The Moodscope Blog



They can't take that away from me. Friday December 8, 2017

Pre digital cameras, when you got your prints from the chemist the packet (and much publicity) had the phrase 'because someone took a picture'. Without this record, it would be difficult to remember that we built most of that house ourselves, the five children had a super time, always larks, impromptu parties and loads of visitors. The children are in their 50's, the house and garden are under the M25, but the memories live on.

The title is a Gershwin song from the 1930's, sung by all the most famous singers in their time. I've written about memories, their importance for me, loaded on a computer with a large screen, and appearing at random. A doctor who specialises in dementia says it is a brilliant way of communicating with sufferers, who cannot cope with albums.

The whole subject of photographs came up last week - visit of eldest son, complete with USB and CD of latest family occasions, grand-daughter wedding and brother-in-law 90th birthday, plus shire horses and a breed of sheep, of which the ram could be champion of the crumpled horn. We were then glued to the screen. Friendly battles ensued on pictures which could not be dated. I did it on dresses or hair styles; son had a fool-proof method, any number plate he could put a date to.

This blog has a serious warning and a plea. My brother in law is in a bad way – he's 91, still stubbornly living at home, rapidly losing sight, hearing and mobility. I've tried over the decades to persuade him to let me see his photographs – he has been a visiting professor in many countries, and took many pictures. They are all in boxes. He has a mentally ill son, a daughter and grand-daughter. If they do not insist on getting him to name the photos where he can, his whole life will be lost, no record except, I expect, an obituary in the 'Times'.

The saying 'every picture tells a story' is very true. Our record of the bicentenary of the French Revolution in 1989 is a glorious example. We wanted to watch the fireworks - we took a champagne picnic. Could get no nearer than the 5th bridge, already about 10,000 people on it. We were pictured on the central reservation. A police car tried to cross, we all stood up and did the Mexican Wave. Afterwards, on that warm July night, it was one giant street party.

I've kept a diary for 30 years, invaluable. Records now go on Facebook. This Christmas, as well as texting and watching soaps, dig in the family photos, and play the game 'Who was that, where was that', it's fun.

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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

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Fancy writing a blog for Moodscope? Thursday December 7, 2017

We are currently looking for members who would like to write a blog for the Moodscope web site.

If you have a story to tell, some advice to give or an experience to share, please start writing! Send your contribution to

We don't have many rules, but we do ask that your blog is 500 words or less and we prefer to steer clear of political or religious blogs.

If you have an idea and are not sure whether it's suitable for the web site, just ask us to take a look and we'll let you know.

All contributions will be reviewed and may be edited if necessary before publishing.

We'll let you know when we're sending your blog out so that you can reply to member's comments if you wish.

Time to start writing...

Kind regards.

Caroline Ashcroft
The Moodscope Team

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

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Mens Sana in Corpore Sano - Pars Quattuor. Wednesday December 6, 2017


"Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleeve of care. The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath. Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course, Chief nourisher in life's feast."

Yup – That's Shakespeare. It so very often is. That's from the Scottish Play. What is often forgotten in this quotation is that it comes immediately after the line, "Macbeth does murder sleep."

When I was in my mania periods, back in the bad old days before medication, I was rather proud of the way I could do without sleep. I could function for weeks on three and a half hours a night. I would cheerfully murder sleep.

Of course, the moment I came out of the high and slid down that garderobe slope into the dungeon of depression, I could sleep for seventeen hours a day; and frequently did.

Even recently I was still spending hours awake during the night. At three in the morning I would text friends all around the world. "I am concerned for your health," replied Raz, it being either 9am or 9pm for him. "You should be in the sweet embrace of Morpheus, not conversing with me."

I was unconcerned. So long as I could still function, did it matter that I did not or could not sleep?

But then I read of recent research which suggests that a lack of sleep could seriously shorten your life and certainly adversely affect your health. Turns out, old Will knew what he was talking about.

So, I started to develop a more disciplined sleep routine. I know this does not work for everyone, and I know that there are some (many?) of you who feel you have tried everything to get a good night's sleep and yet still you lie awake, tormented by your thoughts. I do not wish to patronise you with these ideas.

Our day as a family starts at 5.45am, when I stumble out of bed to wake the girls who are blissfully sleeping through their alarms. (How can they do that, if their alarms wake me at the other end of the house through two closed doors?) Working back from that, I try to be in bed by 10pm with lights out at 10.30pm. To facilitate this, the phone and computer get switched off at 9.30pm and I have a snack of slow release carbohydrates to stop me waking hungry in the night. A gentle wind down, warm shower and cosy pyjamas are all part of this process.

And no – it doesn't work all the time. It doesn't take into account evenings spent out. It doesn't account for that really good book I can't put down until my Kindle falls forward and bats me on the nose. It doesn't account for waking up at 1.30am for no good reason.

But it has worked enough for me to feel the benefits, and to recommend the regime to others.

What sleep routine would you recommend?

A Moodscope member.

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

18 comments - Permalink



Who am I? What am I? Where am I? Tuesday December 5, 2017

Don't worry, dear reader. I am not having an existential crisis! I know exactly where I am. It's an early evening and I am sitting on my well-worn leather sofa, dog by my side and beer at hand (low alcohol, I hasten to add).

What am I? Well, I also know the answer to that. I am a mother of two, plus dog, daughter, sister, partner (although God bless him, we only manage to meet up once a week), friend and in my professional life an adviser on employment rights.

Who am I? Well, I clearly am lots of different things to different people. And the real question that has been nagging me for some months is more not about not knowing who I am, but wondering when I have time to be me?!

Like many people, I am a wage slave with caring responsibilities, and finding time for me is scarce, but yet so important....

This is why I have found mindfulness such a helpful concept. It's learning to live in the moment, trying to focus on being in the present, and although it's a skill which may take a lifetime to master, it's one I want to learn.

Yesterday when parking up to drop my son off at the school disco, he pointed out a bird perching in a bush by the car. "What's that, Mum?", he asked. I squinted and saw a little Jenny wren right there, a yard in front of us. On explaining that this was the smallest bird in the British Isles he was very impressed, which just added to the pleasure of the moment.

I can't really answer the question I posed at the beginning of this blog. I wear many different hats. My responses and behaviour are shaped by my habits and experience gained over the years. What I do know that is that I need time for myself and I need moments of pleasure, like that brief glimpse of a wren in a bush, all 90 seconds of it.

I hope that today you find one small thing that either makes you smile or is comforting.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Two friends and one enemy: Could, Should, and Must. Monday December 4, 2017

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

For years, years I say, I have been banging on about the dangers of the words 'should' and 'must'. 'Should' and 'Must' have been my enemies - enemies of freedom and productivity. But one of them has just shifted from long-term enemy to firm-friend.

'Should' is a modal operator of necessity. It's a way of helping us understand the often hidden rules we live our lives by, and by which we judge our experience as good or bad, right or wrong, acceptable or unacceptable.

'Should' can be challenged with a great question:

"What would happen if I didn't?"

For example, a useful rule is that I 'should' ring my mother more often than I do... To test the value of this self-imposed rule, asking myself, "What would happen if I didn't?" then opens up a useful stream of thinking:

She may not feel loved
I would miss out on her news
We would weaken our bond.

Since I would like Mum to feel more loved, hear her news, and relish the opportunity to strengthen our bond, it would be a good move to call my Mother! The important difference to be made is to shift from the disempowering 'should' to the empowering word: 'could'!

Suddenly, there seems to be a more empowering option - to choose to call my Mum because I can (could), not out of guilt but rather out of love and in the quest for positive possibilities.

'Should' then, remains an enemy of the state - the state of freedom.

By now you must have guessed who my new friend is: 'Must'!

'Must' is a modal operator of necessity, equally as dangerous and challengeable as 'Should' but one that can be turned to good use. 'Must' can disempower or it can empower.

Let's take a rewriting of the Ten Commandments as our example. "Thou shalt not..." is actually very strong language. It is non-negotiable. It is absolute. And, unfortunately for many of us, it is archaic and thus open to misinterpretation. For most of us, 'shalt not' means 'shouldn't'... and therein lies a lot of trouble.

Listen to one of the commandments written in three ways, beginning with the archaic:

Thou shalt not commit adultery (archaic)
You should not commit adultery (interpreted as)
You must not commit adultery (new alternative form.)

Laying aside the 'shall not' for now, let's consider the difference between 'should' and 'must'.

If I should not commit adultery, that sounds to me like adultery is ill-advised, best not to commit it. However, there is the possibility of exploring the option.

If I must not commit adultery, that sounds to me like adultery is never an option, I must never, ever commit it. There is no possibility of entertaining it as an option.

I hope you agree.

'Must' then can be used to change my behaviour because it changes my options and possibilities. It takes the choice out of the equation. The negotiable becomes non-negotiable, and the energy wasted on choosing is saved because there is no choice.

Let me illustrate.

"I must not eat crisps." This is far easier than, "I should not eat crisps."

Smoking, drinking, swearing... you name it. The power to change is in the shift from 'should' to 'must'.

I recognise that this has the potential to transform your future, so let's start gently and in a manageable way with just three promises to yourself where you will move from the good idea of 'should' to the great action of 'must'.

Kurt Lewin, I believe, suggested that a goal we commit publicly to is a goal we are 10x more likely to achieve. Please feel free to commit publicly to your own 'must' goals in the comments below.

Now I must tidy the lounge...

A Moodscope member.

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

22 comments - Permalink



Tis the season (part i). Sunday December 3, 2017

I'm sending a weekly blog in December designed to soothe. Press pause. Reset. Help you pull away from what we think we should be doing. If you are at a difficult point in life and/or health, then this season might be almost unbearable.

From a mental health perspective, I find this time of year filled with feelings of heaven and hell. Heart spilling with love watching my eldest daughter lead her choir in a huge service in our cathedral, followed by silent sobs in bed overnight as I battle through fragmenting myself to help others and a realisation of utter loneliness. Why that dichotomy? It's because there are many things to enjoy about this season and they in turn can highlight what is missing.

Let's revolt! Turn away from the crippling excess. Return to valuing the special, the smaller the more significant. I think for those of us who suffer in our mental health, witnessing the excess of eating, drinking, spending, frivolity, lights and noise can be an extra body blow. We either throw ourselves into it, in an attempt to surf over the season, being buffeted and numbed in the process, or we withdraw even further and hold that weightiness upon our shoulders. We must feel we can stand aside from both.

And so how do we navigate? How do we care for that delicate balance? Well I'm going to attempt to bring you something soothing once a week. And to start I'll say that you are not alone, we will step through it together. If you haven't commented ever before, think about saying hi, it's a connection. That alone can be pivotal. You are not alone. And we will cross the stepping stones of the season bit by bit together. Sometimes we'll slip and sometimes we'll fall. But if we hold hands we can get there together.

Love from

The room above the garage, sticking out a hand.
A Moodscope member.

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

75 comments - Permalink



Feeling Cold. Saturday December 2, 2017

I've felt physically cold for two days and now I'm snuggled down with two hot water bottles and a teddy. This has given me time to re visit the Moodscope site. It has been nice to check in and see the familiar names, as well as a lot of names I don't recognise.

I've had a long break from Moodscope. As a result I wittingly put myself 'out in the cold' and increased my feelings of loneliness. Starting a new job six weeks ago, after nearly 8 and a half years in my previous job, also increased my feelings of loneliness. I don't really feel I 'belong' anywhere anymore. However I'm finding my way back to supportive places, such as Moodscope, and warm, comforting things around me at home.

Do you ever feel 'out in the cold?' Where do you find your warmth? Maybe if you are feeling down, or cold, today you can look for things around you which will warm you up a little. Who knows, you may even feel warmth down to your toes, like mine nestled on my hot water bottle!

Jane SG
A Moodscope member.

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

38 comments - Permalink



Not my favourite words. Friday December 1, 2017

I love words. I love reading words, I love writing words. I like mixing words up, I like listening to words. I like playing with words. I like speaking words out loud or saying them silently. I like word games.

However, there are a couple of words I hear in other people's vocabulary and sometimes in my own, that I do not like.

Now of course there is no law on what words you use unless they are deemed defamatory or swear words but there are a couple of words that I cannot find any positive use in them.

The first one is failure, even the sound of the word is sad. When you are depressed and feeling very low, you may say "I am such a failure" my whole life is a failure, every relationship I have is a failure. It is such a big all-encompassing word how on earth can you make it more manageable, make it less general and more specific. As I am naming words I don't like to use I should try to put something in its place. I of course can't and don't want to tell people what to say. Maybe you could narrow the word down.

Maybe saying I made a few mistakes in my last job, I had trouble keeping up at school, instead of saying I am total failure at life. How can you fail at life, it isn't an exam? At schools here, they don't even use the word fail but you have not met the requirements to pass - ok it may mean the same, but it does not sound as damaging.

So, looking at just one section of your life instead of calling it all a failure.

The other word that is not on my favourite is the word stupid. I am so stupid, you are stupid - what does it mean? What good does come out of calling people that word? If you are called or call yourself stupid it makes you feel you have no skills or talent and makes you feel worse.

I have never met a stupid person; some people have more skills in one area than others, but everyone has things they can do. I feel people are trying to say I made a mistake I did something silly, I want to learn from what I have done.

That narrows down the word and makes it more meaningful.

I will stop at two words that are not my favourites and hand it over to you.

Please choose one or two words that are not your favourite words.

Explain why you have chosen those words (excluding swear words) that you do not like to use, and what words we could use in their place.

A Moodscope member

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

71 comments - Permalink



Forgive them! You're joking! Thursday November 30, 2017

That would have been my response if asked whether I had forgiven those responsible for the depression I have suffered for the last decade.

Forgive Sami my Line Manager, who contributed most towards my downward slide? Having turned my life into years of misery, I know what I'd like to do with him and it doesn't involve forgiveness!

However, I soon realised more responsibility lay with our Director, Trevor. He knew what Sami was like and how he treated staff yet did nothing about it. He became the man to target.

However, I knew that Trevor was never up to the job and eventually my anger moved to Anna, the HR Director. Like Trevor she knew about Sami. Three of his staff had been on long-term sick leave, suffering from work-related stress, never to return. Like Trevor, she did nothing about it.

Things changed when it was my turn. I knew the rules and was prepared to take action, and take occasional sick leave to ease the pressure. In addition, retirement was less than four years away.

Two years on, my decision to make a formal complaint was met with the offer of a termination package. By then my health, and that of my wife, demanded I accept.

The organisational incompetence I had long suspected soon became evident as an agreement reached in early September, after numerous delays was approved in late December - but they had used incorrect figures. We were back to square one.

I walked out claiming sickness and, miraculously, the whole thing was resolved in 24 hours. By then I had a sick certificate until early January and retired four weeks later. Shell shocked, exhausted and with self confidence and self esteem in tatters I descended slowly into despair.

Forgive them, over my dead body! That is how it might have turned out but for reading an article on Forgiveness a few months ago. It offered some tips, including:

Forgiveness comes easy when you realise that what they say or do is about them not about you.

So I set about trying to understand why they acted the way they had. I analysed the behaviour of each one. After that it was easy.

Sami got the results his bosses wanted when he bullied people and was rewarded with promotion so why would he change? Trevor needed those results and, apart from being incompetent, was more concerned with strategic issues than staff welfare. The same is true for Anna who previously had only worked at Group HQ so had no experience at the sharp end of HR.

That still left the CEO Denise. She was guilty either for not asking why they needed to pay off a senior manager or for accepting the answer without question, but then she may have considered me collateral damage.

Once on paper I could see why it all went wrong. I'm not sure I have forgiven them but realise that given the individuals, their shortcomings and the situation the end result was almost inevitable.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Mens Sana in Corpore Sano – Pars Tres Wednesday November 29, 2017

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


Now – let's be honest, for some of us this is a dirty word, isn't it?

For some of us, double games at school was a nightmare; one to be dreaded, endured with grim stoicism and recollected with shudders.

But that doesn't mean we can get out of working this body of ours. I mean, if we were a piece of machinery –a car, for instance – we couldn't keep it in the garage for twenty years or so and expect it to start first time, could we? (Okay – so all of you who have watched Wood Allen's 'Sleeper' will say, 'Twenty years! I'd expect it to start after two hundred!' But that only happens if you're built by VW, darling!)

I'm sure we've all heard and read about the numerous studies which have shown that exercise is as effective as anti-depressants in moderate cases of depression. It's something to do with endorphins, I believe. Endorphins are those chemicals released into your body which give you a 'natural high'. Sadly, you can't buy them on street corners from slightly dodgy looking young men wearing baggy jackets with lots of pockets.

But – yes – reluctantly – we must accept that exercise is good for us. If we can do it, that is. When I was in my deepest depression and my friends (even friends here) recommended 'a brisk walk', I would raise my hollowed eyed face to explain that it was as much as I could do to walk to the bathroom and back. My trembling legs would not even take me to the end of the garden. When you're shaking like a jelly balanced on a jackhammer, exercise is a cruel impossibility.

But exercise as a tool in our chest of preventative 'medicines' is another thing. A good thing.

But what type of exercise?

I have a friend who plays tennis as often as she can. She loves being out on the courts, pitting herself against a competitor. Even when it's a friendly game, she likes to win. She plays netball too. She likes to exercise with other people.

But then, she loved games at school.

For some, exercise is a solitary – well – exercise. They like to compete against themselves only, pushing to run further or faster; or to row fifty more strokes in that same ten minutes.

For others, exercise is not about pushing one's limits, it is about relaxation, enjoyment, meditation.

If I cannot swim in the morning, I like to take myself out for a walk at lunchtime. I don't stride along at a great pace, swinging my arms and breathing deeply through my nose in an intentional fashion. Instead, I give myself time to appreciate my surroundings. Sometimes I will stop to take photographs of flowers or the view.

Working one's body may produce the 'high' that combats depression, but the meditative component, the beauty of the natural world seen while walking must play a part too.

I think so, anyway.

A Moodscope member.

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

21 comments - Permalink



Losing the Plot. Tuesday November 28, 2017

How did your mental illness first make it's presence felt? By which I mean, was there a point when you realised that you were not just a bit down, stressed, overworked, hormonal- whatever? A good night's sleep or a few drinks could no longer be counted on to lift your mood.

Did you struggle to cope a long time before seeking help, or were you dragged protesting to a doctor by a family member at the end of their tether?

I came into a life of chaos from birth, but for a long time I still felt that I had survived reasonably unscathed.

Looking back, the first changes were largely physical. "Yuppie Flu" was hitting the headlines, and although I did not fit the lifestyle profile, the symptoms were spot-on.

I found myself ruminating endlessly about the most absurdly trivial decisions - should I cook broccoli or cabbage for instance. Buying things became a misery-far too much choice. I embraced online and mail order shopping. I don't drive, I could never get the hang of it. Now however, I found myself becoming terrified as a passenger. Lorries in particular seemed thuggish and threatening.

Worse was the running commentary in my head. I was not hearing voices as such, it was the sound of my own thoughts. A non-stop monologue of scorn, self-hatred, derision.

I made a decision to shake myself out of it. Did I feel scared in cars because I had no control? Well, learning to drive could be the answer. I explained my situation to some extent to the instructor. He assured me that he had indeed got many middle-aged ladies through their test.

He turned out to be a horrible man, shouting in exasperation, telling me to shut up and do as I was told. He made me drive to a notorious accident spot near the city, and do a right-hand turn. When I froze, with cars honking all round me, made me change places, and drove home at breakneck speeds hands off the wheel, shouting "Speed is good". Princess Diana had been killed the day before.

I was too traumatised to lodge a complaint. He actually did me a favour as it turned out. The next day I washed and polished the floor. I stood back, at least I could do something well. I opened a cupboard and a bottle of ketchup smashed to the ground. The voice – "You can't even do that properly" over and over. I went to the wall, and started banging my head, hard. I wanted to lose consciousness, I wanted to punish myself.

I went to my G.P and begged for Prozac - very much the in thing at the time. I did not realise how deeply depressed I had been until the illness started to lift. To me, depressed people lay in bed, not eating, not participating. I was not like that. I was just a worrier by nature, wasn't I? No, I was very ill according to my G.P, who questioned me about suicidal thoughts. "I don't want to die" I said "I just take no pleasure in being alive".

So,that's my story. I am still in love with my little green and white saviours, my Vitamin P.

So, over to you.

A moodscope member.

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

35 comments - Permalink



Now Here's A Thing. Monday November 27, 2017

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

This is a quickie - but not for everyone. It's just for those of us who 'talk' to objects! My head is so often in the clouds that I quite frequently don't look where I'm going. The result is that I get 'assaulted' by door handles, 'evil' chairs, and just about any obstruction that is hell-bent to doing harm to my body.

My reaction is to treat the inanimate object as if it 'did' this to me!!! And as if it did it to me deliberately! Trust me, this does not lead to a positive mindset!

Yes, it's as ridiculous as it sounds... but I'm not alone, am I? Do you get cross with inanimate objects? Do you talk to them as if they deliberately hurt you? Hey, do you go further and swear at them and punish them like Basil Fawlty?

Dare I say it, "Do you have a naughty computer?"

If your answer is 'Yes!' to any or all of these, I'm developing a new strategy that is lowering my stress and raising my levels of joy! Would you like to hear more?

The strategy involves pinching a saying from Jim Steele and using it out of context. When I worked alongside Jim, years ago, I was tickled by his use of the phrase,

"Now here's a thing..."

Jim used this to great effect to draw people's attention, almost hypnotically, towards a key learning point in our workshops.

Well, there's something I need to learn! This is that inanimate objects don't have personalities and they are most certainly not out to get me!

May I Interrupt Myself?

When we practice an unhelpful pattern in our lives, it only gets stronger. These kinds of patterns need to be broken... interrupted. If you are not in the habit of ascribing malicious intent to inanimate objects, this part of the blog will still be relevant because any pattern that doesn't serve you must be broken.

Here's what I do.

I interrupt my pattern.

Every time I'm 'attacked' by evil door-handles, or spitefully delayed by my 'stupid' computer, I say to myself, "Now here's a thing..."

By calling each object a 'thing' - I've managed to get some perspective, some self-control, AND to stop losing my temper quite so much.

It might just work for you too!

Now there's a thing!

A Moodscope member

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

21 comments - Permalink



Worry. Sunday November 26, 2017

'Why worry, there should be laughter after pain
There should be sunshine after rain
These things have always been the same
So why worry now
Why worry now.'

Dire Straits - Why Worry.

This song is in my head. I don't seem to worry about the usual things, like getting old, crime, how I look, my job, money... In fact, I'd say I'm actually quite chilled out about that stuff.

I worry about the little things and sometimes they whizz around my head, especially if I'm on my own. Recently I've taken up meditation to help calm my mind, I'm not great at the routine yet but on the days I remember, it's definitely calming me.

I worry I sleep too much
I worry I don't sleep enough
I worry about what I said
I worry about what I didn't say
I worry that I'm really ill
I worry other people are ill
I worry when I've posted on social media
I worry when I read other people's posts on social media
I worry my friends don't really like me
I worry about being on my own
I worry about socialising
I worry we're not going out enough
I worry I'm not running enough
I worry I'm running too much
I worry my running will turn to self harm
I worry I am doing too much
I worry I'm not doing enough
I've bought a book called the 'worry trick'
I worry I've got too many books.

A Moodscope member

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

16 comments - Permalink



Hello. Saturday November 25, 2017

Today's blog is for those of you who feel so bad you cannot express just how bad you feel. You want to stay in bed all day, or watch TV and not speak to a soul or if you have no-one to speak to, feel miserable at being alone.

Now I know Moodsope is here to lift our spirits on a daily basis and it does this very well, but I sometimes feel that there may be many people out there for whom the uplifting blogs pass them by. The content of the blog is just too complicated and exhausting to think about, and try as you may, you find it impossible to relate to, let alone think of a post to write in reply.

This blog is for all of you.

There are so many advantages to being a part of Moodscope, without reading the daily blog. (Although, I hope you are reading this one!)

Here are three:

1. You are welcomed here however bad, happy, sad, you feel.
2. You are part of a group of friends who share the same problems, a sort of community who is here to help each other.
3. Doing the cards as often as you can really does help your mood, even if you get a lower score than is usual for you.

Now on scale of one to ten how are you feeling today?

No complicated, deep replies today please. You can even growl or just say "Yuk!" or "one!". Those who are happy, shout "10!"

But if you haven't the energy to get past the robot today, please accept a big hug and a "Hi" from me.

The Moodscope Team

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

69 comments - Permalink



Oh me, oh my! Friday November 24, 2017

I heard a line, a magnificent line, that I cannot claim to be mine. But it struck such a chord with me that I wanted to squirrel it away and share it here with you.

"I was climbing up a ladder that was leaning against the wrong wall."

Boom. Did that strike anything within you?

It's a line that can be applied to so many areas in our lives whether it be work, learning, socialising, reading, mental health, fitness, relationships or even just our relationship with the food and drinks we meet.

"I was climbing up a ladder that was leaning against the wrong wall."

Maybe you will give those 13 words a little time today when you are commuting, making a cuppa or visiting that littlest, favourite room of mine.

Is your ladder leaning on the right wall? We might need this printed and wear t-shirts. (My auto correct just removed the last 'r' and gave me a belly laugh!)

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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Gilt - Ignore it, live with it or purge it. Thursday November 23, 2017

This was written in September – my life has totally changed since then, and I am struggling with guilt. My husband is now in a permanent home, and every time I see him, and the state he is in, I think I should have done something, could have done something to motivate him over the last few years. Everybody assures me I did all I could. Only reference to my diary can help, where the daily log details the deterioration, and that everything possible was done.

The picture is germane to the subject. In Pondicherry, India, the Cluny sisters took us on a tour of the whole gamut of human suffering. The young man in the picture was dying of AIDS. The picture was painted by another young man who had recently died of the same malady. There was (may still be) a form of Evangelism in the USA, said to have 50 million followers, who said that sufferers from AIDS should not receive any medical treatment, as it was only a punishment for their sinful lives. In the middle ages lepers were given extreme unction, sent outside the town walls and forbidden to return.

I have managed to 'purge' some deep-seated guilt. When my parents separated (I was 16, an only child) I stayed with my father, and had no contact with my Mother. The guilt lasted a long time – until I realised that the bitterness between them was so acute that whoever I stayed with I would have been estranged from the other. I could not 'go it alone' as I would have been put into care. Only now, estranged from our youngest child, I can feel the agony my mother must have gone through. I have searched my soul endlessly to see 'where we went wrong' with our daughter. Now, it seems that she is intolerant and unforgiving by nature.

Much later, we moved to France, and got a lot of 'stick' for leaving the 'old country' while our mothers were still alive. They both lived to 100; we would have been too old to have made the move if we'd waited. I did feel guilty about 'abandoning' my mother, but she was in excellent sheltered accommodation, a sister nearby and lots of grand-children, and we visited at least 5 times a year. Between no longer being able to live alone and going into a home eldest son and his wife took her in, I am eternally grateful.

On the international front, before the Iraq war, the USA was badgering France to join in. France did not think it a 'just war'. The USA tried playing on the emotions, that France had been 'saved' from the Nazis, mostly by US power. Chirac asked if France had to be grateful for ever, even to doing what they saw as wrong.

My current guilt? Ephemeral. Playing too much Solitaire, an addiction to doughnuts and drinking at lunchtime. But I am sure many of us let guilt build up, unable to forget or 'atone'.

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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

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Mens Sana in Corpore Sano – Pars Duorum. Wednesday November 22, 2017


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

A word before I start. When I was deep, deep in depression, all I could face was comfort food, especially toast (see Winter Comfort – 16th December 2016). If you are in that phase, be gentle with yourself. This blog is probably not for you just now, but it may be useful when you start to feel a bit better.

On October 27th this year, I stopped drinking alcohol.

Not forever – at least, I don't think it's forever - but until Christmas at least.

Do I feel better for it? I don't know. I'm sure my liver feels better for it and I certainly feel more virtuous! I must confess it has not been easy and I have had to remind myself on several occasions that the first glass is the only one I can resist.

The alcohol consumption was not the only thing to change. I also adopted a low carbohydrate diet. When we discussed nutrition at my last bipolar group meeting, a couple of the long-term members who are dealing with their condition at least semi-successfully, recommended a low carbohydrate diet. (They also recommended a high fat content too – but until my tummy has retreated to a more acceptable size, I'm not quite ready to take this on).

The reasoning behind this decision is that carbohydrates, especially the "white" carbohydrates (sugar, white flour, sugar, potatoes, rice and sugar – oh – did I mention sugar?) give an immediate "lift" as they are very easily converted into energy. Unfortunately, unless we are running a marathon at the time, we cannot use this energy, so the insulin in our bodies converts it into "long term energy" - i.e. fat – and our energy levels crash, with a resulting emotional drop too. Not co-incidentally, we also get a craving for more sugar. Some research has suggested that sugar is as addictive as cocaine. (I do not however intend to personally test this out).

The results of this change in diet have been noticeable. Firstly, I have lost 7lbs in four weeks, which gives me an emotional boost regardless of anything else. I have also noticed a feeling of "lightness" in my body. There is no sense of bloating or sluggishness after meals, and I feel satisfied for longer. This varies day to day of course, and just this morning I have needed a piece of fruit to take me through to lunch. (For all you strict people out there, natural sugars found in fruit do not count – as they are surrounded by fibre.) I definitely have more energy and (early days for this, but I'm hopeful) I seem to be sleeping better.

Heath is a jigsaw. Nutrition is just one of the pieces, but an important one. As one person said last week in the comments (I paraphrase), "If I eat rubbish, I feel rubbish." The advice out there is to eat a "rainbow" – and so this jigsaw piece, nutrition, is most definitely not white!

What are your thoughts?

A Moodscope member

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

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Sleep. Tuesday November 21, 2017

Lex wrote recently about waking up in the night, and ruminating on forgiveness.

I go to bed about 11pm, read for a little while, feel tired drop off to sleep, then wake between 3/4am and cannot get back to sleep again.

I have several cd's which are supposed to get one back to sleep again, but not me. They all promise the more you play them the more you will get a sleep pattern going, but not me!!!

I've read various so called Sleep experts. I don't drink anything with caffeine, nor drink after 9pm. I don't drink alcohol (it doesn't agree with me) it must be nearly 50 years ago I tried but it doesn't like me, my father was the same. I don't smoke, never got the hang of it, my mother was a chain smoker. I don't watch TV in the bedroom.

Unfortunately I can't have a nice warm bath, as I can't get in the bath anymore - last time I slipped, fell out and hit my head on the toilet!

I do suffer with Tinnitus, which makes it hard to sleep. I have tried various Cd's recommended by experts, but I am sure they don't suffer, because the noise is excruciating.

I go to sitting exercises and have now started lying in bed during the night doing some, also eye exercises trying not to wake my husband (haven't done so far), I do find it stops my mind wandering, but I still need more sleep!

I feel I am doing all the right things, but it's not working. So if anyone out there has any suggestions to help me sleep I'd be very grateful.

A Moodscope member.

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

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SSDD. Monday November 20, 2017

Yes, it's a rude acronym.

It means:

Same Sh*t, Different Day

...and it was used to great effect in Stephen King's movie, "Dreamcatcher."

Frankly, if this is your truth - that your life seems stuck in a loop of 'same sh*t, different day' (and let's face it, it's the truth for most of us), you and I need to do something about it. I'm up for a change, are you?

Fortunately, there are tons of actions we can take once we know what to act on.

You see, the life you and I are experiencing is not an Island Life.

We are the fruit of our external environment AND our internal state.

Both can be changed.

Your environment matters - so make adjustments.

Your psychological state matters - so make adjustments.

The Power of Three

If there were three things you could change in your external environment, to improve your quality of life, what would they be?

Here are some ideas:

A change in your diet
A change of location
A shift in your rhythm each week
A change of decor and fixtures to celebrate the fact that you are a biological entity. E.g. natural light or daylight balanced lighting, ergonomic furniture, better ventilation.
A change of habit - such as walking in Nature more often
A change in the company you keep
Walk down a different street
Pick More Daisies.

What would your three be?

If there were three things you could change in your internal environment - your character, thought-life, values, and emotions - to improve your quality of life, what would they be?

Here are some ideas:

Have less rules (parents of large families learn this one quickly!)
Be less judgmental
Be more forgiving
Take yourself less seriously
Slow down and become more mindful.

The most exciting truth is that...

If you change anything, you change everything! [Which is WAY more encouraging than the standard, "if you keep on doing what you've always been doing, you'll keep on getting the SSDD.]

A Moodscope member.

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

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How not to write a blog. Sunday November 19, 2017

Do not and I repeat not do any of the following if you want to write a blog.

Firstly, have over 50 different ideas.

Secondly do not think that any of the ideas you have are worthy of the blog.

Go and search for the scraps of paper you have scribbled on all your ideas and thoughts.

Start getting annoyed because you can't find those precious pieces of papers.

As you are about to ask (maybe shout at) you partner because you can't find it, you remember you put it in a plastic bag in your t-shirt drawer.

After finding out you can't read any of your ideas and the ones you can are silly, you decide to have a large slice of chocolate cake but then you remember you don't bake or buy cake.

You think cooking will give you inspiration

You start to make a cake but give up as you don't have all ingredients.

You eat packets of salted cashews hoping this would be inspiring.

It has been an hour and you have not written one word.

You notice your clothes hanging up on a rack as you have no wardrobe, look messy so you pull all the clothes onto your bed. You start sorting into 2 piles, keep or throw out. Soon you get tired so you go back to writing.

You decide you have no more blogs in you and maybe you should try to learn to draw.

You decided you need space so you put it aside for a week or two.

You hope your mind will think of a theme in that time.

In fact, hope is what stops you giving away your shelves of how to write books that mock you every day.

Every idea is dismissed as it is silly, been done before or you have written about it before.

You used to boast about never running out of ideas and that you can write about anything.

So, you decide to go to bed but the kitchen is a mess with ingredients all on the bench, all your clothes are on your bed.

So, you throw all your clothes on the floor and lie awake all night worrying you will never have a good idea again!

That is how not to write a blog!

Do you have instructions of how not to do something from personal experience? Or what strategies do you use when you find you can't do something you normally do?

It can be writing, cooking, exercise, sewing, woodwork, remembering things, planning, really anything you once did well but now struggle with.

A Moodscope member.

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

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