The Moodscope Blog

4

December

Muddle- headed wombat

Friday December 4, 2020


There is a well-known children’s book in Australia called The Muddle-headed Wombat by the much-loved author Ruth Park.

It is a story about a wombat who gets into all sorts of adventures and is muddle headed. This means he is lovable and much liked but gets confused easily.

I have always related to the muddle-headed wombat. When people ask me how I am going I often say I am muddling along. I have in the past and am muddling at present and will in the future and I guess I will keep muddling on until I cannot muddle any more.

It sums up this year for me as I have been trying to keep going to make sense of all the changes to me and to society in general. I am not cruising, I am not always struggling though I do at times, I am not moving on, I am not recovering, I am muddling or even plodding. This is who I am - muddle-headed Leah though a muddle-headed wombat sounds so much more endearing.

I am wondering, do you have words you use to describe your mood or how you are going?

Can you relate to muddling along?

Leah
A Moodscope member.

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


3

December

Tell-tale signs

Thursday December 3, 2020


It’s started. The great, inflated, indefatigable me is back. From nowhere. The I-can-do-anything-I-want, and quickly at that! Money? Hey, just use it... Spend, spend, spend. Dozens of ideas. Tripping over themselves. Must do/send/clear/write/buy... I half-finish a grand clear-out... clothes strewn everywhere... mañana! It sooo doesn’t matter.

BUT... the indications are there... bipolar is raising its ugly head again, the tell-tale signs of erratic sleep, and erratic everything else. Dangerous driving, well... potentially dangerous, because my mind is so alive! Focused on doing, achieving, giving away and... lots more. The power of it!

So, why are these not altogether good signs? Because I know, in my heart of hearts, that my behaviour is giving me false readings. I think others are being small-minded, stupid, too cautious, have lost their sense of humour, but actually it’s ME who is out of step. I am TOO alive, too loud… and will ultimately slip into dangerous, murky, depressive waters as this high cannot be sustained. It’s exhausting! And my emotions are all over the place.

So what to do about it? That’s what I was asking myself this morning, as a sort of mania gripped me. How do I apply the brakes, and stop this brain from derailing?

Have you experienced this yourself, and how do you deal with yourself, when you know you’re on too much of a rollercoaster - more of a runaway train!?

Sally
A Moodscope member.

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


2

December


You must have met them: maybe on Facebook; maybe on a bus; possibly you have one of them in your family. You know the people I mean - they always think there is some conspiracy going on, and they always have their pet theories.

The favourite one at present seems to be around Covid. “It’s all nonsense,” they say. “It’s all a big plot by the Government to control us. The vaccine will pump us full of nanobots that will spread into our brains so that we will become sheep.”

If we challenge these ideas, we are the “Sheeple.”

These Covid deniers ask, “Well, do you know anyone who has actually had it?”

Well, yes. I know half a dozen people who have had it. They have all been very ill.

This, however, rolls off them like water from a tinfoil hat because they are not interested in evidence; they want to keep their theories. There is a psychological payoff for them; a feeling of satisfaction that only they are seeing the world clearly; a feeling of superiority. If they were forced to confront the evidence, those comfortable feelings would dissipate, leaving them as uncertain as the rest of us.

At the end of last week, a friend reached out for help. “The black Newfoundland is sitting on my chest again,” she said. “He’s telling me I am worthless; that I am unloved and unloveable. I know it’s not true, but I can’t make those feelings go away.”

She was immediately swamped with words of love and affirmation from her friends. If it were not for lockdown, she would have been hugged by as many of us who could get to her. Not only is she dearly valued and loved but many of us are ourselves familiar with the black hound of depression. My friend is not alone. I have those voices too. Many of us do.

Depression fills our head with negative conspiracy theories. It tells us we are failures, that we are despicable and not fit to live in the world with decent people. When we point to the diploma on the wall or remember the times we have been acknowledged for our contribution, Depression just sneers.

“That was just a fluke. Those people were just being kind; they didn’t mean it. If they knew what I know you’d never work again. Your partner doesn’t love you; you are the worst parent in the world. I don’t know how you can live with yourself. You are worthless.”

I don’t know a way to defeat conspiracy theorists either in real life or in my head. I can walk away from the man on the bus or listen politely to that family member and let it wash over me; I can choose not to engage on Facebook. It is less easy to ignore the voices in my head.

They won’t go away, but I can gather more and more evidence. The voices won’t listen to the evidence, but I can.

I have worth. I am loved. And I choose to believe I am loveable.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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


1

December

Keep hope

Tuesday December 1, 2020


Good morning

I wrote a blog long ago and was so thrilled to get comments back and apologise now for not at the time responding to anyone!!! I was very, very down and hadn’t the heart to reply. My situation is much the same but now I’m much older and I hope a little wiser.

My husband unexpectedly upped and left me when I was 65 and, since my previous blog, has married the much younger woman and life is still difficult for me. I’m now 75 and do regret being so damaged by the loss of my 32 year marriage that I didn’t attempt to meet another partner. This pandemic hasn’t been that much of a shock to me as I retreated quite a lot from living then, but am sorry now. This is our one shot at life and each wasted day will never return. I chatted to a man yesterday whose fiancé had died 5 years ago and he said he wasn’t complete as a single person. My answer surprised me - that he was fine and didn’t need to be a ‘couple’. I realised I have come a long way and I am actually ok now. I would of course prefer had things not changed but know I can’t change that and I’m now coping. My dear neighbour and friend died two years ago and I always promised I would take care of her dog.

So… for one who only liked big dogs, I now own a little ShihTzu and what a joy and total pleasure he is. So my view has changed too and I am accepting what good things like health and family and friends l have. I’ve recovered from breast cancer but now have a condition for which I need to take daily chemo tablets for ever but they are keeping things in check so again... I’m grateful. I’m sorry I didn’t complete more of my ‘bucket list’ but those dreams are just in hold until I can.

I’m so glad I’m the age I am as I have travelled extensively and seen such wonderful things and my dearest wish is that this awful pandemic time passes and my grandson and all children can grow up in a safe world and enjoy all the amazing experiences and places that I have been privileged to have had and seen. Keep safe and try to be as happy as you can... life is tough but so are we all deep down, we just need to keep hope.

Love

Lyn x
A Moodscope member.

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


30

November

The Joy of Ownership

Monday November 30, 2020


I remember owning my first car. I felt liberated and rich! The world was mine and I had freedom of movement.

Whilst I’ve never owned a house, I can put myself in the shoes of those who have and can imagine just how secure and strong and safe it must feel. There is joy in ownership.

Not all ownership is equal!

On workshops I’d often set myself up to be at fault about something innocuous, just to make a point. When the trap had been laid, I’d ask the participants, “Who is to blame?”

“It’s YOU, Lex!” they’d say, laughing. I would agree with them and then I would invite them to point at the person who was to blame and say it again! As they were pointing at me, I’d ask them to hold their hands in the index-finger-pointing position.

The ‘reveal’ was to ask them to count the number of fingers pointing back at them from their own hand. This usually caused a joyous response around the room as the participants realised they’d been set up for an “Aha!” moment.

I love owning stuff – most of the time – but rarely enjoy ‘owning’ problems. When we point the finger at others – something I’m really good at – we fail to own our own opportunity to be a part of the solution. The simple exercise of noticing that three fingers on our own hand point back at us when we point our index finger at others may be enough to bring about a shift in our thinking.

That litter on the pavement is an issue I can point to and say, “Tut! Tut! People should know better!” It can also become an opportunity where I pick it up even if I do agree that, “People should know better!”

When I remember this illustration, it encourages me to repeat a phrase I learned in training, “I OWN the problem.” When I do this, I discover that there is usually some small step I can take to improve the situation. Yesterday, I was listening to a world expert on the topic of motivation. He was ranting and raving about poor customer service, and I found myself not only agreeing with him but also thinking, “I bet I sound like that!” It wasn’t a very beautiful sound! He was right but the moaning and complaining pulled my energy down. I would like to moan less and own more – in the sense of taking more responsibility for making a difference.

“I own the problem,” is a powerful mantra, and ‘mantra’ comes from Sanskrit, literally meaning the thought behind speech or action.

When we cease to blame others, and focus on what part we can play, it’s like owning that first car. There’s a sense of liberation and wealth, of potency and potential. Let’s, just for today, put the key in the ignition of decision and drive our minds to somewhere better where we own the problem AND the opportunity.

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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


29

November

The back bench 

Sunday November 29, 2020


The days are whipping by so quickly.  I’m dashing between volunteering with befriending phone calls, setting up IT support where possible, helping my parents navigate this new world, parenting teenagers, supporting my brother through his not-spoken-of mental health and helping him fight for his business survival. I’m very tired. Not suffering. Not ill myself, thankfully, but tired and keeping aware of the growing struggle to get up before dawn each day. This is the season when my body screams for hibernation. Tonight, I served up a very easy, hearty autumnal tea of sausages, potatoes, carrots and buttery, salty cabbage. It tasted like heaven. As I washed up, I saw the back hedge shimmering in the end of today’s sunshine. “Don’t miss that” I heard my body call.

So here I am. In the back, on the bench, winter puffy coat on for comfort. The birds are tweeting like mad, I hear parents on the back path chattering in Italian to their child on a bike, and the sky is gifting me its embers. I hear a runner. Two. A car door. Silence and then I hear two birds, wings glide through the air not far above my head.

I realise I am fully rested in this wee moment and, finding it like a gripping drama, don’t want to leave! I’ll wait. Soak it all in.

I hope you can find soak moments because they’re extremely restorative. Keeping aiming at it.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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


28

November

The power of being read to

Saturday November 28, 2020


It has taken me around 3 years of receiving and appreciating the Moodscope blog posts before I have found the courage to send one of my own.

I have had depression, with the ups and downs that come with it, for around 25 years now. Throughout this time I have tried many, many different coping mechanisms. From the safe and reliable medication and counselling, to the not so safe self medicating with alcohol and cake! Hypnotherapy is what did it for me in the end. It somehow changed my thought processes and now I have been in a calm and steady place for a good few years. This does not, however, mean that I don't have bad days. 

On these days the temptation is to go back to the wine and let it lull me to sleep, but, as we all know, this has lasting consequences and is not the quick fix I would like it to be! Instead I reach for Audible and allow Stephen Fry to read Harry Potter and lull me to sleep. I don't know whether it is the calm and soporific sound of his voice, or the repetition of a story I have read many times but it does work. Last night it took a few hours but the thoughts that wanted to keep coming stayed away as I made myself focus on what I was listening to.

Today I am tired, but I am not irritable, anxious or angry with myself, which I would be had I used my old crutch. This is a crutch that will hopefully keep working for years to come.

Lucy
A Moodscope member.

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


27

November

Are you the favourite?

Friday November 27, 2020


I was watching the series the Crown recently and there was a scene where prince Philip asks the Queen who her favourite child is. She denies having a favourite but Prince Philips says he knows hers and his favourite.
 
It is not something people talk about, but I remember when growing up, friends saying they were the favourite. A radio announcer said he was not the favourite, and he was an only child. A friend of mine at her mother’s funeral when all five children were in their 60s and 70s found out that they all felt they were the favourite. What a loving mother to make them all feel special.
 
Why must we have favourite, why must we choose a favourite child, a favourite food, a favourite colour, a favourite movie, favourite book etc?

What is the need we have to place people and things we love and like in order. Is it possible to like everyone and most things without it being a popularity contest?

When I am asked what my favourite book is, song, film etc. my mind goes blank and I start mumbling and rambling. I suppose I could just remember an answer. I always say blue is my favourite colour when in theory I do not have one.

I suppose with colours, food, and movies there is not much damage done, but when there is talk about a favourite child, I think that can cause long-term problems.
 
My son felt he was his grandpas’ favourite when my dad was insistent, he had no favourites he loved them all. My son just smiled and knew he was the favourite.

Maybe having someone make us feel that we are special is the key without singling out one person but having everyone feel the favourite - feel they are appreciated.
 
Do you think it is good to have a favourite, food, book, film son or something else? Do you think having a favourite in a family is a good idea? Is it fairer to make everyone feel appreciated and valued? Did you feel you were the favourite?

Leah
A Moodscope member.

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


26

November


A while back I wrote a post about how I felt that my diagnosis was wrong. Quite a few people responded saying they felt the same.

I had been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder but I just didn’t feel that it was enough. I was sure there was something else ‘lurking’ within me making me feel constantly unsettled. I’d been through four different antidepressants prescribed by the GP and all had made me feel worse, much worse. I’ve written a lot about my lows and coming out of them or falling into them but never about the highs when even though I thought I was stable I was actually hypomanic and then of course there are the stable periods too where I would still be on a high alert waiting for the next ‘state’.

So the day after my 47th birthday I had an online appointment with a different psychiatrist and he asked me about the highs as well as the lows, he asked what I like doing (so many things, he ran out of room), do I have friends? (too many to name) and about my relationships with food and alcohol and at the end I could have hugged him, lucky for him there was a screen between us.

My reaction was shock but not surprise, relief but also reticence. I’m on a new medication, a mood stabiliser. I don’t know if I will ever feel better. But, it has a name for this thing I have felt inside me, that also makes me creative, imaginative, sociable, positive... It’s going to take a bit of working out I think and I will try to take it day by day, hour by hour or minute by minute, whatever the day requires.

Lizzie
A Moodscope member.

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


25

November


This is a familiar saying to many of us.

There are several songs I found with this title. One is a traditional bluegrass piece, featuring a man who comes home late from a drinking session with the boys, and finds his wife waiting at the door with a frying pan. He complains that, because he’s made his wife unhappy, the result is the dog won’t eat and the children won’t behave, and therefore advises the listener to do nothing to upset his own wife. Tracy Byrd’s song tells of a man who realises his wife is unhappy, so gets in a babysitter, and takes his wife out for a candlelit dinner because he wants to “See that sparkle back in her eyes.”

There is another saying, “A mother is only as happy as her most unhappy child.” Today I had an opportunity to experience the truth of this: my daughter called home from university in tears. Her father and I both feel her unhappiness as if it were our own, because we love her. There is nothing we can do; we cannot even give her a hug because she is 300 miles away.

It’s true that, if a loved one is unhappy, then we feel it too – especially if we are at all empathic.

And what about the saying, “Misery loves company?” Some people take out their unhappiness on others. It may be the wife in the first song spread her fury around, so it splashed like hot fat over the whole household. Sometimes people can be so hurt and upset they snap at anyone offering comfort; so, there are two people hurt instead of just one.

Personal development coaches will tell us we are all responsible for our own happiness; we should not expect other people to make us happy, and we should not allow the unhappiness of others to rub off on us. But, of course, it’s not that simple, is it?

In the early days of our marriage, when we had two professional incomes and fewer outgoings, I occasionally used to treat myself to a facial. My therapist (and therapist is exactly the right word for her) would massage my face and my scalp while I gently sank into a state of bliss. At the end of the massage she would vigorously shake her hands. “When I massage the stress out of you,” she explained, “It has to go somewhere, so it goes into me. I’m shaking it out, so it doesn’t stay there.”

And maybe that’s what we need to do. We will always absorb unhappiness around us, but it is healthier if we can “shake it out.”

It is not disloyal to be happy if someone we love is unhappy. Would you want your own unhappiness to spread? Of course not!

We need to find our own “shaking” process. I don’t yet have one – do you? I’d love to hear about it in the comments if you do.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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


24

November

Scared or just plain lazy?

Tuesday November 24, 2020


Am I the only person who hasn’t used the lockdown period to declutter and spring/deep clean every room and surface inside and outside of their abode?
 
I feel a little bit guilty that I haven’t made as much progress as I would have liked in getting rid of all the work-related clutter that I collected over 40+ years in employment (articles, magazines, books, copies of reports and/or presentations written/created by me that I was particularly proud of, including a set of acetates in their cardboard frames! (Apologies to those youngsters who have no idea what acetates are, and who never got to experience the joy of the manual projector that would overheat, causing the bulb to blow at the most inopportune moment, and when nobody had a spare bulb to hand!)
 
But then again, my brain tells me that if I finish this task then I won’t have an excuse not to start the next one – sorting through the thousands of digital photos I have taken over the years. Deleting those that really aren’t any good (like the one of the bird of prey flying close by that is almost completely obscured by a fabulous view of the back of the head of the person sitting in the gallery in front of me at a bird of prey flying display!), and adding tags to those I want keep, so I can do a search and find pictures easily, rather than trying to remember the date of when we visited such and such a place.
 
And when I’ve finished that, there are the other things on my ‘to-do’ list that I regularly ignore because there’s always something else easier/more interesting to do.
 
I can’t make up my mind whether I’m scared of throwing too many of my memories away, scared of what I would do if there wasn’t anything on my ‘to-do’ list, or just plain lazy.
 
I know you can’t answer that for me, but is anyone else just plodding along with no sense of urgency and enjoying the peace and quiet?
 
Regards

Valerie
A Moodscope member.

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


23

November

Yes, and…

Monday November 23, 2020


Everything Before the But.

A blunt consultant once told me, “Everything before the but is bull*^%$!” Rude, crude, witty even, but also true to my experience!

In the second of my season on Improvisation (Improv), I’d like to draw attention to that little linguistic devil, “But!”

“I love you darling, but…” We both know that the, “I love you darling,” is instantly negated by the, “but.”

“But,” has its place as a conjunction… but(!) it’s overused and misused and abused!

In the first of my new Improv classes online, we engaged in a three-part exercise. In pairs, one of us had to come up with a great idea for a party, and the other player had to shoot the idea down, using a ‘But’ Bomb!

Part two was even more insidious. At this stage, we had to use a, “Yes, but…” to shoot down the ideas, thereby sapping the conversation of all its energy while pretending to be supportive.

In the debriefs after both initial rounds, we shared our frustration and discomfort with destroying our partner’s ideas.

I wish this was true in other aspects of life. In my experience, there are far too many nay-sayers who seem to GAIN energy from butting in on other people’s sparkling ideas… extinguishing their flame, with dark relish!

The final part of the exercise was to embrace another of the core principles of Improv! This is to say, “Yes, and…” Oh, what fun we had with that! What a different energy! What a relief to combine the first principle, “Listen like a Thief,” with this new principle of saying, “Yes, and...” to every offering from the other party. The concept is blissfully simple. You listen to your partner’s idea, accept them with an affirming, “Yes!” and then augment their idea – staying with their programme and not your own agenda. I love it!

What if we said, “Yes, and…” to life, eh?

Of course, the skilful Energy Vampire can say, “Yes, and…” yet mean, “No, but…”! We must listen like a thief and stay alert! There are devils in the detail!

I’ve found this principle mentioned in every book, tutorial, or session I’ve done on Improv… but(!) will I ever have it become ‘second nature’ for me? I want, “Yes, and…” to become part of my DNA so that I am always boosting energy, forever encouraging, and never dishing up the Empathy Blocker that is so often wrapped around a but!

Now, what could YOU and I say, “Yes, and…” to today?

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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


22

November

I’m reviewing the situation

Sunday November 22, 2020


I recently watched the musical ‘Oliver’ again. For those of you with good memories and/or a passion for this spectacular production, the title is a song sung by Fagin, played by Ron Moody. For the last few months I got worried I was descending into real depression – did not want to get up, no plans for the day, everything that WAS planned cancelled – daily crises (real ones, tiles off, no hot water) and struggling with bureaucracy. I have been a stern critic of self-pity, and here I was, wallowing in the hopelessness of the present, and watching too much news. The Apocalypse was here, now, on my door-step – Macron shuts France down, and I couldn’t even go out to lunch. Having steadfastly avoided the temptation to drink too much – what the hell! I had half a bottle of champagne while watching ‘Strictly’ – but champagne drunk alone is depressing, you need to ‘effervesce’ with others.

The ‘situation’ comes down to self-criticism: keeping standards, active mind and body, keeping well, that is not adding to doctor’s burdens and being fit enough to travel when and if it becomes practical. The first ‘guilt’ was not wanting to get up – top of slippery slope. But really no point getting up early – just makes long day interminable. So wake up, turn on France Musique, open curtains to see geraniums still on terrace, if back hurts turn on electric blanket, then – relax and enjoy, then coffee, bread shop, e-mails and Moodscope. I make sure the minimum of hygiene is maintained, me, my clothes, my house. No point in bothering with looking smart, not seeing anybody. Ditto face – see horrible white image – make-up pointless, covered in mask anyway.

Keeping the ‘glooms’ away is another challenge. Drowning sorrows in alcohol is NOT on – at my age not worried about units. But too much will give me a headache, also will dull reactions, and although not doddery get a bit shaky sometimes. I have to admit that for a time last winter and during first lock-down life seemed so hopeless that I ‘wangled’ my sleeping pill prescription so I always kept enough tucked away for the ‘escape’ route to be there. Never really serious, and stopped now. My appetite has reduced, so no temptation to ‘comfort’ eat. Often real nuisance bothering to eat at all – not good news at my age. Friends who have always been alone cope OK, but until I was 82 I don’t think I had eaten alone more than a few times in my life.

I’ve stopped ‘pushing’ myself when I am tired, or it’s cold and windy. Had guilt feelings that this was ‘letting go’. But, without going as far as cocooning in a blanket and never going out why get tired, and risk getting ill because you feel you MUST walk, do exercise, get fresh air? Complicated outlines of travel also binned, nothing can be planned until you see who survives the economic crisis. Well, another song from ‘Oliver’: here, ‘Consider yourself one of us, consider yourself one of the family’ (Artful Dodger).

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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


21

November

Going Home

Saturday November 21, 2020


(written in late summer before some local lockdowns came in)
 
I’m going home tomorrow.  It’s not really my home, I didn’t grow up there.  I wasn’t born there.  I haven’t even lived there for any longer than a few weeks.  I do still have family there. A little distant, but in this part of the world that doesn’t really matter. The feeling is that if you’ve travelled this far, you share a love and therefore you are welcome. 
 
I have travelled to this place, a deep crag of Scotland, many times. As a child, as a teen, as a young adult, as a young mother, as an older mother - each time I’ve felt myself relax the closer I got to the earthy draw.  I don’t mean relax in the sense of glad to be away from the norm, but rather relax in the sense of my jigsaw pieces gathering together again.  I feel right. I feel myself. I feel home. I could look deeply into that or I could just say that it’s been 13 years of waiting and I feel excited.  I never score anything on the excited card. This time I wish there was a way to rate 10 because I’m a ten out of ten.



I’m going home and I’m going to savour every second. I hope you have a place that gives you this feeling.  If you can’t visit physically then even daydreaming can be enough to shift your thoughts. I know I will bring back a piece of rock or a pebble from home. This way I can put it beside the kettle and use it to hold down my daily list. This way I can be served that little tactile reminder that I was there and that it felt amazing. 
 
Keep cherishing the small stuff. 
 
Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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


20

November

Am I too obsessed?

Friday November 20, 2020


Do you find that you are too obsessed/ fanatical/ fixated/ preoccupied/consumed/ possessed/fascinated by and with?

Something in your life, may be a hobby, maybe a cause, maybe a person, maybe a philosophy. For me it is mental health issues.
 
Much of my life is spent writing about mental health issues, reading about others mental health issues, and up until end of last year I was on a local health committee.

I write blogs for Moodscope, I volunteer replying to peoples post on an Australian website. I spend time thinking of new ideas for blogs, I have given talks about my mental health experience. I have filled out many surveys about mental health, I receive many emails weekly about mental health issues.
 
I wonder is it healthy to focus this much on my own experience. Am I so obsessed with my own mental health that I may sometimes ruminate too much on the minutiae of my life?
I am not saying that it is wrong to make mental health a priority in my life and wanting to help others but when is it time to say enough is enough.
 
Moodscope is a part of my life and I find writing blogs helps me and reading comments gives me an opportunity to learn new ways as of doing things. I don’t think I am obsessed but I wonder if I broadened my interests it may help me being less intense at times.
 
I would like to know if there is something in your life you may be passionate about and maybe even consumed with? Or are you someone who has a balance of interests?

What is the difference between an obsession or an exploration or an interest? When does a hobby become an obsession?

Leah
A Moodscope member

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


19

November

We are currently looking for members who would like to write a blog for the Moodscope web site.

If you have a story to tell, some advice to give or an experience to share, please start writing! Send your contribution to support@moodscope.com.

We don’t have many rules, but we do ask that your blog is 500 words or less and we prefer to steer clear of political and religion.

If you have an idea and are not sure whether it’s suitable for the web site, just ask us to take a look and we’ll let you know.

All contributions will be reviewed and may be edited if necessary before publishing.

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

Time to start writing…

In the meantime, for today's conversation, what acts of kindness have you experienced or heard of that have touched you during 2020?

Kind regards.

The Moodscope Team

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


18

November

Mis-diagnosis?

Wednesday November 18, 2020


The Ouse Valley Way is a lovely walk, and right on our doorstep. We’ve lived here for twenty years, but only walked it for the first time a couple of Sundays ago.

It was a gloriously warm day – for once not raining – and we sloshed and squelched our way through the water-meadows, around the nature reserve lakes, through fields of grazing cattle and back home again. It was a lovely day out.

Monday morning, I awoke with a pain in my shoulder. “I must have slept awkwardly,” I thought. “It’ll wear off.”

It didn’t. It got worse. And still worse. I consulted a physiotherapist, who diagnosed an injured rotator cuff in my shoulder and advised rest.

I’m not very good at resting, but I did wear a sling. Everything took twice as long, which was as good as resting, surely!

It didn’t get better. I was exhausted and sick with it.

Yesterday my mother called to collect something. When she got back home, she rang my sister, who rang me.

None of us argue with my sister. She is forceful and, as a pharmacist, we respect her on health matters.

She didn’t waste time on pleasantries. “Our mother tells me you’re in pain, white as a sheet, disoriented, nauseous and shivering despite wearing a rollneck, thick jumper, poncho and with the central heating on. This is more than an injured shoulder: talk me through it!”

So, I did, from the start, that Monday morning.

Then, “Tell me,” she demanded, “Have you been bitten?”

I paused; where had that come from?

“Well, yes…” I had. One of those nasty little blighters around the cows had got me well and truly. It was quite a spectacular bite.

“Same arm?”

“Um – yes…”

“I want you to phone your GP right now and tell her what you’ve told me; it’s important. Insect bites can be serious.”

Slightly mystified, I obeyed, phoned, and requested an appointment. The doctor phoned back within 20 minutes and now I am on a course of brightly coloured antibiotics which smell revolting.

I’m not telling you this to garner sympathy (It’s just an arm, worse things happen at sea, and it’s a bit of a bore, that’s all) but to make the point that it’s easy to misdiagnose without all the evidence. I had blamed all my other symptoms on my shoulder pain, but it was correlation, not causation. It isn’t an injury; an infection has attacked the nerves.

I think back over the years when my bipolar disorder was mis-diagnosed as post-viral fatigue, anaemia, glandular fever, thyroid problems…

None of those doctors had seen the preceding mania because I had never mentioned it (as far as I was concerned, I had loved feeling invincible and my only complaint was that it had ended) and so they diagnosed without all the information.

Please, next time you see a health professional – over anything – make sure they have all the evidence, even if you think it’s as irrelevant as a bothersome fly.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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


17

November


I am fascinated by the power of human communication to make a difference. One of our greatest physiological needs is to ‘feel understood’. We all want to be heard and understood. Yet so many conversations don't work. True dialogue involves active focused listening, feeding back what you have heard and checking for understanding. If both people do this it leads to a highly productive feeling of mutual understanding. Therapists use this to help their clients but did you know that research has proven that ordinary people talking like this are as effective as therapists {effective therapeutic talk does not rely on professionals (Christensen and Jacobson, 1994)}.
 
A social enterprise called ‘Talk for Health’ was set up to help anyone be an effective lay-counsellor. With independent research, they have proved it works and it is used in the NHS in Islington. Talk for Health relieves mental illness through a psychotherapist-designed group peer counselling method. It’s a 4-day peer counselling programme followed by ongoing groups, which enable people to give and get effective therapeutic support long-term. If you would like more information on them, the website is an interesting read:  talkforhealth.co.uk
 
It tries to give fast access to therapeutic talk that is effective, long-lasting and empowering. When the pandemic hit they moved it online and it seems to work just as well.
 
I mention this because of the interest shown in  Hugo’s blog on Thursday November 5th and the many shared experiences of Moodscopers on the subject. 
 
Have you experienced help just by talking to someone who really listens? Have you helped someone else by simply talking and listening? I would love to know your experience and opinion.

Best

Adrian x
The Moodscope Team.

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


16

November

Listen Like a Thief

Monday November 16, 2020


I’ve wanted to do a series on Improvisation for a long time. After all, Life seems to be lacking a comprehensive set of guidelines and thus we have to make the best with what we have. We have to improvise!

Theatre types call Improvisation “Improv” – so let that be our shorthand.

During the darkest decade of my life, one of the many moments of momentary relief was an Improv class run by Trisha. A talented Actress, she is, nevertheless a terrible mind-reader. My enthusiasm for the class’ success bubbled over in joy each time, but she would put me down every session, telling me to, “Stop trying to be clever!" Have you had people like that in your life? “You’re too clever for your own good!” What an utterly ridiculous thing to say! And usually said by those whose light burns less brightly! The last thing I needed was another ‘critical parent’ in my life!

Nevertheless, my enthusiasm was inextinguishable, and I thoroughly looked forward to every session. We even held the sessions in the Shelley Theatre (as in the family of Mary Shelley and her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley) in Boscombe… how exciting was that?

Trisha’s commitment to the group was short-lived, but it was too late. I’d tasted what I’d always wanted, and I liked it every bit as much as I imagined I would. Improv is all about quick thinking on the spot. It’s about having that witty response to someone else’s suggestion… but not at their expense - and it’s about following the rules!

When I came across an opportunity to join an online class, I jumped at it. One of our first principles – a rule, if you like – is to “Listen like a thief!” For an Improv sketch to flow, each player must truly listen to the person who offers them a piece of content so that they may develop the other person’s idea.

That’s today’s life lesson for me. To listen like a thief. To watch like a spy. To attend closely to everyone else - without a selfish agenda. My favourite Ancient Wisdom comes from King Solomon. He personifies ‘Wisdom’ as a beautiful woman whose worth is far above silver, gold, or rubies. ‘Wisdom’ is the woman we are encouraged to listen to like a thief. Solomon puts it this way:

“My son, attend to my words.
Turn your ear to my sayings.
Let them not depart from your eyes.
Keep them in the centre of your heart.
For they are life to those who find them,
and health to their whole body.”
[Proverbs 4:20-22]

Perhaps listening to others like a thief would listen is not quite life and health, but it’s a great start! Every blog published on Moodscope has within it a gem that can make for a better day, or at least momentary relief. I intend to listen to you, more attentively – then we can improvise together!

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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


15

November

OK is OK 

Sunday November 15, 2020


It has been another busy day and my head is bursting.  But something reminds me to breathe. Here in Scotland it has been a little cold. Our Autumn commences when August clocks-in. Today the air returned to warmth after the early chill burned away. And, this afternoon, the sun burned stronger than recent days, resulting in a short spell of late summer hitting the mid part of the garden.   
 
I opened the kitchen doors over dinner and warm air hit my face as the dinner chatter receded upstairs and I was left with a three quarters clean kitchen and my thoughts.    
 
The days are still unknown each morning, and we won’t understand them until we look back some years from now. But I do know that if I take my expectations, ask them to wait, and instead ask my friend, flexibility, to walk beside me, I will be ok. Maybe not great but, ok. It’s enough. I’ll take ok. 
 
Are you ok? 

I’m walking beside you if you are, or if you are not. 

It’s ok. 
 
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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