The Moodscope Blog

12

June

Poem Therapy

Saturday June 12, 2021


Quite a few people have written about how helpful writing is, so I thought I’d share my own experiences with writing poems. Writing might not work for everyone, but it did help me over a difficult time and opened up new social connections. Perhaps most importantly, for me at least, it made me notice details, and better relate to the world around me. I now regularly use writing and reading poems as a self-administered therapy.

When my mother died a few years ago there was a gap in me that I didn’t even know had been filled before. I didn’t notice it at first, everything was so busy. The hospital wards and car parks to navigate; the forms to fill in; writing and printing the eulogy; the funeral; being kind and sympathetic to friends and relatives who all missed her. And then, when I came back home to my little cottage on the moor, the finality emerged as a gap. I read Sylvia Plath’s poem ‘Parliament Hill Fields’ and found that it helped.

So, one evening I wrote a poem. I’ve always enjoyed poetry; it was something that my mother had instilled in me from an early age. I still have old, battered copies of slim books by Ted Hughes, Thom Gunn and TS Eliot that my mother gave me when I was a young teenager; but I hadn’t written a poem since school ‘O level’ Eng Lit homework. It didn’t get good marks and I didn’t bother again.

But that evening when I was trying to articulate the memories of my mother, I ended up writing a poem about our long-distance telephone conversations and the drive south to be with her at the end. I can’t say whether it was a good poem or not, but that’s not the point. I’ve since revised it many times. I reorder the words, perhaps taking some out or adding some in; and each time I do, the gap fills.

I joined a writing group in the village and some online poetry groups. I wrote other poems and read other poets. I don’t always join the meetings; they can be quite daunting. But it’s nice to know that there are other people also trying to write poetry, also trying to fill gaps.

I met the poet Deryn Rees-Jones once and she showed me how she starts the process of writing a poem in a blank notebook so that the words and ideas can go anywhere on the page.

I think the blank page is important for my personal form of poem therapy: not to be trammelled by lines. Big writing, small writing, writing along the edges, writing in circles, crossing out, scribbled writing, careful writing. Writing the way I feel and what I see. Sometimes a poem emerges, sometimes it doesn’t.

Occasionally I send poems to magazines but have nothing accepted yet. At first, I was disappointed, but now realise the poems are only a way of telling truth to myself.

Here’s an ode to the nightingale by Deryn Rees-Jones that’s one of my ‘go to’ therapy poems.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/mar/07/nightingale-deryn-rees-jones-poem-of-month

Has anyone else tried writing poems for therapy?

Rowan on the moor
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to post a comment below.


11

June

“Because I am”

Friday June 11, 2021


I recently asked a 3-year-old why she was doing something. She looked at me and smiled saying “because I am.”

I thought how children can answer a question so simply yet with so much meaning. When I am asked a why question I go through so many thoughts before offering a wordy reply that does not answer the question at all.
 
The words “because I am“, does it say it all or is it avoiding the question. I feel it sounds confident and there is no need to explain because I am.

How do you answer questions that you may find hard to answer?

They maybe be about your mood, why are you sad, about your motivation why are you so tired or maybe about what you are doing, ie. why do you watch a lot of television?

There are many other questions one is asked daily about why one feels a certain way or why one behaves a certain way. I am not saying how to answer questions, but I like the confidence of a 3-year-old to simply say “because I am.”

I overthink everything and when people ask me something they get frustrated as I ramble on and never answer the question but end up telling stories and a brief personal history.
 
How do you answer questions that you find difficult to explain or you are tired of people asking? What do you think of the answer “because I am”? Would it work for adults.?

Leah
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to post a comment below.


10

June

Trauma

Thursday June 10, 2021


Emotions bind us. Experiences bind us. But the strongest thing that holds people together irrespective of differences in caste, sex, creed, is trauma.

For trauma can be re-triggered by various aspects. Be it glancing, hearing something or going through it again in some form. You get fixated and time stops. Logic blows away and you look around for protection or for just being able to live through the panic.

Trauma runs across generations, families.

If one does not deal with it, it sweeps you off your feet even if you tell yourself that you can deal with it. Trauma erases previous conflicts among people and encircle us to fight together.Thus, you may push away people for numerous reasons. But, when trauma strikes and you feel the ground has opened up and the fire is encroaching, you run towards those very people who are feeling the wrath of the intense disturbance.

You can't slip it under the rug, or keep it hidden in the box with a strong key. We feel uncomfortable with these feelings and try to distract ourselves with other stuff. It can be as complex as drinking to as 'simple' as just binge watching. But we do whatever it takes to avoid these difficult feelings.

Many are afraid to speak out, many are scared to reach out. Thoughts race about safety and stigma. When did we come to the point of this strong fear? Have people lost their empathy, to provide unconditional positive regard? Or is it that we are afraid to trust and lean on someone again?

All these statements went through my mind as I approached my sister and told her about my trauma for the first time.

We have been fighting ever since I can remember but I know that a family trauma like this can be and needs to be shared with her. I did not know how she would react, but I remember her gaze on me and silently listening to my every word. I received a strong hand on my back and a tub of ice cream to be devoured while watching studio Ghibli movies together. 

Words sometimes aren't enough when you know you are hurting. Words are certainly not enough when two people have kept on acting hostile towards each other. Yet, small actions together, like a holistic plan, sheds away our inhibitions one by one, till we rise above our uncertainty and face towards sunshine.

I know now: Learn to heal together for it's a collective process. Even if we have individual differences, some things always fasten us forever.

Puja
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to post a comment below.


9

June

What Can You Hold Onto?

Wednesday June 9, 2021


Being still in the depressive part of the bipolar cycle (it should be over soon – at least I really hope so), I find it difficult to focus on anything. I wander vaguely around, picking up one task and then another; only to drop it a few minutes later; drifting away to something else. I have described this feeling before as like being in an invisible fog. Maybe you too recognise this feeling. We are not alone: people with other conditions, such as Fibromyalgia, are also familiar with “brain fog.”

There are so many lovely people out there, who really want to help. They say, “Remember I’m here, if you ever want to talk.” They invite us to social events or just round for coffee, because “It will do you good to get out.” I always feel so churlish when I refuse; it seems necessary to go into explanations of why I’m too weak and shaky even to walk to the post-box at the end of the road, and how I cannot cope even with the company of my best and oldest friend. I can be with Himself and my family and that’s the limit. Being with people takes energy – and I don’t have that energy right now.

There are a couple of things, however, I can still do. I can still write these blogs and I can still craft.

My craft is cardmaking. There is something both soothing and fulfilling about taking cardboard, patterned papers, ribbons and sparkly beads, and creating something intended to bring a moment’s joy to its recipient.

If it brings that moment of joy, it has done its job and that is my happiness. Some people, I know, keep all the cards I have made for them as, indeed, I keep all the handmade cards ever given to me, in a scrapbook. I’m on my third one now. There are people too, for whom I make special cards; those ones that go beyond simply opening and closing: the ones my daughter calls paper engineering.

Himself gets the best ones, naturally. The most recent was a “Jacob’s Ladder”: a series of six decorated double-sided cards, joined together with ribbon in such a way that, when the top one is twisted, the rest flip and turn over by themselves. It’s an immensely satisfying sensation to feel the flop, flop, flop as each individual card moves. Every card is made with joy and given with love.

Other friends get individually designed cards at Christmas. I start thinking about those, and designing them, each January. Yesterday I discovered how to make two cats pop out from different sides of a Christmas tree when a tab is pulled. I know exactly who will get that one!

In the bad times, those two things I hold onto: writing and cardmaking; holding fast with gratitude and, sometimes, desperation.

Do you have anything to hold onto in the bad times? I hope you do.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to post a comment below.


8

June

Loss and Anniversaries

Tuesday June 8, 2021


Bereavement supporters stay with with their clients
and support them throughout the allocated time, six weeks, sometimes
longer, accompanying them on part of the way and supporting them
while they undergo some of the stages of their personal grief journey
which can be very painful.

I started seriously thinking of anniversaries when at the beginning of March two years ago a well loved colleague died. I remember him with warmth and affection. I rang a friend on 20 May who informed me that it was exactly thirteen years since her husband had died. She seemed glad to share this significant day with someone.

An anniversary that I commemorate in a small but distinct way is
the date we moved to Lampeter from Birmingham in mid-August
33 years ago. It has proved a landmark in my memory. I realise that I have lived in Lampeter for longer than I have lived in any other place.

Are there any days that are significant for you during your year and which you like to commemorate or celebrate? Or to consider or reflect on.

Orangeblossom
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to post a comment below.


7

June

For Today

Monday June 7, 2021


[To listen to an audio version of this blog post, please click here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1396123/8648222 and to watch the video, click here: https://youtu.be/bEhzrRBzD8I]

Yesterday, I ‘sprung’ Dad from 8 days and nights in a hospital stroke ward. His care was exemplary but accompanied with the necessary indignities of hospital life. He’d had a mini-stroke, an embolic shower – as they call it, and his recovery was rapid. However, it’s a massive warning for us all, and the future will be filled with blood-thinners and eight other pills, potions, and inhalers that will keep his heart rate more stable and his brain stroke free.

That sets the scene for what came next: gratitude for today.

When we picked Dad up, we asked him what he wanted. He was crystal clear: a proper cup-of-tea, a two-hour shower, a decent night’s sleep, and… crispy prawns in sweet chilli sauce!

The latter one was the only challenge. Marks and Spencer’s Food Hall was an immediate ‘fail’ and it looked like Waitrose was going to get nul points too! Gratitude flowed when I finally found the desired dish (as I’d wondered to myself whether I could face Sainsbury too if Waitrose joined the UK in that famous dreaded Eurovision phrase.)

This is an emotional time for the family. We naturally reflect and ask ourselves, “What is truly important?” For Dad, what is appreciated is quite ‘small’ on the grand scale of things. He’d forgotten to mention good music. He lives his life wrapped in the most magnificent classical music cocoon. After a session with Haydn, Beethoven, and, of course, Mozart, he emerges reborn.

This has been a very long build up to a very simple call to thought. What small things are important to you? 8 days of deprivation was enough for Dad to become clear on the niceties of life that make each day sing. For me, it’s the shower, the posh coffee, privacy, quiet, creative freedom, wine, Icelandic wheat beer, olives, good cheese, time freedom… nothing here to make anyone say, “Wow, what a guy!” It is mainly simple stuff that I’ve come to cherish.

What would be on your list?

The first BIG thing for me was an instant hike in my gratitude levels. EVERY cup of coffee using my favourite brand (with cream) is now a celebration. EACH moment in the shower – with my Goats’ Milk Soap – a cause for rejoicing. EVERY sip of my favourite beer or wine…

The second ENORMOUS thing was a re-assessment of time. Mum’s gone. Dad nearly went. We’ve got friends and family facing life-limiting illnesses and there seems to be loss all around us. The long-term plans are diminishing in importance. In their place, there is a bright and joyful focus on commitment to and gratitude for today.

Lex
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to post a comment below.


6

June

Thank you Helga

Sunday June 6, 2021


I met a fabulous person last week, her name is Helga. Most likely we will never meet again. She had one job to do, and that was to administer the Covid19 vaccine into my arm. I was a tiny bit nervous. Any jag in the arm (not just such an historical one as this), can make us breathe a little shallower, followed by a little more deeply as we calibrate. 
 
Helga was brilliant. Perfectly business like and swift in her time management. Perfectly aware she had said the same thing possibly 10, 20, 30 times already that day, and yet she said again it without even a hint of bored repetition. Perfectly gentle in word and manner. Perfectly subtle as her body hid the starting pistol. She had a singsong voice that was perfectly suited to her name. 
 
I am not walking on air at the moment, I am once again pulled into the fingertips of depression and staring defiantly as I try to wrestle free. Helga was a reminder that, where there is trouble there is also a raft of people willing to help others. Thank you for your 2-minute friendship Helga. It helped in so many ways. 
 
Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to post a comment below.


5

June

My Therapy

Saturday June 5, 2021


I would like to tell you about my experience of Counselling therapy. I hope it will provide information to enable you to decide whether it may useful for you.

I have dabbled in Therapy a few times earlier in my life during periods of mental turmoil and /or depression. Each time it was for a short period ( about 6 sessions ) and although it was useful to speak to an independent soul I did not feel I gained much lasting benefit.

In March 2020 I suffered a mental breakdown that changed my life. I was referred to the local Mental Health Team. Unfortunately as this coincided with start of the first Covid lockdown the normal face to face counselling was not available. So my first experience of telephone counselling began. Two members of the MHT rang me at prearranged times two or three times each week. This continued until the end of September when it was agreed they had done as much as they could. I had received a total of about 40 hours counselling. The process was a life saver during this critical time.

I realised I needed more help and that it must be face to face. I went on line to find a psychotherapist and visited the website for BACP ( British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy). I looked for a qualified therapist within 10 miles of home. Initially I contacted a business engaging a number of therapists on their premises. I lost interest when they could not confirm I would be seeing the same person on each visit. After a bit more research I found a therapist operating only 2 miles from home. She ( I will call her Linda but it is not her real name) is fully qualified and rents a small office in a business village. In early October I rang Linda and arranged our first meeting. It was obvious to me very quickly that we could relate to each other easily.

She suggested weekly hourly sessions at the same time each week. I had decided that to gain the maximum benefit from this therapy I needed to be completely open and honest about my thoughts, feelings and my life story.
We soon gained each others trust and found a similar sense of humour. At our first session I was nervous but soon felt as ease. Linda listens well, has a brilliant memory and loads of empathy. We have discussed many issues in my life and have not always agreed on the best course of any action. She practices integrative therapy which to suits me.

I have now competed about 30 sessions and realised that the relationship between client and therapist is unique. It can be very friendly but is contained confidentially within the time spent together at each session. It is difficult to measure progress but I certainly feel better than when I started. We have now agreed to continue sessions on a fortnightly basis.

So could Therapy make a difference for you? I think it might provided the following conditions are present:
Openness
Empathy
Ability to relate
Comfortable setting
Perseverance

Teg
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to post a comment below.


4

June

I wished I had learnt …

Friday June 4, 2021


How often have you said or heard someone sigh and say I wish I had learnt to play an instrument, learned a language, learned how to cartwheel, build, cook, sing, paint, etc
This can happen at any age from your 20s till your 90s and older.

I had a man in his 90s come into my shop and bought a book on how to speak German, as he had always wanted to but not managed to do it.

I knew a woman in her 80s who wanted to learn the piano as her parents could not afford lessons when she was a young girl. Her family thought she was being silly but there was a piano at her retirement village, and she arranged for one of the residents, a trained piano teacher, to give her lessons. She will never be a concert pianist, but she can play a few songs and entertain her friends.

I wished I had learnt more French after I left school. I also wished I had learnt to drive when younger as it has influenced my life and relationships. I also wish I had learned magic tricks and to do a cartwheel and the splits.

It is a very long list! I may reveal more later…

I would like to know is there something you wish you had learnt and why?

Do you think it is too late to learn that skill?

Leah
A Moodscope member .

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to post a comment below.


3

June


A while ago, RATG, a Moodscope member, wrote about two lollipop men; one calm and smiling, conscientious, and clearly an alcoholic. The other, smiling and genial, sending folk on their way with a smile, a joke, and sometimes a song. And it was the second one, the sober, smiling genial one, who had a few near misses, being so easily distracted.

Soon, in the comments, were remarks about alcoholism and how well some folk manage to function while addicted.

And I thought about me. And I thought about my dear friend. And I thought about my brother-in-law.

My brother-in-law, sober now for over 30 years, was never an alcoholic. One year he decided to give up alcohol as his New Year Resolution, and after a sober year, chose never to drink again. Inspired by his success, he decided to now give up chocolate for a year. He did not last three months.

My dear friend, an only child, suffered terribly with depression as a teenager and her parents did what they could to help, signing her into a mental hospital where she was given electroconvulsive therapy. She still suffers from the effects of that, almost 50 years later. Her marriage broke up; her husband taking on a new, younger, less bothersome woman. Her parents needed her help in their final years, and she turned to alcohol to help her through the worst times. One child (now in his 40s) blames her for the breakdown of her marriage; the other (now in her late 30s) refused my friend access to her grandchildren, saying my friend “could not be trusted”. Sober now for 10 years, she is doing her best with what she has left, but time, abuse and the rest have left her with severe liver and kidney problems. She reckons every day is a blessing.

And me. I live with constant, debilitating pain which all the doctors in the world (it seems) can do nothing about. Raging at a GP last year, during the first lockdown, when I had been discharged from all access to the Pain Clinic and the specialists there, and the GP could offer me nothing but drugs already tried and proved useless, I said I may as well just go back to treating myself with several slugs of whisky a day. He laughed at me. And he said “yes”.

For my convenience, I have stashed around the house and garden, bottles of whisky. One in my greenhouse, one in my study, one in the craft room. Plus all the rest in the kitchen. I have made my own rules; I have up to 5 slugs a day – but none, ever, after the evening meal. A day or so ago, I wondered if perhaps today I would get through it without any slugs; but decided there was no point in even considering that, they help, even a tiny bit…..and, why should I deprive myself?

But, after RATG’s blog….I wonder; slippery slope. Alcoholic? Me?

CMM
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to post a comment below.


2

June

Punished by the Hammock

Wednesday June 2, 2021


I know you weren’t expecting this, but today I want to talk about the Spanish Inquisition. No – not the real one, which was terrible, but Monty Python’s version. In this sketch, http://bit.ly/comfy-chair, an old woman is accused of heresy, tortured with soft cushions and forced into a comfy chair where she will stay until lunchtime with only a cup of coffee at eleven.

Yesterday my husband put up the hammock. I was instructed to lie in it for the whole afternoon; furthermore, I had to get my own lemonade!

And it was torture. I have written before, (One Day in Seven, 23rd September 2020), about how hard I find it to rest. Even in the depressive part of my cycle, with little energy to do anything active, I still find it hard.

It’s not just the physical weakness, but mental too; It’s impossible to read an interesting new book: old favourites are manageable but can be boring. And resting is difficult when there are still jobs to be done. Please don’t tell my family, but I just couldn’t relax yesterday when there was still bindweed poking its nose out of the flowerbeds. I got up and did a spot of weeding while they were out. It was slightly better then, and the cosy crime whodunnit almost became a page-turner.

We do need to rest, especially when depressed. I wrote about it last week; I really should read and learn from my own blogs!

One of my friends is in training for the priesthood in the Anglican church. She is one of my Moodscope buddies and can be firm with me when I need it. A few days ago, she reminded me of the creation story. Neither of us is a “Creationist,” by the way, but the story has some useful lessons. I thought she was going to lecture me about the seventh day, when the Creator rested. She did mention this, but she also pointed out that, at every stage, the work of the day was reviewed and declared good. Nothing else was started until the next day. Presumably, there was rest at the end of each day too. If the Creator can rest, she asked, why can’t I? It’s a good question.

I find the company of another friend particularly restful. I know he works incredibly hard and brings intense focus to that work but, once he is done for the day, he seems easily able to switch off and relax. When I am in his company, his attitude rubs off on me too.

Sadly, I cannot import him to my hammock: it would be a bit of a squash and, besides, questions might be asked, but I shall take on his attitude.

I think I might add a soft cushion to the hammock, too.

Are you able to rest without guilt? Do you find it boring? What do you do so you get the most benefit from that rest? I’d really like to know.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to post a comment below.


1

June

We need more posts!

Tuesday June 1, 2021


Have you been thinking about writing a blog post for Moodscope but are worried it may not be good enough or you don’t feel confident enough to submit one. Well, you may not be surprised to know that many other members have felt the same way until they have bitten the bullet and had one of their posts published and seen all the helpful and caring replies and felt pleased that they did.

Now is the time to share your story. We are looking for members who would like to write a blog post for the Moodscope web site.

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 political 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 publishing your blog post so that you can reply to member’s comments if you wish.

Time to start writing… submit your post to: support@moodscope.com

In the meantime, for today's conversation: When you’re feeling at your lowest and someone close to you wants to help, what would you like them to do for you?

Kind regards.

The Moodscope Team

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to post a comment below.


31

May

Hindsight and Foresight

Monday May 31, 2021


[To listen to an audio version of this blog post please click here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1396123/8608779 and to watch the video please click here: https://youtu.be/Ic1OwF6UOCw]

Footsteps to a better vision of the future.

If you don’t want dramatic change in your life, today’s blog probably isn’t for you. I do. I want more wisdom to make better decisions. On reflection, I think Hindsight is usually a spiteful companion. Its vision is too often accompanied with feelings of regret, and whilst I believe we really can learn from it, generally speaking I’m against it. It’s a bit of a smarty-pants and its arrogance is based upon an inaccurate grasp of reality.

I had this thought, “Hindsight is the luxury afforded to those who possess more knowledge.” When you and I say, “With hindsight, I would have chosen a different path…” we mean that, “Now that I have more knowledge of the consequences, I think I would have made different choices!”

How much better to have a foretaste of those consequences before we make decisions that can harm our future.

On the video, I quote the wonderful words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “Light tomorrow with today.” The decisions we make today, will ‘light’ or ‘darken’ tomorrow. The thoughts we think, the words we say, the actions we take, all will change the future – for better or for worse. Knowing this, I need a better strategy than Hindsight. Hindsight’s like crying over spilt milk!

My chosen strategy, going forward, is to invest more time and thought in Foresight. I may not have sufficient foreknowledge of the future to always make the best decisions, but if I tweak the way I approach Foresight, I think I can make a better job of decision-making from now on.

I share this in case you, too, have a desire for a bigger, better, bolder, brighter future, and you’d relish some techniques to make that future more likely.

My strategy is two-fold. Firstly, to put every decision within a longer timeframe. Secondly, to realise that there is an ecological impact to every choice. For example, saying, “Yes!” to an invitation to spend time with someone necessarily means that time is no longer available for anything else. Decisions are always a ‘package deal’ and each package has a ‘package price.’

Timeframe first. I made many decisions that made sense ‘in the moment’ and within a small timeframe. Long-term, these decisions were harmful. I know that if I had chosen to press ‘pause’ and had paused for thought, things may have been different. In that pause, I would have asked myself, “If you take this step, what will the consequences be like one year from now? And in two years? Three years? Five years? Ten years? Twenty years?” If we are to light tomorrow with today, let’s look far, far, far into the future in the light of today’s decisions to predict what may happen as a result.

Package deal. I used to fancy a friend’s partner. Naughty, I know, and I never acted upon that unhelpful desire. But what was helpful is that for some insightful reason I thought about the package. Her house was lovely, her lifestyle was attractive, she was gorgeous, but her kids were horrible. I realised, any future with her included the kids! I know that’s a morally reprehensible example, but it’s a powerful one, and it helped me. It was amazing how my attitude changed with that bit of wisdom.

You and I are going to make some decisions today. Let’s make them within a ten-year time frame. “If I take this action, what will be the impact over ten years?” And let’s ask ourselves, “What comes attached to this decision? What’s the package?” Hopefully, this will give us the wisdom of Foresight so that when we look back in ten years’ time, we can say, “With Hindsight, that was a good decision!”

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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


30

May

Droopy drawers 

Sunday May 30, 2021


When bad news arrives, it can send even the most balanced of us into a tailspin. But for those of us who struggle with keeping our mental health tethered, it can throw us into all manner of problems. I think I’ve done the clock face of this. Once upon a time, bad news (and even good news!) would set me onto an adrenalin bounce. My reactions were obtuse. I’d start with shock then click into over-energised response, flip into worry, into reaction, that would seep into my gut and a failure to eat. Unbalanced thoughts due to a lack of quality fuel and blood sugar lows would enter, a generous sprinkling of poor sleep would lead into exhaustion. Eventually hunger, over-eating and the ultimate answer would be to pick up a drink and calm everything down. 

The reason I had a chance of change was because I started scoring myself. The Moodscope cards can be uncomfortable. I’m there with you. They make us look at words we may prefer not to see. We may convince ourselves the cards mean nothing. But by facing them square on, shoulders facing shoulders, we stop allowing a supermarket sweep of our bodies and minds. And that’s when we start taking back control. A fashion phrase I’m not fond of is “owning it” but, in this case, I think when we own it, we start the long journey of permanent change. 
 
I’m guilty again of ignoring my cards. My mood is droopy. I’ll do them today.
 
Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.


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


29

May

Imagine

Saturday May 29, 2021


Imagine a brain that’s foggy.
A pea souper at times
A morning mist at others.
A catatonic brain devoid of energy

Imagine a brain that fires on all cylinders
Perceiving answers quicker than quick
And doing a lot in a little time.

Imagine a brain that won’t let the body sleep
That thinks that it must capitalise on each single waking moment
And sees sleep as an irritant and a bore.

Imagine a brain that thinks, feels, sees deeply
That feeds on every little aspect of exposure
And strains to incorporate that into an achievement.

Imagine a brain that exhausts itself mercilessly
Knowing it but not stopping it,
Thundering on while there’s still time.
That, in a nutshell, is my brain.

Sally
A Moodscope member.

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


28

May

Two Words

Friday May 28, 2021


Last year when I was feeling overwhelmed, I contacted a person who had often told me I could reach out to them. I wrote a detailed email about how I was feeling.

What I received was a short reply, “Stay strong”.

There was no mention of any of the points I had made or any of the feelings I had communicated. I understand there is a need for tenderness when we are struggling so people say stay strong.

I think there are other ways of communicating the need to care for someone, such as actually reading or listening to what they wrote or said.

I am aware for some people the words “Stay strong” would be helpful and gratefully received and there are other words that other people find unhelpful that I may not mind.

I remember telling a friend about the stay strong advice, and a week later someone had sent her the same words, over a totally different problem. We laughed.
 
Before you say Leah, people are saying these words from the heart, I do know that. For me at a time when I felt weak and overwhelmed to be told stay strong seemed quite simplistic.
 
I wonder if there are any words that annoy you that people say when you may have asked for help.

How do you feel about the words stay strong?

Are there words people say when you communicate how you are feeling that you find helpful?

Leah
A Moodscope member.

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


27

May

Panic attacks

Thursday May 27, 2021


From 1978-2016 I have been a fully-functioning, perfectly content motorcyclist enjoying my daily commute to London and various other venues. Suddenly in late 2016 everything changed and the mere thought of a bike trip would turn me into a gibbering wreck such that I couldn’t remember how to drive or how to navigate around the area. Everything was scrambled and jumbled and I was quite scared I’d be dangerous on the road so stopped driving and went everywhere by train or walked. I had no idea why I was having these completely unexpected panic attacks so consulted a psychologist friend. She said it sounded like a mild form of PTSD with my “fight and flight” response stuck firmly at fully “on” and therefore constantly transmitting warnings and alerts and overwhelming other more rational responses. She recommended EMDR therapy to unstick whatever experience or event was triggering these alarms and recommended two therapists, one of whom was a motorcyclist herself. She also told me about rhythmic breathing and tapping to reduce my anxiety levels.

My first session took two hours as it was an opportunity to get to know each other, and the second explored negative and positive responses and their effects. Whenever I remembered a positive experience I was to rhythmically tap it in to reinforce its calming influence, but it’s the unpacking of the negative experiences that has been a revelation. I have been able to look at them all calmly with the eventual goal of getting rid of them completely. For example if you cut yourself in the kitchen you clean out the wound and bandage it, but you might discover some toxins have remained which then poison the rest of you. In other words my negative experiences had toxic repercussions and it was the first time I’d realised it. Once I’d cleaned out all these negative experiences I felt much lighter and cleaner and better able to concentrate on all the positive events.

It’s also related to REM eye movements so following a pencil or a finger’s track to calm responses.

We are still working towards the origin of my anxiety but my anxiety score for motorcycle trips is now down to a three from a ten so I’m very optimistic about the eventual outcome. I’ve only had two sessions so far but feel much better already and am anticipating being on the road and “out to play” again soon. Obviously I’ll need more sessions but am thoroughly enjoying them so things can only improve.

It’s not a cheap therapy as mine costs £70 an hour and I’ve only given a very brief outline of what’s involved as I’m obviously not an expert but most EMDR therapists will do a free introductory session to see if it might be beneficial so look it up online for more information.

Best regards

Cathy
A Moodscope member.

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


26

May

Time and Tide Hurry for no Man

Wednesday May 26, 2021


I sometimes think that we who live with depression and bipolar disorder spend half our time trying to explain it to others.

My sister described it recently as “ebb and flow,” and that makes sense.

Our family is hugely privileged to be able to spend time at the coast. I wrote about “our” beach in Mudflats, (23rd August 2017). The “beach” (mud) is flat and the change from high tide to low can be as much as half a kilometre.

Living with Bipolar disorder is like living with the tides.

We all know that tides are governed by the gravitational force of the moon. Did you know, however, about neap tides and springs? Spring tides occur at the new and full moon, and the neaps at the quarter moon. Spring tides have a bigger rise and fall, and neaps a smaller change in water levels.

With the neaps, the water seems scarcely to move, but with a spring tide, the it will retreat far out, leaving a vast expanse of shining mud, then it will rush back in, right up to the sea wall; waves licking and flicking at the great concrete slabs and dashing spray over the top.

The really big ones, the perigean tides, normally fall at the equinox. Then, the high water muscles halfway up the sea wall, snarling defiantly at the land and muttering threats that one day, oh yes, one day… Then it retreats so far it is almost out of sight; the channel into harbour dwindling to a mere creek, unnavigable to all but the shallowest of craft.

When we stay at the beach, all activity takes place at high tide. At high tide you can swim, launch a dingy or kayak, or go crabbing from the jetty. With a neap tide, you can do most of these things at low water too.

With spring tides, however, it is different. A big spring tide is normally driven by the weather as well as the moon. The seas are rough, and, although it’s exhilarating, it’s also too dangerous to swim or sail. At low tide, you can do nothing. At low tide, you lie in the sun, read a book or take a nap. In winter, you huddle by the fire, read a book or take a nap. There is nothing else to do but wait for the water to return.

Living with bipolar disorder is like living with the tides. We have neap tides, where our energy levels are steady; and we have spring tides, where the big seas are exciting and perilous, while at low water we have scarcely any energy at all.

What we and those who surround us must remember is that we have no more control over our energy levels than we do over the tides. We cannot hold back the tide and we cannot hurry it up.

King Canute demonstrated this in 1028. It’s still relevant 997 years on.

Mary
A Moodscope member.


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


25

May

What’s best for me? 

Tuesday May 25, 2021


I’ve thought about contributing to the Moodscope blog before and so as there was a request I’ve decided to be brave and do it! 

I am, as are many people here, what I call a long term depressive sort. My first bout was nearly 30 years ago although I didn’t realise it at the time. Have been through various bouts since, mostly triggered by something external although the potential is always there. 

I’ve found out that my natural anxiety needs to be managed or my body’s way of dealing with it is for me to fall into depression which is obviously sub optimal. 

I’d been all right for about 10 years (for all right read not taking anti-depressants) and coped through a marriage break up, meeting a new partner and us moving in together, with both our children. 

Three years ago our cat went missing for a few days and my anxiety was fully triggered. Over the next few months I was very anxious, firstly about where the cat was at all times and then about more and more things. I became irritable, felt out of control, couldn’t breathe properly and then began to work too much. I work from home so it was quite easy to put in a few extra hours and worry if I didn’t. 

Things came to a head one day when I just couldn’t stop crying. My husband called the doctor for me as I couldn’t and later on that day I went to see the doctor, was prescribed anti-depressants and signed off work for two weeks to start with. 

I slept for about a week or so it felt. And then gradually was able to do a bit more each day. Although work itself wasn’t the issue, stopping it meant I could look after me. It felt odd at first but I came to realise that it was the only way I could get better. 

I started back at work again after 6 weeks but gradually. I felt confident enough to ask for reduced hours as I knew it was better for me. I started taking an hour for lunch and making sure I had a good walk every day. 

I was able to go to a group for those with anxiety issues. It was during work time but I felt fine in saying I would be going to it. And it wasn’t a problem for work. It was the best thing for me. 

I’m a couple of years on from my breakdown. Still on the anti-depressants but have reduced them. I go running regularly now. I still take my hour’s lunch break every day. Those things are good for me. 

Why is it then that I can’t always do what’s best for me? Why do I sometimes conceal my own thoughts and feelings to try and help others, or to try and shelter them? 

Answers on a postcard please! 

Katherine
A Moodscope member.

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


24

May

Breaking Bad

Monday May 24, 2021


[To hear an audio version of this blog post please click here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1396123/8567989 and to watch the video, please click here: https://youtu.be/T2iOkr6PKVA]

How do we break out of a state of mind that we’d label as ‘bad’?

The most direct and rapid way to change our position on how we feel about the world, ourselves, and the day ahead is to…

…change our position! By this, I mean our physical position – our posture.

Feeling ‘down’ is always accompanied by a posture that is down. We look down – literally. Our shoulders tend to be hunched, our movements can be lethargic and laboured, and our general sense of being closed off to the future is mirrored in ‘closed’ body language.

I write this on the day of the Eurovision Song Contest – two day’s in advance of Monday’s blog. Almost without exception, the songs will be buoyant and bouncy, upbeat and uplifting. Look at that language…

‘Uplifting’ means what is says – to lift up. Upbeat means using a pace and a tone that has a strong positive beat to it as opposed to the laid-back style of ‘downbeat’. And as for ‘bouncy’ – I’m pretty sure we’ve all seen Tigger’s posture.

I’m going to warmly invite you onstage to perform. The stage will be your own kitchen. A hairbrush may help stand in as a microphone replacement – or a wooden spoon will do nicely! We’re going to call it, “The Neurovision Song Contest,” and YOU are the Star attraction!

Neurovision? Yes, we’re going to change the way you and I see the world, see ourselves, and see the future!

Your mission, in the privacy of your own kitchen, is to change your posture to being uplifting and upbeat, to be bouncy and buoyant. Singing in tune is utterly at your discretion. What is mandatory is that you give it some welly! My two favourite bouncy songs are:

“Can’t Stop The Feeling,” Justin Timberlake (and with a mere 1,400,014,003 views on YouTube, I’m clearly not alone) https://youtu.be/ru0K8uYEZWw and
Jonh Lundvik’s Eurovision Song from 2019 “Too Late For Love.” Yes, I’ve mentioned them before, but I figured it was time for a revival! https://youtu.be/iEEuG5XML-A

You can choose your own songs but just promise me you’ll bounce! When you do that, you and I will bounce back to a more buoyant edition of ourselves.

OK? Want more? Good – if you get a chance to look at the video that goes along with today’s blog, I’ll show you a ridiculous exercise that will really get your body and brain breaking bad!

Love

Lex
Lord of the Bounce!
A Moodscope member.

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


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