The Moodscope Blog

23

October

Human Connections

Saturday October 23, 2021


In March 2020 our world was changed immeasurably by a pandemic. My life was also devastated by a mental breakdown. I was scared, very anxious and depressed. Having narrowly avoided being sectioned under the Mental Health Act I locked myself away and did not go out of the house for many weeks.

This badly damaged my social connections. It is only now with improvement of my mental health and the lifting of Covid restrictions that I am beginning to socialise again. I have discovered the hard way how important these connections are.

It was only a few months ago that I tentatively took the first steps to meeting socially and that was simply having lunch with my wife and two friends at their retirement home. A little while later my wife dropped the bombshell. We had received an invitation to a friends birthday party!

Suddenly I was facing the prospect of going from little social contact to meeting family and other friends at a party! For about 3 hours! I felt some anxiety as it was a venture into unknown new Covid territory.

When we arrived mid afternoon most of the guests had arrived. A few I knew but there were about 10 that I had not seen before. The birthday girl (?) made introductions and I began to talk to familiar faces. The party ventured outside followed by food and drinks. I started talking to strangers with surprising ease. Nothing too deep but one gent was greatly interested in my Mental Health!

About 3 hours later we said our goodbyes with smiles on our faces and I had a warm glow inside. I had conversed with several other people for a long period. It happened easily and I was amazed!

So why am I telling you all this? Because I learnt a big lesson that day. The need for other people. It seems obvious but you may not realise how important it is. A study showed that lack of social connection was more detrimental to your health than smoking, obesity and high blood pressure.

Connection keeps us in the game that is life; to feel we are not alone and our existence matters. You have a basic need to understand and be understood. When people meet and make a good connection there is an exchange of positive energy. Just a smile, just an hello, is all it takes to make that initial link.

There are of course many other ways of making human connection but nothing beats a face to face meeting. Although Moodscope comes a close second!

So how do you stay well connected?

Teg
A Moodscope member.

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


22

October


I thought this was a phrase I heard on the radio, but it is a quote, Donald Rumsfeld.

I am interested in what it means in our lives and whether other people can relate to it.

When I was studying many decades ago, the tutor told the class that she was disappointed by our low marks. She had offered her help, but no one had come to ask for assistance, and she could not understand why. She did not realise we were all confused but did not know what we needed help with.

People can only ask for help with assignments if they have some knowledge about the topic.

Sometimes when people are struggling with mental health issues, they are told to seek help.

If they don’t know what they don’t know how they can understand what help to ask for.

To know what you don’t know requires insight into one’s behaviour and thoughts.

People often assume that everyone understands what they need when many of us really have no idea of what we don’t know. When one struggles sometimes it is hard to pinpoint what is not working and what we need.  We may get overloaded with advice  but if you don’t know what you don’t know, it is hard to know what help is needed.

Do you know what you do not know?

Maybe you don’t know what you do not know?

Confused, tell me why?

Leah
A Moodscope member. 

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


21

October

Morning routine

Thursday October 21, 2021


How much does your morning routine determine the day you will have? They say that breakfast is the most important meal, and that if you win the morning, you win the day. I’m not aiming for perfection, but I have gradually been trying to shape a morning routine that sets me up for work recently.

When my Depression and Anxiety was previously at its peak, my morning routine (when I wasn’t signed off sick) involved staying in bed as long as possible, tears, skipping the shower, dragging everything out of my wardrobe and trying it all on but finding nothing felt quite ‘right’, cakes and biscuits for breakfast, panic attacks, being unable to find my keys/bag/diary/etc., and a mad dash to work to avoid being too late. It was chaotic, stressful, rushed, and unhealthy. It didn’t exactly put me in the right mindset to have a productive week, free of traumatic emotions.

It’s taken years, but now I am much more intentional about what I do in the morning, trying not to self-sabotage before the day has begun.

I try to keep things calm when I get up. I water the plants and drink a big glass of water myself. I massage my face with oil.

Next, I do some stretches and breathing exercises, and record my vitals in my fatigue journal (I have Long Covid, so I track my symptoms to show to my doctor). I have breakfast by the window (toast or muesli, with herbal tea), take all my supplements and vitamins, and fill in my gratitude journal.

After that, I usually call my mum to see how she is. I might put on some uplifting music, and take a bath, before getting dressed. The next step is to moisturise and style my hair, and pack my bag. After that, I leave for work, on time! I find that going slower allows me to get more done.

These actions help me to wake up and face the day. What kind of daily routine could help you improve your life a little?

Naomi
A Moodscope member.

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


20

October

Buddies

Wednesday October 20, 2021


“We’ve been through some things together

With trunks of memories still to come

We found things to do in stormy weather

Long may you run”

I have a buddy, his name is Neil – he’s stuck by my side (though he may not know it) for over forty years now, through thick and thin, good times and bad – metaphorically holding my hand and sharing my joys and sorrows, without judgement. He’s changed over time, just as I have, and sometimes I feel a bit niggly towards him as I don’t always like everything he does. But I keep coming back to him, because all those songs, the music he makes, buoy me up, and each time I listen, I learn something new.

I have buddies through Moodscope too, and in turn am also a buddy – it’s taught me a lot, both about myself and the value of friendship. I’m writing this, my first blog today to try and help my buddy put herself first, something I know that she finds very hard to do.

So keep singing your songs, as you change through life, and remember that your buddies will be listening. Though you fear they might not always seem appreciative, your true voice will be heard, and, with others, may be just enough of a web to catch your buddy when they feel they’re falling… and they’ll be singing along to you too.

“…Long may you run.

Long may you run.

Although these changes have come

With your chrome heart shining in the sun

Long may you run”

Hilary
A Moodscope member.

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


19

October

Cherish and nourish

Tuesday October 19, 2021


Perhaps you were thinking of giving up on something or the opposite, doing more and more? We humans try many things to numb or avoid or escape what we really need.

Instead – how about finding ways to nourish our souls with awe using our senses.

How about:


1. Look – view our marvellous wonderful world, give your eyes a treat – a view, a tree, or meadow or garden, the stars at night. Try viewing it from a different angle – zoom in or out, or what about looking at the world upside down!!! Laughter is to be encouraged – you’re doing it right.

2. Taste – something different? Something new? Try a new recipe or new fruit/vegetable/spice/herb. Doesn’t matter if you don’t like it – you have tried it and have your own view of what it tastes like. Sometimes we need to try things more than once (though I still can’t say I love olives yet, despite many trials!). Savour your food for longer – keep on chewing (and chewing).

3. Listen – to music that makes your heart soar. Stravinsky? Stormzy? Steps? – it doesn’t matter what. Try a podcast – lots to choose from, something funny? Enlightening? Entertaining? Educational? Inspiring? Or listen to a friend or colleague – really listen, don’t interrupt, let them talk.

4. Feel – water over your skin – hot/cold, as you shower or wash up. Stroke your pet/child/partner, feel the grass under your bare feet, sand between your toes. Tap a rhythm on anything – it doesn’t matter what, a pan or table or your leg. Skip, balance on one leg, bounce on a trampoline. Feel – you are alive.

5. Smell – savour the smell of your food, including as you are cooking or preparing it, the new jar of coffee etc before you devour it. Smell the roses or lavender or freshly cut grass, notice the smell of your shampoo/shower gel or bubble bath. And who doesn’t love the smell of fresh bedding???

So, try some of these, refresh your soul, brighten your senses, let yourself feel awe at this marvellous world we live in – move away from jaded to jaunty. Enjoy the deliciousness of life.

Plan some of these into your day – and also be prepared for them to surprise you too. You have permission to take a moment and enjoy life.

Anne-Marie
A Moodscope member.

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


18

October

Paradigm Shifting Again

Monday October 18, 2021


The terrifying and senseless murder of a good man, Sir David Amess, made me think long and hard about this blog. Is it appropriate? You will judge for yourself. My conclusion will be that conflict is the norm, not an anomaly, and that this has always been the case in the history of Humanity. Man’s inhumanity to man.

An anomaly is something that deviates not only from the normal but also from what is expected. I have had a ridiculously cosseted life, far away from conflict and warfare. In this cocoon of privilege, I grew to feel entitled to an easy life, and would rage about the tiniest of inconveniences – such as finding fuel.

This week, my paradigm – my view of what should be ‘expected’ – has shifted again. I had the amazing Dave on my new Radio Show. He saw active service as a Fighter Pilot, flying Harrier Jump Jets and F-18s. In peacetime, he had a high-altitude collision and had to eject over the Qatar desert. The force of the ejection broke his back, and wreckage shrapnel nearly cost him his eye. But Dave is determined and resilient. He has recently won the Swanage Marathon for people in his age group. Before my show, he’d been sea swimming, and had cycled over from Bournemouth. He’s quite a guy.

But he’s a warrior, and he’s the kind of guy that had made my comfortable (if unaware) life possible. I believe it would serve many of us better to have a bit more of a warrior spirit like Dave’s, and a lot more of an awareness that we are unwise to expect the World to be a safe place. If we recognise the truth, we can be better prepared.

That’s not the big shift for me, though. The big shift was the attitude towards trouble. In conflict, like many fighter pilots, Dave was excited. When all seems to be against him and he is ‘hopelessly’ outnumbered he prefers to see the scenario as a ‘target-rich environment’. In other words, Dave relishes the struggle and heads towards it. ‘Target-rich’ seems wholly inappropriate given this recent murder, but I am meaning the use of it as a call to courage – courage to face our challenges – our targets - with the spirit of boldness. Sir David invested his life in doing this. His targets were the injustices he recognised – especially in animal welfare. Our world needs help; our world needs champions and warriors as well as diplomats.

You and I are born into a world full of troubles. To recognise this, and then to face the challenge with some vigour is a brave choice. It is time for me to leave my naivety and unrealistic expectations behind. I think this is a choice that will enhance mental health.

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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


17

October


Way back in 2015 I wrote about one of my best friends in the world. He doesn’t know he is, but he is. He has made a weekly delivery to my house, each Friday, for more than 20 years. We share the same silly sense of humour and, even on my darkest days, he has been a strong blaze of luminous joy daundering up my path. Our meetings last about ten minutes as he flings open the back of his van and I choose and pay.   
 
Today we discussed what our last meals would be if we were on death row. He finally opted for a starter of haggis bon bons, a main of extra cheesy macaroni with a crunchy top and a side of garlic baguette, then he’d finish up with chocolate ice cream. I’d go for a starter of scallops and black pudding, followed by my dear departed granny’s kedgeree, finishing up with my grampa’s trifle. 
 
We had a right laugh getting to our final choices. His broad smile and broad presence makes my day.   
 
And today, I thought you might enjoy the distraction of deciding upon your own death row dinner! I think I could be the next presenter of an alternative Desert Island Discs if this goes well. 
 
Happy Sunday Moodscopers!

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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


16

October

Flip Flop

Saturday October 16, 2021


My lovely teenage niece was on a school adventure day recently and she fell, one of those horrible falls where she broke her arm. She needed surgery with screws put in. Needless to say we were all worried sick about her and wishing her well. 

The memories flooded back for me. My son, when he was six, fell off the top of a slide. It was the first Friday back to school and a group of us took a picnic to the park. The sun shone and it promised to be the perfect afternoon. But life has a way of tripping us up and I will never forget running towards that slide to catch my son as he fell but of course, I didn’t. He fell onto his elbow and his scream, my blood ran cold. I somehow drove to a medical clinic with my howling son and my tearful daughter. Many X-rays later, they sent us to the Children’s Hospital. His elbow was dislocated, broken and needed surgery. A friend collected my daughter and brought her to stay with my sister. It was going to be an all-nighter. We had to wait hours for the surgery and my son was in dreadful pain and all I could do was soothe him with stories. Finally, they brought him into Theatre. The doctor allowed me to stay by his side until he was under anaesthetic and then I was gently pushed out the door and handed his shoes. 

It was 9pm and the old hospital was quiet. I wandered around the corridors, holding his little blue runners with velcro straps. I felt so helpless. Guilty. Scared. I felt for parents whose children were ill, seriously ill. My boy’s arm would heal. How do parents cope with a seriously ill child? The weight of parenting alone fell heavily on my shoulders that day, that night, the following weeks. I had friends. I had family. I had kindness around me. But ultimately, this was on me.

The surgery was a success. He was sore and ravenous when he woke up. He was in a cast and was not allowed to attend school for a week. It was the first time I ever asked work could I move deadlines. I needed to care for my boy. And mind my girl of course. So, I took a rare week off and we went to the beach daily and he invented a card game that he named Flip Flop (like a quirky snap but with a LOT of rules!) and we played it every day, using only one hand each, and we laughed so much. After a week, he returned to school. Six weeks later, the cast came off and he was fine.

And my niece is already back at school with her cast. And with a story to tell. Because accidents happen. And nobody is to blame. Mother guilt - begone!! 

I asked my son what he remembers about his accident. He remembers the fall and he does remember being given the strawberry smelling anaesthetic but, most of all, he talked about how we played one-handed Flip Flop for a week and paddled in the sea…

Salt Water Mum
A Moodscope member.

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


15

October

I wish I had never…

Friday October 15, 2021


I know Edith Piaf sang ‘Je ne regrette rien’, and many people want this song at their funeral.

Why do some of us find it so hard to stop having regrets, to stop wishing we had never done something.
Is there a trick or a plan to help us work through a bad decision without wishing we had never made it?
Can you really learn from your mistakes.?
 
I thought I do have some regrets or what I call my, I wish I had Nevers.
 
They can be light-hearted things:
I wish I had ever worn pink hot pants that were too tight for my footballer thigh legs at 14.
I wish I had never coloured my hair orange, by mistake, and looked like a clown for weeks till my brother told me.
I wish I had never been forced to take ballet classes - as my brothers said I was less graceful than a hippo!!
 
Life choices:
I wish I had never wasted my money in my 20s.
I wish I had never stopped practising the piano.
I wish I had never moved away from the big city.
 
So have a think, be serious be funny, complete the sentence I wish I had never… Write the first few things you think of. Write one line, a few, or many. See what happens!!

So, is wishing you never did something the same as having a regret? You may want to share how you don’t regret something you wished you had never done.

Leah
A Moodscope member.

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


14

October

Transitions

Thursday October 14, 2021


Not long ago, I wanted a bit of a transformation of my personal self and a transition in my working life. Without intention, the second has happened... but through real sadness for me as my caring role came to an end overnight with the sudden and very untimely and unexpected death of my employer.

I did this role for nearly 4 years in total as it gave me a difference to my self employment and was a steady income. I had a two week holiday and came back rested and refreshed but I wasn't looking forward to it. The morning of my return he passed away – I was there on the phone to the paramedics trying to help to no avail. I still have not processed it fully. Overnight, I lost my employer and my friend, was made redundant and his dog was re-homed and I miss both of them. A big part of my life three times a week for nearly 3 years, and prior to that, a couple of times a week for nearly a year.

But it's not a poor me status. It's made me realise that you really have to grab life by the balls and go for things. My friend had so many things he wanted to do. I promised him a ride in our trike when it was on the road, and thought we could go for a drive in our open top. We had so many more adventures to have. I was looking for another role as I wanted a change but we would have still seen each other and had a different kind of fun, without me working for him. I feel guilty even thinking this.

I threw myself headlong into organising and taking his funeral – a first for me – and it went very well... but there were other things that I went over and beyond for (because I cared) and my mental health took an absolute nosedive for a while... whilst still trying to hold it together. I

n between that, I had two other services, one an incredibly intense one for another young man also gone too soon. I had so many calls to field – technology became my enemy as I was literally flooded with texts, messages, phone calls – as well as having to inform people - about his death.

The emotional tide has now surpassed and the service was wonderful and life affirming but I will never be over this. A chapter of my life has ended abruptly and many are left without a friend including me, and are hurting and I tried my best to be there for them, despite being more than a bit broken myself. I went over and above what was required and it took its toll for a while. But how I wish I had a time machine and could go back and tell him that I am so glad that we had this time together and how much he was and is loved. Seize the day people.

Liz
A Moodscope member.

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


13

October


If you are reading this, then I don’t hate you; it’s the depressive part of my bipolar cycle I’m addressing.

At 10.27am last Thursday, 7th October – yes, it’s that exact, I flipped into a low. I generally get two a year, in the Spring and in the Autumn, although I never know exactly when they will turn up. Last year it was 4th December, this year, 7th October.

I decided to list the things about this part of the cycle that are frustrating, annoying and just plain inconvenient. It doesn’t feel like “depression,” just some physical malaise I must get through but it’s bad enough. You might be experiencing some of these symptoms too and, if so, at least you know you are not alone.

1. “Jelly legs.” I have no idea what flavour jelly; it’s probably lime, and it was possibly once in one of those rabbit moulds I used to hate as a child. At every party there would be jelly and ice cream, and the jelly would always be in the shape of a rabbit, all quivering, vulnerable and pathetic. I have never liked jelly since. Now my knees have been replaced by that jelly. When you need to concentrate just to walk it’s - disconcerting.

2. Loss of balance. This morning, walking to the letter box to post a birthday card for my niece, I found myself spreading my arms like a child playing “aeroplanes.” I felt embarrassed and humiliated. I’m clumsy and knock into things. Getting up from a seated position carries a risk of falling over.

3. The unreliable world. Reality is unstable; it shifts and shimmers like a mirage. So far, thank goodness, it has not retreated to a grey smudge on the far horizon, but my connection to it is loose. I’m an astronaut on a space walk and fear the line that ties me to the spaceship will snap, leaving me floating off into outer space to drift for eternity.

4. The hallucinations. When these happen, I have every sympathy with Alice in Wonderland. Performing even simple tasks is tricky when your arms are six feet long. It’s scary when the ticks escape from the clock, swell to enormous size and come after you with snapping teeth. As one of my friends joked, “Well, you never need to take mind-altering drugs, do you? Your brain does it for you without chemical assistance!” Yes, thank you brain; I never wanted to take drugs anyway.

5. I’ve mentioned my speech centres before. I know the words, but they won’t come out. Consonants are the worst. Even the cat looked at me strangely when I fed him his b..b..b..breakfast this morning!

6. The fatigue! I can only schedule one thing a day, and then I must rest. Today’s important job is writing this blog. There are lots of other tasks on the list, but they probably won’t get done.

7. My “colander brain.” I can’t remember things. As I wrote this line, I received a text from a client thanking me in advance for something I promised to do for her not an hour ago: I had forgotten all about it. When I come out of this stage, I will have no idea of all the things that happened in this time. I try to write everything down but often I forget to do even that.

8. This is probably obvious. I can’t work. This has financial implications but also affects my reputation for consistently high customer service. There are no acceptable words to describe my frustration and misery over this.

9. Fear of People. I’m sorry but I can’t meet with you. If you are a very close friend who understands, then a phone call or Zoom might be okay, but I can only be with my family in these times. I’m sorry – just so sorry. I wish it could be otherwise. Please, just hold my hand in an email, message or text. Don’t let me go; don’t forget about me. Please?

10. Again, obvious: I hate the worry and concern this inflicts on my family and friends. Last night my elder daughter asked if she should come back from university to care for me. No, of course not: I will be fine. It’s upsetting that she should even ask.

11. Yes, a bonus hate. Anhedonia. I’ll save you the task of looking it up: it means the inability to feel pleasure. It’s that blank “Meh…” when you think about the things that normally bring you joy.

All this will pass; I know it will. It’s easier if I accept it and don’t waste valuable energy on hating it. Just writing it all down seems to make things feel a bit better.

If you are going through a tough time yourself, then write everything down. Why not share them in the comments here? At least you know we all understand.

Mary
A Moodscope member.


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


12

October


I have taken antidepressants continuously from 1989 and episodically before that, as I have a history of recurrent depressive episodes since my teens. They were finally recognised as part of a bipolar illness in 2001. I think I’ve had 8 different ones in all. I found them helpful. A number of times I made a textbook recovery, starting to improve after a couple of weeks, and my son was the same. Even when they didn’t stop the depression, I found some of the side effects useful, mainly the sedation for insomnia, anxiety and agitation.

I have also taken plenty of other drugs and at present take two mood stabilisers and two antidepressants, a combination prescribed more than a decade ago which has served me well. For most of the time the antidepressant doses have been high, one at nearly twice the recommended maximum (permitted in certain circumstances). It increased my blood pressure significantly.

However, I don’t want to continue on mega drug regimes till the end of my days. Though I would like to stop everything in principle, I acknowledge this isn’t practical as I don’t want to swap stability for instability. So I’ll keep the mood stabilisers – but should I stop my antidepressants?

The case against stopping is simple. If I stop them, I might get ill again. However, I might not. Since early retirement in 2008 I have become progressively healthier and my last serious depression was in 2012. So why jeopardise my recovery? Because I don’t think it will; they don’t act like that.

So how do they act? In fact, do they act? At best, antidepressants are very blunt instruments, because they act on neurotransmitters via the blood stream. Neurotransmitters regulate the millions of highly specialised brain activities, including mood, in a way which could be likened to turning the sound on the television up or down. In other words, antidepressants lack precision and are highly unlikely to be able to do all the things they’ve been credited with.

But isn’t there a lot of research proving they can? Rephrase: apparently proving. Most of it was done by the pharmaceutical industry, which had a major investment in getting positive answers, which they managed to by designing their drug trials in various biased ways. Then there’s the problem of placebos. In drug trials for depression, half the depressed subjects should take the drug and half a placebo (inactive preparation) for comparison. Typically, about a quarter of placebo takers would still improve and under half of the drug takers. So the bottom line seems to be that antidepressants do work but not very well.

Now that I’ve gone through all that, I think antidepressants are probably my comfort blanket but they are unlikely to be keeping me well now and will not take their revenge if I evict them. Over the last two years I have in fact reduced both of them very slowly without any discernible ill effect. I’m about to stop one altogether and I’m down to a half dose with the other.

Should I? Shall I? I have my answer.

Rose
A Moodscope member.

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


11

October

The New Glasses

Monday October 11, 2021


The Optician pops in a piece of glass and asks calmly, “Are the letters clearer like this, or (as she turns the lens) like this?”

One option helps you see the world around you in greater clarity, the other creates fuzz.

The lenses through which we perceive the world can change at any moment. A life threatening health issue, mental health shifts, ageing, a new friend, a fresh hobby, travel to a new country… all these change the ideal prescription for you. A mind stretched by a new idea can never return to its former dimensions!

What if you could choose your lenses and prescription?

Here are three great lenses to try on for clarity.

1) Towards or away from. Some folks like to focus on moving towards more of what they’d like. Others are moving away from what they’d like to avoid. Guess which one is better for your mental health? And, under Covid, guess which one is better for your physical health!

2) Match or mismatch. I find mismatchers exhausting. No matter what you suggest, they find a point to disagree with – that’s a mismatch. Matchers look for areas of agreement. Mismatchers often see themselves as realists, little knowing what energy vampires they are. Begin with the lens of matching as much as possible with everyone you meet. Then, if there is a fatal flaw in their thinking, reveal this to them from a foundation of an accepting and affirming relationship. Some people call this, “Pacing and Leading.” The idea is that you match someone’s view of the world and thus meet them in their model of reality. Once you’ve understood the way they see the world, and have thereby strengthened your relationship, then, and only then, you can suggest that there may be other options to explore.

3) Possibility vs Necessity. This is a fascinating one in times of trial. My lovely lady sees life through the lens of necessity. I’d like to ‘spoil’ her with treats but when she’s wearing the Necessity Specs being overly generous is seen as ‘wasteful’ and thus a punishment. If I bought her a Rolex, she wouldn’t wear it. Before those of us who wear the Possibility Specs get too excited, we’re pretty dangerous too! I see possibility everywhere… including where it doesn’t exist! If my net worth was £700 billion, this wouldn’t be a problem, but when you’re on a budget, being too positive is not necessarily the best option! Balance begins where we consider possibility and necessity.

Nevertheless, I believe it is more joyous to see the world through lenses that magnify the opportunities and possibilities.

My recommendations for a new prescription pair of specs is thus: move towards more of what you’d prefer, seek to agree with others’ views as much as your values and ethics and intelligence permit, and look for the possibilities in every experience!

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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


10

October


Autumn is threading in and out of all things now. Windows are only open for bits of the day. Jumpers are often not quite enough. The grass is having a last dance with fair amounts of rain and sun willing it onwards. But it seems that before Autumn waltzes in fully dressed, Spring is not content to slumber. And this week some spring cleaning took hold of me. It felt good. I really didn’t have time, but time said it was right. 
 
We all have some long-ignored part of the house which is attended to once a lifetime. Perhaps when we decorate or move house. In one of the rooms here, a workspace, there are three big globe lights suspended from the ceiling. The workspace makes them dusty and, as they are see-through, its noticeable. But without many visitors, and certainly none who would be in there, they’ve been ignored, even though the other parts of the room are attended to with a weekly tidy, hoover, mop and dust. 
 
I found myself up a ladder. Realised suddenly their cleaning would take no more than 20 minutes. I washed and shone the big globes until they gleamed, grime gone, sparkle reinstated. Whilst I was up there, the cupboard top was prepared as if the queen was going to sleep on it wearing a white gown. Quickly lined it with newspaper so that next time the cleaning would be simpler. 
 
It sounds like I’m either (a) a little obsessed, (b) a little loopy or (c) short on things to do. It was none of that. It was because I’m growing, and when we grow, we need to shed stuff. I needed to shed the bullying, passive aggressive comments about them. A few years ago, my mother scowled at them and said she couldn’t wait to get up there. She’s not really the domestic goddess that her scowl suggests, it’s confusing. She did go up there and cleaned, and I felt nothing. 
 
But this weekend, I feel good looking at those three large globes. I tended to them when it was right. Not when I was surviving. Not when I was clinging. Not when I was saving another. But when I could. And I did. Squeezed it in, even better. It needed its moment and I trusted it would come. As my son said, next time it gets done it’s for the new people. Yes. That. Thank you, child of mine! We move on. We don’t stay stuck. And we don’t stay frightened. We move forward. Proud today that he taught it back.

What is next for washing?
 
Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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


9

October

Contentment

Saturday October 9, 2021


Okay, brain in gear, I am seeking the holy grail!

Is it realistic to strive to be happy all the time? I don’t think so, but it is worth trying to find some kind of lasting peace within ourselves. Is it possible to find contentment?

A starting point might be to accept that life is made up of good and bad stuff. Can we maximise the good and minimise the bad?

First let’s consider the good stuff. I suggest that if we are in a “good” moment we need to appreciate it. Stop and fully savour that moment, realise how much you are enjoying the present. Whatever the circumstances we need to show gratitude. This could be a thought to ourselves or a comment to someone else.

I would like to give a recent personal example. A few weeks ago I entered a crown green bowling competition. I was drawn to play a lady called Mary ( sorry not a Wednesday!). As we started blue sky appeared for the first time that day and the sun began to shine. After playing for around 20 minutes I turned to Mary and said “You know this is beautiful, I could stay here all day.” She nodded in agreement. The experience was so relaxing- the brightness on the manicured green, a slight breeze and the low hum of voices from other competitors. I still clearly remember the occasion even though it happened several weeks ago. I was so grateful for what I was experiencing and that made it easy to show gratitude.

Now the bad stuff. As you know this can come in many forms. For example: Negative thoughts, uncomfortable emotions, or difficult relationships. From the research I have read it is important that any bad stuff is acknowledged. That requires a heightened self awareness. We then need to make a decision. Can this stuff be changed for the better? If you feel this is possible, try it. Support may be required to bring this about. If not, then we are left with acceptance.

We need to have self acceptance so we can accept everything about us. Strengths and weaknesses. This makes it easier to accept our mental health condition. Studies have shown this helps our well being in many different ways. For example we can:

1. Begin to make peace with the bad stuff.
2. Start to become more compassionate to ourselves and others.
3. Realise everything is transient. If you are suffering with the bad stuff it will not last forever. It will pass.

To summarise, what I am saying is that to make a start in finding more contentment in our lives we should be more aware of two things. Firstly maximise occasions where we can show gratitude. Secondly be more accepting of our mental health condition. This can be expressed as:

Gratitude + Acceptance = Contentment

What do you think?

Teg
A Moodscope member.

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


8

October

Don’t ignore me

Friday October 8, 2021


I used to think that being criticisised by a stranger, family member or friend was a terrible thing and it would have me in tears.

I have discovered that there is something that is similar - being ignored.

I am not talking about when a relationship has ended or not begun but when a member of your family or a close friend ignores you.

It can make you feel so insignificant, so alone, and so sad.

If someone is using the silent treatment to ignore you it can be extremely painful.

Being ignored can have a physical effect for example headaches, sleeplessness and fatigue as well high blood pressure.

What do you do when you are ignored, I often just leave the situation but that is not always possible.

So how does being ignored make you feel? 

Are there ever times when you want to be ignored.?

Have you ever spoken to a person as to why you are being ignored.? If so what did they say?

Leah
A Moodscope member.

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


7

October

Reflections

Thursday October 7, 2021


This is my first blog for Moodscope, apart from a couple of poems. Ratg encouraged us to give it a go. I enjoy reading the daily blogs and the replies. For me it’s a good start to my day, I feel, a kind of belonging. People on here, understand and support each other. It takes courage and trust to be open with thoughts and feelings that others can read.

One thought I have had recently, is that I expected that  getting older, life would be easier.  My children now have children of their own and they are all good to me so in practical terms it is. But I never expected to become so anxious, it seems to be about anything or nothing.

I have friends the same age who say it’s happening to them too. We have guessed at the reasons but no one seems to be sure. Another thing is vivid dreams. I can’t watch anything violent or scary.

I don’t like driving in the dark and I have to make sure there are comfort breaks on longer journeys, the list gets longer.
When I was younger, I did things, which I would class as risky now.

On the plus side, I have had more time to reflect on how I got to where I am and work through some past issues.
I read a lot, about different subjects. One interesting book which has been mentioned on Moodscope before is by Eckhart Tolle The Power of Now, staying in the present moment.

I have started a new course in person at a College to learn Hypnotherapy which is interesting and we learn a lot more than I was expecting. I have met some like minded people. This has been good for me and given me more purpose. We talk about our personal issues and being more open in the group has helped me to feel confident to write this blog. 

It would be great to know if any Moodscopers have been surprised at the vulnerability of getting older?

Love from

Yellow Rose
A Moodscope member.

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


6

October

Grief and Change

Wednesday October 6, 2021


It’s been a time of small griefs and some changes in the Wednesday household.

Back at the end of August, one of our cats died. It was not unexpected; he had been failing for some time, and one Saturday evening he just slipped away quietly, curled in his box, with us and his brother keeping vigil by his side.

Last Monday, Patchy, one of our guineapigs died. Again, this was not a surprise. He was seven years old – a more than respectable age for a guineapig – and for six weeks he had been on daily medication. On Monday morning he lapped up his pain relief, refused his mint leaf, trundled into his house, and that was that.

The other changes have been happier.

My parents in law finally, in their mid-nineties, agreed to leave their big house and go into a (lovely) care home much nearer to us and to their daughter. This has meant an enormous burden of worry has been lifted from our shoulders.

And, on Saturday, we picked up Peaches, another elderly guineapig, to keep our Ruby company.

These changes mean new behaviours.

Our remaining cat misses his brother – as we do too – and has become much more affectionate. He was depressed for a while and neglected to groom himself, so his fur became matted, and I had to brush him every day. He has started to hunt more, so there have been almost daily offerings of rodents and birds, including a large pigeon, brought in to contribute to the family larder. When there were two cats, their food would disappear within seconds; now he eats a little and leaves some for later.

Peaches is naturally a bit scared. She will take some time to get used to her new home and to eating different food. She must get used to our ways and we must adjust the way we do things so she can be comfortable.
The biggest change is, of course, for my parents in law.

Even though the care home is beautifully equipped, and the staff are lovely, it’s not like home. They have their own room but not their own front door. Their only privacy is in their bedroom – all the social areas are shared. Their precious independence is gone. Like Peaches, they are now eating differently.

They have moved geographically and all the people they knew are a hundred miles away. They are rudderless, trying to cope with doing everything remotely and using unfamiliar technology. Online banking, for instance, is something they find difficult to comprehend, let alone set up and use effectively. They are facing all this with dignity and grace and, yes, with some complaints. They would not be human otherwise.

Change is said to be the only constant. As soon as we become used to something it changes. Change is always scary. I admire the way my cat, the guineapigs and especially my parents in law are handling it.

I wish us all the grace to cope so well.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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


5

October

Finding the words

Tuesday October 5, 2021


I know that if I get out and walk and soak up the natural world I will feel better, especially in the early morning when human world is quieter. But often it’s hard to do.

I’ll go to bed with the intention of a 6 am walk up to the moor, and then when the morning comes, I’ll switch on my laptop and start going through work emails. By 9 am I’m already in a nervous state and snapping at anyone near me.

Or in the evening, instead of getting out for a stroll around the village and paths into the woods and fields that surround us, I’ll spend hours flicking through social media and the news on my ‘phone. This will leave me disgruntled, agitated and not able to sleep well, kicking off a cycle of negative mood.

I’m fortunate in that I live in a beautiful little village surrounded by countryside; but being close to an abundance of nature doesn’t provide a panacea for curing depression. Many people living in rural areas suffer from terrible mental illness.

One of the tricks I use to get myself out and to break the cycle is what I call ‘finding the words’. I use snippets from poetry to help me look for things that I know will have an instant effect on my well-being. Here are a few examples from the poet Gerald Manley Hopkins.

There is often a kestrel hovering over one of the valleys where I like to sit on the moor. So, I go there with the poem ‘Windhover’ in mind to see if I can catch the “dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon … rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing”.

Or I go looking for ‘dappled things’ such as Hopkins calls them in his poem ‘Pied Beauty’. One of my favourites is the dappled light cast by leaf shadows on the bole of a lichen clad Ash tree that is near the end of an hour’s walk from the moor back down through the woods.

In the winter, when the weather is clear, I walk up to the moor on a lane that faces east so that I can see the sun rise and ‘flame out, like shining from shook foil’ as Hopkins says in his poem ‘Gods Grandeur’. That moment of renewal as the sun emerges takes my breath away.

It doesn’t always work. But when it does give me a motivation to make it happen some of the time. There is a pair of kestrels hawking over the high fields at the moment. When I see them, I think of Gerald Manley Hopkin’s poem.

I’ve missed the Thursday evening yoga class in the village twice now. I’ve put it in my diary, and even set my ‘phone alarm to remind me. I know I’ll feel better after the class, but when it comes to the time I can’t do it.

So now I need an uplifting poem to get me out of the house for the yoga class.

Do you have ways of finding the words to help you shift moods?

Rowan on the moor
A Moodscope member.

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


4

October

GUIdelines

Monday October 4, 2021


Apple or PC? I’m told it is important to be prejudiced towards one or the other. Cats or Dogs? We are supposed to prefer one over the other. I like them both, just like I use both Apple computers and PCs. But there is a difference.

The big difference is the ‘User Interface’ – how we interact with the computer (or the pet!) GUI means Graphical User Interface. My preference here is strongly towards the Mac. It is more beautiful to my eyes. One could argue that both do the same thing – help us compute, but it’s the ‘way’ they do it that improves the User Experience. Cats and Dogs are similar. I love the way a cat purrs appreciatively, but I prefer the face of a dog that is pleased to see you. I’ve never seen such devotion on the face of a cat… merely recognition! Cats are rarely about you, whereas dogs radiate loyal unconditional love.

Which brings me to people. Most of us are pretty kind, and OK, but the ‘wrapper’ – the User Interface – is often very different. I’ve got some people in my life who I highly value and love, but the interface is rough, gruff, and hard to cope with at times. If they want to you do something, they’ll frame it in negative terms such as, “Why haven’t you…” rather the more palatable, “What would happen if…” or, “How would it be if…”

They’ve got a Gruff User Interface instead of a Gracious User Interface. This comes down to rehearsal more than nature. I have learned to be gracious. Perhaps that’s too bold a claim. I am learning to become ever more gracious with each upgrade of my Gracious User Interface. As such, I’m far easier to relate to nowadays than I was a year ago, a decade ago, or even 30 years ago. Oh, how I wish I could ‘re-parent’ my much-loved children. I was gruff and grumpy parent.

How can we upgrade from a Gruff User Interface to a Gracious User Interface? “Yes, And…” a principle I love and share regularly, is the fastest way to become gracious. Take whatever is offered to you and affirm it, then move it forward, expand upon it. Frame everything in terms of what you would like more of, rather than ‘discounting’ people by telling them in no uncertain terms what you don’t like. And ‘tip’ according to the service you’d like to receive. This means treating people ‘as if’ they’ve delivered excellence. Treat people as if they are amazing. Believe the best of people (without being naïve) and err on the side of hope. Above all, give people permission to be themselves. They need to become more like themselves and less like you – you are not the model of perfection!

Next time you find an interaction draining or ineffective, check your own User Interface first. How easy are you to deal with? Are you adding energy or blocking it? Make every encounter with you an enriching experience. Oh, and be quick about it. My Apple computer is faster than my PC and always has been so in spite of all the claims to the contrary. It just works. How I want to be: fast, friendly, fabulous!

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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


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