The Moodscope Blog

22

February


When I was a little girl. Thursday February 22, 2018

When I was a little girl I was creative, fun, mischievous and happy. I had strong attachment to my mother and would be terrified of letting her out of my sight. My first day at school is a memory shared not for the smiles and pride but for me kicking and screaming and being man handled over the threshold then coming home and hiding behind the sofa feeling totally betrayed.

Of course I did settle in to school eventually and I made some friends there too. But one Friday afternoon, when I was 6, my Mum didn't pick me up from school, it was the Nurse who usually came to visit my Granny who lived with us. She took me home, took me into the kitchen and gave me some paints and told me to stay there. Later that evening, I sneaked out and up the stairs, I could see my Mummy lying in bed, lots of grown ups around her. I scurried back into the kitchen and waited, quietly.

It turned out my Mum had had a massive stroke that left her completely paralysed. She went into hospital and the next time I saw her it was Christmas Day and I didn't recognise her.
She was left severely disabled but my Father brought her home for us to care for her. My Granny went into an nursing home and promptly had a heart attack. I didn't know at the time but my Father knew then that he would never have old bones. I was what we now call a 'young carer'. Everyone told me to be good, to be good for my Mummy and Daddy. So I was. I was dutiful. I didn't have a tantrum, I didn't cry if I had to go to someone else. I didn't ask questions that might upset people.

Three and a half years later my Father went into hospital and he didn't come home. His funeral was on my Mother's birthday so I spent that day in the hospital with her to keep her company. A week later our house was put on the market and I was at boarding school. Be good, do your best, don't upset anyone.

By the time I was a teenager I was acutely aware that I was different. Now I know it was depression. Now I know what I should have been told, how I should have been allowed to behave, what I should have said. I eventually spoke to a teacher about how I felt, my teenage journals are full of advice to anyone reading to talk to someone. I'm so grateful to that wonderful teacher, she absolutely saved me.

Talk to someone.

Lizzie
A Moodscope member.

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

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21

February


Building in Some Slack. Wednesday February 21, 2018

Our flight was scheduled for 18.05. Last call for boarding was 17.40. My husband said that he had arranged to get the hire car back at 16.00 and we should therefore leave at 15.00.

I turned on my sunbed to look at him. It was ten past two and I had just reached page 177 in my Jack Reacher book. It was an exciting bit and I didn't want to move.

"It only takes fifteen minutes to get to the airport from here," I pointed out.

"But we've got to shower off the sun cream and sand and then change into going home clothes. And I have to put more petrol in the car."

I reluctantly closed my book and started to drag my sun-drugged body off the lounger; started to gather up our children and belongings. I was grumpy; I had wanted to eke out every last drop of warmth before we returned to the great grey beast of the British February.

But, he was right of course. It always takes longer than you think. It was half past four when we got the car back and gone five by the time we dropped off the baggage. Negotiating Security and the Duty Free took some time, and in the end, we were pretty much the last people to board the plane.

But – there was no panic, because he'd built in enough slack.

My eldest takes after her father. She has already drawn up her revision timetable for her GCSEs and, with sly humour, has labelled some periods, "Procrastination and messing about."

I have yet to learn to do this. My mother says that I have always tried to fit a quart into a pint pot. For years, this phrase meant nothing to me, as I didn't realise a quart is two pints!

So, I over commit. I try to fit too much in and I never leave enough time to do it all.

The result, of course, is stress. It means I am late to appointments or have to cancel at the last minute. It means that sometimes I am so stressed I forget things entirely, and I'm always in a rush.

As you know, I don't do New Year's Resolutions; but – if I did – then my resolution for 2018 would be to do less and to schedule more.

It's not lazy, it's self-preservation.

It's for the good of those who love me. Because they need to be less stressed about me being too stressed.

And if they don't have to worry about picking up the pieces of my disasters they will be less stressed and they won't get angry.

I will schedule in more time to do less.

I Promise.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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

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20

February


There must be instructions somewhere. Tuesday February 20, 2018

Hello my friend. What do we have today? Let's see. Are you begging for the end of the day already, to be comforted by darkness and quiet, or are you able to see the day as yours?

Even if you are working and have an employer watching over you, it is still your day and how you handle your challenges is your choice. I try to look ahead at what things are going to rough me up (loud people, busy situations, bad manners, my senses being attacked) and arm myself for them.

Yesterday I was volunteering. I knew I would meet an extremely loud woman unaware of anyone else's existence but herself. As a bit of a wall flower, I bristle around her. I had to plan. It worked! She made a loud entrance and we all became aware of her holiday plans for the following week, and we now have the additional detailed and intimate knowledge of her foot blister, but I was also able to divorce myself from it because I'd planned.

She blasted us with her 'everything' and I had fun because I'd decided I would picture her as a hoover. It worked! The moment she launched, I heard 'hoover' and I just carried on reading my duties for the afternoon. Peace became me. In my head I was running through a silent, sunny, flower-filled meadow whilst she had hoover noises coming out her mouth.

It was a great film!

Dare you to try it.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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

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19

February


Life is like a camera. Monday February 19, 2018

I saw an inspirational plaque in a photo shop in Weymouth. I thought its contents profound and insightful – mixed with just the right amount of wit.

It said, "Life is like a camera: just focus on what is important & capture the good times; develop from the negatives & if things don't work out, just take another shot."

Writers often long to discover their own 'Signature Quote' – that pithy aphorism that they will be remembered for. Forrest Gump had his, "Life is like a box of chocolates..." I hope that whoever had come up with, "Life is like a camera..." was rather pleased with the result. I know I would have been.

'Focus' is a core concept for me nowadays. But what to focus on? The received wisdom here is on what is important and the good times. When we are low, it seems naturally easy to obsess over the bad times and frankly on what is less important. What is important to you? That's a question that only you can answer – but it's a core question that needs a heartfelt response.

As beauty is in the eye of the beholder, your definition of 'good times' is also unique to you. The call to action, though, is a great one for all of us: capture the good times. This is why I always have a camera or camera-phone with me. Good times are everywhere.

'Develop from the negatives' was a great way of putting the need to move on from the negatives – to make them serve our own purpose, and then move on from them.

But the final passing shot was the best shot for me: "If things don't work out, just take another shot." It's never too late to press the shutter to capture the good times of a new scene.

If you'd be happy to share, there are several cues here to respond to. What's important to you? What are 'good times' to you? What negatives have you learned from and then moved on from? When and where in your life have you taken another shot?

I'm not asking you to answer all those questions below, but I'm sure it would help if you thought about them all.

Here's to the good times and what is truly important.

Neil
A Moodscope member.

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

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18

February


Every silver lining has a cloud. Sunday February 18, 2018

Caroline has rightly banned a recent offering – on the witch hunt where any man, alive or dead, who touched a woman 'against her will' is to be pilloried. She said it might be provocative!

For the first three months after Mr G went into a care home my 'freedom' was not that easy to assume. The sight of him was harrowing – at night I read stuff I knew – Dick Francis, Wilbur Smith, Jilly Cooper – don't know if I even noticed, just dull the pain until the sleeping pills kicked in.

Now I've gone 'serious' reading in French, new books to me. The morality issues are worse than current ones. First book was the life of the Mountbattens in India – she would seem a total nymphomaniac – yet admired by Ghandi, life-long friend (lover?) of Pandit Nehru, and a tower of strength in the partition struggles. I Re-watched the film 'Portrait of a Marriage' (triangle Vita Sackville-West, Harold Nicholson, Violet Trefussis). Vita was born to luxury, absolutely wild, yet she and Harold produced the Sissinghurst garden. He was a diplomat, and homosexual, what a risk to take. Poor Violet seemed totally amoral, even called 'evil', yet, born to Alice Keppel, mistress of Edward VII, what moral basis could she get?

I am struggling with a fantastic book by a French writer, Dominic Lapierre, about the race between high-level medical researchers to find the cause of AIDS – which came from the sexual explosion of the 1970's.

Thinks came to a head this morning with the news that workers for Oxfam have been taking advantage of their position and abusing girls, in Haiti in particular. New outrage. They are living in an area of corruption and misery – temptation is there all the time – 'abuse' could sometimes be mutual comfort. What nobody will admit that there is an important side to even the horror of sexual tourism. In very poor countries (we have some experience of this) a pretty girl who works as a prostitute in Bangkok can buy her starving parents a cow and send her brothers to school. The 'business' (un-documented) is a vital part of some third-world country economies.

My 'silver lining' allusion comes from struggling with my great mass of pictures and not seeing the underlying problems. The worst is my favourite breakfast location, the garden of friends in Adelaide. Now, their son-in-law has early onset dementia – they have adopted Indian brothers, now teen-agers, that poor family. I now have to train myself to see my pictures as 'snapshots' taken at the flash of a second of time. Otherwise, every lovely memory will carry its own cloud, even to the rice-fields of Ubud, in Bali, now being a virtual housing estate – like prostitution, the families could not live on the production of a tiny field of rice, but they can on the burgeoning tourism.

Lesson learned, do not live in the past.

And you?

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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

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17

February


Could today be the start of a new life for you? Saturday February 17, 2018

Thought for Moodscopers...

When things go well we are happy and contented. But it doesn't last does it?

I believe most adversities are what I call Self-Inflicted and arrive through contention of one sort or another. Opposition seems to attack us when least expected, always when we are unprepared! We hear something detrimental about ourselves, we respond, we contend, then ignore each other.

It's vital we don't carry upon our shoulders, subconscious ill feelings toward another.

Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Ghandi, Mother Teresa even some popstars portray a philanthropic loving persona. These men and women lived their lives 'giving' to all in need.

We all have an inbuilt capacity to love one other, loving ourselves sufficiently to see the love in others. We came to Earth with no preordained contentious ideas, no past, and no foreseeable future.

Arriving with a love for all things - need confirmation, just look into the eyes of a baby.

We may unconsciously hurt anothers' feelings, if so, we urgently need an emergency repair kit to secure and rescue (anagram) the relationship we once had. Not as a doormat, but in humility, compassion for the love of them and their feelings. Even if we had no part in this disagreement.

Cast off the ego, the self, and express that loving inner compassion lying dormant, waiting for that person who has hurt us. If it fails, we cannot be responsible. We can walk away...leaving their burden behind, upon their shoulders.

Laws govern Armed Forces, Roads, Courts etc to keep the peace. The Sun rises and goes down, without hesitation. The Moon comes out in obedience to the laws of nature to govern the coming and going of the tides.

Order governs our minds, if we will let it, at peace. We become The Peacemakers. Orderly minds widen the gap between joy and sadness. Nothing left festering, as procrastination 'is the thief of Time'. Never 'shackled' to the burdens of others, sub-conscious clear, free to enjoy this beautiful world.

It's like clearing out our cupboards... It feels wonderful!

Self-confidence comes as we 'listen' with our hearts to loved ones, less confrontation, less agro, more love, more intimacy, they will love you for you.

'Contention' out of the way 'Our House in Order', relationships, debt, health, finances, work/career under control, there's 'nothing' to worry about.

Order is a state of mind, when real adversity strikes, broken arms, kidney stones etc that's all we have to 'worry' about.

I make daily 'to do' lists everything crossed off, anything left, is dealt with tomorrow. My life is orderly... Not perfectionism.

Order lessens and deminishes Bipolar Depression. Yes in that 'Miner in the Pit', 'Nagatha Critchly', 'cocooned', life becomes bearable without depressive thoughts of the things we failed to do when well.

'Return to Love' a book by Marianne Williamson, is a must, for those searching for 'Inner Peace'. It will guide you to Love and understand yourself, and the benefits of Loving others - particularly Pages 72 through to end of 73.

Your views will certainly be of great interest to me.

Thank you for 'Listening'.

Dave x
A Moodscope member.

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

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16

February


Community. Friday February 16, 2018

Our ancestors knew it, they knew that the community was there to support each other and look after their own. Now how many of us are lacking that community feeling? We are facing the biggest crisis in loneliness and mental health that we have ever seen.

People who go to work, converse all day with unknown faces via a small handheld piece of artificial intelligence. Then come home, to a screen, individually tailoring what they should watch on TV, food deliveries come to the door. They sleep, wake and go all around again, hardly really talking to another person. Or no work, stuck in the four walls with a screen or nothing for company.

How important community still is to us. To Everyone. So many of us blog about our communities that we invest in, our lifelines. It might be an online group, it might be a coffee morning, colleagues, or the people you meet at the same bus stop every day at the same time and one day you all got chatting, or people walking their dogs along the same route.

I grew up in a village, everyone had their place and value there. The village shop, church and pub, the village fair, youth club, festival celebrations, constantly bringing us together. Within our walls we ate our meals together at the table, picking over the days events. We watched TV together, shouting out at The Generation Game, repeating our favourite lines from The Two Ronnies. Together.

Now we need to seek these moments out, we need reminding that we NEED community to survive, and if we don't have the strength to do this? Then we are so easily susceptible to loneliness and mental illness. Have we come to a community time in crisis?

I have some valuable little communities outside of my own household that keep me going, support me, keep me afloat. They are Moodscope, my yoga class, my best friends who I met when my eldest was a baby, school Mums, my off road running group. When I'm well they're there and when I'm not well, they'll still be there. I also go on the Mental Health Mates walks in Leeds and find a little hub of like minded people who understand. I'll be OK whilst I've got these, I just wish the TV was better!

Which communities do you feel glad to be a part of, where can we gently seek these out if we're not feeling sociable?

Lizzie
A Moodscope member.

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

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15

February


Decisions! Decisions! Part 1: The Big Ones. Thursday February 15, 2018

I have a friend who loves the phrase "I used to be decisive but now I'm not so sure". But that is actually me. Or maybe I didn't used to be decisive. I can't decide on that either.

Regardless, these days I struggle with decisions; putting too much pressure on choosing the "perfect" option as though my entire wellbeing depends upon it. This is one of two blog posts sharing newfound perspectives on decision making.

First up: The Big Ones.

Right now I'm facing a mass of big decisions: children's education, whether to move house, whether I go back to work, and if so what my career might be. They're huge, life changing decisions and are so entwined that I can't tease them apart to see the wood from the trees. And of course trying to find that "perfect" solution was increasing my anxiety and unbalancing my perilous mental state.

But during one long winded discussion about it, I had an epiphany: it's simply not possible to plan out the next 5 years, let alone 10-20 years. There are too many unknowns. Unexpected opportunities may arise. So much could change. The realisation came like a clearing in the forest; a calm glade with a shaft of sunshine lighting the way. So I made one decision; the best decision I could make for the next year. And after that I will see.

Instantly the other decisions melted away; replaced by a huge sense of relief. Making a short term decision felt "right", comfortable and not too daunting. So next time I start to lose my way and get bogged down with The Big Ones, I'll pause, focus on choosing what works for now, and leave the adventures of the future as an exciting surprise.

Perhaps this might help others too?

With definite love

Shizzle
A Moodscope member.

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

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14

February


What's Love Got to Do with It? Wednesday February 14, 2018

Today is Valentine's Day and the shops are full of red hearts and red roses; out-sized greetings cards with red hearts and red roses; boxes of chocolates in the shape of hearts and roses; teddy bears holding red hearts and red roses, bottles of champagne decorated with red hearts and red roses and, who knows – even toilet cleaner decorated with – yes, b****y red hearts and red roses...

Commercialized? Oh, what makes you think that?

It's also my mother's birthday. For obvious reasons, we've never ordered flowers to be delivered on her birthday.

For many of us, Valentine's Day is just a slap in the face. Even for those of us in happy romantic relationships, love is something we express every day, not just on 14th February. My husband and I give each other a card – if we remember, and we usually don't – but that's all.

And – it seems to me, looking at my Facebook feed, that those of us with happy relationships are in the minority. In real life, my close women friends are married: my close male friends are single (and not interested in a conventional marriage). In the virtual world, there are more singletons than not. Some of them are happy singletons; some of them would rather not be single.

Maybe that's a biased sample. After all – most people in a relationship do not spend all their spare time at the keyboard – unless they are writers looking for any excuse not to write... (Guilty as charged, m'lud.)

But all of us have love. Somewhere.

Last night, a single man of my (virtual) acquaintance complained in our group of his single status. He would love to be married and to have children. At fifty he has given up on the idea of children and is despairing of love.

His post garnered more than 500 comments. Some were part of threads which became gloriously silly, but there was a lot of good advice. "Tough love," as another friend described it. "Stop complaining, get up off your bottom, go out and meet those women," seemed to be the gist.

My point is, not that he is unhappily single, but that he is actually surrounded by love. Just not romantic love (although some comments were along the lines of "If I were free, I'd date you!")

There are few of us who live lives of such isolation that we have no love.

Maybe that love is from children, other family members or friends (whether virtual or in the "real world").

But we all have love. Somewhere.

If we look, we'll find it. And maybe we should tell that person, those people, thank you.

We don't have to give them red roses or a box of chocolates in the shape of a heart.

A thank you and a smile will do.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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

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13

February


I am no longer a child without choices. Tuesday February 13, 2018

It took me 30 years to process the loss of the family farm. As my teenager would say; "delayed response much?"

Growing up in a very abusive and strict german-mennonite home meant not showing your emotions. A display of affection beyond a handshake was considered worldly and unnecessarily. If father took the willow branch to us he demanded silence or the process would continue. Needless to say I learned to stuff my emotions until they boiled over like my mother's pressure canner.

When I was 12 we were ordered off the family farm for debts unpaid and if that wasn't enough of a country song mother went into labor and the hospital as we packed.

I waited for sadness that didn't come. Nor did any other emotion. At twelve I had quite a mastery of escaping feelings and numbing them out.

My brother was born and he proved to be a marvellous distraction from our disrupted lives.

We left the farm, unpacked our meagre possessions into a borrowed home a half mile away and went to visit our new sibling. I thought the little bald wonder in a wrinkled sleeper was the most beautiful creature in the world.

When friends asked if losing our home only to drive by it twice a day bothered me I uttered a very convincing "No."

Years of therapy and counselling later, not only had I forgiven my parents I had drawn some lines in setting cement; "I choose to have a relationship with you..." I told them; "but do note that I am no longer a child without choices. If this relationship takes on the nature of the past I am out of here."

For the most part things have been good. I have cut them off twice for 6 months when same old same old reared its ugliness and we have resolved our issues.

A month or so ago I was watching a movie; "The Promised Land," and there came a line; "We still have our barn." A damn inside jerked loose and I cried three decades worth of pain. We lost our barn and almost everything else. There had been an auction previous to the move. How good it felt to grieve what I had convinced myself did not matter.

Delayed response indeed. And although I have covered a great distance in most aspects of processing emotions and life events my critical inner voice says; "Do not become a paramedic. No-one has that kind of time." And that is okay. I am more of a tortured writer, author and musician anyway. We tend to lose track of the ticking clock.

Bailey
A Moodscope member.

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

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12

February


The Moral of the Story. Monday February 12, 2018

"That's a bit 'Heath Robinson', isn't it?" This has become a cliché in English for making a simple process more complex than is necessary. Heath was a famous wartime artist and his work is being celebrated in an exhibition at the National Trust property, Mottisfont. If you're in the South of England, it's well worth a visit. (Exhibition runs until 15th April).

Known as 'The Gadget King' because of his complex and humorous process drawings, many people don't realise he was a sought-after illustrator. One of the illustrations on display was from Charles Kingsley's, "The Water Babies." I realised I had not read this moral story, and thus determined to do so!

In one of those lovely coincidences that Life occasionally delivers, Penelope had a copy, given to her Mum in 1939. Battered but charming, it has captured my imagination for a couple of hours.

Without spoiling the story for you, let me just say that it is firmly within the genre of Victorian Moral Stories. The children were meant to be entertained by each story, whilst being instructed by the plot in how to become a 'good' child. In 'The Water Babies', Tom journeys from slightly mischievous beginnings to maturity as a good chap. Along the way, he is helped by lessons from Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby and her sister, Mrs Bedonebyasyoudid.

Tom learns to be kind, generous, and to think of others – always seeking to help when there is an opportunity. This is the moral of the story.

My life is a bit Heath Robinson – more complex than it needs to be – but then perhaps that's all part of my journey? Along my own journey there have been many lessons – most of them moral lessons.

I wondered what are your greatest lessons learned from Life?

For me, it's certainly that relationships matter most, and that materialism is a distraction offering false, or at least limited and temporary pleasures. I have learned that meaningful work is fulfilling, and that few people are to be trusted until they learn their own lessons! Perhaps I'll write my own moral story.

What lessons have you learned?

Care to share?

Neil
A Moodscope member.

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

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11

February


Getting mucky. Sunday February 11, 2018

A friend of mine today told me that he had found out his wife had been having an affair for the last four years.

As we walked the dog we talked about how messy life can be. How messed up, ridiculously bonkers and how we can also wade in our size 8s and make it worse!! And that's before you've walked in the dog poo.

If you are of a delicate constitution, or eating your breakfast, I apologise.

We discussed how there are two types in life. Those who are open about wading in the mud and those whose wellies are wiped clean as if to pretend they never experience such things.

I am of the former persuasion... get it out there, get on with it and move on. Don't bury it for it to come and haunt you later on! I come from a very English family where such things are left unspoken.

How do you deal with the detritus in your life? Do you brush it under the carpet or do you confront it head on, acknowledging it's rubbish but needs dealing with?

I know that I am far less depressed when I take the latter road.

BrumMum
A Moodscope member.

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

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10

February


Knitting. Not really. Saturday February 10, 2018

It's not a great feeling to revisit times when I have felt so low there seemed little left to cling to and yet I find it is almost essential in the journey to stay well.

Christmas week depleted my last reserves of resilience and left me a little broken. But I have enough experience to know this is my normal and that, if left to lick my wounds, I would recover. I am there, in the process of recovery.

To find a little reassurance, I found myself briefly revisiting a time gone by when I was scared and utterly broken. I have a clear memory of sitting down in the shower, silently crying myself inside out, contemplating emptying the medicine cabinet and driving into something at high speed. Chilling really.

And I am not there. That is good. I have perspective. I won't hang around in that memory for long as it is not a comfortable visit. But it is useful for me to pop in to.

I wonder if you ever use this strategy to bring yourself together? Do you revisit a sore time in order to regroup? Or is it too sore still? Every part of this journey can be hurtful and helpful. I think we can strengthen if we knit them together somehow. Sharp knitting needles meet soft wool. Don't be scared of the scary stuff, it often brings something new.

Sending love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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

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9

February


I don't do mornings. Friday February 9, 2018

Meet morning Leah, but well let's face it you would be better off avoiding her.

Ever since I was a child I have not liked mornings. I was given a t-shirt as a teenager that read "I don't do mornings, you have been warned."

Morning Leah is quiet at best and grumpy, irritable and tired at worst.

Morning Leah can not make a decision, will be very critical and is totally unmotivated.

The good thing is, by lunch time, Morning Leah is Afternoon Leah and is much calmer and more reasonable.

So Evening Leah is full of energy and you can meet her if she will stay still long enough.

Evening Leah is very busy tidying up, sorting out, pricing and organising.

She has many plans, makes lots of decisions, she sends emails, posts on FB, texts her friends, phones anyone awake. She does not want to sleep as she has so much to do before Morning Leah wakes up being so slow and unmotivated.

Can anyone relate to me? I am not talking about bipolar moods but just not liking mornings and it being hard to motivate yourself in the morning and then having more energy at night and being more confident.

Or are you the other way around- energetic in the morning and early to bed?

Leah
A Moodscope member.

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

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8

February


And then I went in... Thursday February 8, 2018

There's a quote by the existential psychologist Rollo May that says: 'It's an old and ironic habit of human beings to run faster when we have lost our way'. When I first read it, it hit me like a train. That's what I'd been doing my whole life. Running – either literally (travelling the world, jumping from job to job, relationship to relationship) or metaphorically (in circles in my head) - was my modus operandi. When I was in my twenties and thirties this didn't seem to matter, it was what everyone did. It was fun and wild and the freedom that went with it was intoxicating. I was carefree in those days, and careless in lots of ways. I was caught in the whirlwind of daring adventure and crazy hedonism. It was only when I stopped for any length of time that the problems set in, a gut-wrenching anxiety that churned away inside and a gnawing low-grade depression that would bring me to my knees...

and then once again, I would run.

At 39 I became a mum. And I could no longer run. And I had nowhere to hide from the depressive grip. It set in in a way that I didn't think I would ever escape from. But I still kept running, thinking somehow I could outsmart it and shake it off in the process. I was like one of those characters you see in films who is running on the spot while a big godly hand holds its head firmly on the spot. I looked outside myself for the answers, I tried anti-depressants, I changed my diet, I reached for supplements, I did courses, I read books and I grasped in desperate vain for anything that would help.

And at the point of exhausted resignation I gave up. I lay down (on a massage table at a needlessly-expensive retreat I had booked after being told that a juice diet and intense fitness regime would do the trick.) and let someone go to work on my body. I felt the amazing energy and love of another person and for the first time in as a long as I can remember I felt something lift.

Of course, like a lot of good lessons, it took a long time to learn. I sank back into depression within a few hours but the memory stayed with me. It turns out it was the beginning of my journey inside. To the place where – I believe – the real answers lie. Over the next few years came meditation, psychoanalysis (although it took me a year to finally lie on the couch!), baths, sleep, yoga and finally prayer.

I'm 45 now and waking up out of my dark night of the soul. I still have tough days, unconscious reactions and I slip into old patterns, but instead of running in panic, I sit with the feelings and listen to what my soul is trying to tell me. And it turns out, the answer is always inside.

Debs
A Moodscope member.

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7

February


The Man in the Mirror. Wednesday February 7, 2018

[To listen to an audio version of this blog, please click here: http://bit.ly/2BKOiEE]

Please note: I have used the male pronoun throughout. But this is for women too.

Who do you see when you look in the mirror?

No – it's an honest question.

You see, the person we see in the mirror is not the person other people see when they look at us.

I'll give you an example. A good friend of mine said recently, "I despise the man I see in the mirror."

I was honestly shocked. This man is a single parent of two children with special needs. The choice to have the children was not his, yet he has not walked away from his responsibilities. He is instead, so far as I can see, a wonderful parent. He holds down a full-time job, he pays his taxes. He brings humour, compassion and support to his friends. He has certainly been there for me in my recent dark time.

But the man in his mirror reflects only his inadequacies. The man who stands there, voices those thoughts which should stay decently hidden (although we all have such thoughts). The two-dimensional, cruel reflection mocks him with his failures (although we all have failures: we are human). The glass man does not allow for any kind of frailty. He demands perfection; he demands super powers and dismisses anything less.

The man in the mirror never says, "Well done. Good job. I'm proud of who you are."

In my professional life, part of my job is to help people "bridge the gap" between what they see when they look in the mirror, and what other people see in them.

When we meet someone or, indeed, live with someone – we look at more than the outside; at least we do if we have any intelligence at all. We look within. We get a sense of energy from them, we look into their eyes and attempt to find the person inside. We read the most minute movements they make and automatically decode those movements. We respond to the person inside. So much we do this that sometimes the outside becomes immaterial. It took my friend a week to notice that her husband had shaved off his beard!

My job is to show my clients how to change their outside to more accurately reflect the person within. Now, before I can even start to look at the way they dress, first I must get to know and understand the person inside. That process of understanding often transforms the way my clients view themselves, and always for the better.

So, we need to look at the man on the other side of the glass with new eyes; the eyes of a friend or even a stranger. We need to look at him with compassion.

Look at what he's dealing with. Look at the challenges he faces. Give the guy a break.

If you knew him, you'd both like and admire him – I promise.

So, go on, tell him, "Good job. Well done. I'm proud of who you are."

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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6

February


5 ways to celebrate Being Ourselves at work: a guide. Tuesday February 6, 2018

For Children's Mental Health Week 2018 (5-11 February), Place2Be's Head of Service for the South Sarah Kendrick suggests 5 ways in which celebrating what makes us unique can be good for us at work.

It might not surprise you to hear that as many as 8 in 10 of the pupils supported by Place2Be in one-to-one counselling struggle with self-esteem. But it's important to recognise that we, as adults, can doubt ourselves too. And while we don't always treat it as seriously, it can knock us back and stop us from being the best version of ourselves.

Celebrating 'Being Ourselves' during Children's Mental Health Week and beyond can help us achieve more and make better connections with others. Here are 5 tips for work.

Downtime isn't optional!

It may seem odd putting this at the top of the list but how we engage in life - in our wider context, our community, our family - is what helps us bring the best version of ourselves to work. So take every opportunity to do your thing! When we can, it's important to relax and have fun, whether that's reading a book in bed, going to the pub with friends, playing a sport or something else entirely.

Value your skills.

It can be tempting to leave our lives at the door and minimise the impact they might have. But we bring our experiences to our work and sometimes it's worth stopping and recognising the strengths in this. Inherent skills or those that you've developed out of adversity or challenge really do matter.

Appraise yourself fairly.

Among all the things we should be doing or haven't quite got around to, we can lose sight of what we're succeeding at. If you did well, tell yourself so, even if it's something small. Being ourselves means recognising our achievements.

Ask yourself why.

Why do you do what you do? When we're bogged down in the day-to-day, it's easy to lose sight of our purpose. In his book 'Start with Why', Simon Sinek encourages us to re-examine it, believing that this is central to motivating ourselves and feeling engaged. And it works.

"Everyone has a WHY. Your WHY is the purpose, cause or belief that inspires you. Knowing your WHY gives you a filter to make choices, at work and at home, that will help you find greater fulfilment in all that you do."

Thankfully, we are all different!

Anyone who knows me will be aware that my attention to detail is often not great. That's why I surround myself with team members who have really great attention to detail (as well as other skills that I lack). Knowing what our challenges or deficits are means that we can value those who have complementary skills and qualities. If we were all good at the same things, we'd never get anywhere.

Place2Be is the UK's leading children's mental health charity providing in-school support and expert training to improve the emotional wellbeing of pupils, families, teachers and school staff.

For Children's Mental Health Week 2018 (5-11 February), Place2Be is encouraging everyone to celebrate 'Being Ourselves'. Find out more and get involved in the campaign, https://www.place2be.org.uk.

Sarah Kendrick
Place2Be

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5

February


AC DC and EC. Monday February 5, 2018

If 'AC' is 'Alternating Current' and 'DC' is 'Direct Current' then, for me, 'EC' is going to stand for 'Emotional Current'!

This blog came about because of months of struggle sleeping. I was noticing that my brain's default thinking was almost entirely negative. This makes a lot of sense given the many challenges I'm facing at the moment, and reminded me of how emotions have primacy in the way the brain processes thought. Like electrical currents, emotions flow. After all, thought’s flow, don’t they?

Can we control our thoughts?
Can we direct our dreams?
Can we get a good night's sleep?

If emotions follow thought, the opposite is also true. Our emotions can lead our thoughts. I began experimenting, and with some success! Lying in bed, tormented by seemingly uncontrollable negative ramblings, I switched the emotional current.

Imagine our emotions each have their own current, and that their current then flows in different directions. Linked to each emotion, by association, are all our memories that fit with that state of mind.

Instead of the fears that were haunting me - led by fear itself - I flipped the switch to love. I began asking myself, "What do I love?" and my memory banks yielded up their treasures.

It's early days, but I'm pleased with the first results. Thoughts flow and dreams follow attention, and attention can be placed upon a desirable emotion.

Every emotion has it's own current, and what I'd label as a charge too. There are, however, only two sets of emotions - those with a negative charge, and those with a positive charge. They flow in opposite directions, negative or positive.

Now, when I'm sensing a negative flow, I switch currents.

I change direction.

You can too.

Care to play?

Neil
A Moodscope member.

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4

February


Once Upon a Blue Moon. Sunday February 4, 2018

In this moment, it all feels blue.
Sad. So sad. Sorry for me.
That feels so wrong.
Like we're not supposed to feel sorry for ourselves.
Well in this moment I do!
It's not pity. I know my worth. It's self care.
Sometimes it's just one thing after another. Bam bam bam!
Sometimes. Not all the time.

Is it my negativity attracting bad things to happen all at once?
Like a negative magnetic field or something?!
So many coincidences, me trying my best to do the right thing.
By family, by work by everyone.
Push myself to exhaustion. It's so late now.
I should be sleeping.
I had to clean up, at least the dishes, it was a mess down there!

This late night will have an impact on my mood.
I have been tearful from lack of sleep.
Too busy to eat properly. One glass of wine.
Just one...
Comfort food, you know how it goes, just to make me feel a bit better, a bit cared for. Comforted.
Just as a one off...

Yet in this moment as I write my thoughts I know that it has to get better.
It's fear of it continuing that feels so bad.

The winter doesn't last for ever. Spring will be in the air, there'll be a spring in my step, I'll feel inspired by the sun. That's how it goes!

My mind and body are flashing warning signals at me.
Top up fuel! Top up water! Slow down or pull over to rest! It's dangerous!
Yes you want to get back to your responsibilities, not fail, not make things worse, hold things together.
But if YOU breakdown you'll have to call for assistance anyway!
So pull over. For as long as it takes for the old engine to cool down.
Rest. Top up the essentials.
That talk today did help. Took me out of myself. It was soothing.

See how it goes. Listen to your "Good Place" self. Bide your time.
It's ok to feel this way, it really is ok.
No better, no worse no judgment, it's a part of what is.
The universe naturally balances itself out.
It's a super, blue, blood moon don't you know! :))
It's epic and doesn't stay that way for long.
Tomorrow is a new day with infinite possibilities.
Sleep now my inner child,
In this moment I am here for thee.
This space is calm, it's quiet, no threat.
It's really peaceful here.

LillyPet
A Moodscope member.

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3

February


Mindfulness. Saturday February 3, 2018

I was reading about mindfulness this morning and it reminded me of the lovely gift our youngest daughter bought me for Christmas. It was a Mindful Love Note, and it said:

'The next time you are alone, take out your phone and record a love letter to yourself. Say everything out loud that you love about yourself: your ambitions, your purpose, your strengths, ways you are kind, ways you inspire others etc.'

Then listen to it and listen to it several times over the next week.

After some while you notice something quite incredible. We mainly seek praise, acceptance and confirmation from external sources. What if we could hear from ourselves, how awesome we are?
It may just help the way you think.

Best wishes to you all.

Clive A Moodscope member.

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