The Moodscope Blog

28

January

I Accept

Thursday January 28, 2021


Acceptance is not a word I have previously associated with me. I am one of those who has always battled against the machine. The machine being anything and anyone I believe is not helping alleviate whatever situation I think needs to be alleviated. I battle. For decades, I have belonged to many groups who also battle against the machine. For short periods of time, I have felt that I have finally found a group of people with whom I have lots in common.

Then realisation rears its head. Not necessarily ugly, just its head; and I see through my rose-tinted spectacles that no, these people are not like me. They say they are raging against the machine, but actually they are concerned mostly about their position in the group; Chair, Treasurer, Secretary. They are actually part of the machine I am raging against.

So I leave, disillusioned once again. They accept my resignation. Not interested in hearing why I am leaving; knowing they are Right and by leaving, I prove my lack of commitment. They will continue to rage without me. Good luck to them, then. I stalk away, feeling righteous indignation at them; knowing I am right to do so.

What I was not prepared for, were the petty squabbles - over tea money, subs, the washing up – that dog all groups, regardless of their size and importance.

I wanted more. I wanted bright lights and shining truths. I wanted change with a capital C and I wanted to know that I had been part of it. I wanted to be proud.

I always left feeling utterly disillusioned. And this is where acceptance comes into its own.

You see, after more than six and a half decades on this planet, living this life, I have finally realised that this is what it amounts to. Acceptance. Change what you can, accept what you can’t.

In these very strange days of 2020/21, there is not a lot of anything I can change anyway. Maybe re-arrange the mugs or the cutlery drawer, but not a lot else. Instead, I am learning to accept this is my life; small, unimportant and all mine.

It is up to me what I do with it. And I accept that. I can change nothing other than the way I look at me, and how I look at the world. We are all looking for that state of being, it seems to me, where what we do and, in these days of pandemic, what we don’t do, is as important as anything the world leaders say.

The folk I abandoned; the ones I felt such disdain about; they too were aiming to make changes. What they knew, what I am only now understanding, is that they, like me, are only human. Doing people things in people ways.

And all we really want is to feel at home in our bodies and in our lives.

I am accepting that. Do you? Can you?

Christine
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to post a comment below.


27

January

Being Nice to (Insert Your Name Here)

Wednesday January 27, 2021


‘I want you to think about your three goals for this month,’ said the coach to the business club I go to. ‘Of those three goals, you will have one that is a “Must do,” one that is “Important,” and one that is a “Nice to do.” If you have any more than these it will be too much for you and you will be setting yourself up to fail.’

I looked at the three goals written down on the page. The first one, the “Must do,” is to get well again. I came out of the fog and physical weakness at the end of December but I’m still not well. The Moodscope scores are better than they were, but they are not yet back to normal.

For once, I am listening to advice.

‘Don’t push yourself,’ say my friends and family. ‘You won’t get better if you don’t rest.’ ‘You need some serious R&R.’ ‘Most of all,’ they say, ‘you need to be nice to Mary.’

They are right. I know they are right. It’s hard to accept but I can’t argue with the logic, and it’s what I tell other people, after all.

So today, with a score thirty points lower than a “normal” figure, I shall rest and relax, because I’m not well. There are senseless tears pricking my eyes and a lump in my throat. There is no reason for these feelings of discouragement and near desolation – they are part of still being a bit poorly.

It’s nearly lunchtime and there’s a pot of creamy soup in the fridge. After lunch there’s a comfortable chair and the cosy crime book I downloaded last night. Dinner is an easy curry with leftover chicken and a sauce from a jar. I’m taking it easy and being nice to myself.

I think many of us find it difficult to rest. I always think about all the productive things I could be doing instead of just sitting there; maybe you do too. Perhaps it is just not possible for you to rest because others depend on you, and that is hard. It may be possible however, to give yourself little treats; be nice to yourself.

We do all need to rest sometimes. And we definitely need to be nice to ourselves.

What do you do to rest, relax and be nice to you?

Mary
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to post a comment below.


26

January

Sleep and low mood Connection

Tuesday January 26, 2021


Ever since I was a young boy I have been plagued with nightmares, many reoccurring, even now at 64 very often my wife wakes me up as I am thrashing about and screaming. I am usually being chased or attacked or someone’s trying to kill me.

I can cope if it’s not too often but sometimes I have many nights of awful sleep, keep waking and can’t get back to sleep, which causes awful low moods. My dilemma is; is it the bad sleep that cause the low moods or is it the low moods that cause the bad sleep. And low mood, I mean really low, not wanting to be on this planet. Some days I don’t feel safe driving as I have been so disturbed by my awful experience of the previous night, even though it’s only a dream it’s as though I have gone ten rounds in a boxing ring.

I am a logical person and try to see if there is a connection to any current events, there is no pattern.

I was referred to a sleep clinic wired up over night in hospital to be told I slept ok for a few hours but then awake, was given tablets to produce melatonin. They did not help at all so was told nothing else could be prescribed as I have a rare heart condition (Brugada), sudden death syndrome, or as I call it, mostly alive Syndrome. I have an ICD implant so this does not cause me any anxiety as I am lucky to have one.

Just to lighten it up, I will list the the things I have tried:
Mindfulness, yoga, tai chi, hypnotherapy, hypnosis, reflexology, many natural herbs, eating a light snack, going for a walk before bed. Blackout blinds, warm room, cold room, heavy quilt, light quilt.

I have bought many pillows - current one has a speaker built in to listen to relaxing stuff. I have lavender oil and all sorts of potions near my bed. We have had many mattresses, I even purchased a water bed many years ago, this was a big mistake although my wife loved it. When I was thrashing about the waves I caused nearly launched her off the bed. She loved it when I got out as they are cool in summer and warm in winter. We got rid when it developed a leak, oh dear a plumber with a leaking water bed you couldn’t make it up. We don’t have a TV in the bedroom or any electronic devices.

I usually go to bed around 10-10:30. I can sleep soundly until 2am then it can be dreadful, sometimes up at 3am or 4am. I try to stay in bed till 6am, but not very often.
  
I hear of people that when low stay in bed, for me I can’t stay in bed.
  
So just to recap, does the black dog cause bad sleep, or does the bad sleep cause the black dog to jump in the bed?

Have you found the secret recipe for a good night sleep?

Paul
A Moodscope member.

Ps. I once put my mobile under the pillow and it the morning it had disappeared. I think the Bluetooth fairy took it!


Thoughts on the above, please feel free to post a comment below.


25

January

I Believe

Monday January 25, 2021


Isn’t everyone else weird? My neighbour keeps her bins out on the public footpath. I look at her behaviour and think, “I’d never do that,” or, even better, “Clearly, she wasn’t brought up very well.” She’s weird.

The fact is that nobody thinks like I think… and even I change the way I think day-in, day-out… and this is a good thing. Difference is a form of enrichment. Variety, I’m told, is the spice of life!

But (yes, a deliberate use of ‘but’), I need some things to be unchanging and certain. Moodscope needs to be, for me, a haven, a safe and secure place where I can give and get support.

When Dr Martin Luther King Jnr delivered his famous, “I Have A Dream,” speech, he laid out clearly what he believed the future could be like. He was calling out to those who thought like he thought and wanted the same things. He was looking for a tribe with shared expectations.

Given that I do not run Moodscope but rather am a member, I thought I’d let you, the members, see Moodscope through my eyes – the way I would like it to be. That way, I can learn from your comments whether I’m just weird or whether I’ve got tribal think-mates who are on the same page. It will also give a great opportunity for as many as want to - to share their own dream or beliefs about what Moodscope could be. A map drawn together will be far richer than my mono-sketch on the back of an envelope!

In my map of Moodscope, the four key locations are clear: The Scope, The Buddies, The Blog, The Comments. What is unlikely to be clear to all of us is the meaning we individually attach to these four pillars of the community.

For me then…

The Moodscope ‘Scope’ is to keep track of my moods – giving me patterns to watch for.

The Moodscope Buddies are to catch me when I fall, and to keep me anchored to the earth when I’m in danger of being swept away.

The Moodscope Blog is to give me energy, insight, encouragement, and to deliver support.

The Moodscope Comments are to amplify and augment that energy that flows from the blog, to add deeper and richer insights from the bigger group-mind, to stack encouragement upon encouragement, and to strengthen the support we give one another… to express solidarity on a daily basis.

Healthy debate adds strength and energy – the variety that adds spice and vitality.

So… am I weird, or do you share similar expectations?

Lex
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to post a comment below.


24

January

Anyone for tennis? 

Sunday January 24, 2021


I’ve become Wimbledon ready! Surprised myself, no, shocked myself! Feeling proud, ten out of ten. 
 
I was over 40 before I started growing up. Began to peel away the layers of guilt, shame and negativity. I guess that is proof it can be done no matter what age or stage. 
 
Despite walking very closely with one of my brothers for more than a year, holding him up and helping hold up and push on his business, my mother found a way to cast deep scorn on me today. I had the audacity to walk through the cold, deliver her fresh milk to her doorstep along with a birthday present for my brother. I’d already spoken with him, he was due to visit her, and so it seemed a good place to leave his present. Especially as for the last ten months we’ve all stayed physically apart to help keep each other safe. And especially as he has no way to get to my house, legally I’m not permitted to enter his and every single hospitality venue is locked down. She frowned, looked up at me with a puckered face and asked if I would not be seeing him today. He didn’t even get his name, I’m guessing that was so she might sound even more authoritarian.   
 
I don’t take bullying anymore. So I hit that ball back over the net with the arm of Serena Williams, smiled calmly and said this was probably the best legal way I could get it to him. It’s a bit of a sadness not to have the mother relationship I would have loved but it’s been a huge benefit in teaching me how I parent. 
 
Ah I’m just letting off steam. I have no physical tennis capability whatsoever. But I’m pretty proud of no longer absorbing negativity and of how my mental tennis is shaping up. Anyone joining me? 
 
Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to post a comment below.


23

January


I read an article recently about how talking to strangers can make you feel better.

Some of the Moodscopers reading this blog post will feel they’d do anything to start a conversation or even have eye contact with a stranger. For others perhaps not. Smart phones make it easier to have an excuse for not talking to people we don’t know.

Research has shown that we might just be able to improve our moods if we do not ignore opportunities to make contact with the people around us.

A few years ago researchers at a University decided to test whether a short chat with a stranger could  lift moods. Participants were asked to walk into a busy cafe and buy a drink and a snack. Half of the people were asked to walk in and leave and half were asked to talk to the person serving them.

They discovered that people who were assigned to turn this quick transaction into a quick social exchange left the cafe feeling better.

A journalist once spoke to at least 15 people she didn’t know a day. She was surprised how well this made her feel. At first it was a chore then over a week she looked forward to chatting to her new friends, 

How do you feel? Does a quick chat to someone waiting in a  queue or someone serving you, or the post man or someone you meet on a walk help improve your mood even slightly. Please share your thoughts and experiences.

I admit I do like to chat sometimes when I am in a good mood. When I am not, small chat can annoy me but I smile and reply.

Maybe you are someone who gets anxious if strangers talk to you or you prefer to avoid random conversation. Please explain why you feel not talking to people you don’t know. 
 
Leah
A Moodscope member 

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to post a comment below.


22

January

How did we ever manage?

Friday January 22, 2021


I am an ‘objet de curiosite’. Every time I go out there are people using two thumbs to write important messages, or their elbow is raised (thought it was beer, but it’s a phone). I am a dinosaur. I do not have a Smartphone. I did, but, somehow, we never became an ‘item’. Nobody told me I had to ‘swipe’ it, not ‘tap it’ to answer a call. When I tried to text, always tapped the letter above. It was acquired in a panic, knee-jerk reaction, as is my won't.

We were in Paris, ‘en route’ from the Alps, via Geneva, to home in West France. My husband was just beginning to exhibit the signs which were to lead to Alzheimer’s. I knew our train was at 16.20, so we settled to a delicious lunch. I thought I’d just check the ticket, and found our train had left half an hour previously. **!!*? So, I left Monsieur to the care of the Maitre D’, and crossed the road in pouring rain to the Gare du Nord, where they gave me a ticket saying I was 39th in line for assistance. I played the sympathy card, got the tickets changed and off home, not without more problems with strikes disrupting trains.

When I had time to think, it was evident that with a Smartphone, I could have stayed at my restaurant table and with a few flicks change my tickets ‘on line’. Hence, at first opportunity, proud (but useless) owner of Smartphone. I refrained from smashing it, and sold it to our Camerounian priest for 20 euros.

I must admit pre mobiles one could have nasty moments. (This blog is in direct response to Rosemary, 15th December, who having left her mobile in her car was powerless to get through a door which was shut against her). The worst was when I and our three boys were on the way to Sicily. We arrived in good time at Genoa. There, no sign of boat, nor indication if, or when, it would arrive. The other side of the port was another boat going to Sicily. We contemplated it, but our tickets, closely examined, said they did not promise to get anywhere, anytime, and we would not get a refund. We went to a hotel. The next morning our boat was there, the other had sunk! Still have the cartoon done by second son. Two days later tried to phone husband from Sicily, but you had to have a ‘token’ for public phones, in bars, and lazy barmen would put ‘out of order’ on phone. Eventually got through, to husband on verge of nervous breakdown. In ‘The Times’ on the Saturday, my sister-in-law, visiting, said ‘Oh look, ferry capsized in Genoa harbour, all cars wrecked, some deaths’. We were totally oblivious that it would make national news.

So, what the devil do you do now in such circumstances? Public phones no longer exist, I think. Luckily, all the world but me has their vital part of modern life.

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to post a comment below.


21

January

Just do it

Thursday January 21, 2021

After reading Manuel’s blog (Saturday 5th December 2020) I felt I had to write this.

Totally agree that therapy needs to be tried. It can and will change your life if you allow it and find a therapist you really trust.

So as a therapist what do we say, “You will be happy after 6 sessions, 12 sessions, 100 sessions or we will give you a refund??”

We live in a world of quick fixes and want it now but for a lot of us our pain and suffering has been gradual and we have incorporated beliefs and values into our constructed world.

There is NO short cut. You need to acknowledge and feel those embarrassing, shameful, guilt inducing sometimes so traumatic feelings the words won’t come out for months or years. But why on earth would you do that. Because it heals. I could give you hundreds of mantras here but I won’t as I am sure you know what I’m talking about. A problem shared is a problem halved and all that! It is hard work and exhausting and sometimes terrifying. Not selling it very well am I?

Why do people say that therapy doesn’t work? I could go to my friend if I wanted to talk about my problems. Difference is we don’t ( and I am speaking for myself and not the whole industry here as I am well aware there are good and not so helpful therapists out there) tell you what to do and tell you our problems too. We acknowledge what it means to you. Just by having our feelings acknowledged is sometimes enough to shift the pain.

I do get frustrated. Yes, I am well aware frustration is anger but frustration sounds softer and I don’t want you to think I’m not a nice person by getting angry. (I am not talking here about venomous anger that people spew out on social media as this is another blog all together). Childhood messages stick with us and this is what causes our ongoing suffering. This is where we go wrong in life. Don’t be sad, don’t cry, don’t get angry. Yes please do. If not, where do those feelings go? Stuffed down in layers of shame, guilt, fear and so many more until it becomes unbearable and will show itself in anxiety, depression and physical illnesses. As (thankfully) this is not an academic piece of writing I don’t need to back this blog up with research but it is out there along with the numerous books to read on the subject.

And don’t let cost be an excuse as it can be for a lot of people. We can all say we don’t have the money and trust me I am with you. It is about our priorities and there are many wonderful charities around and therapists that offer low cost sessions.

I am aware that many of you will have your personal experiences both good and bad of therapy.

Wondering what your experiences are and what you have learnt from them?

Lara
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to post a comment below.


20

January

Consistently Inconsistent

Wednesday January 20, 2021


Ninety percent of success is just consistently showing up.

I don’t know who said that, but it is a phrase my husband often uses, and it always makes me wince.

People need to know they can rely on you; and one problem bipolar disorder presents an inability to give that consistency.

We may show consistency some of the time – even for months at a time – but sooner or later the mania sets in, followed by the depression.

Mania and depression affect people differently. In mania, some do not sleep for days; become reckless with their spending habits; take risks they would normally avoid. My mania presents as boundless enthusiasm, a tendency to overcommit, and an irritating habit of talking non-stop. Before medication it was nasty and made life very difficult for my friends and family (see Bipolar Exploding Hedgehog: 26th October 2016). it is now, fortunately, much less severe.

The depression, in my experience of talking to others, presents more similarly; we retreat and withdraw from the world. Often, we cannot even get out of bed. If we manage to get up and get dressed, we cannot “People”. For all intents and purposes, we disappear.

This causes havoc in our personal and work lives: of course it does! We cannot be consistent.

I honestly think the only thing I have ever done reliably is write this blog every Wednesday; and I have no idea at all about how that has happened.

This inconsistency costs. It costs jobs, relationships and financial security; these costs in turn, contribute to the more well-known accompaniments to bipolar disorder, such as excess drinking, drug-taking, self-harming and suicide.

It’s hard to accept. This is not the way we want to be. “I just get so angry!” said a fellow sufferer the other day.

The other side of anger is grief; There is sorrow that this illness prevents from being who we want to be and doing what we love to do.

It’s taken a long time for me to accept my inconsistency, especially in the last couple of years since the medication. I hoped the tablets would be a silver bullet and that I would be entirely well but that has not happened.

Nope – I still have bipolar disorder and I still have the symptoms. They are milder than before: they are no longer life-threatening; no longer threaten my health, family, and friendships but they still present and I still cannot promise consistency.

The answer is to manage expectations, I suppose. My directors and fellow colleagues in the company know about it; my family and friends know about it. While I do not always name the condition, I let my clients know I am subject to periods of “Ill health.”

It’s not what any of us want but it’s what we have.

If we accept it, we can work with it instead of fighting a battle we can never win.

A harsh truth, perhaps, but maybe a useful one.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to post a comment below.


19

January

I keep dodging the bullets

Tuesday January 19, 2021


I love watching action movies a lot. When bullets are fired and the actors just find a way to dodge them. Well, sometimes they get hit!

When I first figured out my mood problems was after my marriage had ended. I discovered that over the years I had been allowing certain negative thoughts to fill my head. Thoughts of fear, anger, sending out bad thoughts of bad things happening to me and others. I kept building up castles of negativity in my head. 

I had few good thoughts. The thing is I just allowed the negative thoughts have  free access to me.

Now, I know how to deal with them. When I feel thoughts coming up and quickly identify them as negative, I physically dodge them... I shake my head and frown at it like it's a person and say "No, that's wrong", or I just move aside as if making passage for someone coming towards me. Another thing I do is to physically act like I am dodging a bullet like in the movies or blocking a move from an opponent in martial arts training.

Physically this helps me because I immediately put the thoughts behind me and move on. 

Trust me this wasn't easy and still is not. I still have my days when I have to deal with a tsunami of negative thoughts.

Hope this is helpful.

Thanks.

Odafe
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to post a comment below.


18

January

Making myself stronger

Monday January 18, 2021


[To view a video version of this blog post please click here: https://youtu.be/irGeXJYEWDA]

I wanted to talk today about the giant gulf between “should” and “could”.

One is mostly disempowering; one is sometimes empowering.

Friedrich Nietzsche said, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

I disagree.

I believe that each problem (“That which does not kills us...”) faced up to and challenged, “…makes us stronger.”

Let me repeat a personal story that some of you have heard.

I was bullied as a child, as many of you know. On my way back from my Secondary School, every single day, a group of boys, older and further up in the school, had money enough to own bicycles – giving them a sense of freedom. They used to cycle like wild Indians around me, spitting on me, and kicking me in the happy sacks.

You can imagine how much I looked forward to the journey home from school each day.

What “should” have happened (in the Perfect World) was that, as if by magic, Mr Miyagi “should” have jumped down beside me to teach me Karate. After training, I would have been ready to dispatch them all, teaching a life lesson!

I did have a rescuer, a heroine, my Mother. I finally confessed my terror to her, and she took action. A very glamorous woman, she donned a headscarf and dark glasses, like a Movie Star, and walking our golden Labrador, Kerry, she watched from afar.

When the felons struck, she moved like lightning, and struck them down… at least with her tongue. Their parents got some “feedback” too.

The problem was removed… except it wasn’t. It was a pivotal moment in my life because I learned to stay a coward rather than be courageous. Both cowardice and courage can flow from an identical place of feeling terrified, but the outcomes are drastically different.

The Karate Kid learned to stand up for himself – and others.

Until we learn to stand up to the bullies, we will always remain subject to fear.

We will not become stronger.

I believe that not standing up to the bullies led to a massively critical, bitter spirit, and a view that the world ‘should’ be different. I still look at behaviours and situations in the world that I do not think ‘should’ be that way and judge those involved.

There’s an alternative I’m exploring: “could.” Now, I’m beginning to acknowledge that things “should” not be a certain way, but I ask myself, “What could I do about this?” If the answer is, “Nothing,” I seek to give it no more attention. If there is something I “could” do, I seek to do it. This is standing up to the problem, it’s empowering, and it makes me stronger (even when I don’t succeed!) It’s the act of facing the fear and having a go anyway. It is courage.

From “should” to “could” makes a world of difference. There is a gulf between “should” and “could” and a courageous decision to take action is the bridge.

Lex
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to post a comment below.


17

January

My handsome companion 

Sunday January 17, 2021

Here I sit, at the kitchen table, looking out to my best friend Half a Tree. I’ve written about him a number of times over the years I’ve been on Moodscope. In short, he and me have been pals for about 12 years. We step the days together and he’s fought hard to survive all that he has been through. He is all I need in a pal, he’s there. He’s there when I wash dishes, there when I chop, there when I write. He’s there during warm, light nights, he’s there in frost and storms, and there at dawn and dusk when I open, and close, the house to the day. 
 
Right now he is completely naked, and I’m not even blushing! He is in silhouette against a winter sky and together they make a perfect couple. His arms are outstretched, strong and inky black against the crisp, clear, end-of-day sky with hints of marshmallow pink inside its icy twinkle. 
 
And the best part? I sat to write this at 4.19pm (with mug of hot tea) and darkness had not fully arrived. Just a few weeks ago at this time I’d have had the blind and curtain drawn. The days are changing. All by themselves. We just need to patiently allow them. Bit by little bit. Look how far we’ve come! 
 
Look back sometimes – can you see your progress?   If you can’t, I bet you have friend or family who can see it.   
 
Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to post a comment below.


16

January

Frame of reference

Saturday January 16, 2021


Anticipating (correctly) that our cleaner would not be coming today as lockdown 3 was announced yesterday evening, I was doing some preliminary dusting in our bedroom this morning when I came face to face with a work of art I had not given a thought to for some time.

It is very easy to overlook this piece, approximately A4 in size, in what must once have been quite a splendid frame, gilded wood with crimson velvet, but now so faded that the red is barely discernible. The picture too is discoloured and dull, with not much of the original colour remaining. It is a tapestry of a parrot with a small bird with widespread wings at its feet and grapes and leaves. At the bottom are two initials and a date, faint but clear: 1830

It had belonged to my husband’s parents. After they both died, my husband being an only child, we triaged the contents of their house. Although I had intended to keep it, the picture was sent with other bits and pieces to an auction house, where it failed to sell and was returned. Although my husband suggested getting rid of it because of its lack of artistic merit, I put it on the wall in our bedroom.

When I looked at it more closely, I realised that what was framed was not tapestry but a template for a tapestry sampler, designed to be sewn over to make the picture. It was largely uncompleted, hence the dullness, but a few places had been filled in with black thread and tiny stitches: on the sparrow’s head, the parrot’s wings, half the first stroke of the first initial.

I know the story behind this from my father-in-law. The picture was given to him in gratitude by the family of his friend. They were aristocratic and lived in some splendour in Hungary until the Second World War. Despite both men serving in the Hungarian Army and thus fighting initially on the German side, later both were captured because they were Jewish. I don’t know any more about the exact circumstances of their mutually supportive friendship.
My father-in-law was liberated from a concentration camp. As often happened, the friend was used to locate mines – by walking ahead to identify a safe path for the following troops.

And that’s where the story, like the tapestry and this blog, ends.

Rose
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to post a comment below.


15

January

Is it so obvious?

Friday January 15, 2021


I heard my blogs described once as being about the obvious, but the obvious was not always obvious to others.

I hope that makes sense. I know my blogs are not deep and meaningful or full of big words  and complex ideas.

I have talked about wearing gumboots (wellies) and splashing in puddles, about watching toddlers learning to walk, about talking to machines, about feeling like a weed and many other simple topics.

Sometimes we overlook or avoid the obvious simply because it is always there staring us in the face. I am sure many of us have been looking for a solution when there was a simple one right in front of us.

Do you we take the obvious, the mundane, the domestic tasks for granted as we seek something that seems more worthy more highbrow? Complex ideas and words I do not understand are important, and I am glad we have such a variety of views on Moodscope.

When I first heard someone say my blogs were about the obvious or the simple things, I suppose I felt a bit defensive but I now see that is a good thing. I have mentioned my blogs as an example but would like the discussion to be a broader one about how you feel about the simple and the obvious and how sometimes we ignore something as it is too obvious.

In this world where everything is changing and getting complicated, I feel there is still a place for the obvious and simple things in life. Maybe you can think of a few examples.

Can you think of a time you forgot about the obvious whether it was a solution, thing, answer you were looking for and tell us about it? Do you think maybe we should look for a deeper way of expressing ourselves instead of the obvious?

Leah
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to post a comment below.


14

January

Retirement

Thursday January 14, 2021


A few people congratulated me on my retirement and I was totally mystified. I didn’t know what there was to congratulate me about this event. I discussed it with my daughter. She helped me to see the issue from a different perspective.

For three months I was in a liminal stage as I was only working one day a week for about one hour. I had been mentally preparing myself for this event, my retirement.

I wanted something to look forward to after I retired. I have found that my life has developed a distinct and different pattern. A friend stated that the two Lockdowns have enabled me to smoothly glide into retirement as I have been working from home using Teams while still supporting my students and to make contact with various people in the workplace. Also, I haven’t lost connection with some of my former colleagues.

I have enrolled on creative writing sessions and am thoroughly enjoying them. I have participated and completed an open learning course with the Open University. I have found time ’flying on wings like a dove.’ No sooner has the week begun, it is into the weekend. That has been slightly disconcerting. I have frequently said that ”time goes quickly when we are having fun” or are gainfully employed in un-stressful activity. It isn’t the same as being unemployed, there isn’t the stigma attached to the new stage in my life.

I need to develop new rituals and routines which are a necessary framework to my day. I realise that there is nothing to be worried about retirement.

Orange Blossom
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to post a comment below.


13

January

Ditch the Guilt

Wednesday January 13, 2021


I was on a Zoom call with some colleagues yesterday. It was a coaching call with one of our directors; exploring the emotions and beliefs in our lives that prevent us from being as effective as we might wish.

As we each talked through our current emotions and where we feel we are with our businesses and our lives, our coach pulled out at random, an advice card for each of us.

You can always find something useful in these cards – even if they don’t seem immediately to apply to your situation, but this time, most of them hit the nail on the head.

“Let go of Guilt,” mine said, with a charming illustration of an angel bearing flowers. “When you allow your light to shine brightly, you inspire others. Forgive yourself for what you think you’ve done or not done, and trust that you are loved unconditionally for who you are. Learn and grow from past mistakes instead of berating yourself for them.”

Jackie, our coach, has known me for nearly twenty years; she laughed. She knows that I am an expert at feeling guilty.

I feel guilty about not having a beautifully decorated clean and tidy home; I feel guilty about not having a more successful business; I feel guilty about not being a good enough wife and mother; most of all I feel guilty about my bipolar disorder.

Well, that’s not quite true. I know I cannot help my condition; none of us can. When life dealt us the cards, we got bipolar or depression; we must play the hand we’re given because we don’t have anything else.

It is not the condition itself which brings on my guilt, however; it’s the episodes of mania and depression and the effect they have on my family, my friends and my clients.

I always feel I should have managed things better. When people say to me, “You were running yourself ragged: you just wore yourself out; you shouldn’t have overdone it,” I take that on and feel guilty, though I know, even with medication, I cannot control the high energy of the mania. Now the fog of depression has cleared, and I can think again, I feel guilty for the time out; for letting people down; for the gaping holes in my memory, and the fact I still get tired: my strength and stamina have not yet returned.

This may all seem very familiar to you; I know I cannot be alone.

I’m going to take the advice on the card and let go of the guilt, and I’d invite you to do the same. We all do the best we can with what we’ve been given. It might be difficult to accept that we inspire others but for somebody, somewhere, we are an inspiration, and we are loved.

We all make mistakes – it’s called being human. Let’s take the lessons and forgive ourselves for those mistakes.

Guilt doesn’t help us; it only harms us.

Let it go.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to post a comment below.


12

January

Toxic people

Tuesday January 12, 2021


WARNING. If you feel we should always turn the other cheek, never retaliate, least said the better, don’t read on, this blog is not for the likes of you.
 
Hello my friend! Now is it just me, or has the pandemic given the opportunists, the predators and  sadists  some extra energy?

I am amazed at the supernatural way these types can smell blood. You’ve had a rotten day, depressed and tired - who comes crawling out of the woodwork but your favourite passive- aggressive, sarky, patronising little creep. Some worrying news, that could wait, just has to be imparted at 10.30pm as you are ready to crawl under the duvet.

Better still, why not catch you at 8am on Saturday morning as you wind down after a bad week?
 
Then there  is the “Computer says No” person, loves to frustrate your efforts to remain sane.
 
I know, I know, there have been many heartwarming stories of  kindness and sacrifice this year. Nice decent people are always in the majority. I have just heard  many tales lately of the other sort, people going out of their way to be insensitive, greedy, unkind. A friend  described her nasty sister to me “She’s the sort of person who wakes up to blue skies, birds singing and thinks who can I upset today?”
 
A particular thorn in my side is a  woman I am forced to have dealings with, no  choice. It would take too long to describe her spiteful ways and the people she has upset.
 
In the past I  tried to be friendly, but any little kindness was met with bitchiness. If I or anyone remonstrates, she feigns terminal  illness, or a death in the family. Her elderly mother has died at least 3 times.
 
Unfortunately she turned the spotlight on me again this year. Emails are circulated, questioning and scorning every decision or suggestion I make, calling me a liar, a bully. No foundation, just name-calling.

Her emails to me have been patronising, full of digs. Not responding to her provocation has taken a real toll on my health mentally and physically. I joke about her, but at night I’ve been lying awake, my mind full of  what I wanted to say, my guts a ball of acid. It has not helped that my partner is of the “Don’t rock the boat, don’t let her get to you” mindset. His family were silent martyrs, mine were pugnacious, feisty.
 
The last straw came. She heard I had roofing work done, and posted a good review for the one-man business. Naming me as a recommendation, she got him to quote, gave an order and cancelled the day before, leaving him badly out of pocket for the materials. When he remonstrated she laughed “Sue me” and hung up.
 
I sat down and wrote:
 
“I have a variety of your emails forwarded to me. It seems  because I don’t accept you riding roughshod over everyone, I am therefore an ogre. I cannot tell you how much pleasure it has given me, reading what you say, how much you resent me. If I thought for one minute that you see me as a kindred spirit, if someone like you had a single shred of admiration and respect for me, I would want to vomit . I could not bear to be the sort of person you would like. I am greatly relieved, because if you loathe me as much as you say, I must be getting something right. It has given me a real morale boost.
 
Also, it will be much quicker if in future you just send these emails directly to me. They all get passed on, with loads of rude words and  comments added. That  extra large print you use, all the underlinings, do such a good job of conveying your utter barminess. Thank you so much for giving us all a good laugh during these dark days.”
 
I  feel so much better, and had great feedback from those copied in. This was a month ago, not a peep from her since, so everyone is thanking me for that. How I wish I had acted sooner.
 
So comrades, is there someone now, or the past, who you would like to sock it to? You don’t have to send it to them, just to me. I would love to read it.

Val
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to post a comment below.


11

January


[To view a video of this blog post please click here: https://youtu.be/wahCRJe0kro]

Some people say, “Sorry!” an awful lot.

I can go one better, I grew up in Sorry… Dorking, Sorry to be precise.
Of course, the tourists call it, “Surrey,” but we locals know it as, “Sorry.”

Dorking, Sorry, is the epicentre of sorriness. Its mascot is a genetically-distorted Cockerel – with an extra-toe. Mutated and selectively bred for Cock-Fighting… sorry!

Joking aside (Surrey, after all, is very beautiful for the most part and I had an extremely privileged childhood even if I chose not to enjoy it!), joking aside, most of us say, “Sorry!” inappropriately, disempoweringly, and all too frequently.

The very lovely Linda Parkes (who I always call, “Linda Sparkes,” in my mind because she gives off so many smiley sparkles of joy) shared with me some magical transformations from “sorry” to something better. I thought we might try them for a spell.

These magic words were originally from an Instagram post, though the graphic was so tiny, I can’t read the source. If you’re out there, ping me and we’ll give you the credit due.

It’s called, “Stop apologising, start thanking!”

Thus…

“I’m sorry I’m late,” becomes, “Thank you for waiting for me!”

“I’m sorry for being so sensitive,” becomes, “Thank you for accepting me just the way I am!”

“I’m sorry I always mess up everything,” becomes, “Thank you for being patient!”

“I’m sorry that you have to bail me out so often,” becomes, “Thank you for always being there for me, and for supporting me. Your kindness is deeply appreciated.”

“I’m sorry for talking about me and my problems so much,” becomes, “Thank you for listening to me!”

“I’m sorry for being so difficult to love,” becomes, “Thank you for being so loving!”

“I’m sorry for being me,” becomes, “Thank you for being you!”

I love the way all of these shift the focus from us to them. They become the heroes, and that’s easy for both us and them to feel good about. If we focus on the problems that we’ve caused and they are helping us with, we stay stuck in the sorry-state of the issue at hand. When we shift to the solution they are supplying they can feel good… and we all remember how others make us feel.

That sounds like the perfect reason to share one of my favourite quotes from Maya Angelou…

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Make them feel great by saying, “Thank You!” (not, “Sorry!”)

Lex
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to post a comment below.


10

January

Bridges 

Sunday January 10, 2021


There are so many curious and wonderful bridges out there. From magnificent feats of engineering and architecture, adorning many a postcard (yep, I still send and love to receive them), to the fragile, wobbly ones that make your heart live in your throat. Then there are surprise ones, found on a walk, fashioned from any old bit of wood, placed over a burn, to help keep your feet dry and steady. 
 
The imaginary ones are extremely useful too. If you are feeling anxiety rise because of the latest rounds of news, you might find a bridge is useful. It can help create a little distance between living inside your thoughts and looking at them from a standpoint. 
 
Just picture your own bridge of dreams or bridge of practicality – in a glade, in a city, one you have commuted over, big or small, real or fictional. Then think of the words, phrases and images which are causing your anxiousness. Now, try to see them over the bridge, on the other side. Where you stand is where you are. Solid, rooted, safely on the bank. And where they are is distanced, on the other bank. You can be a witness to them, in fact you have to, there really is no getting away, they are part of this. But, whilst you are a witness, from this little distance, you can only watch. At some point you must accept that you need to walk on. It still will happen whether you watch or not, only now you can help by taking care of yourself.  
 
Keeping safe and helping comes in many guises. 
 
Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to post a comment below.


9

January

Magical cornflowers

Saturday January 9, 2021


Last autumn I was going for my weekly walk with two friends, and we were commenting as we walked on the beauty of the plants in some of our neighbours’ gardens. We came to a garden with an elderly couple both gardening, and stopped for a brief chat with them. I admired the cornflowers bobbing in the breeze. Many of them had already gone to seed and the seedpods were pretty too.

The lady told us to wait, then took a bag and put many seed heads from the plants into a plastic bag and gave them to me. I thanked her, not knowing really what to do with them, as we have a shady garden, apart from a little vegetable patch.

I went home and after a week or so decided that I would put them in the veggie patch as I had no other sunny spot. Then nature could decide whether to raise them for me.

This Spring (after a horrible year of fires) we have had the best rains in eleven years. I live in Australia, where rain is not taken for granted. All the seeds sprouted, and friends are now asking for seeds from “my” plants.

What a kind gardener that lady was, and how much joy she has brought. Those cornflowers remind me of my growing up in England, my family, my first home. Magical.

Paula
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to post a comment below.


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