The Moodscope Blog

1

September

Boys Don't Cry. Friday September 1, 2017

I casually remarked to the Man with Two Brains that it seemed to be the case that the majority of the bloggers and contributors to Moodscope were women.

That familiar smirk, he's about to say something he thinks is very clever.

"It stands to reason doesn't it? You're all nutters. These forums are all filled with women having a good moan"

I should explain that he is so-called high functioning Aspergers. One of three brothers, no sisters, off to boys boarding school aged 12, followed by a largely male college at Oxford, Officer in the Navy, then career in engineering. Only three girlfriends in his life including me. I say "girlfriends" but soft-hearted charitable ladies would be more accurate.

All of this makes him eminently qualified, in his eyes, to be an expert on female psychology. We once read a book and did tests on the extreme male/female brain. We are each perfect examples.

To be fair to him, he is very respectful of the few women he encounters in his professional life. We have had very many rocky patches in our years together. Were it not for our adored rescue dogs I doubt we would be together today. One particularly bad patch was last winter. I asked if he would consider finding himself a therapist. If I am honest, it was not because I hoped it would help us stay together, things seemed to have gone too far. My main intention was to allow us to discuss parting without bringing on one of his meltdowns.

To my great surprise he agreed. His chosen therapist was a woman of around my age (I am older than him). They got on well, and he accepted a lot of her insights. We are still together, and I have no doubt he will go back to therapy if the need arises.

This got me thinking though. Are there actually more female members of Moodscope? Do the men feel intimidated? I wonder if they are more inclined to do the daily test. It is a bit technical and maybe they relate to it more easily. I hardly ever do the test, but I do read the blogs and comments nearly every day.

I would really like to hear the male viewpoint on mental illness, anxiety, mood swings, despair. Are they having to put on a brave act with everyone in their lives? I think it is true that in all age groups men are at much higher risk of suicide than women. Why is this?

Come on boys, have a good moan, you never know, it might help.

Valerie.
A Moodscope member.

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

80 comments - Permalink


31

August

Waving but refusing to drown. Thursday August 31, 2017

I've been quiet on Moodscope for a while, not because of illness, but actually because I've had a period of good health.

So when my current period of illness arrived rather unexpectedly, it took me by surprise. It has come on slowly, just as work has quietend down and the school holidays arrived. Instead of being happy, my mood has nosedived and anxiety rocketed.

I'm torn between fighting this depression, keeping my very British stiff upper lip, or feeling it, owning it and giving in to 'it', whatever 'it' is. This might even mean taking time off work which is definitely not part of my plan.

In the spirit of self-care, I am trying to keep going and to keep to a routine. The dog has been walked, I have met up with a friend for a Balti and cheerily engaged in conversation with fellow dog walkers, despite feeling bloody awful (with apologies to those who object to swearing!)

Melanie recently blogged about how you can tell yourself you feel something but also tell yourself that this doesn't mean that you ARE that feeling (Feeling my feelings, 21st August). So....I may feel awful but I am not awful, for example.

I feel like I am drowning but I am not drowning because I know that I can swim. I need buoyancy aids (medication, decent food, exercise, a good friend) but I know that eventually I will swim through this rather murky, cold sea and find a calm lake where I can rest. (Psalm 23 comes to mind for those of a religious persuasion...)

I hope that whatever you are feeling today you can take comfort from the fact that there are others feeling it to and that you are part of a Moodscope community that genuinely cares about your wellbeing.

So I send a friendly wave from this part of the world...

BrumMum
A Moodscope member.

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

18 comments - Permalink


30

August

Building Something Amazing. Wednesday August 30, 2017



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

I have discovered nine magic words.

Those words are, "I'm a writer. May I ask you some questions?"

Magic; every time. It's amazing what people will tell you if you ask.

Of course, a lot of the time I'm asking people questions they're happy to answer. This weekend was an instance.

Yesterday an artist came to our beach and built this. I hope you can see the image. It's a six-foot-high tower of rocks, the largest about ten inches in diameter and the smallest, right at the top, an irregular cone, about an inch and a half at its base. It's like a perpendicular piece of dry stone wall, an incredible feat of engineering and balance.

James Brunt is an artist who travels the country. He paints, he works with children - creating practical projects like den-making, but at every beach he builds a sculpture like this one.

Of course, it's a wonderful piece of mindfulness, as the focus and concentration required is absolute. For about an hour he's at one with the beach and the rocks. Even the fact the piece of art he creates is necessarily temporary is part of it. He takes photographs, but he leaves no material legacy; his art is ephemeral.

But what was of most interest to me is the principals of engineering he uses. When I asked, he demonstrated, balancing one rock upon another on the sea wall.

There are three important considerations.

1) There must be three firm points of contact between each stone
2) There must be an absolute centre of gravity
3) The engineer uses the imperfections in the stones to create the stability

It came to my mind that these principals of engineering could very well be applied to our own lives. We need three points of contact: friends, family, our work, our faith, hobbies for which we have a passion, our pets. The list of possible contacts is probably endless and only you know which ones you can lean on (and know that you too, will provide a point of contact to support someone else).

Our centre of gravity must be our own moral compass. For some that comes from their faith or spirituality, for some from their basic humanity. We need a place to stand and that place must be founded on truth and acceptance, both of self and of others. Which brings me to the third and most important point.

We know that we are not perfect. Nobody is. We have imperfections, and that is what makes us perfect to build with.

Our points of contact are also not perfect but our joint imperfections fit together perfectly, allowing us to build together something bigger than we are as individuals.

James Brunt could build a tower with perfectly regular stones, but it would be like building with Lego: boring and without the seeming magic of impossibility. There would be no art.

It is our imperfections which make us art; which make us impossibly beautiful.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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

41 comments - Permalink


29

August

Facing an uncomfortable truth. Tuesday August 29, 2017

For the past ten years I have used my lived experience of mental illness to give talks to community groups, self-help groups, carers and mental health forums. I have also written articles, blogs, and given radio and newspaper interviews. I always pride myself on my honesty as I feel it helps others and reduces the stigma involved with mental illness. I would answer questions as openly as I could and I felt no topic was out of bounds.

Last week my daughter asked if I could help her with her assignment about parenting and mental health as part of her studies. As soon as I read her email I felt my jaw tighten, tummy feel uncomfortable, my chest fill with guilt and my lower lip start to wobble. This was not a good start.

I rarely write or talk about my parenting because I reasoned my children need their privacy.

I have had my parenting decisions questioned in the past but in last few years I had decided the past was the past and to concentrate on the present and future. This had been working well but now I felt the peace was being threatened.

I have so much guilt about my parenting that it could not be contained in one lifetime so I had buried the pain and the guilt into a box. Unlike Pandora this box was never ever going to be open. However, my maternal instinct that wanted to help my child created more guilt and angst.

Who am I? I thought I was this open and honest person prepared to reveal all so that the discussion of mental health and its stigmatisation can be as detailed and thorough as possible.

I was now thinking of my self-preservation as I did not want to open that box.

I think the hard part is not just remembering the bad decisions I made as a parent but the fact I am not as honest and open as I thought. The hardest part is the disappointment I read in my daughter's email. I let her down when she was a child and now I am disappointing her again.

After many tears and soul searching we made a compromise and she emailed me some questions, which I answered, it was difficult but I did it.

Have you had to face some unpleasant truth about yourself? How did you handle it?

Are there things in your past you would rather leave there?

Leah
A Moodscope member

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

78 comments - Permalink


28

August

Love me... love me not. Monday August 28, 2017

I grew up in a culture where men came first. It sounds negative but it wasn't always. Men being first on the food chain also meant they were to shoulder the heavier responsibilities in life; such as earning the family's income and disciplining the kids. Males went forth and slew dragons while the females looked after the household, their man, and the children born of that union.

The life I signed up for was the life I knew was expected of me. At fourteen I fell in love without reserve and planned my future around him; his work and provision for us, right down to the used, modest mobile home with dark paneling and shag rug. We would set up home in the yard of a family member like young couples did in my hometown; until we grew enough equity to place the trailer on a small acreage.

One day he just turned and walked away. We were fourteen - neither of us had the skills to manage a relationship muchless a breakup. It hurt me deeply then and it often comes to mind.

After a second boyfriend came along I found it helped assuage the pain of rejection from the first. And so on. I went through a string of unhealthy relationships. So desperate for love and affection that had been missing from my austere upbringing. I did not date so much as seize ahold of someone and hope to build something that worked. I became a relationship addict.

My children were conceived in ill fated relationships and I have many major regrets around that and the numerous failed romances they were affected by.

"You have a broken picker," a friend told me once, in regards to men.

I have a diploma in addictions counselling that has helped me along the journey of healing, self forgiveness and acceptance.

"Addiction is that thing that makes you fail in your responsibilities," was the speech the principal gave at my oldest daughters grade nine graduation. He continued on to say that the fourteen and fifteen year olds were at the age where addictions were established.

Sometimes I still get an outbreak of the; "if only's," that I have to talk back to. "If only my first love had worked out...life would have been so much more organized." Then I ask myself; do I really wish I was living in the shadow of another? Would I be happy stuck in a town so tiny and equally small minded where even stomach aches are practically communal? No, no, and no.

Today I have two beautiful daughters, a dozen careers and a rainbow of experiences to draw wisdom from. I refuse to have hurtful relationships; friendship or otherwise. When I visit my hometown the women and I exchange admiring glances. They perhaps looking at my freedom of clothing and expression; myself appreciating the role they staunchly perform in starched dresses.

I am grateful life turned out better than I signed up for.

Bailey
A Moodscope member.

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

36 comments - Permalink


27

August

Pinny on! Sunday August 27, 2017

In case the word pinny is not widely used (I'm Scottish), it is an apron. Stick on your aprons, for today is cooking day.

Long, long ago, in a far away time, I was the unhealthiest person who lived. Then forces combined, I turned over a new leaf and have never looked back. I'm passionate about breakfast. I make breakfasts seven days a week and sometimes it is a far better meal than my dinner offerings. I'm told this is how it should be for a happy digestion... eat like a King for breakfast, a Queen for lunch and a pauper for dinner.

So, today then. What are we having? Or tomorrow if you are unprepared. Personally, the humble egg is my best friend. Get out a small pan and slide in a little oil. Crack in two of the world's best sources of protein, preferably in silence. Look out the window whilst allowing them a few minutes to very gently bubble. Lift, then lay them honourably over a crusty source. Give thanks to the knife and fork as they aide your first achievement of self-care in the day.

Eat well my friends!

Love from

The room above the garage.
A Moodscope member

P.S. Removing the pinny before you leave the house is not essential but often spares blushes. Yet another thing I had to learn the hard way.

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

49 comments - Permalink


26

August

N.E.D. Saturday August 26, 2017

I am a teacher. I still see myself as such even though I haven't been in a classroom since 2009. I became too ill to work and although I have managed to return to employment, so far it has been as a cleaner or shop assistant although I have recently gone up in the world by getting an admin job.

When I was working as a teacher I had a picture of NED and what he stood for in my classroom. Not my own idea but adopted from something my children had been told at Primary School:

Never give up
Encourage others
Do your best

NED!

I found it really inspirational that Primary school children were being encouraged to think like this. The degree to which mental health issues exist in our young people is becoming clearer and more disturbing every day. Anything we can do to make them aware, to teach them to help themselves and that encourages them to help others, will help develop their resilience. It is never too early to start building resilience that they can use for the rest of their lives. My first born started showing signs of depression at 8 years old and children, as you probably know, can be depressed a lot younger than that.

I am a Secondary school teacher - so I took NED and any other ideas I had to the teenagers there. They seized upon whatever I could offer them, however simple my offerings were, like a drowning person clutching at straws. I only wish I could have offered them an entire programme of life skills, but I was there to teach English so I had neither the training nor the remit to do so (Mr Gove was insisting on Shakespeare and syntax instead).

Only the other day I found myself encouraging my two daughters with those simple statements (still, after all these years!) And it made me think that maybe the Moodscope community would find encouragement from them too:

Never give up
Encourage others
Do your best

I don't know about you but I need it short, pithy, simple but also powerful when I am struggling (Keep It Simple Stupid! KISS - another mnemonic I use). So if you are struggling, write down NED. Tell yourself what each letter stands for and try to follow those instructions. I hope it helps a bit.

Lots of love,

Marmaladegirl
A Moodscope member

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

69 comments - Permalink


25

August

An uphill descent. Friday August 25, 2017

When I was 13 I went on a walk with friends. We came to the top of a steep hill and started the walk down. I soon missed my footing and found myself trotting to keep on my feet. This accomplished, I tried to slow my pace, but the momentum of my downward trot soon had me running. I tried to slow down with increasing desperation because I could see where this was going. As I continued downwards my momentum would outstrip my pace, and then I would really fall. And that's exactly what happened. No matter what I did I couldn't slow down; in fact I was gathering speed. Half way down the hill my feet went from under me and I fell headlong, bounced a bit, and finally came to rest with the breath knocked out of me.

Apart from the initial shock and some impressive bruises, I was fine. Because this was a real hill and my body took the fall. When my mind takes the same journey things tend not to turn out so well.

It's hard to describe (hypo)mania to someone who hasn't experienced it. Surely high is good? At first it seems so. It's like increasing the colour saturation of a photo, making everything more vibrant and engaging. But slide the bar too far and what you see is a scarily unreal intensity of colour.

Someone once told me that a high is actually depression in disguise. And I do see that as my mood goes up, I'm running faster and faster down that hill and the only possible outcome is falling. It's just a matter of when, and how much mayhem I create in the meantime.

Because I do try to slow the pace. I know as soon as I recognise the warning signs exactly where this goes. But there's something so compelling about the momentum of it that I can't make it stop. And, initially at least, I find myself running in the opposite direction of anyone or anything that might slow me down.

Like standing atop a hill, the first part is amazing. Such a clear and beautiful view, perceiving things that are just not visible at ground level. The world is big and expansive and there I stand at the top, above everything that surrounds me. But as I embark on this upward descent the tipping point comes sooner than you can imagine. And then I'm really running, exhilarated but terrified, leaving a trail of chaos In my wake.

They say what goes up must come down, and it applies as much to mood as wallpaper. Because once I'm on that headlong run, the only possible outcome is falling. And falling downhill is no fun at all. You zip past horizontal to land sprawled in a heap somewhere near the bottom.

I don't know the answer. I've not yet found a well paved, level path to walk. All I can hope is that, when I first miss my footing, there's someone there to reach out a hand to catch me.

Becky
A Moodscope member.

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

70 comments - Permalink


24

August

Where will it all end? Thursday August 24, 2017

Or will it?

I am sure many will recognise this endless thought.

Should I go to work today? Or will I stay home, doors locked, curtains drawn, bedcovers safely pulled over my head. Safe and warm. Sleeping.

Will I eat today or stick to the endless mugs of coffee?

Will I answer the phone or stand staring at it as I often do. Waiting, hands wringing praying for it to stop.

This morning whilst putting out the washing (that has been washed three times as I couldn't find the energy to pull it out of the machine), I was distracted by a tiny bird fluttering back and forth, my eyes followed it as it swooped, chirping happily in the sunshine, its only aim to eat and provide for its young: and live.

Beautiful little yellow bird with no thoughts of flying into a wall as I sometimes do whilst driving along, sometimes a bit too fast, sometimes closing my eyes just for a second as if daring something to happen. Never sure what.

No thoughts of lying down in a safe nest of soft covers and closing its small eyes hoping for the sleep that never ends.

The darkness at the top of the garden in the dense woodland looks both a bit scary in the shadows and also very inviting, the small stone steps beckoning me up.

I hear the wind sweep gently through the tall ferns as I take the first step.

I know what will happen if I reach the top.

I will not come back down.

I have planned this moment, though was just never sure when it would come. I had prepared the means (hidden in my secret place under the Hydrangea bush right at the top) to pass into the world of the endless sleep.

Is this where it will all end?

I can hear the phone ringing and feel the warmth of the sun on my back.

I take another step and listen to the happy sounds of children playing somewhere in a sunny green garden.

The pretty bird still swishes back and for, yellow as the golden flowers beneath her.

Shall I take the next step which would take me out of the sunshine into the shadows or should I try once more to find the point of it all?

My cat curling around my ankles looks up at me, eyes locked unspoken words.

I turn then and cannot see through my tears as I walk back into the brightness.

Where will it all end?

Or will it?

Audrey
A Moodscope member.

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

35 comments - Permalink


23

August

Mudflats. Wednesday August 23, 2017

[To listent to an audio version of this blog please click here: http://bit.ly/2v454fb]

Ah, the beach!

What does that mean to you?

Perhaps you think of miles of white sand, the turquoise sea lapping at your feet, palm trees and cool pink drinks decorated with little umbrellas.

Perhaps your mind is drawn to a sandy cove surrounded by cliffs. There are rock-pools full of anemones, crabs and tiny glittering fish, and dark caves smelling mysteriously of seaweed; each one a potential smuggler's hideaway.

Maybe you can remember sitting in the car on the seafront, watching the rain lash down on the windscreen and eating fish and chips, hot out of the paper. There was the crunch of the batter, the delicate dance of white fish on your tongue and the satisfying squelch between your teeth as you bit into the chips. Even now, that memory of vinegar vibrato and warm salt will make your mouth water. When the sun reappeared, you could go out onto the rain-washed sand with your bucket and spade and play for hours.

The beach where we spend our summers is not like that.

Fifteen years ago, we heard some good friends of ours had a share in a beach house. At the time, we were newlyweds, new parents and very hard up. We asked our good friends if we could borrow it for a cheap holiday.

"Well – yes," they said, misgiving in their tones. "But you must come and visit first, before you decide if you want to stay for a whole week."

When we arrived, we could understand their hesitation. This is a beach house in Essex. So, there are no towering cliffs and sandy bays. It is not in Frinton, respectably genteel with its beach-huts; nor yet is it in good natured, rowdy Clacton with the pier and generous golden sands. This beach house is further south, and looks out onto the Colne Estuary. Here, there is little sand, and what there is, more shingle than sand. Here, we have mud.

One of the main reasons we get upset is disappointed expectations.
We had expected sand. Instead we got mud, and rocks, and oyster-beds that rip open unwary feet so swimming is best done in shoes.

But that disappointment lasted only minutes. An estuary is far more interesting than a seaside town. Whatever the season or weather there is always river traffic. The boats go out at dawn and dusk carrying the engineers who service the windfarms. At high tide the yachts and the cargo boats full of sand make their measured way into the small harbour. The ubiquitous sailing dinghies race up and down and round and round, their sails a fluttering flotilla of butterflies. The sunsets are some of the best in the world, and at night the navigation lights blink in patterns as complex as a ring of church bells.

And those mudflats are full of birds.

If we had continued to hanker after sand, we would still be disappointed. Sometimes we have to see the beauty of what is, and not the glitter of what we desired.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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

69 comments - Permalink


22

August

Abigail and Sarah. Tuesday August 22, 2017



My daughter has two soft dolls named Abigail and Sarah. Her brother picked them out for her in a shop in France when he was aged 6 and she was just 6 months old. He insisted that she had to have them both and he named them.

Since then Abigail and Sarah have always been my daughter's most prized possessions. They have gradually gone from their original soft lilac and pink colours respectively, to being covered in patches of pinks, purples, flowers and hearts. Abigail used to rattle but, having been crushed at some point, an operation at the Teddy Bear hospital only restored a faint sound. Sarah used to have a loud squeak but, after being run over by a car, now only squeaks quietly. They have both been lost, (the anguish), and then found, (the joy), more than once. They now stay in the safe haven of my daughter's bedroom and are still hugged every night and loved more than ever. In spite of being far from their original glory, to my daughter they are the most beautiful things in the world.

You may have been crushed in your life. You may have lost your squeak or rattle. You may feel that your original colours have faded. I wonder though have you patched yourself up or been patched up? Do you feel loved? Can you see that whatever life has thrown at you that you are still here, in all your glory. You are the most beautiful being in the world.

Sending you love today.

Jane SG
A Moodscope member.

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

70 comments - Permalink


21

August

Feeling my feelings. Monday August 21, 2017

A phrase from A Course in Miracles is: "In my Defencelessness my Safety lies."

I had been thinking this meant a sort of "turn the other cheek" way of behaving towards others – not reacting, not attacking back – and I think it does mean this. Today I understood also that "defencelessness" is about being undefended to my own feelings, letting myself feel my sadness or my fear/anxiety or whatever it is, leaning into it, welcoming it, really feeling it and even if at that moment there is no relief, shortly after, as I go about my daily business, there is indeed relief.

Listening to Mike Robbins in a 2017 Hayhouse summit talk yesterday - he was talking about his mentor encouraging him to give himself permission to feel powerless. He did not want to do this, however he started to do a meditation using such words as "I give myself permission to feel powerless - it does not mean I am powerless."

So I can say (for example): "I give myself permission to feel left out - it does not mean I AM left out." "I give myself permission to feel anxious. It does not mean I AM anxious." A big one for me – for I avoid situations where I might feel jealous as much as I can: "I give myself permission to feel jealous. It does not mean I AM jealous. It is just a feeling." Another one: "I give myself permission to feel lonely. It does not mean I AM lonely."

Another 2017 Hayhouse summit talk was by Andy Newbigging. He had the phrase: "I am willing to experience...." So it goes like this: "I am willing to experience the human emotion of loneliness". How relaxing is that!

What Andy says is that we are all resisting life - either resisting something or attached to its opposite, often both. Once we stop resisting we become free - both to experience it and to experience its opposite. In my defencelessness my safety lies. If I am willing to experience unhappiness then the option of happiness also opens up to me.

I would love to hear your experiences and how this resonates or not with you.

Melanie
A Moodscope member.

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

46 comments - Permalink


20

August

Comfort zone stay or leave? Sunday August 20, 2017

My neighbour was telling us how good she felt venturing out of her comfort zone, travelling for a few days by herself to a big city to go to visit an art gallery. She rarely goes away by herself as it makes her anxious so she was so pleased that she made the effort and had a good time.

A friend who heard this story, said to me later that she often hears and reads the term 'comfort zone' and how it appears we are constantly pressured to move out of our 'comfort zone.' She then confessed, against popular thought, that she likes the term comfort zone and has no wish to leave it.

She explained it took her a long time and many years of depression and sickness and struggle to reach a Comfort Zone. She wondered when did 'comfort' become a negative word?

I agree that Comfort is good, and feels warm, snuggly and healing.

While it is a great place to be in when the depression, insecurity, self doubts hits hard, it can be a place of retreat, where just being may be the best thing one can do at that time.

That does not mean that I always want to stay in that safe place. There are times for me when I need to experience something different. I know I always have soft place to land.

I wonder if part of liking ourselves is knowing when it is okay to be in our comfort zone, and to have the strength and ability to experience a new activity.

For some, staying in the comfort zone may mean that they are preventing themselves from growing or experiencing life. Maybe we can still do that from our comfort zone.

There is no point in pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to do public speaking, dancing or mountain climbing if you have no interest in those activities.

Once we feel better we can venture to try things which fit with our values or we would like to try.

So, are you someone who feels he/she has struggled so hard to have a comfort zone that leaving it is not an option?

Do you want to give three cheers for your comfort zone and say don't pressure me to leave as I took so long to get here?

What you have done when you moved out of your comfort zone and how did it feel?

Leah
A Moodscope member.

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

139 comments - Permalink


19

August

Terrible at accepting help. Saturday August 19, 2017

Today, I went to a social gathering outside in a garden with a lovely lunch buffet. Not usually much of a problem for me, but I've recently acquired a hindrance: a crawling baby. Everything she sees, she wants, and she wants to put it in her mouth, from grass to glasses, handbags to shoes, and even very occasionally her toys. Added to that she's at the stage where a parent has to be in sight at all times and everyone else is a scary monster (unless their toes are tasty or they are a useful climbing frame). Suddenly acquiring food at a buffet seemed an impossible task.

Now there were plenty of offers of help to be had but I spent most of the lunch trying to do things on my own. Why? Sometimes it's an understandable impracticality: I'm a fussy eater, so "Can I get you a plate of food", the most common refrain, was never going to work for me. Sometimes it's fear of inconveniencing someone: I don't want to leave a baby who will probably scream her head off as soon as I'm out of sight, I don't want to inflict that on them. (And then I start to worry that if I carry on that way she'll never get used to strangers, but parental anxiety is a story for another day.) Sometimes it's purely lack of trust.

But often it's a case of wanting to do it all myself, of being seen to be independent and capable. My brain is telling me that I should be able to do it all by myself. There's two flaws I can see in that thinking. Firstly, accepting help doesn't necessarily imply that I can't do a thing, simply that it's easier with someone along side me. And secondly, why "should" I be able to do everything? How absurd. If my skill set in life doesn't include being able to juggle a baby, a plate, and those things you use to serve up salad then it doesn't make me a failure as a human, just normal.

My pride was getting in the way and making life that little bit more difficult. As with a lunch buffet, so with the bigger things in life. There are days where I can get through by myself, but a chat with a friend or a hug make it that much easier. And there are times when I can't get through the day without help from others, and that's alright too.

As I was going, a friend offered to pack some things away. Could I have done it myself? Sure. But it was a lot easier with help.

Lucy
A Moodscope member.

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

19 comments - Permalink


18

August

When the rain stops pouring. Friday August 18, 2017

I've always found friendships a little tough. I'm a very loyal person and have often felt disappointed in loyalty not being returned. At the same time, I can easily feel suffocated and far too watched and minded in friendships. Throughout my life I've found my friendships ebb and flow, mainly ebb. I lost friends when they had children and I didn't. I lost friends when I had three children very close in age and they didn't. I lost many friends when my marriage ended. It has made me become choosy about who I trust and how I trust, but perhaps I've always been like that.

This is not a sad story. I really like where I am now. I have a small circle of general friends and a very tiny group who don't know each other but who are trusted implicitly. I'm lucky to have my brothers and parents. We're close in that if we don't all see each other for months we don't take offence and when something big happens we are tight. Few people know of my depression. Only one knows how far it took me. I don't have, and never will have, long term friends who have been with me always and who might combine to form a 'Friends' style TV moment. But as I say, this is not a sad story.

Nowadays, I tend to go about life making the most diverse and intense connections which can continue to make me smile and feel good months, even years, after we've met and un-met. Let me just clarify, I'm not up alleyways having clandestine encounters!

Most recently I met a gorgeous Taxi driver, comfortably aged with a comfortable aura. A youngish grandfather of nearly four, trousers pressed, shirt fresh, tie, cab spread with obligatory travel rug and a conversation to die for. I confess I have more than a soft spot for the older generation. I could have travelled around the town twice and not tired of his words. He had the art of conversation, not talking too long on himself before bouncing the conversation to me. Always more comfortable investigating others lives, I filled in the blanks and returned the ball. At the end of our half hour journey, he rounded down my fare and I tipped. I told him I'd had a lovely time talking with him and he said "and I enjoyed it very much too". After we parted, and he turned his cab, he leant forward to find me in the crowd and smiled and waved. I was already there to return it. His wave lifted me on to a wave which I'm still enjoying more than a month on.

What is my message today? That depression is occasionally a great thing. That the searing, soul despairing ache and physical pain can sometimes bring with it an ability to find true contentment in the smallest of things. And I wish everyone could have that.

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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17

August

Panic Attacks. Thursday August 17, 2017

I suffered my first panic attack when I was coming up for 21 years old. This was my worst one I think, because I didn't know what the hell was happening to me.

I was in a night club. I remember standing on the edge of the dance floor watching everyone enjoying themselves. There were a lot of flashing lights and I felt peculiar.

All of a sudden, I knew I had to get out of there. I was so scared. I asked a girl standing next to me if she would come outside with me as I felt unwell. I did not even know her, but she was the first person I could see.

She helped me down the stairs, as I felt like I was going to collapse and I very nearly asked the staff to call an ambulance. However, I managed to get outside and sit on a wall. I felt sick and I started to shake and to cry.

Then it passed, I felt better, but shaken and shocked. I thanked my helper and got myself home. I was so upset, I remember telling the cab driver what had happened to me.

I was lucky enough not to experience another panic attack again for many years... I mean, yes, I had times of feeling anxious and nervous, even to the extent where (for example) I could not hold a drink in my hand (rather annoying when you want a sip of your tea or a sip of wine).

Then in my forties, they came back with a vengeance.

I found myself questioning why, but I cannot see much logic in it. I went through enough stress in those twenty years whilst I was free of a panic attack.

Shops became the worst culprit. I had to leave them very quickly and once I literally collapsed in a supermarket. I have experienced one on a plane (after which I actually wrote most of this blog), in a car, in a theatre, at a funeral service (I had to leave in the middle of it, slightly embarrassing) but I once even had one at home.

Thankfully, they seem to have left me again now and it has been a while since my last one. Hopefully another twenty years...

Has anyone else experienced full blown panic attacks?

The only way I can describe them is the feeling that I was going to die. They actually only last a few minutes and I had to learn to breathe, by taking small sharp breaths and by sipping water. If I have to leave the house now (rare) I always take water.

I'm not saying this is the answer (far from it), but I read a book called 'Making friends with Anxiety' and the last time I thought I was going to have a panic attack, I told myself "it is ok, this beast is not going to harm you, it is just popping by to say hello".

It actually helped and the feeling passed...

A doctor once questioned me on whether I knew what a panic attack was. I went rather blank. He liked to maintain that he knew a lot about mental health but he didn't know much at all. He went on to tell me that a panic attack was something that happened when being confronted with a lion or a tiger. Silly man!

He has retired now and I sometimes wonder if it was on his bucket list to visit a zoo.

Molly
A Moodscope member.

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

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16

August

Strongly Anthemic. Wednesday August 16, 2017

[To listen to an audio version of this blog, please click here: http://bit.ly/2vXd2X8]

Ellie hears her husband's feet on the stairs. He has come in from work, scooped up the cat and gone straight to shower and shave before he even greets her with a kiss. He wants to wash his job away before he comes to her. He wants to greet her as the man he is, instead of the man he has to be at work.

But he is happy: he is singing. Tonight, from The Mikado. "Defer, defer to the Lord High Executioner," he sings to the ragged-eared bundle in his arms. Ellie doesn't think Mundungus defers to anyone. He is a cat and thinks everyone should defer to him.

It's not always Gilbert and Sullivan. Sometimes Jeremy sings songs from the musicals, sometimes rousing hymns, but always something with a strong tune; something he can get his fine baritone behind.

When he is unhappy, he is silent, and then Ellie is unhappy too, because a happy marriage is only as happy as the unhappiest partner.

You won't meet Jeremy and Ellie in real life: they are characters in one of my novels, but Jeremy's habit of singing when he is happy comes from a school friend of my daughter. Peter changed schools in his fourth year. His mother said that she had not realised how miserable he had been until he began to sing again. She had not realised that his music had stopped.

If we sing when we are happy, then can we make ourselves happy by singing?

At a recent meeting of my bi-polar support group, we discussed ways of coping, of lifting our spirits when depressed. Singing came up several times. I like the discipline of church choral music, my neighbour likes singing with the rock choir. The leader of our group likes singing along to eighties pop music.

At the funeral of my favourite aunt last week, we sang to music supplied by guitars and drums. The hymns, although traditional, were played in a way that made your feet tap and your body sway and, if you are of the Pentecostal tradition, wave your hands in the air. (I am an Anglican: my hands stayed firmly anchored to the service sheet!) Afterwards, my cousin asked me if I had enjoyed the hymns.

"Very much," I replied.

"We thought we'd like some hymns that, even if you couldn't sing, you could shout along," she said. "Mum couldn't sing a note, but she did rather like to shout!"

That funeral was not sad, but a joyous celebration of a life well lived.

Singing doesn't work for me when I am sunk into the deepest depression, swallowed whole by the dirty grey Leviathan, but it does cheer me up when I am feeling glum. Even if I start with something gentle, like Abide with Me, I can gradually work up to Vivaldi's Gloria. And sometimes, my latest rock favourite, Whatever it Takes, by Imagine Dragons.

So, what do you sing along to, when you do?

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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

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15

August

Where shall I start? Tuesday August 15, 2017

The past twenty years have involved a lot of hard work, trying to work out why I got very ill with postnatal depression after the birth of my third baby but not before.

I was working hard as a probation officer looking after other people and helping to solve their problems but I couldn't solve my own. I tried the stiff upper lip, medication, herbal remedies, other antidepressant medication and all different types of vitamins.

I handed my notice in and was persuaded to stay and changed my working hours to better suit my children and my family. I got pregnant again and suffered a miscarriage and then, after five years of trying to sort myself out, I admitted defeat.

I spent years reading self help books, trying to change the way I think about people and stuff and trying to change myself because I felt like a failure. The result of this is that I feel like I know myself inside out and upside down.

Has it helped?

Well I am not mentally ill any more but really was I ever? Or was I just a hormonally challenged, overworked mother of three lacking in support and trying to cope?

So next time you feel low and and depressed before you label yourself a failure just consider whether you are in fact just surrounded by people who, although they love you, have no idea what you are going through or how to support you, through no fault of their own and then find your tribe whether it be other Moodscopers or someone else who is not afraid of emotions.

It will make all the difference to how long you will travel down the lonely road of depression before turning the corner.

Wishing everyone good luck in their mental health ventures.

Romy
A Moodscope member.

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

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14

August

How You See People Changes What Happens Next. Monday August 14, 2017

If you'd like to see my first reaction to the main video I'd love to share today, here's me in the car: https://youtu.be/L3cIzpqKByM

If you don't have the time or the access to YouTube, it won't spoil the 'Aha!' moment.

I'd like to share an experiment run by Canon Cameras in Australia.

I began to think about this in the context of every single relationship I have: the way you and I 'see' others prejudices and affects where our relationships go next! Thus, if you want different results, change the way you see everything!

I really hope you can get to watch this video. I'm going to explain what it shows anyway, but much better for you to see it for yourself. It's stunning.

https://youtu.be/F-TyPfYMDK8

In the video, six different photographers are asked to take portrait photographs of the same model. The catch is that they are each told a different story about the model's background. One is told he saved someone's life, another is briefed on the model being a psychic, a third is told that the subject is a multi-millionaire, another that he is a recovered alcoholic, and, finally, that he is an ex-offender.

The result, if you didn't get to watch the video, is that each photographer portrayed the portrait in a different way. The results looked like six different people.

As a Father, I see my sons differently to the way you will see them. As a partner, I see Penelope in a totally different light to what others see in her. We all see "through a lens". Now, given that changing the lens changes the results we get, I wonder if it is time for you, just like me, to change the way we see some people?

Hit pause on your day right now and list the 3 most significant people in your life:

Their name................................................

Their name................................................

Their name................................................

Great! Now for each one, answer this question:

"If I was to see them in a more favourable fashion, in what way would I see them now?"

That photography video really touched me.

So, my 'Moodscope Monday' thought is:

"How do I see myself?"

"How do you see yourself?"

...because the way we see ourselves will have the most profound impact on how today will unfold. May you see yourself in the best light, and find the best lens through which to see all those you engage with today.

Lex
A Moodscope member.


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

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13

August

At Sea Without a Compass. Sunday August 13, 2017

Members that regularly comment on the blog will have seen that I had a funeral for my youngest daughter this week. We do not know the cause of death and have to wait weeks for the post mortem results.

She had lived in the antipodes for the past eight and a half years and at some point was diagnosed with BPD/Emotional instability. She never understood how beautiful and talented she was.

She was at times a self harmer and to escape her mental problems she turned to drugs.

Earlier this year she returned home to the UK, as she was too ill to look after herself and her partner could not cope any more.

She had two older sisters. One of my other daughters also had some health issues and she too had to return home when her mental health deteriorated.

It was a very difficult time and I wrote this poem:

At Sea without a Compass

Fred and I are cast adrift, at sea without a compass
When I heard of my child, in the clinic again
My emotions shut down, cos I can't take the pain
My younger child too, in pain and unable
To even share a meal with us at the table.
I feel strange and estranged, sometimes deranged
To whom can I go, when we all hurt so?
Coda:
But now she is gone and we still go on
I can take heart at least, that now she's at peace

When I wrote to ask for hugs I had a wonderful response from the regular contributors. Thank you for all the hugs that helped my tears to flow. It is so heartening to feel the love and support of an online community, who have some experience of the vagaries of mental health.

Thank you for listening.

Another Sally
A Moodscope member

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

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