The Moodscope Blog



My friend anger. Thursday April 26, 2018

Anger became my friend when I was 15, it was clever and played a long game. It pushed me forward when my hormones were wild, my friends were not true to me, my boyfriend belittled me and my teachers told me I was not smart enough or talented enough for the things I wanted. My anger fired me up enough to try to prove them all wrong.

Anger was my friend when I was 21, when I was studying for my masters and suffering from random and prolonged vertigo attacks and rapidly loosing weight. It gave me fire and made me unwilling to be beaten by my body's weakness. It kept me studying when I could barely see, kept me socialising when I really just wanted to curl up in a darkened room. It made me eat when I could barely face it.

Anger was my friend at 23, when I was starting out in my career in conservation and fighting to make my way in a male dominated industry and still struggling with my health. It kept me working in the cold and when I was exhausted and could barely stand.

Anger kept me going and it kept me lonely. None of the friends I had in those periods in my life stuck around. I have friends from early childhood and friends from my thirties but a big gap in between. Anger, it turns out, is not a good way to make friends or keep them. I was cold, hard, prickly and driven. I knew my loneliness was my own fault but I thought that since no one else was getting hurt it didn't matter.

Now I have a long term partner and two children and my anger definitely is not my friend. Every angry outburst hurts me, hurts the man I love and confuses my kids. But I haven't found a way to stop it; I decide to stop, I am determined to find a better way, but the angry words rush out before I can remember that promise and I can never take them back.

I don't think I know what I am if I am not angry, I've been this way so long. I can't remember how to be gentle and soft but I want to be those things again. The sad thing is that all those years I have lost to anger, and all those friendships too, and my inability to change as quickly as I would like all just make me angry too. Angry at myself and my circumstances and then the whole cycle begins all over again.

What coping mechanisms have seemed helpful to you until it became obvious that they hurt more than they helped?

A moodscope member.

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

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Don't You Forget About Me. Wednesday April 25, 2018

It was a glorious day! The first day of real spring: blue skies, a soft scented wind; birdsong. The family was out on a history trip, to Pevensey Castle in Sussex.

The castle has a fascinating history. The Romans built the first fortification here, then the Normans when they landed in 1066. It was defended again and again through the middle ages to the 1600s and then fortified yet again, with gun emplacements this time, in 1940; when it became home to servicemen from America and Canada. I wonder what they made of billets in a real, honest-to-god castle!

Though little more than a ruin now, it is a fascinating place. We started at the gatehouse and then descended to the dungeon – a terrible place, with a floor covered in water after the heavy rains, and a heavy door guarding the way to the steps.

"This was where ordinary prisoners were kept," said the audio guide. "Keep listening and you will see the place where prisoners of consequence were kept: those who could be ransomed for gold."

So, on we travelled round the castle, viewing with awe the piles of spherical bounders used by the trebuchets to pound the walls in times of siege, peering into the well, spotting the camouflaged pill boxes used in WWII, and eventually we came to the place where the more noble prisoners were kept.

I had expected a room in a tower, a room with at least basic comforts – a fire and garderobe (toilet). No – these prisoners were kept in the oubliette.

An oubliette is a deep hole in the ground. There is no stair down; the prisoners were let down on a rope. We can only hope that food was also lowered down and that they were given a bucket. But there was no prospect of escape; none. The audio guide gave a dramatized scenario of a young man imprisoned and waiting for his father to pay his ransom; becoming increasingly desperate and losing hope.

I have likened my experiences with depression to being trapped in an oubliette: Keeping Vigil, 23rd September 2015, ("> ), but today I thought about what would happen to that young man when the ransom was finally paid and he was redeemed.

He would not be the same man who had gone into captivity. He would be pale from living underground for so long. His muscles would be weak. But more than this, he would need to recover emotionally. He might feel guilty at having been captured and to have cost his family so dear. He might be reluctant to fight again, fearing recapture. He might have nightmares – what we would now call post-traumatic stress.

So, for those of us who have come out of depression, maybe we need to think about that young man, and to be gentle and understanding with ourselves.

And for those still in that Oubliette, you are not forgotten. One day you will get out.

I promise.

(and the tune to go with this:">

A Moodscope member.

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Saving it for best. Tuesday April 24, 2018

When an elderly cousin died, her family was surprised to find a whole chest of drawers full of unopened items, some were gifts some were items she had bought for herself. Drawers full of Oroton handbags, Glow mesh bags, leather handbags, never used at all, in immaculate condition.

Her daughter told me that her mum was Saving them for best because she felt the bags, shawls, tablecloths were far too good for everyday wear, but she was saving them for that very special occasion that would justify opening the box and using them.

Alas that day never came. So, there were 3 drawers full of handbags, shawls, handkerchiefs, lace tablecloths, nighties, a life time of shopping and gifts that were never used as they were waiting for best.

Do you or anyone one you know save things for best?

I remember when I was growing up we had to save our clothes for good wear and if I was given something I had it to save it for a special occasion.

When my mum died, and she also had a drawer full of item she was saving, I decided I would wear that dress I liked when I wanted to, use that hand bag when I needed, and use lovely items I had considered too good for every day wear.

Why do we put our lives on hold instead of enjoying the present?

Why do we think we are not good enough to use the special bags, clothes, cutlery, china etc?

What are you saving for best?

A Moodscope member

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Improvise Your Way to Joy. Monday April 23, 2018

Picture a group of mature business people learning the Art of Improv. Improv is a theatre genre that encourages quick thinking in the moment. The exercise I'm remembering involved one in each pair talking gibberish, and the other talking English. The 'dare' was to have a meaningful conversation when you can't understand the linguistics of the other! It was a bit bonkers...

...except it wasn't. We really began to tune into everything that wasn't the words. I was learning something new, and I liked it.

Thus I would like to share some lessons from the Art of Improv with you, with a view to creating joy in our lives. Are you up for that? No quick fixes here – just proven techniques to improve our quality of life.

The first (of seven) principles is, "Yes, And..."

In a "No, But..." Society, "Yes, And..." is a breath of fresh air.

In Improv, the principle is used to accept everything someone says on stage – to say, "Yes!" to it just the way it is... And then to augment it with something that adds additional value. It is not using "Yes!" as an excuse to steer the conversation in our own chosen direction. It is "Yes!" in the fullness of embracing and appreciating fully the other person's worldview.

This can be challenging! I LOVE the way this takes the focus off 'Me' in the conversation and puts it fully on the 'Other'. I've been using it with my kids, with Penelope, and in business networking. My discoveries are that it gets me listening at a much deeper level – getting out of myself and into the 'us' of the connection (a welcome relief from feeling low).

A word to the wise though, if your partner says, "Darling, does my bum look big in this?" Don't answer like I did: "Yes, And..." the rest was interesting!

A Moodscope member.

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

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My kingdom for a tree! Sunday April 22, 2018

I beg forgiveness to talk of him again. But I am happy and I cannot hold myself from saying it. My best friend is back! I am overjoyed to hear his voice again.

It has been a long, long winter this year. We have been snowed in a number of times, the most recent was this month, April. My friend stood tall throughout but utterly silent. I have a great bond with him for he visually represents how I feel as a survivor of, and battler with, depression. You may remember he is half a tree, growing only on one side and I feel great kinship with that. So, so slowly his other side is changing too. He reminds me that change is both unstoppable and to be allowed.

My best friend the tree closes down in Autumn and we part as if we were lovers on a train platform, pulled apart by the moving train. He throws me kisses and slowly his voice recedes until I can hear him no more. But I wait. I watch. I nod at him. He reminds me to hold on. He tells me other days come. Life changes. It changes moment by moment. He stays with me. Utterly silent.

Today I heard him. His voice whispered hello and I was shy as I glanced up at him in all of his handsome newness. His arms hold tiny green buds and he is light and dancing in cold sunlight. He gave me his smile. I gave him mine.

Days change. Be ready.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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Dream on. Saturday April 21, 2018

As a little girl, I would enjoy singing popular songs to my Teddy, or my cat and dog. I can recall getting into the mood, pretending I was a famous singer.

Fast forward to the present day, not much has changed. The only difference is the choice of songs. I grew out of "They're Changing Guard at Buckingham Palace", and these days I perform for an audience of one - me.

I hasten to add I am not prancing around in front of a mirror, holding a hairbrush as a mike. God, that would be seriously sad, wouldn't it?

No, it is all going on inside my head. Sometimes when I am walking outdoors, to pass the time I will drift off, but it usually happens when I'm on my cross country running machine. On goes Spotify or You Tube, and before you know it I am up there on that stage, with a rapturous audience. Occasionally, it is not a live audience, if for example, I am appearing on Old Grey Whistle Test.

I can be either sex vocally, but visually remain female. That said, I do some tweaks. My Elvis (black leather era) looks like a blonde K.D.Laing. I have taken to dithering about what I should wear for a performance, much as I do in real life before I go out. Sometimes physical changes are called for. In order to do justice to the purple satin gown I wear for performing Dvorak's Song to the Moon at the Proms, I have to fill out a bit on top.

I baulked at Meatloaf, but I can do a pretty raunchy Cher when tackling Dead Ringer for Love.

Occasionally I prefer to remain in the background, providing backing vocals for the likes of Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and Amy Winehouse.

There's no mystery about the basis of my fantasy life. If I could choose one gift to have been born with it would have been the gift of music, whether singing beautifully or playing a musical instrument.

My choice of instrument is nearly always the guitar, except when playing accordion with Ry Cooder.

Sadly, I can't sing a note, and could not even master the recorder at school.

I have never heard anyone else admit to such daydreams. The closest involved a few men, scoring the winning goal as the crowd goes mad with joy.

I am beginning to wonder if this is getting out of control. Last weekend I was the entire Russian Red army choir, and their soloist, performing Kalinka. The Cossack dancing in the background nearly killed me.

You can be honest with me. Is this normal behaviour for an adult? Maybe you too have a secret life? Are you a star of stage or screen, or perhaps an Olympian Gold medallist?

I promise not to laugh. I mean, I'm hardly in a position to am I?

A Moodscope member.

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

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Things I have done today. Friday April 20, 2018

I am not doing great at the moment and this is always a difficult time of year for me. Maybe this year has been tougher than others but I am not sure.

Do you ever get surprised by how difficult depression is no matter how many times you have been there before? I know I do. Always learning and relearning.

There is a comfort for me in writing lists that are almost the same every day. Sometimes I write a To Do list. Sometimes, especially on really hard days, I write a Things I Have Done list. My little mantra is "if it is hard for you, then it is hard".

Things I Have Done Today:

- Took my medication
- Fed and saw to the cat
- Took my Moodscope test
- Did a mini-mindfulness exercise
- Did some stretches
- Drank 3 large glasses of water
- Ate some fruit
- Ate some vegetables
- Walked around the block
- Washed up a basin of dishes
- Spent 10 minutes working on my CV (I actually set a timer for 5 minutes, but got into a flow so kept going for a bonus 5 minutes, which was completely unexpected)
- Read a chapter of my book of the moment which is "Managing Depression with Mindfulness for Dummies" (today it was interesting things about how parts if the brain work.)

Now actually looking back I feel pretty good about achieving all that. And I feel really good about having made myself feel pretty good! I am reminded that this setting 5 minutes of a task is really helpful. I learned this before several times but here I go again.

Tomorrow is a whole new day and imagine what I could get done now I remembered or relearned that?

A Moodscope member.

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Nurturing. Thursday April 19, 2018

I think nurturing is very important as I think it should be for most of us during our ups and downs. I am going through really difficult time just now. I happen to be Bipolar and am going through a bad bout of anxiety which has knocked me for six. So I need to be kind to myself or as we say nurture oneself.

Unfortunately I just don't seem to be able to slow down, so this is the area on which I need to work on most. I am lucky though as during this difficult time my family are nurturing me, especially my wife and youngest daughter, the latter being a junior doctor so has some knowledge of mental health illnesses.

To help us, my daughters have organised a cleaner to come and clean the flat once a week. I have accepted this offer and it has motivated both my wife and I to tidy the place up so the cleaner can get on with without the clutter!

I consider myself truly blessed as I have very patient and understanding psychiatrists. At present the are reviewing my medications as they seem not to be working and have some unpleasant side effects.

Nurturing for me is also being patient with myself and all those around me. Do you nurture yourself in times of need?

Flower in the Garden
A Moodscope member.

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The Art of Noise. Wednesday April 18, 2018

I seem to have been doing a lot of listening recently.

A friend had his research stolen and published without accreditation. He needed a sympathetic ear into which he poured his feelings of anger, hurt, betrayal and frustration.

My mother has needed to process all the emotion attached to objects before she can let them go. I have listened to all her stories about people I never knew and places I've never been.

My younger daughter needed to tell us about her feelings of anger and resentment over school, over the way things are done in the family; the way nobody ever listens to her.

Ah yes: because we're not very good at listening.

I know that when I'm "Up", I burble all over the place. I don't mean to be insensitive, but I don't speak into people's space – I just fountain joy (occasionally irritation or frustration) all around, and don't consider that other people may need to stay dry. When "Down", I am incapable of listening – all my attention is centred on coping through that dark misery.

But, we do need to listen.

We need to listen so we can respond appropriately to situations and we need to listen to meet the emotional needs of others.

We need to listen just as we need to be listened to.

I remember being taught listening skills on a management training course, long ago.

The first technique is to really listen. That means paying attention to the speaker rather than using the space to formulate your own reply.

Part of it is to make the appropriate response. This may be eye contact (it might not, depending on the situation), it may be to make listening noises: the "Uh huh," and "Mmm…" – although these must be real and not just those we make to make someone think we're listening, when really our mind is on peeling potatoes. We should also make the speaker know they are understood, maybe by reflecting back to them what they've just said, but in different words. If we've got it wrong, then they will correct us – hopefully without storming out of the room with the teenage, "You never understand anything!"

Very often we just need to listen; we don't have to solve their problem. Very few of us, after all, have a magic wand we can wave to make everything all right. When someone is pouring out their grief over a death or loss, then what we feel is an inadequate though heartfelt "I'm so sorry," is all they need. We may need to validate their emotion: "Absolutely I can see why you're angry; I would be too!"

And sometimes, when that emotion is directed at us, we need to say, "I'm sorry that what I did upset you."

I think we have all heard the saying that we have two ears but only one mouth and that we should use them in the proportion given.

Not bad advice.

(and the earworm to go with this:

A Moodscope member.

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Toxic time, the fast show and... tea. Tuesday April 17, 2018

I have my brother-in-law to thank for some observations. I wouldn't tell him though, as he is a little conceited.

A while ago I was crippled with anxiety and depression, so much so, that I turned to alcohol - the one thing helped keep me going. On day, walking across the common with my brother-in-law and three dogs it was made evident that my 'problem' related to not having much productive activity in my life. Hence my time was toxic to me. It stretched out as if looking into a bottomless pit. I tried petty distractions, but with little meaning or value to my actions, my time was still unwanted.

Secondly, my attitude. It was like that of unlucky Alf in the Fast Show, everything was wrong, because my attitude was so bad. And bad things happened to me. It seemed to me that everything was doom, everything was gloom, and I didn't know how to change it.

I was advised to drink tea. I had stopped drinking it, preferring Vodka instead.

I have now addressed all three issues, and feel the happiest I have been since I can remember. My time is precious and joyous, much of the day. I like my work, my son, doing up my house, swimming, playing the guitar and of course, walking on the common. I ride along on my bike, and it is Brilliant, reminding me of the happier Fast Show character. My attitude has turned though 180 degrees. And I drink lots of tea. This I see as looking after my body, and keeping it hydrated.

So, three realms of good living. Precious time used well, an adjustment away from a self pitying attitude (I apply that statement only to myself), and keeping the body supported as well as the mind.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Keep on keeping on part 2. Monday April 16, 2018

I wrote a blog for moodscope in December 2017 about creating a new routine when you lose a job and the need to keep on keeping on.

Four months on, I start a new job in a week. But the interview and experience has made me want to talk about employment and bipolar.

In my interview, I was asked to go through my career to date-which led me to explain that I had bipolar as many of you will recognise, it's difficult not to! I had gaps in my employment history and have always felt the need to be honest. But, later (before I was offered the job) I got the fear that I had made a mistake and that it may count against me. Thankfully it didn't, but I took a risky leap of faith. Equally, I don't want the condition to define me but felt the need to speak out, nonetheless.

I've been knowingly discriminated against in the past and yet still I think the need to be open, represent those in recovery (which brings its own fears, when/if symptoms will come back) and raise awareness of the illness. I also don't deny that people around you who know you and spend a lot of time with you (ie. those we work with) are well placed to spot differences in behaviour when I may not. So, there is a sense of self preservation in the decision too.

In the subsequent discussions, there was no mention of my condition which is a good thing. I haven't had an episode for eight years... but for me, there is still the fear that it will come back. So, felt the need to prepare them, just in case.

How open are you with those you work with about your condition? Do you feel it's important to raise the issue or is it none of their business! I would love to hear your views and any advice about how to tackle meeting a new group of people when you are well but with a diagnosis.

The wee one.
A Moodscope member.

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Childhood. Sunday April 15, 2018

As our old photos go by on the screen saver, I thought 'what sort of parents were we?' Given our circumstances, without reference to our aptitude, our kids had a charmed upbringing.

We were, I see now, lucky to have no money, so first house a beautiful estate lodge, but sans electricity, drainage, bathroom or decent kitchen. We re-built it into a very desirable residence – the kids learned to climb ladders, mix cement, demolish chimneys and saw wood from an early age. Huge garden, earth heaps left over from grading tennis court to have mock wars in, trees to climb and endless friends – we were popular.

Chased out by the M25 just as we had got 5 children and a perfect house we acquired a 17 roomed mini-mansion, totally vandalised, no windows, plaster ceilings falling into breakfast cereal, and fleas and lice left by squatters. We discovered a Saxon moat, a duck pond (imagine the mess clearing it), ruins of an Elizabethan mansion, so the museum did a dig.

Always, cats, dogs, rabbits – then on to pigs, cows and horses at livery. With those came nubile teenage girls. The boys learned even more skills. I had to have live-in help (hated it) and foreign students to help our income. So we usually sat down 12 to dinner. Then came scout and guide camps, Young Farmers clubs – Bernard Cribbins lived round the corner, and came and put frog-spawn in the moat.

Summer holidays were out, so we hired places in Italy for a pittance and rushed off at Christmas in a soft-topped Land Rover, no radio, a pathetic heater, no game boys. We still don't know why we did not die of hypothermia in the Alps, or swiped off a mountain road by a juggernaut (pre-motorways). Then Italian cakes, rushing to the shore to check the catch of fish, in fact, not wearing rose-coloured glasses, bliss.

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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Dinner Parties. Saturday April 14, 2018

When entertaining, do you, as a host, make the evening as enjoyable as possible for your guests?

Or do your guests feel the need to ask you lots of questions and give you lots of compliments because you have taken the time and trouble to cook for them?

There are no rules I guess, but personally, when I used to entertain (not been up to it for a while) the evening is all about them and not me.

We were invited to two dinner parties recently, rare, just so happened that way.

At one dinner, the main subject was politics. I don't mind that but it got rather boring after a while. The hosts did all of the talking, the guests really had no choice but to make the right noises in the right places.

I noticed that the other guests said exactly what the hosts wanted to hear. After all, they had been given a lovely meal by them. All a bit fake if you ask me.

I have learnt (to some extent) to keep my mouth shut if I do not agree. I will never be the one that says just what people want to hear. Even if they have just served me a delicious meal.

At the other dinner, we all complimented the host, as you do, but it turned out he just wanted to talk about his problems. Is that why he invited us?

I was depressed and didn't want to go out. But people say, don't they, "Make yourself go, you will feel better for it".

I burst into tears and went home.

Neither dinner party took my mind off things. Great food but the conversations were grim!

It has not restored my faith in people, as I believe they often have an ulterior motive.

They invite you to dinner so they can talk about themselves!!

Personally, I cannot talk much within a group of people, so I am grateful not to have questions fired at me.

But light entertainment and a bit of fun, would not go amiss.

Should dinner parties or even general get togethers, be about the hosts, or the guests?

A Moodscope member.

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Is significant change possible? Friday April 13, 2018

I was nearly 40 before the penny dropped that some of the problems I'd been experiencing — pain, low mood, compulsive behaviour, inability to maintain relationships, social anxiety — were being driven from within my own mind.

There were several reasons why it took so long and here are two of them:

Firstly, I isolate — few get to see me beyond superficialities. Secondly, none of my symptoms were florid enough to stop me functioning; I could get by. Imagine a car slowly driving along the edge of a busy road, the sound of its flat tyres making you wince.

It's doing about 10mph, it has not got its hazard lights on, other vehicles passing it by. You wave at the driver and yell, "Stop and fix the tyres!" but he can't hear you so he just smiles and waves back and carries on down the road. In fact he's got the radio on quite loud and it's playing, "Don't Worry, Be Happy" on a loop.

My mind was both the car and the radio. I'm quite grateful for its tendency to tune to a station with a cheerful song. However, when I eventually noticed those flat tyres I also saw that the radio's tuner had a problem too.

I can't remember the year or the month but I do remember it was 7pm and it was winter. I'd been sat in a chair staring at a wall and I realised I'd been there for 12 hours. With clarity it occurred to me that this wasn't right. In fact it occurred to me that I'd been wall-staring on and off for months. Secondly, it occurred to me there was only me and
the wall — and there was nothing wrong with the wall. I put my trainers on and went for a walk and started thinking. The rain wasn't a problem.

It wasn't exactly an epiphany but sometime around then, after I realised I needed to physically move, I saw "the car" needed a few things fixing. Funnily enough the first thing I did was turn the radio off; it was a distraction. Of course turning off my happy song lowered my mood but with less distraction I could start to focus on what was wrong with things.

That's pretty much where my journey into "car mechanics" began. It has taken about 15 years so far, gone down some dead ends, but also made some progress too. About the only thing which has been consistent is the belief that significant change is possible and, if I write any more of these pieces I guess I'll unpack the metaphor and get to details.

But for now, what's your basic outlook? Do you believe that significant change is possible? How do you maintain that belief?

A Moodscope member.

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

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Race to the finish line. Thursday April 12, 2018

Many years ago, I watched the end of a marathon on television long after the main runners had finished. There was one runner who was not far from the finish line but who kept falling and was dizzy and disoriented. He could not be helped, or he would be disqualified so it was fascinating and heart breaking to see this athlete so determined to reach the line, yet he kept falling over and looked defeated.

In the end a decision was made that he needed help and I can only imagine how disappointed he must have felt to get so close yet so far to the finishing line. I think to have prepared your mind and body for so long for such a race of endurance only to miss out within feet/metres of the finishing line would be so frustrating.

Many of us will never go in a marathon, but we have undertaken challenges big and small only to get so close to completing the task but for some reason we can not get over the finish line.

A friend of mine went back to university in her 50s and was doing well with her studies. In her final year she had a virus then became very depressed and even though she had only 2 units to finish her degree she was not able to. The university offered her extra time, but she lost hope and confidence in herself and gave up. Her friends and family kept encouraging her, but she told me she had given it her best effort and that was not good enough, so she decided to give up gracefully.

Everyone is different. Seeing the end so close would have inspired others to finish the degree even if it did take longer than planned.

It does not have to be a big challenge, it can be a small task that you were close to finishing but never did.

Have you ever got so close to finishing something but at the last minute you could not reach the line?

Or did you put in an enormous effort at the end and finish only to feel exhausted and sick for weeks later?

A Moodscope member

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The Lap of the Gods. Wednesday April 11, 2018

It's a stressful time in the Wednesday household.

Yes, the air fairly hums with tension and sparks fly at the least ill-chosen word. There are emotional storms, tears and slammed doors.

The reason? The dreaded GCSEs.

Talking to the parents of other children facing the same exams, I find not all families go through this. Some children exude Zen. They are the ones comforting their parents. "Don't worry," they say, "What will be, will be."

Not my daughter.

We could blame the school, I suppose, for setting her predicted grades so high. But not all academic children go through this. We could blame ourselves for inflicting our expectations on her, but realistically, we have always supported her regardless of her academic performance.

No – in the end, the person who is putting the pressure on my daughter is my daughter herself.

I know how she feels. I can remember revising for my exams, nearly forty years ago. I was convinced I would fail, convinced that I had no future without those exams. Looking back, it was one of the worst times in my life.

So, how do I guide my daughter through this nightmare?

At least she has a mother who understands, and to whom, thank goodness, she can talk. And we do talk.

My husband and I support her through revision, attempting to convince her she does not need to know every text by heart, or to know enough to write each text book herself.

We can persuade her to take time out, to go sailing and to enjoy her scouting activities. I can cook her nourishing meals and provide her with healthy snacks. I can encourage her to do some guided meditation and to practice mindfulness.

But after that, there's nothing we can do. The exam system is what it is. She has done the work and she's got a good brain. We must leave it in the lap of the gods.

And that's the toughest part. It's hard to accept that you have done everything and that you can do nothing more. As parents we cannot do more, and as the one facing the challenge, she can do nothing more – even though she always thinks she could do more revision and yet more!

And – in two years' time she will be going through it all again with A levels, and then in university and then in life.

There are always challenges for us for us to go through. Some people meet them with a happy-go-lucky relaxed air. But - if you are reading this, the chances are you're not one of those people.

So – do you have a methodology for coping? Do you set yourself reasonable goals? Do you take time to do the things you enjoy without guilt? Do you nourish your body with healthy food and take exercise? Do you practise meditation and mindfulness?

You can see it makes sense for my daughter. I think it makes sense for us all.

(Oh, and for any of you chasing an earworm on this title – here you go:

A Moodscope member.

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

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Shapeshifter. Tuesday April 10, 2018

My depression is a shapeshifter. One week I am sitting in front of the Doctor saying 'I have great insight into my depression, and I know I'm managing it OK at the moment'. A fortnight later I'm sitting in front of her, crying saying 'I don't want to be here anymore' and I realise I've been sliding back into that hole. Maybe I didn't know depression as well as I thought.

This frightens me. Before Christmas I wrote about falling into a hole that I couldn't find a way to climb out of. That was as bad as it had been in a long time. I thought I'd been managing it since then, my Doctor says I am, I'm managing it to a degree and where would I be if I wasn't doing what I have been... watching my diet, exercising, fresh air, yoga, writing.....?

This time it was so sneaky. The symptoms had shifted. I hadn't even realised that these things were part of my low mood: I was isolating myself, I didn't want to see people and pretend, or bore them. I was dreading going to work each week, teaching, which I love once I'm there. Planning meals, kids activities, weekend logistics were straying beyond my capabilities. And clothes! Clothes have become a problem (don't worry, I'm not about to ditch them completely!), I just don't feel comfortable in anything. Finally, I just feel exhausted, totally wiped out, achey and my bed is the most attractive place on the planet.

I took the Moodscope test cards this week, I was clicking on different symptoms, here was some clarity. So I'm here again, and I realise it hadn't really moved away, just shifted it's grasp to a different part of my life. But I'm getting help and I'm trying and I won't be so naive next time, if I don't feel right, it's probably because I'm not!

How do you know when you're slipping? Are the symptoms always familiar?

A Moodscope member.

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

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And I dreamed I'm an Eagle. Monday April 9, 2018

It said on the Moodscope card, "Inspired... feeling the desire to do something," and then I remembered the dream. I dreamed I was an eagle.

I spread my wings and the wind beneath my wings lifted me up.

Up, up, up...


High in the Sky.

The air was thin but pure.

I breathed in d-e-e-p-l-y and felt renewed, uplifted, inspired, free, ready to do something with my Life.

And then you came to me. The other eagle. Graceful. Ancient. Wise.

We flew side by side, wing tip to wing tip, moving as one.

I wondered what your name was, and the name came: Águila!

"Learn from me, for I am gentle, and you will find rest... then take my purpose upon you for my mission is easy and my work is Light..." so came to me the thoughts of Águila the Eagle.

"What is your purpose," I thought out loud.

"To pause for thought, take a deeper breath, and allow the air to inspire you, the height to capture your imagination, and the distance to give you perspective."

Then I remembered that I was really earth bound. I had no wings. I could not fly. And I woke up from my dream... but some thoughts remained.

"Walk where the air is moving, pause for thought, allow the moment to inspire you as you breathe deeper, distance yourself from all the busyness of your Life, and let the distance give you perspective... then, and only then, will you be the Eagle you dream to be, ready to take today's purposeful action."

And thus, earthbound, I took flight...

[Dear Moodscopers, may you be inspired today...]


A Moodscope member.

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

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Still in recovery but enjoying the journey. Sunday April 8, 2018

I've been reading the Moodscope blogs for years now but have never written one. Not good enough?? Well maybe I am!

I've been single for years. I had a brief relationship about 3 years ago. We had a good time and it lasted a few months, but I didn't particularly like myself let alone love myself so no surprise it didn't last!

I've also been studying over the last four years towards a counselling qualification. Stages 1-3, although tough, went well. Stage 4 was a major shock to the system. I made it through the year and passed but it pretty much wiped me out! Those of you that have been on this path will understand how hard it is.

A condition of the course is to undertake personal therapy to, among other things, understand yourself, patterns of behaviour and identify triggers. There was more for me to work on here than I expected. Behaviour very well hidden and buried over the years.

I deferred my second year and will be returning this year to complete (hopefully) the course. I've continued therapy and yes it's painful. Yes, it's tough. But I feel each day I am becoming stronger and accepting myself.

So back to the dating. I'm now seeing a lovely man. I'm honest, open and vulnerable with him (thank you Brene Brown) and although incredibly painful at times it has been the making of me.

We communicate and talk about both good and bad feelings. A completely new experience for me. Moments when I would have clammed up, buried my feelings and walked away I've spoken out and guess what? Our relationship has become stronger! It's still very early days but I am learning that I can have a healthy, loving relationship. It may not last but maybe it will. I am learning to relax, not grasp, be needy or desperate and it feels good.

I've learnt to like myself and am allowing others to really see me. And guess what... they stick around and like me back.

Years floundering around not appreciating I was ill. I used to say that life was a journey and I got on the wrong bus! What made it wrong? It was different to what I had thought and one that took a different route. Let's just say I've taken the scenic route both in recovery and with my studies. I am still on the bus but am now able to accept when it's time to step off, rest, look after myself then get back on.

I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Still in recovery but enjoying the journey. I'm now asking for support and help when I need it. Again, a completely new experience for me.
I never liked the word journey, but it is what it is.

Believe in yourself, trust yourself and know that whichever route you take will be the one the universe had arranged for you.

A Moodscope member.

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

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I seem to be going to a lot of funerals lately... Saturday April 7, 2018

I seem to be going to a lot of funerals lately. I am not talking about the tragic deaths - I can't speak about those - I am talking about the deaths of people who have lived a good life and reached a grand old age. I am talking about my dear aunties and uncles and my own lovely father and my friends' parents.

I was at my friend's father's funeral recently. He was 90 and loved and we all had a sweet story to tell about him. I saw how my friend's husband minded her throughout the long, exhausting funeral day. It reminded me of my dad's funeral and how my brother-in-law minded my sister during the funeral and the days after. I recall how she put her head on his shoulder in the funeral home and how he put his arm around her in the church, how he handed her a tissue in the crematorium and brought her dessert in the hotel (one of every variety, just in case) so she wouldn't have to queue. I remembered him stroking her back as we sat in the church.

I thought my mother might be feeling a bit left out so I stroked her back a few times in the church too. I hoped it would have a soothing affect. But she recoiled, visibly irritated, and muttered: 'Would you stop rubbing me, I'm not a dog'. Of course my mother (a fiercely independent, non-tactile person) did not want to be stroked or rubbed. It was me who wanted to feel a touch. It was me who wanted someone to put their arms around me and say everything would be okay.

I remember my ex-husband arriving at the funeral home out of the blue. I was surprised to see him but yet it seemed so right that he was there, with me, on this day. But of course he didn't stay all day. I remember we both went to hug but it was raining heavily outside and his coat was soaking wet so, just before we hugged, he stood back and said he wouldn't ruin my black dress. I didn't care about the dress, I wanted a hug so badly. But I didn't say that. Because you don't say that to your ex-husband in front of your kids and your mother and your sister's family and your dead father. I don't think so anyway.

I spent the day greeting people and thanking people and looking after my mother and my kids and making sure aunties were sitting beside friendly family members or at least none they disliked too much and that everyone had a drink.

And then finally the day was over and I got home and put the kids to bed and I took out the Oscar Wilde book my father had given me as a young adult and I read some poems to myself. And then the tears came.

I remember being scared in that moment that my father's death would trigger the sadness (as I call it) and I wouldn't be able to cope if it got bad. But it didn't. I loved my father. And he loved me. And he was a good age. It wasn't a tragedy. The sadness didn't kick in. I was as up and down and 'sad' then as I had been before, as I have been since.

But I do remember feeling terribly lonely. More than anything else on that night of my father's funeral, I wanted a hug. Or even a back rub! Or a tissue. Or for someone to hand me a cup of tea and a selection of desserts...

Salt Water Mum
A Moodscope member.

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

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