The Moodscope Blog



Giving Comfort. Wednesday October 11, 2017

We all think we know what that means, don't we?

It's the arm slipped around your shoulders when you are hurt or grieving; the soft words of solace. It may be physical, as a warm quilt is placed around you; as you are led towards a sofa, and your hand is gently held. * Comfort is consolation in times of trouble.

Comfort is ease. In the words of an old-fashioned advertising brochure (I believe for a horse drawn carriage – which just shows how old-fashioned it is), "Four persons may travel in perfect comfort." We talk of our bed being comfortable. We speak of a comfortable relationship or a comfortable silence. In this context, we mean that the bed does not poke us in our tender places; our relationship springs no surprises; the silence does not demand words to fill the emptiness. Comfort has no awkwardness, confrontations or demands.

But if that is all we think of "Comfort", then we do it less than justice.

Now, please bear with me. Remember that I am a writer and that words are my language (ahem).

The word "comfort" used to mean far more than it does now.

If we go back to the etymology of the word, we see it is made up of the Latin "con/com" – meaning much or greatly, and "fortis", meaning to strengthen.

So, to "comfort" is better expressed as to "encourage" or "inspire".

The Bayeux Tapestry tells the story of the invasion of England by William the Conqueror. In one panel, a bishop is seen laying about a group of reluctant soldiers with the flat of his sword. The caption says: "Bishop Odo comforts the troops." Hmmm – a strange kind of comfort we may think!

But in the bible Jesus says to his disciples (John 14:16), "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever." This is normally assumed to be the Holy Spirit, which (who) alighted upon the disciples at Pentecost, changing them from terrified, cowering individuals into a force which changed the world (for good or ill is your own view). That force is hardly one which uses soft cushions and comfy chairs!

Today I asked my friend of "longest standing" to be my comforter. I poured my heart out to her and said: "I need you to be straight with me. Am I being stupid?"

She was straight. She was firm. She was enormously encouraging. But she presented me with a challenge. She was my "comfort".

I need to rise to that challenge. And it is hard. One day, I may be able to share with you just how hard.

In the meantime, I wish you comfort. Not the cosy comfort of the easy chair, but the robust comfort of encouragement – and the force to face what you prefer to ignore. May you rise to it!

A Moodscope member.

*And at this point I am irrepressibly reminded of Monty Python's Spanish Inquisition torture sketch: "Cardinal Fang – fetch the comfy chair!" ; I am sorry for it – but there it is!

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

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World Mental Health Day 2017. Tuesday October 10, 2017

Today is World Mental Health Day (#WorldMentalHealthDay) as founded by the World Federation for Mental Health in 1992.

This year's theme is Mental Health in the Workplace.

Let's look at the facts that have been published by the Mental Health Foundation:

1. 1 in 6.8 people experience mental health problems in the workplace (14.7%).

2. Women in full-time employment are nearly twice as likely to have a common mental health problem as full-time employed men (19.8% vs 10.9%).

3. Evidence suggests that 12.7% of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions.

Many companies are now addressing the problem, but there's still a long way to go before all companies recognise the importance of wellbeing in the workplace. And the stigma connected with mental health problems needs to be removed so that people feel free to discuss their issues without feeling they may be unfairly discriminated against.

Does your workplace have a strategy for dealing with mental health issues? Have you chosen not to tell anyone at work because you are worried what they might think? Do you have any ideas on how this problem can be tackled?

We have a Moodscope leaflet which tells employers how Moodscope can help improve the wellbeing of their staff. If you know anyone who could benefit from Moodscope in the workplace, please just email and we'll send you a copy.

In the meantime, if you are stressed at work (or even at home) and feeling a bit low, take a look at this really interesting TED Talk by Psychologise Kelly McGonigal: - How to Make Stress your Friend.

Best wishes.

The Moodscope Team

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

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Back to University. Monday October 9, 2017

The guy on Reception at the Best Western Hotel was not happy. He couldn't cope with the flow of customers... increasingly irritable customers. He told me he was "stressed." I didn't need to be told, but I'm glad he shared. I sympathised.

That little bit of rapport through sympathy was enough for him to open up. He confessed he was going to leave. This was the fourth hotel he'd been at - and I'm guessing they were all as 'bad' as one another. It wasn't his fault.


My heart went out to this young man because I could see his future. He was running from problems instead of embracing them. I knew that as soon as he changed hotels again, he would encounter exactly the same types of issues as he was clearly failing to face here. Whether it's a job or a relationship - running from the problem only ends in finding the same issue reincarnated in your next scenario.

This is why I love problems.

They save me a fortune in University fees.

Let me explain and expand. If you're like me, you'll be bombarded by 'opportunities' to subscribe to expensive educational sites. What these sites fail to realise is that I am already enrolled in an amazing educational programme... for free!

Not only am I enrolled, I get to take the same class over and over again until I pass! And when I pass, I graduate to a whole new level of 'problems as my teachers'!

Now, don't get me wrong. I secretly 'hate' problems. I'd like an easy life. But this is not a realistic expectation - I know that now. Problems S-T-R-E-T-C-H my mind and it never returns to its earlier size or state. Problems make me a better man - more resilient - more able to cope...

...if I learn from them.

Otherwise, I encounter the same problem clothed in another situation or difficult person to deal with.

Recognise now that you too are enrolled in the University of Life where problems are your best teachers.

And here's today's opportunity to share. I'd LOVE to hear about problems that you have overcome on your journey so far - and what you've learned from them.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Being nice. Sunday October 8, 2017

Hands up anyone who thinks they are too nice?

This last week has been a challenging one for me.

Certain people set off the train of thought in my mind that perhaps I am just too nice to others for my own good and actually some people to whom I was nice didn't really like it or appreciate it.

A very good friend told me I was too nice and should step back a bit and not always try to please.

A close family member told me that practically everything she had in her house, I had bought for her and she had too much and to stop buying. My husband of course loved to hear this.

These two people might be right but what they didn't know (through no fault of their own, I just hadn't explained it to them) was the reason why I was too nice and tried to please.

I think it all stems from a feeling of inadequacy on my part. I have away felt wrongly or rightly that I don't contribute much in terms of humour or light heartedness and am too serious overall. So I tend to be a pleaser and to make up for the lack of normal skills, which other people who don't suffer from depression or low moods seem to posses quite naturally, I am just nice.

I am going to try to stand back a little and not exactly turn into a not nice person but not try so hard to please. The family member who spoke in haste to me but was probably right, may miss the thoughtful practical things I buy her but at least I will give her the chance and space to miss them.

Do others think they are too nice? Any advice would be gratefully received on my part. I don't want or can't undergo a complete personality change but I do think it's time for a slight change in my behaviour. I don't think I can change my low moods but I may be able to make this small alteration to my constantly wanting to be nice (so boring!), to buy to make up for perceived inadequacies and to please.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Let us have garlic. Saturday October 7, 2017

Last year, there was conversation on the Moodscope blog which touched raw places for some people. (I am only writing now about it because I keep a note of things I'd like to write about and I simply haven't done it so far.) I think touching raw places is almost never a bad thing. Provided nobody is being rude or hurtful, it is not a bad thing to get down into the sore parts. It can be needed and good, like drilling decay in preparation for a smooth, white, filling. In yoga there is a theory that the movements you want to do least are the ones you need to do most.

Facing up to the bad stuff in our lives, from the dodgy to the horrific, is never easy for us and sometimes can, and must, only be done with professional guidance. But being able to say you have been torn into pieces by bad things and are willing to accept that you must travel forwards with it, I believe, is the difference between surviving and living.

I think for many, many years I have been surviving. And I need to upgrade to living. I need to do some exorcising and, as yet, I don't know how in particular I will go about this. But step one is being aware. Surviving only to re-live our pains daily, is akin to walking with bare feet along a path of broken glass. At some point we must pick up the glass and carry it, allowing ourselves to walk, with sorrow perhaps, but without renewed and searing pain.

I will keep you posted on my ideas for the exorcisms that might upgrade me. (I might start with new undies, woo hoo!) And I look forward to hearing if any of you lovely lot have exorcisms to share.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope members.

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

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What would you do if I sang out of tune? Friday October 6, 2017

Even my teddies couldn't stand my singing voice.

I loved to sing and I enjoyed listening to music. I could never understand why my parents would ask me to sing in my bedroom with the door closed.

When I was seven I first realised that other people also did not appreciate my singing.

My teacher divided the class into three groups: the good, the medium and the poor singers. She explained that as I had the worst and loudest voice in the class, I would have to sit outside during singing lessons.

Back then teachers had apparently not heard of the phrase self-esteem, or cared about the effect of isolating a seven-year-old during her favourite lesson.

At a residential school as part of my Graduate Diploma in Education I listened to the music lecturer say that everyone was musical and that he believed that there was no such thing as being tone deaf. After patiently listening to me attempt to sing a simple song in tune for half an hour, he was wondering if he had met his first tone deaf person.

My son wanted to learn the guitar at age ten, so I decided I would try to learn as well so I could play songs for the special needs children I worked with. I noticed how the children loved the weekly lesson with the music teacher.

I had read how incorporating music during the day would promote learning and a calmer environment, and so I was prepared to try to forget years of ridicule to learn the guitar.

After a few weeks, the teacher explained I would improve with personal instruction. She meant my son was being held back by his mum. She had learnt about self-esteem and knew how fragile mine was.

I really wanted to play in front of my students but the patient guitar teacher thought I should wait until I improved playing the basic guitar chords. She was patient and realistic.

Finally one week, when the music teacher was away, the students were disappointed so I decided to play my guitar and sing a few songs. The children seemed to like it and I felt good I finally had found an appreciative audience.

However one teacher told me that the words coming out of my mouth and the music I played on the guitar were totally different. Another told my singing was like a cat in pain and that I was torturing the guitar.

Those teachers had no respect for my self esteem but believed in tough love!

So you may think I sold the guitar and never sung in public again.

Not me. Since the children enjoyed my playing, I would play with no adults around. I did that until the guitar 'disappeared' never to be found!

Have you ever taken a risk and tried something you were not skilled at?

Is there something you would like to try but are worried what other people may say or think?

A Moodscope member.

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

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Confronting the elephant. Thursday October 5, 2017

Mary recently wrote about an elephant in the room. I was immediately moved to write about my attempt to confront the elephant in my family which didn't go exactly as I wanted, but has improved the situation nevertheless.

My elephant is that I suffered what I call emotional abuse from my mother from being a child until, well, who knows? Other family members have acknowledged it, although they may call it something else. Not getting on. An odd situation. A difficult relationship. She calls it... well, nothing. She refuses to accept that any of it happened. She won't even concede that our relationship has ever even been difficult. Any time I have tried to raise even the smallest incident it has been denied and I've been told that I make things up. That's partly how she got away with it all for so long, by convincing everyone that I make things up.

After 40 years, which have contained unacknowledged periods where we haven't spoken for months or even years at a time, I decided enough was enough and I was going to confront it head on in a way she couldn't easily ignore. I wrote her a letter. It wasn't a huge blaming kind of a letter, just letting her know that I wasn't going to be able to see her until we could at least talk about the past.

She replied saying she hoped I was better soon and able to see her again. It was pretty much what I expected but still sad. My mental illness was once again positioned as the problem rather than her behaviour.

Since then, I haven't seen her, but I feel a lot better. I have faced up to the elephant even if she isn't able to. Sometimes it's hard, not having her in my life, but then I remind myself how hard it was having her in my life and I feel okay about it. I have regained some control. So, even if seeing the elephant doesn't work out the way you'd like, it can still be the best thing to do.

A Moodscope member.

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

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My BFF and Me! Wednesday October 4, 2017

[To listen to an audio version of this blog please click here:]

Second day at senior school. Everything was so big. The classrooms were immense, the hall was cavernous, the corridors never-ending. The big boys hulked in corners, exuding slouching menace and the journeys from one lesson to another were terrifying.

I had already decided I didn't like the teachers. I didn't like anyone in my form. The girl next to me had stolen my pencil case. The boys on the bus had pulled my pigtails and called me four-eyes.

There was only one good thing about this new school and that was the school uniform. No – I didn't like the scratchy grey skirt, I had not got to grips with the tie and the purple was a bit much to take. But – oh glory – the pockets of that hideous blazer were just the right size to hold a paperback book.

Lunch time. We queued up in a straggly line for grey liver and lumpy mashed potato. There were rumours that a toenail had once been found in those potatoes. My stomach clenched in a knot just thinking about it. I joined the meandering tail end and pulled out my book. Head down, meeting the eyes of no one, I lost myself in adventure.

Only to bump hard into someone. Someone like me who also had their head down in a book. I took a surreptitious look at the title and gasped. "You're reading Biggles too!"

And thus was a friendship formed. Marcelle has been my best friend for forty-two years. There have been times when we have been geographically far apart, even times when circumstances meant we have not spoken for months; but when we do meet – even after years apart, within twenty minutes we are finishing each other's sentences.

It was she who watched the Stephen Fry documentary with me. She has known I have bi-polar disorder since we were thirteen. She read a Spike Milligan biography and thought, "Oh, that explains Mary." She didn't tell me; she thought I knew. (I didn't.)

At the beginning of summer, she phoned. "Can you come round on Tuesday?"

She explained that she had been suffering with depression and her therapist had pointed out that her support network had eroded. Her children had married and moved away. A close friend had moved away. Her parents were aging. She needed to be proactive in building up that network again and she had thought of me.

So, every Tuesday now, I go over and we walk her little dog and talk. It's two hours of therapy for both of us – even if we can never remember exactly what we talk about. We talk families, books, theology, books, current affairs, books, friends and yes, books. We are both still voracious readers.

I know am lucky to have such a true friend: not everyone does and I value her friendship more than I can say. I know she values me too.

I am her best therapy and she is mine. That's what friends are for.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Go with the flow - Part 2. Tuesday October 3, 2017

In my previous blog Go with the flow – Part 1 (19 September 2017) I reflected on how difficult this used to be for me to do.

One thing that helped me learn to let go more easily was the following "Superwoman Commandments" copied out in beautiful calligraphy writing (I think they apply to men too!) I found this in a charity shop, and I just love the thought that someone took the time to copy them out and frame them for themselves. They are prominently displayed so that I see them several times a day.

Superwoman Commandments:

1 Thy time hast value... thou shalt not surrender all the hours of the days and nights to others.

2 Thou needst not achieve perfection in all things.

3 All things asked of thee need not be done.

4 Thou shalt learn to say "No".

5 Thou shalt attend to thine own needs as thou wouldst tend to the needs of others.

6 Thou shalt lay a portion of thy burdens upon others, not keep unto thyself the doing of it all.

7 Thou shalt give time first unto those thou lovest and that which matters most in thy life.

8 Fix thine eyes upon what is right, not upon what is wrong or what passeth with the moment.

Whosoever followeth these principles will not sacrifice all on the altar of superwomanhood, but will secure unto herself and her loved ones joy and fulfilment.

Which one speaks to you most and why?

A Moodscope member.

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

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Better to change the lightbulb (twice) than to curse the darkness. Monday October 2, 2017

Lady Penelope and I have just endured six weeks of darkness. The light in the toilet had gone. Call it a shot in the dark, if you like, but we'd changed the bulb. This was obvious, of course, so the suspect dodgy switch was given the blame when the new bulb failed to deliver any new light on the subject.

Penelope's son is an electrician-in-training, so we patiently adapted, waiting for him to come back and fix it.

Fix it, he did.

He replaced the bulb again.

It worked.

And, yes, I feel really stupid.

Not much of a man, am I, eh?

(If 'man' = 'DIY expert')

Changing your lightbulb... twice

I don't feel alone, though.

I'm willing to believe you've got something that's not working in your life - something you've tried already (unsuccessfully) to fix. So you've shifted the blame, or, at very least, shifted your attention onto something else... the wrong something else. You and I need to give our original 'fix' a second chance.

Go back to the lightbulb and try another one.

I'm walking away from the darkness with a clear lesson: check more than one lightbulb - in other words, don't quit too quickly.

What's your lightbulb that isn't working at the moment? I'd love to know.

It reminds me of a joke:

Q: How many long-suffering mothers does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: None

Why? Because they'd rather suffer in the dark (and moan about it!)

A Moodscope member.

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

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My secret self. Sunday October 1, 2017

Recently, I've been talking with my inner child. This is now an on-going conversation and she is starting to tell me more and more as she is becoming more confident that someone is listening to her.

I recently bought her some coloured gel pans and a beautiful notebook to write things in. Each day she and I write things down, and she chooses a sparkly butterfly sticker to add to the page.

A couple of weeks ago, we did a jigsaw puzzle together. It's the first one she's done for many years, I think since my sons were small and doing jigsaws. She hasn't done a really challenging one for at least 45 years. It was such fun and took us 3 days to complete it. (I was on holiday at the time.)

Last week I bought myself a watch as my 60th birthday present for myself. She absolutely loves it. A nice grown-up thing.

Now my inner child has told me that she would really like a kaleidoscope. I had one when I was her. It had a turning bit at the bottom so that you could move the coloured bits inside really carefully and get a whole panoply of patterns. She also fancies getting a bubble-blowing wand too. She can be whatever age she feels like with all these things. We have dogs at home, which she always wanted when she was growing up, but pets weren't allowed. She had lots of teddies and things. Perhaps we'll get another one if we see one we like.

She's just asked me how long these blogs are supposed to be. Well, I found a longish one which is 434 words. Oh, we've got plenty of space, then, she tells me.

My inner child has always been rather a self-contained little body, observing but not saying much; a bit afraid that if she opens her mouth too readily, she'll be mocked. I think she grew up too quickly, was rather friendless, and had to be self-reliant. As a result, she came a cropper in her teens and I've never really recovered from it. So she and I are working together to re-integrate and be each other's best friends.

We're going to make sure we go out each week, even if it's just for a short time. Maybe take a nature walk, go to a museum (she loves museums), go and buy some special little thing, or watch people at a café or somewhere. Maybe ride around on a bus to somewhere and explore. Who knows?

What I do know is that I feel more 'myself' for having rediscovered her.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Not either/or but both - and... Saturday September 30, 2017

Five friends came round to my house for a meal yesterday. For many people that would be no big deal but for me it is quite a challenge. I am not confident of my cooking skills, and my house is normally pretty messy. Plus I've started to feel old-fashioned in my approach to food. I started cooking in the age when Elizabeth David was the last word in sophistication, and I still haven't really caught up with Jack Monroe, let alone Yotam Ottolenghi.

On the other hand, I like to see my friends and I enjoy company (sometimes) and I know that I spend too much time on my own, especially when I'm feeling low. So I'd decided to take a risk and invite some friends round.

Meanwhile, in the day job... I am currently helping on a counselling course. As part of the practice work from the course last week I needed to have a short counselling two-way session with one of the other course members about what's going on in our lives at the moment. When it was my turn to speak, what came up was the planned dinner.

To start with I found myself voicing all the negatives: I didn't know what to cook, I am often not ready in time when I've invited someone round, I get anxious, and so on. And then, having got all that out in the open, it somehow made room for the positives to come into my mind: I enjoy company; it's nice to return other people's hospitality; it will encourage me to clean the house!

I ended up by being able to acknowledge that both are true for me: I do find it stressful to entertain, even in a small way, and on this occasion I'm looking forward to it. Such a relief, to acknowledge the light and the dark, and to know that they are both true at the same time.

And the meal? I was ready on time (just), the food was more or less OK even if not great, and most importantly, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves – including me.

What about you? Have you tackled any challenges lately? What were your thoughts beforehand, and how did it work out in the end?

A Moodscope member.

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

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Does anyone need to visit the loo before we go? Friday September 29, 2017

When I was in my young teenage years I felt a little like you might imagine a Catherine wheel looks if not nailed to a post. Happy and free one minute, fiery and confused of direction the next. I've since learned this is normal. (I apologise if I'm writing a lot about teenage dramas but I currently live with 3 teenagers and I'm consumed!)

At the moment, my youngest daughter is in the same place I was and I'm trying to use what I learned to support her. I'm lucky that she is talking to me about it most of the time. She even phones me after she's stormed away, and is halfway down the street, to say sorry and I reassure her that it's all ok. In fact, this very thing just happened and I am grateful that mobile phones are, in this instance, an utter blessing.

She is en-route to my parents who live not too far away to walk. I messaged ahead to let them know she was under a little grey cloud and I know that some time with them, in their garden, planting, growing and harvesting end of summer pickings will be everything she needs today to feel free.

In our fight with our own mental health that feeling of being free is necessity.

There are many ways to get it. In an ideal world we would skip off to read, walk through a sunlit wood or immerse ourselves in our passion. And even if you believe yourself to be "too busy" to be free there are always ways to find it. Do not kid yourself into thinking that you can't even go into a toilet cubicle and just take a moment to gather your thoughts, gain some kind of perspective and re-set the moment. I am Toilet Cubicle Queen. I know there is power in small spaces. Be free today, even if only for a little moment. From little cardboard tubes comes great cardboard buildings!

Love from

The littlest room which is near the room above the garage.
A Moodscope member.

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

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Taking control. Thursday September 28, 2017

"People will forget what you said, they will forget what you wore and what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel." My healthcare instructor said this often.

One of the many counsellors on my journey insisted; "We choose our thoughts, we choose our feelings, and we choose our behavior as a result of those thoughts and feelings." Hence no one can make you feel anything you don't choose to feel.

How many times have I heard; "You make me so angry" in abusive relationships and in other conversations; "That made me sad, makes me happy. "

The thought of choosing my feelings is both a scary and empowering feat. To choose means to be absolutely in control and no longer a victim of my emotions.

"Anger is a secondary emotion used to cover initial responses such as fear or pain" said my textbook in counsellor training. Does that mean we are so skilled we actually select several feelings in rapid succession?! It must be so, because according to the above theories no one can make you experience an emotion without your permission.

So I am learning at my ripe old age of forty one to take more control instead of being driven by my moods. When I tell of an upsetting event I say things like; "So and so helped me feel really hurt by... " Or; "That occurrence triggered my anger... "

Even more fascinating is answering the question; "What else was I feeling when I got so mad?" There is always another layer of emotion to be discovered.

No one has the power to make me feel anything anymore - they can effectively declare me a pet rock. How awesome is that.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Feeling Helpless. Wednesday September 27, 2017

[To listen to an audio version of this blog, please click here:]

As I write this, a dear friend lies in a hospital bed many, many miles away.

He texted me on Saturday. 'I need your help.'

'Of course,' I texted back. 'What can I do?'

I thought it would be to check the English on a paper he was about to publish, or to look over the CV for one of his foreign students.

'I am very ill,' came the reply. 'I need you to phone BUPA for me. My phone will not permit me to phone the UK from here.' ('Here' is five hours ahead of the UK and not a place most of us would consider civilized.)

I could phone and sort out the admin, but once he was in hospital I could do nothing but pray. I could not fly out to be with him; my duty is to my family first. He would be shocked that I had even thought of doing that.

So, I worry. He has no one to be with him, and I worry.

This is one person; a close friend. I reserve the right to grieve over my feelings of helplessness.

It is when we experience this feeling over people we have not met and can never meet, that we run the risk of needlessly damaging our mental health. We feel helpless when we hear of the earthquake in Mexico, the devastation caused by the hurricanes in the Caribbean. It is even worse when we watch the distressing images on TV.

My therapist once pointed out that humans are designed to live in small communities of a few hundred. In that size of village everyone knows everyone else. If Peter up the road breaks his leg, then everyone can rally round. If the river breaks its banks, the whole community is affected. Everyone can grieve together and start rebuilding together. When news comes from the town ten miles away it is emotionally as well as physically distanced.

Today the news from the whole world is immediate. The disasters of strangers invade our living rooms every night.

If we are of a compassionate nature I think we have two choices: to worry and grieve ourselves into sleeplessness and worse, or choose to switch off the TV.

I am not talking about shutting ourselves off from all communication with the outside world. We will still hear about important events, whatever we choose to do. But we can limit our exposure.

It is not being irresponsible to protect ourselves. It is not being callous or selfish. We can still contribute financially to disaster relief if we wish. We can still pray and send positive thoughts.

I believe we are called to act and show compassion to those put before us. My friend 5,550 miles away is not exactly before me, but he is at the other end of a screen. I can text my love and support to him.

In fact, please excuse me; that's what I'm about to do right now.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Autumn Days. Tuesday September 26, 2017

Here in Blighty we have not had the best summer. There's been too much rain and here in my part of the world a bin strike which means we literally have bags of rotting rubbishy piling up on the streets...the stench is not pleasant, I can tell you.

But Autumn is my favourite season and I found myself humming the tune to a song I learnt at school in the late 1970s called "Autumn days." The first few lines go as follows:

"Autumn days when the grass is jewelled
And the silk inside a chestnut shell
Jet planes meeting in the air to be refuelled
All these things I love so well"

Does anyone else know it?

I'm not so sure about the jet planes refuelling but I just love Autumn. The last few days have involved getting my wellies out for dog walks as there has been dew on the grass. The conkers and acorns seem particularly large this year and I have enjoyed picking blackberries to have on my morning porridge.

I love crisp, cool Autumn mornings when the sun is out but you need a scarf and gloves and the warm glow you feel as the sun comes out and eventually warms up. I love blackberry and apple crumble and Bonfire night. No doubt some of this is nostalgia from my childhood days long ago but I genuinely love the feeling of coming into a warm house on a Saturday afternoon after a walk or some shopping and enjoying a cup of tea and listening to the football results or expectantly await the new season of 'Strictly Come Dancing".

The Autumn song continues...

"So I mustn't forget,
No I mustn't forget
To say a great big thank you...
I mustn't forget".

Now I have checked it out today on You tube and it doesn't appear to be a particularly religious song....but as I write about Autumn it gives me a warm glow inside. It is indeed as if the cerebral cortex in the brain is smiling with those splendid thoughts!

I guess one aspect of mindfulness is to learn to love the little things, whether it's conkers and Apple pie in Autumn, snow and then the first snowdrops in winter and so I could go on.

What is your favourite season? And what are the things that enable you to rise above the detritus? My negative thoughts are as unwanted as the piles of rubbish in the street outside so I have to find ways of replacing them. What do you take comfort with which makes you feel good inside?

Brum Mum
A Moodscope member.

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

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I know what your Super-Power is. Monday September 25, 2017

Would you like to know what your super-power is?

OK, lean in closer.

Closer still.

'Cos this will be our secret.

Your super-power is the choice to build bridges or build barriers - this is totally within your power! And the two look VERY different. Bridges find a way to connect 'between' and barriers find a way to block that inbetweeness.

I've just offered to mow my neighbour's lawn again (for free). I like mowing. I pointed this out. I said ('cos they're a time-poor motivated seller),

"Adding stripes to a beautifully kept lawn will add £5000 to the value of this property."

Her response?

"I don't believe that."

And she didn't wrap that 'Empathy Blocker' in a smile or a joke. She was serious. What a joke (or something that sounds like 'joke'.) Result? I don't wanna mow her lawn for free no more!

Rapport or Crapport? That is the question!

Any idiot can break rapport (a state I call 'Crapport'!) It takes a master builder to build a bridge of empathy, of integrity, of authenticity, and of love.

I've decided to love my neighbour regardless (and, yes, I mowed the lawn anyway.)

Why? Because I'm supremely grateful. I got a blog out of it!

Next time you have an opportunity to disagree with someone or show 'n' tell them they're wrong - use your super-power instead. Choose to build a bridge of rapport instead of a barrier of crapport.

Love never fails.

A Moodscope member.

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

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What's in a name? Sunday September 24, 2017

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose.
By any other name would smell as sweet;"

Shakespeare's quote implies that it isn't the actual name that matters or characterises an object or person.

Some years ago, when I worked at a till, a customer brought a book to my counter. He told me proudly that he was mentioned in the book, but one couldn't tell as the author had used a synonym!

Of course, he meant a pseudonym, which have been challenged lately in Moodscope comments. I think the consensus is that for Moodscope purposes; where many write so honestly about very personal or sensitive subjects, pseudonyms are used as a protective measure, either for ourselves or for our families.

There are some brave keyboard warriors, aka trolls, who hide behind pseudonyms on many social media platforms so they can anonymously spout vitriol.

My point is that they, and we, have chosen our alter-ego. It hasn't been forced upon us.

While we were in no position to choose our 'given' names, these were generally bestowed upon us at birth, and chosen out of love. I do acknowledge that there are exceptions.

Our names can very much be a part of our identity. Some people love their name, others intensely dislike them, and yet others are quite indifferent: it's just a name.

I always think my name is so 'of its time' and a bit ordinary. My mum is the only person who ever called me by the full version of my name and, even as an adult, I often felt like I was in trouble! Since mum died, even that unloved version of my name has taken on a certain poignancy.

But what if someone else decides we must address ourselves in the manner that they want us to? In a recent 'friendship', that I have now painfully emerged from, I was told that I was 'so sensitive', so felt I must acquiesce to prove otherwise and refer to myself in the suggested way. Because of the nature of this correspondence, which was ostensibly for my benefit, I did occasionally protest and was grudgingly addressed by my own name 'if I preferred'.

Nevertheless, I convinced myself that this form of address was one of endearment and friendship. This ultimately turned out not to be the case and was cited as a means of keeping a distance from me; not to become overly-involved. Even though there was much to suggest otherwise.

So along with losing my sense of self and identity in trying to conform, I felt as if I wasn't worth knowing as 'me'. I wasn't sweet enough by own name, and the alternative was a means of control.

The harshest of lessons that I have learnt from this is to be true to myself. No matter my thoughts on my name or my struggles with being me, these are not for anyone else to disrupt or determine.

With love

A Moodscope member.

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

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The dark wolf and the light wolf. Saturday September 23, 2017

My first boyfriend was called Jerry Hyde. He's a therapist now (that's the effect I have on people!) I recently enjoyed reading a self-help book he has written called "Play from the f***ing heart". In it was the following story, which touched me very much so I thought I would share it with my fellow Moodscopers (not verbatim as I can't lay my hands on the book, but here's the gist):

An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandchild about life.

"A fight is going on inside me between a dark wolf and a light wolf. The dark is evil; the light is good."

The child looked at him with solemn eyes and asked, "Which wolf will win?"

The chief answered, "The one you feed."

So remember: Feed the light wolf.

OK, you may, like me, wonder what the dark wolf likes to eat. Possibly some of these: Anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self doubt... Feel free to make your own list! But if you catch yourself indulging in any of them and feeding the dark wolf, stop!

And what does the light wolf thrive on? How about joy, peace, love, serenity, humility, kindness, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, faith, resilience and tenacity, hope...

So if you can find any of these within yourself, stay with it, build on them and keep feeding the light wolf. What would you have on your list? Can you add anything that would help strengthen the light wolf?

A Moodscope member.

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

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I never promised you a rose garden. Friday September 22, 2017

I have never read this book – for others who do not know it, a schizophrenic girl of 16 creates another world in order to escape. Her parents struggle with the stigma of mental illness, then she is lucky enough to meet a brilliant therapist who wins her trust and gives her the courage to fight the illness.

My life has been full of physical (as opposed to metaphorical) roses. A picture exists of me, just walking, under lovely rose arches. I still have roses, every garden has had roses, so that is eight decades of roses! But the path has been decidedly thorny at times, none more so than at the present.

I have just had an hour talking to my only niece. Her brother is schizophrenic (so they say) but his father never talks about him, and his sister is scared of him, he has been violent in the past, and now is scary – luckily, perhaps, for everybody, he has become very withdrawn. Her father, 91, is in hospital – she has had to cancel her holiday to be with him. He treats her in the same way as his brother treats me, like a servant. When his second wife had cancer, his daughter was there, propping him up in any way she could, although she was a full-time teacher. Then her own mother (the divorce was bitter, and the children suffered) had cancer, and off the poor girl went again, commuting by train at least every fortnight.

My friend who I have often cited here has been treated (for depression, in theory – she is also a true hypochondriac while being as fit as a fiddle) on and off for 30 years – she goes from GP to faith healer to devotion (she is Catholic), many charlatans, now she doses herself off the Web. She has drained the sympathy of most of her family and friends.

My husband goes to the excellent Alzheimer Day centre here. I am well known – my car, my shop, my chignon – and I have loads of 'pals' among the inmates/patients, I don't know what is politically correct. The unit is the last and most modern added to a hospital which started in 1347. It houses all types of psychiatric illness. My 'pals' are those who are out and about. They all have mental disorders. Do they, like the girl above, have a world to escape to in their minds? Peopled by fairies? An alter ego? Hobgoblins? I think of these people in the light of the Peter Sarsted song 'Where do you go to my lovely?'

In the depths of depression, is everything black? Or have you had your 'rose garden' dreams?

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

P.S. I lay no claim to the roses in the picture. The church is famed because it has had continuous colonies of bees for four centuries. It is in the Mayenne department, calm and beautiful.

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

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