The Moodscope Blog



Getting mucky. Sunday February 11, 2018

A friend of mine today told me that he had found out his wife had been having an affair for the last four years.

As we walked the dog we talked about how messy life can be. How messed up, ridiculously bonkers and how we can also wade in our size 8s and make it worse!! And that's before you've walked in the dog poo.

If you are of a delicate constitution, or eating your breakfast, I apologise.

We discussed how there are two types in life. Those who are open about wading in the mud and those whose wellies are wiped clean as if to pretend they never experience such things.

I am of the former persuasion... get it out there, get on with it and move on. Don't bury it for it to come and haunt you later on! I come from a very English family where such things are left unspoken.

How do you deal with the detritus in your life? Do you brush it under the carpet or do you confront it head on, acknowledging it's rubbish but needs dealing with?

I know that I am far less depressed when I take the latter road.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Knitting. Not really. Saturday February 10, 2018

It's not a great feeling to revisit times when I have felt so low there seemed little left to cling to and yet I find it is almost essential in the journey to stay well.

Christmas week depleted my last reserves of resilience and left me a little broken. But I have enough experience to know this is my normal and that, if left to lick my wounds, I would recover. I am there, in the process of recovery.

To find a little reassurance, I found myself briefly revisiting a time gone by when I was scared and utterly broken. I have a clear memory of sitting down in the shower, silently crying myself inside out, contemplating emptying the medicine cabinet and driving into something at high speed. Chilling really.

And I am not there. That is good. I have perspective. I won't hang around in that memory for long as it is not a comfortable visit. But it is useful for me to pop in to.

I wonder if you ever use this strategy to bring yourself together? Do you revisit a sore time in order to regroup? Or is it too sore still? Every part of this journey can be hurtful and helpful. I think we can strengthen if we knit them together somehow. Sharp knitting needles meet soft wool. Don't be scared of the scary stuff, it often brings something new.

Sending love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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

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I don't do mornings. Friday February 9, 2018

Meet morning Leah, but well let's face it you would be better off avoiding her.

Ever since I was a child I have not liked mornings. I was given a t-shirt as a teenager that read "I don't do mornings, you have been warned."

Morning Leah is quiet at best and grumpy, irritable and tired at worst.

Morning Leah can not make a decision, will be very critical and is totally unmotivated.

The good thing is, by lunch time, Morning Leah is Afternoon Leah and is much calmer and more reasonable.

So Evening Leah is full of energy and you can meet her if she will stay still long enough.

Evening Leah is very busy tidying up, sorting out, pricing and organising.

She has many plans, makes lots of decisions, she sends emails, posts on FB, texts her friends, phones anyone awake. She does not want to sleep as she has so much to do before Morning Leah wakes up being so slow and unmotivated.

Can anyone relate to me? I am not talking about bipolar moods but just not liking mornings and it being hard to motivate yourself in the morning and then having more energy at night and being more confident.

Or are you the other way around- energetic in the morning and early to bed?

A Moodscope member.

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

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And then I went in... Thursday February 8, 2018

There's a quote by the existential psychologist Rollo May that says: 'It's an old and ironic habit of human beings to run faster when we have lost our way'. When I first read it, it hit me like a train. That's what I'd been doing my whole life. Running – either literally (travelling the world, jumping from job to job, relationship to relationship) or metaphorically (in circles in my head) - was my modus operandi. When I was in my twenties and thirties this didn't seem to matter, it was what everyone did. It was fun and wild and the freedom that went with it was intoxicating. I was carefree in those days, and careless in lots of ways. I was caught in the whirlwind of daring adventure and crazy hedonism. It was only when I stopped for any length of time that the problems set in, a gut-wrenching anxiety that churned away inside and a gnawing low-grade depression that would bring me to my knees...

and then once again, I would run.

At 39 I became a mum. And I could no longer run. And I had nowhere to hide from the depressive grip. It set in in a way that I didn't think I would ever escape from. But I still kept running, thinking somehow I could outsmart it and shake it off in the process. I was like one of those characters you see in films who is running on the spot while a big godly hand holds its head firmly on the spot. I looked outside myself for the answers, I tried anti-depressants, I changed my diet, I reached for supplements, I did courses, I read books and I grasped in desperate vain for anything that would help.

And at the point of exhausted resignation I gave up. I lay down (on a massage table at a needlessly-expensive retreat I had booked after being told that a juice diet and intense fitness regime would do the trick.) and let someone go to work on my body. I felt the amazing energy and love of another person and for the first time in as a long as I can remember I felt something lift.

Of course, like a lot of good lessons, it took a long time to learn. I sank back into depression within a few hours but the memory stayed with me. It turns out it was the beginning of my journey inside. To the place where – I believe – the real answers lie. Over the next few years came meditation, psychoanalysis (although it took me a year to finally lie on the couch!), baths, sleep, yoga and finally prayer.

I'm 45 now and waking up out of my dark night of the soul. I still have tough days, unconscious reactions and I slip into old patterns, but instead of running in panic, I sit with the feelings and listen to what my soul is trying to tell me. And it turns out, the answer is always inside.

A Moodscope member.

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

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The Man in the Mirror. Wednesday February 7, 2018

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

Please note: I have used the male pronoun throughout. But this is for women too.

Who do you see when you look in the mirror?

No – it's an honest question.

You see, the person we see in the mirror is not the person other people see when they look at us.

I'll give you an example. A good friend of mine said recently, "I despise the man I see in the mirror."

I was honestly shocked. This man is a single parent of two children with special needs. The choice to have the children was not his, yet he has not walked away from his responsibilities. He is instead, so far as I can see, a wonderful parent. He holds down a full-time job, he pays his taxes. He brings humour, compassion and support to his friends. He has certainly been there for me in my recent dark time.

But the man in his mirror reflects only his inadequacies. The man who stands there, voices those thoughts which should stay decently hidden (although we all have such thoughts). The two-dimensional, cruel reflection mocks him with his failures (although we all have failures: we are human). The glass man does not allow for any kind of frailty. He demands perfection; he demands super powers and dismisses anything less.

The man in the mirror never says, "Well done. Good job. I'm proud of who you are."

In my professional life, part of my job is to help people "bridge the gap" between what they see when they look in the mirror, and what other people see in them.

When we meet someone or, indeed, live with someone – we look at more than the outside; at least we do if we have any intelligence at all. We look within. We get a sense of energy from them, we look into their eyes and attempt to find the person inside. We read the most minute movements they make and automatically decode those movements. We respond to the person inside. So much we do this that sometimes the outside becomes immaterial. It took my friend a week to notice that her husband had shaved off his beard!

My job is to show my clients how to change their outside to more accurately reflect the person within. Now, before I can even start to look at the way they dress, first I must get to know and understand the person inside. That process of understanding often transforms the way my clients view themselves, and always for the better.

So, we need to look at the man on the other side of the glass with new eyes; the eyes of a friend or even a stranger. We need to look at him with compassion.

Look at what he's dealing with. Look at the challenges he faces. Give the guy a break.

If you knew him, you'd both like and admire him – I promise.

So, go on, tell him, "Good job. Well done. I'm proud of who you are."

A Moodscope member.

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

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5 ways to celebrate Being Ourselves at work: a guide. Tuesday February 6, 2018

For Children's Mental Health Week 2018 (5-11 February), Place2Be's Head of Service for the South Sarah Kendrick suggests 5 ways in which celebrating what makes us unique can be good for us at work.

It might not surprise you to hear that as many as 8 in 10 of the pupils supported by Place2Be in one-to-one counselling struggle with self-esteem. But it's important to recognise that we, as adults, can doubt ourselves too. And while we don't always treat it as seriously, it can knock us back and stop us from being the best version of ourselves.

Celebrating 'Being Ourselves' during Children's Mental Health Week and beyond can help us achieve more and make better connections with others. Here are 5 tips for work.

Downtime isn't optional!

It may seem odd putting this at the top of the list but how we engage in life - in our wider context, our community, our family - is what helps us bring the best version of ourselves to work. So take every opportunity to do your thing! When we can, it's important to relax and have fun, whether that's reading a book in bed, going to the pub with friends, playing a sport or something else entirely.

Value your skills.

It can be tempting to leave our lives at the door and minimise the impact they might have. But we bring our experiences to our work and sometimes it's worth stopping and recognising the strengths in this. Inherent skills or those that you've developed out of adversity or challenge really do matter.

Appraise yourself fairly.

Among all the things we should be doing or haven't quite got around to, we can lose sight of what we're succeeding at. If you did well, tell yourself so, even if it's something small. Being ourselves means recognising our achievements.

Ask yourself why.

Why do you do what you do? When we're bogged down in the day-to-day, it's easy to lose sight of our purpose. In his book 'Start with Why', Simon Sinek encourages us to re-examine it, believing that this is central to motivating ourselves and feeling engaged. And it works.

"Everyone has a WHY. Your WHY is the purpose, cause or belief that inspires you. Knowing your WHY gives you a filter to make choices, at work and at home, that will help you find greater fulfilment in all that you do."

Thankfully, we are all different!

Anyone who knows me will be aware that my attention to detail is often not great. That's why I surround myself with team members who have really great attention to detail (as well as other skills that I lack). Knowing what our challenges or deficits are means that we can value those who have complementary skills and qualities. If we were all good at the same things, we'd never get anywhere.

Place2Be is the UK's leading children's mental health charity providing in-school support and expert training to improve the emotional wellbeing of pupils, families, teachers and school staff.

For Children's Mental Health Week 2018 (5-11 February), Place2Be is encouraging everyone to celebrate 'Being Ourselves'. Find out more and get involved in the campaign,

Sarah Kendrick

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

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AC DC and EC. Monday February 5, 2018

If 'AC' is 'Alternating Current' and 'DC' is 'Direct Current' then, for me, 'EC' is going to stand for 'Emotional Current'!

This blog came about because of months of struggle sleeping. I was noticing that my brain's default thinking was almost entirely negative. This makes a lot of sense given the many challenges I'm facing at the moment, and reminded me of how emotions have primacy in the way the brain processes thought. Like electrical currents, emotions flow. After all, thought’s flow, don’t they?

Can we control our thoughts?
Can we direct our dreams?
Can we get a good night's sleep?

If emotions follow thought, the opposite is also true. Our emotions can lead our thoughts. I began experimenting, and with some success! Lying in bed, tormented by seemingly uncontrollable negative ramblings, I switched the emotional current.

Imagine our emotions each have their own current, and that their current then flows in different directions. Linked to each emotion, by association, are all our memories that fit with that state of mind.

Instead of the fears that were haunting me - led by fear itself - I flipped the switch to love. I began asking myself, "What do I love?" and my memory banks yielded up their treasures.

It's early days, but I'm pleased with the first results. Thoughts flow and dreams follow attention, and attention can be placed upon a desirable emotion.

Every emotion has it's own current, and what I'd label as a charge too. There are, however, only two sets of emotions - those with a negative charge, and those with a positive charge. They flow in opposite directions, negative or positive.

Now, when I'm sensing a negative flow, I switch currents.

I change direction.

You can too.

Care to play?

A Moodscope member.

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

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Once Upon a Blue Moon. Sunday February 4, 2018

In this moment, it all feels blue.
Sad. So sad. Sorry for me.
That feels so wrong.
Like we're not supposed to feel sorry for ourselves.
Well in this moment I do!
It's not pity. I know my worth. It's self care.
Sometimes it's just one thing after another. Bam bam bam!
Sometimes. Not all the time.

Is it my negativity attracting bad things to happen all at once?
Like a negative magnetic field or something?!
So many coincidences, me trying my best to do the right thing.
By family, by work by everyone.
Push myself to exhaustion. It's so late now.
I should be sleeping.
I had to clean up, at least the dishes, it was a mess down there!

This late night will have an impact on my mood.
I have been tearful from lack of sleep.
Too busy to eat properly. One glass of wine.
Just one...
Comfort food, you know how it goes, just to make me feel a bit better, a bit cared for. Comforted.
Just as a one off...

Yet in this moment as I write my thoughts I know that it has to get better.
It's fear of it continuing that feels so bad.

The winter doesn't last for ever. Spring will be in the air, there'll be a spring in my step, I'll feel inspired by the sun. That's how it goes!

My mind and body are flashing warning signals at me.
Top up fuel! Top up water! Slow down or pull over to rest! It's dangerous!
Yes you want to get back to your responsibilities, not fail, not make things worse, hold things together.
But if YOU breakdown you'll have to call for assistance anyway!
So pull over. For as long as it takes for the old engine to cool down.
Rest. Top up the essentials.
That talk today did help. Took me out of myself. It was soothing.

See how it goes. Listen to your "Good Place" self. Bide your time.
It's ok to feel this way, it really is ok.
No better, no worse no judgment, it's a part of what is.
The universe naturally balances itself out.
It's a super, blue, blood moon don't you know! :))
It's epic and doesn't stay that way for long.
Tomorrow is a new day with infinite possibilities.
Sleep now my inner child,
In this moment I am here for thee.
This space is calm, it's quiet, no threat.
It's really peaceful here.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Mindfulness. Saturday February 3, 2018

I was reading about mindfulness this morning and it reminded me of the lovely gift our youngest daughter bought me for Christmas. It was a Mindful Love Note, and it said:

'The next time you are alone, take out your phone and record a love letter to yourself. Say everything out loud that you love about yourself: your ambitions, your purpose, your strengths, ways you are kind, ways you inspire others etc.'

Then listen to it and listen to it several times over the next week.

After some while you notice something quite incredible. We mainly seek praise, acceptance and confirmation from external sources. What if we could hear from ourselves, how awesome we are?
It may just help the way you think.

Best wishes to you all.

Clive A Moodscope member.

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

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Let your light shine. Friday February 2, 2018

Turned 50 last May. Single. No children. I spent Christmas at home in London, recovering from flu and a chronic cough. Spoiled rotten by my dad, my siblings, and extended family (including best friends of my sadly deceased mum - 10 years ago this year). Love really is the best medicine.

At beginning of January I returned to Switzerland to my job in a private international school – receptionist cum secretary cum agony aunt – attending to 250 kids, their parents, and teachers. I joined the school in 2007 after being made redundant from my dream job as editor in a start-up interactive TV company, (pre-Netflix, BBCi Player etc). Remember when the dot com bubble burst?

Fast forward a decade and it's finally dawned on me that the urge to return to my creative roots has been nibbling away imperceptibly at my consciousness for years. Today I realised that the urge is my inner voice. And then I read the Moodscope blog 'I can feel a light Inside' (26 Jan 2018) and the penny dropped. My light is still glowing even after all these years.

Love from

A Moodscope member.

PS. Only three more days to go! Please complete our survey asap!! It's so important to us to get everyone's views. Thank you from the Moodscope Team.

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

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I have three children. Thursday February 1, 2018

I have three children, ages 10, 9 and 7. I always wanted a family, I always wanted to have loads of children. So now I feel so guilty that I'm like this, that the depression makes me feel so poorly and weepy and some days all that I do is grumble or cry. That they wipe the tears off my cheeks when I cry on the school run or that they shy away when I lose my temper, at the end of my tether because I can't deal with the bickering and the noise anymore. I've run out of reason.

Now my 7 year old has shown anxiety, he shouts, he has zero tolerance. He can still be the most loving little boy, funny, clever, creative and bursting with beautiful life. But his shouting upsets me, because I see his distress, and I don't like the noise or disharmony.
Has he got anxiety and depression? Has he got attachment problems because I was so poorly when he was very little? Is he just a normal little boy trying to deal with tiring school and testosterone?

Do we all look at our family around us and try to find where this illness comes from, how it is affecting those closest to us? Who will it affect next?

A Moodscope member.

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

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What Have You Done To Make You Feel Proud? Wednesday January 31, 2018

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

With my professional hat on, I belong to a couple of networking groups. One of them is quite male dominated, extremely structured and meets at 6.30am...

The other is a women's networking group. We meet for a monthly lunch and I've been a member for some years now. The benefits are obvious; those women know my business and I know theirs. I know where to go for legal advice, coaching and upholstery. They come to me for Style advice.

More than this, these women have become friends. I have gone to meetings in mania and in the depths of depression. It has always been a safe and supporting place.

Last week though, it was pretty special.

We have an education slot – just ten minutes - run by our education officer, Kate, who happened to be sitting to my left. Kate knows me well.

This education slot was different. We were asked to think of two things we had done in our life of which we were proud. These could be business things, they could be personal. They could be huge things or they could be small. The important thing was, that we felt proud of ourselves.

We thought for a moment and then scribbled on our bits of paper.

Kate could see what I'd written. She gave me a nod and started at her other side. We went around the table and everyone shared what made them feel proud. Some were small business satisfactions: our HR and Temps member shared how she had managed, just in her car on the way to the meeting, to fill three new vacancies with suitable people. Some were big successes, like going into a big company and reducing the time spent on a process from 61 days to just 9.

But many of our triumphs were personal. Two of our members have survived cancer; they are proud. Three women have upped and moved continents, often with small children. One member broke down in tears as she recalled leaving Zimbabwe – where her family had a huge farm – and arriving in the UK with just the clothes on her back and £2,000. Her children had asked when were they going to get a big garden with a tree in it again, like they had back home. She was proud of having created a new life here, and of having been able to give them that tree.

I was last. I said I was proud that, last Saturday, nine people had enjoyed themselves hugely at a murder mystery dinner party that I had written (and that nobody had guessed the murderer – even though I had played fair and given them all the clues)! My second thing? I said I was proud to be alive.

Very proud. You people all know why.

I'd love it if you would think of two things you have done which make you feel proud, and if you would share them in the comments.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Do you really think it is better to give than receive? Tuesday January 30, 2018

My mother used to say the saying above and recently I have wondered what it really means especially with regards to mental health.

I am learning to accept help or kindness but it means my friends feel able to ask me for help as well. My friendships have become closer because we are there for each other when things in the good and the bad times.

One day when I was 16 I was sitting on a seat outside school and reluctant to go into school. I was very depressed, and my dad had driven me to school every day for nearly 2 weeks, but I would not get out of the car. This day he said go to the seat and see if you can go inside. I was mad at my dad and I feared going into school as I had been away for so long. A teacher not mine, smiled and said lets hurry up so we won't be late. At the time I was mad at her but years later I remembered her kindness. I am not sure she ever knew how much she helped me.

I wonder is it better to give than receive? The receiver may feel under some obligation to repay their benefactor and so undo much of the benefits of the gift.

Is this our culture speaking, that says manage your own life, never ask for help? On Moodscope we give the sum of our experiences of our lives offering something of use and value. We do not know who will read our words. Hopefully it's a good outcome, but it may have no effect.

I have a friend who has been supporting her neighbour for several years. She is beginning to stand alone, her neighbor has no idea how to help someone else and has said to my friend on the few occasions she has wanted to chat, that the neighbour doesn't know how to help.

Rather than deciding who gains more from an interaction, why not simply do what comes next without deciding who owes what to whom.

I think we all win when someone receives a helping hand. It shows our compassion to other humans and recognizes we are all in this together.

I feel if everyone is giving, who is left to receive. I think it is important to be able to accept help when you need to and why is accepting help seen as such a bad thing?

I would like to hear your views.

Is it better to give than receive or do both actions play an equally important role in being healthy?

A Moodscope member.

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

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Not Now Nagatha! Monday January 29, 2018

"Nagatha," is the name I have given my inner nag. "Nagatha Scritchy," to be more precise. I was thinking about her as a result of nights of mental anguish and lost sleep over some challenges I'm facing. She's not very nice, but does seem to be the dominant voice in my thoughts when I'm under pressure.

This puts me in mind of two excellent resources - both for children. The first is the original film, "Inside Out." The film follows the role of five personalised emotions inside the main character's head. The emotions are joy, fear, disgust, sadness, and anger. Each directs the actions of the girl, Riley, as she navigates through the complexities of life's relationships and experiences. Recognised for its excellence, I would suggest the film is a 'must see' for all of us interested in what makes us tick.

In my life, at the moment, Nagatha seems to be at the helm far too often!

I'd prefer Joy instead.

The second resource is a wonderful book about parental neglect called, "Not Now, Bernard!" by David McKee. Spoiler alert - I'm about to reveal the plot! Bernard wants the attention of his parents but they are too busy with life's other activities (such as watching television). His life itself is in peril from a monster in his bedroom - and, unfortunately for Bernard, the monster prevails - gobbling him up. The monster then seeks to intimidate the parents, but they pay it just as little attention as they did to Bernard. The result is that the monster is disempowered and ends up simply going to bed - ignored.

"Not now, Nagatha!"

I wondered if this is a strategy that could work for you and me, when there is an unhelpful emotion or 'state' seemingly at the controls in our head. I have started to say, privately of course, "Not now, Nagatha!" and the humour is working... a bit.

I remember being shocked by a phrase in the Gospels - where Jesus couldn't work many miracles in one location because people just didn't believe in Him. (Mark 6:5) Flipping this, it would be great to develop an equally impactful lack-of-faith in Nagatha! Wouldn't it be great if she couldn't work her damage because of my lack of faith in her? Why do we give the voice of worry such credence?

What strategies do you use to ignore, negate, dis-empower, or otherwise deal with unhelpful states-of-mind and negative thinking?

A Moodscope member.

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

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The Miner. Sunday January 28, 2018

KVELL (a Yiddish word meaning to be extraordinarily pleased)

Poor old Moodscope I use you like I use my friends :-(
When I'm down your always there,
When I'm up your always there,
When I'm low I do my score.

But when the Dementers come or I fall down that mine hole, I use you my dear Moodscope like I use my friends, even the feathered ones.

I stare out the window, looking at my feathered friends pecking on the food that I can't really afford to buy, but I do it because I want to give something back to this world and be remembered to be a better person.

I can hear the vicar at my funeral, who knows nothing about me saying "The Miner... she liked to feed Gods birds."

When I visit the mine, I use you my tiny feathered friends I don't feed you, or clean your water trough, it's full of sludge. I am the Zombie staring out into the garden.

The little feathered friends bathe in the two stone troughs by the tree with the fancy bark, one trough bought by a piece of my heart, the other bought my someone who took a large chunk of my heart... that's if the water is clean.

Am I in the mine or am I in the garden?

To see God's nature flapping their wings & swinging on those food stations, it gladdens my heart & I feel KVELL! This replaces a tiny piece of my heart.

(I'm not religious, I use god down the mine, like I use poor Moodscope.)

I heard of this Yiddish saying at work - KVELL it means to be extraordinarily pleased. This was issued by my company on an email as a thank you to its staff, it's a company in the US, one of the richest top ten companies to work for; you may have read that email too?

If not, before you get envious of my job... hold that thought, I'm just a temp, on a low hour's contract going down the mine. It suits me to temp even though I'd love a permanent role, am I fit enough to give up mining?

KVELL, it made my heart glow to learn a new word, I could use it in a book that I always wanted to write, but never did.

Staring just staring, caring just caring, I am The Miner constantly climbing out of the mine.

Do you use people?

How do you want to be remembered?

RATG challenged me to write a blog...this is my first one.

The Miner
A Moodscope member.

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

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Judgemental, Moi? Saturday January 27, 2018

This blog has been fermenting for two days – usually it's 20 minutes from idea to keyboard. As I mull over the 'antics' of these women I know, I blame myself for intolerance - the parable of the 'Prodigal Son' comes to mind. Now next day (19th January) and LillyPet's blog on being 'nice' has added fuel to the fire. Here are three 'case histories' and how they affect my feelings.

They all have the ability to annoy, starting with sympathy and ending with blame. The first woman I have actually banned the house. She is 'cliquey', given to rowing, is always right, and tells you forcefully. Her husband died of cancer before he was fifty. So, due for pity. Apparently 'she did her own thing' and was not exactly dutiful or faithful. She is said to have received a very large insurance payment. She's done three cruises since he died, and is always at 'girlie' lunches. I have had an invitation to the latest boyfriend's birthday party – it says 'please bring food and drink for the table!' She's English, boyfriend (he's 80 actually) has lived here 12 years and hardly speaks a work of French.

The next, a peculiar set up – French man separated from wife and four sons, English woman who lives with him, and whose husband lives in the next village. The 'couple' are trying to be declared bankrupt as they are seriously in debt. They both have professional training, neither stayed in any job long enough to get a pension, so they only have state pension. The husband was a teacher until acute ill-health stopped him, he has the only money, it seems. She complains of extreme bad health, arthritis – can't walk, but insists on having two huge dogs. Doesn't obey her doctors, takes powerful pain-killers, and I've seen her drink a litre of red wine at a lunch party. She insults her 'partner' in public. She is mercurial, all over you one minute, cut you dead the next. She has alienated her partner's sons, they can't stand her.

Number three is the wife of a great friend – she has been very welcoming to us. She is a reasonable cook, if very heavy on calories. She eats her own portion in a third of the time of the rest of us, often with mayonnaise or ketchup. She is always snacking, and drinks a lot – she is up with acute indigestion most nights. She had a knee operation – then, on holiday, insisted on driving on a Mediterranean island, loads of gear changes and wrecked the knee, provoking dangerous side effects, blood clots etc.

Perhaps because I now spend so much time among acute suffering I look at these woman, who have brought ALL their ills on themselves, and I cannot have any sympathy for them. Now, I have to live with this tendency to say 'Serve you right'.

Can you be seen as 'judgemental'?

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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

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I can feel a light inside. Friday January 26, 2018

After a three week break from our school term I am now beginning to feel normal. I had a virus which lurked over me for two of the weeks but it did me good as it forced me to slow down a little. My mind is now budding with the promise of flowers. I have ideas, as if I am a painter who is sketching images to revisit, and layer watercolours or oils upon, later.

I know I am about to enter a wind tunnel as the routine life begins again and so I know this creative mind will, at some point soon, be shoved to one side, trampled upon and left in a heap. But each time I get to this point I give it a nod and am thankful that it is still there. For anyone like me who is trying and trying, it doesn't matter if you eat the wrong food, drink the wrong drink, allow anger to bubble over or eclipse exercise with a remote control. The important part is making the return.

Just keep returning to the direction you need to go in. One day we'll find we don't leave it.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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

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Best things in life are not things... Thursday January 25, 2018

Once upon a lifetime ago, I learned some valuable life lessons while working as a home care aide.

In that profession, I travelled from home to home in my resilient Pontiac Sunfire and met a vast variety of clients. Although coupled in theory and title both that I was indeed the giver in the equation between patients and myself, on many occasions I noticed that I received also. Unintentionally so.

From an M.S. survivor who sometimes yelled at me I learned to quell my hurt feelings in lieu of the bigger picture: a disease hovering over his life that dwarfed us both. An incurable disease so large and invincible, nay, INVISIBLE that one couldn't throw a shoe at to scare off. Hence he yelled at me and I stood in for the Sclerosis, even apologizing by proxy once in a while. Other times I suggested: "we're in this together. Help me help you. Just wait - I will get it right." He'd calm down and we silently worked out the knots of his personal care.

I have been educated by a mental health patient not to give up on a rough start to our relationship - any connection can improve as surely as they can break down. "Mrytle" misplaced her personal hygiene items and then shouted at me when she couldn't find them. The day she nearly brushed her teeth with hemorrhoid cream we laughed uproariously and she accepted my offer to help organize her tiny apartment. We agreed on a phenomenon of elves foraging for goods in her low end apartment, and if they struck previous to my visit; missing items simply meant missed personal chores. No hairbrush equated no hair brushed. It became our turning point. Articles began showing up simultaneously with reasons to laugh. Mrytle's volatile behavior proved to be an insufficient mask for severe anxiety. She involuntarily taught me that life in all its unfairness possesses hidden gems in situations that sometimes balanced out a portion of the injustice; a bad day was exchanged for a good day, misunderstanding transformed into understanding. The ebb and flow of positive and negative decreases the ridges on life's ragged shoreline. The trick is to watch for it like the sunrise.

The happiest people I met were often the ones with the least tangible positives; meagre incomes, miserly furnishings, poor health, fading memory and few luxuries. Those clients bring me to a level three shame in the mood cards over my own "perception dysfunction," in thinking I have to have things/friendships/circumstances in order to experience contentment. When "Hazel" tried calling her son rather unsuccessfully from the keypad on her vintage microwave due to level two Alzheimer's... I thanked God silently for my mind, such as it may be at times. She unknowingly taught me gratitude on that sad/comical Thursday.

When a paraplegic sat in discomfort awaiting my snow riddled arrival much later than anticipated and still greeted me cheerfully when most individuals would have snapped, I wondered his secret. And coveted his graciousness and serenity. It was a review of the lesson that the best things in life are not things; but people with a happy giving spirit who chose to be so inspite of the world not because of it.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Ambushed. Wednesday January 24, 2018

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

Almost exactly eleven months; that's how long it lasted.

For eleven glorious months, I was emotionally stable. No wild swings into mania. No plunges into the darkness of despair. My brother said he had never known me so level-headed. My friends all commented.

The drugs, the glorious drugs! Thank you, pharmacists! Thank you, NHS (National Health Service for those of you not in the UK), for allowing me these expensive drugs for a fraction of their market price. Thank you.

I almost thought I was cured.

Then – a few weeks ago, something happened.

It was the kind of thing – well, it was the kind of thing you can't talk about to just anyone, you know? In fact, it was the kind of thing I felt I could talk to just one person about – and he was incommunicado.

I have other friends, but I couldn't go to them with this. I felt isolated, with no escape and the ultimate darkness hit.

What do you do when you get to that place? When you're standing on the edge with that charnel reek in your nose and throat?

Before you all leap in with suggestions, may I just say that first – you must recognise the edge of the crevasse as being an illusion. You must accept that, in that moment, you are not sane and you need help. Fortunately, I did recognise that.

There's the Samaritans, of course. There is nothing the Samaritans have not heard before; they do not judge.

But I did not want the Samaritans, I wanted my friend who was not there for me. I wanted my human comfort blanket, my personal blanket fort. I wanted the words only he could give.

And – my friend was not there.

So – I went online.

I went online to those illusory friends; the ones which live in your computer or your phone; the ones who may be anyone – as my family are always so ready to tell me.

I belong to a couple of Facebook groups. I went to one of them and – without talking about the issue – told them about standing on the edge.

The messages of support were wonderful and a dozen people sent me personal messages and asked to "friend me" that they might provide more private support.

Out of that, I've become close to a couple more people I can talk to. They don't know me personally; they don't know my family or my situation. I can be honest with them.

Another Facebook friend reminded me he's a priest these days. His "flock", he says, includes lost woolly ones beyond the bounds of his geographical parish. I know I can talk to him too.

So, I've expanded my support network. I've had to.

Who is your current support, and to whom can you look beyond?

A Moodscope member.

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

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A Breakthrough! Tuesday January 23, 2018

This week I thought about hanging myself. There. I said it. Actually I thought about lots of different ways to end it all. Driving myself out to a remote part of the woods and taking an over-dose. Taking an overdose in my bedroom, but first dropping my daughter off with a neighbor, ala Juliana Moore in The Hours. That is where my brain went this week. I am not proud of it.

The thing that stopped me was my daughter. My sweet, beautiful, sensitive 9 yr old daughter, who kept coming in my dark room to ask me what was wrong or where did I hurt or could she get me a glass of wine... so many "I love you's" and hugs from my darling, perceptive girl... One night she broke down crying, and we talked about her anxiety - in third grade! All because she thinks she cannot finish her projects on time in art (she is an advanced level student, taking two languages and excels in Math and Reading Comprehension. She is a wonderful artist too).

I was shocked that my sweet happy girl had anxiety. She told me that she often pulls her hair and wrings her wrists under the table when she sees others finish a quiz and jump from the table to do a "special activity" before she is done. (Later when speaking with her teacher about this she told me that my girl usually has the right answers after thoughtful consideration, whereas many others finish quick with wrong answers just so they can get extra play time. She is now reconsidering this approach. Smart teacher.)

The more I sat in the black mucky water of my well listening to my daughter, the more I quickly realized there is no way in hell I was leaving this girl without her mother to hold her hand. And somewhere in my brain I was able to ask myself: Why now? Why the drowning now? My depression had come out of nowhere...or had it? I did research. And I was shocked to realize that between my Moodscope scores and my menstruation cycles I was able to connect the dots and discover that I have PMDD - Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.

It has been there, for years. (Sorry men for the female bluntness, but if I can help save another woman - mother, wife, daughter, friend - from suicide due to the severe depression brought on by PMDD I'm gonna try). It's a hormonal imbalance causing extreme thoughts of suicide, anxiety and anger.

My therapist had prescribed me Lexapro years ago after a recent suicidal episode and I stupidly stopped taking it two months ago, thinking that I was fine. I'm back on it now, and will probably remain so. I am not saying that all of my depression and anxiety is caused by this one thing. But for women who are already susceptible to anxiety and depression, PMDD can be deadly. And it's hereditary. My mother was abusive and her anger was definitely cyclical. Looking back on her life, I realize she probably had it too. My sister shows signs of it as well.

No therapist or doctor has ever talked to me about it. When the time comes, I will watch for signs of it in my daughter. Three million women a year suffer from it. If you'd like more information on the condition I recommend that you look up the Gia Allemand Foundation Lots of great information and resources on there.

A Moodscope member.

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

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