The Moodscope Blog

11

August

The Unwelcome Visitor

Tuesday August 11, 2020


“It is now more than 30 years since my visitor paid his first call, and he still comes to stay every now and then.I wish he wouldn’t, because he’s the very worst kind of guest. It makes no difference to him whether I’m happy or sad, weighed down by problems or fine; he turns up anyway, uninvited and unwelcome, and plunges me into a deep depression. I don’t know why he’s a ‘he’ or why he comes to suck away my joy and drain the colour from my life. All I know is that I hate having him around”

So begins the introduction to Denise Welch’s book The Unwelcome Visitor, which I ordered recently. I heard Denise speaking on the radio, and was captivated by her story, (or what there was time for on the radio programme anyway) and decided it was a book I wanted to read. She seemed to say it as it is, I reflected, and so I wanted to hear what further angles she perhaps had on depression.

Back in the early seventies, it was neither as talked about, by celebrities, intellectuals or people in general, or as known about. I perceived it to be something of a source of shame even. The pull-yourself-together attitude was rife, and nobody in their right mind, in my opinion, opened up to people at large, family & friends, work colleagues, to say that they were suffering from depression. If even they identified what they were feeling as being depression! At first, I thought I was going mad. Delusions, such as thinking I was turning into a man (based on what I now know was almost certainly body dysmorphia) beset me, and I simply clammed up, for fear of being locked up. And planned an escape route for myself, suicide.

Thank goodness times have changed since that September of 1970!

Some people express the opinion that there is too much talk about depression and mental health, mostly the same people who have never experienced it!?

What do you think?

If you are in your twenties or thirties, do you see depression as an open topic? Is there still a grain of shame attached to it?

And if you are nearer 70 than 60, as I am, do you observe great strides in the area of mental health, or are we still in the (relative) dark ages?

I would be interested to hear your views.

And in case you’re wondering... NO, I am not a relative, or publisher of Denise Welch’s book!! Just an interested onlooker who happened to hear her speaking on Radio 4!

Sally
A Moodscope member.

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


10

August


[To watch a video of this blog post please click here: https://bit.ly/2DN5hbM and to listen to a podcast please click here: https://bit.ly/3gJ3m6C]

Whilst I suspected she'd done some tidying up in readiness, there was, nevertheless a joyful sense of chaos. There were canvases neatly stacked everywhere - all of them a work in progress - and nothing finished. And of course, there was colour! Palettes loaded with paint, tubes of the wonderful stuff, and brushes in pots galore!

The work I'd come to see had pride of place in the best light on the main easel. Even though it wasn't quite complete, I could easily imagine the finished work of art. It was breathtaking.

We'd connected originally because I'd seen several of her pieces on Instagram and Facebook, and then found a community of fans on Pinterest. Everything she completed and published appealed to me, making it really hard to choose the piece I was to invest in.

We sat down to discuss art and creativity over a cup of extraordinarily good coffee. And then she punched me, metaphorically, in the solar plexus with these nine words:

Are you comparing your mess to someone else's masterpiece?

When I got my breath back, I asked her, "Where did that come from?"

She said, "Everyone I invite into my creative space has already seen and judged my work. They only connect and come here if they like what I do, but I can also say that they've only previously seen the finished work.

"They don't see the research - books strewn everywhere - hours on the internet - palettes of experimental colours.

"They don't see the failed sketches and cartoons. They don't see the canvases that 'almost made it' but were then abandoned.

"They don't see the mess.

"They judge me by the masterpiece (she winked) I publish - the finished work - not by the messy process it takes to make the masterpiece."

I smiled, and she concluded, "I love people even more than painting, and there's nothing better than playing a role in releasing their creative potential. But when they come here wanting to be more creative like me, the kindest thing I can do is show them the mess behind the masterpiece. There cannot be one without the other.

"It took me a long time to accept the process. I compared my mess with the finished masterpieces of other artists I admired, and it held me back for years. Embrace the mess and let your masterpiece emerge!"

The truth of this struck me deeply. I'd been comparing my mess of a life to other people's masterpieces as portrayed through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I'd take them at face value when meeting them face-to-face at networking meetings. They'd had the cleaners in, there was no mess to be seen.

So I ask you the same: are you comparing your 'mess' with other people's masterpieces?

I walked away from the Artist's Atelier a richer person.

Then being a bit of a creative myself, this idea popped into my head:

Are you judging someone else by their mess and missing the masterpiece in the making?

Hmmm, that's a good thought. If you're like me, it can be all too easy to focus on someone's mess and miss the wonder of the emerging masterpiece. Perhaps one of the greatest gifts of grace is to love someone in the midst of their mess and seek to be the creative catalyst who will help them make good art using the mess they are in!

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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


9

August

The show goes on

Sunday August 9, 2020


Today our strippers left us. They left behind their shabby clothes no longer serving them. We binned the rags, they were of use to nobody. We binned the dinner table they ate at. We binned the old remnants of oranges and flowers. I washed the tent because we’ve another party to host before summer is finished.
 
We took them out into the garden. We’ve had a five day haar and it had been heavy air out there. Today, blue sky and sunshine at last. A good day to show our new butterflies the breeze. They, of course, had no idea what was coming. They stayed in. The tent was wide open at the top but they only knew of mesh walls and so they didn’t even attempt to explore. Then, after some long minutes, the breeze lifted their eyes and one by one they went off on a journey of a lifetime!
 
The one who is now our favourite (and wouldn’t it be nice to think it was the last one to emerge) took time to come out, sat on top of the tent for just a moment and then flew straight at my youngest daughter’s head. I caught him on camera, he backflipped after kissing her forehead. Clearly, he loves her and this was his way of saying thank you!
 
They showed us that life is cyclical.  Something goes and something arrives. The calm of night can follow a tumultuous day. A fresh day turns to close an unrepentant, worried night. The moment you are in cannot last - this helps you navigate. Even by recognising it, it already becomes more manageable.
 
Farewell my darling strippers. We have loved it.
 
Love from
The room above the garage.

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


8

August

Friendship

Saturday August 8, 2020


Have you ever heard that phrase “You will be too much for some people. Those are not your people”. I don't know about you but since these strange times, I have found out who my people are. A tribe of wonderful women who I met at a writing retreat on an island who regularly keep in contact. A group of friends who I met through a sport who also love to socialise and I feel included. All the more important because I moved 500 miles away from established circles of friendship and a relatively good social life to a different country with a totally new vibe, different way of living, work and pretty much everything you can think of. So although this was my decision along with my husband, it was imperative for me that I created new friendships. So I did.

At least I thought I did. We met a group who became a Facebook group to encourage new people into the area to join. We had several social occasions and felt like finally we had arrived, were accepted and had a nice group of friends that we could call on. Previously down South, we had experienced some toxic friendship situations so my antannae is always up. But somehow I let my guard down along the line.

Fast forward to 2020. More time to hyper focus on other issues. A “friend” recently unfriending me, and my husband messaging her to ask why – I couldn't for obvious reasons. I share his photographs as I wanted my other friends (who we don't share) to see what we have been up to. She said that it gave her two lots of stuff she didn't want to see. So I became the “fall guy”, even though everyone else of our mutual friends, including my husband and stepdaughter were “saved”. She didn't have the good grace to message me to just pre-warn me.

Fast forward to the other situation. I mention to another mutual friend that as her daughter is up, it would be nice to meet up if they fancy it – we happened to meet by chance – and they agreed. We all get on and have hung out previously. I said to my friend (the mother) to keep me posted and she agreed. Then I came upon the classic Facebook post from the daughter mentioning about the lovely time that was had between the friend (that had unfriended me) and another couple and her parents – which we weren't invited to. It felt like a total slap in the face. Had I not either seen that, or said anything to them, I wouldn't clearly have thought about it.

What is the solution? I totally focus on those that count and I now know who they are and they aren't those people. Eventually and soon I will get over this. We are soon to be “celebrating” some kind of anniversary with the group and my response will be “Thanks but on this occasion I will pass. I have some Netflix to catch up on”. Might be paraphrased somewhat but you get the picture...

Liz
A Moodscope member.


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


7

August

The kindest rejection

Friday August 7, 2020


Recently I sent in some poems and short story to a new Magazine online that was asking for submissions.I received an email saying my submission was declined. The editor explained that they had so many submissions, but she said she liked it so much it was on the long list. There were over 350 submissions and she was touched by the passion of my poem. So, it was a rejection, but it was done in a very kind way.

I started to think how often we get criticism, or are rejected for a job, or a submission, or for a prize in a competition.
 
It was so nice to have the woman take the time not to say why my writing was not accepted but to say what she liked about it.

If you have had to reject someone or their work in any capacity do you say it with some positive words? Some may say if you want to be a writer or apply for jobs, or enter competitions you must expect you may not be chosen, or you may not win. I understand that but I think it is great if someone takes time to explain why your work was not a winner or why you were not chosen.
 
Many years ago I applied for a job and had an interview. They subsequently called me to say that they liked my enthusiasm, but I didn’t have enough experience. At the time I felt disappointed, how could I get experience if no one would give me a job.
 
Now I feel they didn’t have to say anything, but they said something positive and gave me advice to get more experience.
 
I would like to find out your thoughts about being rejected or receiving criticism. Is it helpful to have someone say how they liked your work etc or do you think we should just accept that our work maybe rejected?

Would you like to share some of your thoughts about any kind rejections you have given to others or received?

Leah
A Moodscope member 

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


6

August

Getting help

Thursday August 6, 2020


Getting help is more complicated than it might seem. Firstly, what do you want help with? Or do you want help at all? Maybe it’s just other people who think you want help. That could be benign or coercive, like getting sectioned under the Mental Health Act. But then you probably wouldn’t construe that as help.

So, you recognise you probably or definitely need help. Help with what? What you think you need help with may not be realistic. There’s a lot of that, in or out of psychiatry. I happen to be familiar with the former. ‘If my nose/breasts/hair colour wasn’t so big/small/lumpy/red/sky blue pink I would be happy. Change it! ‘If the spy behind the curtain wasn’t watching me I could get on with my life. Call the police!’

In other settings you might appeal to the local witch doctor for relief. Some would say this was equivalent to seeing a psychiatrist. As you have to pay for your spell or potion, it may well be more effective. The same goes for alternative therapies. (I won’t say they don’t work but they tend to be short on science).

Realistically, you know you need help because your life has become difficult in some way and you’re not coping. But where do you get it from? In fact, do you ask at all, or just hope someone will recognise your plight and wave a magic wand, or even sort things out for you?

This was my (lack of) strategy for decades and explains why there were three times in my life when I broke down and completely ground to a halt. All were followed by hospital admission for severe depression. I was in touch with professional people of various sorts beforehand each time but had managed to disguise, unconsciously, the extent of my need. I felt the illness was something which happened to me, although somehow my fault, and I was powerless to resist. I had been brought up not to draw attention to myself or to want things.

It didn’t have to be like that. More recently I had a care coordinator who recognised my passivity and poor self esteem and worked with me to change them. This occurred over several years and involved some psychotherapy in order to practise compassion towards myself, lots of talking and an understanding of the recovery approach to mental health problems. Namely: they are part of you, you may have to keep taking medication or even tolerate persistent symptoms, but you have lots more in your life and can work on expanding your assets and fulfilling your potential. Passive it is not.

The penny dropped. I don’t have to wait until someone else notices how bad I am. I can ask for help myself first. Ironically, I haven’t needed to.

Rose
A Moodscope member.

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


5

August


There’s a line in the marriage service, “And all my worldly goods I with you share.”

This doesn’t just apply to material things, of course, but to families and, I have found, friends too. When I married my husband, he came as a package deal with a couple of childhood friends.

When I met Roger, I was immensely relieved; Roger and I could be twins in our madcap impetuosity and chaotic disorganisation. “If he can put up with you for the last thirty-seven years,” I thought, “He can probably put up with me for the next thirty-seven.” There was an instant affinity between us.

It took longer to get to know Xavier, but I now value him immensely. Indeed, I trust him so much, he is now one of my Moodscope buddies.

A little while ago I wrote a blog called “How to Train your Moodscope Buddy and, having just gone through this process with Xavier, I thought I’d revisit the topic.

Xavier understands depression; he is subject to it himself, but everyone experiences it differently. What works for some people does not work with others. To begin with, if I had a bad day, he would send me (appalling) jokes to cheer me up. My kind of depression, however, means that I’m isolated from all emotion, unable to feel anything. Jokes are meaningless, as if they are written a foreign language I cannot understand.

He would sometimes ask “What’s wrong? What’s happened?” when nothing had happened to cause the depression but the chemicals in my brain misfiring.

Now he knows to send hugs into the void and to reassure me that he, like my other understanding friends, is there; waiting patiently for my brain to sort itself out or (these days) for the medication to do its work.

Owing to the medication, I’m now stable and nearly free from that deep, isolating and hopeless depression. We adjusted the medication last Autumn when I had a bad time and mostly things are fine. Occasionally, they are not. Xavier will pop over, to have a cup of tea with my husband, or to take him out motorbiking, but I know he’s also checking up on me.

Every buddy has their strong points, and Xavier is very good at telling me to do my test. He was a bit tentative at first – he didn’t want to offend me or upset me by the reminder, and he was far too tactful. I had to say, “Just tell me, okay?” I never mind being reminded.

Oh, and that reminds me – I haven’t done my test today. Just bear with me for a moment…

…There - done. It’s the normal score. Xavier (and all my other Moodscope buddies) can relax for another day.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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


4

August

A strange world

Tuesday August 4, 2020


It’s now countless days since the lockdown... 4... 5 months? I lose count! This world seems very strange to me, not saying that it wasn’t strange or challenging to navigate before but it now seems unrecognisable!

Wearing a mask whenever you go out shopping, that anxiety and worry about an invisible killer, working from home throughout which has its own frustrations! Seeing some people thriving, or so it seems, and wondering why mine doesn’t seem to be the way I want it to be.

People might see me as pessimistic, but I’m mainly a realist with a touch of optimism (yes I can be optimistic!) Situations, life in general gets me down and why wouldn’t it? It’s not exactly great all over is it? So is it not normal to feel depressed? Maybe it’s the way I look at things, I’m more in peace in sadness..sounds strange, but it feels real! Happiness? Laughter? Can’t remember the last time I was either... sad but true.

Maybe the key is to embrace the darkness in order to see the light!

Let’s see...

Hugo
A Moodscope member.

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


3

August

Music and the Magic Beans

Monday August 3, 2020


[To watch a video of this blog post please click here: https://bit.ly/30ls1bR and to listen to an audio version, please click here: https://bit.ly/39QIyaA]

How tall could you grow?
How high could you go?

I was sitting in the garden, in the glorious sunshine, drinking particularly fine coffee, and admiring the exponential growth of our beans.

The beans, like magic, have grown to the top of the bamboo canes provided for structure… and well beyond. Now, like a triffid, the top growth waves laterally in the breeze - seeking opportunity to climb higher. It wants to grow taller, it wants to reach the sky.

I mused to myself, “If the bamboo went higher, just how tall would the beans grow before they said, ‘enough!’?”

I suspect they would grow very tall indeed.

A good writer doesn’t often mix metaphors, but my mind often jumps from one topic to another. Let’s go with the flow of my thoughts.

Looking at the beans and bamboo, I could see different talents. The bamboo canes offer a reliable structure, the beans offer an ability to climb and entwine, and to draw strength from the Sun and soil. Without the bamboo, the beans would flounder and probably rot on the damp soil, in the shadow of other plants.

My mind then jumped to music - specifically to the components of rhythm, harmony, and melody.

The beans enjoy the daily rhythm of sunshine and shade, of day and night. The beans are not the Sun but they know how to work with the unique talent the Sun has in order to grow. A daily rhythm.

The beans themselves know the power of harmony - the ability to wrap around others in order to grow tall and magnificent. Harmony.

The bamboo, famed for its stature, knows how to grow firm, straight, strong and tall, like a good melody.

Then I thought of Moodscope in the light of both the magic beans and the power of music.

When we regularly take the assessment, this is like rhythm - and like the Sun shining on our strengths, and the moon revealing our challenges.

Harmony comes from the comments of other Moodscopers, seeking to encourage us, and from our designated buddies, watching for our well-being. Harmony is being and feeling understood.

And the song’s melody is each blog - each blog a song in itself building a library of delights to dance to each day. Everyday, we sing a new song.

Rhythm, Harmony, Melody.

With these unique talents each playing their part, I wonder how tall we can grow, and how high can we go. With one another’s help, can we reach the sky?

Whatever the validity of my thoughts, I was pleased to pause and reflect on how valuable each Moodscope member is, how nutritious each comment, how important the regular assessment is, and how unique each message. It is good when we dwell together in harmony. With one another’s help, and the structure of Moodscope, perhaps the sky is the limit… or beyond!

And here’s a final thought. If we can help Moodscope grow taller, how many more people could we help?

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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


2

August

The strippers dressing room

Sunday August 2, 2020


We have five strippers as houseguests. It’s not often in my life I will type those words. They are resting, they are very undemanding, and they have cost us little money or time.
 
All five of them had an almighty dinner party for about six days and retired to bed at different times. Four of them have since raised from the slumber. Their old clothes have been dumped in a corner of the pop-up tent they’ve been sleeping in. They’ve feasted on oranges, grapes, sugar water and some flowers from the newly planted pyracantha hedge. They look magnificent! They look strong. They look ready. Their wings are colourful and resplendent.
 
But they have a pal still asleep so, last night, I had a chat with them. I explained that if they were ready and had to go, I’d understand. I wouldn’t hold them back but set them free today. I said that since they arrived as a team, it would be best if they flew as a team. I said if they had to go, I’d stay with their pal until she/he was also strong and resplendent. I bid them a good night and wondered if the six day dinner party had just been too much to wake up from, for that one last little pal.
 
This morning - good news! Old sleepy head has shed the chrysalis and our fifth butterfly is airing the wings to harden and strengthen. Extra oranges, grapes and sugar syrup has been put inside the tent. 
 
Tomorrow…show time. Tomorrow will be a beautiful day.
 
Love from
The room above the garage.

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


1

August


The real Jim Carrey

Relaxation methods are more difficult to practice for perfectionistic or competitive people because they are usually trying too hard to relax. Continuing putting perfectionistic demands on relaxation for a long time can lead to an increase of mood problems. I can say - based on my own experience - that failing to cope with relaxation demands in an adjusted manner can lead to an increase of anxiety in the long run.

Luckily I found a way to resolve this problem. In essence, for perfect people like me to enjoy their relaxation, using different relaxation and meditation methods and occasionally learning a new one is an important practice.

It is therefore important to resist the temptation to always practice the same relaxation method that once was “most-effective”. After all, if you keep exercising the same method, eventually your competitive mind will unconsciously try to reach the wonderful state that you once experienced. Also, for people who are on sick leave, it is important to limit the number of daily relaxation sessions to at most two. In short, it is important to engage in a healthy practice of using different relaxation and meditation methods in combination with exercise and distractive leisure and just to allow your body to relax by itself.

Try to incorporate this practice of variation spontaneously into your daily life, without making it a routine. After discovering the importance of variation in relaxation methods, I made the mistake of pursuing an optimal schedule for alternating different relaxation methods. In the end, this behaviour again trained my brain in demand thinking that disturbs the relaxation. Instead, I now just store a long list of audios on my smartphone and I select a random audio.

For solitary activities without any assistance of audios, I often do the opposite of what my initial idea is. I make a conscious choice not to select the relaxation technique that my brain asks me to do in the present moment. Instead, I select a relaxation technique that is the opposite of what it is asking for. For example, when I have a strong desire to employ a visualization technique to enjoy the wonderful feelings of the day before, I can decide to employ progressive muscle relaxation to relax the body.

It does help to ensure you employ relaxation methods that trigger different modalities. For example, visualization triggers emotions, cognitive self-talk triggers beliefs, neti-neti meditation triggers the enactment of the self. In this regard, being mindful about disturbing thoughts is also a valuable tool for dodging any type of demand thinking. Mindfulness allowed me to experience that my body is able to relax by itself, and therefore it increased my confidence to relax. Mindfulness also increased my self-esteem in general because it positively changed how I think about myself. Of course, sometimes my perfectionistic personality triggers demands on mindfulness. When that happens, it’s time for distraction and watch a Jim Carrey movie.
You may wonder now what the title of this blog article has to do with the subtitle. Well here it is: https://youtu.be/lsQJyKhmqkQ?t=79.

Frank
A Moodscope member.


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


31

July

Self-compassion

Friday July 31, 2020


Sometimes when people talk about self-care and self-compassion, some feel they mean the same, but others see them as being totally different ideas.

Self-compassion is regarding yourself compassionately and self-care, by contrast, is treating yourself compassionately so if I give myself chocolate that is self-care. Treating myself compassionately means I should not then feel guilty about it because I am enjoying myself.

The two terms can be divided into thinking vs doing.
 
I could write a lot about the three different types of self-compassion and go on using big words but I’d really like to know what you think of self-compassion.

The words self-compassion may really annoy you and you think it is a lot of mumbo jumbo.
 
Practicing self-compassion and liking yourself are all things I never heard through most of my life but now there are regular articles about it and counsellors explain that you should be kind to yourself.
 
Let me know what you think about self-compassion and being kind to yourself.

How do you practice self-compassion? What does it look like in your life?

Do you find the terms self-compassion and self-care annoying or do you prefer one word over the other?
 
Leah
A Moodscope member

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


30

July

Reshaping a problem

Thursday July 30, 2020


Learning how to reshape a problem is a very valuable skill to have. Not only does it help with problem solving but it can also help you to move on from a bad situation if you accept the new shape or definition.
 
This is how a colleague helped me to move on from a very bleak place just by reshaping it. In my eyes the company I worked for was taking advantage of my fear of being made redundant to force me to accept a new job at another part of the company which was further away and for much less money. The HR person threatened me that if I didn’t accept the new contract I would be made redundant.
 
Reluctantly I took the new position and signed the new contract but annotated my signature with “signed under duress”. I had no idea what good it would do but it made me feel slightly less aggrieved.
 
I started in my new role but began to feel more and more resentful of the way I had been treated, especially as my new boss had no people management experience and had no idea how to cope with me. My resentment just kept on growing and it was beginning to destroy me. I couldn’t sleep properly; I became increasingly moody and irritable. Life wasn’t fun anymore. I wasn’t the same person anymore.
 
A colleague from my old location kept in touch and noticed the change in me and told me I needed to view my situation from a different angle. In his mind, the company had done what it could to keep a valuable employee within the company. And as I was a highly skilled individual it wouldn’t take me too long to get back to where I was before. He also warned me if I couldn’t change my view then things would never get better. I needed to look forward and move forward, not wallow in self-pity or fret about what I had lost.
 
Eventually I took on board what he said and even though I didn’t believe his description of how the company had behaved I accepted it.
 
It took almost 2 years to get my old grade back and almost 5 years to get back to the same basic salary. I would never regain my car allowance because the rules had changed - but you can’t win them all.
 
I haven’t forgotten the shabby way I was treated but it no longer eats me up or threatens to destroy my sanity.
 
So if something is eating away at you, try to find another way of looking at it. If you can‘t find this revised view, get some help from a friend, a colleague, or a counsellor. Once you can accept the new positive view (even if you don’t believe it) you might be able to move on.
 
It worked for me.

Valerie
A Moodscope member.

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


29

July

Imaginary Cage

Wednesday July 29, 2020


It was quite a little thing in the end.

It wasn’t the completion of the painting of my studio; it was buying a pressure washer.

We had been talking, my husband and I, for over a year, about getting a pressure washer. We had looked at them online, discussed which model and brand would be most appropriate, debated its uses and if, in the long run, it would be a good investment.

We would talk about it and then the subject would drop, and we didn’t get that pressure washer.

Then, about ten days ago, I looked at our moss-covered driveway.

“If I get down on my hands and knees with a scraper, it’s going to take at least five hours,” I thought. “And that’s only the start of it! Look at the lichen on the patio, the grime on the garden paths… If my clients are to walk through the garden to get to my studio, it needs to be clean.”

I found a good deal on a pressure-washer online and clicked the buy button. Oh, I did tell my husband: we have an agreement that we don’t spend more than £100 of joint money without informing the other; but I didn’t give him a choice. I had decided we would get that pressure washer and so we did.

I spent a thoroughly satisfying afternoon cleaning the driveway, the patio and the garden paths. At the end of the process, all that grime, moss and lichen had transferred itself to my person, but I didn’t care.

That small act made me realise something. Both my husband and I had been waiting for the other to decide and to act. I especially, had been waiting for his permission.

There are many, many things around the house that need attention; they frustrate me and make me uncomfortable. They are things however, that need time spent on them, and some money. We talk about them, but nothing ever gets done.

I thought about my childhood. I grew up in my autocratic grandfather’s household. Nothing was ever done without his permission; not on the farm; not in the house. He held tight purse-strings and tighter ideas on what was allowed. There were different rules for women. Women must not answer back, and women must know their place. I was terrified of him. We all were.

I realise now, in my fifties, I am treating my loving and gentle husband a little like my grandfather; I am still waiting for his permission to act. I have locked myself in an imaginary cage, and then get angry and frustrated with that cage.

An epiphany indeed!

I wonder if all of us have imaginary cages that hinder our freedom. As one of my friends said, “There is no cage other than that which we construct ourselves within our own mind.”

Then he added, “Well, unless it’s a real cage, of course – in which case it’s either very kinky, or a matter for the police!”

Mary
A Moodscope member

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


28

July

Progress Report

Tuesday July 28, 2020


On 28th April I had a Moodscope blog published ‘Journal of Plague Year’, which I had written over a month before, just after UK lock-down. I suggested people kept a journal of what we were to face, three ‘stages’: Situation when normality was put on hold, assess what you ‘lost’, and your daily life and fears. Nobody could have had any idea of what was to come – I think it turned the whole world upside down, the ‘fall out’, emotional and economic, is only just beginning to really hit, and judging from the last few blogs here people are still lacking confidence in what they can do.

July 14th was Bastille Day here, usually huge celebration, parades, fireworks, millions of people in Paris. They did a concert at the Eiffel Tower, just the orchestra of Radio France, and choirs which had not worked together for three months. There were fireworks, but no audience at all. I was scheduled to give another of my ‘14th’ parties. Notable because a British couple gave a party for a hundred plus people in their garden on the French National holiday. Did not happen, of course.

At the beginning of lock-down I was booked for visits to Poland, Germany, later to UK for the arrival of a great-grand-son. They are my ‘losses’. The time was desperately lonely, there was nothing like the good neighbour attitude there seems to have been in UK.

Currently there is a gradual ‘emergence’ but it is a bit like a butterfly which does not really want to emerge from its chrysalis – scary world out there. There is a permanent underlying feeling that the virus has not finished with us. It is certainly rampant in the USA. I have a grand-son in lock-down for the second time in Melbourne. Boris Johnson says the economy must be re-started despite the risk. The wearing of a mask ‘rule’ seems muddled and cannot be policed, the US claiming it infringes personal freedom. Many friends and family say they just will not travel, the risk of quarantine, or worse, lock-down far from home is not worth thinking about.

People have realised the benefit of a garden. The quiet, no planes, little traffic, you could hear the birds. Reduced pollution. Many people who suffer stress found lock-down a breathing space. A real irony was the weather. Every public holiday, the Easter week-end, the weather was brilliant – and nobody could go out and enjoy it.

My brother in law died on 2nd March. My whole family intended to be at his funeral. Churches were closed. Reduced number of people at graveside or crematorium. Dwindled to two of my daughters. Then they could not make it in a day, and hotels shut. So it was his priest, daughter and a close friend.

Many people are hoping for a world ‘changed for the better’, people thankful to be alive. Overall, limbo, inertia, lack of targets, no plans. Have you come through ‘unscathed’, hopeful or fearful for the future?

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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


27

July

Who Am I?

Monday July 27, 2020


[To watch a video of this blog post, please click here: https://bit.ly/3eX1CFe, and to listen to an audio version, please click here: https://bit.ly/39wqjYc]

Who am I when I am
Powerless?
Penniless?
Pointless?
Who am I, Sir?
I am ME, that is who I am!

I am a Writer.
The same Writer who wrote
When times were fair
That same Writer that was there
Is within me now -
(Though full of care.)
I write, therefore I am;
I write because I (still) can.

Who am I when I am
Powerless?
Penniless?
Pointless?
Who am I, Ma’am?
I am ME, that is who I am!
I am a Master of Imagination.
With the power of thought
I create new worlds
And populate them with kind and thoughtful folks;
Folks, who do not rip each other off
Nor do they rip one another apart.
A Kingdom of Kindness, I create
And hope to live there
Before it becomes too late.

Who am I when I am
Powerless?
Penniless?
Pointless?
Who am I, Dear Reader?
I am ME, that is who I am!
I am never powerless
For my power is the power of the pen
To write all wrongs!
To awaken the Sleepers to the dangers
Bashing at the Gates
For sleeping, they so meekly
Lay aside dear freedoms…
Dear freedoms, dearly bought.
I am never penniless for I have the vast wealth
Of the imagination - with which I create wealth
For those who value free thinking!
For those who value free speech!
My life is never pointless
While I have breath left to make my point
And when those points resonate
With other powerless, penniless, pointless souls
We will stir one another up
To great and courageous Works
And Art
That will free the mind
Liberate the soul
Loose the spirit
If only our own.

Who are you, Dear Soul, when you are
Powerless?
Penniless?
Pointless?

Tell me
For I long to hear
Of your inner thirst
And hunger.

I will tell you who you are not.
You are not someone defined by purchased power
You are not defined by the wealth of banks
Nor are you vindicated by the opinion of others
Who have not walked an inch in your shoes…
Let alone a mile.

You are YOU
And that is enough
For ME.

One who has a friend
Has MUCH wealth, power, and purpose.

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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


26

July


You may have heard of the coronacoaster. One day, you’re coping well with the trials of the pandemic, finding astonishing silver linings, rejoicing in the spirit of beautiful humanity, sunshine and birdsong. The next day, you’re mourning things that are crumbling daily, feeling sad for the dormant, bereft, angry and concerned you might cry yourself inside out in between biscuits! Yep. All normal.

Early in the lockdown I needed something. Something to help me see that life would tick on. Something to give me a beacon to the future. I bought caterpillars. I buy them every year and they arrive in special packaging marked ‘Fragile! Open immediately!”. They transition from caterpillar to chrysalid to butterfly.  We give them a home, a space to curl up, lock in, go inward, be safe.  And when they are ready to emerge, they unfurl, hungry, ready to be free. We feed them before showing them the breeze.  

I bought two sets, due to arrive far apart from each other, so I can enjoy this cyclical process twice before the season ends. And then I forgot all about it. Until now. My little lockdown posse are now in the building! What novelty in these days of separation. I’m chuffed to bits!  We’re going to be a team, together and silent. 

Then, soon, they will strip off their chrysalis and we’ll have a garden party! Life goes on.
 
Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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


25

July

Too attached

Saturday July 25, 2020


I had a friend extremely attached to a soft blanket and even when she was 10 that was then a small piece of faded material, she still took it with her everywhere.

On the radio there was a program about the things young children get attached to. One personsaid her 20-month-old absolutely loved a whisk taking it everywhere and would cry if it was not with him.

Many children have a favourite toy bunny a teddy bear etc. They take soft toy with them everywhere and get terribly upset if they do not have it anymore so many parents end up getting another one and telling them it is the same the same toy to avoid lots of tantrums.

When a child is attached to a toy or another object we think it is so cute so everyone tries to nurture the attachment.

If an adult is attached to an object or a toy, we I think we think they are very immature or maybe people may think they are a bit weird. There are sportsmen and women who have favourite socks or underwear and actors who must have their luck charm when on a film set.

We recognise the importance of attachment in a child's emotional development but not in an adults.

I am wondering, do you have a story about your attachment or someone else attachment to a toy or object as a child?

Do you as an adult have a bag, a piece of clothing, a piece of jewellery etc that you are extremely attached to and would be upset if it were no longer in your life?

Leah
A Moodscope member.

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


24

July


This definition sums up my life right now. I am feeling the loneliness.
 
As an introvert I like my own company. In my normal life I am happy to spend time alone and recharge my social batteries by choice and on my own terms.  However, I am single and I live alone in a flat and therefore since the nationwide lockdown began I have been living a pretty solitary life and after so much time the novelty has well and truly worn off. I have been for some socially distanced walks with a friend or occasionally with my sister but that has been the limit of my social contact save for the increasingly rare video calls. 
 
In the last 7 days I have had face-to-face contact once for not more than 5 minutes and 3 video calls. The rest of those long hours have been spent completely alone. I have come through a few episodes of depression over the years and am finding that so much time spent in isolation is taking a real toll on my mental health. I find myself increasingly sensitive to the smallest things. A text message read the wrong way sending me in to a spiral of negative thinking. I spend so much of my time in my own head mulling things over, talking myself in to but more often out of ideas.
 
I walk an hour each day and try to do some yoga practice. I try to read or practice hobbies but mostly I spend a lot of time watching Netflix. Sometimes it inspires me and I have new ideas for the future but all too soon the thinking comes back and I talk myself out of it. I am trying to occupy my mind day after day with progressively less motivation. I try not to look at social media at all the pictures of families together in their lovely gardens enjoying the sunshine. I know deep down that the lives people depict on social media are not accurate, only showing the best bits, but sitting in my flat alone its difficult to remember.
 
I try to remind myself that I do have family and friends but this is difficult when I don’t see or hear from them. I could reach out to them but I talk myself out of it. They have their own families and own lives and I don’t want to impose. The result is I spend even more time alone thinking and end up convincing myself that this is my life now, I am on my own.
 
Time stretches on seemingly endless. Each day merges in to the next one and I’m losing track of time. Most days I don’t achieve very much sometimes the hours drag by but somehow at the same time seem to speed along.
 
I don’t know anyone else in the same situation as me and I guess I’m sharing this for anyone else out there who can relate. So they know they are not alone. Everyone’s experiences of this situation will be different but none any less challenging than others. I may not have young children to occupy but motivating myself when I am alone every day is difficult. It’s difficult not to feel lonely.

Victoria
A Moodscope member.

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


23

July

I can laugh about it now

Thursday July 23, 2020


There are few pleasures in getting older, but giving sage advice to the young feels good. The perfect opportunity arose chatting to a young couple moved into a rented house. Due to Covid, viewing was hasty. On moving in, problems came to light, and they were aggrieved. A big gripe was the greasy oven.

This is where experience came in useful. I recounted the time when, heavily pregnant, I moved with my ex into a tiny flat, 2-rooms with a curtained-off recess housing the “kitchen”. I set to, scrubbing like a maniac. The rush of energy should have warned me. Light was fading as I tackled the cooker. The previous tenant obviously left in a hurry,  preparing dinner. I opened the oven, to find a heaving mass of fat maggots on a half-cooked leg of pork. Screaming, I went to put coins in the electric meter, and my hand touched something cold, furry - a huge dead rat.

“It was really horrible, my waters broke the next day, 2 weeks early, I am sure that caused it” I chuckled. “I can laugh about it now”. They did not say much, but I like to think it helped them get a perspective.

There are plenty of things that make me laugh now, which seemed wretched at the time.

When my son was nine, I left his father and moved into an ancient hovel in the Cotswolds. The rent was low, there were cash-in hand jobs a bus-ride away. The problem was the agents stipulated no children, no pets. Apart from my son I had 2 dogs, and a hamster. The villagers were inbred, the landlord  local, in the next village. I  worried sick someone would tell him and we would get evicted. I had 3 different jobs, rent paid on time.

I became friendly with a woman in a similar situation living nearby. Like me, she had no income other than her earnings. Her landlord also forbade kids and animals, so we decided to help each other when inspections arose. I got the short straw, as well as a hyper-active son, she had dogs, cats and 2 goats. She  transported them in shifts to my place in her battered van, and I struggled to keep order for a few hours. Looking back, both landlords must have known what was going on. Apart from anything, the smell of goat is hard to disguise. This lasted  3 years, and I was exhausted and scared for much of that time. But guess what - I laugh about it now.

Move on a couple of years,  I am in a different area, with a man in my life. I should be happy, he is good-looking, seemingly besotted with me. Only trouble is, he is a pathological liar who cannot keep his pants zipped up. Home late, with the usual excuse about work, he went to shower while I dished-up supper. I opened the door to relay a message, and was horrified to see deep fingernail scratches on his shoulder blades and neck. He insisted that he had got stuck in a loft (he was a builder) but his discarded jumper was intact.

A full and frank discussion ensued, ending with him making a run for his car, me in hot pursuit. I leapt in the road, wanting my door-keys back, but he just kept driving towards me. I fell into brambles,  an undignified heap, while neighbours came  to gawp.

I was distraught, mortified, wanted to crawl away and die. Oddly though, I find it hilarious  looking back. I relate this to young women whose relationships are shaky. They look very doubtful when I say they will look back and laugh. “When he tries to run you over, it’s time to call it a day”. I tell them.

I know all of us here have stuff that will never be funny, no matter how many years elapse. There will be something though, so please share it, I promise I’ll laugh.

Val
A Moodscope member.

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


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