The Moodscope Blog

12

August

Finding my home. Saturday August 12, 2017

Are you worried that books and bookshops are an endangered species?" asked a customer, clutching a Kindle.

I knew a place where books were treasured not threatened.

Books had always been a love of mine, I was always reading at least one and had one in my bag. As a 21st birthday present, I was given a beautifully illustrated book about books, bookshops and book collectors. The story that fascinated me the most was about a town in Wales, Hay-on-Wye, that was full of bookshops.

The more I learned about the man and the town, the more I wanted to go and visit the place, but life happened – marriage, three children, divorce, elderly parents, and small business. It wasn't until a hot summer's day in July a few years ago this year that I finally made it to Hay-on-Wye.

As soon as saw all the bookshops on my arrival, I felt at home. I had never really felt like I fitted in anywhere but in this town, smelling of old books and knowledge I felt wrapped in a comforting welcome blanket.

The first place I visited was the shop Richard Booth opened in 1962 but no longer owns, the Cinema Bookshop, which is by far the biggest bookshop I have ever seen with close to 200,000 books.

There was a book centre with 20 different dealers selling a wide variety of books, including many antiquarian ones. Old leather books inhabited the shelves, their famous and lesser known writers beckoning me to examine forgotten works.

It was hard to know where to start. After perusing the abundant shelves, I sat down with a stack of books, smelling the beauty of the knowledge surrounding me.

"Kindles banned in this shop," a banner proudly proclaimed. This was my town, a place where books were honoured and respected, not vulnerable and disappearing.

"Books are not an endangered species, I have 40kg worth of books to prove it," I answered, smiling at the memory of my trip to Hay-on-Wye.

Have you found a place, or a group of people, that you feel at home with. A place or a community where you can be yourself?

If you have not found this place or community yet, can you describe what it would be like?

Is there something you always wanted to do, always wanted to visit, always wanted to experience and you finally achieved that plan?

What was it like - did it leave up to your expectations?

Leah
A Moodscope member

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

62 comments - Permalink


11

August

Get a Life. Friday August 11, 2017

[To hear an audio version of this blog please click here: http://bit.ly/2utFkbH]

I think it was Sir Terry Pratchett who said (although it might not be, because I can't find this quote with Google, which must mean it can't exist – right?), when challenged to "get a life", that he felt he was living six lives already.

Those of us who have seen that image of him writing, surrounded by his six monitors; who have read his Disc World Series, or are writers themselves, understand.

But, just recently, I was challenged to "get a life."

Oh, not as bluntly as that: it was posed as a question and addressed it to many of us. A question which is utterly valid, even if it did make me (and others) say "Ouch!" at the time.

That question is, do we spend so much time concentrating on our own symptoms, our own condition, that we fail to live life as fully as we might?

I am deeply ashamed to say that I reacted violently. I promptly retaliated in the comments (see what you miss out on if you don't click through to the comments!) with a full run-down of my life and commitments; because I'm quite a busy girl – most of the time – when I'm not sitting shaking on the sofa in the darkness, that is.

But then I started to think.

Before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, mental health had no relevance and was of no interest to me. Now it is one of the few areas of health about which I am passionate.

If it were not for Moodscope however, I think I would still feel rather embarrassed about my condition. I would not want to talk about it; I would not want to think about it. I would still take my tablets and be grateful, but I would probably still want to hide my condition under a cloak of "normality." Because I would feel ashamed.

Moodscope has allowed me to see that I am not alone and that I have no reason to be ashamed. Further, it has given me a platform on which to stand, to take understanding forward, to send the light of knowledge and compassion further into the world.

We've all heard the saying, "It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness." Well, for me, Moodscope is that candle. I am proud to hold that candle high and to be seen by everyone to hold that candle.

It doesn't mean it's the only candle I hold, or even the brightest candle. But – just maybe – it's the most important candle, because I believe Moodscope can give hope to many more people than other areas of my busy life.

So, in answer to the question, should I stop thinking about my condition and get a life? The answer is, by thinking about it, by writing about it, by supporting Moodscope; I hope I am helping many other sufferers with this condition to "get a life".

Which is what it's all about, really.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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

57 comments - Permalink


10

August

Friendship with self. Thursday August 10, 2017

Being a friend to oneself is so important and so often forgotten in a crisis. We look to other people to provide company and encouragement and solutions and often allow our inner selves to keep up a barrage of criticism that undermines and withers our enjoyment of being who we are, right now, in this place.

Sometimes this constant commentary is so familiar we don't consciously know it's there but when you tune in to it the realisation of the self-condemnation and the language used to express it, can be shocking. The antidote is to develop the inner companion; the one who doesn't berate you for lying in bed too long but gently suggests that now may be a good time to rise and make some plans, who encourages and recognises steps, however small, as a continual part of a journey to change. The one who is alongside, with you, rather than sitting in judgement.

I am battling with alcohol at the moment; not a dramatic, technicolour, falling in the gutter kind of battle, but the habit of drinking more wine each evening than is good for me. My aim is to have more evenings without alcohol than with. Sometimes I win and wake the next morning feeling still tired but pleased with my strength of will. However, when I fail and down a bottle, my tendency is to veer towards self-hatred, despair and an over-arching idea of my life as failure. That can take hold and perpetuate depression and a paralysis.

My current approach is to be kinder and gentler as I would towards a friend and, without being permissive, to say to myself " Ok. That happened, but it doesn't have to keep happening and the overall trajectory is better than it was. Well done for that and we'll keep trying.". To hold on to progress and to be compassionate about the opposite. To pick myself up, as one would help and hug a miserable toddler and move towards a different state of mind. This takes regular conscious practice as does learning any new skill.

Real friends are great but not always available and not always up to date with our own script. The person best placed to give one what one needs, in terms of understanding and will power, is often living inside us. Then we can enjoy other people in all their glorious array, without the expectation that they can complete or rescue us. Or us them.

Hilary
A Moodscope member.

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

61 comments - Permalink


9

August

Lions and Bears, Wolves and Dolphins. Wednesday August 9, 2017

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

I sometimes think that every bad decision I have ever made has been after 10pm.

It's as if a switch has been clicked. Before ten o'clock I am (mostly) reasonable and level-headed, disciplined and responsible. At one minute past, that all changes.

I have sent far too many long and emotional texts to friends after midnight. I have drunk too much wine and eaten junk food by the cartload. True, I have written reams, but in the clear light of morning much of it needed heavy editing.

But just recently, I have discovered why this is. It is because I am a lion.

The Power of When, by Dr Michael Breus, has been an illumination. He is a "sleep doctor" and he divides people into the four types in the title of this blog. Lions wake up early and switch off early. Bears are the lucky ones who follow a normal sleep pattern. Wolves sleep late (very late) but are at their most productive after midnight. Dolphins are the hardcore insomniacs who will swear they have not slept a wink all night.

Discovering I am a lion has been a revelation. The need for a snooze function on the alarm always used to puzzle me. I've never understood this "waking up slow" business: lions come instantly awake, usually before 6am, raring to go and hungry for a big cooked breakfast. Lions do their best work before lunch, and certainly all their left brain work then. So, I am now making sure my day reflects this: analytical business work in the morning, writing in the afternoon, bed at ten sharp. It's helping my weight, saving my liver and I'm sleeping better too.

It's otherwise for Wolves. My son Tom is an extreme wolf. He likes to go to bed at 6am and get up at 4pm. When he lived with us recently, it was not unusual for him to share breakfast with us at 6.30am. Only for him, it was a snack before bedtime. It drove my poor husband (a very disciplined bear) crazy! Wolves work best in jobs where they don't have to clock in earlier than noon.

A close friend of mine is a dolphin. Dr Breus calls these people dolphins because (apparently) real dolphins only sleep with half their brain at once. The other half stays alert to watch out for danger and to deal with all that business of swimming and coming up into the air to breathe. Celia has never slept well, even when I knew her as a child, and now she understands why, and more importantly, has some techniques which help.

Lack of sleep or sleep dysfunction is a large part of depression, so anything which helps us understand it and to get more restful sleep is to be embraced.

You can take the test online here https://thepowerofwhenquiz.com/ to find out which animal you are, and you can find the book in all good bookshops. I'd recommend it.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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

63 comments - Permalink


8

August

Day Release. Tuesday August 8, 2017

It happened last Friday. It was a revelation, a single day.

Friday was a day with no pain and a day when I had no depression or anxiety. I cannot remember being able to function so well, to be able to think clearly and have mental acuity, to wake up rested and without pain in my body and my mind.

I was able to move from task to task without drowning in the muddy glue pit of indecision and inability to concentrate, without the constant neck and skull pain being dulled by medication but leaving me dithering. This is what it must be like to have a healthy brain, to be able to rise each day and complete tasks.

I felt relaxed, contented and happy.

I then realised how depressed I am, how bad my fibromyalgia is and that my smiles are but a mask where I valiantly strain to keep going. I see why my relationships (marriages and partners) have collapsed, partly due to my being unable to make decisions or tolerate irritations.

I have no special other in my life at present. It feels like too much to ask of another being to be with me. Yet I have so much love to give, so many talents as my distant family and friends tell me. My brain can't harness them it seems, and I have kept trying too hard, at once mourning the loss of potential and never quite accepting that I am too ill to manage by myself.

Those who loved me and cared for me saw my inner beauty and torment and wanted to give me a life of love. I insisted on battling. This illness and my feeling of disquiet and discontent have robbed me of times of ease. Like most of us, all I seek is inner peace and contentedness.

I had one day of peace, one day and then the pain restarted and the brain became deluged by noise. Twenty five years of pain and fluctuating depression and anxiety. I have had my probation at work extended because I am failing at tasks. I have to support myself so have to work.

Why did I have that amazing day? I meditate, have been having Reiki healing from my housemate every other day and had ear acupuncture the evening before.

Each time I have the acupuncture I do feel better. Does anyone else have acupuncture for depression? Does anyone else have significant pain with their depression and anxiety?

So what do I take from this? I see that my body and mind can heal, even if it is temporary. Perhaps I can negotiate work (I do two jobs) to reduce to four days a week. My finances will suffer, and I live quite frugally as it is, but my health is worth this and who knows there may be someone out there willing to be with a kind, gentle, loving, quirky woman who, at last, realises she is not to blame for being unwell.

Lesley
A Moodscope member

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

57 comments - Permalink


7

August

Framing FOR Complaining. Monday August 7, 2017

Do you find it easier to whinge than to find and suggest a solution?

Perhaps it's time to find a better way?

Frame to Complain!

Mother Teresa was committed to 'For' rather than 'Against'. She was allegedly asked once to join a protest march, raising awareness of a specific conflict. Surprisingly, she declined. When asked why she said that she would join the protestors when they marched for peace, but not when they were marching against war. Whether this ever happened or not, it's the perfect illustration.

The outcome is arguably the same: against war for peace, or for peace (and thus, by default, against war!) The frame, however, is completely different - as is the state of mind that then drives the supporting behaviour.

I've recently had a protracted experience with a rather famous Telecoms company. And, any experience is a gift to a writer!

Over the many weeks this has taken to resolve, I have encountered many excellent staff members from the Telecom's giant. Individuals who (mainly) sincerely sought to represent the much larger entity in a way they could be proud of.

Whilst I am sure they have been trained, at a senior level, to deliver excellence in service, I also am going to fairly and squarely claim that I played my part! Why? Well, because I wasn't interested in conflict, or in getting my pound of flesh. I was for a solution - so much so that I challenged several of the staff members when they consistently used the label of a 'complaint'. When we ring up to 'complain' - it's not surprising people get defensive, is it?

Was I complaining? You bet! Did I want my grievance wrapped in the language of complaint? No way! I wanted the Telecom company to live up to my positive expectations - and they got there in the end.

In Life you and I are going to have a lot of disappointments. In business, stuff is going to go wrong. Learning to address these issues in the positive frame of what you are 'for' rather than what you are against, really helps develop a solutions focus.

Oh, and you'll feel better too!

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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

71 comments - Permalink


6

August

Stormy bears. Sunday August 6, 2017

My son is emotionally up and down at the best of times. He is early teenage but his anger at feeling the world has conspired to be against his every move is something I could see from just after he arrived bottom-first into this world! Sometimes (most times) I have energy and patience to pick apart the problem and talk it out with him. He is so sensitive and the upside of his sensitivity is that he hugs like a bear saying goodbye forever and says "thanks for talking to me". But other times I have neither energy nor patience to search for the needle within the messy haystack. That's when we fall out. Shout. Scowl. Storm.

At those times its healthy to let it lie. Last night I lay in bed listening to him in his bed, in the dark, shouting about his problem. (It was a last-minute thing he wanted to do the next day and I'd said it was not possible.) When he stormed through from his room to mine, I started breathing heavier to pretend I was asleep. He ranted as he came in to my room, then noticed I'd signed out and grumped "I'll just tuck myself in then" as he stormed back out. Sure enough, within moments he was quiet in his bed, in the dark, making peace with the day. It was far more beneficial that for that time, we let it lie.

This is also true with ourselves.

Another way of being 'kind to yourself' (a phrase often lauded) is simply to realise when it is a good time to encourage yourself and when it is not. I know that might seem very basic but how often do you push yourself to do something only to do it in such a way that it is of no benefit at all? Gym? Diet? Sleep? Work longer?

Sometimes we need to let it lie.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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

61 comments - Permalink


5

August

Peter and Penelope. Saturday August 5, 2017

Peter and Penelope are great friends, they think alike, have their own language which often does not require words, and they are often mistaken for each other as they look so similar.

Like Twins in fact.

This may sound strange as one is male and the other is female, but they both share a wonderful golden sheen and beautiful posture as they stand in their gardens elegant serene and all knowing.

Yes they are peacocks, formed from metal and paint and yet they seem somehow alive.
Peter lives with me in my beautiful colourful garden and Penelope lives with my friend whom I call the Old Bean, she also calls me the Old Bean! And we are also very similar.

Like twins in fact.

Same sense of humour, same way of communicating without words, same sense of sometimes living in a happy pinkness then finding oneself in a black bubble that cannot be burst.
We are true friends and as CS Lewis once said 'Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! you too? I thought I was the only one!'

Peter has helped me through many upsets, and I have often sat beneath his caring feathers just alongside the white hydrangeas on the top step of the path, with tears or feelings of deep sadness inside, and felt the calmness of his silence.

Slowly coming to understand how to go forward.

It was this that inspired me to buy Penelope for the Old Beans birthday as she has been feeling very low and I could not seem to jolly her along, her life is fraught with difficulties as she has a wayward teenage son and an elderly mother to care for.

She works hard and yet seems to be on a roller coaster, one minute calm and caring and really quite the funniest person you could ever want to know.

Then life suddenly whips the roller coaster upside down and she finds herself clinging on trying desperately not to just let go and fall to the floor.

All I can do is to shout up to her hang on Oldest Bean, it will be alright you know.

The tears fall from her beautiful green eyes and she cannot speak.

Then Penelope came along and I placed her in her garden near the door so they could see each other and watch each other carefully.

I told the Old Bean Penelope was there to look after her, comfort her and give her the inspiration to see beauty and hope when the clouds were grey, the roller coaster was warming up faintly in the distance, and the tears were close by.

Peter and Penelope together have formed a bond to look after us two Old Beans and keep us together, safe and protected when we find it all too much.

Last night I heard Peter flapping his feathers and imagined him sleek and luminescent in the moonlight returning from his nightly visit to Penelope.

I knew all was calm and right as I felt the most serene deepness of sleep take hold of me and I silently wished the Old Bean goodnight, and sweet dreams.

Old Bean we are heading for the pinkness once more.

Peter can feel it in his gorgeous feathers.

Audrey
A Moodscope member.

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

68 comments - Permalink


4

August

This will pass. Friday August 4, 2017

It's been ages since I last wrote for Moodscope. In fact these past few months I haven't been reading the blog every day... that's a change for me.

So my moodscope score this week is 31.

I could have guessed it would be low, but 31 is one of my lowest ever scores.

Things are different for me just now. I feel exhausted in the mornings. Despite having sufficient sleep, my body is heavy, my head foggy and I drag myself around for most of the day.

I have taken two days off work to focus on my mental health. Yesterday, a glorious day of weather (rare for us in Scotland) I wasn't able to relax. My busy head not slowing down. It's hard even to catch the thoughts. Do you know what I mean?

A constant churning in my head and my stomach. Sometimes my head whirring so much that when speaking to people - I have to really focus to listen because there's a constant something going on inside.

I just feel rubbish.

But you know what...

Somewhere buried inside my head there is faith that this will pass. I will make it easier, if I accept that it is ok not to be ok and if I work through this.

* Do the deep breathing. Slow things down.
* Keep my days really simple - accomplish one thing.
* Be in nature.
* Don't lie in bed - as soon as my eyes open - get UP. Get showered.
* That doesn't mean I need to be running doing errands, I can make a nice space to sit or 'be'.
* Flick through magazines - doesn't matter that I can't concentrate on any articles.
* Write down a list of what's circulating in my head - it's hard to catch the thoughts - but that's ok... but it's better out than in.
* Lastly, when I get overwhelmed... NOTICE. What 5 things can I see, hear, smell, feel.

So my message is... It's ok not to be ok. We have the tools and we have to push through these uncomfortable days to find the brighter, lighter days.

Carol Anne
A Moodscope member.

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

36 comments - Permalink


3

August

A Day at a Time. Thursday August 3, 2017

I find myself in a situation I thought I'd never be in. Living alone having left my husband of 20 years. I moved out of the family home last year and only now really finding my feet.

For most of my marriage I was depressed, triggered by the sudden death of my father 2 years in. Panic, anxiety and depression all set in soon after, I was worried about myself.

After numerous good and bad phases, in and out of jobs and looking after my family best I could, it finally hit me that I should never have married the person I did. I saw various doctors, counsellors, psychiatrists over the years who all had the same opinion - I needed out of my marriage. My husband made my decision easy in the end, I couldn't take any more criticism, put downs, no support. His drinking was out of control and behaviour, well say no more... I figured it's him or me and I chose me!!

So I'm going it alone. I rent a flat, have a job I enjoy and have been in for a year now. It's been far from easy so depression is still lingering but I'm dealing with that and I'm starting to actually feel some happiness. Something I've not felt in a long time. So much so, that I have booked a holiday on my own for a week. I'm a bit nervous must say, but I seem to enjoy being by myself for now - I've found that I love peace and quiet but also have the ability to meet people and make new friends - something my husband always said I was incapable of.

I don't think that I'll be on my own for ever but for now it's what I want and need. It feels strange putting myself first now but it's definitely something I'm getting used to.

It's not been an easy road and it's far from over but I'm getting there a day at a time.

Take care,

El x
A Moodscope member.

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

45 comments - Permalink


2

August

Twos and Zeros. Wednesday August 2, 2017

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

I tell everyone about Moodscope.

Well, okay, it hasn't got quite as far as me hunting down perfect strangers and holding them down while I expostulate on the therapeutic benefits of this wonderful app and how it's helped me feel totally sane...

I'm not quite sure that would have the right effect, somehow.

But I do tell a lot of people. In fact, I wrote a blog about it (Out and Aloud, if not Proud – 10th May 2017). Most especially, I show them my graph. When people comment on how well I look these days; how settled; how steady; I whip out my phone and show them my graph.

Because it's really rather dramatic: I've gone from looking like a cut-through diagram of the Alps to something more closely resembling the Fen Country where I live. Yes, from 6th February, when the therapeutic dose of my medication kicked in, things have been – well, really rather boring.

In a good way, I hasten to add. Oh yes – in a good way. Let me remind you of that Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times." Give me boredom any day of the week.

But – I do kind of – miss the 3s. Because now – all the red cards get a 2. Every single time. (Well, occasionally a couple of them might slip down to 1s if I'm tired or stressed).

The creativity is there. The drive is there – in fact my business has taken off in a way I haven't seen for nearly ten years and I can now tend and nurture it properly.

What isn't there, is the urgency; the single-minded focus that would galvanise that creativity so I could write fifty thousand words in a month or go from nowhere to being number two in a sales team of 80 inside six months.

What isn't there now is that sense of flying, of invincibility, of god-like immortality.

On the other hand, what also isn't there is the price paid by friends and family when I was off on one of my highs. It was they who suffered the selfishness, the arrogance, the intolerable rudeness and insensitivity... I am not a nice person in my mania phase.

So, I miss the feelings and, to be honest, the results – plugging away at my novel a thousand words at a time is not as exciting as writing a chapter every night; going as fast as my characters could keep up. Slow and steady is not as thrilling as the awe I generated when I shot through the roof with my sales.

But those feelings were like those (I imagine) generated by cocaine. They were illusory and destructive, and the unsustainable productivity was inevitably followed by a crashing loss. I was playing snakes and ladders where the snakes were longer than the ladders and the serpents always won.

So, I'll take the 2s and be grateful. And the zeros on the blues. This is one case where flat-lining is best.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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

27 comments - Permalink


1

August

The Down Side of the High Side. Tuesday August 1, 2017

It was party time and I was the life of my very own party. I considered my highs to be normal, as I loved this outgoing, fun loving person.

The exciting confidence embraced me so tightly that I could not resist the temptation of experiencing just one more high. When I was manic I became convinced I was invincible, incredible and irresistible. I knew I could be anything or do anything. I loved everyone and everyone seemed to love me. I had abundant ideas, enthusiasm and passion.

This was the late 1970s when risk taking behaviour, partying all night and spending sprees were considered normal behaviours of students. That is the deceptive nature of mania, it mimics 'normal' behaviour in many ways.

It is natural for people to be happy and it is hard to equate happiness with illness. The trouble is mania isn't happiness - it is a very exaggerated over the top state that seduces a person into believing this is normal and so addictive that one keeps wanting more despite the havoc one leaves behind.

I was enjoying the highs, having so much fun, ignoring the chaos I caused and convincing myself it was only the depression that was a problem.

This was a mental illness that made me believe it had an upside, but in reality there was a dark and destructive side. It was so enticing I did not see my highs as a problem, even after I had experienced financial debts, broken relationships, and disrupted studies.

Each individual handles the mania differently. For me it took over a decade of destructive highs and debilitating lows till I finally and begrudgingly decided to take medication. The party was definitely over and it was time to face reality.

I think the key to my managing bipolar was acceptance of my limitations and acknowledgement of my strengths. I also had to live in the present and not wallow in self pity. I gradually realised if my highs were not so high my lows would not be so low.

Every person will experience the illness in a different way so there is no one plan that will suit everyone. I kept a journal as I found this helpful in keeping track of my moods. A sense of humour is useful as well as an ability to laugh at oneself. I used to be ashamed of some of my past behaviours but I decided to take responsibility for them.

People fear if they give up their highs they will give up their creativity. I have been able to stabilise since I have been taking medication. When I gave up the extreme highs and lows I discovered the another part of myself.

Everyone has ups and downs, so if you dont have bipolar, how do you cope with mood swings?
If you have bipolar, or unipolar, how do you cope with your highs, are they your best friend or your best enemy?

Leah
A Moodscope member.

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

131 comments - Permalink


31

July

The Most Beautiful Bridge in the World. Monday July 31, 2017

Which bridge would get your vote as the most beautiful bridge in the World?

· Sydney Harbour Bridge, Australia?

· The Forth Bridge, Scotland?

· Ponte Di Rialto, Venice, Italy?

· Brooklyn Bridge, New York, USA?

· Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy?

· Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, USA?

· Tower Bridge, London, England?

· Millau Viaduct, France?

My vote goes to a metaphorical bridge, the word: "and"!

"And," builds bridges between what was before and what comes after.

It's like Aikido – maintaining the flow of energy between one point and the next.

When picked up in a conversation, it allows the river of communication to keep flowing – building stronger links between the positions on either side, the parties engaged in the exchange.

I have a colleague whose favourite conjunction is the word: "but"!

He doesn't build bridges, he builds barriers.

His barriers block the flow and leave those he talks to (at?) disempowered, and feeling devalued.

Now, "but" has its place as an important word, but "and" is better!

Let's not talk any more about him, eh?

What about people who say, "and," but mean "but"?

They are like a bridge that ends half-way across the river. People are not stupid, they know when someone isn't being genuine.

My recommendation is to make conscious friends with "Andy" today! To deliberately and systematically use "and" more and "but" less. Find what you like in the gift of conversation that someone is offering you, AND add to it in the direction they are flowing.

If they say, "What a beautiful day!" Reply with, "Yes, it is a beautiful day, and I'm so pleased to be sharing it with you!" (OK, that was a bit Tree-Huggy, wasn't it?)

My belief is that, together, you'll find a way to exciting new conclusions, and in and!

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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

20 comments - Permalink


30

July

Joie de vivre. Sunday July 30, 2017



The picture of joy above did have his disappointments. He thought he was a lap-dog (probably weighed 35 kilos). He delighted in escaping to find the most luxurious bed in the house – and it took three strong men to drag him off. He could look pathetic if his bedtime choc-drop was late, and, of course, like all Labradors he was seriously undernourished.

So where do we find 'joyful moments'?

There are people like Hellen Keller, Anne Franck, people held hostage for years, concentration camp survivors, whose spirit shines like new stars in the sky. Few of us can aspire to such strength of spirit (although, you never know, luckily few of are asked for such courage – how would we act?)

I am lucky to have gardens – they keep me sane and rational. Those without gardens, and unable to have pets, miss sources of great comfort.

There used to be joy in church services – I remember having children at home and the midwives were Methodists – they looked forward to their church services 'to have a good sing'. It's cheap, gets you together with people – look at the extraordinary success of Gareth Malone and his 'Choir'. Go to a Gospel concert, and the faces are the human equivalent of the dog above.

Moodscopers with access to the sea have spoken of the joy of long walks, never mind the elements.

Music, obviously, figures largely judging by favourite, and comforting, songs mentioned recently.

Can you find real 'joie de vivre' moments in what is a grim scenario for many?

The Gardener.
A Moodscope member

P.S. there is a picture of the same dog even more joyful in deep snow.

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

17 comments - Permalink


29

July

Art Vs Monsters. Saturday July 29, 2017

I've suffered from depression since I was a teenager. It all came to be because of problems I cannot speak about (yet, one day I'll do it,) and I admit that doing it now may help, but I'm just not sure.

School didn't help. I tried going to a psychologist, but for various reasons I couldn't keep going. Imagine how I felt: alone, like no one cared about me, no one wanted to give me a hand. Too many emotions that a teenage boy should have to deal with, mostly because almost all of them were the result of internal struggles I couldn't share with my family (and I still can't.)

I started to cut, torture myself in many ways and my nail-biting, a lifetime habit I cannot stop, got worse. The hole I was being buried in was becoming deeper and deeper, my voice felt weaker and my dreams became nightmares...

Even suicide came to my thoughts as an exit, so I wrote a letter, made my plans and one day when I felt I couldn't take it anymore, took some deep breaths and prepared to do it: jump from one of my school's buildings so I could kill myself and end it all. One, two, three, four seconds, and suddenly, in the fifth, something clicked in my mind.

Was I really that weak? Was I really going to give up, as easy as that? Was I going to lose all my dreams? Oh hell no! I was fighting back my demons. Thanks to my friends and my headphones, music became an exit, a way to distract my mind, and drawing and writing became another one for my nightmares to get out of my head once and for all; so I stood up, looked for one, anyone, of my friends, and almost ran to her, cried the hell out of me and let her know every single thing.

The next day I was feeling worse than ever, so just put on my headphones, turned the volume up, went to school and faced everyone who knew what happened the day before, all my classmates that had seen the cuts, the dark circles under my eyes, read the Poe-like poems I wrote and acted as if it was just another one of my stories.

Art, in any form, can help you, it's just a matter of finding the one you like. You don't need to be good at it, just to like it and feel great while and after using it as your escape. Theater, writing, music, poems, sculpture, reading, whatever you think it may help, don't stop doing it, ever.

Also try and talk. It gets worse if you don't. They win if you give up and swallow all of those feelings, and deep inside, there's a little part of you screaming "HELL NO!" Listen to it, as I did back then and still do, because there are moments when I want to give up and cut again, but that's just going to help for a couple of seconds. The wounds become another problem later, and we already have enough.

Greetings.

Alan D.D.
A Moodscope member.

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

15 comments - Permalink


28

July

Not Today Thank You. Friday July 28, 2017

My Mum used to play a game. Whenever myself and my children arrived for a visit, we would ring the doorbell, she would fling the door open saying 'Not today thank you,' and close the door again in our faces! Obviously she was joking! It was good fun and my children loved her sense of humour. I feel very lucky to have 'inherited' my Mum's sense of humour and now, in her darkest days whilst she battles with Alzheimer's/ Dementia, 'making Mum giggle' has become my mission. Precious moments.

I was lying in bed two days ago thinking about her saying 'Not today thank you.' So often I feel this way for real, and I'm very sure that you do as well dear Moodscoper. Whether you are curled up in bed, lying on the sofa or maybe sitting in your favourite chair - when the phone rings or the doorbell goes, how often do you want to shout 'Not today!'

That's ok isn't it? We cannot always have a sense of humour, we cannot always feel chatty, we do not always want to be available to others. I think it's nice to know that people care but we cannot always respond.

Maybe we can turn the phrase around to, 'Thank you so much, but not today.'

I love you Mum. Thank you for inspiring me to write this blog and thank you for all the giggles we have shared over the years.

Dear Moodscoper, where are you today? Are you feeling sociable or is it a 'Not today thank you' day today?

Jane SG
A Moodscope member.

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

58 comments - Permalink


27

July

Married, Single, or otherwise Engaged. Thursday July 27, 2017

When I was young, I remember saying to my mum "I am depressed". I wasn't sure of the true meaning of the word, but I knew something was horribly wrong.

"So am I" she said.
"But you are married" I said.
"Doesn't make any difference" she said.

Of course she was right.

Thankfully, I do not believe she suffered too badly, but for me, it was a cry for help.

Putting depression aside, now I am married myself, I often think about that comment.

I feel people do not bother as much as they used to... because I am married. Perhaps it is because they feel they are interfering and do not want to disturb you.

Friends come and go for many reasons, life moves on, people have other commitments etc.

But we still need our friends, whether it be for their support or to support them.

I rather like being needed. I don't want people to think I have enough on my plate or that they cannot ask for help... because I am married.

There is another side of the coin...

I once phoned a friend (many years ago) when I was in complete distress, she said to me she couldn't come to me 'because she was married'. I actually never forgave her for that.

Personally, I would be there for someone I cared about, if they were in need.

Married or not.

Would you find it easier seeking help from a single friend with little or no commitments? Or do you feel like you do not want to trouble them regardless?

Toss the coin over and people say "I will always be there for you." Do they mean it?

We are often told to put ourselves first and learn to say 'No'.

So I am interested, would you be there for a friend or family member in need? Would you feel inconvenienced? Too busy? Ready to make an excuse?

Or do you actually get satisfaction out of being needed and helping someone?

Molly
A Moodscope member.

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

51 comments - Permalink


26

July

It's Only Feelings. Wednesday July 26, 2017

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

"What you need to do," I told myself as I took two packets of digestive biscuits from the shelf and put them in my shopping cart, "is go home, have a cup of coffee, sit down and have a good cry."

Because I'm grieving.

Oh, nothing serious. Nobody has died, but we can grieve over many things; the loss of a job, an opportunity, a client, a friend. I grieved for a fish once – a beautiful tortoiseshell koi carp – which developed a tumour and died. I grieved for my lovely White Dream and Queen of the Night tulips, when my husband decided he wanted that flower border for something else. Grieving is about loss.

And I am appreciating the grief.

Oh, not enjoying it – that would be either self-indulgent or masochistic; I'm not sure which. I'm appreciating it because I can actually feel that hollowness of loss, the sharp piercing pain of grief which happens every time you bump against a memory.

Digestive biscuits. Yes – it's the silliest things that cause that twinge.

Many of us will have experienced the numbness that frequently occurs with depression. In that dark place, we could be told our house had burnt down and our family lost, and the darkness would swallow the pain. We would stare blankly and be unable to react.

Sometimes the antidepressants exacerbate the situation. They enable us to function, but they dull everything, including pain. A friend once confided to me that she had stopped taking anti-depressants when her dog died and she felt nothing.

And for we bi-polar people: when we're high, we can't feel much either. The crazy adrenaline distorts even good feelings and losses are dismissed as insignificant.

Many people out there think that depression is feeling sad all the time, but they are wrong. So often depression is feeling numb all the time. When depressed I often feel as if I am on the other side of a thick and dirty plate glass window. All the world, all the colour and sense and emotion is on the other side and I am isolated; not just from the world, but from myself.

I know from talking with other folk who have this illness that I am not alone.

So, being well at the moment, I am appreciating each feeling. The feeling of anxiety over my daughter's stress levels, the joy I felt over taking a glorious three days away with my husband, and yes – even this grief.

Because feelings are precious and to be treasured. Even when they hurt.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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

35 comments - Permalink


25

July

In the face of rejection. Tuesday July 25, 2017

Today I received an email from an old friend. I had written to her the night before to ask after her as we hadn't spoken for about a year and I wondered if she was feeling so bad that she didn't feel able to contact me as she suffers from (unacknowledged) depression. I tried to contact her several times before but had no answer.

The response came as a surprise and a shock. Not only was it a rejection (Please don't contact me again etc): but it was written in such a way as to have no regard for my feelings. There is honest and there is brutal. This hurt me more than her telling me that she didn't want to know me any more – something I had suspected.

It was really unnecessary to address me in such a blunt and uncaring way and it put into question what over 12 years of friendship had been about. She said that we no longer have anything in common, but for me difference is something that can make a relationship more interesting so that's not an issue. Friends are very important to me, as I don't have a partner, children or much close family so the loss of one of my social group can really affect me.

I could say to myself that it's her depression talking and that I had been valued as a friend in the past but I wonder if I was just a "project" for her as she was the "well" one and I the "mentally ill" when we first met.

I worry that she is such a loner now with few social contacts that no good can come of it but maybe that's just how she is – she prefers her own company as some people do.

So, now I have to let go not only of a person who meant something in my life but also of what the relationship meant – I can't know the reality of it as far as she is concerned. Can we ever be sure of how people feel and think about us? I doubt it. As my therapist said; really, we are all alone.

I will try not to take the rejection personally as that will only do me more harm. So, it's up to me to be a better friend to myself than she has been – I deserve that and at least I'm going to stick around for the rest of my life.

Meggle
A Moodscope member

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

57 comments - Permalink


24

July

Lessons from a Burlesque Dancer. Monday July 24, 2017

Meetings and more meetings. Not always fun. But often necessary. How delightful, then, to attend an excellent business networking meeting and discover that one of the guest speakers was sharing lessons for business from Burlesque.

There was much laughter that morning at The Boardroom Network in Bournemouth, and rightly so. Three 'volunteers' were roped in to modelling what Abi was teaching us. Her message was around the impact we can have when we enter the room. Shoulders hunched just doesn't give the right message!

In case you're about to switch off, thinking to yourself, "Lex, I don't do networking – or even attend meetings," Abi's message was about how to have more joie de vivre – more joy in every moment... and, perhaps, in every movement!

Over years of coaching, I've become convinced that our physical 'position' affects our mental 'position'. I'm also convinced that the two are inextricably connected. Change the body, change the mind; change the mind, change the body! (Hey, high heels make a difference, don't they?)

I was, therefore, very open to Abi's insights. There were three top tips:

1 Posture. Stand tall – chin up, shoulders relaxed – open posture makes you look confident and approachable (and I'd argue it makes you feel that way too!) I can feel a Val Doonican song coming on... "Walk tall, walk straight, and look the World right in the eye..." https://youtu.be/BL58-Sh94ms

2 Eye Contact. A difficult balance between connection and seduction (well, if you decide to do Burlesque!) Eyes-wide-open gives a message of innocence and honesty! This is one of the reasons I am uncomfortable with people who won't take their sunglasses off.

But the real reason I wanted to write this blog was because of Abi's third and final tip...

3 The Shimmy! This is a moving of the shoulders - not up and down (it's not 'shrugging') but rather forwards and backwards. This was hilarious (as you can check out in the video link) and I'm pretty sure I will never do it, but her point was compelling: never let a day go by without having a shimmy! It'll make you laugh, it'll make anybody who see you doing it laugh, and business as well as life can get a whole lot better with a shimmy.

Now, since I'm becoming to know some of you better over the years, I can guess now who's going to have a go at doing a shimmy right now!!!

And for those who want the whole Shack to Shimmy when everyone's movin' around and around – here's a link to the Love Getaway: https://youtu.be/9SOryJvTAGs Trust me, shimmying to this is great fun!

To see Abi's presentation, follow this YouTube link!

https://youtu.be/pqyZZzloX-k

Shimmy!

Lex
A Moodscope member.

[And please let me know what adventures you get up to!]

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

38 comments - Permalink


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