him from his troubles for a while and made us both smile.

Yesterday was a bad day for me; one of those days where you just go to ground, hang on and endure. Yes, even with the medication, I still have those bad days.

So, I sought refuge in my favourite fantasy writer. In that realm of dragons, witches and sorcerers, I can escape from the depression for a while.

My younger daughter gets out her bike and cycles as fast and as far as she can; another friend throws herself into a frenzy of cleaning; yet another friend gets out the flour and eggs and starts to bake.

We all have bad times; whether those bad times are from the internal black dog of depression, or from sickness, or from the troubles of life. We need to have some tools we can use to distract ourselves and escape for a while.

For some of us, it is always spending time with friends; for some, playing games; making music; cooking. Others need physical activity: either running 5k or hoovering the entire house. For some, it is escaping into music or books.

Our troubles are still there. None of these escapes and distractions are solutions; because, so often, there are no solutions for our troubles.

But they give us temporary relief and that is priceless.

So, it's useful to know what works for you, because what works for one person will be useless to another.

What reliefs do you have in your toolbox? What does and will work for you? And, how can you ensure that those reliefs are readily to hand when you need them?

Because, sadly, need them you will.

A Moodscope member.

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My big day Wednesday January 16, 2019

I can smell salt water, although it doesn't really smell, does it? There's just a change in the air, barely tangible, that occurs when your body realises it's close to the sea. My body loves it, needs it. I smile, I can also see hibiscus flowers, my favourite, breathing in the sunlight. I exhale. My dreams are all coming true; today I marry you, my adult dream, we can be together properly after all this time, me and you (and God) against the world, then we get to dive with sharks, my childhood dream, me and you (and them) with no cage and no fear just respect, gratitude, awe... Oh of course there are so many other animals and places I'd love to see, so many books to read, so many pets to home and I can't wait, to do it all with you and achieve your dreams too - you just want to do everything! But these are my big ones and I feel so settled knowing I'm reaching them.

I wonder how you're feeling right now, exactly where you are, if you're ready, if we'll be running late like most of the time! I wonder if our mothers are coping with their hats and egos bustling for space, will their looks be approving today, just this once? Will the worry usually just behind the love in the eyes of our fathers be gone, just for today? No doubt the friends who made it here will be happy, if not relieved. I am so grateful to them, for their support of us both.

And we've really needed that support haven't we! Our ride hasn't been an easy one, and it won't be necessarily from now on, life is still going to happen! But the difference now is that we have learned to keep going, to function regardless somehow, to fight the bad thoughts not each other, to look forward instead of back, with more hope than apprehension... how I've fought to get to this day, GPs, counsellors, police, relatives, friends, colleagues, employees, all to understand, to help, to actually do something. And I've fought my issues and I've fought yours and to everyone who said I wasn't strong enough for you, I am. And to everyone who thought you couldn't do it, you can. You can win and you can enjoy life and you can achieve and you can work hard and you can be successful and you can make connections and you can keep relationships and you can value me and you can love me. Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, you can do it. And so can I, by your side. Always.

I can feel the sand between my toes. I'm grounded, my body is at peace. I'm exactly where I should be, finally. Surrounded by love.

I step into the light.

And I wake up.

This is what
Have been happening today.

My dream is still alive though.

Depression, with all its disbelief, PTSD with all its anxieties, the debilitating effects of any kind of abuse, they rage, but they cannot kill dreams... no matter how hard they try.

So I wait.
In hope.
And love.

A Moodscope member

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Time to stop Tuesday January 15, 2019

This year I decided for my mental health's sake to stop.

Yes dear friends I am no longer going to feel guilty regarding the state of my house: the hall/stairs/landing have only been decorated once in 27 years. All three bedrooms need decorating/painting. As do the two downstairs living rooms. The stress and guilt I've put myself under is, frankly, ridiculous! It is tiring enough surviving severe depression; OCD and anxiety. More than enough!

I no longer feel guilty for not holding down a 'proper' job for over ten years. Why? Because I worked from age 15 in Saturday jobs; leaving Sainsbury's on the Saturday as I began full time training for Dental Nursing the following Monday.

Brushes with one of the people at the Jobcentre has left a deep mark on my self esteem. Now, fortunately, I recognise that the person in question was a bully. He used to make me squirm in my chair, I felt so embarrassed and threatened by him that I dreaded going.

I have brought up my girls on my own for many years, so instead of putting myself down for not being 'good enough' I am going to practise self-care and patience with myself. Beating oneself up for being ill is pointless and damaging. No more!

Self respect and soul nourishing are the order of the day.


A Moodscope member

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Fixing the Light Monday January 14, 2019

How many moaning friends does it take to change a light bulb?


They'd rather suffer alone in the dark!

We all know friends who would rather moan than take action; friends who seem to find some comfort and reassurance in 'the devil they know'. "Better the devil you know than the devil you don't," meaning many people feel it better to put up with a difficult situation they already are in rather than risk a worse one by trying something new.

Here's a true story called, 'The Fridge of Darkness.'

We've got a fridge with a bold declaration on the front:

"Discover the new power LED..."

Sounds like it should be a Hollywood trailer! This new power LED is supposed to last 30x longer.

Ours didn't. Because it is supposed to last 30x longer, there are no instructions in the manual on how to change 'the new power LED'. This is not as easy as swopping out a good old-fashioned light bulb. It was so difficult that we put up with the devil we knew for over a year.

Then, I was stirred up to take action. Old wisdom echoed around my mind:

'Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness,' or, 'Better to fix the light than to curse the darkness.'

It wasn't easy. I broke part of the fixture trying to get it off. Several times, over a period of months, I tried, failed, and kept giving up. I even thought about how lovely it would be to have a new fridge. Having broken a part of it, I do understand the wisdom of 'better the devil you know...' because I'd made the situation worse, not better.

Inspiration is often a light-bulb moment, isn't it? Let's challenge the truth of 'better the devil we know...' I really wanted to fix this. So, I called on the help of two of my best friends: Patience and Perseverance who settled down to the task of removing the fixture. We finally did it!

We still had no certainty of final victory - in fact the fridge was now in a far worse condition. (Oh, and I left the electricity on - getting some shocking feedback! I now think I light up in the dark!)

Soon, we had the new part, and, after turning the electricity off this time, I managed to fit it... ish. (Shhhh, no one will ever know it's not in quite right!)

Power up, light on! Victory!

A simple light can add so much joy and pleasure to one's 'fridge-experience' – especially after such a long period of darkness!

We could have enjoyed a year more of light if I'd been more patient and persevered earlier. I quit too soon. Why? Because I enjoyed the darkness? No! I quit because it took too long and it was too difficult to fix. There was no guarantee that it could be fixed, and I doubted my own DIY abilities.

There are elements of our lives that we are 'suffering' because fixing them seems too difficult and will take too long, and they may not be fixable anyway. We have chosen to endure the devil we know rather than risk a worse situation under the devil we don't know.

I invite us all to call in Patience, and Perseverance, and Proactively to give fixing the problem one more bash... just turn the electricity off first, eh?

A Moodscope member

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Pretty Ugly Sunday January 13, 2019

I came across this poem recently and wanted to share it with you...

I'm very ugly
So don't try to convince me that
I am a very beautiful person
Because at the end of the day
I hate myself in every single way
And I'm not going to lie to myself by saying
There is beauty inside of me that matters
So rest assured I will remind myself
That I am a worthless, terrible person
And nothing you say will make me believe
I still deserve love
Because no matter what
I am not good enough to be loved
And I am in no position to believe that
Beauty does exist within me
Because whenever I look in the mirror I always think
Am I as ugly as people say?

(now read bottom up).

By Abdullah Shoaib

Clever isn't it...

The Moodscope team.

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Just bumbling along Saturday January 12, 2019

This week when meeting up with relatives I was asked how I was doing.

"Just bumbling along", I said. And reflecting on this I wondered why I described myself and my life like that. It seems to imply to me that I was wading through, just getting on with it and surviving somehow.

Then at the end of the week as I reflect back I have to challenge myself why I came out with such a mediocre response. In reality this week I have:

1. Met up with relatives and helped my Mum entertain relatives with three little boys running round the garden
2. Taken no 1 son to a party
3. Taken both kids to a craft workshop
4. Met one of my old school friends for dinner
5. Done a couple of days of work
6. Organised for teenage daughter to stay with a friend in London for the weekend and revelled in her "grownupness" and mixed emotions as I put her on the train to Euston
7. Supported a friend who had flown back to Canada as she buried her Mum
8. Went out with my partner for an evening of Yoruban music
9. Persuaded one of my daughter's friends who had taken an over dose to tell her parents so they could take her to hospital
10. Booked next summer's holiday

None of this seems particularly out of the ordinary. This is the every day stuff of my life. It's the constant juggling of demands from all directions. I haven't even mentioned the two dog walks a day!!

Maybe I'm not "bumbling along"....maybe actually I'm doing a bit better than I give myself credit for. I am lucky as I am pretty well at the moment but sometimes it still feels all encumbering. Life has so many demands.

Look back over your last week, what have you managed to do? In moments of illness that achievement might just be to get out of bed and have a shower. It might be going for a walk...

But also ask yourself what have you done well? Maybe we should be kinder on ourselves. Maybe we need a pat on the back because we are managing better than we think we are and those bumbling, just doing days are better than you think they are.

"You can't make yourself feel positive, but you can choose to act, and if you choose right it builds your confidence."

A Moodscope member.

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Feeling different for the first time Friday January 11, 2019

I loved words, writing, making up stories, so when I was 9 my favourite school subject was composition. Every week one child from my class was chosen to go the Principal's office for a special award.

Each work I would try hard to write a story that was good enough to get an award, but other girls were chosen and never me.

One day my teacher whispered that I needed to stay back while everyone else went to lunch. I assumed she must have really liked the story I had written earlier.

I remember sitting down my feet nervously kicking the floor waiting for my teacher to tell me how wonderful my story was. When she finally started to speak, I felt the glare of her words.

"Leah what do you think you were doing? You were asked to write about a day at the zoo and while the rest of the class wrote about sunshine, delicious picnics and beautiful animals eating grass, you wrote about lions and tigers escaping, families running to escape the wild animals and a thunderstorm."

I agreed and kept waiting for the praise that never came, instead my beloved teacher thought I was making fun of the topic. Honestly, I wanted to be different and imagine what would happen.

In the 1960s creativity and imagination were frowned upon for young girls in suburban Sydney.

I felt so misunderstood and I couldn't cry as I was so upset and disappointed. The teacher promised if I never used my imagination again, she would not tell my parents. I never did, and she kept her promise.

That was the day when I felt for the first time how different I was from my other classmates, I mean I already felt different. I was a big girl with dark brown hair and untidy and loud, so I stood out in a sea of neat blond hair blue eyed girls who never ever used their imagination.

For the rest of my school days I keep to writing about sunshine and all the animals were securely locked up. I thought being different would feel good and I would be rewarded but I learnt the hard way I would always be different, and I should try hard not to stand out.

When was the first time you felt different or were made to feel different? What was it like? Did you embrace the feeling?

A Moodscope member

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Light at the end of the tunnel Thursday January 10, 2019

The last eight months have been awful. I had a Mental Health crisis and was admitted to an Acute Psychiatric ward for the first time as a patient, I had been in the ward previously as a Health Professional.

I was very agitated pulling my hair out and having suicidal thoughts. My family couldn't cope with me and I was deemed as a risk to myself. So I either went quietly to the ward - if I refused I would have been sectioned. I was given sedating medication and I went quietly to the ward.

The first 48 hours in the ward are a bit blurry, but it was a dreadful experience and at times frightening as I felt so vulnerable. At times there were scenes from One flew over the Cuckoo's nest! At other times it was like the song from Bjork, Oh so quiet. One minute ssh ssh oh so quiet then bang oh so loud.

My experience on the ward opened my eyes to the various mental health conditions that leads people to being admitted. I met some really nice people in the ward - some were regulars.

When I was agitated I would ask for medication to calm me down (Lorazepam). I would be told to sit outside in the sun and use my meditation app, or to do some crafts!! I was literally pulling my hair out and would return to the nurse to say I was no better, only then I was given medication (reluctantly).

I spent 2 weeks on the ward, my mood had improved but no two days were the same. I was discharged with a diagnosis of Agitated Depression and Abnormal Grief (My mum passed away last year). When home again I was still agitated, lacking motivation and mood very low. I would have duvet days, wouldn't shower or eat, just popping diazepam. No amount of coaxing from my family would motivate me, they thought that I wasn't trying, I just couldn't function. I could not see light at the end of the tunnel.

I was appointed a Community Psychiatric Nurse. She has been so patient with me and links up with my Psychiatrist. I now have a diagnosis of Bi-Polar type 3. My father had Bi-polar but as a family we could predict his mood swings, with Type 3 my mood fluctuated rapidly and eraticaly. I have always kept a mood diary and used Moodscope daily. When I looked back on my moods I could see the variability of my moods. I take them with me to hospital reviews.

After a lot of trial and error my mood has stabilised with mood stabilising medication and my graph looks good and I am looking at going back to work. I use my Headspace App and Moodscope cards daily, go out for walks with my camera. I have also joined a Soul Choir which is fun - good for the soul and encourages social interaction.

It has been a tough year and I thought my life was over. I know that I am still recovering. To anyone that can relate to my experience don't give up, things will get better, but it does take time.

When going through my mum's things I found a lovely tapestry with the quote 'Time and the hour will see us through the roughest day'.

Kind regards

Netty B
A Moodscope member

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Your Candle. Wednesday January 9, 2019

"Why am I here?"

All of us must have asked this question at some point in our lives.

For those of us who suffer with depression, maybe we ask it more frequently than most – screaming and howling and whimpering it out to the empty universe.

"Why am I here?"

"What am I for?"

"What's My Life All About?"

And, "Does it even matter if I am here or not?"

Well, I think it does matter. I think we all have something we need to give to the universe; we have a reason to be here. We have a purpose.

Some time ago I was lucky enough to win a personal development course with Richard Jacobs. It was a course on finding your purpose in life. It was an excellent, if challenging course, and I would recommend highly his book, "The 7 Questions to Find Your Purpose". His book is based upon the idea that to be fulfilled we need to understand our meaning, and that every single one of us has our own unique meaning that expresses our individual core values, talents and abilities.

My purpose in life is to create beauty and generate joy.

I can't tell you how much that has simplified my life and made some decisions easier. In considering any new project, I just ask myself, does this create beauty? Does it generate joy?

My work fulfils these requirements absolutely. My card-making does. I try to create beauty with my words when I'm writing. I know my stories bring joy, because that's the kind of stories they are. I hope that my writings here at least bring comfort, if not absolute joy.

But – when I was asked recently if I would take on a role for a national charity working with bi-polar, I refused. It was a role I could perform well; a needed role; but it doesn't fit with who I am and who I need to be in the world.

Knowing that I'm here to create beauty and generate joy however, is not enough on its own.

A telephone conversation with a business coaching friend showed me this.

"But why?" she asked. "What happens when you work with your clients, so they see their own beauty and take joy in it?"

I thought. "When my clients are confident in their own beauty, they pass it on. They are more easily able to give the gift of themselves to the world..."

"And what happens then?"

And we drilled down. And down. And down. Until I was in tears and shaking with the power of it.

Because if all the world were filled with beauty and joy there would be harmony and peace in the world. And it would be a very different place.

It is better to light one candle than to sit and curse the darkness. Yes – we have all heard that. But, it's much easier to light and tend your candle when you know where it is and how its light shines.

Even in the darkest of depression, we have our purpose still. I don't know what your purpose is; I only know you have one. You have a wonderful light. Find it.

Then, let that light shine.

A Moodscope member.

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The Science bit Tuesday January 8, 2019

I spent a very pleasant twenty minutes recently watching a video of a woman folding towels neatly, while giving instructions how to do this in a very soft whisper. "For pity sake, get a life you sad woman" I hear you cry. Bear with me, this was done in the pursuit of scientific research.

This came about as a result of the daily tutorial with Spock. Every Christmas among his presents I get him subscriptions to scientific journals. It truly is the gift that keeps on giving, as every morning over breakfast he imparts bits of information to me. I am so lucky. After the last bit of muesli has been eaten, he lays down his spoon, puts his fingers into a steeple, and he's off. Over the years, odd bits of knowledge have lodged in my brain, I could very possibly blag a brief conversation on Einsteins's Theory, provided the other party knew damn all. Generally I pretend to listen, thinking lovely thoughts about puppies gambolling with unicorns, while he witters on about black holes, string theory, gravitational waves etc.

For once though, something he said brought me out of my reverie. "...and they are typically very introverted and extremely neurotic, now who does that remind me of? HaHaHa!"

Have you heard about a strange condition known as Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR)? No, me neither. It seems these folk experience a deeply enjoyable tingling sensation that starts at the back of the scalp, going down into the shoulders, when appropriate triggers arise. It is described as being a fuzzy, trance-like state. The nearest experience I can relate to is the head-tingling, dizzy, sick feeling that comes with migraine - far from pleasurable.

Those who have ASMR tend to be introverted, neurotic and unreliable. I am easily two of these, so I was keen to find out more. Investigators found the four most popular triggers are whispering, receiving personal attention, slow movement and light sharp sounds, like tapping fingernails. Brain scans suggest that neurological pathways linked to emotional bonding are involved. One scientist likens it to the effects of mutual grooming among great apes. Indeed, one woman said she first experienced ASMR when she was a child, and her mother would brush her long hair, while singing to her.

This is where the towels come in. The video I watched has had 2 million viewings. People with ASMR who were shown this responded very quickly, even to the extent that hearing a description of the content will set them off. Another video of a man doing oil painting apparently has the same effect, with millions of viewings.

So I settled down to watch the American lady folding towels. I clearly don't have ASMR (I would have known long ago if I had) there was no obvious altered state or feeling pure bliss, but I did find it simply lovely to watch and listen to, very pleasurable in a strange way. I am obviously not alone, as more of these videos are appearing. It is A Thing. I certainly intend watching it again, and, laugh all you like, I might even fold some towels at the same time. I had hypnotherapy years ago for dental phobia, and this reminded me of those sessions, key words repeated, a quiet, slightly sing-song delivery. It could be described as mildly meditational.

Maybe you have ASMR, or know someone who does? Apparently most people with the condition are very embarrassed, feel like freaks. If you get the chance to watch one of the videos, I would be most interested to know if you felt anything unusual happening to your nervous system. In the U.K. scientists at Sheffield University and Cambridge are carrying out research, and could be interested to meet you. At the very least, your linen cupboard will never have been so tidy.

A Moodscope member

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

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Making Sense of Mood-Boosting Monday January 7, 2019

[To watch a video of this post please follow this link:]

In one sense, everything you see is irresistibly powerful in stimulating a feeling.

In another sense, everything you hear is equally powerful in triggering a mood.

In yet another sense, everything you smell is particularly powerful in causing you to recall the memories of where else you have noticed that scent – and the way you felt about that experience.

Yes, you guessed it – the same is true for the senses of taste and touch.

Every sensory stimulus stimulates your memory recall – not just for the associated events themselves but also the way we felt – and still feel – about each experience.

Experience and emotion are inextricably linked in our memories – otherwise we couldn't make sense of fresh stimuli. We understand each new moment by referencing how we felt about such matters in the past.

Herein lies an enormous opportunity for mood-boosting. How so? Well, you and I know what sights, images, movies, and pictures seem to make us feel good, don't we? If I watch, "Mama Mia!" I can pretty much guarantee I'm going to feel good. You've got a list of movies that will do that kind service for you too, I'm sure.

Whenever the scent of freshly mown grass reaches me, I feel refreshed and reinvigorated.

The sound of laughter works its mood-boosting magic deep down in my soul.

I love the texture on the bark of Prunus Serrula Tibetica – the Tibetan Cherry Tree. It is the smoothest, silkiest bark I've ever touched. In turn, the bark of this Cherry Tree reminds me of rubbing plasticine on the Formica table-tops at infant school and then putting the smooth surface to my lips. Does applying lipstick do that for some of us?

...and, finally, for me, the taste of crispy salmon sushi from Waitrose transports my taste buds into an elevated state of avocado-enhanced-consciousness!

Here's the opportunity. Three of my five mood-boosting sensory experiences are within my ability to deliberately seek out and enjoy. The grass, I may need to wait for! Laughter, I'm pretty sure I can find too. This means that I could purposefully elevate my mood this season with very little effort. Frankly, the effort to seek out these stimuli would be pleasant in and of itself.

I don't have to wait to see where my moods take me – I can switch them on for myself.

My warm invitation to you all today is to share one example of each sensory stimulus that lifts your spirit. One example of something you see, one of something you listen to, one scent, something you can touch, and one thing you taste that works its magic on you.

My belief is that we will piggy-back on your own delight when we imagine for ourselves what it would be like to see, hear, smell, taste, and touch the same things you.

Give yourself the gift of a mood-boost (or five) and share that gift freely with us!

A Moodscope member.

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

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Steps to take to manage bipolar episodes Sunday January 6, 2019

These are steps that I take when stressful events lead me from a 'normal/balanced' level to a more 'manic' state, due to my bipolar illness. Some of these events have been a parent's major injury, a close friend who has to move out of the USA due to his national origin, a sibling's divorce etc.

What I do:

1) Contact doctors/parent - I contact my psychologist, psychiatrist, my parents and few confidents (in and out of my immediate family circle) to let them know an event is impacting me emotionally.

2) Meds - Have back-up meds to take right away to ensure 8h of Sleep. Sleep is crucial the first night when I learn about the event, since it really helps prevent me from going into a manic state.

3) Support System - I contact a 'Listener', a trusted friend or family member who will listen, calm me down and support me.

4) Slow Down - I also limit social media ie facebook, watching the news on the TV... I usually take a day off from work (the day after I find out about the stressful event) since I do not want to act inappropriately at work while in a potential manic state. I do soothing activities: read a book, do a puzzle, listen to calm music, meditation tapes and eventually go back to yoga class...

What steps do you take to lower your manic state back to a normal/balanced state?

A Moodscope member.

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

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The spiritual side of life... Saturday January 5, 2019

Hi Moodscopers,

Happy New Year to all of you.

We have talked long enough about our physical and mental adversities, but I should like to place before you my opinion, with which you may or may not agree.

But to all sceptics, please do not comment until you have given this at least a 6 month trial.

I'm not asking you to agree, but just to try - nothing ventured, nothing gained. What can you possibly lose?

'The Spirit' of happiness and inner peace, is atttracted to those who will always do what is right in thought, word, and deed, in every place and in all situations.

'The Spirit' cannot withdraw without your permission...

That permission is given when we try to cheat, steal, are unkind, gossip or backchat, maim, kill or any other negative trait directly oppossed to our love for one another... We are all equal, in this earthly life.

We will know when 'The Spirit' has left us, no matter our circumstances, we'll feel bereft, alone, lonely, depressed, frustrated and angry, anxious, feeling unworthy of all that surrounds us each day.

But if we focus upon others in need, 'The Spirit' will return and be attracted back to those whose hearts are trained to look 'out of the box'.

Any very small, act of kindness, to family, friends or strangers will encourage this uplifting spirit into our hearts and minds... in so doing we will be 'lost' in the service of our fellow man, and our troubles will become 'diluted' as we discover that our adversities are very small compared to those around us...

We will also find through this Spiritual feeling answers to all our own adversities, trials and tribulations.

We will become aware of others and what is more we will attract likeminded folk who'll want to be near a happy countenance and a postive uplifting person that we may become.

Please do not dismiss this blog, it worked for me - I have counselled others and have witnessed the changes that have taken place before my eyes...

The choice is yours to remain, and do nothing, or to give it your best...

There is only one directive that I can give you, and that is to give... and not to expect anything in return...

You may take this blog as an atheist, a spiritualist, or any religious connotation...

Love to you all, may this be the start of a new life for you, and a new Chapter on your journey...


A Moodscope member.

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Our door's always open, please [don't] come in... Friday January 4, 2019

So by the time you read this the 'special' days will have been and gone... Not that there won't be more special days in the year to come but you know the one's I'm talking about.

First there's the build up to Christmas; lots to organise to make it all perfect (I did choose the word perfect with irony by the way), then the day itself, followed by my birthday then a few days until the big welcoming of the New Year.

Now even though I enjoy a lot of it (the laughs me and my hubby share) there are parts I really struggle with; mainly, having people round. My Mum was a fabulous host, the sort who welcomed everyone and was always genuinely happy to have people drop in on her - I don't possess that talent (or should that be desire?) I really want to announce to the world and his wife that our door is always open and there will always be a warm drink and a comfy chair, however when it comes down to it I'd prefer to keep that door firmly locked... But here's my problem, and I'd appreciate your help with it Dear Moodscopers, although I get terribly stressed even at the thought of visitors (a very dear friend told me she'd be popping in on Christmas Eve – she knows me well enough to know I needed prior 'warning' and even that got me in a pickle) ...I become deflated when no one comes or doesn't make contact also. I can't have it both ways, I know that, but I don't know how to reconcile the warring duo.

My other slight problem is that my hubby loves having people round and I know he would love for us to have more friends over or for us to go to them (yep, I find going to other people's homes too much too...) Hell on reading this back I wonder why on earth my OH stays haha...

Anyway, I'm hoping that now the holiday season is over it'll get easier. I miss the sparkle and freedom of the season and feel quite flat once it's finished, yet I do wonder if it's that very unpredictability and expectation that get me so on edge?

I'd be really interested on hearing your thoughts, and looking forward to any pearls of wisdom that could see our door a little more ajar even if not fully thrown open?

As a postscript I have realised on writing this that my main problem possibly stems from whether I am 'enough' - am I good enough company? is the place tidy enough? will it all go well and without a hitch? will people leave feeling happy?

Strange fears for one who works hard to live in the moment and practise mindfulness ...this is a hurdle I just need a hand to get over.

Thanks in advance

Rosemary xxx
A Moodscope member.

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

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May your New Year be a happy one Thursday January 3, 2019

We know for many, it may be far from it at the moment, but that's what we hope it will be for you.

We would just like to say that during the last year we have been inspired by so many of the posts our members have written for the blog and blown away by the comments - all the fantastic support you have given each other - considering most of you are not in a great place, it's something you should be really proud of. We now have a fantastic Moodscope community thanks to you.

We'd like to thank everyone who has written for Moodscope and we are always very happy to receive contributions, so if you've been thinking of writing a post, now is the time. Everyone has said that it's so rewarding when they see all the comments they get.

Here at Moodscope we are working hard on developing the App that so many of you made possible by contributing to our Crowdfunding Campaign. Again, we'd like to thank everyone who contributed. Hopefully, it won't be long until we can launch it and make Moodscope truly accessible to all.

Good luck for 2019, may it be a good year for you.

Best wishes.

Caroline and Adrian
The Moodscope Team.

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

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Do What Brings You Joy! Wednesday January 2, 2019

I frequently embarrass my children in church.

Not through any overt religious fervour, but because I sing.

I love to sing, and I love the hymns, but my children nudge me in the ribs, hard. "Don't sing so loudly!" they hiss.

After the service other people from the congregation will say, "Oh, thank you for singing. It's always so nice to hear your beautiful voice." Strangers will approach me and compliment my singing. And that's when it gets embarrassing for me.

You see, I know my singing voice really isn't that great. Not like my sister's.

You see, although my sister and I were both given nice voices at birth, she has really worked on hers. She has taken lessons since her teenage years; she has sought out singing opportunities. She sings with top quality choirs: choirs who make recordings. She's not a professional, but she is a top rate amateur.

I was chatting with her the other day. She sent me for Christmas a CD her choir has made; a recording of funeral hymns. It is a beautiful CD. I would love to sing with a choir of that quality, but I am nowhere good enough. If I were to invest in lessons and practice, then maybe I could be. But there's never enough time.

My sister is very wise sometimes.

"Look at it this way," she said. "We both write, but you are far better at writing than I. Because you work at it. You write every day, just as I sing every day. You have taken the time to learn your craft. You read just so you can write better.

"We both write and we both sing, but the difference between us is that your writing is the thing that gives you most joy in your life. Singing is the thing which gives me most joy. In the end, you have to choose between what is nice to do and what is essential for your soul."

She is right.

The world is full of opportunities and we cannot take advantage of them all.

My friend Richard loves languages. He spends time learning them and speaking them. For Raz, it is his work in Theoretical Physics. He did not work on Christmas Day, but Boxing Day – he was right back to his research. It feeds his soul and gives him joy.

There are many things in the world which are enjoyable, but only a few which give us real joy. Once we have found what brings us that delight, we should do more of it.

Sometimes we need to really think about what it is that is our special thing; what it is that is really important; but once we have found it, then we have direction and focus.

It may not be what we can do for a living, but it can be who we are.

Make 2019, if you are able, your year for doing what brings you most joy.

A Moodscope member.

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

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