The Moodscope Blog

14

April

What a Woman Really Wants

Wednesday April 14, 2021


A young prince was kidnapped by an evil enchanter. His captor agreed to release him on one condition, he must answer the following question: what does a woman really want? He had a year to answer before his life was forfeit.

The Prince travelled far and wide, asking everyone he met, but nobody could tell him. On the last day of the year, he came across an old hag who promised to give him his answer on one condition, that he marry her.

The prince was by this time desperate and agreed to her price.

“What every woman wants,” she said, “is to have her own way.”

The prince immediately knew this was the correct answer and that his life was spared. But now he had to marry this hideous woman.

On his wedding night, entering the royal bedchamber, he discovered a beautiful maiden waiting for him. Because he had married her, she told him, the spell making her ugly had been partially lifted. She could now reveal her true beauty, but only half the time. Which did he prefer, a beautiful wife by day, or by night?

The prince, however, had grown wise during his travels and smiled. “You must do as you please,” he said.

“Thank you,” she said. “Then I choose to be beautiful all the time.”

There is a moral to this story, which I will come to, but let us consider for a moment.

This story is not about women but about all of us. We all have a need for autonomy; to do things our own way; to have choices in life. A study carried out into the health of British Civil servants during the 1970s concluded that, after all other factors had been accounted for, those employees with little control over how they did their jobs had a higher rate of heart attacks – and indeed, general bad health — than those who had more freedom in how they performed their tasks.

The feeling of powerlessness is dangerous to our health and certainly to our state of mind.

My parents-in-law, now in their nineties, have reached the stage where it is no longer possible for them to live independently; things must now change. Because we love them, we want them still to have as much choice as possible, we want them to have their own way, even though their ways forward are few.

Some of us have a large amount of freedom to choose and, for some of us, those freedoms are restricted. It can be useful, however, to focus on the freedoms we do have. Can we choose what to wear each day, choose to drink coffee or tea, choose to read or to watch TV? Even when we feel we have little control in life, we can have our own way in the little things.

As for the moral of the story, it’s simple: if you don’t give a woman her own way, things will get ugly!

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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


13

April

Adventures with Priadel

Tuesday April 13, 2021


Priadel, I see, is about to be discontinued in April. Having been on a low dose of this drug for over twenty years, I have to thank the medication for allowing me to live an interesting and full life during that time.

Throughout this period I was able to teach in a number of schools including a famous girls public school and as Head of Physics in a comprehensive school in Cornwall. This last was my downfall when I succumbed to a nervous breakdown and had to retire from teaching. A small pension gave me the chance to do some serious sailing and I eventually found myself visiting some remote islands in the South Pacific on a cruising yacht. What a revelation these isolated communities gave me. Sometimes they’re numbered less than fifty inhabitants living by subsistence on fishing and home grown crops. I have written a book “Drifting Away” which describes my seven years living with Bipolar on a sailing yacht travelling halfway round the world.

Eventually the onset of kidney disease meant I had to give up Priadel and return to England. Subsequently I tried to manage without any medication and as usual with Bipolar I suffered long stretches of depression with brief manic periods. I was nervous of any other medication because of side effects.

My GP tried to persuade me to go to a psychiatric hospital. When I refused I was arrested by the police and taken to the nearest police station. They took me to a police cell and locked me in. This was the procedure in those days and it was very frightening on my own in my confused state. Seven hours later a police surgeon came to interview me in the cell to try to persuade me to accept my illness and need to go to a psychiatric hospital. In the middle of the night I was transferred to a cage at the back of a police van, being transported to the local hospital, Cold East.

Now it was very obvious to me that admitting myself voluntarily would avoid being sectioned. Having a room to myself with locked windows, I refused all medication and was mercifully not forced to take any. By this time, after all the stress I had been subjected to, my mood flipped becoming manic with some psychotic symptoms. Although still ill the doctors must have thought there was no point in keeping me in hospital, my having refused treatment. They gave me a prescription for a drug, olanzapine, hoping I would change my mind.

I went to the local council and said I was going to be homeless. That day, after a long interview, when they ascertained from my doctor that I was mentally ill, they found me a static caravan in Warsash to stay in. By then my mood reverted to depression again and I finally took the medication. I’m now on Quetiapine and Aripiprazole and I’ve never felt so well.

Jacqueline
A Moodscope member.

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


12

April

Prophecy

Monday April 12, 2021


[To listen to an audio version of this blog post please click here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1396123/8303690 and to watch a video, please click here: https://youtu.be/cDMnD7yee9U]]

One of my favourite wisdom sayings is the answer to the question, “When is the best time to plant a tree?” The answer is, “Twenty years ago.” The next question is, “OK, so when is the second-best time to plant a tree?” The answer, of course, is, “Today!”

Seeds growing through to fruition fascinate me. So do dreams. Mine are surreal. Nevertheless, I can usually trace the ‘seed’ of each surreal element back to something I’d been thinking about during the day. My thoughts created the basic elements for my dream.

This has convinced me that what we think about, what we say, and what we do become the essential elements of what we become. What we think|say|do today will be the tree of tomorrow – our future selves. In this sense, the think|say|do combination is a prophecy – more a forthtelling than a foretelling, or a mix of the two.

If I have a part to play in creating my dreams of the night, why wouldn’t it be true that I have a part to play (though not total control) of creating my dreams in Life?

And if this is true, what could I think today, what could I say today, and what could I do today to create a better tomorrow?

I’ve been videoing an insightful professional psychotherapist. In the first video, “Overcoming Depression,” he offers many practical ways to move forward. None of them are big steps. His core message is ‘movement’ – to do something simple. His examples include baking a cake, mowing the lawn, doing the washing up, walking the dog… tiny, easy, physical movements. Each of these becomes a seed to grow into a more confident person who begins to feel greater degrees of freedom.

One of the great values in taking tiny steps is that, if there is a setback, it’s just a step back – a tiny step back to reset our expectations, learn, then try something else.

Holding on to the thought that way we think, say, and do today will influence the future, what would you choose to think, to say, and to do today to head in a direction you’d prefer?

Perhaps, in part, we can prophesy our own future…

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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


11

April

A friend came along 

Sunday April 11, 2021


William is my friend.  We’ve been talking since last September.  Six months I realise! We’re at opposite ends of the country, and our chances of meeting are non-existent. That, and the fact that he doesn’t have my number. I have his and, for his safety and mine, I withhold my number when I call. One of my volunteering roles was adapted during the pandemic and I started a telephone befriending role with William. He is an isolated older gentleman. No family, he lives alone.  
 
I started the role with no expectations and what has grown has been precious. He’s become much more than just my volunteering purpose, he has become my friend. I cannot think of my week without him. We catch up, we talk about what we’re having for tea, how we loved Terry & June (an old sitcom on TV here in the UK in the 1980s). He shares with me when he’s worried about his health and he has told me some ancient family secrets involving all the things that every family has – babies born years and years ago, out of wedlock, sorrows as well as the happy stuff. Then, with thought, he always asks after my family, and not just out of politeness but out of interest. Is my youngest daughter coping better with her ‘friends’? How has my week been? He keeps an eye on what weather I’m having. 
 
I worried hard the day he didn’t answer our weekly call. All day, no reply. Into the evening, no reply. Late on, I called through to the support contact I have, and she said she would alert her senior. Last thing before I slept, I finally spoke to him and he’d had a difficult day of unintended hospital tests where he’d had to drive between hospitals. His day had projected long. I realised then that he had become precious to me. And I’d be lost without him. 
 
Talking over my troubles with him is not what I’m there for. He doesn’t (yet) know about my lifelong struggle with depression. And he has no idea that he helps fight it with me. I’m sure it's not always like this, I just got really lucky.  Thank you William.  My treasured friend. 
 
Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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


10

April

They also serve

Saturday April 10, 2021


This blog came from the experience of not being wanted. Stop! Rewind: actually it’s about not being required!

During the first lockdown last year retired doctors like me were requested by the government to assist in the national struggle against covid-19. I was more than happy to apply. I relished the thought of being useful and the buzz that would come from being part of a clinical team in a healthcare setting again.

I retired in less than ideal circumstances more than a decade ago, early on mental health grounds, after battling to stay at work despite bipolar depressions and long absences. There was nothing to mark my exit, as I made the decision to leave during a period of sick leave and thus my last day at work turned out to have been some months earlier.

Although it wasn’t my fault, I felt guilty about ‘dropping out’, mainly on the grounds of unfulfilled potential which equated to ‘didn’t try hard enough’ and therefore was my fault! I’ve always tended to minimise the consequences of my own mental ill health, probably because my parents always did. And I achieved, despite experiencing much of what psychiatry had to offer from my teens onwards.

I have been well for several years and still feel capable. So I welcomed the call for retired doctors to come forward, with its hint of redemption. I was contacted almost immediately, gave my details and waited. I’m still waiting! (As are three quarters of the doctors who applied then).The inescapable conclusion must be that I’m past it, obsolete – which makes everything I did when I was working seem inconsequential, as if I needn’t have bothered for all the good it did.

Then I put things into a more realistic perspective. I know I had the potential to achieve more in my job, but for potential to be realised other things have to be right and not all of them were. The majority of applicants were not used: they couldn’t all be bad. Anyway, superwomen are not normal. Things actually get done by team effort and job satisfaction comes from being part of a team. Add a sprinkling of insight, a drop of (self) love and a dollop of acceptance and you can sail (or crawl) through.

There’s a poem by Milton, ‘Ode to his blindness’, which I have recalled in some low spots. It speaks to anyone laid low by age or illness or circumstance – anyone who can’t reach their potential. Milton went blind in his old age and was able to do very little in comparison with his sighted self. The last line, as he comes to terms with his changed situation, is ‘... they also serve who only stand and wait’.

Rose
A Moodscope member.

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


9

April

Can you teach Empathy?

Friday April 9, 2021


Lately some politicians in my country have had trouble with how they relate to the opposite sex. One man who had been accused of calling women names that were not pleasant on social media was told to take lessons in empathy training.

I know this is a serious matter but how can someone represent his electorate and reach the age of 40 plus and not know that calling people names is not a helpful thing to do.

I wonder what empathy training entails and how does one become an empathy trainer and what qualifications and or training does one need. I know that mood scope members are full of empathy. I wonder if anyone here knows about what empathy training is and what an empathy trainer does. Is it just me or does anyone else think there is something strange with our society if we need training to be kind to others?

I have read that empathy training is to create healthier workplaces and communities. Empathy is the ability to understand the feelings of another - and respond appropriately. Empathy according to one course outline is learning to care.

Does anyone worry that we need to learn how to care about others?

Many people, including opposition MPs, women’s advocates and psychologists were immediately sceptical. If someone needs to take a course on how to be empathetic, surely something fundamental is missing, which no amount of training can fix? I am dubious about empathy training - it has all the signs of a human resources fad.

What do you think? I am not sure if other countries have empathy training in the workplace or for wayward politicians.
Can empathy be taught? What do you think would be in a training course for empathy?

Leah
A Moodscope Member.

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


8

April


‘When did it become okay for me to neglect me? And even worse, when did it become okay for me to joke about my own neglect?’

This is a quote from Dr Kelly Wilson, an American professor of psychology. I gasped when I read it. What a question: When did it become okay for me to neglect me? And yes, I do joke about it. I entertain my friends about my very own lack of self-care:

‘I’m so busy, I forgot to eat. Well, I did eat if you count two snickers, three coffees and a packet of jam rings.’

or

‘I’ve no time to get my hair cut or highlighted, sure what’s the point? Who on earth would be bothered looking at me?’

And so on… playing the humorous mum martyr card and well, firstly, it’s not that funny and, secondly, how on earth can I teach my children about self-care if I don’t practice it myself?

When I first separated, ten years ago, I was struggling with two young children, a stressful job, a painful mediation process and trying to find somewhere new for us to live. I was desperately sad yet I kept up a happy front for my children. I bottled up all my feelings and concentrated on being the best mother I could be. Self-care was not a term I knew or understood. 

The very first time I heard it in fact was at an open AA meeting. A friend of mine asked me to accompany her and, wanting to be supportive, I went along. There was a woman who shared her experience of recovery and a tiny detail of her story struck a chord with me. 

This woman spoke of her hectic morning routine. It was exactly like mine. Waking my children, getting them dressed, teeth and hair brushed, getting their breakfast, making their lunches, grabbing coats and shoes and getting into the car and off to school. And throw into the mix the odd tantrum or lost gym bag or forgotten homework! She talked of her sobriety and how she had begun to do one small thing for herself: sitting down for five minutes each morning with her children. Why? Because she deserved breakfast. This blew my mind!! I never had time for breakfast!

The very next morning, while the kids were munching their cereal and I was standing making sandwiches, I suddenly sat down at the table with a cup of tea and a piece of toast.
‘Mum, what are you doing?’ my daughter asked.
‘Is your tummy sick?’ my son asked.
‘No, I said. ‘I’m having my breakfast.’
They shrugged. And that was that. 
My very first introduction to self-care. 

So, fellow Moodscopers, here are my teeny tiny suggestions:
Don’t neglect your lovely self.
Don’t joke about neglecting yourself.
Be kind and respectful to your mind and your body.
Buy those flowers / hand-cream / body wash / good coffee etc etc etc
And take some time to sit down and have your breakfast - you deserve it!

Salt Water Mum x
A Moodscope member.

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


7

April

Is Happiness Even Possible?

Wednesday April 7, 2021


My blog last week was about chipping away at those small frustrations and irritations that stand in the way of our happiness. I likened this to the work of a sculptor, releasing a beautiful statue from the block of marble in which it is imprisoned. This week I am looking at whether there is a statue inside that marble block to be released in the first place.

Can we be happy? Is the state of “Happy” merely an unobtainable dream?

Some interesting research has been done with people who have won the lottery and those who have sustained life-changing injuries. The findings are that people who win the lottery are happy for a few months but then, over time, their happiness returns to the level it was before they won. Where people have their lives negatively impacted by injuries or illness, they report deep unhappiness to begin with but then, as they adjust to their new situation, their former levels of happiness return.

That is the research. Our own experience may be different, and we have all heard tales of “This or that happened, and he hasn’t been the same man since.” Statistical evidence, however, suggests that we all have a certain level of happiness which is our “norm” and that, while events may temporarily affect it, inevitably we will return to that norm.

So, what is your norm, and would you say it is fairly constant?

I like to think I am a happy person, with an optimistic outlook. It is the physical symptoms of depression that drag me down — the chemicals in my brain. I see this clearly when I suffer a migraine. The neurological aura before the pain and nausea hit has identical symptoms to those I experience in my depressive episodes. When the migraine or depression lifts, I return to “normality.”

A question was posed in a Facebook group of which I am a member: “What makes you happy?” There were many answers: “Being with my family,” “Playing with my grandchildren,” “Gardening,” “Walking in Nature,” “Crafting all day.” I smiled at the last – this is a crafting group after all.

I realised that, for me, it is being outside myself – whether because I am with friends, focussed on them; or writing – concentrating on the words and the story or concept behind those words; or – yes – crafting, as I am totally involved with the project I am creating. It is sometimes referred to as being “In the Zone.”

There are also those moments of pure joy when you are with a loved one and it seems that you are in touch with the universe because in that moment, the two of you are one.

If you do not have close loved ones or family; if you do not have intimate and trusted friends, or absorbing interests that take you outside yourself, can you be happy?

I don’t know. What do you think?

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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


6

April

Avicii

Tuesday April 6, 2021


In 2018 a popular musician, known as Avicii, killed himself. At that time I too was suicidal.

I was so envious.

He'd achieved that sweet release that I had both craved, and fought against daily.

I wanted to not exist so badly, and yet Avicii's death actually opened the door to my staying alive. I chose to think that I had taken my own life on the same day as him, and each day I would reflect on what I would have missed had that been so.

At first it didn't feel as if I had missed anything, but then, day by day, I noticed and tallied a hug from my children, a sunny day outside, the smell of dinner cooking, the sound of laughter. Tiny moments in the scheme of things, yet I was thankful for them.

Most days I began to see more tiny pleasures, and they helped to push away the darkness that had enveloped me. I no longer wanted to die. This virtuous spiral began to grow, assisted by improved medication, and weekly therapy.

The third anniversary of Avicii's death was a few days ago. I paused to reflect when I saw a news article about him the other day. I've stayed alive despite everything just over 3 years! 

I also felt a profound sadness for Avicii, he may have got the peace he wanted, but now the price of that peace seems to me to be too high to pay.

I didn't know three years ago that I would start to recover, even a year ago it was looking very shaky, I so very nearly took my own life. There is so much I would have missed. 

Kookymaid
A Moodscope member.

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


5

April

Life is Granted not Loaned

Monday April 5, 2021


In my experience, the thoughts that accompany the feeling of depression are merciless. I believe they should be shown as much mercy as they show… which is none.

This week, I had to face up to the consequences of yet another poor decision I had made. The weight of self-condemnation and even self-hatred that accompanied this failure was fierce – far fiercer than appropriate for the setback. I realised that my inner-critic was borrowing from the horror of all the mistakes and bad decisions I’d ever made and rolled them into one vitriolic outpouring of compounded contempt.

In the past, I’ve heard others described as, “a waste of space,” or, “a waste of good air,” or as people who are, “a waste of life.” Harsh, horrible, and inaccurate things to say. This got me thinking about the imagined need to justify our existence – the need to say we’ve lived a good and worthwhile life.

You’ve guessed, this not at all like my normal Monday blogs, and you may strongly disagree with the way I’m thinking about this. That’s OK; it’s a work in progress. The intent is to help anybody else who feels that even a part of their life has been ‘wasted’.

Language is fascinating. Consider the phrase, “granted the gift of life.” We have, some believe, been granted, not loaned, the gift of life. We’ve been granted free air. We’ve been given space. Gifted, granted, given. None of these are loans, and thus none of them need to be paid back or justified in any way, shape, or form.

Grants don’t need to be paid back. Gifts are to be enjoyed in whichever ways the recipient chooses. If you and I have been granted the gift of life… it is perfectly acceptable to ‘waste’ it. It is perfectly acceptable to do with our lives what we choose – even if those choices are often poorly made. We do not have to justify our existence to anybody else or even to ourselves. We don’t owe Life anything, and neither does Life owe us anything. We are free to be as we are – even flawed.

My inner critic was basing its foul condemnation of me on a requirement to ‘be good’, to ‘do well’, and ‘to make the most of my talent’. These are, occasionally, useful messages but not always. So I turned my own critical faculties on my inner critic and declared in my thoughts, “I do not have any requirement to justify myself to myself! I do not need to live a fruitful, worthwhile, good, or productive life. This is an invented requirement!”

This new pattern of thinking was a shock to me, and I wasn’t sure if you’d agree with my thinking. What I am certain of is that it is inappropriate for my mind to exaggerate the ‘feeling bad’ response to a minor setback – I am not the sum of my setbacks but a work in progress that is learning every step of the way. It is time for you and me to be more gentle with ourselves.

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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


4

April

Hello and thank you

Sunday April 4, 2021


Not being the most religious of people, Easter doesn’t have a big personal implication on me, but I do love to hear what others do.  I love to hear about what they give up for lent and I love the displays at churches and the brightness in the mood. 
 
It is a lovely time. The air starts to blow warmer winds and the lengthening days are such a balm to a light-starved soul. 
 
For reasons too long and dull to explain here, our Easter Sunday dinner is going to be a poor takeaway dinner.  Not at all the plan. Not best pleased.  But, we will manage our Easter Sunday dinner 24 hours later and, as somebody who has always had a ‘gentle’ relationship with time (I’m being very generous to myself here), it will work fine. 
 
I will put out the little Easter decorations I put out each year, we will have Easter napkins and I picked up some ‘this is completely not needed and yet so needed’ Easter crackers to help break the monotony of lockdown dinners. 
 
I feel I’m car crashing into Easter this year.  But that’s ok.  It’s a time to draw a breath and mark a change. It’s Spring.  We’re here. We’re still walking together. Thank you for doing that with me. Breathe for today. 
 
Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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


3

April

Older and Wiser

Saturday April 3, 2021


None of us wants to grow older
we are also encouraged to
expect youthfulness
and vigour, turning a
blind eye to disability
Loss, grief and age.

As I grow older
may I acquire wisdom.

Compassion, empathy, understanding
respect and acceptance
have often been neglected
or shunned exposing
vulnerability and weakness.

However, these qualities
are the markers of insight
and sagacity.

As I get older
I hope to acquire wisdom.

Growing old is frequently
accompanied with loss, disability
disconnection and powerlessness,
a deep sense of isolation.

Wisdom is part of accepting
the changes we encounter
with courage, knowing
when to ask for help.

As I get older
may I grow wiser.

Orangeblossom
A Moodscope member.

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


2

April

Hide and seek

Friday April 2, 2021


I was watching a nearly three-year-old playing hide and seek. She had so much joy in running to hide and then before I had finished counting would run back to me laughing all the time.

I explained the point was to hide but she had too much fun finding and seeking me by counting to 3 even though she can count higher and finding me before I had a chance to hide.

The way she just had fun being in the moment and not worrying about the game and the rules made me think how I get stuck in doing things the right way instead of being flexible and having fun.

I know children do not have to worry about as many things, but I still wanted her to follow the rules then I realised what does it matter she is having fun, we were having lots of laughter what did it matter.

I wanted to experience the joy of a nearly three old and get close to being in the moment.

Have you discovered something child like like this and being as free and uninhibited as a three-year-old?

Have you have been stomping in puddle or blowing bubbles, you do not have to be with a child, just doing something fun and in the moment.

Do you find it hard to be child like and stop focussing on rules.?

Leah
A Moodscope member.

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


1

April

Asking twice

Thursday April 1, 2021


I am on a mission to train my brain to ask for things only once and if I don't get the desired result; walk away without a backward glance. Whether it is a job, an effort toward a friendship, or what have you, I won't ask twice. 

What is meant to be will be without a lot of cajoling, begging, pleading, trying again...etc. And I won't even ask for a romance. After 31 years of dating and/or involvement in between singledom, as I call it, I have decided there is that which I won't ask for at all. 

This revelation came to me after about a year of bad experiences and the common theme was my struggling to force events/relationships/things that were just not working.

A country song by Kenny Rogers called "The Gambler," has the line; “You gotta know when to hold'em, know when to fold'em, know when to walk away and know when to run." Well, thanks to the effects of  CPTSD which heartily messes with the ability to know when to fly, freeze, or fight, I have devised this one strike rule.

That new adage, however, does not cover situations where the wrong friendship or opportunity approaches me. So I will pay attention to how I feel. Not that feelings are the be all/end all - trapped gas is technically a feeling before flatulence!

However, feelings do indicate when something is wrong. Instinct has to do with feelings. If someone causes the hair on your neck to raise... I won't make notes nor hope for the for the best. If negative senses are sounding even softly - count me out. I have hoped against hope for the better too many times and been burned. So no more. 

The last year; 2020, has really stunk for bad job experiences, rejection and injustice in my life. Covid cannot get all the glory here. There was a negative event involving a small church, a job, and even a volunteer position that went south. But the common denominator was that I ignored the bad vibes and overt hostilities that existed upon my arrival... took a friendship to mean positive when the mannerisms and general expression in her eyes bothered me upon meeting. But maybe the one strike rule can still apply to all things... one cringe and I call it no thank you. One job application ignored and I won't reapply. Ignored text or phone call with no return and I will delete the number. My energies are limited so my efforts have to be also.
 
Now I am just plain rambling, perhaps that will be the name of the next country song:"The Rambler." Someone once said: “People with the gift of the gab don't know when to wrap it up." Amen to that.

The one strike rule will be a process for someone like me who is used to struggling with all life activities, and it is me, choosing to struggle less. 

Bailey
A Moodscope member.


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


31

March

Chipping Away

Wednesday March 31, 2021


The Pope asked Michelangelo how he had created the statue of David. Michelangelo is said to have replied, “It was simple. The statue was always there; I just chipped off everything that was not David.”

There is no factual basis for this quote, but it is a useful one all the same. The concept is sometimes referred to as the Via Negativa, meaning that what is not there is more important than what is.

When we are suffering with depression, it seems we can never be happy again. Intellectually we might know this is not true and, if we just hang on for long enough, the darkness will lift and there will be sunshine again.

My own belief is, when we are ill, we cannot do more than endure – although I will come back to this point later.

In the periods of good health however, we can look at our happiness, or at least contentment, with objective eyes.

Is happiness even achievable? Maybe not, but surely, we can work towards it.

Life, even in the absence of grief and hardship, seems full of petty niggles and irritations that get in the way of contentment.

Some of these we can do something about, and some of them we can’t.
I am waking up each morning tired and with a headache. There are two possible reasons. The first is that I am not getting enough sleep. As I tend to read until past midnight and get up at 6am, this is the most probable cause. As coffee seems to fix the headache, it could be I am drinking too much caffeine. I can do something about both.

What about those things we can’t change? Some irritations are just facts of life. We all have our small immovable pains. Perhaps, however, we can transform them.

As a child, one of my chores was to do the washing up on weekends. I hated it. One day, my great-aunt pointed out that washing up was just a fact of life – it would always be there, and it was useless to hate it. She asked me to concentrate instead on the iridescent beauty of the bubbles, the smooth, water-slicked surfaces of the clean plates, the view out of the window and the birds in the garden. She said the washing up could be a time to daydream and to create stories in my mind. So, I don’t hate washing up anymore, it’s a happy task.

I’m not making light of the major griefs and hardships in life. Some of what we must deal with is not David, it’s just rock – although it may be the plinth on which he stands. Where we can, however, remove what is not happiness, then let’s at least try.

As for depression, what can be removed is our guilt. Acceptance promotes quicker recovery.

So, I’m chipping away at whatever is not David.

I’m just wondering when my husband will eye me with suspicion and ask, “Who’s David?”

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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


30

March

Feeling defeated

Tuesday March 30, 2021


This is my first time writing a blog. I’m nervous because I don’t think I will be able to write something that meets everyone’s expectations. I worry that I will fail to be good enough. That’s what I do all the time. After 60 years of thinking that way, it’s pretty hard wired.  Many years of therapy for my depression and anxiety have taught me that trying to meet my own expectations is what matters. And most important is that I do not set unreasonable standards for myself. 

Lately though, it seems like I can’t meet any expectations.  I feel so tired every day. It’s discouraging and I spend my time trying to figure out why I have so little energy. I’m not young anymore, and my mental and physical health have taken a toll. Perhaps my best years are all behind me now. How bleak is that?

It’s likely that depression and diabetes are contributing to my fatigue. And I’ve come through the year 2020. The pandemic increased my social isolation to the extreme. I spent most of the year nauseated due to medication side effects (which I finally identified and no longer take). There were terrifying wildfires around us. The political atmosphere was like a pressure cooker. And to wrap it all up, my 30 year marriage is over. These are all highly stressful situations on their own. Combined, they add up to a good explanation for increased anxiety and stress. 

The past year was an energy drain, and my expectations were that I would need some time to heal and recover. But months have passed, and I am still tired, unmotivated and feeling defeated.  I’m disappointed in myself. 

Depression is a heavy blanket that smothers hope. In spite of that, I still crawl out from under that blanket every morning with hope that each day may bring change.

Doubtful Soul
A Moodscope member.

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


29

March

Spring Offers

Monday March 29, 2021


[To listen to an audio version of this blog post, please click here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1396123/8224553]

Spring offers us in the UK many moments for positive reflection and renewed hope. Three weeks ago, I was looking at how dull the back ‘lawn’ looked. It hadn’t grown over Winter and had been beaten down by workers rebuilding the fence. If a lawn can look neglected and dejected, it did. Then something magical happened…

Overnight, daisies began appearing in encouraging numbers. I thought to myself, “Who told the daisies?” meaning, “Who told the daisies it is time to thrive again?” What was the signal?

“What a difference a day makes,” says the song. Since then, I’ve had more ‘moments’ with Snowdrops and Camellias, Daffodils and Celandines, Cherry Blossom, Grape Hyacinths, and now the Magnolias and Blackthorn blossom. They all ‘know’ something. The Rooks are rowdy and busy building. The Blackbirds and Sparrows are raiding the garden for nesting materials. It’s clear that Spring is offering them a strong message that it’s time to get busy. And, of course, the birds sing their thanks in increasing numbers and volume levels each dawn.

Especially exciting for us, our resident hedgehog is awake and active and on camera again!

I have a new thought for you… at least a thought new to me. I wondered if I was hearing Spring’s offer of something new too. Humans are often detached observers of the Seasons changing rather than active participants in each new chapter. Those who participate will do things like ‘Spring Cleaning’ and the Garden Centres begin to thrive with the sale of new seeds, plants, and fixtures to cheer up the gardens.

Thus, my question is to both you and to me: are we going to participate? If the answer is, “Yes!” I’d love to know what are your Springtime activities that bring you hope and energy.

And for those readers who are at the start of their Autumn Season, what changes are you enjoying?

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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


28

March

The little yellow socks 

Sunday March 28, 2021

Some days are sludgy, grey and matt. Even the sunny ones. Sometimes (for me) the sunny ones are hardest! 
 
Some people make me feel dead inside. Some make me turn into the toddler who is bored and starts picking at the wallpaper. 
 
Some news reports make me curl up like a leaf starved of water. 
 
Some emails leave me devoid of response. Like being fully dressed in your glad rags only to be doused in a gallon of cold water. 
 
And that is where the little yellow socks come in. I have two pairs. They hold so much vibrancy, determination, and passion that nothing can bring me down. I save them for the days I know I need something extra. They are the tool nobody knew about until I confessed it here and now. Maybe you too will invest in some stark-yellow socks. And when we see each other out in public we’ll nod the nod of connection and smile gently. 
 
Love from

The room above the garage 
A Moodscope member.

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


27

March

Sibling rivalry

Saturday March 27, 2021


I am the younger sibling of two. We don't live nearby any more so we do phone calls every few months.

When I took my first funeral service when they were present (and very nervous)... all I got was “I didn't know you wore glasses” - no comment about how I did. My first sports car was greeted with a “That's a classic mid life crisis” as was my first tattoo. We were called “trailblazers” for moving countries – one compliment. I was told that my mum “f*cked” me up... basically I was the chosen one, not him – the reference very much there. A comment I cannot and will never forgive although it made me cry at the time and it was apologised for.

So when we have phone calls, it always gets round to the subject money (him, not me). How much they have in their pension pot, how magically the money tree keeps giving and actual figures for everything. So I attempt to move the conversation on, by saying that there is more to life than money and that myself and my husband both work part-time and have more time.

When we were seriously on the skids, he never helped even though my husband at the time had a DIY business with quality workmanship. Money was thrown at the house for his new kitchen and bathroom and it didn’t go well, my husband being brought in to finish off the dreadful mistakes of the person who was given the jobs, even haggling down the price!! If you can imagine the smuggest cake, with the smuggest icing on top, wouldn't you just want to poke a finger in the middle of it to mess it up a bit.

Well my life feels like the cake that has finally got the cherry on top but it's all about the money with him. I have only used a money“trump card” once but even then he had to question it like he didn't believe me. Is it the older sibling thing where they have to one-upmanship you all the time or is it more? I could tell you that he's squirrelling away tons in a pension and he always talks about money but I told him that life is for living and not all about money and you could drop dead tomorrow and what good would the money be then? I could tell him that he wasted at least £5k by not hiring my husband and another friend to do the DIY.

He lives in a really tired and jaded house but could do it up and has the money. HIS nemesis is having his lack of DIY skills mocked (you will really see him angry then). He sees himself as middle class as he shops in Waitrose. He will never know some poverty (unlike me in a few times in my life). He boasted about “running out of places to go on holiday as they have been everywhere” (lie). I could tell you I'm a b*tch and a tiny bit of me really really wants them to have some sort of financial f*ck up to live in the real world for a change and stop being so damn smug and lording it over me. It feels like he has nothing else to talk about and is desperately trying to convince me (and himself) of his financial success? I would love to know the psychology behind it and if it strikes a chord with anyone else?

Liz
A Moodscope member.

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


26

March

“What have you done now?”

Friday March 26, 2021


My 5th grade teacher was leaning over at my work when she grabbed my exercise book and shouted, “What have you done now?”

Before I could explain in my frightened voice that I tried hard to be neat. She told me and the class what a messy lazy student I was and how was it possible to get so many smudges on one page.

I looked at the student next to me and noticed Susan’s beautiful work, straight margin and lovely handwriting and everything perfectly drawn.

Whenever I see those words “What have you done now? I start thinking of all these words an adult has said to me as a child or as an adult. It only occurred to me some time later that it could be a positive question with the right vocal tone.
 
What I invite you to do is start with the question “What have you done now?” You can emphasise any word. And write whatever comes into your head. You can be the person asking the question or you may be person the question was aimed at. It can be true, based on truth or creative.

Just a bit of creative fun. I think those five words have meaning for me in my life but have a different meaning for others. What do you feel when you hear those words? No right or wrong answers.

Leah
A Moodscope member.

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


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