The Moodscope Blog

4

December

Sh*t happens!

Saturday December 4, 2021


Sometimes life gives you a lemon. As a depressive I have to see if I am seeing things through a negative lens or whether things are really rubbish.

Today was really awful.  A colleague out of the blue committed suicide last Friday, my work involved supporting someone who had been physically abused by her husband and I listened to sad stories all day.Understandably the organisation I work for is shocked to the core…and I am not a counsellor.

What shall I do? I came home after a ten hour day and walked the dog, crying silently and looking at the first Christmas decorations to arrive on the estate I live on. 

I made dinner and rung friends. I ate a healthy supper. I am watching insignificant stuff on TV. The dog is at my feet and I will go to bed early-ish.

I cannot control the awful stuff that has happened but I can do some stuff to lessen the load. 

How do you cope when bad news overwhelms the good?

BrumMum
A Moodscope member.

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


3

December

What is your earliest memory?

Friday December 3, 2021


Most people have memories from the age about three, with some having a memory from the age of 2 years and a few under 18 months.

For me I find it hard to distinguish between a real memory or a memory from a photograph I have viewed many times or a story I have heard a thousand times. I suppose, does it matter how we got the memory?

People recall different events, some happy, some disturbing, sometimes routine like going to school, playing, or eating. Memories can be visual or include one or more of the senses. I can recall the smell of my grandma cooking biscuits and it was such a welcoming smell. I wonder what do our first memories tell us about ourselves or about our childhood?
 
Some people have a clear first or early memory, or you may be like me and have a few very quick videos in your mind. One of mine is when I am about three and am wearing a cotton dress with a bright red cherry print, and the dress is very tight as I was a cubby child and being the only girl, my mum insisted on putting me in dresses.

I would like to read your first, and early or any memory from your childhood that you remember clearly. It may be visual or involve noise, smells, touch, or taste. Please add the photo album of childhood memories.

Leah   
A Moodscope member.

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


2

December

The Sound of Silence

Thursday December 2, 2021


Being a child of the 1960’s, I remember Simon and Garfunkel’s original song ‘The Sound of Silence’ well. It was a bit controlled for me but I loved the idea. I also heard the recent Distressed version which, whilst out of character for that band, has at its core an extraordinary (to me) vocal. The original was based on story telling but the recent one based on anger. I can hear this anger throughout.

The title of the song is one I have a great empathy for. I love silence and at times can’t get enough of it. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy music in all its glory but silence is at times so desperate a need. Not the clinical silence of an anechoic chamber but the natural silence of just … nothing.

Like most, I rely on my batphone for so much these days. Diary, photographs, email, news, messaging, entertainment, even banking. It’s almost refreshing to use it for a telephone call. Certainly unusual.

But all this, comes at a price. I can’t get away. The omniscience of the telephone is something that I don’t dislike but I do get worried by. There are times that I want or need to be alone, within my own head and without anyone disturbing me.

There aren’t many places that you can find that now. Cars have radios and telephone link ups, outside walks are so busy. I have to look far and wide for this.

I have two precious spots that I need where I can lose myself. One is when I’m riding my motorcycle. I have found that I can’t ride angry, the bike needs too much work. I get almost clinical in my riding but in that I find some form of peace. I come back refreshed and happier.

The other place I go, less frequently, is to sea. I enjoy big boat sailing. I find the sensations extraordinary and the peace so welcoming.

German philosopher poet Rainer Maria Rilke says it so well. “When anxious, uneasy and bad thoughts come, I go to the sea, and the sea drowns them out with its great wide sounds, cleanses me with its noise and imposes a rhythm upon everything in me that is bewildered and confused.”

I return from visits to the sea calmer, more focused and more comfortable in my own skin. Unfortunately it doesn’t last – the noise gets to me again, I pick up my phone and am lost to society.

I sometimes wish I had been born in a quieter time, although some of the wonders of modern life such as good dentistry I would want to retain.

I know I can’t have this quieter time but I still yearn for silence. Just once in a while.
 
 
Alex
A Moodscope member.

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


1

December

Good Enough – Part Two

Wednesday December 1, 2021


Back in the 1960s, my aunt was dating the son of the local Squire. His mother took her to one side and told her she must not be thinking of marriage as she was not suitable. He had lands and a (minor) title; she, as the daughter of a yeoman farmer, was not good enough for him.

Today my family tell this tale with rueful amusement, but I can imagine the indignation and hurt those words must have caused. Nobody wants to be told they are not good enough.

It must be acknowledged, however, that for mothers, no woman is ever good enough for her son. I have a sneaky feeling my own mother-in-law, even after twenty-two years, still looks me askance; I am still not good enough for her little boy.

It’s not just relationships; we can be told we’re not good enough in other areas. As some of you know, I spent fifteen years as an accountant. I don’t know how I ever thought accountancy was for me: I cannot add up a column of figures and get the same answer twice, but I managed to qualify as a chartered accountant and to work my way up to assistant finance director of a multi-million-pound organisation.

I really wasn’t “good enough” to do that job effectively and eventually I was asked to resign. My finance director did it so beautifully I left feeling empowered and hopeful. I will always be grateful to her and will always remember her words.

“Mary,” she said. “You’re a lovely person. You work so hard. You have lots of skills and talents. They’re not, however, the skills and talents you need to do this job. You don’t just need to leave this role; you need to find another career in which you can excel.”

After fifteen years of struggling with accountancy, wondering why I just wasn’t good enough, no matter how hard I tried, I was given this revelation: accountancy and I just did not fit together: round peg; square hole.

The American Statute of Independence starts with these words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” Equal, but not the same. Each of us has different abilities, different talents, different strengths and different weaknesses.

With the shortage of workers in this country right now: it seems everyone is recruiting; I have been wondering if I should help the economy and get a part-time job. My business as an Image Consultant and Personal Stylist does not need to take up all my time and the extra money would be welcome. My buddy group have stamped firmly on this idea, pointing out that my health situation does not allow me to work more than I do now. They point out that my writing here and the transformation process I offer to my clients is contribution enough.

We are always good enough; we just need to find where we fit and are appreciated.

(And, more on “Enough” next week.)

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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


30

November


I suffered from bouts of depression from my early teens to my early thirties.

Usually they were triggered by some problem which seemed serious at the time – being dumped by a girlfriend, a string of rejections for jobs I applied for, a bout of bad health - but sometimes they were just a product of disappointment, especially in my “career” (series of jobs would be more accurate) and personal relationships. It wasn’t just my inability to have a steady relationship with a girlfriend, but also that I lacked friends who shared my interests and outlook…

My bad depressions, however, rarely lasted all that long –  a few weeks to a couple of months max - and even during these periods, I usually enjoyed some things, like sport and reading. But I never sought any treatment, unless you include drinking far too much alcohol. I periodically got some useless advice from friends and family; “You just need to change job”, “Find a wife and have kids” or “Chuck it all in and travel round the world” being prime examples.
 
My thirties and early forties were much happier times. I mostly did pretty well at work, found a new group of friends with whom I shared many interests and values, had a few steady girlfriends and eventually lived with one of them. My diary was full; I had a nice house and car, went on great holidays and felt positive about the future. I though my days of depression were behind me. I was wrong.
 
Suddenly, everything changed for the worse. I’d had difficult problems for a while –a very sick elderly mother, a high-stress house move and a high-stress job in a failing company – but I was just about coping until one day the “straw that broke the camel’s back” hit me. It may seem trivial: one of my staff gave in his notice. He was the star of my otherwise unimpressive team, he made it clear that he was jumping a sinking ship. I went crashing downhill and stayed there. I was prescribed a lot of antidepressants over the next few years, and did 10 weeks or so of psychotherapy. The former helped a bit, the latter made me worse. I read a few self-help books but found little to help me.  
 
After more than two dark years, during which I became ever more reliant on alcohol and “sugar rush” foods, things at work improved (entirely by chance), the house move problems receded into the past  and I started enjoying life again, and had about 7 good years -  until another deadly combination serious work problems and the final illnesses of two of my family sent me crashing down again. This time, I had some CBT, and found a way forward. But, if you are prone to depression, I don’t think you’re ever really “cured” of it. I’ve still had depressive bouts over the last decade, but I’ve learned to manage and mitigate depression far better.

Oldie but Goldie
A Moodscope member.

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


29

November

Touching

Monday November 29, 2021


‘Touching’ is a wonderful term that is equally at home describing our emotional state (as in, “I found that touching,”) or being used to describe the physical act of touching something. I hope that for you, as is the case for me, the two seem to be inextricably connected. Often, touch is transformational.

I was enthusiastically ‘mugged’ by a Golden Labrador today and was utterly uplifted by the experience. Yes, I was ‘touched’ emotionally by physical contact with this magnificent being. Anima in the animal.

Touch is important to me. How important Is it to you?

You may be about to have some of your gift list requirements fulfilled. Recently, I purchased a “Fidget Cube” for a friend who seems to be frequently in a highly stressed state. When one is agitated, it’s comforting to have something to do with one’s fingers!

She loved the Fidget Cube. It has five different ‘fidget’ options:
· A two-way switch
· Five dots that can be pressed
· A joystick disc that seems to have four positions
· A rotating dial with a raised portion to give leverage
· A fascinating metal bauble with three rotating cogs above it

The sixth side is static – immovable – calm – like a pause in the chaos.

This thing is amazingly tactile. If you have a high sensory preference for kinaesthetic (touch) stimulation, I think it’s a ‘must have’ gift. I was not sure where I had put the one I went on to buy for myself, so I was feeling a bit stressed, and surprised that this was the case! You may well imagine my relief when I found it! It’s become a comfort.

What textures and physical touch experiences bring you comfort?

As an example to get you sharing, a recent new development in ongoing digestive issues I’ve had since birth has brought me to a fresh appreciation of the efficacy of a well-placed hot-water bottle. Warmth strategically applied!

Let’s finish with a thought about imagination + touch.

This ‘Fidget Cube’ has potential beyond the maker’s intended purpose. I think it’s a mindfulness cube!

I’m now using it like this:

· The two-way switch becomes a reminder to ‘break-state’ – to switch from one focus to another and to escape from an unresourceful state
· The five dots that can be pressed become the triggers to focus on one sense after another to be fully immersed in an experience – to see the brightness of the snow, to hear the way snow dulls all sonic signals, to feel the crunch and the cold, to taste the purity of a snowflake on the tongue, and to enjoy the smell of the rarefied air…

There’s more for me but I sincerely believe that it is far better for you to create your own meanings for such a tool.

Could the MoodCube become a new hit for Moodscope?

Whatever you take from this blog, I hope you will choose a positive tactile-emotive experience today, and I also hope you’ll share your own magic moments when it comes to touch.

Lex
A Moodscope member.


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


28

November

I hear hurricanes a-blowin 

Sunday November 28, 2021


Storm Arwen is battering my home and garden tonight, as I write. And I should say the entire UK, not just me!  It’s feeling a little arctic out there too. 

Anxiety can take over my bones at these times. It goes back to being 8 months pregnant, alone, my car stopped driving as I was caught in a snowstorm, found myself stranded, and walked home. For some reason it has left me a little on alert every time there is even a whisper of a winter storm. (The thing is it wasn’t that bad, and it was my own fault - I was hugely ill prepared, always been a slow learner…)

Back to tonight. My eldest child is away at Uni and I have comfort that she is largely able to care for herself, has good people in her life and would ask for help if she needs. My other two children are at home. The boiler has just been repaired. We have a couple of candles. The fridge is full.  Devices are fully charged. And, for a change, I feel I can, to some extent, surrender to the storm. Weather it. Feel it, watch it, and meet it.  
 
Settle down, back into your chair anxiety. You are not needed. 
 
May your day have wind only from lunch. 
 
Love from

The room above the garage 
A Moodscope member.

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


27

November

Smile

Saturday November 27, 2021


Please sing along:

Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through for you

That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile.

(Nat King Cole accompanied by Nelson Riddle)

The theme of today’s post sung by my mother’s favourite male singer, way back in 1954.

It would not top the pop charts today but the theme is still relevant.

Is it good to smile?
Is it good to receive a smile?
How does it feel to smile?
What makes us smile?

Four smiley questions; let’s see if we can find some smiley answers.

I think my recent social experience might help.
For several years my wife and I served on the committee of our village social club. Because of my mental health we resigned our positions and due also to Covid did not attend any meetings for nearly 2 years.

When we attended a general meeting a few weeks ago I felt quite emotional entering the meeting hall. There were around 60 people present most of whom I recognised and some I knew quite well. I started to circulate a little and each person I spoke to gave me a gift. That gift was their smile. I felt a warm feeling inside, it made my day! It was like walking round a large room and switching on electric lights one by one.

I hope they enjoyed my smile I gave in return.

Making a good connection with someone is not the only time we smile. We can look at an inanimate object and smile if we feel pleasure. We can feel satisfaction from a job well done and smile at completion. We can smile in amusement.

I was interested to find that smiling muscles connect directly with the nervous system and the brain. So smiling can definitely improve your mood.

The saying goes “Smile and the whole world smiles with you”. Smiling is certainly contagious. If someone smiles at you there is a good chance you will smile back at them.

As well as being good for our health, smiling makes us look more attractive. Just look in the mirror!

The American physician and philosopher Debasish Mridha said “ The most beautiful make up is the reflection of kindness from a smiling face”.

What makes you smile?

Teg
A Moodscope member.

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


26

November


When I was a young mother doing unpaid work looking after my children, I was doing a worthwhile job bringing up my children but the message I got from the wider society and even my husband was different. I was made to feel  that as my work was unpaid it was not important, and I would see people’s eyes glaze over when I said I was a mum.

When I had my bookshop, I measured my value by the fact I owned and managed my shop. It was my whole life. When I no longer had the shop I felt the loss dearly, not just for all the beautiful books that were destroyed but because I felt I no longer had a purpose, a value, a worth. I invested so much emotion into being a bookseller I forgot who I was as a person. I still say when people ask me what do I do, I say I used to own a bookshop.

A friend of mine has a successful career but when she goes home at Christmas, she feels her self-worth is devalued by her family as she has no children or a husband. This makes family functions awkward.

Do you think when we measure our self-worth by another’s expectation it can have an impact on our life?

Does it change over the years?

How does one get self worth from oneself without depending on others approval?

I would like to hear your stories positive and not so positive about what determines your self-worth.

Leah
A Moodscope member.

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


25

November

Planet Thanksgiving

Thursday November 25, 2021


If you read Moodscope from, “across the pond,” you’ll want to join me in emphasising the positive feelings generated, Nationwide, by an event we Americans celebrate this week.

Our round Planet, our Globe, is well lit when viewed from space. Any visitors would see where the industrial development is strongest with a mere glimpse of their alien eyes. But what if these visitors were empathetic? Let’s imagine they were an empathetic race called the Emotians. Exploring the Galaxy, searching for intelligent Life, they would be able to ‘read’ the vibe of each populated planet.

If they visited this Thursday, they’d notice a whole continent (almost) lit up by “Thanksgiving” and “Gratitude”. What if this very American holiday were to be celebrated all over the Globe? (After all, the commercial aspect of the day after Thanksgiving seems to be catching on!) Let’s light up the Planet with the vibe of gratitude; let’s make it Planet Thanksgiving when seen from Space.

Thus, I suggest that all our members consider the positive impact of hosting their own Thanksgiving Dinner this Thursday. You will each have your own traditions but we can all unite in one activity, to press ‘pause’ and consider what we are grateful in spite of two lean years. Raise a glass to Moodscope too – to all our Members who make the Scope, The Buddy System, and the Blog Community such an important Lifeline for so many.

Oh, and to assert the pre-USA celebration of Thanksgiving, similar celebration days were held on what is now US soil by the Spanish, and by the French in the 16th Century. Thus, its Internationality predates what some would see as a purely American Feast Day.

We have some wonderful traditions including charitable giving, with organisations such as The Salvation Army having a reputation for dishing up delights across the States.

Whatever you choose to do, I shall be lifting a glass to you all as we, as a family, take turns to give thanks for specific blessings around the table.

Cheers! (Isn’t that what the British like to say?)

Theo
A Moodscope member.

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


24

November

Good Enough

Wednesday November 24, 2021


Hands up all the perfectionists!

No, no; far too many of you to count; put your hands down again. Right: hands up those of you who are not perfectionists. Oh, that’s easier. Let me see, nine, ten, eleven – and one right at the back, that’s the round dozen. This blog is not aimed at you, although you may read it and preen yourself a little.

So, hello everyone. My name’s Mary and I’m a perfectionist.

When I was younger, I used to think this trait was a strength. I can bring what one of my Moodscope Buddies calls “Ferocious Focus” to tasks; I pay attention to minute details; I don’t just want to get things right; I want them perfect. One of the reasons I love cardmaking and papercraft is the precision required to create the perfect card. The human eye can detect a split millimetre of misalignment. Each card is small in itself – a discrete piece of craftsmanship – and so I can bring my desire for perfection to each one. And, yes, I have learned now to accept the occasional mistake and, more importantly, how to hide that mistake so it becomes a “happy accident.”

In the rest of life, perfectionism is a hinderance. You may have heard the phrase, “Perfect is the enemy of good,” and this is very true. Perfectionism often means tasks are not even started. Perfectionism leads to procrastination, despair and just giving up.

In my last bout of depression, I wailed to my buddies about how dirty my house was, as I had no energy for cleaning. One of them promptly popped round on his motorbike to lend me the robotic vacuum cleaner he and his wife had but rarely used. My husband was horrified: it didn’t do a proper job! He could do a far more thorough clean in half the time! The point was, however, he did not have the time to do that proper job, and I did not have the energy. The sweet little robotic vacuum cleaner just trundled around, bumping gently into things and humming to itself and, at the end of an hour or so, the floors were noticeably cleaner. No – they were not perfectly clean, but they were a lot better than they had been.

Most of you will also have heard of the Pareto Principle, otherwise known as the 80/20 Rule. This holds that you get 80% of your output for 20% of your input. I find this is true with my blogs here. I write them in twenty minutes or so. Then, if I am not disciplined, I will take another hour at least, proof-reading, changing the odd word or phrase, changing it back to the original and finally taking it out altogether. While it’s a matter of pride that Caroline rarely needs to edit my blogs (she does sometimes), I’ve learned to just let the words be, rather than agonising over every little comma and semicolon.

Good enough really is good enough.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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


23

November

Controlling what goes in

Tuesday November 23, 2021


One of the things that has kept my Depression going over the years, I believe, is negative things entering my body, mind and life; whether that be negative messages or stimuli, negative energy from others, harmful vices, junk food. So I have tried to be more conscious of what I let into my life, and I have noticed a positive change in myself.

I try to value my health, time, and attention. I try to remember that humans are sensitive to what is going on around them, even on a subconscious level – we are not robots who can just power through any situation, or experience unpleasant things indefinitely without feeling some aftereffects.

A boat doesn’t sink because of the water around it, it sinks because of the water it lets in. And in the past, I was drowning under the weight of poor habits and harmful influences. I was letting too much bad stuff in.

Now, I avoid excessive screen time, especially at night, which helps my sleep. I deleted my social media and stopped checking the news, which has made me feel calmer, more empathetic towards others, and a little more hopeful about the world. I have stopped watching Youtube as much, or mindless gaming for hours at a time, and instead I read positive books, spend more time outside, write letters. And I made the choice to put more healthy, natural ingredients into my body where possible. Eating healthier has improved my mood somewhat. It’s a massive change to my old pizza, white bread, chocolate and cookie diet.

Of course, I can’t avoid all negatives. We have to accept the ups and downs of life. But I have found that being selective, putting up healthy boundaries, and making positive choices to do things that nourish me has all been one part of my recovery process.

What positive influences do you want to introduce into your life?

Naomi
A Moodscope member.

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


22

November

More blog posts please!

Monday November 22, 2021


As our resident Monday writer is absent today, we thought we’d use it to try and encourage others to write a post.

All our daily blog posts are written by our members because we believe you are the best people to give advice and help by sharing your experiences with other members. All those who have submitted blog posts previously have said how lovely it is getting feedback from other members on the site.

If you have a story to tell, some advice to give or an experience to share, let us know. Please send your blog post to support@moodscope.com">support@moodscope.com. We don't have many rules, but we do ask that your blog is 500 words or less and we prefer to steer clear of politics and religion!

If you have an idea and are not sure whether it's suitable, just ask us to take a look and we'll let you know. All contributions will be reviewed and may be edited if necessary before publishing.

We'll let you know when we're sending your blog out so that you can reply to member's comments if you wish.

Posts on the Moodscope blog are visible to non-members but all comments are only seen by Moodscope members so please feel confident to join in knowing that your thoughts will stay within the Moodscope community.

Also please be aware of our Terms and Conditions: 'except to the extent necessary to access and use the Website in accordance with these Terms and Conditions, no part of the Website is copied, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means to any third party without the written permission of Moodscope.'

Kind regards.

Caroline Ashcroft
The Moodscope Team

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


21

November

Tiny Dancer 

Sunday November 21, 2021


As I write, a small tree in my back garden is weeping her leaves to the ground. I’m not sure how I know she is a she (and how I know my favourite ‘half a tree’ is a he) but it seems to be clear so I’ll run with that.  

She is, with no exaggeration, neon orange. Luminous. Radiant. Glowing. On fire. She reminds me of everything I am not feeling. And yet, I can take comfort there because I know her cyclical life is my accompanist and that I can follow her lead and emulate her steps in time.  

And when she goes quiet to take her rest, I’ll know that it’s ok to be quiet. I’ll know that, despite life demanding more than I sometimes have, it is ok to feel bare and to not feel like dancing. Then I’ll wait for her. And I’ll learn to dance all over again.  

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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


20

November

Past, Present and Future

Saturday November 20, 2021


We don’t know much about each other but I am sure we have three things in common. These are:

A Past
A Present
A Future

Obviously mine will be different to yours but all will be a mixture of good and bad things. Let’s consider each one in turn.

The Past

Our mind can produce thoughts from the past because the memory part of the brain is so good. I see it as a good thing to have the ability to dwell on enjoyable events from your past. Relaxing with a bit of nostalgia can be a very pleasant experience. This can be alone or socially with others.

On the other hand dwelling too much on bad things from the past can have a negative effect on our mood.

So thinking about our past can either improve or worsen our moods.

The Present

It is important to make time to enjoy the here and now. In modern terms this is called Mindfulness. To think only of what is happening now and thus eliminate thoughts relating to the past and future. If we use our senses it is not difficult to stay in the present. Examples:

Tasting good food with friends/family
Listening to music
Watching or playing games.

All these involve being ‘in the moment’. We can totally focus on what is happening to the exclusion of any other thoughts.

The practice of meditation uses this technique and it enhances harmony. It is based on the belief that when you are calm and relaxed it always leads to harmony.

However we cannot live in the moment all the time. We do need to think about the past and the future sometimes.

The Future

If we look forward we can anticipate good things happening. All Moodscopers can look forward to reading the daily post and making a comment if they so wish. Anticipation can lead to excitement sometimes. For example, planning family social events or special holidays. It helps if we have both short and long term events to look forward to.

The opposite of this positivity is anxiety. It is easy to become anxious about a future event. Continuous worry is not good for body or mind. Expressing the concern in writing or discussing it with someone can help.

Summary

For lifting our mood I suggest we need to have a mixture of future, present and future thoughts in our minds at different times. Getting the right balance between the three is an individual matter and worth some consideration.

We need not spend too much time thinking of the bad aspects. Although even this is beneficial if we can arrive at a state of acceptance relating to a past or possibly future event.

In simple terms Thomas S Monson said:

The past is behind - learn from it
The present is here - live it
The future is ahead - prepare for it.

What do you think?

Teg
A Moodscope member.

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


19

November


For many years I pitied myself so much I did not need any more pity from others.

When I was first diagnosed with manic depression, as bipolar was called in the 1970s, there was extraordinarily little information or understanding till the late 1990s. Mostly people would say I was too young or too fat to be depressed.

When people used to say to me, “You poor thing.” when I had three children and was trying to cope with my mood swings, I agreed with them as I felt so sorry for myself. The thing is I did not need to be reminded how difficult I found life.

A friend made me a casserole and told me she did not understand depression but delivered once a week for a month a lovely home cooked casserole. This helped me much more than her saying I am sorry you feel so down.

The definitions of pity and compassion are similar, but the words are different. Pity means labelling someone and defining them by events in their life, while compassion recognises those events while respecting the person is more than their loss, illness, or life changing event.

After the fires I received pity, compassion and gave myself much self-pity. A friend whose adult child had died suddenly in her thirties told me that releasing her self-pity took a long time, but it helped her. It took me a while to understand what she meant, and I still have days full of self-pity but not as many as I used to have. I realised that for me self-pity meant anger and bitterness and my physical and mental health was suffering.

I was always comparing my mental health problems with people who had more severe health issues. I knew there were people still living in tents and caravans two years after the fires and families who had lost loved ones. Comparing suffering does not help as we only end up feeling guilty.

Do you find people offer you pity or compassion or both? Have you pitied yourself at times and does this help? Do you offer others, pity, compassion, or practical help?

Leah
A Moodscope member.

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


18

November

Minding my own business

Thursday November 18, 2021


I have a friend who I will call Roy. He is a Covid victim, without actually having had the virus. He is blind, a retired academic who lost his wife to dementia some years ago. Before the pandemic he had regular visitors, attended events, went on holidays and to concerts with sighted friends, generally enjoying a better quality of life than many without his disability.
 
Then in March 2020 all that changed. His daughter came to stay, like most of us thinking this would be for a short time. She is a high powered professional, but adjusted her work to carry on from home. Roy was not one of the people told to fully shield, but he did so anyway. At first, he would have a good daily walk in a very quiet area, accompanied by his daughter. After a few months even that stopped, and apart from medical visits neither he or his daughter have left the house or had any visitors, even on the doorstep, for over a year. Everything is delivered and left outside. A friend made a shepherds pie and left it outside. It was thrown away in case it carried the virus.
 
I have visited him for years to read and do bits of admin. The reading was changed to phone calls until this month when we have resumed home visits. Everyone else is delighted, except Roy who wants to keep only telephone contact. He has become obsessed with his health. I have lost count of the tests, scans and surgical procedures he has had in the last 18 months, all finding nothing of concern. This week alone he has 3 appointments at different hospitals. I can only imagine that his daughter has considerable clout through her work, when we hear of the huge NHS backlog.
 
All the inactivity is taking a toll on his balance and energy. He fell over and knocked himself out, leading to even more tests. He has an exercise bike, but won’t use it in case he sprains something.
 
My dilemma involves keeping my mouth shut. I know the pandemic has been horrendous, I have taken all reasonable precautions and followed the rules. My friend, like me, had all his jabs, and we spoke about the hope it gave for all of us. For him though, nothing has changed. I can’t understand why he is like this. I feel he has allowed the virus to take his life away from him anyway.

He knows I have struggled with depression and anxiety, although I have not gone into much detail. I suppose I could have a gentle word, hinting that maybe getting help for underlying anxiety would be wise. Again though I question my own motives. 
 
I know that it is none of my business. If he has chosen to spend the remainder of his life as a prisoner in his own home, how can that bother me so much?  It has brought me face to face with an aspect of myself that I don’t like. I have friends whose lifestyles are unorthodox, unhealthy, immoral and I have no desire to comment. This is probably because they reflect aspects of myself, past or present. What then gives me the right to feel offended by my friend’s behaviour? Inside I want to give him a “good talking to” but I know he would have every right to tell me to **** off. Actually, he would never do that. He loves that I happily read stuff to him that contains rudeness and swearing, but he once apologised for saying “bugger” in my presence.
 
Now I am welling up. He is a lovely lovely man, someone who has coped with problems that would destroy me. If he wants to admit defeat, give up, I should be saying he has earned that right.
 
Please Moodscopers, tell me to shut up, zip it, keep my nose out, stop being a nosy busybody, whatever comes to you. I could do with a good talking to. 

Val
A Moodscope member. 

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


17

November

It’s Private

Wednesday November 17, 2021


We’re an old-fashioned family, in that we still have all our meals sitting around a table. Eating dinner like this means we can all talk about our day; the things that went right and the things that went wrong. My daughter is passionately engaged in her A level subjects but it isn’t all plain sailing. She holds strong opinions, and often disagrees with the way a subject is taught. We get reports of the arguments she has with her teachers; who are, of course, completely and utterly wrong! Her father will talk about the office banter and how the convoluted systems he works with were obviously designed by sadists.

This meal-time forum gives rise to lively discussions too, and one such happened just yesterday about privacy, especially the privacy of health.

Now, I agree that there are some things in life that should be kept private (ahem - glances at Himself and smiles) but is our health one of those things?

Our medical records are private. Before my GP referred me back the psychiatrist, she asked me if I was happy for my medical records to be passed over to him. Well, of course I was happy! How could he treat me if he didn’t know all the facts?

While I don’t think it’s appropriate for those records to be in the public domain, there are some health issues that affect the way we live our lives. When these issues also impact on others, should we really keep them private?

My parents in law kept their health issues to themselves; even to the extent of discouraging family to visit. They did not want us to know how ill they were and how their lives were so curtailed. This had the result of making us feel unwanted and meant we could not help. Their response was that they did not want help and would prefer to suffer on their own.

For many of us, admitting we have health issues – especially mental health issues – is admitting to weakness. We don’t want to seem vulnerable; we want to be seen as strong.

We are presenting a lie. Furthermore, it is a poisonous lie.

When we pretend to be strong, others, aware of their own vulnerabilities and weaknesses, can feel inadequate. You may have heard the saying, “Never compare your inside to someone else’s outside.” It’s like looking at the Facebook pages of your friends. They will post family celebrations and holiday photos: they won’t post their troubles. Happiness is public, misery is a private affair. Health is the norm; sickness (except possibly for a broken limb) is still something to be hushed up. It is private because it is “shameful.”

I believe it takes true strength to admit our vulnerabilities. Owning weakness, however, can bring freedom and, in my experience, more respect from others.

Health and happiness is not the norm. Hopefully it is a part of our lives, but it can never be the whole.

It wouldn’t be healthy if it were.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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


16

November

Branding

Tuesday November 16, 2021


I am doing a course on Future Learn on ‘The Secret power of Brands’. Power it is – thousands of people, millions of pounds, to discover how to part us from our money to buy product ‘x’ or ‘y’. The word ‘brand’ comes from old Norse, to burn’ Traditionally to mark your property, be it cow, handle of pick axe, or burn the name of your house on a piece of wood with a hot poker. I quote the course “It fills psychological needs; love, belonging, affiliation, achievement”. It could also be used to label, to stigmatise. War victims in concentration camps were marked for life by numbers on their fore-arms.

I was ‘branded’ the other day – and am questioning if I am getting ‘touchy’. I was in a hotel in Windsor, spoke to a few people. Then a couple just leaving came up to me – the lady “I said to my husband, we must speak to the old lady before we leave”. I was shocked, stupid, I know I am old. But never think age (other than being able to remember the war, austerity etc.) I have friends and acquaintances of all colours, creeds, nationalities, ages – they are just ‘people’. I felt I had been put into a category, and did not like it. The same week, another lady of ripe years (9 more than me), our Queen, had politely but firmly refused to be chosen as ‘The Oldie of the Year’ by that magazine.

On the course, we have an ‘assignment’, what ‘Brands’ mean to us. I thought of adverts or slogans which were etched on my memory (doubt if I ever bought the products) and why they were noticeable. ‘If you want to get ahead, get a hat’ (in the tube yonks ago). Then ‘superiority’, Burberry or Barbours, associated with the upper classes. The tutor showed four ties, all silk, two from markets £10 each, two from Libertys, £100 each. It was claimed that although the Liberty tie wearer did not show the label he ‘felt good’ because he could spend £100 on a tie. ‘Persil washes whiter’ (line of white nappies, ergo you were a better Mum). ‘What your right arm’s for’ (beer, did not notice brand). ‘Something happens after a Badedas bath’ (dashing man on white horse coming up drive). One could go on, it’s a fun game.

But I am feeling serious concern about the ‘power’ of advertising. Not just in the paper or commercial channels of our TV’s. It is insidious, manipulative, leads to jealousy, this wretched ‘street cred’, spending more than you can afford so your kids won’t feel deprived in the playground. Some companies, notably Coca Cola and Monsanto are always being sued. Many of the accusations are that they actually harm health. Some parts of India have banned Coca Cola. Monsanto gets rid of dodgy chemicals on poor countries. But they continue, getting richer – because they throw so much money in their ‘defence’ that nobody is powerful enough to make anything ‘stick’. Do you get cross/ignore ads? We’re impotent, I know.

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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


15

November


People’s behaviour is rarely what it seems but, instead, is enormously complex.

In fact, people are wonderfully complex.

As Oprah Winfrey and Maya Angelou say in this video (here - https://www.oprah.com/oprahs-lifeclass/when-people-show-you-who-they-are-believe-them-video ) “When people show you who they are – believe them!”

Alain de Botton says the same thing in different words, “When you meet someone (romantically) for the first time, ask, ‘In what ways are you mad?’” (I paraphrase.)

Thus, if I say, “I am messy,” when demonstrate how messy I am, believe me… don’t be surprised!

In which ways are you ‘mad’? I’m mad about manners, I’m mad about plants, I’m mad about going barefoot as soon as possible in the Spring, I’m mad about saving the Planet, and, to my cost, I’m mad about justice, fairness, and speaking my mind.

Behind the veil, beneath the surface, lies the truth. But what if we had the confidence to pull back the veil with people? I don’t need to be proud about being messy – I simply need to recognise it as a potential weakness. But I do feel free to acknowledge it up front. Hording (being messy) is a trait I have met in many people. It’s usually a sign.

Next time something doesn’t seem quite right with someone, I hope you will find it in your heart to say, “What’s behind the veil? What’s beneath the surface?” And, if you’ve built enough rapport with them, gently ask if they are OK and how specifically you could support them.

Lex
Moodscope

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


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